Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 41 min 28 sec ago

Why Aren’t You On Zoom?!

27 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I work as a freelance designer, and I regularly get asked to meet with prospective clients about new projects. To make my life (and theirs) easier, I usually send them a Calendly link, which lets them book any open slot on my calendar. Most of the time this isn’t an issue. That was until today.

Client: Can we meet this Friday?

Me: Unfortunately, I’m not available this Friday, but I have some time available next week. Here’s a link, which you can use to select a time from my calendar. It shows my available times. Feel free to pick a time that works best for you.

The client proceeds to select a time for the Friday of next week. However, this Friday I receive a notification that the client is waiting in my Zoom room.

I immediately email the client.

Me: Hey there! I see you’re waiting in my Zoom room. Did you intend for us to meet this Friday or next Friday? It looks like you scheduled a time for next Friday.

Client: That’s correct. I wanted to meet today (this Friday), but it didn’t show any open times, so I select a time for next Friday. When do you expect to join the Zoom meeting? I have a hard stop at the top of the hour. 

Me: Well, as I mentioned in our initial conversation, I’m not available to meet today. I guess I assumed we’d be meeting next Friday, since that’s the time you selected from my calendar.

Client: I know I selected next Friday, but I wanted to meet this Friday. I don’t have time to wait until next week. If you’re not able to meet today, I guess we’ll have to work with someone else!

While I’m utterly dumbfounded by this client’s logic, I’m pretty sure I dodged a bullet with this one. When clients show you who they are the first time, believe them!

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When I call my work phone I get “this number has incoming call restrictions”!

27 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I provide internal IT and Mobile phone support in a Government Agency

Client: When I call my work phone I get a message that says “this number has incoming call restrictions.”

Me: Well, let me see what I can do.

I did the following: 

  • Two Calls to service provider who insist there is no restriction
  • iOS Update
  • SIM Card Reburn
  • Successful Test Call from Office Desk Phone
  • Successful Test Call from Work Mobile

All worked perfectly when I tried calling the number..

Client: That didn’t do it! I just tried again, from both my Desk Phone and my Personal Mobile! I still get “this number has incoming call restrictions”!

Me: Can you make a call right now on another phone and walk me through exactly what you’re doing?

Client: So, here we go: 0410…

Me: …That’s the wrong number. Your number starts with 0400.

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Narcissistic Client – Turned Idiotic Boss

26 August 2020 - 4:00pm

I don’t even know where to begin with this one, but how’s about a brief background: I am a freelance web developer with an interest in blockchain.  I am also an educator.

Four years ago I launched a Fintech company. Three years ago I was approached by a multi-millionaire who wanted to partner with my company, bringing immense value but also another product that would be complicated to legalize. 

I accepted and quit my jobs to focus solely on the Fintech company and received a handsome salary whilst retaining a holding in the firm.

So there’s the overview, now – this is where the fun began:

I spent the following two years undergoing regulatory compliance and fighting with solicitors to allow us to proceed. My investor would literally spend 2/3 weeks – all day, every day – debating whether or not a specific word should be put in an email, and no I am not exaggerating. She held the purse strings and nothing I or my co-workers did would be allowed to be finalized without her say so, right down to sending a single email to a trusted partner.

Her goal was always to get as much information and knowledge out of the recipient as possible without giving anything away. Basically she was playing cloak and daggers constantly.

This would involve 4 and sometimes 5 nightly meetings that would last 4-6 hours, on top of working all day every day. Weekends? What are those? I worked 7 days a week, morning to night for literally 12 months before I tried to go on a week vacation.

Me: I need a week to spend time with family.

Client: What? Unacceptable. IF you do, I will fire you. 

What’s more, all this wasted work on inane nonsense means the industry passed us by while I dealt wither her obscure demands. We missed our chance, and now we are left scrambling to try and find another path. Then coronavirus hit:

Client: I can’t pay you any more.

Me: Okay, well then let me know when you’re ready for us to get back to work.

Client: Oh, you still need to work. I just can’t pay you for it. 

Long story short, I am still being paid. The people who work for her other companies are all officially off work and have been furloughed by the government and are receiving 80% of their wage – however, they are all actually working and are fully expected to. When this woman rings, if you don’t answer the phone there will be an argument. It’s just easier to answer. 

Its important to note, this woman’s background is in software and should be considered quite technical, this would not be the case. She hasn’t a clue and it is now very clear that her success is off of the backs of other peoples hard work and knowledge – she is just a complete leach and opportunist that takes advantage of people.

Now, thats the background done, here are a few things she has done today alone that have irritated me:

  1. Half hour phone call to explain how to install Zoom on her Mac.
  2. One hour zoom call explaining what screen sharing was.
  3. Fifteen minute argument with me trying to explain I cannot access her personal files, especially not any time I want to.
  4. 30 minute argument as to why I cannot redevelop Chrome to make the URL in the address bar bigger
  5. 10 minute discussion as to why I haven’t invented an alternative to Chrome.
  6. Received multiple emails with no body, where the intended message was attached as a Word document. 
  7. Countless phone calls asking “where has the email gone.” She has a tendency to delete emails and then think they have “vanished” – must be the ghosts in the code stealing her emails
  8. Confusion as to why emails have chains – apparently this is very confusing.

This woman has made milliions of dollars in the tech industry, and I have no idea how. And, I no longer have my freelance web company, am no longer an educator, and due to coronavirus I am at the mercy of this lunatic that demands that I work 24/7.

In short, FML.

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Interview process

26 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m applying for lots of new jobs at the moment because my current work situation is “from hell”: lack of respect, office politics, etc.  Obviously, I’m not advertising the fact that I’m planning to leave, so as to avoid unnecessary drama.

Client: Thanks for your application! We are interested in your CV, but we always discuss candidates with their managers, are you happy for us to speak with your existing managers to find out if you are a good fit for us?

Me: Sorry, I am not comfortable with that, as they will then know I am planning to leave which will make things very awkward for me in the office.

Client: Well that’s very unprofessional.

Yeah, because no professional has ever tried to keep it together in a toxic work situation. 

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User Submitted Post

26 August 2020 - 2:08pm

I write white papers for business to business technology companies. As part of my contract, I include two revisions after the first draft is delivered. I had delivered the first draft of the white paper, and the client wanted some changes. Then he got some feedback from some more people in his organization, and we were on Round 2.

Me: I’d be happy to make these changes. However, keep in mind that we’re bumping up against the second round of revisions, so before I do these, I want to make sure that this is it. Otherwise, I’ll have to start charging my hourly rate, per the contract.

Client: Okay. Be sure to use hashtags in the white paper title.

Me: I strongly recommend you don’t do that. Hashtags are used on social media to categorize posts, but they’re not used in white papers. It doesn’t look professional.

Remember, this is a B2B technology company. 

Client: Put the hashtags in anyway.

I sighed, then did as the client asked. He, of course, came back with more revisions. This would be Round 3.

Me: I’m happy to make these changes at $X per hour.

Client: WHAT? That’s not what we agreed to.

Me: It’s in the contract you signed.

Client: Fine, we’ll do it ourselves.

Me: Okay. I’ll send over my final invoice.

Client: C’mon, do you think you deserve to get paid?

Me: According to my contract, I met all my obligations. I’m pretty sure a judge would agree that I “deserve” to get paid.

The check arrived seven days after I sent the invoice. Moral of the story: always have a contract, and always mutter “breach of contract” and “lawsuit” under your breath when talking to difficult clients.

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I don’t understand paying for time spent

25 August 2020 - 4:00pm

Client:  I saw your work and liked it, I’d like to discuss an opportunity with you.

Me: I’m intrigued, what’ve you got?

Client: I’m writing a comic strip, and I’d want you to illustrate a weekly 3-panel strip for a commitment of 42 weeks. 

Me: Cool! Is this black-and-white, color…?

Client: It’s actually VERY cool, if you’re looking at benefit long term.

Me: That sounds very much like a setup for this not being a paying job, haha… hit me with the details!

Client: I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. I appreciate you sharing your interest. Enjoy your day. All the best.

He then blocked me.

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User Submitted Post

25 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I’d been working on a collateral project with a client. She loved poster 1. But when I submitted poster 2 there was a problem. 

Client: This poster is beautiful. But I’m afraid I can’t use it.

Me: Can I ask why this poster won’t work so I can make improvements? 

Client: Well. It’s too dark. 

Me: I’ve used the color pallete discussed though. 

Client: But the woman is too dark. 

Me: Seriously? 

Client: She’s black. 

Me: So… 

Client: Black women don’t sing classical music. I just can’t use this. 

Client fired. Client fired so hard. 


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It’s called FREEtime

25 August 2020 - 2:00pm

This is a chat I just had from someone who found me on LinkedIn.

Client: Since COVID you probably have a lot of free time, huh? Are you desperate for work?

Me: Things have definitely slowed down a bit. Is there anything you need help with?

She sent back a long-winded message about how she needs a rebranding for her business that is coming back from bankruptcy.

Me: That’s in my wheelhouse and sounds like a very interesting project! What’s your budget for this?

Client: I just told you I’m bankrupt. Since you’re not working I was hoping you would do this for free. It’s called FREE time when you’re not working, right?

An Opportunity from Hell?

24 August 2020 - 4:00pm

An established home furnishing store in my area was seeking a contract Marketing Specialist. The Owner (Client) wanted me to meet with him at his store right away to discuss his goals and the job.

When I walked into the store, I noticed the store Owner and his employees weren’t wearing any masks. I was the only one wearing a mask. I didn’t see cleaning supplies anywhere. The Owner seemed super stressed and worried about the future of his business. 

Client: I had to lay off most of my employees, and I know we’re in the middle of COVID-19, but now I would like to work on updating our marketing. Don’t worry, I’m not deeply in debt, although my business was having some challenges with sales before COVID.

Me: OK – investing in marketing plans and doing website updates could be useful to do at this time. It could support the growth of your business.

Client: I would need you to sell some of the furniture too, maybe one day a week. We’ll be re-opening soon.

Me: Got it – I would be able to do that. I have experience with sales.

We chatted some more about my skills and the job.

Client: I want you to come into the office every dayto work on digital marketing, starting right away. Full-time. I can only pay you XX per hour, though. We’ll work together on this.

The Client’s insistence on me coming into the office at the store wasn’t giving me much confidence in his COVID caution. The Client’s business was about 45 minutes away from where I live, and I could easily do the marketing work from home via video conferencing, phone calls, and chat. The hourly pay that was just above a living wage, which I wasn’t thrilled about.

Me: I’ll consider it and let you know. Thanks.

I went home after the meeting and started wheezing and coughing in an unusual manner afternoon and evening, and my chest felt strained. I wasn’t sure if I was sick, or just stressed as hell about the possibility of getting sick. 

I decided the in-person contract job wasn’t worth the risk to my health (or others), the cost of gas, or putting the extra mileage on my car.

This COVID situation is sketchy as hell, and it’s revealing a lot more clients from hell in a real hurry. 

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Night filter mode

24 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: This logo is too green.

Me: Really? It’s navy blue, which doesn’t usually look very green. 

Client: I’m telling you, it’s green. Please fix it. 

For hours and hours, he kept making me change it and I was losing my mind. I’d recently bought a new monitor and I thought maybe there was an issue with that. 

Finally, he texted me:

Client: LMFAO I had my night filter on this whole time.

I don’t even know what to say.

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User Submitted Post

24 August 2020 - 2:00pm

Due to the epidemic, one of my clients who is a window-dresser at a shopping mall wanted me to put some surgical masks on the three humanoid statues in front of the entrance. 

Me: I can put the mask on, however, I will have to use glue because these figures don’t really have ears. I’ll use a light glue that can wash off so you can remove it eventually.

Client: (panicked) No, no you can’t do it this way! We paid a lot for these mannequins. You must use tape or something.

Me: Since these masks are so colorful, I think tape will show up on these masks whatever we do. Besides, technically tape uses glue too. 

Client: Well, you must have colorless, glueless tape! Come on, you are the designer!

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Add over 80 fonts to your toolkit for only $9!

23 August 2020 - 3:00pm
Add over 80 fonts to your toolkit for only $9!

This week’s deal is on 80+ fonts in 32 font families to spice up your designs.

> There are a lot of options here for one low price.


It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, design-wise. Some days it feels we’re all just working away in a Helvetica hellscape. Spice up your toolkit and get inspired with these fonts. Try Art Nouveau cool with Josephine, or inspirational with Amanda Santiago. Aim for rugged retro with Echomotors, or the dusty, forgotten upscale hotel lobby look of Lancaste. There’s plenty to explore here; break out of your rut and try something new!

To buy all these fonts individually would run you $459, but this week you can save $450 when you buy all 80+ at only $9. If you use one font in this bundle, it’s paid for itself. If you use two or three you’re laughing all the way to the bank. 

> Check out the deal here.

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User Submitted Post

23 August 2020 - 2:00pm

As a freelance translator, I worked with an agency who often sent me accident insurance reports to translate from French into English.

Client: In your last translation, you changed all the capitals into lower case.

Me: How do you mean?

Client:  Where the driver’s name was DUPONT, you’ve written Dupont, and instead of STRASBOURG you’ve written Strasbourg. I’ve just had to spend half an hour changing them back.

Me: Why should you spend your time inserting mistakes that I’ve just spent half an hour removing?

Client:  What do you mean, mistakes?

Me:  I know that lots of French people put proper nouns into upper case, But we don’t do that in English.

Client:  But my customer is French, he expects it.

Me:  But I’m not translating it for him, I’m translating it for his English correspondents, who expect good English.

Client:  But how will I explain to him why it’s changed?

Me:  You know the answer to that: “In order to continually improve our services, we reserve the right to change our specifications without notice”.

Client:  No, sorry, I want you to change all the proper nouns back to capitals.

Me:  You want me to deliberately supply you with substandard English?

Client: Yes.

I turned the job down.  A freelance translator has his pride.  In this business, the customer is always wrong – if he could do it himself, why would he pay me in the first place?


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Comping a dead guy into family photos.

22 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I got asked once to comp an adult dead family member into some family photos. I wasn’t comfortable with it, but I did it anyway.

All I could think about the whole time was how sad this was, and how sorry I felt for the family. It also felt really wrong. they basically had me put his head on another man’s body wearing a white suit. They had me experiment with some opacity and glow effects like he was a glowing angel or ghost or something.

I got paid and moved onto the next job. A few weeks later I got a video in my inbox; it was of the family revealing the video to the man’s mother. She started crying, presumably with joy, but the whole time I felt like she was crying out of pain the photo caused her. It was one of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever had.

Respect your own boundaries. That’s the last dead relative Photoshop job I’m ever taking.

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User Submitted Post

22 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I was a freelance translator. I received an e-mail from a local golf club I’d done some work for saying “Can you please look at the attached?” I thought it was a commission and foolishly opened the attachment without checking.  Instant virus infection that doubled in size every time I tried to tackle it!  I switched off the computer and rang the repair shop.  “Sure, bring it in at 11am.”  But before I left, I rang the golf club.

Me: Have you sent me an e-mail this morning?

Client: No, why?

Me: I just received an e-mail supposedly from you, but it contained a virus.

Client: Are you accusing us of sending you a virus?!?!

Me: No, I’m just warning you that you might be receiving one too, as the culprit obviously has both of our addresses.

Client:  Are you threatening us?

Me: Not at all, I’m just advising you – do you have a virus filter?

Client:  Of course we do… I’m sure we do.

Me:  Fine.  Just don’t open any unknown attachments.

At 11am I get to the repair shop, but find that the man is out.

Me:  That’s odd, we had an appointment at 11.

Receptionist:  He should be back in a few minutes.  He’s had to go to the golf club.  It appears they’ve got a virus…


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User Submitted Post

21 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Actual feedback from on a design job:

Client: The patterns are too pattern-y.

The scary thing is that I’ve worked with him for so long that I know exactly what he means.

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User Submitted Post

21 August 2020 - 2:00pm

The client asked for a name for an event and we gave them three options to choose from.

Client: We want “Dream for Drew” but can you make sure I can pronounce it right?

Me: What do you mean? Are we producing a radio spot or a voice over?

Client: No, I mean that when I say it I want to be able to pronounce it.

How… how would you pronounce it wrong?

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“I don’t really read”

20 August 2020 - 3:15pm

After an extensive series of interviews with a small Dutch newsletter startup, they offered me a role as Customer Success Manager to be the liaison between the company and their clients: journalism outlets.

As a nice gesture of welcome, I sent the founder a PDF version of a book about startup journeys.

Client: Thanks, but I don’t really read.

Now there’s run-of-the-mill Silicon Valley level startup bullshit, and then there’s founding a company for journalists and admitting you don’t read.

I did not wind up working for that company.

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Company no longer in business

20 August 2020 - 2:34pm

I ran a design business that closed over five years ago but I kept the same mobile phone number.

Client: We want to commission some new design work from you.

Me: Sorry, I no longer do any design work, my creative partner passed away so I closed the business down

Client: Well we were never told, we should have been told.  That’s good business practice.

Me: I sent three emails over the course of three months including one with some recommendations for other designers. 

Client: (after checking) That was five years ago, we can’t be expected to remember everything. 

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My cousin can do it cheaper

19 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I got a website project from a friend of a friend. His “business” was in door-to-door sales. There were plenty of red flags indicating this guy was going to be a nightmare to work with, but against better judgment I took the job.

A few weeks and way too many revisions later:

Me: The site is done. Once you pay me I’ll get your hosting set up.

Client: You’re charging this much? My cousin would do it for way cheaper

Me: This was my agreed-upon rate from the beginning. If you can get a better deal I encourage you to do that, but I do need to be paid for my time thus far. 

He paid me, begrudgingly, but opted to hire his cousin for the rest of the job. I sent him the code and files. Job done, clean break. Could be worse. 

Six months later I got an email:

Client: Hey! This is my cousin. Please help him set up the website.

Me: …I’m sorry. I’m not taking on any new projects.

At which point he lost his s***. 

Client: You have an obligation to help me! The job isn’t finished!

As if I should take the time to teach this guy’s incredible cousin how to set up a website, no charge, six months later. 

Luckily I had a contract to fall back on. Pretty much just shoved the files back in his face and wished him good luck. I did end up walking the cousin through a few things out of totally feeling sorry for him. But even that was in vain. He truly had no idea what he had gotten himself into. On the plus side, he was “super cheap.”

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