Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 3 min ago

The business idea with two heads

18 May 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: Since we’re a partnership, we were thinking for the logo maybe you could have my face coming out of my partner’s chest, and we’re both smiling, and our company name would be above us. 


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Choose your own client result

18 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I work at a web agency and this is something that rarely happens, but when it does it always ends the same way.

We have a policy where we don’t normally share server credentials with our clients, many of whom lack the technical know-how to even understand what a server is, let alone how to ssh into it.

Occasionally we have some clients that have on-staff developers that mostly know what they are doing and need that sort of information. Before we grant access, we make it very clear of the dangers of misusing this information and that it could completely bork their website. This is especially the case when a client works with multiple agencies. We know from experience that having too many hands in the cookie jar is never a good thing when it comes to development. 90% of the time the client completely understands and is competent enough to not cause issues.

Cut to the remaining 10% of the time…and a sort of choose-your-own disaster story.

Client: We’re working with X agency, and they said they need full privileges to the server to do Y.

Me: Sorry, but it’s our policy to not share that information to 3rd parties. This is outlined in the agreement you signed.

Client: But they said they need it and if they don’t get it they can’t do Y for us and it’s critical that they complete Y.

Me: Totally understand. If they want to commit any of their code to the website repository either your dev team or us can deploy those changes to the server.

Client: I don’t think you understand. GIVE THEM ACCESS TO EVERYTHING.

Me: That’s really not a good idea…


[Do you give in to the client’s demands? Or do you stand your ground? (scroll to your choice)]

[Give In]

Me: Ok, we can do that, but once again, here are the risks: [breaking deploys, website outages, etc.]


Me: Alright. We’ll give them access.

One week later:


Me: Looking at the logs it appears that the 3rd party modified critical server configurations and took down the website. 



[Stand Ground]

Me: Sorry, but because we’re responsible for the integrity of your website, we can’t do that.

Client: Fine, then we’re leaving you and going to go with X Agency. Please transfer everything to them IMMEDIATELY.

Me: Ok…if that’s what you’d prefer we can do that, but we just want to reiterate the risks…*we list the risks*

One month later…


Me: We’re sorry to hear that. Unfortunately we no longer manage or maintain your website. If you’d like we can work with the other agency to help them fix the issue…

Client: (in a panic) YES YES, PLEASE JUST HELP US FIX IT! 

We work with the other agency who we learn has much less experience than they let on:

Client: THANK YOU THANK YOU! Can we move back to you guys?

Me: Sure.


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Do gym allways & forever

18 May 2021 - 2:00pm

I ghostwrite for a client who has a very large cosmetic surgery practice. Every week I provide her with a well-written, heavily researched article about one of the procedures her practices offers. Every week she insists on “correcting” my grammar.

Client: I’ve just made a few updates.

I look, and one section now reads: “weight will appear in the other non-operated areas  then with more extra weight in the same operated areas may be smaller or differently.” She has also added her personal catchphrase: “For greatest result eat healthy & do gym allways & forever.” 

Me: Sorry, but these changes you’ve made are grammatically incorrect. We should really use my original wording.

Client: Oh, you just don’t understand me.

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From the Clients From Hell archives!

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The Virus Ad Removal Technique

17 May 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: I think there’s a virus in our YouTube video. We may have been hacked by our competitors.

Me: That would be weird. I haven’t heard of that one before. Let me see.

The client shows me the YouTube video with an ad.

Me: Oh, you mean the ad?

Client: Yes, how do we get rid of that? Maybe this will work.

The client proceeds to try to drag and drop the ad out of the video onto his Desktop to see if that would “remove” it.

I don’t even know where to start…

From the Clients From Hell archives!

The post The Virus Ad Removal Technique appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Yeah… can’t work with that.

17 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I was approached by a friend of a friend that has an advertising agency to create ads at 10€/hour (I know, I know…). All the while he kept saying most of the work is for trendy Chinese products and that the only important things when it comes to the ads are quantity and speed.

I created ads (videos, banners) for 2 different clients of his, one for a tanning company and one for a butchery, he was pleased with both and at least the first one (tanning company) was done on a very high level because I had good pictures and videos to use.

Then came the famous ads for Chinese products. I was given pretty poor instructions but nonetheless, being independent is important. I was given examples of the previous work and a link to the website, which only had horrible pictures (imagine AliExpress level pictures, with text etc.).

I sent them in, working overnight like always, because he always sent the things he needed 1 day before he needed them. No response for 4 days in which he must have seen it and then he probably got a response from his client.

Client: The creatives are very bad and the client asked me about my mental health. No offense, but it looks like I’m going to have to find someone who knows his stuff a bit better (at least regarding ads for trendy products). Did you even look into any other examples at all?

Me: Unfortunately, I can’t do much without any quality material, especially not from today to tomorrow. I did a lot of searching online and most of the pictures are of very poor quality and there are no videos to be found, at all. And when it comes to the banners, I stuck to the exact style you provided.

The exact style I mentioned? He sent me 3 examples of the banners – each just a product photo or a product photo on top of a background photo, with a large circle with  -X% written in it. That’s it. That’s what he got from me as well. And that’s what he wasn’t pleased with. The videos he sent were videos of the products being used (really short and already edited, so unusable for me), which of course he didn’t provide at all – I assume this was the issue the client had but… I can’t make the statue of David out of manure.

Sent him the bill – awaiting response and expecting issues.

The post Yeah… can’t work with that. appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Then just say that.

17 May 2021 - 2:00pm

Me: When did you need this by?

Client: Yesterday.

Me: …When not in the past?

Client: Right now.

Me: When realistically?

Client: End of the week is fine. 

The post Then just say that. appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Get the best of the best design elements for only $21 — 94% off!

16 May 2021 - 4:00pm
Get the best of the best design elements for only $21 — 94% off! 

This week’s deal bundles together a series of other bundles. It’s awesome.

> Take a look. There’s so much cool stuff here.

This is a seriously useful bundle of elements, combining textures, patterns, masks and vector illustrations. Frankly, the pack of retro diagram illustrations, including retro video game consoles, alone is worth the price. You could probably produce a couple of the textures or masks in this bundle yourself, but ask yourself: “if I paid myself for my time, could I do it for less than $21?” The answer is no, of course not. Treat yourself. There are thousands of awesome elements here that will make your job so much easier for a great price. Sell one design with one element, you’ve made your money back. Sell dozens? You’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Normally everything here would sell for $375 — which is already a great price — but this week you can get all included 26 bundles for just $21 or 94% off

> Check out the deal here.

The post Get the best of the best design elements for only $21 — 94% off! appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Decision Paralysis

16 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I was working on a shirt design for a client.

Client: We want plenty of options to choose from, here are the ideas we’re running with. We have a few options for shirt color, etc, so let’s get as many to consider as we can.

Me: Okay that’s fine.

I made 12 designs, and she seemed happy. She CCed me on the email to the team about picking a design. It only had 2 options on it.

Me: What happened to all the other designs? You told me you wanted a whole bunch to choose from.

Client: If you give someone too many choices they get Decision Paralysis, you should know that. We don’t want that to happen here.

Thanks for knowingly wasting my time.

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The new “make it pop”

16 May 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: I don’t just want you to make it POP – I want you to make it BURST!

Wow. You’ve added another layer of inscrutability to the world’s worst cliche. I’m almost impressed. 

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Except what files it uses

15 May 2021 - 4:00pm

Client:  Can I edit the content of design?

Me: Sure, if you have Illustrator or InDesign. The file format will match those programs.

Client: I assume PowerPoint will work as well? I know everything there is to know about that program.

Everything except applicable file types, apparently

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A Broken Record Talking To A Brick Wall

15 May 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: I want my website to be exactly like this person’s. Everything they do, I do. 

Me: Great.  

A few months later: 

Client: Why did you write this page about this topic? 

Me: Because you told us this is what you do. 

Client: I don’t do that! I said I do what’s on that person’s website! Don’t you ever listen?

Me: (looking at that topic on the website she told us to copy) Yes which is why we included it. 

Client: Just do what they do! 

Me: Ok, we will write that page then. 

Another month later:

Client: Why did you write this I told you not to do this!


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Innocent question

15 May 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: Have you ever dated a client before?

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Not much fun

14 May 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: Can you make it so when people land on our website, it’s, like, all black with stars coming out of the screen all whoosh whoosh (does the action) like in that screensaver?


Client: With the music from Star Wars.


Client: And it does that for, like, a minute, then stops and they have to click on one of the stars.

Me: Any star?

Client: No. No. A specific star that they’ll have to find–make it different every time.


Client: Then when they find the right star, there’s like a massive explosion that the site spins out of (does the action), like in the old Batman series.

Me: For your company site?

Client: Yeah.

Me: The company that cleans up addicts’ used needles from parks and playgrounds?

Client: Yeah.

Me: No.

Client: …Well, you’re not much fun.

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You weren’t home.

14 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I was working for an agency that landed a major national delivery company as a client. As part of the onboarding, they were supposed to send me a package via their own service.

I was home all day. At 4:30 PM I looked outside and found a slip that said they’d knocked on my door at 4:15. 

I don’t need to tell you – they didn’t knock. 

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Keep Calm and Plagiarize This Tired Adage

14 May 2021 - 2:00pm

Client was an art museum, for whom I’d done freelance marketing and design work. The museum hired a new director who is a micromanager. He took a look at concepts for an historic fashion exhibit that had been in development for months before he arrived… and figured his wife could do better.

He came back with her fresh, brilliant, innovative idea: KEEP CALM AND FASHION ON.

He couldn’t fathom why I had never came up with anything so exciting.

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A Logo with Flare

13 May 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: I already know what I want for the logo. It’s a house, with a face, and it’s on wheels with an exhaust pipe coming out of the back which is shooting out smoke in the shape of dollar signs.

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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Proceed… Where? FROM where?

13 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I had a client who signed me on to create a social media campaign for their company and maintain it. We’d had an initial meeting where he asked me to describe my process and explain my rates. I did. Then, after the meeting, he hired me from website and the automated processes I had set up. Here’s the thing: at no point in this entire process did he tell me anything about what he wanted. I reached out for more info but he never responded to any emails. Then, he reached out independently (ignoring all my other messages):

Client: How’s it going? 

Me: Well, I haven’t gotten started yet. I still need some input from you before I do anything.

Client: Well what have you been doing all this time?


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I put files in the folders!

13 May 2021 - 2:00pm

When working with overseas clients I try to be extra patient since there’s always a possibility of a language or culture gap. This guy was just old.

Me: Here’s everything you asked for!

One week later.

Client: So here’s what I need. [sends an identical list of what I provided him last week]

Me: So just to clarify, do the other files not work? Is there something wrong in there?

Client: …hmmm… Let me see.

A few more days go by.

Client: Okay, the printer says we need these by early next week.

Me: Do they need something else, or will the work in the folder I shared with you do the job?

Client: I’m not sure which folder you’re talking about.

I reshare the folder so it’s at the top of his inbox.

Client: Oh, if I click on [the folders] there’s files in there!

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Two days is fine, so long as it’s tomorrow

12 May 2021 - 3:00pm

A former client’s site was hacked, and he came to me for help.  

Me: Sorry, there appears to have been a security issue.  It will take me approx 2.5 days to resolve the issue.  Would you like me to proceed?

Client: Yes, so long as it’s done by close of business tomorrow.

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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Clarity in vision

12 May 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: I have such a vision for this campaign… I just don’t know what it looks like. 

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