Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 3 min ago

This didn’t happen before you touched it!

4 June 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m a freelance IT Specialist and sometimes I do house calls. A good client of mine asked me to help a colleague of his setting up a couple of things on his computer. It was implied his colleague didn’t have too much money to spend.  I offered him a low, fixed rate. Plus this new client lived in my neighborhood so I figured it was okay.

We arranged the visit by email and agreed on how much exactly it was going to cost him. I had to update a couple of drivers and install a program and set them up. At one point I had to move his laptop about 2 inches so I could plug in my USB drive. When I did this, the screen started flickering and flashing.

Client: Oh yeah I dropped this computer a couple of weeks ago during my last trip. Just wiggle it a little and it’ll go away.

Me: You’ve obviously got a very loose internal display connection and it’s going to cause a lot of trouble if you don’t get it fixed.

I finished the job.

Client: I don’t have any change to pay you.

Me: We agreed on the price two days ago. You couldn’t get exact change?

Client: (shrugs)

The worst part was I was charging twenty dollars but he only had fifty dollar bills. I checked my wallet and counted all my change: twenty-nine dollars.

Me: I could give you twenty-nine dollars as change. Maybe you can just give me a one dollar tip?

Client: Just walk with me two doors down. There’s a store there. I’ll break my hundred. 

He took literally 10 minutes to find his shoes. I walk with him – the store wasn’t “two doors down,” it was a few blocks away and also closed.

Client: Let’s just keep walking there’s a bakery around the corner.

There was no bakery around the corner, it was another 5 blocks. We get to the bakery and they didn’t want to break his 50 dollar bill if he didn’t buy anything.

We went to two other stores and finally, he got the change to pay me the 20 dollars he more than owed me by now.

I thought I’d never hear from him again, but after a few weeks he emailed me:

Client: You need to come back. Whatever you did means the screen is flickering every ten minutes and now I can’t do any work.  

Me: That’s a hardware problem. All I did was change some program settings. They wouldn’t create that problem. Remember you said you dropped it? That’s the cause of that. 

Client: Look, if you’re a professional you’ll come and fix what you did. 

Me: If you want me to undo what I did to your settings I can do that, but it has nothing to do with your hardware problem and I’d have to charge you for my time. 

He didn’t take me up on this, instead opting to tell his contacts that I’m “not a professional” and that I “broke his computer and refused to fix it. 

Later I would learn this client was actually a freelancer himself, a successful journalist working for some of the biggest news networks in Europe, and he wasn’t broke – he was just extremely cheap.

The post This didn’t happen before you touched it! appeared first on Clients From Hell.

You’re Well on Your Way

4 June 2019 - 1:00pm

The client has had a hard time working with freelancers, but I put together a proposal for her just to see if that would help her define her strategy. I explained to her that I have worked as a marketer, graphic designer, and writer for years.

We go through many e-mails with me answering her questions, issues, and complaints about things that aren’t clear to her. I put in loads of unpaid time helping her make a decision and finally she decides she’s ready to commit… but not before condescending to me

Client: Are you still interested in an ongoing project with me? You are well on your way to becoming a successful freelancer!


Me: I have enjoyed working successfully as a freelancer for years. I wish you all the best on your search.

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Let’s Hire a Marketer

3 June 2019 - 2:00pm

I had recently been hired for a marketing job for an auto dealership. The owner’s son, a few years out of college, had been hired to be the “General Manager.” This was our first interaction.

Client: We are glad you are here, we have just opened up a new location.

Me: Wow, I had no idea. That’s exciting.

Client: Yeah, so I won’t be here at this location very much anymore. By the way, we should probably get the word out about the big opening of our new location.


Client: By the way, we have this e-mail software & CRM we haven’t figured out, can you take a look at it?

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The Logo Design Nightmare

3 June 2019 - 1:00pm

The client came to me with a bad logo design from an agency, which was basically a photo with a gradient. The client asked me to come up with new logo concepts.

I am a graphic designer with many years of experience. I came up with 7 concepts to get started, with colors & fonts that looked to be a good fit for the overall idea of the products & the brand. I didn’t hear back.

Weeks later, I receive an e-mail from the client’s daughter.

Client’s daughter: Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself […] I created a marketing re-design proposal for this brand

Note: she was neither wasn’t a logo designer or a graphic designer.

Client’s daughter: I hope to chat with you soon about this.

I took a look at the logo designs. They looked like the first logos anyone would design in school – not very good.

Me: Thanks for reaching out. I appreciate your hard work, but a logo re-design can take many weeks or months to work on. I think we should do some more research and look at various examples of what other brands have done. 

She didn’t respond. Neither did the client… that is, until months later.

Client: Well, I worked with my daughter on this over the summer! Thanks, though.

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Get summer camp “cool” with 1100+ vintage branding elements for $14!

2 June 2019 - 2:00pm
Get summer camp “cool” with 1100+ vintage branding elements for $14!

Summer’s here! What better way to celebrate than with a branding package that gives you everything you need to create a classic summer camp style.

> Seriously, all 1100+ elements remind me of canoeing and toasted marshmallow.

Whether you’re branding a beard oil, a line of t-shirts or just designing posters for the company team-building camping trip, this bundle is going to make your process a dream. Retro logo templates, free fonts, vector illustrations and more make it easy to whip up an ironic scout badge or a billboard for an adventure tourism company. I’m half tempted to get the bundle just to make labels for my home-brew. These elements are fun and specific and will save you time and money if you want to harness this look for a design.

Everything in this bundle retails for $415 regularly, but for just the next few days you can save 97% and get them all for $14

> Check out the deal here.

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Let’s Read a Book Together

2 June 2019 - 1:00pm

Client: Will you read this book on marketing with me?

Me: Uh… I don’t really have the time to do that. I have been working in marketing and design for seven years now and assure you I have the expertise required to do the job. )

Client: I have decided that I am only going to hire someone who wants to read my favorite book about marketing with me. Since you have expressed hesitation in wanting to do that, I am not sure if you are what I am looking for. Even business leaders of multi-million dollar businesses continuously want to learn and grow. I cannot even express enough the angst I feel with having to work with so many freelancers that don’t get my look and feel for my brand. I have lead workshops and talked about business leadership, so this is very important to me. 

Me: (running away as fast as I possibly can)

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User Submitted Post

1 June 2019 - 2:00pm

I worked at an office with a young woman who had recently started a freelance graphic design and copywriting business, which she worked on during her “free time”. It was a common occurrence to spot her in the kitchen with her personal laptop working on something for a client during lunch. One Friday, I walked into the kitchen just as she was closing her laptop. 

Me: Hey! How’s business?

Her: It’s great! I’ve been busy! I just finished writing 5 posts for a client. I’ve sent them the file and now I’m looking forward to relaxing, since I took this weekend off from everything! 

Memories of CFH stories began swirling around in my brain when I realized she sent all 5 posts to the client in a single word file, but I shrugged them off. Surely her client would realize there are 5 separate posts there…right?

I pass her in the hall about 2 hours later:

Her: You know that client I finished the posts for at lunch? They replied to my email accusing me of trying to rip them off! I had to save separate word files for each of the 5 posts and send them in a new email so they’d believe that I wrote more than 1 post! 

Me: What happened after you sent the new email?

Her: They were happy and they paid the remaining balance within 15 minutes!

After commiserating for another minute or two, we continued our opposite ways down the hall. I heard her mutter “I can’t believe I had to do that…” as she rounded the corner. 

Before leaving that day, I left a note on her desk telling her to check out CFH.

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User Submitted Post

1 June 2019 - 1:00pm

I was presenting a campaign idea targeted specifically at couples, with a bunch of mockups and mood pictures on each slides. One of them was showing a lesbian couple.

Client: Wait… Can you go back to the previous slide? 

Me: Sure

Client: Mmmhh….. I don’t get it. Are these girls friends? 

Me: No… The whole concept is for couples.

Client: Oh! I see. But why the specific choice of having a homosexual couple in there?

Me: Because it’s open to all couples? And it’s the best stock picture I found to use for this mockup. They just happen to be women. 

Client: Ok, but it’s distracting. I couldn’t focus on what you explained since I was thinking about the picture. I’m not anti- anything, but next time, use normal pictures if you want people to focus on what you’re saying. 

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User Submitted Post

31 May 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m a film student in my second year at uni. I’m trying to take on more “free” projects to really get that portfolio ready for paid gigs and an interesting project popped up for a fashion student’s dissertation.

After a bit of radio silence, I finally met the guy in person and we discussed the way he wanted the documentary about him making shoes. There were a couple red flags…

Client: You have full creative control, do anything you want with it really have fun!

Me: Ok great! Is there a plan of things you want in the documentary?

Client: I thought I’d leave that up to you, you obviously know the best way to do this. 

I decided to take an optimistic approach to this and requested some more information about the project. After a lot more radio silence I get an email with a 6,000 word essay attached, his dissertation. 

Me: Ah yes, could you please summarise this into sections to cover in the documentary and could I have your deadline and key dates so I can make a schedule?

Client: *silence*

I decided to just keep doing my own research into ways I want to make this documentary. Christmas came and I went home for the holidays. After a few days there I got an email.  

Client: Hello, can we meet to film tomorrow.

Me: I’m not sure I’m available tomorrow, what time and where?

Client: Noon.

I don’t live anywhere near the uni and he still didn’t give me where I needed to be so I let him know I couldn’t make it an I required a bit more notice to be able to film. I left my parents house and headed back to mine to get ready to shoot a couple of days after when he wanted. 

A few days later I got to the location and he’s making his shoe, I start filming everything is alright and nearer to the end of the day things slow down, he needs some help to finish the shoe however before he does he decides to try and take advantage of me being there. 

Client: while I’m looking for someone to help could you research these things

He handed me a list of secondary research topics that sort of seemed like his job to follow up on?

Me: Uh I don’t know if I’m the best person for this. 

Client: I’ll be back in a bit to see what you’ve done.

He leaves me with research that he should be doing because this is literally his final year dissertation for his degree… I’m a bit shocked, open up google on my laptop and type in the first topic and just keep that page open. When he comes back he checks on me every 10 minutes to make sure I was researching. It was so awkward.

Couple of days later I get an email about the progress of the research and whether it will be in the film. 

Me: Could I see your dissertation brief.

Client: I’m going, to be honest, I don’t really understand it but here you are.

I read through the brief and find out the secondary research I’m doing needs to equate to 4,000 words and there was no way I was going to do it before but now there’s no way in hell I’m going to do it. I couldn’t believe he was trying to take advantage of me and I started to actually feel bad. So I write an email to him and his tutor.

Me: The brief says the video should have the equivalent of 4,000 words in it which I’m assuming will be marked so I don’t really feel comfortable doing the secondary research for the film because it isn’t my place to research for your independent dissertation nor am I a researcher or fashion student. I hope you can work something out with your tutor. 

Client: Very well.

Later he sends me around 2000 words of research he’d clearly done beforehand… obviously he was trying to get some work out of me as if I wasn’t making him a whole documentary.

Fast forward to now, the deadline is a couple of days away and I’ve decided this whole thing is a him problem and not a me problem so I’m trying not to get too stressed. Suddenly I get an email from his tutor. 

Client: Hello, I’m the tutor and I’ve edited the dissertation into 8 sections, if you could please structure the video into these 8 sections that would be great. 

She changed a lot, most of it had nothing to do with what I’d filmed. I’m just gonna keep editing what I have and go from there really, just can’t believe they’d put me through all of this and change everything last minute like I can pull footage of stuff I never filmed out of my ass.

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Getting payment out of clients who don’t want to pay

31 May 2019 - 1:00pm

Many years ago I rented a two-story former store in Ireland. I worked there all day for long hours. Half the time I took on graphic design and web projects on the upper floor and the other half I worked as a physiotherapist on the lower floor.

For reasons I can’t explain, my design clients always paid their invoices on time. Always. But the clients I saw as a physiotherapist were nearly always late in paying or quite often, refused to pay their invoices at all.

I had one client who had suffered from a chronic condition for many years. I treated him successfully and finally I sent him an invoice.

He sent me a letter in response:

Client: Thank you so much for your intervention. My life has completely changed thanks to you. I’m back at work, playing golf again and just feel so much better. Thank you for your help. However, I will not be paying this bill. Sorry.





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User Submitted Post

30 May 2019 - 2:00pm

Me: It will cost $X to create that for you.

Client: Well how long will it take?

Me: It should be ready to go live in two or three weeks from the time we complete testing and troubleshooting.

Client: Well can’t you just do it faster so that you can charge me less?

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30 May 2019 - 1:00pm

A client emailed me to ask how they access their main email account (an email that they set up) and after I figured out their access link and sent it to them and then they asked me what their password was.

I would like to note that they’ve had this email account for YEARS… And have apparently never checked their email.

The post Seriously…what? appeared first on Clients From Hell.

I gave you $150. Why aren’t I rich yet?

29 May 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: You told me that you would make sure my business is number one on Google ads! You have already used $150 of my money and I have not gotten one sale.

Me: You are spending up to $25 per click for your ads. You’re competing with national brands in a competitive industry and the cost per click is high. 

Client: You’re ripping me off! I spent $150 and I expected to make at least $10,000 in sales by now! 


The post I gave you $150. Why aren’t I rich yet? appeared first on Clients From Hell.

He got it out of the way early at least

29 May 2019 - 1:28pm

Client: Hey, you do pictures and stuff in your free time, right?

Me: I do freelance design on the side, yeah.

Client: Can you make my fitness business a logo?

Me: [goes through the usual schtick and quotes a price]

Client: But don’t I only pay you if I decide to use it?

Thanks for helping me dodge that bullet up front, dude.

The post He got it out of the way early at least appeared first on Clients From Hell.

User Submitted Post

28 May 2019 - 2:00pm

After creating a new page on their website:

Client: This section looks weird to me. Can you keep it centered but also have it to the left?


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User Submitted Post

28 May 2019 - 1:00pm

Client: Is ‘Pantone Process Cayenne’ a thing? Or do I need to give you a number?

Me: Did… did you mean Cyan maybe?

Client: I prefer calling it cayenne.

Me: Ok, but only one of those is a thing.

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Bozo Bride

27 May 2019 - 2:00pm

I shoot and edit wedding videos. After the wedding, I was in touch with the bride.

Me: Do you have any songs in mind for the final edit? I don’t usually use the same songs that you used to walk down the aisle, because the mood for editing doesn’t match the music.

Client: No, no. I don’t have any in mind. 

Me: I’ll choose a song, but it can’t be changed afterward. Are you sure you don’t have any suggestions? 

Client: No, none. Just choose a song.

Me: (edits to heart’s desire & sends off finished video)

Client: Hi, can you use the song that I walked down the aisle to? 

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Unfair warranty…

27 May 2019 - 1:00pm

I sell fairly high-end custom props. A few months after selling a £250 electronic item to a customer who moved back to the far east, I had this conversation via Facebook.

Client: It’s broken

Me: Well you have a warranty, if you send it back I can have a look for you.

Client: I already opened it, and took it apart to try and fix it.

Me: Well that will have invalidated your warranty as per my terms and conditions. Do you have any electronics or wiring experience?

Client: No.

Me: Can you send it back then?

Client: Well I’m in Malaysia now.


Client: My friend here is looking at it now though. He’s an electronics expert.

Me: Well I’ll try and offer any advice I can.

Client: My friend says he doesn’t know how to take it apart.

Me: *head hits desk*

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User Submitted Post

26 May 2019 - 2:00pm

I was creating a TV commercial for a client who owned one of those rug businesses that’s always got a “closing down” sale happening. After finishing the filming, I rendered out the initial draft for his review. 

Client: This is ridiculous! You made my business look like a dank warehouse!

I wasn’t sure how to break the news to him…

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109 Premium fonts and 2000+ graphics for a bonkers 99% off!

26 May 2019 - 2:00pm
109 Premium fonts and 2000+ graphics for a bonkers 99% off!

This week’s deal is frankly staggering. Every now and then we feature a deal that offers insane value. 

> This is one of those times. 

109 premium fonts. Over 2000 graphics, including stock photos, textures, illustrations and more. At the asking price, if you find three fonts you like this bundle has already paid for itself, and chances are you’re going to find a whole lot more. Just take a look at everything this bundle has to offer. 

It’s a lot.

The full retail price for everything in this package is $1830, but for the next few days you can get it all for $14, or 99% off. 99%! 

> Check out the deal here. 

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