Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 56 min ago

“I’m gonna pay this outta my pocket :)”

30 August 2019 - 2:02pm

I’m an illustrator. A client contacted me with very specific demands. 

Client: I want ten elaborate illustrations. I will have full rights to the characters within, and you will only have permission to use up to three of these drawings in your portfolio. Oh, I am going to pay this outta my pocket by the way

User Submitted Post

29 August 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: I want this on my website.

Client sends me a massive logo with a bunch of slogans.

Me: (shrugs, then does as requested)

Client: I don’t like this, why can’t you do your job properly?

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New Hosting for a Website

29 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was talking with a new Client about hosting options for a new website I was going to create for her. I recommended my favorite hosting company to her.

Client: Great, so we’ll use hosting company YYYY instead of company XXXX.

Me: Yes, that’s what I recommend.

I start working on mockups of the new site. I check on the Client’s old website two weeks later. Her old website is no longer online.

I e-mail the Client.

Me: Did you take down your old website?

Client: No, I transferred the old domain to the new hosting site you recommended. You mean the website wouldn’t be transferred with it?

I’m starting to feel alarmed.

Me: No, that’s a separate process. Do you have a backup of your old website?

Client: No.

I’m starting to panic. Now she has no website online. 

I call the old hosting company. They were able to restore some of her old website so that I could download the files, but not without a very tense and stressful hour on the phone.

These days I don’t make any assumptions, and I carefully inform my clients about the differences between hosting, domains, and website file transfer options.

 

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A Long Way to Go

28 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I was a potential client who was slightly older (in his 50s) who runs a multi-million dollar a year business. We discussed his website development goals and other tech-focused projects.

He appeared confused and suspicious of various topics that I had to clarify to him, such as the difference between a free and customized website.

Client: Now, why would I want a WordPress site? Those are free and so basic! (He says with a sneer).

Me: I was describing a highly customized WordPress site, which is different.

Client: Well, for now, let’s just work on updating the website I had made 8 years ago. The developer coded it all himself. See if you can reach out to him to find out more about where to access the files.

I click on a few important links on the site. 

Me: Oh, the links aren’t working, so leads can’t inquire in those areas and customers can’t view some of the products.

Client: Why would that be? Why isn’t my site working?

We continue our discussion. Before we end our meeting, he checks his e-mail.

Client: How do I get rid of this e-mail from this guy? He keeps showing up in my inbox.

Me: Have you tried deleting it or flagging it as Spam?

Client: No, how do I do those things?

Anyway, he hired me for the project. I sent him an invitation to login to a Project Management dashboard so he can see the status of some tasks I was working on.

Client: I thought you were the tech expert here, why do I need to know how to do any of this.

Not sure what to do here. I’m realizing I’ll have to be the one to have to walk him through many basic tech concepts – and spend months bringing him up to speed on some of the latest tech & communications trends.

I don’t know if I have the patience for it.

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User Submitted Post

28 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I became unemployed in San Francisco and was looking for work doing product design.

I’m used to unpaid projects being a big part of the interview process. One potential client (a company that creates branded merch for various Tech companies), had me create 2 t-shirt graphics for a popular music festival.  Then I had to create a tech pack for each design (measurements, pantones, other specs…).

I submitted the designs on a Monday and had the in-person interview on that following Tuesday. I thought it went fairly well, although it was a little weird.

Client: Hope you don’t mind a bit of pressure. People cry at work here a lot.

RED FLAG.

Client: We like your designs. We’ll get back to you soon. 

In fact, they called me on my way home. 

Client: Hey, we’d love to have you come in one more time for a full working day to see how you’d fit in and if you could handle different types of projects. Could you come in tomorrow?

Me: Hi! I would love to. However, I’m going to be out of town visiting my family. The trip has been planned for a while, but I’d be happy to do a project over the weekend or come in on Monday. 

Client: Could you fly back on Friday to come in or cancel your trip? We’d really like to hire someone by Friday.

Me: Well, that would cost me a lot of money, but let me see what I can do.

I had no intention of actually doing that but I needed to buy some time to figure out if this was worth it. By the time I got home, I received an email from the company.

Client: Hi, we’ve agreed that it’s ok for you to do this project for us while you are out of town. You have to submit this no later than Thursday for us to make a decision by Friday: There is a huge hackathon event happening and you have to create 3 different designs for merch for Company A, B, C, and D

All very different tech companies.

The merch should include t-shirts for hackers to wear along with fun giveaways and potential prizes. Include graphics and tech drawings. Please turn in no later than Thursday.

Keep in mind it is now Tuesday evening. I am flying on a plane tomorrow (Wednesday) and it is due Thursday.

I actually felt guilty turning down a job when I needed work but they were so disrespectful of my time I had to say no. Even if I did do it any I work I did in that short amount of time would have been crap…they didn’t even respond to my polite decline email. 

I found a much better job soon after. 

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SEO Reporting Fun…

27 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I was working as a freelance Marketing Associate with an agency. My manager needed a large number of detailed, multipage SEO data analysis reports created for small business clients within a couple of weeks.

The tasks were monotonous, required a lot of proofreading, and no errors could be made.

Manager: How’s it going on the reports? You saw the examples of how I want them to look, right?

Me: These reports are more detailed than I thought they would be, but I’m making progress.

Manager: How long is it taking you to create each report?

Me: An hour and a half for each report.

Manager: It should only take you 30 minutes!

I hadn’t even mentioned that I also needed some time to recover my mental energy after each report since I was focusing pretty intensely. This should have been apparent to the Manager, who was also aware that I had many other tasks on my plate simultaneously. 

I am starting to think this will be a hellish next 2 weeks…

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The Case of the Unanswerable Question

27 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was hired as a marketing contractor to work for a hot tub and pool company. I was a bit wary about it since the retail store seemed cluttered and outdated, and the people working there frequently look pissed.

Part of my job included some admin duties, such as answering the phones at the main desk, to connect the callers with the appropriate department.

The phone rang.

Me: How can I help you today?

Customer: I need to speak with someone about a part that’s not working in my hot tub that I bought from your store a year ago.

Me: Ok, just a moment, I’ll connect you with the Parts Department.

I redirected the call, and a few moments later my phone rang again. The call was returned to me.

Customer: The Parts Department said they don’t answer those kinds of mechanical questions, they just order the parts.

Me: Oh… sorry about that. Let me try the Service Department.

I send the call over to the Service Department.

A few minutes after, the phone call is returned to my desk once again.

Customer: Now this is getting really annoying. The Service Department said they only answer Pool Service questions, not hot tub service questions.

Me: Wow, my apologies. Sorry for the hassle, let me send you to the voicemail of the Manager. He’s busy at the moment, but can return your call soon. We’ll get back to you about this as soon as possible.

Later that afternoon, the Manager of the store comes over to my desk, looking very angry.

Client: I need you to work on your phone skills. The customer I just talked to on the phone was extremely annoyed that he had to talk to various departments about his hot tub part issue. I still need to find someone who can answer his question.

Me: Well, where was I supposed to send the phone call?

Manager: Just send it to the Sales Desk next time.

A Sales Associate who is standing nearby chimes in.

Sales Associate: Yeah, we’re supposed to know the answers to those questions, some of us know more than others about how those hot tubs work. I don’t know if I know the answer to that particular issue though.

I am starting to get a sinking feeling about this gig…

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User Submitted Post

26 August 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: I need the file you sent over in a different format.

Me: Sure, give me a couple days to re-export and upload the new version, since it’ll be a 14GB file.

Client: That’s fine. Can you send me a copy in the meantime so I can look it over?

Me:

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Some last minute suggestions

26 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was working for my then girlfriend’s father. He had a greeting card company and wanted a website and logo.

After a several week process of slowly getting to a logo, we were almost there. A final meeting was to be scheduled to pick the logo.

Right before I wanted to set the meeting he emailed me.

Attached was a word document with word art logos he made with his 12-year-old son.

Client: Can we move more in this direction?

A month later I broke up with his daughter for reasons other than the word art. I just never responded to his request. 

Never talked to him again.

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Make logos FAST with 500+ specialized elements for only $19!

25 August 2019 - 3:00pm
Make logos FAST with 500+ specialized elements for only $19!

This week’s deal is on the tools you need to draft logos FAST. 

> There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with every client. Get to an MVP fast with this kit. 

People have based their entire design careers on making logos, and even if you pride yourself on doing original work in everything you do it helps to be able to throw together something fast to give your clients a sense of what you’re doing. This bundle gives you over 500 elements that make it easy to mock up a logo, and even 150+ premade templates that are even easier. If this bundle helps you show a client what you intend, great; if you sell a logo using just these templates, even better. You’ve saved time and made money. 

Priced at just $29 for a limited time only, this kit is a bargain. If you save one hour of work using these elements, you’ve made your money back – just don’t forget to charge your client for that hour! 

> Check out the deal here. 

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How to Expand a Business with Minimal Budget

25 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I chatted with a client about how he wanted to make more money with his travel/tourism/transportation business. He was getting a lot of customers and wanted to expand. He had one vehicle where he drove people around, and he wanted another one so he could hire another person on his team.

He sounded very stressed on the phone.

Client: I need to make more money to support my family, and I don’t have much savings to buy another vehicle. What do you think I should do?

Me: Well, there are various options.

Client: What do you think of a Kickstarter campaign?

Me: It might work if it was marketed really well online.

Client: Ok, let’s do that.

I am not convinced I want to work on this project yet, so I continue to ask questions.

Me: How much could you pay me per month to work on this marketing project?

Client: $200 per month.

Me: Uh… hmm…

I didn’t have the heart to tell him on the phone that’s not what I had in mind for payment and just told him I didn’t think we’d be a good match.

I later look up this guy online, and I see a mugshot of when he was arrested for a DUI. I wondered how that might affect his Kickstarter and online marketing efforts.

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This is the First Time I’ve Heard of This!

24 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I’m a freelance marketing professional, and I met with the sales manager of a truck dealership to discuss his interests in boosting sales & customer interest in their trucks.

Me: How are things going so far at the dealership?

Client: Not well. Sales have been down, and we’re financially struggling. I don’t have time to do any marketing.

Me: That’s not good. I did some online research, and it looks like there are a lot of very negative reviews on Google and Facebook about the dealership. That’s likely hurting sales. Have you seen them?

Client: No, let me check.

I was a bit surprised by how unaware he was, as a large part of dealership sales are influenced by online reputation.

The client checked his iPhone and scrolled through Facebook.

Client: Wow, here’s a horrible review from two years ago. This is the first time I’ve heard of this!

Me: Take a look at them all. It’s helpful to respond to negative and positive reviews in a timely fashion if possible.

Client: Why would I need to do that?

I further discuss the details with him.

Me: Have you tried paid online advertising for your dealership?

Client: No, how does that work?

It seemed odd that they had done so little to market their dealership online.

The client followed up with me a week later and tells me they don’t have the funds to put towards marketing.

I learned a year later that the dealership went bankrupt and was bought out by another company. I was not surprised.

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You’ll Be on Your Own

24 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was hired as an Administrative Assistant on a contract-to-hire basis for a small law office. I was thinking it would be a nice, stable job without too much drama. However, the pay was low, and there weren’t any benefits.

On my first day on the job, I notice there’s no one working in the office to support the lawyers besides me and the previous Admin would be training me. 

Seemed a bit odd.

I am given an introduction to the job by the lawyer.

Lawyer: Ok, this is going to take a lot of training. We’re having a hard time keeping someone in this position.

Me: I see. Well, hopefully, this will be an easy onboarding experience.

Lawyer: We need you to provide paralegal support to us three lawyers. In addition, you will need to be the receptionist, and you will need to be in charge of all the billing and accounting procedures.

Me: Ok…

I am starting to feel a bit overwhelmed.

After the first week there, I discovered why they have such a hard time keeping someone in that position. The workload was way more than one person could complete in a reasonable work week. I was asked to work on the weekend to complete the billing & accounting paperwork.

Previous Admin: This job is so abusive. You will get used to it though. Just remember there are better days to come, and you’ll find a better job.

Me: This is quite a statement for the first week.

Previous Admin: Just don’t mess this up like I did in my first months. The whole office almost got in big trouble for serious accounting errors and it was hard to keep track of all the details. Their computer systems are very outdated. You’ll learn from these huge binders of instructions I’m leaving you. In a few days, you’ll be on your own.

I decided the job wasn’t for me after all.

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We Need You to be More Likeable

23 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I was hired for my first freelance job a couple of years out of college as a Project Coordinator

The client would change his mind frequently, there was frequently confusion about billing, and the client had many complaints about project tracking.

Client: Try to keep on top of the team to use the Project Management System as much as possible. They’re resistant but keep on them. 

I followed up with the team every week to see if they used the system. 

The client called me into his office.

Client: People don’t like you.

Me: What do you mean?

I am starting to shake. What an awful thing to say.

Client: I have received a number of complaints from people in the office that you are asking them to use the Project Management system too much.

Me: That’s what you asked me to do. I guess I won’t communicate as much.

Client: That won’t work either. I need you to be more likable.

I went home and cried for an hour. I quit soon after.

I still had friends who worked there who told me that the Account fell apart within a year, and most people who worked on it left. I was not surprised.

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Coupon Confusion

23 August 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: We want to have three sale coupons in the e-mail campaign you’ll design and send out. One coupon will be for a sale on four products in our retail store only, one will be for a product on our website. One will be for a product that can be bought online or in the store. 

Me: Those coupon ideas sound interesting, but I think that could confuse the audience. People read through e-mails really quickly these days, and we don’t want people to get frustrated, especially since we are just starting to send these e-mail campaigns out. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to buy your products.

Client: (rolls their eyes and laughs sarcastically) Sure… people will be “confused” with more than one coupon.

Me: Ok… I’ll make it work.

The anger in me is starting to boil.

I create the e-mail campaign as requested and send it out. I visit the store the next day to work on some projects.

Client: We keep getting phone calls and questions from customers who are confused about the recent coupons in your e-mail campaign. They are trying to use the online coupon in the store, and the in-store coupon on the website. What did you do?

Me: I included the coupon offers you wanted me to. That’s what I was afraid of.

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Leading Creative Projects

22 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I was hired to work on design projects for a Communications Consultant, getting paid a small fraction of what I think he was getting paid. He was leading the creative projects for various large clients and was a decent creative writer. However, he had no design background.

Client: I need you to create an e-mail campaign template and a poster for one of my clients.

Me: Ok, do you have any specific colors, fonts, or imagery that you would like me to use?

Client: No, I have no idea about that.

I looked at the client’s logo and existing creative assets online. I created a mini-style guide with on-brand colors and fonts and share it with the Consultant.

Me: I created this brief guide based on the existing creative work and logo of the Client. This will help us keep things organized and on-brand with projects. We can adjust it as needed as we go.

Client: Wow, great idea. I have been working with this client for over a year with various designers and I never thought to specify the colors, fonts, or overall direction of the projects.

There’s a first time for everything.

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Tech Issues

22 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was at a meeting with a client and some of their employees. We were brainstorming ways to effectively manage some communications projects.

I didn’t want to overwhelm some of the less tech-savvy older individuals in the room.

Me: We could use Google sheets to coordinate tasks for now, and maybe use a more sophisticated project management system later.

Client: How do we use Google Sheets?

Me: It’s from Google, similar to Excel, but you can access it from your Gmail account. I can send you some instructions.

Client: I used to have a Gmail account, but my friend used my iPhone a year ago. So now whenever I try to see my e-mail I see hers instead.

One of the Client’s employees: I don’t know if I have a Gmail account either. I’ll have to check. Do I just sign up for one?

This is going to be a slower process than I thought…

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The Virus Ad Removal Technique

21 August 2019 - 3:00pm

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…

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Just a Handful of Clients

21 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was searching for jobs on the freelance job boards. I chatted with a team at a remote marketing agency about their needs for a freelance Project Manager. The Client (the Marketing Agency Director), was being evasive about some details of the freelance Project Management role we were discussing. This was concerning to me. The agency worked on website development, social media, paid ads, online content projects, and more.

I decided to be direct in our second conversation.

Me: How many clients do you currently have, and what are their needs?

Client: We have about 40 clients with different requirements and goals. We don’t stick to one niche.

Me: And I would be managing the project communications and tracking project status for all of these clients?

Client: Yes

I value my sanity too much. No thanks.

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Clarity is key: Wes Jones and maintaining awesome client relations

20 August 2019 - 8:20pm
Clarity is key: Wes Jones and maintaining awesome client relations

Client relationships break down. It’s a bummer, but it happens. But what causes it?

Wes Jones has been a project manager both with agencies and as a freelancer to know that things deteriorate when communication isn’t clear. That’s why he wrote the Producer Playbook to help make sure that everyone on a project can be on the same page. 

On this week’s episode, Wes chats with Kyle about his strategies for managing client expectations and making sure your needs as a freelancer are met. He also shares a surprising tip on how to make sure that you are happy in your business! 

We’re sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes, and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

Check out Gusto’s free three-month trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

Think you’d be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

 

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