Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 2 min ago

<p>This is, unfortunately, a near daily

23 May 2020 - 3:00pm

This is, unfortunately, a near daily occurrence for me.

Client: I would like to set up an appointment with you for today.

Me: Great! I am available from 3 pm-5 pm, or from 7 pm-9:30 pm. What time works for you?

Client: Let’s do 6 pm.

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<p>Client: Take this 2&#8243;x10&#8243;

23 May 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: Take this 2″x10″ finished ad and make it fit into a 3″x3″ space. Don’t rebuild it, don’t stretch it and don’t cut anything off. Just make it fit.

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<p>I’m a web designer, and I offer a

22 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m a web designer, and I offer a service where I setup a server with a working CMS system on it for 30 bucks. It doesn’t take me long, and it helps bring in clients.

Client: I want a website for my company.

We spoke through all the details and it was a big job. He wanted a site, full eCommerce integration and even a year’s worth of SEO services.

Right before I said goodbye:

Client: Can we talk about the price? $30 is a bit much – I’ve just started my business.

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<p>Client: We’ve got a last minute free

22 May 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: We’ve got a last minute free ad booking with a magazine and need you to prepare a final artwork file for them.

Me: Sure, what are the ad specs, file requirements and when do they need it by?

Client: Why are you bothering me with these questions? Aren’t you supposed to be a creative agency? Use your creativity.

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<p>I work at a musical instruments

21 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I work at a musical instruments store, and one day someone started a chat conversation on our website like this:

Client: Hi. I have 2 dreams: one is to learn how to play the saxophone, and the other is to pay a $3000 bill that I have. Can you help me? $500 already helps.


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<p>I was commissioned to do some market

21 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I was commissioned to do some market sizing for a well-recognized, global financial services firm. The job was to size a market and to identify future growth opportunities for a major report they were doing.

I identified the market size and plotted a growth projection, the client seemed really happy. Two months later the report is published online and I check out our research, all of the figures had been inflated by at least six times creating a significant lie that was attributed to our company.

Me: Hi, I think there’s a problem with the figures in the report, they don’t match our findings, have you gone to print yet?

Client: Work in your own interests and don’t ever undermine me again.

Me: I will always tell the truth about this when asked.

Never worked with him again.

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<p>I’m a music supervisor and was

20 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m a music supervisor and was working on a video project so secretive they couldn’t release the footage from the edit suite. Every day I had to make the 40 minute trip across the city to look at the new edits, so I could brief my team, with very little information other than having watched the films.

One morning I got a call from the producer on the job – the Executive Creative Director had “something he wants to show me.” I grabbed my notebook and headed over in hammering rain.

The ECD sat in front of a platter of sushi, looking oh so advertising. When he saw me, he grinned and played me the same movie I’d seen before, except synchronised with the track “Surfing Bird.”

Me: Okay, so if this is the direction you want to go, what do you want me to find? Are we looking for a track with guitars? Do you like the pace and energy? What stands out to you?

Client: I don’t know, it just works.

Then he folded his arms, closed his eyes and pretended to fall asleep.

The whole exchange took about 10 minutes. I drove back to my team with no new information except that the ECD is a jagoff.

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<p>Client: We need more design in this.

20 May 2020 - 2:31pm

Client: We need more design in this.

Me: More design as in?

Client: I don’t know. I ate too much rice and can’t think of anything.

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19 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I’d spent three weeks on a client’s website, and had redone the design 3 times before eventually paying (out of my pocket) for a template he demanded he wanted instead of a custom build one.

Two hours before the site had to go live, he send an email with a drawing.

Client: This is what I want the website to look like.

Me: It’s a pencil drawing, and the website has to be live in 2 hours.

Client: It will be quick, I already gave you this layout [he was referring to the drawing] so I did most of the work for you.

Me: What about the template you wanted and I paid for.

Client: You can use that for other clients, I’m not paying back what you spent.

I just cancelled the job right there. I was pushed around for 3 weeks and after losing money already I knew he wasn’t going to pay the bill, so I didn’t spend more time on a wasted project.

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<p>I run a small Fiverr Gig where I

19 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I run a small Fiverr Gig where I design low poly renders for clients, and one day I get a very simple order. 

Client: Hello I would like a jumping kangaroo. The kangaroo is purple and the background to be green. I would like it setup like the bull. I would like it to look like “kangaroohopping01.jpg” but have included other materials as reference.

Me: Alright, I’ll get this out to you ASAP.

Client: Many thanks for your time on this.

Later that

Me: Here’s a first draft. Please let me know what changes you would like to see done, and I’ll do them immediately. 

I tried contacting him 4 more times over the next two days. And when none of the contacts worked, I delivered the order, which took three days to finalize, because he would not confirm that it was done.

About two weeks later, I got a review.

Client: Good Experience, 3/5 stars on communication.

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<p>I’m a real estate appraiser,

18 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m a real estate appraiser, performing an inspection on a client’s property. The client follows me down to the basement as I’m inspecting. The carpet is rolled up in the corner, the bare concrete is wet, there’s 4 large box fans and a dehumidifier running, and I see little black spots running about 6 inches up every wall.

Me: Looks like your basement had a pretty bad leak during that last storm.

Client: Oh, no, no, we were just… washing the floor.

Me: Uh… huh… Well it looks like you’ve got some mold damage along the walls. I know your bank doesn’t usually lend on properties with mold damage, but I’ll try to do what I can for you and recommend they opt to have me come back for a final inspection to make sure it’s been cleaned and repaired.

Client: That’s not mold.

I’ve taken several classes on house born molds. I’ve seen mold in houses a hundred times. This was absolutely, 100% mold.

Me: It isn’t? Are you sure it’s not mold?

Client: No, no, it’s not mold.

Me: Even if it wasn’t, it’s still some sort of damage, what is it?

Client: It’s… It’s just not mold. I’m positive it isn’t mold.

Me: Have you had a mold inspector check it out?

Client: Not yet, he’s coming tomorrow.

I internally facepalm, while maintaining a smile. He knows its mold. I know it’s mold. He doesn’t want me to know it’s mold. I know far better than him that it’s mold. A few weeks later I receive another order to go back out for a final inspection with one line of instructions: “Verify that the mold has been removed.”

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<p>I’m a voice actor, working primarily

18 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I’m a voice actor, working primarily in narrating audiobooks.  I mostly narrate for various publishing houses that cast actors for books, but occasionally take on projects independently.

On the whole, it’s a very fun and creative field of work, but unfortunately, many authors (even experienced ones) have no FREAKING CLUE about what goes into producing an audiobook.  It’s a time-consuming, rigorous business that requires lots of stamina and concentration from the actor, and very meticulous editing, mixing, and mastering by the producer.  I, like many narrators, often narrate AND produce the book altogether.

One particular author was just so narcissistic and delusional that I just had to share.

Client: I really like your audition – we’ll definitely discuss the fact that the voice for [minor character] was way off-base, but overall, solid work.  I’d like you to narrate the book!

I rolled my eyes at the “way off-base” comment, but I shrugged it off and start a dialogue.

Me: Glad you liked it!  I typically charge between $XXX and $XXX per finished hour for a book of this word count.

Side note: “per finished hour” refers to the final, edited running time of the book, since raw audio might contain extraneous sounds, such as the narrator taking a sharp breath or swallowing, cough, etc).  That final number multiplied by the rate one quotes equals the final pay.

Client: I only offer 70/30 royalty share deals to narrators (that’s 70% for him, 30% for me), which I think is more than reasonable.  But it will be lucrative for you – I have a large following and got many good reviews on my last novel.

I checked social media, only to discover that his website domain resulted in a “404 Not Found” error, and he only has 83 Twitter followers and his page was mostly just re-tweets of philosophical quotes. So no following, most likely no sales.

Me: I’m sorry, I unfortunately cannot accept projects on a strictly royalty-share basis. It’s too great a risk for the amount of work that will go into the project.  I hope you understand.  I really do like the story, so if you’d be at all willing to agree to a flat rate buyout, I will gladly take on the project.

Client: Okay, first of all, there are way too many overly-entitled narrators out there who expect to be paid to just sit in a chair behind a microphone and read a book out loud.  I read out loud to my children every night before bed – do I expect someone to pay me to do that?  Second, this is probably going to become a movie. I’ve already started drafting a screenplay and will be pitching it to some producers.  I can envision Jon Hamm playing the lead role. I was hoping to establish a working relationship with a narrator who would be willing to accept my fair aforementioned royalty share agreement.  That is my final offer.

Me: I really am sorry, but I will not be able to commit to the project on those terms.  I wish you the best in your endeavors.

I figured that was the end of it. Then, three weeks later:

 Client: I have decided on another narrator.  Had you accepted the offer, I might have been willing to let you do the opening narration of the movie version when the time came.

Me: ….

Note: This exchange happened 3 years ago.  To this day I still haven’t seen the audiobook anywhere online.  Hopefully whatever narrator he chose saw the light and bailed.

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

17 May 2020 - 3:00pm
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.

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<p>I am a personal assistant for

17 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I am a personal assistant for several people in NYC. My main client cut back the hours she needs me. This led to a frank discussion about money and why I was looking for new clients.

Client: Why are you looking for more work? I cut back your hours because you were going on so many trips. You seemed financially fine.

Me I’m sorry, but you don’t get to choose how well off I am or not and then cut my hours based on that.

Client: I don’t know why you’re upset with me about that.

Me: Because what you did was incredibly presumptuous and has hurt me monetarily.

Client Well, let me think about this and maybe I’ll schedule you for more hours.

At which point she cut my hours even more.

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<p>I design monuments and other

16 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I design monuments and other wayfinding systems. Recently I had a request to design a monument for an apartment complex in another state, so I researched the types of monument being used in the area and submitted a design of a double faced ground sign with a masonry base.

Client: Can you raise the monument off the ground about 7 feet?

Me: You want a super tall base under the sign face?

Client: No. I want it on posts or something. I need to see under and through it.

Me: Ummm.. Okay. Why do you need to see under it?

Client: The blacks around here are always hiding behind things. So I want to make sure they can’t hide behind the sign.


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the same but different but still the same

16 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I work for a company that sets up high end phone systems for businesses.

Client: We want our system to work exactly like the previous phone system we had.

Me: Okay, well this can do most of the same things as that system, but it’s not going to work exactly the same.

Client: But we need it to be the same.

Me: All the things you had listed as needs are things our system can do, but the devices we use are different, so it’s going to work slightly differently. We will teach you the differences.

Client: No, no, we need it to be exactly the same.

Me: Can I ask, why did you leave your other provider then?

Client: It wasn’t working out. The system didn’t work the way we wanted it to.

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<p>I was working on a black poster with

15 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I was working on a black poster with white text on it.

Client: There is something wrong with your design, it won’t work.

Me: What exactly isn’t working?

Client: I think you made it wrong. It won’t print properly.

Me: OK. Tell me what the printing company said to you.

Client: I printed it by myself to save money.

Me: all right, so printed out the normal file on your office printer, right?

Client: Yeah, and I even bought nice paper for it but the printer refuses to use your file.

Me: Right. Can you double check what colors of ink your printer has?

Client: Are you kidding? The normal ones! Red, yellow, blue, black and whi…

Me: …

Client: …

Client: …Please forget I called.

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<p>I was in public drawing in my

15 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I was in public drawing in my sketchbook, when a woman who I’d worked with in an after school program before came up to me.

Client: You’re so good at drawing! I need a brochure put together, could you do it for me? I’m willing to pay.

Me: Sure! What would you like?

Client: Well, I would like it to be…

She started explaining what she was looking for, and I was taking notes. At some point she realized I was writing, not drawing.

Client: Wait – why aren’t you working on it right now?

Me: This…This is a sketch book. If you want your brochure to look professional I have to do it on the computer.

Client: But I want it right now!

Me: Uh… I can’t do that. I could give you a sketch, but nothing final.

Client: That is so unprofessional!

Then she started asking the friends I with:

Client: Do any of you want some work? Because SHE won’t do it!

Call me crazy, but I don’t think this is going to work out.

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Want great clients? Get social proof! Meg Cumby on the art of client testimonials

14 May 2020 - 3:45pm
Want great clients? Get social proof! Meg Cumby on the art of client testimonials

You can be great at what you do, but if you can’t convince your clients that you are, you’re not going to get the jobs you want.

That’s why getting outstanding testimonials is so important to a freelance business! Testimonial consultant Meg Cumby joins Kyle to discuss the key to getting FANTASTIC testimonials from your clients. HINT: it involves picking up the phone! 

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from! Use this link ( for a great price! 

Think you’d be a great fit for the show? Let me know at

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

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Something to Smile About

14 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I just received an email from a client and they used an emoji in it…

The emoji was sent as an attachment.

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