Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 41 min 31 sec ago

User Submitted Post

19 August 2020 - 2:29pm

Client: Click on that link you just put in.

Me: Okay. It opens to YouTube. What’s the problem?

Client: See all that ‘Up Next’ stuff on the right?

Me: (fighting feeling of existential dread) Yeah?

Client: Can you make all that go away?

Me: No. I cannot, in fact, reprogram YOUTUBE.

Client: (letting out an exasperated sigh) Oh… Well, can we at least get the logo off that one video on the right?

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Manage yourself, make money: Marcel Petitpas on project management for freelancers!

18 August 2020 - 7:15pm
Manage yourself, make money: Marcel Petitpas on project management for freelancers!

Whether you’re a designer, a programmer, an illustrator or a writer, if you work for yourself you are on some level a project manager.

It can be a full-time job keeping yourself in a full-time job, and chances are you’re wasting time and losing money in ways you haven’t even noticed yet. But don’t worry – Marcel Petitpas of Parakeeto makes a living by helping agencies and solopreneurs make the most out of their jobs, and he shares his strategies for effective project management with host Kyle Carpenter this week! 

Topics include how to track time EFFECTIVELY, strategies for keeping your clients on track, and how to price so you don’t lose money with every new project! 

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

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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User Submitted Post

18 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Budget looks great, can you swing by the office so you can meet with our boss?

Me: I think it’d be safer to have a video meeting because we are on quarantine and I try not to go out.

Client: C’mon! It’s not like you are in the high-risk population!

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I don’t want to move it, but…

18 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I was doing a property photoshoot for a client, and the client had a massive furniture piece that needed to go.

Client: I can move it to the garage, but it’s really heavy. Can I just move it to another room?

Me: Well, we will be taking 360-degree scans of the space for a virtual tour in addition to static photos. You would need to move it several times in order to avoid being captured in the scans. 

Client: But if I move it around the corner, you won’t see it from here. 

Me: Yes, but when I scan from that corner, you will see both spaces. It’s a 360-degree view. 

Client: Well then I’ll move it again so it’s not in view. 

Me: Yes, but if you move it into the garage, you’d only have to move it once. 



Client: bUt iTs ReAlLy HeAvY!

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Can you clean this up?

17 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: I mocked up what I am looking for in Paint, can you just clean this up?

This, after I sent them a full proposal document outlining the key steps needed for logo development.

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Looking like…?

17 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I work in a publishing company. We make, edit and print magazines and different products for medical marketing. 

A client (a big, multinational pharma monster) send us they design guideline. We design a fertility magazine, based on that guideline to the letter.

Client: Please, redo the cover. It doesn’t have to look like we did it.

Me: We followed exactly what you told us to do in the design guidelines. 

Client: Well, you should have deviated from those guidelines to deliver something more “us.” 

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User Submitted Post

16 August 2020 - 2:00pm

Years ago, I was part of an I.T. team that was creating a new application for a government client.   I was one of two Quality Assurance leads.   Between me and the other QA lead, we discovered a lot of bugs.   The project was finished on time, under budget, and was excellent.  The client was ecstatic.

Supervisor:  I’ve got good news for you, team!  Our client is so happy, everyone responsible for making this project succeed is going to get a $1,000 bonus.

Me and other QA Lead:  That’s amazing!  

I.T. Supervisor:  Oh, uh, that doesn’t include you two.  Sorry.

Us:  What??  Why not?

I.T. Supervisor:  Because you weren’t involved in the project’s success.   That bonus is only for the software developers.

Us:  Are you kidding?  Have you any idea how many bugs we found?  If it hadn’t been for us, this project would have tanked.

I.T. Supervisor:  (shrugs)  Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

We raised hell, going to our supervisor’s boss, who agreed that we deserved bonuses.   We ended up getting $500 each, which was better than nothing, I guess.

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Get iconic with over 1100 vintage engravings for only $24 – 91% off!

15 August 2020 - 3:00pm
Get iconic with over 1100 vintage engravings for only $24 – 91% off!

This week’s deal is a one-stop shop for every old-timey illustration you could ever need!

> Kitchen gear, anatomical drawings, animals, flowers and more!

Vintage engravings have a timeless look and are an easy thing to add to any logo, branding, or poster. Want to make packaging materials for a line of beard oils? Use a vintage illustration of the key herbal ingredient! Selling romantic gift cards? A medical diagram of the human heart is a springboard to a fun concept. Creating a menu for a vegetarian restaurant? Use line art featuring peppers and leaf lettuce as a semi-transparent backdrop! These illustrations never go out of style, and at only $24 you can afford to be inspired, save time, and make money!

Everything in this bundle sells for $264, but this week you can save $240 and pay only $24. Sell one design with one of these illustrations, and you’ve made your money back! Sell two and you’re laughing. 

> Check out the deal here. 

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Gives you 5 stars, but calls your work “non creative”.

15 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I was recently hired by my first client. Since I was just starting out, I gave her a heavily discounted rate.

She was thrilled with my work, and rated me five stars on the job platform I’m using… until she started asking for revisions. In the following days, she asked me for more and more changes every day. Nothing was right. She paid me, but then kept demanding change after change and rejected every attempt I made to fix things.

Eventually, I decided to give her a refund for the low amount she paid me.

Me: I’m sorry, I think this isn’t working out. Thank you for this opportunity.

Client: …You’re not very creative, or professional. I was disappointed in your work from the start.

Then why did you give me five stars and tell me I was doing a great job? Jeez…

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Completely Un-original…

15 August 2020 - 2:00pm

Someone reached out to me to do a non-commercial logo for their fantasy sports team. I thought it was weird to spend money on this, but he takes his league very seriously and really wanted this. I figured my quote would scare him off but he immediately agreed so we started that discussion on what he was looking for. 

Me: Are you looking for something more traditional, wackier…

Client: I want this exactly! Same design, same colors, same everything!

He then sends me a link to a stock image site, where he can easily buy the logo for less than half of what I was going to charge him.

Me: Oh, you can just buy this and it would be for a lot less than what I would charge you.

Client: Yes, but then it wouldn’t be original. I really want this to be an original design. 

I debated explaining to him what “original” meant, but I figured it’s not for commercial use so why bother? I just bought the image, charged him the price of the download + a small fee for the little time I spent with him, and say anything. He was over-the-moon that I gave him a big “discount”

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Screen printing customer micromanaging (aka bullying) me on a Sunday.

14 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: These are gonna be ready Monday, correct?

Me: Are you micromanaging me on a Sunday?

Client: If I knew it was Sunday I might, but these days have been running together bud sorry

Me: But you know when Monday is?

Client: I’m pretty sure we paid you for a service, not the other way around. It’s a simple yes or no.


Just in case you thought a client with a PhD would have more common sense…

14 August 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: Hey so oops, we sent you double the slides you originally quoted for. The lab had extra tissue and figured why not, y’know?

Me: Sure, no problem, we can increase the scope.

Client: Oh no, we want to stick to the quote.

Me: But how are we supposed to know which half of the slides we should evaluate?

Client: Just look them over and pick the best ones.

Me: …The only people legally qualified to make decisions about which slides can be safely excluded are pathologists, whose time is billable at a much higher rate.  We’d need to issue an addendum to account for the extra time commitment.

Client: Oh no, we don’t want the slides EVALUATED.  Just looked over.

Me:Those are functionally the same thing. Are you saying you want us to do twice the work without paying for any of it?

Client: Awesome, glad we’re on the same page. When will you have that ready by?

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Bosses from hell?

13 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Not a client, but definitely a boss/job from hell. 

I have worked at my employer’s for almost 2 years now. The first, wonderful, team leader left sometime in 2019 due to extreme stress. We all had to take on a huge amount more work to cover for this, plus train a replacement staff member. I was (and still am) doing the most work in the entire department, often skipping lunch and having to make managerial decisions for no extra pay.

After we took our issues with the way things were to the senior manager for our larger department, he told the other managers and they took offence to this. We were told off for bypassing the chain of command, even though the chain was ineffective and we knew our complaints would fall on deaf ears if we went through proper channels.

Following that, we had an internal review, that, instead of noting everyone had a doubled workload, suggested that everyone in the apartment should try to “do everything better with fewer errors.”

Freelancing and job sites, here I come! 

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Microwave Melee

13 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I was giving a presentation to a client online.

Two minutes in, while I was talking, he got up and microwaved a burrito.


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User Submitted Post

12 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Why am I getting so much spam email? I bet I know why. I need to clear my browser cache, right?

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I’m a freelancer not your employee

12 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I signed a three-month contract with fixed hours for a client. It worked out so that I had to come to the office for three working days a week.

After the third week I was called into the manager’s office:

Client: You’ve been showing a lack of commitment. I’ve noticed that you’re often not in the office 1-2 days a week.

Me: The contract I signed was for a fixed number of hours. I don’t have to come every day to meet those hours. 

Client: We know that, but we still expect you to work a full week because otherwise, staff members get upset.

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We Need Customer ATTENTION!!

11 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: We’re having a show soon, and we’ll be bringing a big banner to highlight the sale on our products.

Me: Exciting. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.

Client: I wish we could have gotten your input on this, but here’s the banner we have ready for the show. I don’t have a background in advertising, so it was a little weird for me to be in charge of it, but I think it gets the message across.

He rolled out the large banner that took up half the retail floor.

The banner said “SALE – TODAY ONLY!” in huge chunky red letters on a white background. It was one of the most depressing and un-inspiring printed advertising projects I had ever seen. 

Client: What do you think?

Me: Well… that’s a departure from the type of advertising that I like to work on. But thanks for sharing it with me. I hope it works out.

Client: As long as it makes us money, that’s the important part. I think it will really catch people’s attention.

Me: I like to think about things in terms of long-term customer relationships and creative concepts. But I do hope it supports your sales.

Throwing up in my mouth as I speak.

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Then vs. Now

11 August 2020 - 2:00pm

Not a Client from Hell, but a glimpse into the employment hellscape we’re all living in. 

An older friend of mine, an older woman in her 70s was looking to re-join the workforce because she didn’t have enough savings (which was sad enough).

Friend: You know, 15 to 20 years ago, I was earning more money per hour than what’s offered now in the same field. I could find a full-time job with benefits easily, and the work was stable. In fact, even when I wasn’t working full-time I could still keep my benefits.

Me: That sounds like it was nice.

Friend: It was. I could afford to go on nice vacations around the world. And I didn’t even have to get a college degree.

Me: Wow, that’s cool.

Friend: Now, when I look for work, benefits aren’t as easy to come by, the pay doesn’t keep up with basic standards of living, and the interviewers aren’t as professional. I’m also not being offered the option to work full-time. And, the traffic to get to work is horrible.

Welcome to the world I’ve lived in since I graduated from college ten years ago…

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A Fun Food Pyramid Illustration

10 August 2020 - 3:00pm

Years ago, I was asked to create digital illustrations of a food pyramid for the Client’s nutrition book project. The Client wanted various types of food items displayed in sections on the pyramid. She reviewed some of my past work, and we agreed on the style and elements of the project.

She sent me some notes, and I happily got to work – using Illustrator vectors to create custom graphics in the realistic style we discussed.

At first, I thought that the project could be a bit painstaking, but little did I know how annoying it would become.

Me: Here’s the graphic design of the food pyramid with the food items we discussed. Please review and let me know your feedback, and if you would like any changes.

Client: Oh, thanks! Um, can you add more grapes to the grape illustration? Also, can you make the cauliflower look a bit more realistic?

Me: Ok… I’ll work on that and send you the revised draft shortly.

Client: Perfect.

I sent her back the revised design.

Client: Hm… it would look better if the bread were in slices. Please make those changes. Also, could you add a milk carton instead of a glass of milk?

Me: Sure, let me work on that. I don’t want to make too many more changes, because this is adding more time to the project and I want to stay within your budget.

I sent her back the design.

Client: Let’s add some slices of Swiss cheese instead of a block of cheese, with lots of holes. Also, can you make the salmon look more realistic? I can’t quite describe it, but I think it needs more detail. Let’s put the carrots and potatoes on a plate, too. I also forgot to ask to have an illustration of a whole watermelon in addition to the slice of watermelon.

This project was like pulling my eyelashes out.

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Help Us With Our Most Pressing Business Issues

10 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I was hired to work on marketing & website updates for a struggling local business that offers niche products & services. 

Client: We created all these products, but most aren’t that popular or profitable. We spent three years developing this business but we have to constantly reach out to encourage more people to show up.

The Client was shaking and becoming visibly angry about this. 

Me: Sorry to hear that. It sounds like you put a lot of work into your ideas. I think we can make some improvements.

Client: We offer 16 different combinations of services at each of our four stores, and our customers need to understand what we have to offer them.

The services were confusing and didn’t provide much of a sustainable/long-term profit model. In fact, everything about the business was a bit of a mess:

Client: So now we have four different websites – three of those aren’t very busy, but we need to update them anyway. And we need to attract more people to our four stores. Please hurry with updating our websites so we can increase business as soon as possible.

I spent time at the stores, and maybe a handful or two of people would wander through and purchase items or services on a given day.

I wrote out my recommendations for updating the websites after learning more about their goals, as well as doing some research and analysis. I followed their brand strategy and vision that we discussed. When I presented these to the client, they started to question everything. 

Client: I don’t understand why you want to make any of those changes. You know, this is a family business. There’s a lot on the line, here. You can do those small updates, but get my permission before you change anything. We need to get this right. We need more sales ASAP. We have big bills to pay. We took out loans. Please hurry.

The Client became more and more controlling, anxious, and angry as these discussions went on. The products & services were like many other products you could find at stores in the area and online, so they had a lot of competition. Eventually, I had to fire the client because they wouldn’t let me do the job they hired me for. 

The Owners had to re-post this job opening every 4 months or so online. They haven’t made much progress on their challenges in years. I think they need more help in terms of defining their goals & purpose than some basic website updates.

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