Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

I work as a freelance video editor. My former principal contacted me and asked me to edit a video...

5 November 2018 - 1:40pm

I work as a freelance video editor. My former principal contacted me and asked me to edit a video for her daughter’s wedding out of old pictures and videos.

Client: Here are the pictures I want you to use. Now about the videos, where can I plug in the VHS-Recorder?

Me: This is not possible. To record your VHS-tapes, I need extra hardware, which would be about 30€ extra.

Client: But my friend told me this works.

She ends up recording the tapes with her iPhone from the TV-screen – from standing up, so the videos are heavy-angled. I figure there is a way to zoom in and make it look like the original recording was awful too.

Me: So how do you exactly want the video to be? Any pictures I need to include? Any special wishes?

Client: No, I believe in you, be creative.

I create a heartwarming video of the bride that follows her birth through adolescence to meeting her fiancé. After some time, I deliver a low-res version of the video and ask for possible changes.

Client: It looks so good, I just need a few minor changes. I will email them to you.

That email… wasn’t so positive.

Client: Delete everything. Start with a zoom-in on the hospital where she was born. Then make text appear that says “at the same time…” and show pictures of her brother but keep the video at the beginning.

Note: I don’t know their family, so I didn’t know who her brother was in any of the photos.

Client: Then show all of the pictures of her as a baby with no one else on the picture. Then show the scan of the newspaper, the picture in the upper left but focus on the picture in the middle.

This mail continues with about 3000 words of how she wants the video done.

Me: What you sent me are not changes, it is a complete treatment. Also, I don’t know anybody you’re saying, so you need to tell me the filenames you want me to use. Also as I have to start all over again you need to pay about double the price we settled on in the first meeting.

Client: Why should I pay more if I tell you what to do? 

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4 November 2018 - 2:20pm

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Normally this bundle would sell for $800, but this week it’s only $14 or 98% off the typical asking price. That’s a huge discount on a great product.

> Check it out! 

Me: Here are the changes you asked for. Anything else?Client: Looks great! I’ll pass it on and get...

4 November 2018 - 12:40pm

Me: Here are the changes you asked for. Anything else?

Client: Looks great! I’ll pass it on and get back to you. 

I wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. I pop off a few emails gently nudging them.

Tired of waiting, I submit my bill.

And I wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. And pop off a few emails gently nudging them.

Me: Is there a hold up on paying me?

Client: Well, we’re not going to pay you because we really don’t think what you did contributed much to the project.

Me: But… I did what you asked me to do, and you’re using my work. It’s in the current build. 

Client: Yeah, but we don’t think what you did contributes much to the success of the app.

Me: The message that your marketing team came up with and that you asked me to use?

Client: Yeah.

A client contacted me on Friday night:Client: I’m sending you a brief for a design.Me: I have...

3 November 2018 - 2:20pm

A client contacted me on Friday night:

Client: I’m sending you a brief for a design.

Me: I have plans for the weekend. When do you need it?

Client: Next week. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you can do it fast.

Me: Well, like I said I have plans for the weekend and my schedule is actually pretty full next week. When do you actually need it?

Client: It’s not much, you can squeeze it in.

Oh, can I? I guess you would know better than me.

I am working with a client who is about to launch a new high-end restaurant within a...

3 November 2018 - 12:40pm

I am working with a client who is about to launch a new high-end restaurant within a well-established tourist hotel in a beachside holiday destination. Until recently they’d served quite average food, but had updated the menu and were trying to highlight that.

I sent my client the press ad with a headline that read “Discover a new way of dining.”

Client: Yeah, not quite right - I really want you to focus on the fact that it is a NEW way of dining.

Me: Uh… so, like the heading that says “Discover a new way of dining”…?

Client: Awesome. You’ve nailed it.

I guess my work here is done. And was done. Before.

I am a graphic design student and a few days ago I designed a resume for myself. It was in full...

2 November 2018 - 2:20pm

I am a graphic design student and a few days ago I designed a resume for myself. It was in full color and featured infographics; I figured it should be eye-catching.

Later, I showed it to a friend who wanted me to do one like it for him.

Me: Okay, just send me what info you want on it and I’ll get started.

Client: Sure! I can’t wait.

He didn’t send me anything. About a week later:

Client: So how’s the design going?

Me: You haven’t sent me any information. I can’t design an infographic without it.

Client: Oh just design something and send it to me so that I can complete it.

Me: Or you could just send all the information and I’ll do it for you.

Client: Okay I’ll send you something.

Rinse, repeat. Eventually, he did send me some actual info and I made a simple design. I sent him the final result and he was really happy with it… until I got this text:

Client: Everyone criticized my new resume. They said I should go for something more conventional, so I’m just going to take your design and modify it a little bit. 

Needless to say, I’m not doing any favors for him ever again.

Me: Can you give a high-quality version of your logo? Preferably an .eps file or similar.Client:...

2 November 2018 - 12:40pm

Me: Can you give a high-quality version of your logo? Preferably an .eps file or similar.

Client: Sure!

He sent me a .jpg that was 1.4 GB. Turns out they thought “high quality” meant “3000 DPI.”

Client: Could we substitute the ampersand with a hyphen or something else?Me: Sure thing!I take out...

1 November 2018 - 2:20pm

Client: Could we substitute the ampersand with a hyphen or something else?

Me: Sure thing!

I take out the ampersands and send it back.

Client: Let me be clear. Delete the ampersands. I’ve never liked ampersands and don’t want them here on a poster. That’s it.

I’m a bit confused at this point, but look through the document and remove one ampersand from a header that I’d missed. Send it back.

Client: Again, please delete the “@” and replace with a small “at.” Are we all clear on this, or is there a problem? I’ve never had to squabble over punctuation before with a designer! 

Me: I think you misunderstood what an ampersand is. “&” is an ampersand while “@” is just called an “at” or “at sign.”

Client: What? No.

She did apologize after.

I did freelance database design and data entry. I once had a client on Wall Street who hired me to...

1 November 2018 - 12:40pm

I did freelance database design and data entry. I once had a client on Wall Street who hired me to do data entry on his client and prospect list.

Client: I need a bunch of data entry done tonight. Would you mind working outside your normal hours? It’s an emergency.

Because he had been a good client I agreed at my overtime rate.

Client: The files are in an envelope on my desk. Just pick them up from my office.

I picked up the envelope and got to work. The files were there… along with a set of photos of his wife. First, his wife in a dress. Then in a bikini. Then performing various sex acts with multiple men.

The client was nowhere in the pictures, which somehow makes sense to me. I never mentioned it and neither did he.

He paid the bill, and then I never returned his calls.

Client: I made a graphic using Wordle and I saved it as a jpg and now Its really bad quality. Can...

31 October 2018 - 2:20pm

Client: I made a graphic using Wordle and I saved it as a jpg and now Its really bad quality. Can you make it better quality with photoshop?

Me: Uh… no. You can downsample images but not upsample and make them better quality. Does the program have export settings so that you can change the quality in options?

Client: Yeah it does but you have to pay for it so I didn’t want to.

As part of a design, I’d made a solid black background for a client.Client: Could you add a...

31 October 2018 - 12:40pm

As part of a design, I’d made a solid black background for a client.

Client: Could you add a one-pixel black border to the background?

But it was all black, and already had a border. 

I sent it back without changes. 

Client: Perfect!

I was working as in-house graphic designer for a conference years ago. The chairman of the...

30 October 2018 - 2:20pm

I was working as in-house graphic designer for a conference years ago. The chairman of the conference was super enthusiastic for everything new but he didn’t really have any technical understanding of how things work. It was a good thing too most of the time because his ideas were totally out of the box in a good way.

Except when they weren’t.

This one time I was planning the next event’s online programme with him and our web designer. As there was a lot of presentations to be held during any conference day, we needed to put all presentation abstracts in a pop-up that opened when you clicked the title of the presentation. The web designer had made a live version for us to see how the site would work.

Clicking through the site the chairman got excited about the function but got concerned when the abstract pop-ups were left open (because this happened in a time before javascript and in-browser pop-ups):

Client: This is really good, really good. Now can we then get the pop-ups to close automatically once the person has read it?

The web designer and I stared each other for a moment and then tried to swallow our laughter, all while explaining in a polite way that no, it wasn’t possible, unfortunately.

I scheduled an in-office appointment with a client to discuss a project. The client missed the...

30 October 2018 - 12:40pm

I scheduled an in-office appointment with a client to discuss a project. The client missed the appointment completely and didn’t call or respond to calls. I gave up.

The following morning I sent an email to the client.

Me: You missed your appointment for yesterday and we wanted to see if there was a better day for you to come in to discuss your changes. Let me know and I’ll get it scheduled. 

Client: I can come now…

The time is 4:50 pm. We close at 5:00.

The birth of a font: Alanna Munro and Tofino Pro

30 October 2018 - 9:05am

As a freelancer, life comes at you fast; that’s why it’s a good idea to create a product to generate a passive income stream for those little unexpected changes. Kyle talks with designer Alanna Munro about how she created her typeface, Tofino Pro, during one of the bigger life events you can have! 

Today’s links: 

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


Download here!

I was once commissioned to design a logo for a health and diet blog.Client: I want my logo to have...

29 October 2018 - 2:20pm

I was once commissioned to design a logo for a health and diet blog.

Client: I want my logo to have an elephant because that’s my favourite animal. I want the city skyline in the background, fruits and vegetables, maybe flowers and an infinity symbol. Ooh! Maybe the elephant’s trunk can resemble the infinity symbol… and I want it to be iconic and classic like the Chanel logo.

I’m a graphic designer in a print shop. A client came in wanting to self-publish a 700-page novel....

29 October 2018 - 12:40pm

I’m a graphic designer in a print shop. A client came in wanting to self-publish a 700-page novel.

Client: How much would it cost to print millions of copies?

Me:

Me: Uh… Okay, well maybe you’d want to start with a smaller quantity and see how those sell first?

Client: This is going to be a big movie someday, so if you have a bulk rate I might as well get that.

Talking to her, it turns out that she does have high level contacts so I start to think maybe she does have a shot at success.  

Until I read her writing. It’s HORRIBLE. the text is full of obvious mistakes, there are full paragraphs without a single comma, there are three characters (3!) with the same name, and the whole story is just so confusing!

Me: Have you considered hiring a professional proofreader or editor? After all, you don’t want to pay and print millions of copies of books that are full of errors.

Client: Oh, there’s no worry of that. I studied English in college.

Me: Uh…

Anyway, she asked me to do the corrections I found to the best of my knowledge and even offered to pay me. I figured why not, signed an agreement, and proceeded to read that thing.

It was worse than I thought. Spelling errors everywhere. She frequently mixed up “their,” “they’re” and “there,” “are” for “our” and once wrote “hors d’oeuvres” as “ordures.” (I guess technically, that was French instead of English). I found so many atrocities in the first chapter it’s unbelievable.

Me: Pardon me, but there are really a lot of errors here. I just read a whole paragraph and couldn’t tell what was going on at all.

Her response?

Client: Can you even read English?

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28 October 2018 - 2:20pm

This week’s deal is on a bundle of artistic flourishes that will inspire you to even further greatness.

> Just take a look at some of these. They’re brimming with possibility! 

These aren’t just a few illustrations or elements to be slotted into an existing design; these are tools designed to transform the way you create! Paper Kingdom is a suite of tools for making your art look like a pop-up paradise, while Creative Veila’s Acrylic Toolkit brings the texture of paint to your designs! The Fairy Vector Brushes will let you freehand draw a woodcut, and Memphis Space seamless patterns are here to party like it’s 1994! Browsing this bundle is like shopping in a candy store  — it’s exciting just to look, and even more exciting to buy it all

Everything in this bundle would sell separately for $1470, but for the next week you can save 99% and get them all for $9. Honestly, I’d pay $9 just for Paper Kingdom, and there’s a lot more here that I’m excited about! 

>Check out the deal here! 

A client asked me to replicate one of their competitor’s logos with “just a few tweaks”...

28 October 2018 - 12:40pm

A client asked me to replicate one of their competitor’s logos with “just a few tweaks” for “copyright’s sake.”

Me: I can look into designing something along those lines, but I can not make it identical to that existing logo for the other company.

Client: No, no, no… I want to it look the same, just in different colors.

"I need it printed the size of, you know, a four-drawer bureau."

27 October 2018 - 3:20pm
“I need it printed the size of, you know, a four-drawer bureau.”

- A client who thinks I work at IKEA

A long-time client of mine asked to do a mailing of a letter that we’ve done for the last few years,...

27 October 2018 - 1:40pm

A long-time client of mine asked to do a mailing of a letter that we’ve done for the last few years, with the same format but new text.

They provided the new text, I formatted it into the letter format and then sent the proof back for approval. They approved it, and it went to print.

Later:

Client: Something’s missing from the letter, and it could be a legal issue if it’s not on there.  

Not only was that not disclosed to me when we started, it wasn’t there for years on any other letters, nor was it mentioned when the proof was approved.

Client: Well, this would have been something to bring up when you approved it.

Client: I only wrote the letter. I didn’t see what it looked like after.

Me: I sent you the proof and you approved it before I sent it out.

Client: Well yeah but that doesn’t mean I actually LOOKED at it!

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