Clients from Hell
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I freelance as a kind of corporate communications troubleshooter, taking on projects for corporates who need specialist help. I’ve been working on a program which is six months late, part of which entails a new logo design and associated collateral. After just a few weeks I can see why the project is so late, as the logo design alone goes back and forth with no clear direction and continued last-minute changes from the client.
Me: Here are the final-final logo designs as discussed.
Client: Great! By the way, I want them to be editable so I can make changes in future.
Me: That’s… not very usual. The logo should be consistent so that we build up recognition and people value it and the program.
Client: But it may not work in all contexts.
Me: Well if it needs updating later, we can ask the agency to do a refresh.
Client: They charge too much. I just want to be able to do it myself.
Me: They’re the specialists. Design work should be handled properly so the results are fully-realized and high-quality. And they have the specialist software to edit the files.
Client: Don’t worry… I’m getting Photoshop installed on my laptop. Just be sure to get the original files from the designers.
A start-up lingerie line came to us needing a brand re-work. Their logo looked silly and amateurish (it basically featured clipart of a bra), so we were tasked with classing it up. Their exact requests:
- Young/fresh, yet ageless
- Iconic years to come
After about 6 rounds they stopped responding to emails and never paid the final invoice.
Some months later a few of us who were on their mailing list received an email that they relaunched with a new look.
Their new logo is their name in lower case Times New Roman with a space between each letter.
You know. Young, fresh, elegant, and iconic.
I work as an in-house designer for a media company. It’s not great. I’m underpaid and overworked and my job is to basically guess what my boss wants because I’m never given any briefs, but whatever.
Over the past few weeks, our internet has had a habit of dropping out randomly. It never lasts too long, and it’s not too big a hurdle. But on this particular day, it dropped out completely.
We contacted the ISP to find out that we’ll be completely without internet for the day.
Me: So… do we go home?
Boss: No, keep working. You have a phone. Use your data.
Me: …Will you reimburse me for my data?
Boss: Just get to work.
Great. It was costing me money to work here.
I get that bosses cut corners, but when your entire business model revolves around sending files back and forth, invest in good internet service.
Client: Please add a Column X to the spreadsheet and I will put in the data in there.
Me: Here is the spreadsheet with a Column X for you to add the data.
Me: Do you have the data yet?
Client: Here it is.
Me: There’s no data in Column X.
Client: Was I supposed to fill in that column? I didn’t know what it was for.
I have a media consultancy and have worked on many small and medium-sized projects. Clients give me their objectives, budget, etc., and I create an entire go-to-market strategy including media strategy, budgets, etc.
I was contacted by this guy who had spent a dozen years in private aviation, then decided to “build an airline” to compete regionally. He complained that he had approached several big shops in NY but that they wanted too much money upfront just to talk. We agreed to meet for an hour in my office to see if there was a future there.
My first red flag went up when the guy shows up in shorts and told me he had walked from his hotel (a good 20 blocks away). So, OK, I decided, maybe a bit unusual, but OK.
We spoke for about 90 minutes, and everything he said sounded normal. So I relaxed my red-flag radar a bit. After all, Florida is full of unusual people with money.
He asked for a second meeting, but we could not communicate via email.
Client: My friends at the NSA told me that all my emails were being read by American and Delta.
Second red flag. Still, despite myself, we arranged the second meeting. When we did meet he started questioning me more aggressively.
Client: What’s going on the website? What influencer platform will you use? Who do I hire to create an in-house agency?
Me: Great questions, but everything you’re asking is exactly what you’d pay me to deliver. I don’t have answers yet because that will take a bit of research, and even if I did have them I would need a contract before I give you those answers.
When I said this he looked at me for a second, stood up, turned around and left without saying a word.
My only contribution to this site: if your red flag radar turns on, listen to it. Don’t do anything out of desperation.
I built a Drip emailer for a client. I delivered it and he demanded a bunch of changes – which was weird because they were actually all in the version I delivered. I tried telling him this but he insisted on version 2.
Me: Here’s the second version.
Client: Not bad, but it’s missing this feature.
Me: That feature was on the first version, and I confirmed with you that you wanted it removed.
Client: I didn’t agree to that!
Seeing the writing on the wall, I asked for full payment before making final changes.
Client: What? Are you some kind of scammer? I will call the cops if you try to rip me off.
After a whole lot of arguing, he wound up paying me half of my fee and I delivered the second version with minor revisions. The frustrating thing is that the first version was actually what he wanted. Basically I did twice as much work to make half as much because he couldn’t be bothered to test.
Balancing a passion for art and a talent for business isn’t always the easiest, but it can be done. Just look at Julia Kelly, who turned a part-time job doing caricature art into a full-time business that paid her more than accounting work!
In today’s episode, she talks with Kyle about the lessons she learned in client management from doing caricature art (hint: understanding your client means paying attention to more than just what they’re saying), describes her path forward in a new business.
- Theme song by topmen.bandcamp.com!
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The post Business tips from a pro caricature artist: Julia Kelly appeared first on Clients From Hell.
Reading all these posts I realize that I am now not going mad when I dealt with a previous client.
Bit of background…I worked on the branding for a new boutique bistro making flyers, menus, restaurant logos, etc.
As an example, the menu designs were very simple, white background, company logo at the top and lettering done in a specific font and layout…easy right?
Most of the meetings with the “marketing and branding expert” went like this…
Client: We need some menus doing to fit in with the rest of the items you have done.
Me: No problem, send me the content I’ll set it out for you ready for print.
The client sent me the content, I put together the menu layout.
Client: Looks ok, but…. can we make the logo a bit bigger?
I realize now this is a classic line for shitty clients.
Me: How’s this?
Client: Bigger again, it needs to be the biggest thing on the menu, all my years in marketing has taught me that the logo needs to be huge!
Me: But then it will take away all proportion to the text and look hideous,
Client: Do it anyway then go to print.
I complied and got a batch printed.
Client: Hmm, is there any way of moving the text up a bit and making it bigger? The logo seems to be taking over.
Thanks Clients From Hell community for making me realize I’m not alone.
I do translations, editing, and proofreading for academic researchers.
A client approached me asking for a translation and editing job for a friend of hers. Turns out the “editing” referred to taking a full 300+ pages research report and producing a 25-page paper out of it.
Client: Okay, that’s fine. But we still need the final paper translated and edited. Can you do that?
I said yes, and sent a quotation and a timeline. They approved.
It took three months before they sent me the documents.
Client: Can you speed things up and lower the price?
Me: I can hurry things along, but I’m not changing the price.
I delivered every stage a few days ahead of schedule, and yet she kept asking to speed up the job. When I finally delivered the final product:
Client: This was overpriced. I’m going to pay what I think is fair.
A “Pay What You Want” client from hell.
Client: Can I get 1000 copies of a book shipped to a convention this weekend? I haven’t quite finished layout yet.
Me: So, you are new to the whole print on demand concept I take it?
Client: The layout will be done Monday or Tuesday.
Me: After the convention you want to sell 1000 copies at is over?
Client: Yes, we’d like to make a big splash at the show. It’ll be awesome.
Me: Yes, being able to time travel to the future to get the final version of the book would be awesome.
About 10 years ago I had a client from an NGO that wanted a website. We agreed on a budget and we had a briefing meeting.
Me: This is the website mockup, it will have all the sections you requested and will be optimized for search engines and accessibility.
Client: This is fine, but we wanted something more flashy, more dynamic, with more color.
Me: This is what I usually do with my NGO clients. We’re delivering the message in a simple way. After all, you’re not selling Coca Cola.
Client: Yes! that’s what we want, Coke’s website.
Me: Well you don’t have the budget that they have for a website.
After some convincing, the Client begrudgingly accepted, paid the 50% in advance, and sent shitty low-res images and cringey text. I delivered the website to the best of my abilities on the deadline. I get no feedback or response from the client at all. Two weeks later after total radio silence, I found out they replaced the website I made with a full Flash made website with some vector animations over the shitty images on a slider. It was “dynamic” but looked like total garbage.
At least I got my deposit.
I received a call from someone inquiring about some services.
It was weird.
Client: I’m retired, but I run two websites. I need a little work done on them and I also need a survey created on social media.
Me: That sounds easy enough. What are you hoping to achieve?
Client: I want to create a viral campaign to get the Pope to say he is proud of Jesus. The survey will provoke people to demand the pope to say that he is proud of Jesus. Here’s the thing though – I’ve trademarked the phrase, so once everyone starts saying that they too are proud of Jesus the money will start rolling in.
Me: …And what is your budget for this?
Client: They way I see it, everyone should be proud of Jesus. Even the Pope!
This went on for some time and I never got a number. I noped myself out of this project as quickly as I could.
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There are literally thousands of intricate, well-designed elements in this bundle and they’re all going for only $19. Branding a new line of perfumes? This kit has it all. Designing a book jacket for a young adult novel about a girl’s coming of age? Weirdly specific but this would be perfect. There’s a lot here, and it’s great.
This bundle’s normal price is the extremely reasonable $89, but you can get it for $19 which is great. Buy it for that.
I’m a writer for a bank. Occasionally we send alerts to our customers over various platforms. My client asked me to write an alert for email, but specified that we weren’t sending SMS or push notifications.
The developer I was working with apparently didn’t get that note. Or, more likely got it and ignored it – because this happened.
Dev: You are missing SMS and Push notification content. Please add the copy for SMS and Push into your document.
Me: Those aren’t a requirement for this alert and I was told not to add them. Please proceed with just email.
I assumed that was the end of it. A week later:
Dev: Please add the copy for SMS and Push into your document.
Me: This isn’t sent yet? As previously mentioned, we are only supposed to write for email. I have CC’d the client, who has made it clear that we are only to write for email.
Client: Yes, this is true. Please proceed with the email.
A week later:
Dev: Please add the copy for SMS and Push into your document.
Me: We have reviewed this several times now, and the client has made it very clear we are not to write for email. Please either consult your team on the requirements or proceed with email.
Client: Confirming the above. Please proceed with email only – no changes to the copy document needed.
Two minutes later:
Dev: Please remove the copy for SMS and Push from your document.
I was hired to do a project that would take one day of work with a deadline in ten days.
Client: What is the status?
Me: I have not started yet.
Client: What is the status? I like daily status updates.
Me: Okay, I’m looking over the project now. Here is a list of things I need from you.
Me: Still waiting on those items. Please send them so I can get this done.
Day 7-10, radio silence.
Client: What is the status of the project?
Me: I’m still waiting for those items from you. I can’t get started without them.
Client: Right, sorry. Okay, I’ll send those along.
He didn’t. Day 13:
Client: What is the status?
Me: Still waiting for that stuff.
Client: Shoot, right. Here it is.
Me: Thanks. Just so you know I’ve had a lot of things come up this week so I can’t get on this right now.
Client: You promised me you’d have it done in ten days.
Me: How can I finish it in ten days if it takes you thirteen to send me important information? Tell you what: I can squeeze this work in tomorrow. I’ll get it done then, I promise.
The next day I started work.
Me: Hey, I just looked at what you sent me and a lot of the information is wrong or out of date. Can you send me an updated version?
Client: Ok. I am busy right now and will check them in the evening. I hope this won’t affect our deadline today.
Not a client from hell, but certainly a contractor from hell.
We received a lighting plan for a restaurant we were designing, and it was based on a six-month old plan that didn’t match any of the other drawings, details, or renderings. As we were preparing to start construction, we were understandably concerned. It’s important to note that in order to keep track of the design process we place the date at the end of all our file names.
Me: It looks like this plan is very out of date. What date is on the plan?
Contractor: This is the plan we were given.
Me: Understood, but this design doesn’t align with anything we’ve discussed. What is the date on the plan?
Contractor: March 15th.
Me: …it’s October now. The updated plan has been available since September and is noted in the file with the date.
Contractor: We can’t be expected to keep track of what plans are the most current.
Internal screaming forever.