Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 30 min ago

Retro cool never goes out of style! Get 1100+ vintage branding elements for $14!

18 October 2020 - 4:00pm

Good branding never goes out of style. This bundle is a short cut to great branding and design. 

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Everything in this bundle retails for $415 regularly, but for just the next few days you can save 97% and get them all for $14

> Check out the deal here.

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Non-payment policy

18 October 2020 - 3:00pm

As an aspiring freelance travel journalist, I sent a story pitch and a story outline to an online magazine with a link to my online portfolio.

Client: Good stuff! This topic reminds me our beginning. We’ll gladly print this story.  

Me: Wonderful! Can I ask – I didn’t see pay rates on the submission portal. What can I expect for finishing this?

Client: Oh, we never pay for a new author’s first story. It’s policy.

Me: If it’s policy, you could put that online before people go through the effort of submitting.

We never spoke in person, but I could FEEL their shrug through space and time.

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We are having issues sending…

18 October 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: We are having issues sending and receiving emails to one partner business specifically. Please resolve this issue.

Me: Are you receiving any error messages back?

Client: No, we need this issue resolved.

Me: I have tested email send/receive and it seems to be working. As well, we reached out to your email recipient. They verify they are receiving your email but have not had time to reply.

Client: This issue has been going on for a few weeks. Please just resolve it.

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Wrong software….

17 October 2020 - 4:00pm

I was working on-site when I heard two clients discussing something in the background.

Client 1: I’m trying to edit this image in Word.

Client 2: You can’t edit images in Word, you need to open the Word file in Paint.

The worst part? These two run a design studio.

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Non-editable format

17 October 2020 - 3:00pm

I work as a freelance translator. A new client needed his model invoice translated into another language.

Me: I see you’ve provided a non-editable PDF format of your invoice. Can you send me a version I can edit? It looks as if the original was created in Excel or Word– I can work with either format.

Client: Why do you need it?

Me: Well, if I work from this I will have to recreate the format from scratch, including cutting and pasting a low-res version of your logo. Having the original will help me produce a high-quality version for you.

His reply was an empty email with an attached Word file. In the document, the invoice was pasted as a JPEG.

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My emails disappear on Wednesdays…

17 October 2020 - 2:00pm

I work for a design agency that hosts client websites and wonder how people function on a daily basis.

Client:
 I am having issues with my email. They were all there on Tuesday. Now they are all gone. This has been happening for some time that my emails disappear on Wednesdays.

Me: Do you have your inbox sorted by days of the week?

Client: Yes.

Me: Push the + button beside the word Wednesday to open the inbox. 

Client: Why did you change this?

Me: I cannot change how your email is sorted in your email client.

Client: Well, we will see if this resolves the issue. If not you’ll be hearing from me again.

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Purse your lips

16 October 2020 - 4:00pm

I am a seamstress who makes bespoke dresses, hats, and accessories. 

I spent several weeks working out the details of a particular purse with my client, which doesn’t bother me because it’s much easier to change the design before the item is made.

With every single email between us, I attached a diagram of the design with the measurements marked. As elements were added and removed, this ended up being quite a few diagrams. I requested confirmation for each change. At no point did they ask for the size to be changed, and confirmed the measurements several times during this process.

Today, they have received the finished product and reviewed it: 

Client: It’s smaller than I expected. 

Me: You approved this size many, many times over the design process.

Client: Yeah, but I couldn’t SEE it then. Now it’s too small. 

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Not on the same page

16 October 2020 - 3:00pm

I was asked to create a one-page newsletter for a client. I used InDesign. I sent them the PDF of the newsletter, they requested a few small changes, then it was approved.

Me: Great! I’ll send you the press-ready PDF.

Client: Oh, I was going to just use this as a template for future newsletters and print them myself.

Me: Do you have InDesign?

Client: No; what is that? I thought you were going to give me a Word document. EVERYBODY uses Word to make newsletters.

Me: (silence)

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Important until you have to pay

16 October 2020 - 2:00pm

I’m the marketing coordinator at my company, doing in in-house graphic design work for the company. I also freelance on the side (nights and weekends). Our VP is constantly asking for help with his personal projects during working hours.

Client: Come on, you’ve got time! Help me out. It’s really important.

Me: I do have time… after hours, but I would consider this a freelance job. I can talk rates if you’re interested.

Client: Oh, it’s not that important.

But you just said…

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Pop-up citation

15 October 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: This block of text is secondary information. Please put it in a pop-up window.

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Dark Side Yoda

15 October 2020 - 3:00pm

I work for an English-speaking branch of a large Japanese company. Part of my job entails writing copy, content, press releases, and so on. This is all done in English. 

My original boss, who was Japanese, trusted me to manage all the English-language communications. After a few years, my boss received a promotion, and the company brought in a new boss fresh out of Japan.

Despite having limited knowledge of English, this new boss takes it upon himself to review everything I do and give critiques. At several points, he insisted I used broken grammar despite my protests – in one case, “We would like to reassure you…” became “Reassure we would like to,” as if Yoda was behind the keyboard. 

After months of this, I’ve had enough and tender my resignation. Since I’ve worked there for years without issue, HR looks shocked and asks me why I’m leaving. I explain my problems with the new boss, and they insisted I take an extra week of paid leave instead. 

A week later, HR informed me I’m being transferred to the head office where my previous boss works, and has directly requested my presence after hearing my complaint. Last I checked, my old workplace is still under the tyranny of Dark Side Yoda.

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PhDo it for me

15 October 2020 - 2:00pm

I had just started out as a freelance programmer. I answered a job posting to help a PhD student with their computing dissertation.

Client: Hello, I need your help with my dissertation on Cloud Computing. I need some help with implementation – the details have been highlighted in yellow. Have a look and see if you can help.

I had a look, assuming it would be some finer points that I could clarify for them. Instead, the ENTIRE IMPLEMENATION SECTION was highlighted in yellow.

Me: This… looks like the whole project.

Client: Yes.

Me: So you’re asking me to do your entire coding work for you?

Client: And the flowchart, and the documentation.

Me: Sorry, I will not be able to do that.

Client: Why not?

Me: This is your dissertation, I can provide some code showing how to write a graph which you can look at and learn from, sure; but I cannot do anything specifically in that implementation for you.

Client: Why can you not do my implementation?

Me: Because what you’re asking for is not just the code writing, it’s the documentation and charts to go with it. This is literally half of your dissertation.

Client: What difference does it make?

I didn’t take the job. I also didn’t pay someone to earn me a PhD, so I guess I’m still ahead.

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The high cost of internet security is eternal stupidity

14 October 2020 - 4:00pm

This client was a bit of a technophobe and believed ‘the internet’ is always trying to steal his personal information. However, he did at least understand that his company needs a better web presence.

I asked for the text he wanted to use for his popup. His solution was to get an employee to open the old website on their computer, then take a photo on his phone and send it to me embedded in an email.

I feel like there’s a good reason the last web developer “moved on to other projects.”

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Sudden hurry

14 October 2020 - 3:00pm

One client called my personal phone at 11:50 PM. He had searched for the number from an online phonebook, because I wasn’t answering my work phone. 

Client: We decided that we want our web page to live at 9 AM tomorrow.

Me: …Our first design meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday. You haven’t given me any direction or content yet. That’s impossible.

Client: Just put some pictures about our facilities and tell people how the process works. 

Me: You own a car wash center. I’ve never been in your place, I don’t even know the address. And the other thing, I’ve never washed a car. I can’t do that.

Client: We’re losing customers if we don’t have web pages, so you have to so something.

Me: (frustrated): How about I send you temporary pages with some text, some photos and we replace them later with the actual page?

Client: Sounds good, let’s do that!

I put up a basic HTML site with a single text block: “I don’t work with people who call my personal phone at night.” 

Ah, sweet revenge! Ever get payback on a client in a fun, legal way? Let us know!

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Avid traveler

14 October 2020 - 2:00pm

Back in my college days, I used to teach English to upper class students in my non-English speaking country. This particular client came to me, after being fired by numerous other teachers who I knew. 

She was one of those people who think being rich makes you superior in every way. One of the things she was particularly proud of was how much her family traveled. Even so, her level of English was very basic, as in, she couldn’t make a sentence like “It’s an apple.”

This exchange was in the local language, of course. 

Client: What does this word here mean? 

Me: “Right?” Well, in this context, it means “correct.”

Client: No, I’ve heard it means something else. What else does it mean? 

Me: It can also mean right as in, opposite of left, and sometimes it can also mean something like good, proper, etc. 

Client: No, that’s not it. I travel a lot and I’ve definitely heard people use it in a different way.

I wonder how, given she could barely understand like five English words during our classes.

Client: What else?

Me: As a noun, it can also mean… 

I gave her a short list.

Client: That’s still not it. That’s not how foreigners use it.

She then proceeded to look it up in the dictionary right in front of me to make sure I wasn’t lying.

Client: I can’t find it right now but I’m sure you’re wrong; I’ve heard foreigners use it in a very different way.

I didn’t last much longer than that.

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User Submitted Post

13 October 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: These mom characters you designed for us don’t look aspirational enough. They need to be more like these.

They sent photos of blonde, white clip art moms. The characters I’d supplied were from different races.

Client: If we had more than one character, it would be nice to have some diversity, but since we just have one she should be white.

Me: … 

Client: Also this baby you designed looks like Shrek, haha

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A different Internet

13 October 2020 - 3:00pm

Me: I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way.

Client: Sure it does, I checked on the Internet!

Me: (Googles in front of him and the first result clearly confirms what I was saying)

Client: We don’t have the same Internet.

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Priority

13 October 2020 - 2:14pm

Me: So we have a limited workforce and limited time, and we cannot deal with all projects at once. We need you to establish priorities.:

Client: Everything is a priority.

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Use every last minute

12 October 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: Rush job! We need this as quickly as possible, must be out today!

5:55PM: I upload the finished work. My workday generally finishes at 6:00PM

Client: You know you shouldn’t just rush things so you can get out the door on time.

Me: …

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Design-y

12 October 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: You’re the designer, just make it more design-y

Preeeeeeeeetty sure they’re about to ask me to use Papyrus. 

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