Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 59 min ago

How to get fired

13 December 2018 - 8:00am

How to get fired as a client before we even start:

Me: And what is your spending expectation?

Client: Yeah, I’m gonna leave that up to you. You know, I’m a photographer too and I’ve done this a hundred times. I know what it costs so I’m going to let you come up with your number and I’ll tell you if we’re a good fit. I’ve put out numbers before and people are like “I can’t do it for that. Ahhhhh. Noooo.” You know, I just don’t want to hear any of that.

Me: So, you are asking for my time and energy to create a proposal but won’t give me a budget?

Client: You know what? I don’t think this is going to work out, bro.

Me: I think you’re right, “bro.”

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<p>I was hired by a new “Business and

12 December 2018 - 9:00am

I was hired by a new “Business and Life Coach” to make some very light layout adjustments to three short books in Word. Each book was 95% identical content and had the same title but with different endings, for [X], for [Y], for [Z] each targetting a different group for her business

It was a pretty easy job. She wanted a logo added to the title pages, some titles to be changed, formatting to be unified, etc. It was a small job I could do in a few hours. I included one round of revisions in her fixed price.

(I’ve included her original spellings and grammar to give a sense of the correspondence).

Me: Here’s the three files and a checklist of what I did. Remember, you have one round of revisions included.

Client: I’ve had a terrible week!! I will aim to proof and send back this week .


Client: I found some time to go through the books. I am very impressed with your work indeed. Great work! Bless you! Here is a list of revisions I need.

Her list was long but included a lot of minor changes: adding a word here, removing one there, trying a different font for certain sections, etc. Nothing was an error on my part, just additional changes that occurred to here.

Me: Here are your completed books. I have included a full checklist of all the revisions you requested.

Client: Bless you!! Thank you! Your work is brililant I will defanitely work with you again!!

I sent an invoice, she paid me. Great, I thought, what a good client.

Cut to one week later, when I receive a string of emails after 10:54 PM:

Client: changes still need to be made see attached pls send back tomorrow as have a call with my marketeer tomorrow

 this has got really confusing !!

Client: have you renamed them ??

I’d renamed the files to fit the titles of the actual books, which I thought was pretty intuitive. 

Client: They must be tittled correctly as they are similar but different and it gets confusing

Client: please!!! can you resend me the three files again please 

Client: and call them the proper so I don’t have to wade through to figure out which one I am looking at! 

My titles matched the title on the title page, as well as the title in the header. She could see at a glance which version of the book she was looking at.

Client: Please please name them as I did as I am sitting up late trying to figure out which one is which!

Client: Revisions to be made!

She attached is a long list of new revisions for each book. Add this word here, add this sentence there, etc. Unbold this sentence. Make this sentence bold. Basically, things that took longer for her type into a new document for me than they would have to do as she saw them. Not one of these were errors on my part, just whims she had.

I wasn’t sure how to respond, as she was flooding my inbox with new emails every few minutes. After midnight the onslaught seemed to subside so I responded.

Me: Hi! I’m happy to make additional rounds of revisions to your books at my hourly rate of $XX, but it won’t be done overnight. I’m fully booked on other projects for the next three days but would be happy to fit you in later this week. I have renamed your files as requested though – see attached. 

I renamed them as the original—now completely incorrect—titles.

Client: actually! you have created more work for me! 

Client: and I don’t like your tone! 

Client: You mixed up the names of the files that I sent to you meaning I sat up for HOURS trying to figuring these out before I realised they were wrong.

Client: I need these tomorrow am for a meeting 

Me: It’s not reasonable to expect pages of completely new, last-minute, overnight revisions when the project is complete. Your revisions were completed in a timely manner and the work was reviewed and signed-off. I’m happy to make additional rounds, but these have to be requested within a reasonable timeframe to complete. I’m obviously not available to work on these overnight. 

Client: This is highly unprofessional. 

Client: I will be filing a complaint about you.

Me: With who? 

Client: Enough! please. This is so upsetting! This is so unprofessional. Please do not contact me again, this is a fruitless exercise. 

I couldn’t agree more.

The post appeared first on Clients From Hell.

lazy developer

12 December 2018 - 8:00am

I designed and developed a website for a medical IoT [Internet of Things] startup. They typically outsourced their programming to cheap labor. As a result, they’d often ask me to pick up the slack for someone who wasn’t doing their job. This is just one of the unique requests I get every few days: 

Client: I need you to change some text on a website.

(It was a different website than the one I’d made for them).

Me: Well, we agreed my project was finished but I’d be happy to open a new contract. It would be at an hourly rate, $50, five hours minimum. 

Client: My web developer needs the text changed, here’s the text he needs you to use. Let me know how long it will take you to make these changes. 

At this point, I was thinking “your web developer, who is building the entire backend systems to your application, is unable to change the text on a website? How the F*** did he get this job?”

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Clients From Hell: Origins

11 December 2018 - 3:11pm
Clients From Hell: Origins


Today’s episode is with none other than Vernon Southward, the owner and operator of (gasp!) Clients From Hell itself! Kyle tries not to offend his boss as they chat about Vernon’s beginnings as a freelancer and the path that led to him acquiring and building Clients From Hell, as well as directions the site will take in the coming years!

Vernon is a profoundly talented entrepreneur and a font of wisdom – and we’re not just saying that because he owns the place. Check it out! 

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

This episode is brought to you by, an infographic design service that transforms raw data into clear, interesting images. You can see their work on Clients From Hell

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.


Download here!

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Legal mumbo jumbo

11 December 2018 - 9:00am

I work at a legal office, and we represent injured people. Usually, communication is easy…but in this case, not so much.

Me: If you would like us to move forward with your case, we will need to make a counter-offer. I have attached a document which gives us the authority to make a counter-offer in your case.

Client: You have to send me a new document. The one you sent says it will settle my case now.

Me: That is correct. We cannot make a counter-offer without the authority to settle the case on your behalf. 

The client faxed us the document. The next day:

Me: You will be pleased to know that the defendant accepted our counter-offer and we were able to settle your case.

Client: What? i never said you could settle my case, I said to move forward with an offer, you tricked me! 

Me: I apologize for any confusion, but you indicated to us that we had your permission to make an offer on your behalf. You also signed a directive to that effect. Please note that the offer we made is significantly higher than what you were expecting to get in the first place.

Client: You never said you were going to settle! You are fired.

I don’t think he understands that if you make a counter-offer, and someone accepts it, then that’s a settlement.

The post Legal mumbo jumbo appeared first on Clients From Hell.

<p>Client: Can one of you please

11 December 2018 - 8:00am

Client: Can one of you please provide a list of all that info?

Me: Sure, no problem. Here is a .txt file with that data.

Client: Please re-send file as excel spreadsheet. Cannot read .txt file.

Me: ?!?!

In what world is it easier to open an Excel file than a txt file? Excel opens text files!

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User Submitted Post

10 December 2018 - 9:00am

I’m an animator. My family is well aware of this and assume I do complex illustration as well. At a family event one of my aunts came up to me with a brilliant idea: 

Client: Hey, you’re almost done with college, right? You’re the best artist in the family with me and your cousin, and I got an idea.

Me: Uh, okay?

Client: So, I got an idea for some shirts to sell, they’re humorous ones. It’s a millennial on their phone with the older parents watching over them with a speech bubble saying “ugh, kids and their phones”. I’ll have you do the illustrations, and I’ll find somewhere to print them. Sounds good, right? I’ll probably sell a lot.

Me: Are you gonna pay me? 

Client: Well, I figured that we’re family, so you’ll get credit and a portfolio piece.

Me: I’ll think about it.

Translation: Ew. No, I won’t. As a millennial, the idea was pure cringe.

She never brought it up again and neither did I.

The post User Submitted Post appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Tiny Picture

10 December 2018 - 8:00am

I am an artist who works in bronze and occasionally gets requests for custom pieces.

Today it was a request to make a necklace like the one worn by a mannequin in a picture… the size of a postage stamp. 

I’m not sure that’s enough to go on, client. 

The post Tiny Picture appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Classy font bundle for $9 — 94% off! 

9 December 2018 - 9:00am
Classy font bundle for $9 — 94% off! 

This week’s deal is on a sophisticated and elegant bundle of fonts, logo templates and graphic elements!

> Each font is gorgeous on its own and dynamite when paired with the other elements in this bundle.

Aiming for that classy, casual chic market? This bundle conjures the best of lifestyle Instagram and Kinfolk magazine, offering glimpses of a life best lived. Perfect for aspirational messaging, this bundle will help you put together breezy, sophisticated designs in a heartbeat.

Normally all the elements in this bundle would retail for $145, but for the next few days you can get its 38 fonts and 100+ elements for just $9 at 94% off

> Check out the deal here.

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<p>I’m a web developer/designer. I have

9 December 2018 - 8:00am

I’m a web developer/designer. I have a client that has never paid on time for anything in my history working with him. He’s very well off and is pretentious and arrogant during nearly every encounter.

For most clients, I’m willing to cover the domain renewal and yearly hosting on spec if they’re late because I know that the money is coming and we have a good relationship. This client burned that bridge years ago.

Six weeks before their services renew:

Me: Hello, your annual hosting and domain renewal is due 6 weeks from today. Here’s an invoice for the charge.

Client: (silence)

Five days before their services renew:

Me: Hi. Just a friendly reminder that your services are set to renew on Sunday, five days from today. I haven’t received payment for the hosting or domain yet. If the cheque’s in the mail, that’s great but if not, I can accept an EMT or PayPal to ensure that there’s no interruption to your service.

Client: (silence)

One day before cancellation of service:

Client: I’m on vacation right now. It will have to wait until I’m back in the office on Tuesday.

Me: Hi. Thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately, everything expires tomorrow and there will be an interruption in service if nothing is settled up before then. I gave six weeks notice of this renewal and didn’t hear anything back.

Client: (silence)

Four days after the website was taken offline due to non-payment:

Client: Why is my website offline?

Me: The website is currently offline because you haven’t paid me yet for hosting or domain renewal. If you can send over an EMT I can get that deposited and get the website back up and running in about 30 minutes.

Client: I’ll send a check.

Me: I’d prefer an electronic money transfer s I’d need to wait for the cheque to arrive and then clear before renewing everything

He’d sent me checks that bounced before.

Client: (silence)

Eleven days after denial of service:

Me: Hi. I still haven’t received your cheque or EMT. Can you give me an update?

Client: I didn’t send it yet.

Me: Why not?

Client: I’ve been busy.

Me: Okay. Well, as soon as you can then.

Two weeks after denial of service, still no money.


Me: Hi. Did you mail the cheque yet?

Client: No!

Me: Well then!


Me: You’ve never once paid me on time. The very first time I paid for hosting and domain registration it took you 4 months to pay me. I’m not going to do this on spec.

Client: (silence)

Three weeks after denial of service:

Me: Your domain expiry grace period is in 7 days. After that someone else can buy it up. If you want to send over an EMT for the invoice, I can get everything taken care of for you and get you back up and running.

Client: Fuck you.

I guess that’s the end of that relationship, then.

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The roof is on fire

8 December 2018 - 8:00am

EDITOR’S NOTE: This submission was received several weeks ago. 


I work in web development. I m working under contract for an insurance firm that is located in the middle of the Thomas Fire in southern California. The entire area is under voluntary evacuation. IT insists that we can’t have remote access to the staging environment, so we can’t work from home. Our contract does not include sick or holiday pay. We are expected to come into an area thick with smoke if we want to be paid anything at all. 

The building doesn’t have circulation air and is just pumping in unf smoke from outside. We just watched upper management leave early while we’re still expected to work.

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8 December 2018 - 8:00am

I work as a marketing manager for a finance company. We were discussing a tactical marketing campaign for a specific product with an external provider.

Client: I want you to promote it, but be discreet about it.

Me: How so?

Client: Like… you need to promote so that people to buy it, but no one is really supposed to know about it so you also need to make sure it’s undercover.


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<p>&#8220;Can you photoshop out the

7 December 2018 - 9:00am

“Can you photoshop out the rain?”

— A request following a photoshoot that was just completed in the rain.

The post appeared first on Clients From Hell.

<p>I maintain a local real estate

7 December 2018 - 8:00am

I maintain a local real estate website.

New listings are added when I receive the listing details and photos from the receptionist. I regularly receive incomplete details without photos or photos without listings, and it can take weeks for the needed items to be supplied.

Multi-million dollar residential projects for foreigners are big business here and the agent has started to add several to the website so they can sell units. The units start at $500K and the commission would be substantial so it’s in their interest to display the projects as well as possible.

Client: Here’s a residential project that needs to be added to the website. I don’t have the text in a Word document. Kindly let me know if you can work with it.

Attached is a Word document with the text embedded as images.

Me: Yes, I can work with the text. It’ll just take a little longer to type out. Do you have photos for the project?

A month passes with no response.

Me: I still don’t have any photos for the project. Obviously, photos will showcase the project better than text can on its own. I can create a page without photos but to sell the project it would be better if people can see how it would look.

Client: Add the project to the website with just the text.

I’m starting to lose patience.

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<p>I am very new to the freelancing

6 December 2018 - 9:00am

I am very new to the freelancing scene. When I started I was getting financial advice from a family member who then hired me to create marketing materials.

It was a comedy of errors. They kept supplying me with terrible content that needed extensive editing, and due to a scheduling error for a photo shoot I wound up having to do two, In the end, I completed two photo shoots, seven finished poster designs, four original graphics, as well as various reformats and editing. Through all this, I was always “behind” because I’d get the necessary information the same day as it was due.

At a certain point, I realized I’d spent hours and hours on this but hadn’t discussed budget (again – I was new). So I asked. They got very suspicious, acting as if I was going to fleece them, and then asked me to come up with a quote since it would be “good practice for me.”

Me:  I settled on a quote.

Client: Okay, how much is it? 

Client: $XXX.

Client: WHOAH. Why is it that much?

Me: You gave me a LOT to do and at $X an hour…

Client: There’s no way! I don’t have the budget for that.

Me: All right, just tell me what your budget is and I’ll work to that.

Client: No. Just write up another quote!

In other words, I have to shoot in the dark until I wind up shooting myself in the foot, woefully undercharging for my time. 

It’s bad enough when a family member underpays you – it’s worse when they make you do it to yourself. 

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<p>Client: For the next proof, we’d

6 December 2018 - 8:00am

Client: For the next proof, we’d like to set up a screen share with you so you can make the changes we want in real-time while we watch

Me: Uh, that is not going to work like you think it will… unless you’re prepared to spend hours on the phone with me watching me work. 

Client: This is going to take hours to make these changes?

Me: If we do this in real-time, yes. It will. 

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5 December 2018 - 9:00am

Me: So you want a web banner?

Client: Yes, where do you live? Let’s meet up so that I can take you through the concept.

Me: Wait, this is a web banner, right? Why do you need to meet in person?

Client: Oh this is MUCH more than JUST a banner.

Me: Okay…. Can you send me a brief via email?

Client: No, no, I need to do it on the phone. Just so I get an idea, what do you charge?

Me: $[X] at [Y] days turnaround.

Client: That’s pretty steep for just a banner.

Me: Bye.

The post MUCH MORE THAN JUST A BANNER appeared first on Clients From Hell.

image research

5 December 2018 - 8:00am

Client: We need photos for our website. They should be pictures of people standing straight on, looking directly into the camera, projecting a strong and assertive vibe. No smiling or laughing.

Me: OK, here is a selection of fifty images fitting that brief.

Client: …Why do all these people look so confrontational? These aren’t suitable, they all look too aggressive. We don’t want them to be staring down the viewer.

Me: OK, would you like some options where the subjects are not looking directly at the camera? 

Client: No, they should still be looking directly into camera… just not staring. We don’t like that.

The post image research appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Can you print 150%?

4 December 2018 - 9:00am

Client: Yeah, the yellow is just not strong enough. Can you do anything about that?

Me: Well, it’s 100% yellow, so we can’t really do any more.

Client: Can you print it at 150%?

Me: ?!?!?!?

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<p>A friend of mine is an aspiring

4 December 2018 - 8:00am

A friend of mine is an aspiring director and has a habit of asking me to take part in films that never end up happening. Once he saw the SFX Makeup I’d been doing on other clients he asked me to do some on his newest film idea. I thought maybe some cuts, bruises, standard film makeup, that sort of thing.

Client: Could you recreate this? 

He sends me a photo of Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Client: So, like this but more grungey. Like with odd screws and nails instead of neat pins. 

Me: I mean, that’s one of the most recognizable monster designs in the world, but… I can give it a go. What’s your budget?

Client: Oh, I can’t pay you. But it’d be a great portfolio piece! 

Right, so you want me to not only rip off someone else’s makeup design but do a full head prosthetic makeup (which would probably cost around £300 in materials alone) completely out my own pocket? 

I declined. 

Luckily, the film never happened.

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