Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 31 min ago

<p>A client asked me to order t-shirts

4 May 2020 - 2:00pm

A client asked me to order t-shirts as swag for an upcoming event, and insisted that they were printed on American Apparel t-shirts.

Me: I’m really sorry, but American Apparel went out of business, and they have stopped producing the t-shirts that you want. 

Client: So just order them online.

Me: I can’t. They stopped producing all of their t-shirts. I can’t buy them online. 

Client: Oh ok, well just order shirts that are really soft, and let me feel them first.

I ordered multiple different brand of shirts to show the client different t-shirt brand options, and had her feel the texture of them. All of the shirts were similar in feel and cut as AA t-shirts

Client: These aren’t soft enough. Are you sure we can’t find American Apparel shirts?

Me: … Yes. 

Client: Can’t you call a wholesale supplier for the shirts?

Me: No. American Apparel shirts are no longer produced, and the wholesalers that still sell AA only have very limited stock in styles you don’t want. 

Client: I bet I could find a wholesaler that sells them. Leave it to me.

The client, of course never does. The event is quickly approaching, and client decides to go to a week-long trip to Egypt on a whim right before. With time ticking down to getting the order finished in time, I put a deposit down at a screen printer’s place, choosing the shirts that I felt were closest to a classic AA.

Client: Take the deposit back from the printing place.

Me: But you approved the design–

Client: Do you remember what I told you? I said I wanted to FEEL the shirts with my hands before you ordered them.

Me: Yes, but you are in Egypt, and I needed to order them today otherwise they wouldn’t be done in time for the event.

Client: I don’t know where my communication with you broke down, but I am sick of your excuses.

I had to cancel the job and never got reimbursed for the $1000 deposit.

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2400 Classic cool vector illustrations for $17 — 93% off!

3 May 2020 - 3:00pm
2400 Classic cool vector illustrations for $17 — 93% off!

This week’s deal is on over 2400 vintage illustrations that have been scanned, cleaned and formatted as fully customizable vector images!

> They’re super cool, easy to use, and make for a great design.

Look. You’re a wiz with Photoshop and Illustrator, and a pretty solid draftsperson to boot. People love the way you draw, and your designs are clean, professional, and attractive. What you are not, probably, is a classically trained illustrator who specializes in scientific diagrams of flora and fauna in pen and ink or lithograph. This is a very specific skill that is always in demand. This bundle gives you scores of fantastic vintage illustrations that are easy to slot into designs to make them better

Normally it would cost you $228 for all 2400+ illustrations (and honestly? Bargain), but for the next few days, you can save 93% and get every last one of them for just $17. Sell one t-shirt with one deer skull illustration (for example) and you’ve already made your money back. 

> Check out the deal here.

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<p>In the early days of the internet

3 May 2020 - 2:00pm

In the early days of the internet trying to sell websites, I  was a developer trying to sell websites. This was back when we used text editors to write html code. We discussed potential domain names.

Me: The following addresses would be great for your business.

I gave them a list of 12 alternatives, all of which were really solid URLs that you’d be hard-pressed to find now. After two hours of meetings the client talked to his boss, who laughed in his face at the thought of paying for a website.

This was the early days, after all.

Cut to three years later: I hadn’t heard from this “client” at all in that time, when I got a message:

Client: We can’t access those domains you gave us. Give them back or we’ll sue.

Those domains were all in the hands of Russian squatters, not me.

I laughed and told him to go f*** himself, and had a glowing golden feeling for the rest of the day.

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<p>Me: Enclosed is a PDF of the new

2 May 2020 - 3:00pm

Me: Enclosed is a PDF of the new user guide for review. Since this document will be in dead-tree format as well as in PDF, the page count on each chapter has to be even as per company standards. Ignore blank pages 4, 18, 56, and 72, because they’re deliberately blank.

Client: I have nothing to add, but you need to fix blank pages 4, 18, 56, and 72. That’s really unprofessional.

I made the other changes, but kept the pages blank because they were supposed to be.

Me: Enclosed is the latest version of the document. As stated before, some pages are deliberately kept blank for formatting purposes.

Client: You ignored my notice about the blank pages. FIX IT NOW.

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You may have to reread this one

2 May 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: Hi! I need the most awesome logo animation you can create. We have a budget!

Me: Okay! I’ll get to work right away.

Client: Fantastic. Here are some idea, our inspiration, and some other helpful materials.

 Wow, the client even knows what they want. Nice!

Two days later:

Me: Here you go! I think it’s a pretty awesome animated logo.

Client: Nice! But the logo isn’t allowed to be animated… Can you make a logo without an animation in it?

Wait, what?

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That Went Off the Rails Quickly

1 May 2020 - 3:00pm

I brought up a marketing idea in a meeting, and it was shot down condescendingly.

Client: We don’t really do things that way. 

He gave a reason, but it didn’t really make sense.

I was invited to a lunch and learn that afternoon where they brought in another consultant they’d worked with before to give a talk. He recommended doing exactly what I’d said. This time the client nodded his head approvingly. 

What the hell. 

The post That Went Off the Rails Quickly appeared first on Clients From Hell.

I think you missed a step…

1 May 2020 - 2:00pm

I’m a developer helping a company as they make an software application.  Friday afternoon, they’re panicking because they’ve now missed a deliverable deadline by a week. They had their client over to do some User-Acceptance Testing and nothing was working.  They video conferenced me in a panic.

Client: See? The search feature on the portal isn’t working! We type in this value which should return at least this database entry but we’re getting nothing!

Me: Huh, that is weird.  It’s working in the development environment.  Maybe it’s outside of the default search criteria ranges of the other filters?  Clear all of the search fields and search again.  That should return everything, then we can test the filters one-by-one.  

The search filters were cleared.  Only half of the entries returned back.

Me: Wait, we’re also missing the new analytics report I implemented.

Client: Yeah, but this search issue is a higher priority!

Me: And the data report columns don’t have the new fields.  I showed them to you right before I committed them to the repository…

Client: …

Me: Did you commit my feature changes on the repository to the server you’re testing on?

Client: We… need to go.  

The post I think you missed a step… appeared first on Clients From Hell.

<p>I was getting a client’s office up

30 April 2020 - 2:00pm

I was getting a client’s office up to speed on how to use Outlook.

Me: This is the ribbon, here you have buttons to send new email, set up rules…

Client: Mine looks different! My ribbon has different buttons! 

Me: Just look at what I do right now, if you have any issues with your laptops I’ll look at them during our next break.

Client: This isn’t working. My screen look different than yours.

I had to stop the demo and go take a look to see what is wrong.

Client: See, I don’t have the same buttons you have.

Me: That’s because what you have opened is Word, not Outlook.

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Every small business client ever…

29 April 2020 - 3:00pm

Verbatim conversation I just had with a small business client that might as well be every client I’ve ever had. 

Me: What’s your budget for this campaign?

Client: Budget? Campaign? Why are you asking me all these questions?


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Form from hell

29 April 2020 - 2:00pm

I was filling out a submission form on a website that said the following?

Please attach a link to your portfolio.

[ ] Yes
[ ] No


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Why now is the time to help: Alison K’s guide to freelancing in COVID-19

28 April 2020 - 8:10pm
Why now is the time to help: Alison K’s guide to freelancing in COVID-19

It’s easy to get bogged down in feelings of anxiety and sadness right now, which makes it a perfect time to look outside and see what you can do for others. That’s freelance mentor extraordinaire Alison K’s strategy, and she tells Kyle how she’s been checking in on her clients for their sake and hers, and how she’s using this as an opportunity to work on her business in the ways that she can manage. It’s an inspiring talk with actionable strategies about how to continue to grow when it feels like you should just huddle up. Don’t miss out! 

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from! Use this link ( for a great price! 

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.

The post Why now is the time to help: Alison K’s guide to freelancing in COVID-19 appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Basic Health Rights Violated

28 April 2020 - 2:00pm

I was working in a production warehouse on a contract basis, and there were various chemicals being sprayed and used on site.

The warehouse doors mostly remained closed, for unknown reasons.

After my first week, my eyes burned each night when I got home. At work, my chest pounded randomly.

I finished my contract and declined to do another Health standards, like adequate ventilation and fans, exist for a reason.

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The problem with software developers, they expect to be paid

28 April 2020 - 12:59pm

I received this classic quote from a client today, after he decided to pull the project I’d been working on and not pay me:

Client: This is the problem with software developers, they expect to be paid for their hours, regardless of whether they contribute anything positive to the business outcome.

The post The problem with software developers, they expect to be paid appeared first on Clients From Hell.

He still does not know

27 April 2020 - 2:00pm

My wife is an independent designer working mostly on web design for a number of small business owners.  As I run an accountancy business I deal with her invoicing and debt collection although clients do not know this they simply receive a bill from her company.

Two years ago she produced a new website for a start up in our town but his invoices were not getting paid. He kept ignoring emails so I decided to call the guy. 

Client: I’m not going to pay. I asked her out for dinner to discuss an arrangement and she declined. 

The post He still does not know appeared first on Clients From Hell.

How Could You Not Help Me Right Away?

27 April 2020 - 1:00pm

I used to provide customer service for a heating and cooling company. People would routinely become upset if we couldn’t come out to their home “right away” during the summer to fix their air conditioning. 

Client: Why won’t you come right now! We’re dying over here!

“Dying” in 80-degree weather to fix their air conditioning. We have mild summers.

Pro tip: Buy a fan from the store and plug it in. You’ll survive.

Better yet: Sit in the shade of a tree and drink some water.

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Turn any photo into an urban sketch for 93% off! Only $7!

26 April 2020 - 3:00pm
Turn any photo into an urban sketch for 93% off! Only $7!

This week’s deal is on a Photoshop action that will turn any photo into an achingly beautiful artistic sketch. 

It’s an easy way to add fast, visual flair to  your designs. 

This Photoshop Action transforms photos into delicate lines and subtle watercolors with just a few clicks. It’s great for architecture drawings, souvenirs, t-shirts and more! Need fast backdrops for that animated project you’re starting? Want a framed image of your family home that will look great on your wall? This tool is bursting with possibilities, and it’s a great price

Normally this tool would cost $100, but this week it’s only $7. Hey – you’re not buying any coffees these days; treat yourself a fun toy and wow your clients!

Check out the deal here!


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<p>I produced a video for a client with

26 April 2020 - 2:00pm

I produced a video for a client with lower thirds, captions and other design elements.

Client: What’s that font? It’s not in our branding.

Me: It’s Droid serif. It’s in your guidelines. 

Client: No. It isn’t. 

Me: I just double checked. Right there, under “video.” Droid Serif.

Client: Oh. Well. And what’s that color? It’s not in the guidelines. 

You can guess where the next couple of minutes go. Eventually I’m directed to a video on YouTube, commissioned by same client.

Client: We’d like you to make a video like this. These colors and this font. 

The colour is green. The font is Garamond. Neither of which are in the guidelines. Which, incidentally, the client wrote.

I highlight this inconsistency. 

Client: Well…those guidelines are really just experimental.

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<p>I’m responsible for graphic design

25 April 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m responsible for graphic design and website maintenance for a local church.  Best client anyone could ask for, hands down.  As a thank you for being awesome, I waive the design fee for their 5K fundraiser t-shirt each year.

A similar 5K fundraiser was starting up, and reached out to me to design their shirts as well.

Client: It’s a new event, so branding and a memorable logo like the one they use each year is super important.

I whip up two options and send them a draft, with a copyright notice included on the image.

Client: Great, thanks! We sent the file you gave us to the printer.

Me: Glad you like it. I’ve attached my invoice.

Client: Why is there a charge for this?  You do 5K t-shirts for free.

Me: No, I don’t. If the amount I’ve invoiced isn’t in the budget right we can discuss other options.

A week later, I get a call from the client.

Client: The printer says you put a copyright on the design even though you don’t own the 5K or our logo.  He needs written permission from you to print that design, so if you could just email him that would be great.

Me: Great, I’ll send that right over as soon as we discuss payment.

I ended up accepting partial payment because they were harassing the print shop, and I do too much work with those guys to be involved in problematic jobs.  Somehow word of this got back to the church, and they paid the remainder of my invoice to the new client. I credited it to their account.

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<p>We were doing edits for a client who

25 April 2020 - 2:00pm

We were doing edits for a client who were seeing great results in sales, brand awareness, etc. Then they let us know they can’t pay for our services anymore because they’ve mismanaged money on their side.

Then we had this conversation…

Client: Will you guys finish the edits for the Time magazine ad? 

Me: Are you going to pay us for it? 

Client: We just talked about how we can’t pay you for this month’s work. 

Me: So… you want us to keep working on an ad that you can’t pay us for, so that you can then pay to place the ad in Time magazine?

Client: Yes. 

Me: No we’re not going to do that. 

This made the client FURIOUS.

Client: I can’t believe you won’t finish work you started!

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<p>Client: Hey, call me right now the

24 April 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Hey, call me right now the website is totally messed up. It looked fine yesterday, but now it looks TOTALLY different and it’s missing everything! 

Me: I checked the website and all looks fine and the same as yesterday. Can you tell me what you’re seeing or send me the link?

Client: Sure – sent.

Me: Well, the reason it looks different is because that’s your Facebook page, not your website.

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