Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 24 min ago

Yes I can

24 September 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: How long would it take to make this video?

Me: Around 8 hours.

Client: Can you make it in 4?

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Helpless Desk

24 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I work in a Help Desk center for a university, we typically get calls from students, but sometimes we get calls from Faculty and Staff. Today, the same person had called over a dozen times, and it was only noon.

I came in, and then they called. I gave my usual introduction.

Client: I can’t access my voicemail on my office phone!

Me: Okay, are you getting any error message?

Client: Yeah, I’m entering the default passcode, but it’s saying I need to use my ID and hit pound.

Me: …And have you tried that?

Client: No, why would I?

Me: Give it a try!

After this, she just hangs up then calls back about an hour later.

Client: Now the phone is locked up! What the hell did you do?!

Me: I can’t access the phone in any way, ma’am, did you enter your ID and hit pound?

Client: No, I entered the default passcode and then it locked up!

Me: Okay, I’ll send a tech out, but I’ll need to verify some information first.

I ask her for the usual, DoB, ID number, Room number, etc.

Client: Why the hell do you need that? Just fix my phone, asshole, I’m not telling some asshole my personal information.

I could see all her information already, I just had to ask to verify. After a bit of a difficult back and forth, she gave me her office number and hung up angrily. The technician went to the room and she wasn’t even there, having gone home early. He checked, though – her phone wasn’t locked.

Later, her husband, another faculty member, called, furious that someone had called his wife “a bitch” on the phone. I hadn’t. 

Luckily, we keep a transcript of all support calls, so my boss informed him that we could sit down and listen to the conversation if he was concerned.

He never came in. 

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User Submitted Post

23 September 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: So, how is the development going? Are you done yet? This is time-critical.

Me: Yes! I finished it and sent it to you two weeks ago. 

Another two weeks later: 

Client: No no, this is all wrong! This isn’t what I had in mind. 

Me: But I built it specifically to what you asked for in your brief.

Client: I know, but I changed my mind later.

Me: But you didn’t tell me you changed your mind. Was I supposed to read your mind?

Client: Well yeah, that’s what I pay you.

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Why should I tell you what I want before you give me the price

23 September 2019 - 1:52pm

Client: How much will this animation cost?

Me: It depends on the complexity. Could you show me the character you want to animate?

Client: Bro chill, why are you acting like an architect. I just want the price bro.

Me: I can’t give you the price without knowing what you want. Do you go into a McDonalds and ask “What’s the price” before ordering anything?

Client: You’re weirding me out not gonna lie, why would you ask to see the character before giving me the price? You trying to steal my character?


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Get high resolution gold textures for only $9!

22 September 2019 - 3:00pm
Get high resolution gold textures for only $9!

This week’s deal is on over three hundred high-res metallic textures that will transform your designs!

> Use them as a background texture, or make your text glitter. 

You’ve seen this look everywhere: gold text with real metallic textures on a flat or marbled background. It signifies luxury and decadence, all while looking really, really cool. This pack of premium seamless textures gives you a ton of different looks and colors to play with and will make it easy to spice up your next business card, package design or poster. 

At only $9, you get over three hundred premium textures that you’ll use over and over for the price of 2-3 coffees. That’s a no-brainer.

> Check out the deal here. 

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User Submitted Post

22 September 2019 - 2:00pm

A local recruiting firm hired me to do a review of their internal processes because they kept “losing clients.” They were certain it was due to inefficiencies in their systems and wanted me to help diagnose the issue.

I visited the client’s office. The company name is the owner’s initials followed by “recruitment”. That name was put proud as punch behind the front desk along with a few words that reflected their “core values.”

One of those words was, I kid you not, “unscrupulous.”

The owner is convinced their issue is with internal processes, though.

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sEriOus CoVeR

21 September 2019 - 3:00pm

I’m a fantasy illustrator. A client hired me to do a cover for a “dark and serious” novel he wrote.

Client:  I based this on my life. The characters are my family members.

Oh NO. 

Me:  I am not sure if I want to take this up, family portraits are usually emotionally driven and I am a fantasy illustrator.

Client: Don’tworry, we love your work, and I’ll give you lots of reference photos. 

The client sent me a photo of everyone smiling. 

Me: In the scene I’m depicting, they just lost a friend. 

Client: Yes, it’s a very emotional moment.

Me: Do you have any photos where they aren’t smiling?

Client: Can’t you just use your imagination?

I did, and delivered it.

Client: They don’t look like my family anymore. Just use the photos I sent you. 

This resulted in an illustration where the characters are feeling gunfire and hiding for their lives… with smiles on their faces. 

Client: Perfect.

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User Submitted Post

21 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I work for a company that makes small career sites for clients. They’re templated with just a little bit of wiggle room for layout changes. There’s also another tier of site that is a completely custom layout but they have to pay more. Obviously we have lots of clients who try to circumvent the extra pay by asking for “edits”.

We received content for one site that was laid out a completely different sort of template than the one we use, and was missing content all over the place. There were also no images and no hope of putting it together within our normal 5-day timeline.

This is the conversation between me and my project manager

Me: Looks like this doc is missing content for the home page, and doesn’t have much for the other pages. I’ll put together what I can for now? Is this supposed to be template 2? I wasn’t sure based on the content provided.

PM: Sorry about that, yes please use the template.

 I got to work. Lots of content was missing and I was shadow boxing, making decisions based on information that wasn’t there. 

Me: This really isn’t working.

PM: The client wants to see the site built with whatever they have. I know the site will look like garbage but apparently they want to see the site built out “slowly”.

I’m in for a long week ya’ll.

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Bike Shop fun

20 September 2019 - 3:00pm

I worked in a cycle shop warranty department for may years and saw a lot of customers trying to get one over on me but this was the best.

A guy comes into the store with his £3000 carbon road cycle complaining of a crack in the paint on the down tube.

On inspection we realized the crack appeared right where the clamp off a roof rack would sit, and the warranty clearly states that that type of rack is not to be used on this particular carbon frame.

We explained this the gentleman and asked if he uses a roof rack to transport the bike in which he flatly denied and started to hurl abuse to the staff saying that he demands his money back and that we have no idea what were talking about.

After around half an hour and three staff members arguing with the chap including the store manager he left with his bike, placed on a roof rack of his car and sped off.


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Can you translate this, but not really, because I want it to say something entirely different?

20 September 2019 - 2:37pm

I’m a translator. 

Client:  We need the translation in american english with modern but powerfull lenguague [sic] because we will use it on T-shirts mainly. I would send the specific text to translate.

Me: Great.

The client sent the text. It was all mainstream quotes that for some reason were translated from English to Spanish and now they want me to translate them again (?) from Spanish to English. I do so and deliver the work.

Client: I feel that you did a literally translation (like google) and you don’t thing maybe other way to say in english with easy and powerfull words. I speak english a little but I’m not an “active” speaker, so I can’t find current words to say some things with power and easy way. For example, expresion:

“OLVIDATE DEL RELOJ POR UN MOMENTO” You said: FORGET ABOUT THE CLOCK FOR A MOMENT. I thing that a good easy and powerfull way could be: NO-TIME. Remember that we will use the translation to print on t-shirts, so please think in a better way to say those expression that they can look nice (easy and short way) on a t-shirt. I know that you can do it, venture, no problem!! Do you get it?

Me: *stares blankly at the screen*

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Technical Support Attachment Hell

19 September 2019 - 3:00pm

We were making make iOS applications for our clients. After a round of testing within one of their departments, they found an issue and reported it back to us. We sorted out a fixed build for them.

Me: So here’s the new IPA file.

Client: Ok, will do.

A few minutes later:

Client: It won’t open.

Me: What do you mean it won’t open?

Client: I tried to open the app and it just doesn’t open.

At this point, I’m panicking. What’s wrong with the app? 

Me: I’ve checked over everything, installed it on multiple devices here, done upgrades from one version to another and it seems fine. What are you doing exactly?

Client: Just trying to open it, keeps showing an error.

Me: Ah! ok, can you screenshot and send me the error? *why he never told me that first god knows*

So he does. He sends me a screenshot of his desktop, showing a picture of Microsoft Word saying “Unrecognised file format .IPA”

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User Submitted Post

19 September 2019 - 2:02pm

I used to design scratch-off lottery tickets for a big lottery ticket printer/manufacturer. One client was very delightfully easy to please, and often had a great sense of humor about the tackiness and the gaudiness needed in the design, hoping it would catch the eyes of customers.

The other client decided that for their batch of tickets for the following month, they’d fly to our business so they could sit next to me and “help” me design them. I grit my teeth and welcomed them.

Two people from the client’s marketing department sat with me the whole day, “designing” over my shoulder, carefully pondering each and every pixel in each and every layout. Finally, thankfully, we reached the last ticket to design. After I put the darned thing together, one of the marketers kept sighing in a passive/aggressive manner.

Me: You seem unsure about this design. What can I do to make it work for you?

Client: (sighing) I like the the layout, but…can you find a way to make everything stand out?”

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We Don’t Participate

18 September 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: We don’t participate in late fees for unpaid invoices.

Me: Participation isn’t mandatory, but payment is…

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User Submitted Post

18 September 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: I love the logo, great work!

Me: Awesome! As soon as I get the final 50% of the payment, I will send you all the hi-res files for you to use. 

Client: Is it urgent? ‘Cause I’m not in any rush.

Me: Yeah, I’m in no rush to buy food or anything. 

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The project isn’t worth the total you quoted me.

17 September 2019 - 3:00pm

A long-time client wanted to start a new project. I scoped it out with him and gave him a quote of $1,000. He approved.

I presented the work to him.

Client: Can you make these changes?

Me: Those are significant changes that are basically another new project. They will cost $750.

I delivered again, and he made requests for changes. This time they were minor so I charged an additional $150.

I sent him the invoice.

Client: (furious) What is this? You told me the project would be $750!

Me: What? No. I told you it would be $1000, with additional charges.

Client: No, you said $1000, and then when I wanted changes you lowered the price to $750. 

Me: So you think when faced with doing more work I LOWERED the fee? 

Client: Well what you did definitely isn’t worth $1900. 

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Clients expects immediate results from long-term marketing plan.

17 September 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: I want you to get increase our customer base and get our existing customer to register for charity competitions.

Me: We can construct a content marketing plan to build authority and engage the audience, driving them to your website. We can try marketing to your existing audience to encourage sign-ups for your charity competitions and use the Charity fundraiser story to tell the story of the brand.

Client: Sounds great.

Me: Oh, I’ll need access to your website to redesign it so that there are clear calls to action, sign up forms with eCommerce and design landing pages for various campaigns.

Client: You can’t have access to the site until the developer has finished with it, at the end of the month.

Me: OK, why not direct them to add these changes while they are still under contract to complete the site.

Client: Will do.

Two months later:

Me: I haven’t seen any updates on your site. Can I at least have access to your client database so we know who we’re marketing the charity competition towards? 

Client: You will at the end of this month.

Me: Fine, but your first charity competition is now only several weeks away. We don’t have much time to generate registrations AND the site still has no call to action or e-commerce registration forms so we can’t grow the database.

Client: The web company owns the website. We will never have access and we can’t afford to ask them for updates. There is no client database. We need charity registrations now or the company won’t survive!

Me: What? why are you only telling me this now? No database? What have you been doing for the past year? Oh, and your third invoice payment is late again, will you be paying this now?

At this point, the client “lost my number” and stopped responding. Eventually:

Client: We don’t want to work with you anymore and won’t be paying you. We expect results immediately.

Me: But you signed a contract stating you understood content marketing results would be at least six months. If you are canceling fine, but there is a 30-day notice period. I need this in writing.

However, I’d noticed something else weird about his business at this point: he’d run his first charity event, and was funneling the charity money back into his business. I decided to bring this up: 

Me: I don’t understand why you needed the charity event grossing 5,000 to keep the company afloat, are you not giving the money to the charity?

Client: We want to sue you for loss of earnings as the charity cost 10,000 to run and your content marketing isn’t working fast enough.

Me: So you spent 10,000 with target earnings of 5,000 for yourself and passing it off as a charity event? You think something that will take six months to work should happen immediately and I’m to blame?

Client: Yes.

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mom no

16 September 2019 - 3:00pm

My family’s house is having a kitchen extension. My parents have paid designers to make detailed plans of the kitchen. They provided a 3D model on their website to see what the room would actually be like. They state that we’re allowed to ask for changes to see what they would look like on the 3D model.

And yet, for some reason, my mother asked me to download the 3D model form their website and add a specific model of washing machine to “see what it would look like.” I have zero interest or skill in 3D modeling and have never indicated otherwise. 

Me: I can’t. 

Mom: Sure you can! Just believe in yourself. 

Me: No, I really can’t. I don’t know how to rip a 3D model off a site, or to make a 3D model myself, and even if I knew how they’ve offered to do it themselves. 

Mom: Oh, just use your dad’s computer then.

That wasn’t the issue, mom. 

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The Multimillion Investment Project

16 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I was talking with a potential client about her wanting to hire a marketer. I asked her questions about why she was hiring.

Me:  So you want to hire a marketer. Great. Why now? What are you trying to achieve?

Client: I’m the General Manager of this luxury events facility. There have already been millions of dollars invested in it, but I need help marketing it. 

Me: Wow! Congratulations. That’s exciting.

Client: Yeah! I’ve been involved in some previous projects that failed, so I’m so glad this one is working out.  

She proceeded to interrogate me in the interview and she came across as quite arrogant and condescending. The pay wasn’t great, and she needed a lot of help understanding what she wanted.

Client: I have had some trouble with freelancers before, but I’m finally at a point where I’m ready to hire someone to manage my marketing plans.

Me: …Ok.

Client: If I were to call your references, what would they say about you? What kinds of criticisms?

Me: Well, I don’t know about criticisms. I think they would say that they enjoyed working with me and wished I had stayed longer with them.

Client: What else? 

Me: Uh… 

Afterward, I re-visited the website for her business, and it looked like it was created on a shoestring budget. It looked very haphazard. Remember, there were “millions” invested in the facility, but very little money in the website. Red flag. 

I didn’t want to have to be the one to tell her that she would need to overhaul her website, and I certainly didn’t want to be in charge of holding her hand through it.

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Turn any image into a watercolor illustration! Only $6!

15 September 2019 - 3:00pm
Turn any image into a watercolor illustration! Only $6!

This week’s deal is on a tool that will let you transform any image into watercolor style quickly and easily in Photoshop.

> Just take a look at these results. They’re stunning. 

Watercolors are elegant, and if you’re not a master of the form it’s hard to incorporate them into your designs… unless you buy this tool and turn stock images or photos you’ve taken into convincing, gorgeous paintings. Easier than even using a Photoshop action, this tool will add a beautiful dimension to your designs. 

Normally this tool costs $30, but this week you can save 80% and get it for just $6. That’s a pittance for an effect that’s this useful.

> Check out the deal here. 

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User Submitted Post

15 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I shoot video. I’ve had a recent spate of clients who all do the same thing.

Me:  What are you looking for, specifically?

Client: Just follow your own vision. You will know best.

This I think almost always a huge red flag, but really all you can do is plug on and hope you can get into the ballpark if they’re stubbornly telling you nothing.

What happens every time:

Client: This isn’t what I wanted. Can you just send me the raw footage?

Me: Please let me know what you’re after and I’ll get to work on the changes.

They proceed to not send me anything and they always use what I sent originally anyway.

This is why I make sure I get paid upfront.

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