Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 34 min 23 sec ago

User Submitted Post

21 July 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: I just find when I go to a site and they’re trying to get information out of me right away, it just turns me off.

Word for word what he said. Later:

Client: I want the website to restrict people from getting past the homepage without filling out their information in this form.

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User Submitted Post

20 July 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Is 128 gsm art card thicker/firmer than 128 gsm paper?

Me: It is the same weight so will not be any different.

Client: BUT one is paper and the other is card. 

Me: …Card is paper.

Client: What? No, it’s not. 

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20 July 2020 - 2:00pm

Many years ago, i worked at a Kinko’s (I know, all you designers are grinding your teeth just hearing the name), and one day, a customer brought in a “PowerPoint presentation” they wanted to be printed out.  The entire thing, all 50+ pages of it…was done in Excel.   With no print areas set, and no formatting.   If I had attempted to print it out, as is, none of it would have printed properly and would be mostly cut off the page.  

Client:  You can fix this up and have it ready for my presentation tomorrow, right?

Me: If I stayed here all night, and worked unpaid overtime?  Probably.  It’ll cost you about nearly $1000 for the time and effort required to fix it.  

Client: Nevermind!  I’ll just do it myself.

Never saw him again after that.  Sometimes you’ve gotta pick your battles, and quote a price that seems…believable, but is still more than they will pay.  

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Get the ultimate retro camping design kit for only $14!

19 July 2020 - 3:00pm
Get the ultimate retro camping design kit for only $14!

So, camping is basically the only thing we can do safely these days, huh? Well, if you want to conjure the fun of the great outdoors, this bundle of 1100+ elements gives you everything you need for this timeless look. Scout’s honor! 

> The 1100+ elements in this bundle are perfect for the summer, especially THIS summer.

Whether you’re branding a beard oil, a line of t-shirts or just designing posters for the company team-building camping trip, this bundle is going to make your process a dream. Retro logo templates, free fonts, vector illustrations and more make it easy to whip up an ironic scout badge or a billboard for an adventure tourism company. I’m half tempted to get the bundle just to make labels for my home-brew. These elements are fun and specific and will save you time and money if you want to harness this look for a design.

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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Perpetuitee hee hee

19 July 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: I can’t pay that much for this project.

Me: Okay, how about this- I give you a 40% discount and in return I get 10% royalties from any sales of the game, gross, in perpetuity.

Client: Make it a 50% discount and we’re good!

Me: Yeah, that sounds fine. Here’s the contract.

Client: …Once you’ve received full payment, all royalties would be cut, correct? There’s no mention in the contract of your royalties in perpetuity ending after you’ve made back your full original fee.

Somebody doesn’t know what “in perpetuity” means.

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In Business Or Not?

18 July 2020 - 3:00pm

I applied for a contract sales job at a company, and there were several steps to the interview process. I practiced, studied, and passed the first step. The Hiring Manager was enthusiastic about my skills.

Soon after, I read in the news that the business was going bankrupt.

That was alarming, as I was scheduled for a follow-up interview soon.

I was intrigued to see what the hiring manager would say. I reached out to her for clarification, and let her know I would like to cancel the interview if the company was going out of business.

Client: So sorry, I didn’t even know our business was going bankrupt. Yes, let’s postpone this interview for a later time, until I hear more about what Management will do. Thanks for contacting us!

One day I’m dreaming about my potential new role, the next day the business might not exist. That’s how things go these days, I guess.

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User Submitted Post

18 July 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: You see these nine pages of text?

Me: Yes.

Client: Can you squeeze them into one without altering the content?


Client: And I’d like to add some graphics and titles.

I told them no. 

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<p>Client: Can you change the color of

17 July 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Can you change the color of the button?  That orange isn’t quite right.

Me: Sure, what color were you thinking about?

Client: I need you to use a color that compels the viewer to click on it.  A color that makes them feel like if they click on that color button, it will change their world and give them what they’ve always been looking for.  Make them see what I’m offering is what they need.  I want a color that frees the soul.

Me: So… a brighter orange?

Client: Sure.

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<p>An author wanted to hire me to

17 July 2020 - 2:00pm

An author wanted to hire me to copyedit their book. The client told me they were self-publishing, and that it should be a “quick job.”

I took a look at their work; there were SO MANY basic mistakes. Every page basically needed to be rewritten. I honestly had no idea how they’d managed to write an entire novel like this.

Client: Is ten cents a page okay?

The site they contacted me through clearly listed my hourly rate. To make my hourly wage at that rate, I would need to fully proofread every page in well under a minute.

This led me to conclude that they hadn’t read my info on my site – which led me to conclude that this client was even worse at reading than they were at writing.

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<p>Client: My internet isn&#8217;t

16 July 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: My internet isn’t working!

Me: What have you tried already?

Client: Everything!

Me: Have you turned the modem off and on?

Client: Yes! I’ve tried everything!

I pulled out my handy list of troubleshooting steps and started going through it, performing increasingly drastic fixes. None of them worked.

I didn’t bother rebooting the modem, because they told me they’d already done it.

Later, the client was looking at my troubleshooting checklist over my shoulder:

Client: Turning the modem off and on? I haven’t tried that yet!

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<p>We’ve been making video content for

16 July 2020 - 2:00pm

We’ve been making video content for a company for six years. They recently hired a new marketing manager, who would become our new client contact. She asked us to come in to discuss upcoming projects.

Client: I’ve had a good look at the video content you’ve been making and I’m absolutely appalled at the quality.

Me: Ok, let’s watch one now and you can give us your feedback in more detail and what you don’t like.

After playing a recently produced video and her scribbling furiously on a pad:

Client: First off, I hate the logo, how could you use that?

Me: it’s your company’s logo, they’ve been using it for 50 years I think.

Client: Well it’s up to you to make change! And look at the actors! They’re all so old! Why didn’t you pick younger actors and sex it up a bit?

Me: The demographic for your products is 45-60.

Client: It can’t be, old people don’t buy this stuff… do they?

Me: This is the information your team has provided us for the past six years. Is fairly well known that this is the age group that buys your products.

Client: Well I’m going to change that!

At this point, I groaned and waited for the inevitable crap we’re going to face for the next six months while she messes up every ad campaign and then tries to blame us.

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<p>Client: Can you make the “6:00PM”

15 July 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Can you make the “6:00PM” the same color as “cover charge” on the invitation?

Me: They’re already the same color, actually!

Client: can you make them look MORE similar?

Me: Well, no… because they are already the most similar they can be. They’re the same.

Client: You’re being too literal. I just want the color to read the same.

Me: They. Are. The. Same.

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I Sent It Around to the Board Members…

15 July 2020 - 2:00pm

Years ago, when I sought to build my design skill set, I decided to volunteer with a non-profit.

The non-profit Manager didn’t have a Creative Brief, or much in the way of useful instructions for the e-mail campaign project she asked me to work on. She had some ambiguous notion of what she wanted, but she had no idea about the content, graphics, colors, fonts, or overall direction.

I sent her a few drafts based on the basic goal she had in mind, with elements that complimented the non-profit’s current design theme. I didn’t hear back for a week and a half. I finally received some disjointed, random comments in an e-mail thread that included five other people I hadn’t met before.

Me: Thanks for your feedback so far. I was wondering, what’s your review process for this e-mail campaign? Who is seeing this, and why are these comments coming to me in this e-mail thread?

Client: I brought up the e-mail campaign project at our last Board Meeting, and I decided the best thing to do would be to send it around to all the Board Members for their comments and feedback.


….Needless to say, this approach was pretty painful. I felt like I was being kicked around blindfolded by a group whose knowledge didn’t relate to the project and hadn’t received much information about it themselves.


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Order ON the menu: Kai Davis on how to productize service for better pay

14 July 2020 - 7:30pm
Order ON the menu: Kai Davis on how to productize service for better pay


If you’ve ever written a detailed, thoughtful proposal… only to have a client glance at it and reject it right away, you know that having to describe the work you do EVERY TIME you do it is exhausting. 

Kai Davis solved this problem by turning his services into products with set prices! In today’s episode talks with Kyle about the advantages of this approach, how to get started with it, and how to use it to make more money on the same amount of work!

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

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.


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We’re Trying Everything We Can…

14 July 2020 - 3:00pm

I recently started a contract position with a business, hoping that it would be long-term. I was pleased that this Client seemed to have a decent reputation, based on my research.

However, I noticed several Red Flags that were alarming.

For example, I overheard the Client talking to his Marketing Manager about various efforts they were making to gain substantially more business.

The Marketing Manager had been doing everything possible to try to make that happen.

Client: So, you’re telling me this strategy might work?

Marketing Manager: Yes, that’s what I suggest, so that you can gain more online interest from leads.

Client: Well, I need more than interest. I need more a revenue stream. (Red Flag #1)

Marketing Manager: This could be a good possibility.

Later, I overheard the Client talking to his colleague:

Client: We took out a loan to keep the business afloat, so we just need to make sure we pay it back. (Red Flag #2)

In a chaotic conversation with the Client and co-workers, I kept hearing various stories about their plans. This statement particularly stood out to me:

Client: Don’t worry, our company will always be around. We’ll just need to re-organize some departments. We’ll never go out of business. We’ll figure it out. We need to drum up more work, though. (Red Flag #3).

This doesn’t sound so reassuring.

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Patent first, design later

14 July 2020 - 2:00pm

A client had made a logo for themselves, but because it used clipart and comic sans they discovered they needed a redesign once they tried to patent it. 

Client: Can you jazz it up?

I sent 10 concept sketches.

Client: These are great but I really wanted you to touch up my original design.

Which, I’ll remind you, was clipart and comic sans.

Jump to a few weeks later, I was finishing up a logo that I had meticulously redesigned and was awaiting final revisions.

They had me remove all the elements that make it visually interesting. I had to color it to their specifications, changed the text to make it I have to color it to all specifications, and I have to make the text damn near illegible so that it would fit the patent office compliance to be just like their original – bad – logo. 

I should have just traced the original logo and called it a day.

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User Submitted Post

13 July 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Can we meet up and discuss a logo I would like for you to create for us for our new business?

Me: Sure! Let’s meet at my home office and get this started for you. 

We meet that weekend and go over ideas, inspiration, etc. 

Client: We are looking at needing the logo in a few months. Is that doable?

Me: That’s TOTALLY doable! These are great notes. I’ll have your rough concepts next weekend. 

I submitted concepts within the week. A few days later:

Client: These are great but can we change a couple of things?

I gladly changed a few things and sent it back to them within a day. To which they respond…

Client: Well, we looked at all the concepts and decided we want something completely different. Can you come up with something?

Me: NONE of the concepts I sent you are what you want? They’re in-line with what we discussed in the first meeting.

Client: Yeah, but we decided we want something different. Also, we need it printed by the end of the week now because we’re opening the business early.

Me: Wait. I have less than a week to pull together a completely different logo and you don’t know which direction you want to go? 

Client: How long does it take you to design a logo? 10 minutes?

Me: …Let me refer you to an ad agency. Here’s their phone number. 

Their business never opened.

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I like the idea of getting paid too!

13 July 2020 - 2:00pm

A client printed my watermarked book cover mockup in a test run for his self-help book about integrity. He has not paid yet.

Client: I love how it looks when it’s printed!

Me: Great! Once you pay me I’ll give you the un-watermarked version so you can print.

Client: I like the *idea* of paying you. But I have to print it so I can show it to investors and make the money to pay you.

Me: Well, I like the idea of being paid so much that you literally can not use that design for anything until after you pay me. How about paying me now so you can use the book to find investors to pay you?

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Over 4000 design elements for less than a penny per element!

12 July 2020 - 3:00pm
Over 4000 design elements for less than a penny per element!

This week’s deal is on a HUGE bundle of design elements – 4000 in total!

>And at just $14, I would call this deal “obscene.”

Textures, vectors, illustrations, brushes, patterns, photos, oh my! This is an ENORMOUS collection of cool elements that will make designing professional ads, business cards, posters, banners and more a BREEZE. Just take a look at everything that’s included. It’s a lot. Like a LOT a lot. (I’m a big fan of the metallic textures pack).

Normally all this stuff would retail for $294 (which is already a pretty good deal for what you get), but if you act now you can save 95% and only pay $14. That’s a bargain.

> Check out the deal here!

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<p>I work in customer service for one

12 July 2020 - 3:00pm

I work in customer service for one of the big logistics companies. The phone lines usually heat up every Friday afternoon, when people realize they haven’t received their online purchases before the weekend. We do our best to help in exceptional cases, but of course, people have different definitions of what’s important.

Client: I absolutely need this package today, please, it’s urgent!

Me: I’m sorry, but we can’t sent a driver out today, the only option is to come get it at the depot.

Client: What, you mean drive two hours for two phone cases? Don’t be ridiculous.


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