Clients from Hell

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A collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers.
Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

Never again will I make the mistake of not looking at my check before I leave a meeting. When I get...

18 May 2018 - 3:20pm

Never again will I make the mistake of not looking at my check before I leave a meeting. When I get home from a meeting with the client, I pull out the check to e-deposit it; and notice it’s short by more than $60. I shoot her a text:

Me: My check is a $X short of what we agreed on. Can you drop off a check at my office as soon as possible please? I’ll be holding onto the work I was supposed to send over this evening until the balance is paid.

Client: Please send work product now, I’ll pay the balance on your next check in 2 weeks.

Me: I can’t send anything over until the balance is paid. Sorry, but this is pretty standard in the industry.

Client: Hold off on all further work. I will mail the check. We will be ending it here for now.

Me: Okay… as soon as I receive the check I’ll send over the files.

So… she fired me because I called you out on blatantly trying to short me? At the meeting she said “I’ve rounded your hours up a bit to give you a little bonus.” So obviously she knew what she was doing. She was just hoping I wouldn’t say anything.

A client submitted a photo to be used on a cover for a report about an event. They requested...

18 May 2018 - 1:40pm

A client submitted a photo to be used on a cover for a report about an event. They requested that the cover show that the event was well attended. The photo submitted is landscape and taken down the middle of an aisle. It focuses on the speaker and shows a crowd of people sitting on either side of the aisle.

Me: If we use this photo, it’s not going to look like there were very many people at the event. Once we crop it to fit your cover (portrait orientation), it’s going to remove most people and only show your speaker.

Client: Well can’t you just move the people over with Photoshop?

Me: That’s not something you can do with Photoshop without it looking terrible.

Client: Okay, what about this photo?

Me: That would work except that dead center of the photo is a guy prominently staring off to the right of the frame for some reason. It makes it a little awkward to use.

Client: Oh, well just Photoshop his head so he’s looking the right direction.

Me: I can’t do that.

Client: What if I find his head from another photo pointing in the right direction? Then can you do it?

Me: No.

We did eventually find a suitable photo, but I was waiting for them to suggest I just make a brand NEW photo “in Photoshop.”

Me: So here’s the code. This will make it really easy to update our data.Client: (looking at screen)...

17 May 2018 - 3:20pm

Me: So here’s the code. This will make it really easy to update our data.

Client: (looking at screen) That’s a Word document.

Me: No, that’s code. It pulls all the info together.

Client: That’s just a Word document. Anyone could type that in.

Me: No, I can type that in, because I know how to code. It pulls information from spreadsheets and compiles it. It saves us hours of time.

Client: It’s a Word document. Just give them the spreadsheets.

Me: There are 156 main spreadsheets with around 3000 data items on each. That’s why we’ve been doing this work.

Client: Well I don’t know why you’re wasting your time. That’s a Word Document.

Client: Hey can you put these products up?End of email. No attachments. No follow-ups.

17 May 2018 - 1:40pm

Client: Hey can you put these products up?

End of email. No attachments. No follow-ups.

Client: Can you do [X] for us?Me: You’re paying me to do [Y], not [X]. [X] Is a separate service...

16 May 2018 - 3:20pm

Client: Can you do [X] for us?

Me: You’re paying me to do [Y], not [X]. [X] Is a separate service that I charge for.

Client: Oh well I don’t mean right now. Just whenever you have some free time.

Client: I prefer it when the paragraph spans the entire width of the page.Me: I reduced the width of...

16 May 2018 - 1:40pm

Client: I prefer it when the paragraph spans the entire width of the page.

Me: I reduced the width of the paragraphs to make the text easier to read. About 60 characters per line is a good rule of thumb.

Client: No need to make the text easier to read. The text is hard to understand in itself.

Me: ….

I make audio and video content for in-store displays. I was working with a client who...

15 May 2018 - 3:20pm

I make audio and video content for in-store displays. I was working with a client who manufactured speakers who wanted audio ad to play on their speaker demo displays in places like target and Best Buy.

Me: The script looks great we will record the voice over tomorrow. 

Client: Awesome.

Me: What kind of music do you want under VO? 

Client: Uh… how about techno?

Me: Sure.

I collected four rounds of five “techno” songs.

Client: I hate this music. It sucks. My two year daughter also hates it.

Me: Well that’s really some of the best “techno” out there right now. I’m working with great labels…

Client: I don’t’ care, it’s awful.

Me: …Do you think you could be a little more clear about what you mean by “techno”?

Client: You know… “techno.” Like The Eagles!

Me:

Client: Or the Steve Miller band.

Me: …OK.

I’m a freelance illustrator. I’m pretty new to the scene so I’m still learning. The client needed...

15 May 2018 - 1:40pm

I’m a freelance illustrator. I’m pretty new to the scene so I’m still learning. The client needed two illustrations of themselves for a charity page. Simple enough, although they wanted both pictures done to their expectations within 24 hours.

Me: I can do that, however with the deadline being so close by, I’m going to have to charge a rush fee for a total of $200.

Client: Oh, that’s outside of my budget, this is for charity and I don’t work. I can only do it for $80.

Me: I understand your position. That price may be negotiable if the deadline can be extended, that way I don’t have to charge you for the rush fee.

Client: How much longer are we talking? I can extend the deadline, but then I’d only pay you $40.

I politely declined and wished them luck on their project, thinking to myself how if I wanted to be paid $40 for two illustrations, I could just go back to deviantART.

Client: Please use this footage as reference for the animation I want.Me: Okay, got it.I create a...

14 May 2018 - 3:20pm

Client: Please use this footage as reference for the animation I want.

Me: Okay, got it.

I create a first pass loosely based on the reference footage. The client isn’t thrilled, so I backtracked and worked closely with the material to make a second pass. Then a third.

Client: I need it to be more like the reference material.

Me: …I’m already referencing the material you’ve given me already but I’ll try to bring it closer.

Each pass I work closer and closer to the reference until it is all but copied frame for frame.

Client: It’s not there yet, are you looking at the reference material I gave you?

At this point, the 7th pass, I say “to hell with it” and frame for frame trace over the reference material, because there is absolutely no way he can tell me “it’s not quite there yet” this way.

Client: Are you actually looking at the reference footage? I don’t think you understand the movement of the person in the footage please draw up another pass.

Me: I have literally rotoscoped this.

Client: (Ignoring me) I think that you can bring it even closer to footage if you try harder :)

I graciously thanked him for the opportunity to work with him and promptly thereafter fired him.

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