Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 52 min ago

No budget for creatives

5 October 2020 - 3:00pm

I run a webcomic with a partner that got featured in newspapers after one comic went viral. The following week, we got a call from someone employed by a known giant corporation. They were launching an app that was going to be something of a Snapchat for India. They were looking to populate some sections of it with visual content like comics, memes, photography etc.

Client: We love your webcomic and would like to feature it on our app.

Me: Great! How much are you paying creators?

Client: At this time, we don’t have a budget for content. But it will be great exposure for you.

Me: (groaning internally) Oh. Umm. Okay. You know what? It’s fine. The comic is free on the web anyway. You have my permission to use it. Go ahead and pick the ones you need. Just make sure our watermark remains there.

Client: So we will need you to submit a comic every Friday. It will have to be made to our specifications and will be uploaded only after our editorial team has approved it.

Me: Hold on! You want us to actually make new and exclusive content for you on a weekly schedule for free?

Client: Well you can use them on your Facebook page if you like. 

Me: Sorry. We are not going to do that. It is really unfair of you to expect quality freebies from creators. Especially since you are an employee of one of the largest corporations in India.

Client: But you will get exposu-


Remember, it’s possible to die from exposure. What’s the WORST job offer you’ve ever gotten?

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Come up with things going on in outside world

5 October 2020 - 2:00pm

Spotted on a job posting website: 

Client: We have to come up with things that are going on in the outside world and write them down and send them of to me. I will tell you my email once you get the job. We make newspaper articles

I know it’s just that English isn’t their first language, but does anyone else feel like this is vaguely sinister?

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Get futuristic with the Sci-Fi bundle for only $17! 85% off!

4 October 2020 - 4:00pm

This week’s deal is a package that makes it easy to make space age designs with a Sci-Fi flair! 8 Fonts, 30+ backgrounds, logo templates, a UI vector kit and more!

> Even better, at $17 it’s 85% off.

Sci-Fi demands a cool, cutting edge look, and this bundle gives you tons of options: fonts, UI elements and more! Whether you’re illustrating a book cover, putting together a convention poster or UI, or just showing that your client is the future of their field, this bundle makes it easy to make gorgeous and intriguing designs. Just take a look – how badly do you want to make an indie game with this package? Answer: BADLY. 

Normally all the elements in this package sell for $115, but for the next few days, it’s only $17 or 85% off.

>Check out the deal here!

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Looking for a team player, and nothing else

4 October 2020 - 3:00pm

Taken from a job posting:

Client: Looking for someone that can work that can work with other team members.

Wait, did I say “taken from a job posting”? I mean that WAS the job posting. That’s all that they said. 


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Finding a way out

4 October 2020 - 2:00pm

I was working as a network engineer/consultant for a managed service provider who, in my coverage area, provided contract-based support to small- and medium-sized businesses. Our top priorities were always security and integrity of data, and we worked with each client’s IT staff and/or leadership develop policies if they so desired. For one particular client, a policy was created by their own IT staff and then enforced using a web filter. This was all done with a sign-off by the client leadership. One day I was called into that client’s president’s office while I was onsite for a service call. This happened in 2006 or 2007, I believe.

Client: What is this IT policy that you created?

Me: It is a policy created by [the two people in charge of IT for their company].

Client: I don’t care who created it. Why do we have it?

Me: It’s to protect the network. To reduce viruses and overall increase productivity…

Client: (interrupting) We don’t need it. No one can #^&#ing tell me what I can and cannot do on my own computer. Not you and not [the two people in charge of IT]. If I want to #^&#ing watch porn all day on my #^&# computer, I will. Only [the company owner] down the hall can tell me what the #^&# I can and cannot do. I want the #^&# filter turned off now.

Me: …Cool.

I soon discovered that the son of one of the VPs was looking to expand his own IT support and hosting company, and the president was looking for a way to get out of our multi-year contract early. The contract continued until the end date.

…Awkward. Has a client revealed more than they should to you? Let us know!

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Poll: What is your favorite Clients From Hell story?

4 October 2020 - 1:53am

Dear readers, we’ve recently rebooted our Most Popular category. 

We’d like to hear from you: which Clients From Hell story is your favorite? Let us know in the form below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.What is your favorite Clients From Hell story? *If you've got it handy, please also include a link / URL to the story. Thanks!

Write a book for me, please.

3 October 2020 - 4:00pm

I just stumbled on this job offer on eLance.

Client: I am looking for the best writer for an eBook based on an amazing true story (involves history, drama and biography) as the main plotline, but the content itself and the content of the chapters would have to be creatively made up in a thrilling & interesting way. The writer has to be a fluent in: English language (must have perfect Grammar and spelling), internet searching, researching & writing skills. Previous work portfolio will be asked, writer with self published books are preferred. A total of 70,000 words are needed, payment is $560 per 70,000 words, This project requires all regular materials required in an Ebook (except a cover picture) Included materials such as: table of content, footnotes, quote refrence etc. (which will not be counted in the word count) Each chapter will be submitted along the way. The text will be double-checked for copy-writing issues- each book must 100% original. Deadline is 30 days from the start of the project. 

“Write my entire book for $560 in 30 days.” Sure. Sounds good.

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<p>Our company provides remote

3 October 2020 - 3:00pm

Our company provides remote technology support for company-provided tools for real estate agents. I was in a call with a client, walking him through the most basic processes of the program.

Client: I come from corporate America where the sales guy does sales stuff and the technology guy does technology stuff. You’re telling me that I’m responsible for learning how to run all of this software now?

Me: So you’re telling me that you’re surprised you have to learn a new skill set after switching careers?

Client: Can’t you just do this for me?

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Animator acquired

3 October 2020 - 2:00pm

I’m an animator. I recently posted a scene that got a fair bit of attention – shares, positive comments, even a legitimate job offer as an animator at a game company.

This is not about that.

After receiving a beautiful job offer, for a good amount of pay, flexible hours, and for a great boss, I get a message saying “Yes. Animator Aquired.” Which is weird enough to me. I responded asking what they want.

Client: I’m currently working to storyboard a 5-8 minute fight scene in traditional animation, was wondering if you’d be interested in designing the video for my page”

Me: That’s interesting! Would you be able to give me some specifics about the job?

Client: Can you animate it. Like in traditional animation.

Me: …We can figure out what that means in a moment. For now, what’s your budget?

Client: I want it all, for the Low.

 This made me mad. I started to type out the actual cost of traditional animation. Considering that 1 second is 24 frames and a minimum of 12 drawings, even at his bare minimum of 5 minutes, that is still 3600 drawings, per character. Plus backgrounds, cleanup and color. And obviously compositing all this. In all my typing I receive a message:

Client: Lol, I was kidding.

I stopped writing my mini-lecture and responded.

Me: Okay, what’s your budget and timeline?

Client: $200, start now and submit beginning next month.

They wanted me to compose a 5 (minimum) minute fight scene, make 3600 drawings, clean and color them, and composite the whole thing, in a month, for $200.


I sent what I SHOULD be paid for it, closed messenger, and never heard from them again.

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Just use Photoshop’s Sherwin Williams mode

2 October 2020 - 4:00pm

A client reached out to me for help with a logo. She had “designed” her own with the help of a phone app logo maker and wanted help editing.

Client: I was at Sherwin Williams yesterday and have chosen new colors for my logo. I want to use peacock green and ocean blue. Please change the logo colors to these.

Me: OK, well, we do need to then specify the correct colors for the printer. Sherwin Williams is for house paint, not logos, but we can match as close as possible.

3 days later:

Me: Good morning! I have attached a 4-page PDF with logo options based on your colors and some potential business card designs to give you an idea of how they might look. I’m also sending a digital break down for color formats to match your paint for the offices. Please let me know what you think, I welcome your feedback!

Client: We’ve decided to seek out other graphic services. We are not paying for new colors for our logo. We told you what we wanted and instead, you did all this work we didn’t ask for. Goodbye.

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Last night a DJ saved my life/ruined my wedding

2 October 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m a DJ who mainly plays in nightclubs and bars but from time to time I will play weddings. Most of the time I try to avoid them since they are very time consuming and require a lot of prep work. 

A friend of mine asked if I DJ for her friend’s wedding in three months. I accepted and asked my friend to give the client my contact info to get in touch with me ASAP.

Two months went by. I asked my friend if she passed along the information several times during that period, and even tried to reach out myself. No response. Then, a really exciting offer came up for the same night – because I hadn’t signed any contract or even spoken to the bride, I decided to go with it. I told my friend and asked her to pass this along. She apologized that the bride hadn’t bothered to reach out to me in all that time.

A week before the wedding, the bride added me on Facebook and sent me a message.

Client: Hey. I’m sorry for responding so late. The wedding is a week away and I thought I should contact you so we could work out the details.

Me: Hi… I thought that [my friend] told you that I cannot play at your wedding. I already accepted another job offer. I hope you find someone, but this isn’t going to work for me.

Two days later my response was still unread.

Me: Hey. Can you please confirm that you got my message?


Saturday: I’m playing my club gig and having a good time. When I finished I checked my phone and had several messages from the bride asking where I was. They started as questions, turned to insults, and then accusations that I destroyed her special day and that she would sue me.

The post Last night a DJ saved my life/ruined my wedding appeared first on Clients From Hell.

If they can do it why can’t we

2 October 2020 - 2:00pm

Started working in a manufacturing plant as a fill in operator/manager. Quickly realized that the all the scheduling issues were due to gross differences between runtimes on the tickets vs reality.

I brought this to the owners attention, and he wasn’t pleased.

Client: That’s the same speed our competitors run at.

Me: Sure, but their equipment is 40 years newer and not being run by temps.

This is the only place I’ve ever worked that thought a temp with a week of training should be able to run a 60′ die cutter.

He told me that he couldn’t make money at the [realistic run speeds] I’d provided and refused to update the values in the software.

The post If they can do it why can’t we appeared first on Clients From Hell.

True punk

1 October 2020 - 4:00pm

I live in a college town and have found a niche for myself churning out album art and flyers for local garage bands in my spare time. Usually, it all goes pretty smoothly; the clients are all hustling to make a name for themselves in the local scene and recognize that I’m offering a pretty good deal.

The other week, a friend brought a client to me, and we were sitting down in a coffee shop and going through my portfolio while talking about his band.

Client: Yeah, we’re pretty classically punk, you know, rough sound, all that ‘fight the system’ stuff, so I want something that really gets that, “angry-dirty-grrrrr” feel.

Me: I totally get it, I can definitely get you set up with something like that pretty easily. Let me show you some work I’ve done in that vein and you can tell me if anything stands out.

I start to flip to the section of my portfolio that’s got the grungier stuff I’ve done when he stops me.

Client: Ooh wait, I like that one. Can you give me that?

He’s picked out an album I designed for fun, a fictional cyberpunk Electronica band. It’s a very clean design, a stylized bust heavy in neons on a black background with the album title in white text next to it.

Me: Well, I can definitely whip up something for you like that, though honestly I don’t think it will fit with your band’s style very well.

Client: No. I like this one, just give it to me. More people always show up to the EDM shows anyway.

Me: That’s kind of like false advertising, you know? People might get pretty upset if they pay to see you play based on your album art and find out it’s not what they expected.

He suddenly stands up and starts pacing.

Client: Whatever, f*ck them, I hate doing this sh*t anyway, they don’t know what they want to hear. And f*ck you too man, [mutual friend] doesn’t know sh*t if she thinks you can help me, you’re a dipsh*t.

He left in a huff, slapping at a potted plant and slamming the door behind him. Our mutual friend tells me that he’s been hijacking every conversation to badmouth me for trying to “corrupt the look of his music.”

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My only intentionally dropped call, ever.

1 October 2020 - 3:30pm

I work in a call center as an IT Helpdesk. A client was calling regarding a full disk encryption. Aside from a terrible line quality as if he was calling from a potato, his listening skills were close to zero.

Client: My account is locked.

Me: Your account seems fine from my end. Do you happen to be on the Disk Encryption (added lots of details) screen? 

Client: No, I am on a blue windows screen.

This was already tricky. Since he was a laptop and VPN user, and he stated he could not get into the laptop, I knew I cannot help him unless he is connected to a LAN. After 10 minutes of bickering he blurted out that he needs a long code. I was already infuriated because I have asked the user at least twice is he truly on a windows login screen and not from the Disk Encryption. As soon as I told him to hold on so I can generate a code for him, he dropped the call.

After 15 minutes I got him again on the line. Since I already knew what he needed I instantly generated the code and gave it to him. He entered it wrong no fewer than 5 times, necessitating me reading it out to him again each time. After 10 minutes he managed to log into the laptop.

Me: Okay, I’m going to ask you get on your VPN so I can connect to your laptop remotely and do the rest for you.

Client: Something popped up.

Me: I am trying to connect to your laptop – that’s the notification window. Can you approve it for me?

Client: How do I do that?

Me: Just click approve or connect, just don’t decline.

For the next 3 minutes, he kept hitting “decline.”

Client: This isn’t working. Just tell me what to do.

I tried to tell him step-by-step, but this was a complete non-starter. No wonder, since he couldn’t figure out a simple instruction like “hit accept.”

Finally, I tried accessing his computer remotely again after 20 minutes of this. He hit accept, and I had to mute my phone because the coworkers who had started to amass at my station to watch the train wreck started to cheer.

Me: Ok Sir, I’ve done what needed to be done, and there is one last thing you need to do: LOG OFF. Do NOT turn off the computer, do NOT restart the computer. Just LOG OFF. Otherwise, it will ask you for the very long code again.

Client: Ok. Do not restart the computer?

Me: Do NOT restart. Just log off.

Client: Okay.

After a minute or two of silence.

Client: I have the same issue.

Me: …Is it asking for the very long code again?

Client: Yes.

Me: …Did you restart the computer?

Client: Yes, I restarted the computer.

This is the only time in my entire support career that I ever intentionally dropped a call.

…This one was a doozy. Ever had a client who wouldn’t listen? Tell us! 

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You want it to take longer?

1 October 2020 - 2:02pm

Client:  Why is this taking so long?

Me:  It’s a big job. I can be done by tomorrow morning. 

Client: What if I help while watching you do it?

Me: Then it will take to the end of the week.

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Graduate from freelance to consultant with Michael Zipursky of Consulting Success

30 September 2020 - 5:15pm

The difference between a “freelancer” and a “consultant” is very fine. In many ways, it’s just a shift in philosophy, but it can yield great dividends because clients view the two very differently.

On today’s episode, host Kyle Carpenter talks with Michael Zipursky of Consulting Success, who has been coaching agencies and solopreneurs to building the consulting businesses they want for over a decade. He shares his steps for becoming a successful consultant, and they key difference in approach that separates one from a freelancer! 

Want to get more advice from Michael? He’s giving away his book for free at his website. See the links for more details! 

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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What I thought/what I said

30 September 2020 - 4:00pm

I’m a design student and was offered a job at a small promotional item business: t-shirts, pens, mugs, etc. I’d just finished a few jobs when the client hit me with a different ask:

Client:  I want you to design a logo for me.

Side note: Their current “logo” is two lines of Brush Script, typed out.

Me: Alright, what are you thinking for the design?

Client: Well, first of all, I know Nike pays thousands of dollars for their logo and I’m only going to pay you $35. Second, I want it to include some sort of character… this one! 

He proceeded to show me images of Arlo from The Good Dinosaur.

Client: Now I know you can’t copy from….I think this is Disney. But, I want something very close to him.

Me: Why a dinosaur?

Client: Because I spent half of my time in the office yesterday Googling animals and I really liked this dinosaur! Also, I want this to be a character that could be illustrated in different environments or doing fun things like playing golf.

Me, internally: so no good reason, then?

Me: …So, you’re asking for a mascot then?

Client: Well, something that’s integrated in the logo, but can be used for anything else.

Me, internally: So I’m about to create a full bodied character entirely from scratch, somehow incorporate it into the logo, design the rest of the logo because I can’t deal with brush script, and get paid only $35 dollars for it?

Me: Anything else you’d like to add?

Client: Oh, a slogan. Also a slogan. And I’ll probably need you to design a t-shirt with this new branding on it after you’re done. 

Me, internally: How badly do I need this job?

Me: …K.

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Less parental, more dad

30 September 2020 - 3:00pm

I was in studio, recording voiceover for a radio commercial for a major coffee brand:

Client: Okay, here’s what we want you to bring out in the read: You’re a dad, it’s 7 am on a Saturday and you’re about to take your kids to hockey practice, and that’s why you need (X coffee brand). Really bring out that feeling.

Keep in mind that the copy is literally one sentence that only really references the bold flavor of the coffee, and does not lend itself to conjure up any of the aforementioned imagery. 

I did a few takes, varying my tone and delivery.

Client: I’m not really hearing the dad in there. Less parental, more dad.

Me: (wondering what in the world that means) …So…maybe I should sound a little more tired, since it’s so early, but still determined to get the kids to practice on time thanks to the coffee? Or like I’m trying to be fun so the kids like me? Something like that?

Client: Just…I don’t know…sound like a dad! More fatherly! Do you have kids?

Me: No, I don’t.

Client: Ughhh geez, well THERE’S your problem right THERE!

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Three-week timeframe/three-day ask

30 September 2020 - 2:00pm

I sent the client my project proposal, which included a three-week timeframe. She signed off on it.

I sent her the contract which specified the three-week timeframe. She signed it.

Three days in: 

Client: Why isn’t this finished yet?

Me: Please note the three-week timeframe you OKed.

Client: Is there any way you can get it done by tomorrow?

That’s gonna be a no.

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A real professional artist

29 September 2020 - 4:00pm

I was a recently graduated animation student looking for work. A potential client reached out to me to make a 15-second promotional clip for a documentary they’d made. The job had a tight turnaround and let’s just say the offer was… minimal. Offensively minimal. 

That’s fine, I thought. A lot of people don’t realize how much work animation takes. I’ll write back and explain how many hours I’d have to work for that seemingly small project, and why I need to ask for more to do it.

This was the response.

Client: No offense, based on your portfolio, we figured you’d be grateful to accept this job from us to gain exposure because you’re not a real professional artist.

Frustrated, disappointed, and full offense taken, I  declined the oh-so-generous offer.

Two weeks later, I animated for someone who was willing to pay me a fair wage. The work was hard and the deadline was tight, but it turned out pretty well and my client was very satisfied.

This project ended up being so successful that it went viral online and got millions of views across multiple platforms. It exponentially increased the amount of exposure for both my client and me. We were thrilled.

Since then, business has been booming. I’ve gained a sizable following and am bombarded by inquiries; my clients pay me what I ask. 

So yeah, good luck with that obscure Netflix documentary nobody’s going to watch.

Don’t you love it when the good guys win? When’s the last time you stuffed it right back in someone’s face?

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