Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

Killing one employee with a lot of stones

9 November 2019 - 1:00pm

Saw this while looking for a new job about 5 years ago:

Client: Cutting tool distributor is looking for an I.T. Technician
Job description:

– Manage the computer system. Upgrade needed.
– Update the inventory database.
– Manage the inventory
– Create a new brochure and a new catalog
– Update and maintain the website
– Taking care of shipping and receiving
– Answer the phone

Post: permanent, full time, 35hrs/week.
Salary offered: $13.45/hr

I passed…

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User Submitted Post

8 November 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: I need to reorder my business cards, but please take the name off of them.

Me: Take… the name off your business card?

Client: Yes.

I do exactly this and send off a proof.

Client: Why did you take my name off? I need that on there!

There was no other name on the card. 

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Cheap Bosses

8 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I started working with this creative agency that had this new high profile client. The client was a big pharmaceutical company, and most of my design work wound up being for them. They didn’t give enough time for anything; basically every day I was working on several big campaigns that had to be turned around in two weeks. 

Even though it was stressful, I ended up adapting to their way of work. I stayed late on most days. 

The thing is that the pay was very-very low and I started to realize how important was my job for them. This pharma client was the biggest we had and was very demanding.

I asked for a raise. They downplayed every reason I gave them to demonstrate I deserved more.

Me: I’m working a ton of extra hours for this client. 

Client: We don’t pay extra time. This is just normal for agency life. 

They looked me with a straight face while saying this.

I stayed for almost a year more after I asked for a raise (I still don’t know why). I received a pitiful “yearly raise” and realized that it made me more angry than anything. I started looking for work that paid better, found it, and quit.  

Two months later, I talked to an old friend who was still at that agency. Apparently when I quit nobody could keep up with the workload for this client. They had to hire two extra designers to keep on top of it. 

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User Submitted Post

7 November 2019 - 2:30pm

Me: (replying to a public inquiry that included a budget) Hi. I’m able develop the site for you. Here are my references… However, it would require a bigger budget. Can you do XXX?

Client: Thank you for your quote. However, this is my 4th time inquiring for the site and I’ve gotten a lot of different quotes. I know it’s possible to develop it in the stated budget.

Me: But you haven’t hired anyone in that time?

Client: It can be done. Goodbye. 

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We Need to Sell These Items Quickly

7 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I met with a woman at her home to discuss working with her to sell merchandise online. When I arrived, I interviewed with her in her garage where we would work – surrounded by boxes and random products from her line.

Her jewelry and clothing line that had gone through various rocky changes over the years. She was looking to amp up her social media and online sales.

Me: So, what’s led you to hire someone now for this freelance role?

Client: Well, my business created a large amount of jewelry and clothing items for media and trade show events, but it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. So now, I have tons of merchandise in warehouses. I’m looking for someone to help me sell the items pretty quickly online.

The products looked like any number of fashion items one could find in stores online or in person.

Me: How are your sales doing on your website?

Client: I’m only selling a couple hundred dollars or so of items a month on my website. Most of my partnerships and PR efforts didn’t create the long-lasting results the way I had hoped.

Me: Hm. Well, how many more items are you looking to sell quickly?

Client: Many many thousands of dollars worth. My business produced mass quantities. The large warehouse bills are adding up quickly and I don’t want to hold on to the items much longer.

She came across as sullen and angry. This seemed like it could easily be a disaster. I didn’t end up working with her.

Two years later, I noticed online that she hadn’t made much progress in her online goals and she was still trying to sell her old merchandise. This could be a long haul – or a liquidation of products (whichever comes first).

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6 November 2019 - 2:00pm

My client rang me two weeks after his new website went up shouting at me to refund all of his money. He had paid promptly with no complaints.

Me: I’m sorry you’re not happy with the site. Can I ask why you want a refund?

Client: My friends told me all about things going viral on the Internet. Why didn’t my website go viral? Make it go viral!

I tried to explain it to him but you can imagine how that went…

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Saving 101

6 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I was hired as a freelance designer for a company that ended up being a crap show. No organization or communication, overworked/underpaid everyone, and lots of gossip behind the scenes. It was a miserable experience, and I quit shortly into it. During my last week, I was asked to upload everything I worked on to google drive and share it with them.

Me: I can absolutely upload! However, please be sure to download everything I upload ASAP as I do not have room on my drive to host these files long term. I will give you about a month to download everything before I delete them from my personal drive

Client: Sounds good, will do.

FIVE MONTHS LATER. I gave them an extra four months and my drive was to capacity, so I emptied it.


I pretended to be shocked.

Turns out, not only did they NOT do as requested, but they were also adding all their new art and files to my PERSONAL FOLDERS and using them as the company drive. Why a company would depend on a former employee to host the only originals (as well as giving access to everything they do to a former employee) is beyond me. I almost want to say I no longer have the files, but unlike them, I know how to save.

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Creatively Indecisive

5 November 2019 - 1:42pm

I had been working with this client for some time now, trying to nail down designs for two different illustrations they’d hired me for. The first was stuck in permanent development hell because the client couldn’t choose between two different versions, so I began work on the second illustration.

Client: This is the character you’ll be designing. I don’t know what I want, so it’s dealer’s choice. Just surprise me.

He provided me with several short stories, and a document explaining multiple different incarnations and appearances. After a while of struggling without any direction, I produced a sketch that I wasproud of and offered it to him.

Me: What do you think? It could really show his character during this point of the story well, and it’s expressive.

Client: Actually, now that I’ve seen this, I’ve decided that I don’t want that at all. Here are four sketches of different poses I want, and he now has an entirely different appearance than the ones I gave you as reference.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a very long process.

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The Angry, Difficult Client

5 November 2019 - 1:00pm

A small team met with me to discuss a freelance media coordinator opportunity.

Hiring Manager: The client is often argumentative, angry and accusatory in meetings. You will have to bear the brunt of a lot of it. But, it’s a great chance to work on exciting things.

Me: Hm. Well, I’ve seen a lot. I think I could handle it.

Hiring Manager: It’s important that we just do as he says and try to keep him happy.

Me: Okay.

Hiring Manager: I’m not kidding. Everything he says, down to the letter. This is important.

Me: …I’ll think about it.

This job felt off to me. I ended up taking another offer with a different group. Years later, I heard that the client ended up getting involved in a long legal battle over how he treated people he worked with. I dodged a traumatic experience.

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How long is a piece of string?

4 November 2019 - 2:00pm

We provide content services to science-based organisations, writing blog posts that are usually 800-1200 words long, optimised for SEO.

Client: These blogs posts are far too long! Cut them down!

I cut the posts to the bone.

Client: Why are all these posts so short? They don’t go into enough detail. We should be doing much deeper dives into the science, like 1,500 to 2,000 words. Why aren’t you doing that??

Me: [death stare]

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4 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I was sent an official Word document to be placed in a report. 

Me: This new text says “8-89 November 2018,” and you misstated the name of the Official Sponsoring Organization as “Sponsored Official Organization.”

Client: Please do the following correction
8-9 Nov. 2918, Official Sponsoring zirgibazaton
Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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Add hundreds of design tricks up your sleeve with a bundle of bundles for only $21 — 94% off!

3 November 2019 - 3:00pm
Add hundreds of design tricks up your sleeve with a bundle of bundles for only $21 — 94% off! 

This week’s deal bundles together a series of other bundles. It’s awesome.

> Take a look. There’s so much cool stuff here.

This is a seriously useful bundle of elements, combining textures, patterns, masks and vector illustrations. Frankly, the pack of retro diagram illustrations, including retro video game consoles, alone is worth the price. You could probably produce a couple of the textures or masks in this bundle yourself, but ask yourself: “if I paid myself for my time, could I do it for less than $21?” The answer is no, of course not. Treat yourself. There are thousands of awesome elements here that will make your job so much easier for a great price. Sell one design with one element, you’ve made your money back. Sell dozens? You’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Normally everything here would sell for $375 — which is already a great price — but this week you can get all included 26 bundles for just $21 or 94% off

> Check out the deal here.

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An Enraged Response

3 November 2019 - 2:00pm

An organization expressed interest in my skills for managing creative projects as a contractor. I discussed the position with a group of people in a meeting.

Client: In your opinion, describe some important aspects of managing a design project.

Me: Well, it’s useful to discuss the overall objective and any details of the project that have been determined, such as the font.

Client: You mean I need a FONT?

He said this in a loud, scoffing, angry way.

I’m not liking this person’s reaction to this so far.

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And the award for not reading emails goes to

2 November 2019 - 7:58pm
I have a client that uses a private web application I built for them. It stores personal information.   They want to partner with another company, and that company requires that the web app undergoes a penetration test to check security before they will work together.   Client: I talked to a pentest provider, they say you should ask your host’s permission before commissioning the test. Can you check if pentests are allowed?   Me: (after checking) No, my current host does not allow pentests and would suspend the account. I will need to move the web app to a new host. It will cost $X and I can do it at the weekend to avoid disruption. Can you give me the go-ahead to do that?   Client: Oh by the way I arranged the pentest, it’s being done tomorrow. Do we still need to move the site?   Me: …    Obviously I told them to cancel the test immediately but with a 15 hour time difference between myself and the client, I’m really not sure what the next 24 hours will bring.

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Change the Thumbnail

2 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I have just spent a good five minutes or so reading and rereading this piece of feedback from an older client for an animation I made for her business.  I’m still in awe. 

Client: The first screen before the video begins. (The one with the arrow that starts the video) I hoped that the very first screen before the video begins will be something other than the image that is there now. I will be sending you an email with 2 photos I took from my phone. We can take a better picture and maybe a different subject over the weekend. If we do take another photo for that screen, will that work with your schedule?   If you didn’t follow that, she wants me to CHANGE THE THUMBNAIL that was embedded by Google Drive in when I emailed the link of the animation to her. I have no idea how to explain that’s not something I do, or that matters, at all. 

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Non-profit fund! Cause, well the directors bathroom renovation

1 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I am a professional event manager. A few years ago, I was approached by a non-profit organization that wanted to erect a monument for all the victims of domestic violence. The three-headed organization had already organized a big event but decided that they were going to organize a concert to get the remainder of the money needed for the monument. They asked me about six months in advance if I was willing to be the stage manager for the concert. It was a worthy cause so I agreed. Then they invited me to a meeting.

Client: So, we are going to do a great concert, at this amazing venue. There are all kinds of artist that are willing to work with us for free, but they are all C-listers. We really want A-list artists. We also want a full crew of volunteers to do everything from sounds and lighting to stagehands, greeters, bar-staff, PA’s to the artists, promotions, etc. Besides that, we need full media coverage, and of course a great media campaign. We don’t really have anything yet, everything needs to be organized and designed. We have about six months to pull this together. Since we’ve already put in a lot of time in the last event, we decided that you get to do this one.

Me: You mean you want me to fully organize this massive event?

Client: No, no.

Me: Good. 

Client: We keep the last say in everything, you don’t get to make the final decisions. But other than that: yes.

Me: …Okay, that is a lot of work for one person. If I would basically carry the sole responsibility for this and have my name tied to it, I would like to get some insight into the finances of the foundation. I’m sure you can understand that.

Client: NO! You just have to trust us! The money is none of your business!

Me: Okay. Then at least what is your budget for this?

Client: Pay? Oh no, we don’t pay employees nor do we pay expenses for volunteers. Do you know how much of our own money we’ve already put into this fund? This must be a fun thing to do for a great cause! 


Client: You’re very serious, you shouldn’t be so serious!

Since I was sitting there with them, I didn’t really want to say something, so when I got home, I’d send them an e-mail saying that I was not interested in doing this project, but that I was still willing to work as a stage manager. They not-so-politely declined. 

A few months later, news trickled out that the director had been using the monument money to pay for his house renovations. So much for “you have to trust us!” 

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the guy who doesn’t want to click

1 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I designed a platform for a client so that users could record over 50 different fields of information, improving it from what they had. The distribution and order where designed following their requirements. It simplified the process. So far so good.

I was demonstrating the platform and its improvements. 

Client: Wait, I have to use the mouse? That’s discouraging.

Sorry, buddy, for not doing a mind reader/optical detector platform.

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Music Credits Issue

31 October 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: I’m not going to give you appropriate credits on my project.

Me: Why? I literally did everything in it.

Client: If I credited every person for their work, I wouldn’t look so cool.

Me: But crediting people means being honest.

Client: Now I feel conflicted.

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User Submitted Post

31 October 2019 - 1:00pm

Actually a very, very good experience, but still made me speechless …

Me: So here are designs for your new website. I’m open to your comments and ideas if there are any.

Client: No corrections needed, we’re happy with design since it “looks like a website”.

… and that was the only feedback on quite a big web project. Paid in whole, without any revisions. To be honest with you, I’m still waiting for someone to scream “Hidden camera!”.

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He brought the internet with him…

30 October 2019 - 2:00pm

In the process of developing a site for a client, they insisted on coming in for a meeting to discuss changes. The client arrived at the office with a laptop and a length of cable over their shoulder. In their hands was a router.

Me Why have you brought that router and the power and ethernet cables?

Client: So I could get on the internet and show you guys the site during the meeting.

We didn’t bother explaining that we could provide WiFi access. What is more shocking is this client managed to submit a business proposal and get funding to start a business in the first place.

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