Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 44 min ago

Square rectangle

8 March 2019 - 1:00pm

Client: I need you to design me a banner for this event.

Me: Ok. What do you want it to look like and say?

Client: Whatever you like. I trust you. Now hop to it.

Me: (Sigh) I need more info to work from. If you’re vague and non-descriptive it’ll end up like [previous bad commision]. You haven’t even told me where the banner is going so I have no clue what the size or dimensions you’ll need are.

Client: It doesn’t matter to me. Just make sure it’s high resolution and a square rectangle.

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User Submitted Post

8 March 2019 - 12:00pm

A long time ago I did some work for a bakery that had been on the market for a few years.

They wanted to change the appearance of the labels they stuck on the packaged goods – cookies, crackers, pound cakes and the like. New laws required that a lot more information about the product be featured on the label. Unfortunately, the size of the stickers themselves remained the same but the bakery still wanted to keep the images that didn’t convey any information. That was understandable, but it posed a real challenge because I had to fit in a lot of new text in such a way that the whole thing didn’t look cramped or tacky.

I did a bunch of brainstorming and ended up with four very different looks to make sure the management would like at least one of them. I was proud of how efficiently I was able to display the information while keeping it looking good. 

I took the proofs to the client, and he went from being impressed to angry and panicked. 

Client: WHERE are my barcodes?

Note one: There was never a mention about any barcodes while we had been discussing the job.

Note two: Having barcodes on labels at that time was still only optional.

Note three: they didn’t already have barcodes, and seemed to expect us to design them… in Photoshop. 

Note four: The customer was my dad. 

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User Submitted Post

7 March 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: Your writing feels a bit fragmented. It needs to be more passionate and go deep into the subject. 

Me: Awesome. Could you tell me what parts are fragmented and show me examples of what you’re looking for? 

Client: I’d rather you feel it out. Have fun! 

Confused, I went back and tried to give it more of a personality.

Client: This is too casual. I’m looking for something professional. 

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User Submitted Post

7 March 2019 - 1:00pm

I run a successful writing business and have for the past 7 years. My client base has grown through personal social media advertisement and referrals from previous clients who often return themselves. Out of the blue, with no requests/advertisement on my end, a previous client of mine texted me with a “writing job.” They do not personally know me, I don’t even know their name, they texted me directly, and they know nothing about the details of my business and client base  

Client: Hey, Happy New Year! Are you still writing?

Me: Thanks, you too. And yes, I am.

Client: Great, can I call you about an assignment?

Me: I don’t have time to speak on the phone right now and any requests have to be submitted ______ as usual. I’ll be glad to take a look at it when I receive it and if we need to discuss further, we can set a time.

Client: It’s actually more of a writing job offer but it sounds like you don’t want it.

Me: I get these requests daily, if you’d like to submit/email it to me, like I said I’ll be glad to take a look.

Client: Look, I think you’re a great writer but your business is missing an entire market. I’m offering to be a salesperson or middle man. You guarantee me a set price of $10 per page, and I refer people to you. I’d set my own price with them, discuss with them, handle the exchange, and then send you your cut.


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Break the Creative’s Curse with Todd Brison!

6 March 2019 - 9:18pm
Break the Creative’s Curse with Todd Brison!

What’s keeping YOU from being creative? Discipline? Scheduling? Good old fashioned “writer’s block”?

Todd Brison has made a name for himself by tackling these problems head-on and discovering how to make the most of your muse. In his extremely popular posts on Medium and his two amazing books The Unstoppable Creative and The Creative’s Curse, he breaks down strategies for doing creative work whenever you need!

This episode is like one of the best creative coaching sessions you’ll ever get. Tune in!

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from! Use this link ( for a great price! 

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.


Download here!

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User Submitted Post

6 March 2019 - 1:00pm

I work as a freelance prepress tech for a print broker. An old client of theirs, a CPA, had split off from their firm to go solo and needed newly branded collateral. They sent us a low-res, pixelated logo, with the words “Tax & Accounting Solutions” under it, hoping we could make use of it. The broker quoted them for my time to recreate the logo in vector, which they agreed to.

A few days later, after some back and forth on their design, the client requested some additional text on a second line under their logo. They emailed us another file showing what they wanted… which was a clean vector PDF of the logo I had just recreated.

My contact at the broker said, “Oh well, I’m charging them anyway.”

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Medical Fraud From Hell

6 March 2019 - 12:00pm

I had these two clients that were trying to make a mocap program for the medical industry.

Client: We have an existing program that just needs to be altered.

I looked into it. It was an outdated Unity SDK imported into this project with some GUI code, but it was missing the core program. 

Me: I’m afraid I’ll have to basically rewrite the whole program to integrate the new SDK

Client: Okay. Will that take longer?

Me: Yeah, a bit.

Client: Go for it.

Towards the end of the project, I told them how much extra work I’d done. At this point they decided they shouldn’t pay for the work.

Client: And don’t try to hold on to our mocap suit for collateral! If you don’t return it we’ll call the cops on you. 

At this point, I looked into the laws about what they were trying to do. This mocap suit wasn’t approved for medical applications – which leads me to believe they’re not only trying to rip me off, but also insurance companies with unlicensed tech. .

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User Submitted Post

5 March 2019 - 4:53pm

Client: We need human images.

I think my client forgot the word “photos.” Either that or I work for a bunch of robots.

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User Submitted Post

5 March 2019 - 12:00pm

I was working as a project engineer in AutoCAD.

Client: Can you send me that draft in Excel?

JPEG is not cool enough. 

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Is there a problem here?

4 March 2019 - 1:00pm

I worked as an editor for niche magazine whose CEO was a VERY aggressive client. One month, Company X put a promotion in a competitor’s magazine instead of ours.  No big deal.  The CEO considered it a slap in the face and called a huge meeting with all the department heads to discuss.

Client:  Shouldn’t we stop covering Company X in the magazine? Show them that when they don’t work with us, there are consequences.

Me: We have to write about what the readers want to read or it’ll hurt sales. There really needs to be a wall between the editorial and the promotions department, like the separation between church and state.

Client:  Hm. Yes, I get that, so I have no problem with Company X doing a promotion with our competitor. But I do have a problem that YOU DON’T have a problem with it.

Me: What?

Client: You should be offended. You should have a problem with it.

Me:  But… YOU don’t have a problem with it.

Client: No.

Me: Can’t we just agree with you?

Client: No.

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The old sack of wrinkles

4 March 2019 - 12:00pm

[Editor’s note: we don’t usually publish retail situations, but this one was pretty danged funny! So – the exception that proves the rule.]

I work in a music store, so generally our customers are pretty chill and easy going. There is, however, the occasional exception.

Around 2:00 P.M., an older man, maybe in his late 60’s, comes in wanting to make a return on a book he didn’t want.

Customer: I’d like to make a return for credit on this book. I don’t want it.

Coworker: Ok, do you have the receipt?

Customer: No. I didn’t get it from here. My daughter shipped it to me from Colorado.

Coworker: Unfortunately we cannot make a return because you didn’t purchase it from us.

Customer: Well, why not?

I stepped in at this point because I could tell my coworker was getting uncomfortable.

Me: We can’t return it and give you credit for it because you didn’t buy it from us. (I then proceeded to reiterate our return policy)

At this point, he was getting pretty heated, so my manager had to step in. My manager then told him the exact same thing I did. 

Customer: (now yelling) It’s merchandise, for heaven’s sake! It shouldn’t matter where I got it from! I even have you guys a good review on google, and now I might have to rethink that. 

As he stormed out, he yelled at my manager:

Customer: Clearly you don’t understand basic marketing! 

I should mention that my manager has a degree in marketing.


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Get ridiculous value from this bundle of 5000 elements for $14, at 100% off (technically)!

3 March 2019 - 1:00pm

This week’s deal is absurd value for an enormous bundle of elements! 

> Seriously, at $14, technically this bundle is 100% off. 

5000 elements equals a TON of tools for your kit. Fonts, textures, backgrounds, illustrations, icons and more. At only $14, this is an incredible value that will pay for itself in no time at all. Seriously, this is a one-stop shop for the professional designer

Normally every element in this bundle would retail altogether for $3000 but this week only you can get all 5000 fonts, illustrations, photos and more for only $14, or I repeat, with rounding, 100% off.

> Check out the deal here. 

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User Submitted Post

3 March 2019 - 12:00pm

I was working as a project engineer.

Me: Can you send me .DWG file so I dont have to measure it?

Client: Yes, sure!

Next day.

Me: (Calling) Good morning. I need that DWG file we were talking about yesterday.

Client: Oh sorry, I don’t know what DWG file is.

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Your Brand Standards

2 March 2019 - 1:00pm

I used to work for a large company that provided in-house print and design services to other large companies. As part of our contract we would manage their existing brand on their letterhead, business cards, etc. etc., as well as print and maintain stock for a lot of these items

One day I get a call from their brand manager asking me to come to her office. I could tell that she was in one of her bad moods by the tone on the phone. 

I got to her office and she is sitting at a table with a stack of letterhead, business cards and envelopes in front of her while holding a cheap plastic ruler in her hand. 

Me: How are things going today?

Client: (clearly agitated) The distance between the top of the card and the logo is not the same on all of these cards (as she points to a stack of 500 business cards). 

Me: oh sorry, it must have happened while cutting. I will speak with production. 

Client: And the thickness of the business card paper is way too thick. This is ridiculous!

Me: I agree, but it’s the exact weight and brand of paper that is specified in your brand standards….

Client: And this letterhead! Look at the size of the logo. It’s way too big. Also that huge margin on the left side, this is unacceptable! 

Me: Again, I agree, but these are the brand standards that your company paid a very large sum of money for, from a specialized brand agency that you told us to follow. The letterhead was printed using the exact template file that was provided to us by that agency. 

Client: I don’t care, you should know better. 

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User Submitted Post

2 March 2019 - 12:00pm

Me: The dimensions you gave me for your poster result in a very long and thin image. Is this for a website banner? 

Client: Yes.

Me: Okay, do you want a horizontal banner or a portrait banner?

Client: Yes.

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User Submitted Post

1 March 2019 - 1:00pm

I’m running my client’s Facebook page. As you may know, Facebook sometimes puts together an ad preview consisting of a combination of info you’ve entered into your page, including photos, links and contact info. My client saw one of these previews on his personal Facebook feed and proceeded to LOSE HIS SH*T. 






Me: …That’s an ad preview. It’s not a real ad. You can tell by the words “Only You Can See This Preview” in bold letters preceding said preview. 

Client: *total radio silence*

Did I mention this exchange occurred in a group chat they had created? Like 9 other people witnessed this dumbassery. 

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Client hates his own products

1 March 2019 - 12:00pm

Me: Here are some new photos for your bakery’s social media pages.

Client: I love the background, but I hate those cookies. 

Me: Those… Those are your cookies

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50 Bucks!

28 February 2019 - 6:10pm

Original story here!

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<p>Mum: I need a cover designed for my

28 February 2019 - 1:00pm

Mum: I need a cover designed for my book.

Me: Great! A friend of mine’s a graphic designer. How about you have a look at their stuff and if you like it I can out you in touch with them? What’s your budget? They would usually charge at least £50 for something like that and that’d be mates’ rates.

Mum: I thought I’d offer them a share in the profi-

Me: You absolutely will NOT be doing that!

You’re welcome, world. 

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<p>I was designing a postcard for a

28 February 2019 - 12:00pm

I was designing a postcard for a client. She was clear about what she wanted and even provided some samples. I thought the job would be a breeze… up until I sent her the final design.

Client: I love it! Thanks so much! Can you just change the background and the font and the text and the colors and move the text higher and rearrange the illustrations a bit?

Fourteen more revisions and two weeks later, we’re back to my original design.

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