Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 16 min 1 sec ago

The roof is on fire

8 December 2018 - 8:00am

EDITOR’S NOTE: This submission was received several weeks ago. 


I work in web development. I m working under contract for an insurance firm that is located in the middle of the Thomas Fire in southern California. The entire area is under voluntary evacuation. IT insists that we can’t have remote access to the staging environment, so we can’t work from home. Our contract does not include sick or holiday pay. We are expected to come into an area thick with smoke if we want to be paid anything at all. 

The building doesn’t have circulation air and is just pumping in unf smoke from outside. We just watched upper management leave early while we’re still expected to work.

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8 December 2018 - 8:00am

I work as a marketing manager for a finance company. We were discussing a tactical marketing campaign for a specific product with an external provider.

Client: I want you to promote it, but be discreet about it.

Me: How so?

Client: Like… you need to promote so that people to buy it, but no one is really supposed to know about it so you also need to make sure it’s undercover.


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<p>&#8220;Can you photoshop out the

7 December 2018 - 9:00am

“Can you photoshop out the rain?”

— A request following a photoshoot that was just completed in the rain.

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<p>I maintain a local real estate

7 December 2018 - 8:00am

I maintain a local real estate website.

New listings are added when I receive the listing details and photos from the receptionist. I regularly receive incomplete details without photos or photos without listings, and it can take weeks for the needed items to be supplied.

Multi-million dollar residential projects for foreigners are big business here and the agent has started to add several to the website so they can sell units. The units start at $500K and the commission would be substantial so it’s in their interest to display the projects as well as possible.

Client: Here’s a residential project that needs to be added to the website. I don’t have the text in a Word document. Kindly let me know if you can work with it.

Attached is a Word document with the text embedded as images.

Me: Yes, I can work with the text. It’ll just take a little longer to type out. Do you have photos for the project?

A month passes with no response.

Me: I still don’t have any photos for the project. Obviously, photos will showcase the project better than text can on its own. I can create a page without photos but to sell the project it would be better if people can see how it would look.

Client: Add the project to the website with just the text.

I’m starting to lose patience.

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<p>I am very new to the freelancing

6 December 2018 - 9:00am

I am very new to the freelancing scene. When I started I was getting financial advice from a family member who then hired me to create marketing materials.

It was a comedy of errors. They kept supplying me with terrible content that needed extensive editing, and due to a scheduling error for a photo shoot I wound up having to do two, In the end, I completed two photo shoots, seven finished poster designs, four original graphics, as well as various reformats and editing. Through all this, I was always “behind” because I’d get the necessary information the same day as it was due.

At a certain point, I realized I’d spent hours and hours on this but hadn’t discussed budget (again – I was new). So I asked. They got very suspicious, acting as if I was going to fleece them, and then asked me to come up with a quote since it would be “good practice for me.”

Me:  I settled on a quote.

Client: Okay, how much is it? 

Client: $XXX.

Client: WHOAH. Why is it that much?

Me: You gave me a LOT to do and at $X an hour…

Client: There’s no way! I don’t have the budget for that.

Me: All right, just tell me what your budget is and I’ll work to that.

Client: No. Just write up another quote!

In other words, I have to shoot in the dark until I wind up shooting myself in the foot, woefully undercharging for my time. 

It’s bad enough when a family member underpays you – it’s worse when they make you do it to yourself. 

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<p>Client: For the next proof, we’d

6 December 2018 - 8:00am

Client: For the next proof, we’d like to set up a screen share with you so you can make the changes we want in real-time while we watch

Me: Uh, that is not going to work like you think it will… unless you’re prepared to spend hours on the phone with me watching me work. 

Client: This is going to take hours to make these changes?

Me: If we do this in real-time, yes. It will. 

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5 December 2018 - 9:00am

Me: So you want a web banner?

Client: Yes, where do you live? Let’s meet up so that I can take you through the concept.

Me: Wait, this is a web banner, right? Why do you need to meet in person?

Client: Oh this is MUCH more than JUST a banner.

Me: Okay…. Can you send me a brief via email?

Client: No, no, I need to do it on the phone. Just so I get an idea, what do you charge?

Me: $[X] at [Y] days turnaround.

Client: That’s pretty steep for just a banner.

Me: Bye.

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image research

5 December 2018 - 8:00am

Client: We need photos for our website. They should be pictures of people standing straight on, looking directly into the camera, projecting a strong and assertive vibe. No smiling or laughing.

Me: OK, here is a selection of fifty images fitting that brief.

Client: …Why do all these people look so confrontational? These aren’t suitable, they all look too aggressive. We don’t want them to be staring down the viewer.

Me: OK, would you like some options where the subjects are not looking directly at the camera? 

Client: No, they should still be looking directly into camera… just not staring. We don’t like that.

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Can you print 150%?

4 December 2018 - 9:00am

Client: Yeah, the yellow is just not strong enough. Can you do anything about that?

Me: Well, it’s 100% yellow, so we can’t really do any more.

Client: Can you print it at 150%?

Me: ?!?!?!?

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<p>A friend of mine is an aspiring

4 December 2018 - 8:00am

A friend of mine is an aspiring director and has a habit of asking me to take part in films that never end up happening. Once he saw the SFX Makeup I’d been doing on other clients he asked me to do some on his newest film idea. I thought maybe some cuts, bruises, standard film makeup, that sort of thing.

Client: Could you recreate this? 

He sends me a photo of Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Client: So, like this but more grungey. Like with odd screws and nails instead of neat pins. 

Me: I mean, that’s one of the most recognizable monster designs in the world, but… I can give it a go. What’s your budget?

Client: Oh, I can’t pay you. But it’d be a great portfolio piece! 

Right, so you want me to not only rip off someone else’s makeup design but do a full head prosthetic makeup (which would probably cost around £300 in materials alone) completely out my own pocket? 

I declined. 

Luckily, the film never happened.

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<p>I was doing a chalk pen-illustration

3 December 2018 - 9:00am

I was doing a chalk pen-illustration onto a wall for a pub.

Client: Can you put the drinks list on the wall too?

Me: I definitely can, but I should warn you – I have to space everything. If you change the menu it might be hard to incorporate the changes without doing it all over again. I can’t just jiggle it around.

Client: Oh that’s okay, don’t worry about that. 

A year later:

Client: We need to add more drinks to the list. Can you jiggle things around?

Me ….

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<p>Client: I don’t have a great idea of

3 December 2018 - 8:23am

Client: I don’t have a great idea of what I’m looking for in a logo. I honestly don’t know what I want.

 Me: Okay I’ll send you some ideas based on references I look up. Maybe we can start from one of those.

I sent the email with a few ideas. He called me a little later.

Client: Those are horrible! I could’ve done a better job by myself on paint! Those are nothing at all like what I wanted!

Me: Well, you didn’t really know what you want. 

Client: Of course I know what I want! It’s my business.

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100+ Art Deco Fonts, Badges, Borders and Backgrounds – only $17!

2 December 2018 - 10:00am
100+ Art Deco Fonts, Badges, Borders and Backgrounds – only $17!

This week’s deal is on all the fonts, borders and backgrounds you need to make stunning art deco style designs. 

> Just take a look at this classic styling, all for only $17.

There’s a reason he was called the “Great” Gatsby and not the “merely ok” Gatsby. Art deco inspired much of modern design and remains utterly compelling in its own right. These fonts, border elements and backgrounds combine to let you harness this powerful and influential style for your own designs

This package retails at full price for $104, but for just a few more days you can get it at a savings of 87% for only $17

> Check out the deal here!

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<p>Client: Why isn’t this feature

2 December 2018 - 9:00am

Client: Why isn’t this feature working?

Me: In order to finish this app by the end of the day for your demonstration, I put in some filler content. All of your other main features still work.

Client: How long would it take to code the feature?

Me: With testing? It wouldn’t be ready before the end of the day. 

Client: If you guys don’t know how to code or how to get things working, I don’t want that to cut into the hours that I paid for.

Me: Talk to my supervisor. I’m just the designer.

Client: Okay.

The client in question was on a retainer agreement, where he purchased a set of hours for a discounted price. Turns out, his hours weren’t being logged very conservatively, and I wrote an iPad “app” in “three hours.”

I don’t think he had to worry about getting ripped off. I think we did.

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<p>Is there any way you can help my

1 December 2018 - 9:00am

Is there any way you can help my photo have a nose?

– A Not-So-Photogenic Client

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<p>I recently left a job after a year

1 December 2018 - 8:00am

I recently left a job after a year of working as a graphic designer for a guy who started his own business. He is very passionate and hardworking but sometimes has a hard time seeing things outside of his own fast-paced perspective. Since I quit, I’ve kept a working relationship with him as a freelancer. He is fully aware that in addition to freelancing, I also work full-time at two jobs and go to school.

Here’s an example of a conversation we have on a weekly basis.

Client: I have this project for you. When can you get it done?

God forbid he would actually ASK me if I can take on a project.

Me: Well, when’s your deadline?

Client: Can you have it done by tomorrow?

Me: I really require at least two weeks’ notice before a deadline.

Client: You’re killing me. Never mind. I’ll have someone in the office do it.

No surprise, in the last two months his entire creative team has quit and he currently has a staff of three.

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<p>Client: The design is great, but can

30 November 2018 - 9:00am

Client: The design is great, but can you make this color more of a purplish-orange?

Me: What?

Client: Like, I want it to be a dark neon.

Those. Are not. Colors.

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<p>Client: I have a file ready to print

30 November 2018 - 8:00am

Client: I have a file ready to print that a colleague designed. Can I have 1000 flyers for Friday?

Me: Sure, send over the file and we’ll print it right away.

Client: Here is the print-ready file.

 Attachment: flyer.xlsx

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<p>Me: We charge a consultation fee

29 November 2018 - 9:00am

Me: We charge a consultation fee that’s payable in either cash or check, as we can’t accept credit cards. 

Client: NO!  I don’t want a paid consultation. I just have some questions for the attorney about my case and want to see what I should do to move forward with it. 

Me: Yes, that’s what a consultation is. 

Client: Well, I don’t want to pay for it, just a free one. 

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<p>My wife was very sick and I had to..

29 November 2018 - 8:00am

My wife was very sick and I had to take her to the hospital. While my client could have easily reached out to the account executive to edit his event poster, he decided to call me three times back to back. Below is our conversation over text:

Me: Sorry, I can’t answer the phone right now. I have a family emergency – my wife’s at the hospital. Please call the account executive.

Client: But I also have an emergency!

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