Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 34 min ago

Empty biscuit tin

1 August 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: …and then we’ll need one of those cookie pop-up warnings for the website.

Me: The website doesn’t need, have or create any cookies.

Client: OK great, we’ll sort that out later then.

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disputing the logo size

31 July 2019 - 4:00pm

I was a freelance Graphic Designer while working part-time for a decade. Due to irritating clients I wrote into my terms and conditions that disputes resolved with a tutorial PDFs by me will result in an additional charge of $50 to the job.

Client: I need this logo you designed me for my zip seal tea product to be smaller. I don’t want to pay the printer that much.

Me: Did you want to change the materials of  the stickers or print direct onto the packet instead of stickers?

Client: No I need the matte stickers I specified. Just make them to size of your thumb instead. I can print that and stick it on to my bags of tea myself (550g and 1kg packets of loose leaf tea).

Me: I would advise against that as the customer will need to squint to see the logo and will not be able to see the logo properly from the aisle.

Client: Why is that? Seems quite logical to me. Why would they squint?

Me: Should I send a PDF tutorial explaining?

Client: Well all right, you seem to not be able to make sense on the matter.

Clearly I needed to take extra steps.

Me : I sent a PDF with pictures I captured of me in supermarket aisles comparing the products I could identify clearly from walking and compared to my thumb size.

Client: Ahhhh, ok well that makes sense. I guess I’ll have to pay for the original size then.

Later, after billing:

Clients wife: My husband wants to know why you have charged him an extra $50 than what was quoted.

I explained the PDF terms and conditions on the contract.

Clients wife: (yelling at her husband while still on the phone to me) She charged you more because you are an IDIOT!

Client’s wife: (to me) Don’t worry I’ll pay you myself. 

The client was grumbling and muttering to himself in the background while his wife finalised the payment. 

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User Submitted Post

31 July 2019 - 2:00pm

The marketing department of a well-known charity got in touch with an urgent request for an online ad campaign. I travelled to their head office a few days later and went through the brief. It was an exciting opportunity and a cause close to my heart.

Client: This is really quite urgent, so we’d appreciate a swift response. We’ve had two other designers let us down recently, so we’re really behind schedule.

The deadline was in four weeks’ time.

I send a design proposal the next day. One week later:

Client: We love your ideas! We need to discuss them internally, then we’ll be in touch. Brilliant work!

Two weeks later:

Me: Just following up on the proposal as I’m aware the deadline is fast-approaching. If you could let me know, that would be great.

<tumbleweed>

Four weeks later, I assume they’ve found another designer. Fair enough – onwards and upwards.

Three months later:

Client: Hi! We’re still keen to have you on board! Are you available? Let me know ASAP!

Me: Yes, I have limited availability this month – please let me know what you need.

One month later:

Nada.

I have a nagging suspicion that this ethos may extend to their accounts department. Noping my way out of this one.

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User Submitted Post

30 July 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: I want our app to be accessible. In the settings, I want our users to be able to turn on a colorblind-friendly mode, like an option they can tick.

Me: You’ll be happy to hear I have already designed the app to account for several different visual impairments! It is already colorblind-friendly.

Client: Yes, but how will our users access that mode? We need an option in the settings so colorblind users can turn it on. Like a “colorblind mode”.

Me: But the app is already colorblind-friendly. So when users turn on the colorblind mode… what exactly is supposed to happen?

Client: I don’t know.

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User Submitted Post

30 July 2019 - 2:00pm

I did a character illustration for a client and he decided he wanted to add a background. He asked for a mountain in the background with some woods and sheeps wandering about. So I did that. Took me about a week of work.

Client: But… are you sure that´s Křiváň?

Křiváň is a specific mountain in Slovakia, where I don´t even live.

Me: Oh, no, it´s not. That´s not a specific mountain. It´s just a generic one. You didn´t say you wanted Křiváň.

Client: Oh I know I didn´t say that, but I thought it would be!

Me: Why did you think that?

Client: Well I thought it would look good with Křiváň! You should have done it! I was imagining it that way.

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The Tablet Needs a Cursor…

29 July 2019 - 3:00pm

Actual design direction from the marketing department for a print piece:

Client: Make it look like a tablet, including the camera on the side and plastic framing. Oh, and a cursor. 

Me: A tablet… cursor?

Client: Yeah, like an arrow. 

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User Submitted Post

29 July 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m working on a website redesign for a client in the education industry. I work at an agency and we have very strict approval points because clients tend to “change their minds” later on when it becomes more of a headache to make changes. This conversation happened after we have finished designing all of the templates for the website.

Client: Looks great!

Me: Excellent. Can I mark these designs as approved and pass them on to our development team?

Client: Yes, they are approved, provided that we still have the ability to make changes later.

Me: … 

Do you know what approved means?

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Save over 99% on 2000+ stylish and cute vector elements!

28 July 2019 - 3:00pm
Save over 99% on 2000+ stylish and cute vector elements!

This week’s deal is an enormous bundle of high-quality watercolor design elements!

> They’re cute AND elegant. Top that. 

You’re a great designer and a solid illustrator, but that doesn’t mean you’re great at watercolor. That’s where this bundle by Mikibith Art comes in. Harness their skill for your designs!  Deploying subtly beautiful flowers, adorable pets and stylish and adorable characters. The seamless flower textures alone make this bundle worth it, and the rest of the 2000+ add incredible value. Need a “girly” touch to a design? This bundle will get you there, fast. 

The variety this bundle gives you is normally worth $1000, but for the next week you can save over 99% and get all 2000+ elements for only $9. That’s less than half a cent per element. Get this brand new look for your design arsenal at the cost of only two premium coffees. 

> Check out the deal here. 

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Ruler Rules

28 July 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: You made this 6″ ruler but when I hold a ‘real’ ruler up to the screen, it’s not right.

Me: Well, what size of monitor are you looking at?

Client: What difference does THAT make?! A ruler is a ruler.

 

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User Submitted Post

27 July 2019 - 3:00pm

I was hired to create clay relief illustrations for a kids educational workbook. The owner of the animation company who hired me was excited about my style and had me come into his studio to start work immediately. It’s important to note that he walked into the ceramics studio I work at and specially asked if there were any ceramic artists for hire. The task was that I’d make about 12-15 flat clay relief illustrations that could be easily photographed from a top-down camera angle. 

The first red flag came when the client made me sit beside him as he meticulously sketched each page design on his laptop, then got irritated that I wasn’t familiar with using Photoshop on a Mac. (He specifically hired me because I’m a ceramic artist, and also wouldn’t allow me to use Photoshop on my own laptop. He also said that sketching on paper wasn’t allowed.)

He then presented me with a box of half-used Sculpy clay that was full of dust, some of the colors mixed together. Sculpy that had been used during kids animation classes that he now expected to be used in his new professional project. I explained that I’d been hired as a ceramic artist and assumed I’d be able to use clay and glaze I was familiar with using.

He told me that I’d be expected to work in his studio and that I was making things very difficult by demanding to work, you know, in the actual ceramics studio he visited to find ceramic artists.

I was already there, so I decided to give it a shot. He told me to make him a bee. I made a flat bee with 3D elements- but surprise, he actually wanted a full 3D model. I explained this was all gonna be hard to photograph and waste a lot of time, and reminded him he’d hired me to make a relief, which was flat with 3D details.

I finished the bee, and for two hours he critiqued it, demanding I change the size of the stripes, change the wings, criticizing ‘imperfections’, and making me add legs. Finally, when I was done, he was irritated that the 3D model didn’t sit flat on a table. The following conversation happens:

Me: This is just a test model. We’re making reliefs, right? The bugs in the relief will be attached right to the rest of the piece. I’ll make the background first as a flat layer, then add 3D bugs and plants so you can photograph it.

Client: No, we’ll use this bee. Is it ready to photograph?

Me: …No. I need to make the entire clay illustration. You want these made from ceramic, right? It’ll be much faster and better quality if I work in my own studio with my own materials.

Client: Can you just bring the clay here?

Me: It’s a different clay, it needs to be put through the kiln. I’m honestly not familiar with Sculpy and it’s a completely different technique.

Client: It took you hours to make this bee! This is gonna take forever! You need to work in my studio since you needed so much guidance.

Me: You hired me because you loved my art. I work much faster with clay that needs to go into a kiln, it’s a totally different material. You’ll need to trust me and let me work if you want me to do this.

Client: I can’t pay you what you quoted. You just took so long. What if we just did a few bugs in clay and photoshopped the rest of the drawing? How much would you charge for one bug?

Me: $30. 

Client: That’s way too much! 

Me: If I made this just to sell as an ornament, I’d charge $40 because of how big you wanted it with all the details.

Client: …Well, we’re gonna have to discuss this. Come in tomorrow from 10am-4pm.

Me: Yeah cool. 

I didn’t go back. I emailed him that night to tell him he’d be better off either hiring an actual Sculpy artist or figuring it out himself.

 

 

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User Submitted Post

27 July 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: I’d like you to create a millennial-friendly template.

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Creative Director

26 July 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: Hey, real quick…

Me: (delete)

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Creative Director

26 July 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: We want to create an ad for a national trade magazine.

Me: Great, what is the concept of the ad?

Client: We want the Boogeyman creating fear for the would-be buyer.

Me: The Boogeyman?

Client: Yes. Like the concept of buying this type of product is scary like the boogeyman, so we want to see the boogeyman scaring the buyer.

Me: Ummm… what does the “Boogeyman” look like?

Client: You know, like the boogeyman.

Me: I’m gonna need a point of reference here.

Client: Just make up what you think the boogeyman looks like.

Me: Aside from me putting a name tag or sign on this Boogeyman, how would anyone know it is the Boogeyman?

Client: Oh, they’ll know. No need to put any name on there.

Me: So if I am the one “making up” what this Boogeyman looks like, and to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever actually seen said boogeyman, wouldn’t we still be the only ones who know its the Boogeyman?

Client: We think it will make sense to the reader.

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Edgy screenshots

25 July 2019 - 3:00pm

I have been working on an app for a client and it is almost done. So far it has been smooth sailing. The customer wanted some nice pictures of the app so that he can show it off to his employees. I loaded the app on some devices, took a couple of screenshots and sent them to the client. 

Client: Thank you for the images. The app looks nice but I would like to have the actual photos of how it looks on a phone.

Me: The images I send are exactly how the app looks on iOS and Android. 

Client: No they are not. I require SCREENSHOTS, not images. 

Me: These are screenshots. They were made while the app is opened on the phones.

Client: No, they are not screenshots. My iPhone has a home button and a camera on the front. I don’t see those in your images. So please make some actual screenshots and send them to me.

So at this point, I realized that the client’s definition of ‘screenshot’ is little different than what it actually means and that he wanted the actual physical shape of the phone around the screenshot. I didn’t feel like arguing about it and just proceeded with the “screenshots” with the physical device around it.

Me: Here are your screenshots for Android and iOS. (Taken on iphone 10 and Samsung S8)

Client: I don’t need iOS/android. iPhone and Samsung are popular right now and those are the screenshots I want. Can you convert them for me?

 Deep, heavy, long sigh…

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User Submitted Post

25 July 2019 - 2:00pm

I have been working with a client for a month or so now, doing illustrations for his website. I’m new to freelance with businesses, but doing my best. As additional work, the client wanted a standing roller banner for a conference. I designed it to the specs of an eBay listing, uploaded it to a Google Drive folder, and sent them the link.

Me: Here’s the link to the finished banner, it’s a huge file so just email the printers with the link and they’ll be able to download it themselves.

Client: The instructions are that if the file is too big to send it via WeTransfer or something like that. If that is the case can you send us that file?

Me: The Google link is just as easy to send to the printers, the PDF file is too big to attach to an email. They can access the link and download it themselves.

Client: We are having trouble with the upload. Could you to send her the link to a WeTransfer file? Probably best to follow the printer’s instructions, otherwise might hold everything up.

Me: I don’t know how else to explain. What is the email address for the printers, and the message you were trying to send? I will do it.

These emails were in quick succession late at night, and I’m still waiting for a response half an hour later.

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Please just decide on something already

24 July 2019 - 3:00pm

My company was hired by a corporate client to integrate our product into their systems.

I’ve been spoiled by working at a great start-up with an amazing culture. The client company… not so much. We’re a successful, agile company, they’re a giant and bloated corporate business. At our start-up, we even trust the intern to make key decisions for his job, and he if he needs help it’s there for him. The client… 

Every meeting is the same, we have lots of questions, they acknowledge the questions and promise to get back with answers. They don’t. I don’t even know why we do this ritual if everything could be solved if they handed us to the people who could make the decisions. Worst part? Usually, the answer is a redirected email from the “hidden decision-maker”, so this is really just an extra layer of managerial bullshit.

And this is only the beginning of a looong business relationship. Wish me luck.

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User Submitted Post

24 July 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m a photographer. A past client emailed me about two months ago and inquired about scheduling a shoot with me on the 15th of May. 

Me: I’m available on that day. However, given the number of subjects that’d be involved my rate will be higher than last time. Your last shoot was $750 but this will be $1000. Is that all right?

No response. Several days later, I sent a follow-up, once again asking her about the increase and rate and that if it’d be alright and within budget. 

Again, no response.

Several days after that, I sent one final follow up. No response.

A few weeks later somebody booked me for a much larger job to take place that day. Fast forward a couple months, where the shoot date is now half a week away. At this point the client that had ignored me previously on three separate occasions sent me a shot list.

Me: I’m sorry, but I’m booked for that day. I tried following up with you several times and received no response so I assumed you weren’t interested. 

Predictably, she flipped out, and sent me a flurry of emails requesting I call her (she’s the head of a department, so she probably does this all the time with people that actually have to call her, woe be them), that it was wrong of me to cancel our shoot and give it to someone else, etc.

Me: You didn’t even call me to cancel the shoot!

…As if three emails weren’t enough, it’s on me to start calling the client as well. 

She explained that she was fine with the rate and that that was why she sent me the shot list (half a week before the shoot, and two months after ignoring me). After I copied and pasted the three confirmation emails I’d sent her into my response, she surmised:

Client: There must be something wrong with my email server.

 

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Freelance workers unite! The IWW Freelance Journalists’ Union and the future of organization

24 July 2019 - 12:38am
Freelance workers unite! The IWW Freelance Journalists’ Union and the future of organization

Freelancers everywhere experience the same problems. Deadbeat clients who won’t pay their wages. Economic precarity. The knowledge that if you get sick, you might not be able to work enough to pay your bills. There are a lot of opportunities in freelancing, but there are also a lot of fears and dangers.

Much of that danger comes from working alone – but what if you weren’t alone? What if freelancers – hear me out – formed a union?

The Industrial Workers of The World (IWW) is a union that formed in 1905 and has a storied history of fighting for workers rights and they recently formed a branch for freelance journalists that could be the first step in adapting the classical union model to the gig economy. In this episode Kyle talks with a member of the union about their goals and strategies, and why you might consider joining in solidarity. After all, if we all experience the same problems, why don’t we try to solve them together?

We’re sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today’s links: 

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Check out Gusto’s free three-month trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

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User Submitted Post

23 July 2019 - 3:00pm

I do freelance HR for small to medium businesses.

Client: Hey, we’re replacing a member of our team. Can you send me a copy of the job description we used last time so I can post it online?

Me: Unfortunately this is the first time I’ve worked with your company and I don’t have a copy of it. The position’s manager should still have a copy from the last time he recruited to it though.

Client: Oh, he does, but only in PDF form. We’ll need you to send across the word version so we can edit it.

Me: I’m afraid I have never been sent either the word version or the PDF. You might be able to convert the pdf to word format and edit it from there, though?

Client: Urgh,  why are you making this so difficult? It’s like you don’t want us to fill this post!

 

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User Submitted Post

23 July 2019 - 2:00pm

I work at a company that provides software for e-commerce websites. One of our products requires mapping fields in a client-provided file to fields in our database. Each client is different and requires an individualized mapping.

Client: I know it’s my fault because I keep changing the file, but I just feel like there is something you guys could do so that every little change doesn’t break the whole process.

You mean besides inputting changes the way we told you to? 

 

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