Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Sanctioned Theft

26 November 2020 - 2:00pm

Me: Do you already have photos or will you need me to purchase some stock images on your behalf?

Client: I was just going to grab them from Google.

Me: Those aren’t free to use, those belong to someone.

Client: (whispering) Well we won’t tell if you won’t. 

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Oh you’re honest? Keep telling me how you’d never stiff a kid…

25 November 2020 - 4:00pm

A passing acquaintance of my dad needed an editor for a show she was producing & directing for a smaller national TV station, which had been picked up by the largest national station.

I was in my late teens, but she assured me, again and again, I’d be treated with the same respect as any adult, as she despised people in the industry who took advantage of kids.

Client: I stuck up for kids who’d been taken advantage of by a TV crew not being paid due payment. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. I’ll never stiff you on payment.

I thought it weird how much she kept repeating it.

The smaller network was still in the fledgling stages and budgets were tight, and so editing involved getting picked up and taken to her house to edit for most of the day. She was really happy with my work and asked me to jump in on some other smaller projects for her. I obliged, but my parents saw I’d finished the main project and now was working side projects, and still hadn’t been paid.

She felt hurt when I informed her I’d finish the three side projects but that I was backing out of more editing work, but she accepted it. for the next few months, I’d contact her and invoice her for payment and she’d keep asking for a new invoice and assuring me I’d get paid.

About a year and a half later she informed me she won a trip overseas to a large Film and Television conference.

Client: I feel so bad that I didn’t pay you – would you accept these tickets to make up for it?

Me: Fine.

I gave her my info so she could send the tickets. She never did.

It’s been years, and I know she’s had some health problems over that time. I’ve absolutely forgiven her. That said, forgiveness doesn’t mean I’d trust her again after she stole over 2K from a kid.

What’s your Clients From Hell origin story?

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I want Kylo Ren

25 November 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: I found this image in a magazine, I’ve scanned it and sent it to you. I would like to use this as a banner on our website.

Me: Sir, but this is an image of Kylo Ren from Star Wars. It’s copyrighted material. How about we use a stock image instead?

Client: Nah, I got this from a magazine so it should be fine. I really like this image, plus it will appeal to the teens.

It was a website that sells printers. 

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Everybody’s working on the weekend

25 November 2020 - 2:34pm

Client: Okay! I’m about to check out for the weekend. Will this be ready by Monday?

Me: I’m also taking the weekend off, so no.

Client: I thought freelancers all worked seven days a week. 

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Ask God

24 November 2020 - 4:00pm

A former friend from a church I used to attend approached me and asked if I was still doing graphic design.

Client: Can you please design a logo for me?

Me: Of course! What are you looking for?

Client: What do you mean?

Me: What kind of logo do you have in mind? Text, Shape, form, color, Bible verse, if any?

Client: That’s the thing. I don’t know what the logo should look like. Ask God to show you and He will. I’ll pay you when you’re done.

Me: …?

I dedicated 10 hours to sketching some things as a way to “search for God’s guidance.” I sent her emails and text messages with pictures of my progress and I never heard from her again.

I doubt she will pay me for those 10 hours of experience. Next time I get asked to ask God for guidance, I want the money upfront.


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24 November 2020 - 2:19pm

I both love and hate working with musicians. 

Me: I’m pretty busy right now, this might take me 2, even 3 weeks at this point. Is that okay?

Client: Yeah man, I totally get it, what with the pandemic and all. That’s all cool, we’re not really in a rush.

About 10 days later on a Sunday…

Client: Bro WE ARE ON DEFCON-4 WITH THIS, we need it SOON!

I crank it out. Radio silence for more than a week.

Client: Sorry dude, mental physical and spiritual health week. No phone max chill total escape.. sent the stuff to the guys get back to you soon always nice to have options. Thanks again man!

Wouldn’t want DEFCON-4 to interfere with Spiritual Health Week.

The post DEFCON-4 appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Little girls shouldn’t play with phones

23 November 2020 - 4:00pm

I worked in an office where all the phones were connected. If you didn’t answer a call, it would divert to the next phone, and the next, and so on. On this day I was the only person left in our part of the office as it was standard to have one person stay back at lunchtime in order to cover the phones while everyone else was out. I was the second-in-command in our marketing department and at this time was working on an advertising campaign for the Guardian newspaper with an ITV television spot, so I didn’t mind working through lunch to get it finished.

The CEO only worked in our office once a week and was a fairly well-known personality in our industry. Thus, people often tried to get his attention to invest in things or help their family members start a career. On this day, a call for his phone came through to mine…

Caller: Hello, can you put me through to [CEO]? He’s expecting my call.

Me: (knowing this is a lie, because CEO never works in the office on this particular day) I’m afraid he’s not here at the moment. 

Caller: Right, can you give me his mobile number? I’m a close personal friend so he won’t want to miss my call.

A close personal friend who doesn’t have his personal number? Sure.

Me: We’re not able to give out his personal number, but I can put you through to his other office in case he’s there.

Caller: Just put me through on his direct line, he’s expecting me.

Me: I can’t do that from here as it’s not an internal number, we need to direct you through reception at the other office.

At this point I’m thinking the guy is trying it on and knows he won’t get through a receptionist because he doesn’t know the CEO at all and doesn’t have an appointment. I’m already determined not to give him anything, but then he digs himself even deeper.

Caller: What’s a little girl like you doing answering his phone, anyway?

Me: Excuse me?

Caller: Little girls shouldn’t play with the boss’s phone. Put me through on his direct line or you’ll get in trouble!

Me: Okay, have a nice day, sir! 

I cheerfully hung up. Thankfully, he didn’t call back.

Yuck. Has a client ever made you feel like you just went for a swim through an oil slick?

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Struggles of a Voice Actor

23 November 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m a freelance voice actor and get my fair share of bad Customers. Many of them don’t have a clue about the job and thus don’t offer to pay fair prices. 

Client: Hi There.

Me: Hi. What can I do for you?

Client: Came across your gig and I like your voice! Would love to have you for my Project.

Me: Thank you. I appreciate it. Tell me about the Project.

Client: I want to start a YouTube channel on health, I wanted to know if you can do a voice-over, I will provide the script. Each video will be about 10 Minutes. I will pay you per video. Can you do that?

Me: I can do that. My rate depends on how much text I will need to record for each video and the Rights Buyout. Before we move forward, what exactly is your budget for the project?

Client: I’m looking at $5 per script

Me: Oh. Good luck with that.

Client: Thank you! So when can you start?

I didn’t respond and sincerely hope, no one will take that job offer. This is a joke.

The post Struggles of a Voice Actor appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Very useful, thank you.

23 November 2020 - 2:00pm

Me: What color would you like for this design?

Client: Lime green.

Me: Okay! Sounds like you have a specific shade in mind. Can you send me a reference photo?

The client sent a photo of limes.

The post Very useful, thank you. appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Get the perfect gift for the designer in your life — The Designer’s Deck for 30% off!

22 November 2020 - 4:00pm

This week’s deal is on a deck of cards that will improve your design chops while you play poker, solitaire, or Crazy 8s! 

> Just in time for Christmas, The Design Deck is a perfect stocking stuffer for the designer in your life!

Flashcards are a proven way to learn new concepts fast, and poker is a proven way to have fun and MAYBE win some money. That’s win/win/win(?)! This high-quality deck of playing cards features 56 cards, each with a succinct summary of a different design concept, philosophy, or idea so that you can up your game while playing a game. Grab this for only $14 for the designer in your life this holiday season… or for the client who could really use a couple key lessons

For a limited time, you can save 30% on this beautiful collectable that will make the perfect gift for the designer/s in your life — or for yourself! Order now in time for the holidays! 

> Check out the deal here.

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Business lesson from a complete d-bag

22 November 2020 - 3:00pm

I found this guy on Craigslist a few months ago asking for an illustrator for his book for prices that were basically laughable. I reached out with some suggested prices that were still extremely, extremely cheap. Then this little debacle happened:

Client: I hope you are doing well. I am not one to “beat around the bush” so let me get straight to the point. You have sent me 3 emails and I will address each one within in this email response. Before we begin, I want you to understand, I am using this as a teaching moment and I hope that you are not offended by my words, but I understand it is likely to happen and I apologize in advance. I know you do not know much about me, but I do have a Business Management Degree and I run my own business. When I said I would help you become a professional artist, I meant it. Part of that process will be how well you handle critics and how well you take that information and either improve your crafts, or simply give up and become like the majority who gave up on their dreams and now live a monotonous life of get up and go work for someone else (making the business owner wealthy in the process), wondering why they’re not happy with their existence.


Your first email:

“Thank you, sir! But I would to be paid per drawing this time & I’d like to negotiate the prices. Please let me know if these are fair for you:

B/W sketch- $5

Colored drawing- $15

Book cover- $25

I find your request to renegotiate your options to be quite rude, hint at a level of greediness, and based on a complete lack of understanding of our business relationship. Therefore I do not accept your offer and believe the price quotes to be outrageous.

I do not believe you truly understand our business relationship. I am not your boss, I am your customer. My part in this business relationship is writing stories, your business is creating illustrations. If I hire you for a job, you are a cost to me with a certain value amount, and I am your customer paying you for a service that you provide. In order to receive any form of payment, the value (need/want) must always exceed the costs. This is true in every transaction that every happens. For example, you pay for food because the value (or need/want) is greater than the cost (the amount of money or the feeling of being hungry). When you choose to purchase anything, it is because the value (or need/want it fills) is greater than the cost (the money or your desire to be without the need/want).

You have requested an increase of what you will cost me (your pay) by a total of 225%, but you have not increased your value to me by 225%, or even by anything for that matter. Requesting a raise by a specific dollar amount is how mundane people do it, and are almost always denied. Request a raise by a percent and then justify it with why you deserve the percentage increase. Let me clear this up for you… I have in my contact list over 25 different artists from all over the world who responded to my ad. These artists have a tremendous more amount of skill than you do and by this I mean they have each sent me links to their websites, various commissions, and examples of their skill which ranges from 5-15 different styles of drawing, depending on the artist. This means at the lowest level, you are competing on a world-wide market, and your competition can draw anything from stick-figures to still-life, and from Manga to 3D rendering, which includes actual animation sequences. Have you increased your skill level by 225% so that the increase in pay you demand is justified? Have you added 225% more to your repertoire of different drawing styles and techniques? Remember, you have only shown me variations of one style and openly admit not being able to draw some things, curly hair, buildings, horses, things in motion, etc. In order to request additional money, you must increase the value of your service. There are 3 criteria in which you should excel before you ever request a raise from any employer or justify an increase in cost to your customer…

This tirade continued for another 700 words. He was so offended at the thought of paying $25 for hours of work that he wrote an entire TEDx lecture. 

Eff this guy. Have a former client who deserves our collective anger? Let us know!

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School spirit is the new exposure

22 November 2020 - 2:00pm

I do a little video editing as a hobby, not as an actual job, but it’s something I’m moderately good at.

My class in college was hosting a party and the people responsible for it wanted to hire a guy to make a short promotional video for it. They were complaining that they couldn’t find anyone who charged less than $200, and then one of them remembered I do this kind of thing.

Client: Can you make a quick little video?

Me: Sure, but I’m not a professional, so it definitely won’t come out looking professional.

Client: That’s okay! We just don’t have the 200 bucks to spend on this!

Me: Oh, well, I’m only gonna charge you a ticket to the party!

Tickets were $50.

Client: …But you do this as a hobby.

Me: Yes, but it’s gonna take time and effort, and I’m just asking for the price of actually going to the party.

Client: You know, you’re really lacking in school spirit. If you’re not gonna do this for free, we might as well hire a guy and pay the $200. At least it’ll be high quality.

They ended up not hiring anyone and there was no promotional video. The party, predictably enough, flopped.

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Insert film clip… in magazine.

21 November 2020 - 4:00pm

A client wanted a movie clip inserted into the magazine.

I put the video clip thumbnail in the proof, assuming that’s what they meant.

Client: I pressed the play button and nothing happened.

Uhhh… yeah. 

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“Approval or no, I still don’t like it.”

21 November 2020 - 3:00pm

I work as a senior graphic designer at a printing company that also offers trade-show and display solution. One of our customers is a dentist and his wife is a holistic therapist. They are going to come to a show and they need a portable booth solution.

They sent me a number of photos for consideration. All of them were the cheesiest photos that almost every dentist office uses to advertise their denture business. Some of them have “Happy Valentine” wordings in the back of the couple, and some are more towards to “Funeral” service… They asked me to choose one out of them. I chose the one that less “dating” and “funeral” vibe and told them why I chose it. The next morning, his wife told me she wanted to use photo of a couple making a heart with their hands. My boss and I laughed, but we decided to go with what customer wants because, well, customer is king!

A week after, the booth was done and delivered to them. The wife suddenly called my boss at the end of today to tell him that she didn’t like the font used for the main slogan.

Client: I didn’t expect that font.

Me: But we had not heard from you saying that you didn’t like it. Didn’t you see the proof sent by my designer before you approved it?

Client: Yes I did, but I didn’t see the font.

Me: What about the printed proof? I showed it to you and your husband. It clearly show how the font looks like.

Client: Well, I asked 3 people in my office and none of them liked the font.

Me: But you approved it. Had we heard that you don’t like the font, we would have changed to the font you want.

Client: (10 seconds silence) …I still don’t like it.

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Client is too lazy / idle to send me a written reply in response to my message that I have finished their website.

21 November 2020 - 2:10pm

A client asked me to replicate (plagiarize) a website. I worked hard to create a site that had the key features of his example but which wouldn’t violate copyright and sent him an email letting him know it was finished. He left me a voicemail in response.

Client: Thank you for your work, but it’s not finished. I really need it to look like [other site]. Please make it look more like that site in a professional manner you would be comfortable with.

Um, I did. 

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<p>Over the years I’ve done some work

20 November 2020 - 4:00pm

Over the years I’ve done some work for my alma mater, primarily for student organizations, It’s typically easy stuff, a simple flyer here, a postcard there, and I don’t charge much (and it’s also great for my relatively thin portfolio).

As expected, the cheapest clients can sometimes be the worst but a lot of students are generally understanding. Recently however, I was working with a faculty member who sent me three emails in the space of an hour:

Client: Did I submit the flyers for print yet? It should be done by now.

Client: Here’s a typo in a name I submitted that I forgot to mention several emails ago.

Client: Please ad this sponsor logo. 


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The most disappointed client I’ve ever had.

20 November 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: You followed the brief exactly and gave me what I asked for. I’m really disappointed, and it’s not your fault. In fact, if I’m being perfectly honest, I have no idea what the f*** I was expecting.

Finally, a client who recognizes that it’s not my fault. So why am I crying?

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Going grayscale

20 November 2020 - 2:29pm

I’m in my late twenties, and I’m already going gray.

I attribute it to the number of times a clients has said “can’t you just use a placeholder?”  in the eleventh hour before going live.

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Coworker becomes CFH with one small title change

19 November 2020 - 4:00pm

A colleague of mine had a lateral title change and with that transition acquired a sense of arrogance that borders on harassment. 

At first, it was harassing me to drop projects to focus on hers with no lead time, strategy, and often missing key information like specs, assets, or messaging. I asked for a brief to make it simpler on us both, but was met with defensive indifference. 

To avoid a brief and my pushback for more information, she started doing her own designs often using my templates and not the guidelines.  I’d ask her about that too but was dismissed so I decided to “opt” out of trying to prioritize creative for her side of the team because she preferred to work independently and was demeaning towards me whenever I tried to help or guide her. 

I suggested she own sourcing images for her own email (which she does 95% of the time anyway without me because she doesn’t want to listen to me) and she made a big thing of it.  She said it should only take me an hour and she shouldn’t spend that time doing it because her time is very valuable (inferring mine was not). 

Her supervisor said that they hired me to assist with this initiative (which I agree with and do since I designed the layout and image templates for the email) but because of that said I should always be available to help (which I am but seriously it’s the most backwards approach to production I’ve ever witnessed in 10 years of working).  Overall the exchange was very unprofessional on there side and was met with a lot of finger pointing and taking zero accountability for the communication methods or approach. 

Essentially, a coworker got a non-promotion and BECAME a client from hell out of nowhere. Mind-boggling.

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Client will never send me a text message, always voice messages

19 November 2020 - 3:18pm

I have a client who won’t use email (my preferred platform for communication), insisting on using Facebook messenger. 

The most infuriating thing is he will never just write a text message to me in Facebook, it is always a voice message. They’re always a full minute long, and sometimes he sends several at once. 

He sent me a bunch on Sunday. It’s bad enough reading emails on Sunday – 10+ Facebook voice messages are not okay. I will ignore this message to teach him that I have other clients, not just him.

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