Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 42 min ago

Ick.

15 February 2021 - 2:00pm

I’d just started working with a client who ran a small business. It wasn’t BAD work, but he was clearly kind of a scummy guy. The building he worked in was in terrible shape, his employees were underpaid, and he was just kind of… gross. He kept trying to impress me with stories of his “wild days,” which, as far as I could tell, had only “ended” about three years ago when he divorced his ex-wife. He was roughly 49, if not in his 50s.

One day I met his new new wife… who was younger than me – I’d put her at 26, and not what you’d call a “mature” 26 either. When he introduced her to me he raised his eyebrows at me with a look that said “nice, right?”

He never treated me badly, but I figured it was only a matter of time. I hustled up more work, finished the project, and said goodbye. 

I recently saw him driving downtown in a convertible I don’t think he could reasonably afford and another 20-something woman in the passenger seat. 

Ick. 

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Get vintage retro cool with 1100+ branding elements for $14!

14 February 2021 - 4:00pm

Good branding never goes out of style. This bundle is a short cut to great branding and design. 

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Everything in this bundle retails for $415 regularly, but for just the next few days you can save 97% and get them all for $14

> Check out the deal here.

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A classic

14 February 2021 - 3:00pm

Me: Which version should I use, A or B?

Client: Yes please.

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<p>Client: I&#8217;m not sure I like

14 February 2021 - 2:14pm

Client: I’m not sure I like this font for the site 

Me: What would you prefer?

Client: I’m partial to Times New Roman.

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You must not get a lot of sleep

13 February 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: Quick question: we use Lenovo in the office. I noticed you’re on Mac – will the files be compatible with our computers? 

Me: …Yes.

Client: Phew! That’s a relief. I thought of that last night and it kept me up. 

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“I heard you wear hats.”

13 February 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: You’re a lesbian? I couldn’t tell. 

Me: (three seconds from full fight or flight) …I am. What confused you?

Client: Well, you don’t wear any hats.

WTF? I wasn’t even offended, just confused. 

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Maybe you’re part of the problem

12 February 2021 - 4:00pm

I’m an editorial illustrator, negotiating the fee for a magazine that centers humanitarian and sustainability topics. 

Me: Sorry I can’t make it work for this budget.

Client: Could you just do it less detailed? The whole issue is about social justice and I thought that topic would be close to your heart. 

Me: What’s the article about?

Client: Working for unfair wages. 

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Non euclidean boss

12 February 2021 - 3:00pm

An old client of mine was quite famous for his impossible requests.

Here are three of the best:

Once, when deciding the size of a logo that would appear on an animated graphic destined for TV, he just took his phone, stuck it on the screen, took a measurement and said: 

Client: There, just make it one-and-a-half phones big.

He would frequently point at a screen, TV, or piece of paper and make this insane demand:

Client: This black part here should be shinier!

I still don’t know what he meant.

This one is my favorite, though. He was also obsessed by symmetry. His meeting room had a table with a huge triangle inscribed on it, and it drove him CRAZY that four people  were sat around it. After wasting a bunch of time trying to “solve” this “problem”: 

Client: Is it possible to make a triangle with four corners?

He was not joking.

When’s the last time a client asked you to do something impossible? Let us know!

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Condescension City

12 February 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: Let me tell you something – you’re talented, I can tell. But to this point, you’ve probably been working with a lot of smaller companies. This is a big contract, and you’re going to learn a lot from me. Maybe consider that when you give me a quote.

This was for a local business with three franchise locations. I’ve worked for national brands. 

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What’s More Important?

11 February 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: We have you booked for a shoot on Wednesday.

Me: Sorry, I have my Aunt’s funeral that day.

Client: Well, which is more important to you?

I just walked away.  I had no idea how to respond to that.

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Helpful tips

11 February 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: I’ve been taking a look at your portfolio site.

Me: Oh, great! So you know what I d-

Client: I have some notes on how you can improve. Would you like to hear them?

Me: 

No, this client was not a designer. 

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I’ll wait

11 February 2021 - 2:00pm

In the before times, I was actually a stand-up comic. I did a road show with a full crowd, lots of laughs, and a booker with a reputation for shorting the talent.

When all was said and done, this was his pathetic gambit for not paying me the $200 he owed me:

Client: Hey, I’m sorry, but I don’t have enough cash on me – would you just take the $170 I have?

Long story short, I wound up driving him to the nearest ATM and watching him take out my payment before taking him back to his car at the hotel. Dude – you didn’t think I would wait for you?

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Modern Times

10 February 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: I know you’ve been working on my graphic novel for a few months now and it’s almost finished, but would you mind redrawing everything so the characters are standing 2 metres apart? You know, to reflect modern times. 

Before anyone asks, of course he didn’t offer to pay extra for the trouble.

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Retired Librarian

10 February 2021 - 3:00pm

I’m a retired librarian, and while I was never a freelancer I think this story will resonate with a Clients From Hell audience.

One day, I was sitting at my desk where I was providing library services for a U.S. Federal agency.

My boss came in and told me that the Federal Agency has submitted a report to the United Nations. The U.N. Returned it asking for the bibliography they’d used to write it.

My job was to do a literature search and find articles that supported their point of view and append them to the paper as if they’d actually done research before writing it.

It’s good to be retired.

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Devil Computers

10 February 2021 - 2:02pm

Me: Can I have your email address please?

Client: I don’t have a computer in my home. That’s where the devil lives. 

I swear this actually happened. 

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Would you mind phoning me? I don’t want to look for anything.

9 February 2021 - 4:00pm

I am a designer from Germany and lately this happened:

Client: (via email) Could you phone me? I don’t have your number at hand.

This message was a replay to an email I sent her the same day before, with my complete contact info in the signature

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I want what I want, and it’s what I already have

9 February 2021 - 3:00pm
Client: I want [X] in my article.   Me: I already covered that! It was requested in the brief.   Client: I haven’t read the brief or anything, that was Marketing’s job. I’m here to get the changes I want.

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Fine for me, not for you.

9 February 2021 - 2:01pm

I had plans to meet with a client to discuss the final phase of a rebranding effort. 

They cancelled the meeting on me three times, each time suggesting a new time that I agreed to. When they cancelled, it was always the same day, and once they only let me know they had to cancel one hour before the meeting.

On the day that the fourth meeting time was happening, I got a call from my kid’s school saying he was sick and needed to be picked up.

Me: Hey, I’m really sorry, but my kid is sick and I can’t make our meeting.

Client: What? After we’ve rescheduled this many times? This is HIGHLY unprofessional.

I didn’t cancel the first three times, jerk.

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<p>A couple of years ago I was doing

8 February 2021 - 4:00pm

A couple of years ago I was doing social media for a local company. They were putting on a “backyard barbecue” in their lot, and asked me to promote it on their channels. 

I put together the campaign, scheduled posts, everything. I thought that was the end of the story, except the client started fiddling with their Facebook account (by far their largest platform).

They changed the date of the event multiple times, eventually landing on the original date and time (at no point did they update the poster I made for the event). They accidentally cancelled the event. TWICE. And, they made several posts about the event independently that got the day of the week it would be held wrong (Sunday instead of Saturday). 

Apparently the turnout was extremely limited, and then a number of people came on the Sunday and were mad that nothing was happening. “You reap what you sow,” I thought. 

I was wrong.

Client: Your campaign for this was a big fail. Next time, you’re going to have to do a better job. 

There is no worse feeling than being blamed for something that’s not your fault – get it off your chest here.

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Creating miracles

8 February 2021 - 3:00pm

I am a magazine and logo designer.

Client: I want you to create a new color for this publication.

Me: Like… a new brand palette, or…

Client: No, like a color that nobody’s ever seen before.

Okay. Let me just reinvent physics real quick. 

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