I had a deadline coming up for a client I’d worked with for some time. The deadline was internal, and if it was put off it wouldn’t massively inconvenience anyone. That week, my dog, Walter, passed. He’d been sick for a while and I knew it was coming, but I was devastated. I contacted the client via email to let them know that I was grieving and that while the project was in good shape, I might not be able to complete it by the end of the week like we’d previously agreed.
I wasn’t expecting their response.
Client: I’m sorry for your loss, but that is unacceptable. Dogs die, and you just have to move on. You agreed to this deadline, and it’s not my fault your dog was sick. You knew that when you took on this job. I expect you to be professional about this. And don’t think I’m being a jerk about this – if it was your mother or someone I’d give you all the time you need, but this is a pet.
I guess paying someone three digits for a job gives you the power to determine what grief is legitimate.
I was recently hired on contract to do blog content for a company. I’d met with a number of contacts at the company who were all lovely, had a sense of the work I was doing, and ready to help me do a great job for them.
Then I met with the department head. I was initially hired by the marketing manager, who was great, but she was the director of communications and had stepped in to demand that she be my contact.
The meeting was a lot.
Me: Nice to meet you!
Client: So what do you have planned?
Me: Oh, here’s what I was thinking.
I described the content strategy I’d developed in conversation with my previous contact.
Client: We’re not doing that. We’re doing this.
She laid out an entirely different marketing campaign on social media, implying that I would be taking photos and editing image macros – things that I don’t really do.
Client: I’ve had arguments about this with [marketing manager] and I expect you to do what I say. I’m his boss, so now I’m your boss. This is the plan.
1) You’re not my boss – you’re my client. There is a difference. 2) Not for long. Clearly this whole situation is toxic and I’m going to get myself out as soon as I can.Ever met a client that made you want to turn to the hills and run? Tell us about it!
Client: The photos in this brochure are pixelated.
Me: That’s because you insisted I only use photos you gave me, and the highest resolution file was still only 120 kb.
Client: That’s not my problem. Fix it.
A client asked for sales page copy. They sent a very precise template from a marketing guru which I spent three hours dissecting and followed exactly. I used copywriting standards while maintaining the brand voice i.e. lead with benefit, focus on the customer, concise text, call to action, etc.
They didn’t respond at all. Eventually, their business partner reached out and told me “that’s not exactly what she wants. I’m having the previous copywriter send you a template.”
Me: Great! Happy to take feedback
Those templates: FOURTEEN PAGES of drivel, mostly talking about the client.
I spent a couple hours basically just free-writing anything that came to mind and delivered four pages of “inspiration porn.”
Client: I love it! Can you add in these 4 other things about me?
I’m getting paid but I will never include these in my portfolio.
Client: You’re the expert, but I want to run it by my friends.
Client: You’re the expert, but my friends didn’t like it and have some suggestions.
Client: You’re the expert, but let’s do something completely different from what you came up with.
Is “you’re the expert” the new “no offense”? You can’t just say it and assume it does the job.
I was hired by a psychotherapy firm to create a website. Now, weeks later, they still don’t agree with each other on the colors, fonts, layout and animations we approved before. Eight versions later and we are still debating if the Facebook icon on the right or left properly conveys all society’s mental health political issues or something like that.
The whole process was so terrible that now I feel like I need therapy. Just not from these people.
It’s been a while since I’ve met any clients in person, but I’ve been remembering when I would. This happened a few years ago now, but I still think about it. Not the worst client I’ve had – not by a long shot – but memorable.
The client was running late for a meeting:
Client: If it’s okay, I’m going to stop for coffee.
Me: That’s fine.
Client: Do you want me to pick you up anything?
Me: You know, I’ll take a black coffee. Sure! Thanks, and see you soon.
She showed up in twenty minutes and gave me a coffee and a muffin the size of a boxing glove.
Client: This place has the best muffins, so I got you one.
Me: Oh, thanks!
How nice! How thoughtful! Until the end of the meeting when we talked budget:
Client: Okay, so figure out what you want to charge me and knock off $7.89.
Me: Oh, okay… why $7.89?
Client: That’s what I paid for your coffee and muffin.
Ah yes, the muffin I didn’t ask for.
This was indeed a red flag – the client would go on to do LOTS of things that SEEMED considerate but were not actually at all.
I work for a small agency that designs and builds budget home recording studios. Part of our value offer is that we do the design and costing, help them with the initial build and let them do the painting and finishing themselves to save some money through sweat equity.
Most jobs come from word of mouth and a new enquiry came in. Clearly the guy had lofty aims and my spider sense tingled when he mentioned they were getting external funding so they could get young people involved in music. I’m pretty experienced in this and was at one point a college teacher, and the way he was talking about this opportunity seemed… flimsy.
The red flags kept coming. He disagreed with virtually everything I said, rejecting all my ideas and setting aside things that NEEDED to be done. A badly designed space is not a big deal, but he also did this for safety concerns – a load of people in a soundproof space, with no windows means you need a proper fire alarm system. But apparently, nope, not needed.
He continued to reject every minimum requirement I laid down, from electrical conduits to ceiling height to room layout. I requested a properly detailed plan with real measurements, and he sent me a sketch done in Microsoft paint. At one point I asked for the specification of the floor slab. His response?
Client: Yes, there will be one.
After a week of this, the client asked me to produce a highly detailed cost breakdown for the job, even though he still hadn’t given me all the specifications. The most detailed breakdown I can give is ‘$0,’ because I’m not doing it.
This week’s deal is on a massive resource that will help you make smart decisions about Google font combinations.
An exhaustively researched and designed eBook, The Preposterously Huge Book of Google Font Combinations guides you through smart choices you can make in designing to Google’s specifications. Make the most of widely available design tools by seeing them paired together in seconds – use the built-in search function to find multiple combinations using a specific font quickly and easily! Whether you need a reference, or just something to peruse to make you a better designer, this eBook is a must have.
Normally, this incredible resource costs $65, but if you this week you’ll save $45 and pay only $24!
The post Get a comprehensive guide to Google Font combinations! 65% off! appeared first on Clients From Hell.
I was building a website with some payment options for a client who ran a cleaning service. She’s invested in making her car look like a lady bug, with big floppy eyelashes that stuck out from the headlights. It was pretty striking and people recognized her car around town.
Me: I was thinking I could design the site to look like your car.
Client: That’s a great idea! But how will you do the eyelashes?
Me: Well, I was thinking of just using the lady bug color scheme, but we can put eyes on it if you want?
Client: So can they stick out from the screen?
The post appeared first on Clients From Hell.
I created a music video for a local musician. I thought the job was over when they contacted me with a complaint about the file.
Client: The file you sent me won’t play.
Me: It seems to be working for me. Do you need a different format?
Client: I don’t know! I sent it to the Radio station and they said it won’t work.
Me: You mean the original song?
Client: No! The music video you created!
Me: On the radio? Not the station’s website?
Client: Yes, the Radio! Can you send me a video they can play?
Client: That was the whole point! I told you this was going to be played on the radio!
Me: I thought you meant the song.
Client: What good is the song if they can’t see the story that goes with it?
I was hired to write and design a business plan for a client who invited me their office. When I arrived, I was blown away: shelves and shelves of book. Self-help books.
Client: Thanks for coming in – I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. I really believe in this project, and I’d like you to reflect that passion.
Me: Yes, I mean, absolutely. That’s the job.
He stared at me for a moment, and then he said:
Client: I’d like you to read something.
He handed me a book. A book that he wrote. A book of business advice.
Me: Okay, you want me to use this as an example, or…?
Client: Just read that. Think on it.
I read the first chapter. His advice included “say yes to EVERYTHING.” It was at this moment I realized I needed to draw some strong boundaries.
Sure enough, a week or so after he gave me the book he asked me to do him a side job “on the house.” He was kind of intense when he asked it. I said no, and not long after he “went a different direction.” He paid me for my time, so there’s that.
Years later I met the woman who ghost-wrote that book. Apparently, at one point he asked her if she’d do it – ghost write – for “exposure.”
I was working with an older client putting together a pamphlet. They gave me zero input on design other than giving me a number of photos that were 100 kb or less that I begrudgingly put into a gallery wall. Otherwise, I gathered a number of free stock photos that vaguely suited their business. They matched thematically and looked good in the design.
Turns out, stock photos are catnip for boomers. Every revision I’ve made since (we’re now in round 4) has been moving these stock photos and replacing them with other sub-200 kb photos they discovered on an ancient hard drive.
Clothing designers come to me to engineer their ideas for mass production. This is one of the great visionaries I work with:
Client: The sample was too big so I took it to a tailor to slim down. Just follow the sample for the final draft.
Me: Ok, but when I compare your sample it is actually larger than the pattern it was built from. I think your fabric is growing and that’s a problem.
Client: You need to make it smaller otherwise the pattern is not useable. I can’t pay for this type of work.
Me: But the pattern is already smaller.
Client: I have invested so much money into this project and I am really expecting this to be as I need it. I need to start making money, this project needs to launch… (rant continues about money woes, other issues not related to my services and the hardship of being a startup)
Me: Umm ok. I’ll make it match the sample.
I ended up making it bigger and thoroughly documented this fiasco.
I had a client who was the total “from hell” package. Rude, demanding, unable or unwilling to understand basic concepts or explanations. But the worst thing? They referred to their employees as “minions.” But the worst worst things? They made office Minions memes about their employees.
I fired them awhile ago, but I still think about them way more often than I’d like.
This happened in the 1990s. The company decided to purchase an AS400 minicomputer and some very expensive databases to run on it. Before we could start, a conference room had to be converted to a raised floor datacenter. (We had been using a utility closet for our file servers.)
The local building inspector was unsure of his expertise, so he would have to borrow an inspector from the state. Then, IBM had to send a technician to install the AS400. Then, IT sys admin had to be trained or hired, software installed, backups set up, employees trained, custom reports completed. The consultants hired by the company said 2 years to complete. At the big meeting, the boss said 6 weeks and walked out of the room as the department managers started yelling and the IT group just sat with our mouths open.
In six months time, we had enough of the system up and running and one (1!) employee trained to do data entry. The boss watched her fill out a screen and said, “See! I knew you could do it.” Any respect I had for the boss disintegrated in that moment.
In one month shy of 2 years, the last custom report was completed and approved. Not bad.