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Save a mat, deride a cowboy

Clients from Hell - 14 January 2021 - 2:00pm

A woman and her husband (who I have to say was dressed in a cowboy hat) came in the framing store I run.

Client: Can you cut this piece of art down? The mat around it is too big.

It was a signed and numbered work.

Me: While I could, I’d try to convince you not to. The artist intended it to look this way and it would detract from the value of the p-

Client: (interrupting) Nope. We’re done here.

She turned 180 and walked out. Her cowboy husband quickly followed. 


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Length IS everything

Clients from Hell - 13 January 2021 - 4:00pm

I was asked to write some copy for an Instagram BIO

Me: here you go, what do you think of this?

Client: Could you make it longer?

Me: Sorry, Instagram limits you to 150 characters

Client: Couldn’t you make the box bigger?

Me: No, sorry

Client: Could you use this instead then

Gives me poorly written content that is over 150 characters

Me: Sorry, that is over 150 characters

Client: Could you remove the spaces?


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You’re amazing! But not THAT amazing.

Clients from Hell - 13 January 2021 - 3:00pm

I do art commissions, and one thing I’ve unfortunately noticed is that the more people compliment your work the less likely they are to pay your prices.

This is a verbatim exchange I just had over email minus signatures and stuff. 

Client: I’ve been looking through profile sites a lot lately and you really caught my eye. What a delicate style! There’s a control there that most don’t have. I’m writing a book and in talks to have it published and I was hoping you would be so good as to grace my project with your amazing, masterful art in an original digital painting?

Me: I’d love to! My rate is between $300 and $500, depending on complexity, rights, etc.

Client: Are you sure? You’re good, but are you really good enough to ask for THAT much?

I’m at least good enough not to deal with this bulls***.



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Hard deadline

Clients from Hell - 13 January 2021 - 2:00pm

Me: That’ll be two hours.

Client: Great!

One hour later:

Client: Here’s more content to integrate.

What he added basically doubled the job. He also requested that I attend to a few minor tasks immediately. I took it in stride, took twenty minutes to do the small stuff, and started incorporating it as quickly as I could.

An hour later:

Client: You done?

Me: Not quite yet!

Client: You said you’d be done, and I expect you to stick to your own deadlines. This is highly disappointing.


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The moon can’t breathe

Clients from Hell - 12 January 2021 - 4:00pm

I presented a client an image of a night sky for a design. 

Client: But please, remove half of the stars… The moon can’t breathe!


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No photos please

Clients from Hell - 12 January 2021 - 3:00pm

We just published a new issue of our magazine, which has been running for a few years and is well-established in our industry. After covering an event which we have covered many times previously, we had this message exchange.

Client: Hello, we didn’t know [photographer] was going to publish the photos in your magazine. Please show us what he sent you, at the time we didn’t fully understand that it would be published.

Me: What is the problem here? If you have a press photographer attending an event, then if course the photos will be submitted for publication. You can see the finished issue on our site.

Client: No, that’s not how it works, it doesn’t give him the right. We didn’t want to be featured in any magazines this year.

Me: Then please take it up with [photographer] as we cannot control what is submitted to us if we’re told it has been cleared for use.

Client: But having a press photographer at your event doesn’t give them the right to send pictures to a magazine!

Er, yes, yes it does. That’s exactly what it does. A much longer conversation ensued in which we had to remind them again and again that our policy puts liability on the photographer, and they should talk directly to him; ask them if they had a contract asking for non release of the images or giving them copyright over them, which they did not; explain copyright law and laws of consent; and finally ended with us politely letting them know we would be happy to add a note in customer files that their events were never to be published again. And now that’s one less nuisance for our team to deal with in the future!

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Travel safe

Clients from Hell - 12 January 2021 - 2:00pm

I’ve been working with a client remotely since COVID started. I hadn’t heard from them in a bit but they reached out to schedule a meeting.

Client: Sorry I haven’t been in touch! 

Me: Oh that’s no problem.

Client: I’ve been away on vacation!

Turns out, they decided to “get away from it all” and went on a road trip to a nearby city “for a change of pace.” During the pandemic. 

Next time they say “would you mind coming in to the office,” my answer is going to be NO. 

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“The Expert”

Clients from Hell - 11 January 2021 - 4:00pm

My first job as an “assistant” was helping a colleague of my former high school teacher. He was a man in his fifties, recently kicked out of his desk job trying to start a company that teaches business administration courses. He styled himself as a “tech and business guru” despite not knowing much about either as far as I could tell. He didn’t even know how to use Office. 

I was still wet behind the ears, so I put up with a lot of things that I shouldn’t have. Years later I would come to realize he was the worst client I’ve ever had. 

Client: Can you enter all the data of my courses from in this Teachable account?

Huge red flag. All of the more than 150 “courses” were articles stolen from other sources.  I refused, but he still got someone to do it for him. Another time he asked me to design all his course .ppt files. 

Client: Everything you need is in the files. 

It was fifty .pptx of about a hundred slides per file. Most of them just were blank slides with huge Calibri text boxes with “ADD PHOTOS FROM THIS SITE” or “DESIGN GRAPH FROM THIS WORD FILE.”

He never replied to my e-mails when I wanted to ask for more details about the design but when he needed some extra revisions he would write multiple e-mails with “hey buddy” until I called him.

Client: I love your design, but could you add more of “your magic” to it

Me: What kind of changes are you referring specifically to? What did not meet your expectations?

Client: I leave it to you to decide, you are the expert.

His “academy” flopped after a year. Turns out, he didn’t bother to prepare a marketing plan. Some expert. 

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It’s in the mail

Clients from Hell - 11 January 2021 - 3:00pm

I’d been doing blog articles for a company for some time. They’d been late paying on a number of occasions, in part because they still mailed checks instead of e-transfers. When they did eventually switch over,  it was night and day – I got paid within three weeks of submitting an invoice (which, sadly, was pretty good for them). 

Then one day I got an email:

Client: We’re shifting back to mailing checks for payroll purposes. 

“Maybe it will be okay” I thought. “Maybe they’re just saving some accounting money this way, and they’ll still pay on time.”

The next time I received payment was FOUR MONTHS LATE, and was “in the mail” for at least two of those. I swear they just changed back to get away with late payment.

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A little late.

Clients from Hell - 11 January 2021 - 2:01pm

I was designing packaging materials for a client who really, really should have shown more interest in the process.

Me: Here are three different treatments. Which do you prefer?

Client: I don’t know, you’re the expert. I trust you.

I went ahead with the one that I thought best fit the client’s needs. Two months later all the designs were finalized and about to go to print.

Client: You know – I think I preferred that blue one. It’s probably too late to change it now, huh?

Yes. Yes it is. 

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Save 99% on this fun bundle of graphic elements!

Clients from Hell - 10 January 2021 - 4:00pm

This week’s deal is on over 7500 design elements from Julia Dreams! Featuring over 38 separate sets of graphics, textures, and backgrounds there are a ton of possibilities in this bundle.

> And at $12, it’s 99% off the total asking price.

Getting all the elements of a design to play nice together can be a time-consuming task. That’s not a problem with this bundle, because all 7560 elements come from the same design studio and are the perfect complement to each other. Covering a huge range of topics and themes, from holidays to candy, animals, flowers and more, this bundle has nearly limitless possibilities for creating fancy and fun designs. 

If you totaled the cost of all the elements in this bundle, it would come in at $2685  — but for a few more days, you can get all 7560 elements at 99% off for $12

> Check out the deal here! 

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Shut up and listen

Clients from Hell - 10 January 2021 - 3:00pm

i was in a design brief meeting with a client. I listened to their needs and their ideas and felt there were some elements that I could be improved based in what they were telling me.

Me: What I would suggest is…

Client: I’m sorry, we’re not looking for suggestions. You have your brief. Get to work.

Rude. Whatever, I thought, I’ll just do exactly what they specified and they’ll be happy.

Me: Here it is.

Client: We feel there could be done improvements.

You think!?

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What’s “design”?

Clients from Hell - 10 January 2021 - 2:00pm

i was writing in a print shop. A client came in with a free hand drawing of a poster layout.

Client: I’d like to get this printed, please.

Me: As is? Or did you want this designed into something print-ready?

Client: I want it to be a poster for this event, yes.

Me: Okay, that will take a bit and we’ll have to charge you for a design.

Client: What? But I designed it! Everything’s right here!

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Clearly I didn’t respond quickly enough.

Clients from Hell - 9 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: (email at 2:43 PM) Do you like the first option or the second one? I will defer to your choice.

Client: (email at 2:44 PM) I want to use the second one.

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People PAY you for this?

Clients from Hell - 9 January 2021 - 3:00pm

A business reached out to me, asking me to come in to discuss the project, budget, etc. 

Unfortunately, my contact at the business (the marketing director) wasn’t available that day so I had to talk to the owner. 

Client: So what is it that you can do for me?

Me: I’m a content strategist. I can build out a series of articles and a social media schedule to build your SEO, helping your business show up in more searches. 

Client: And HOW much does this cost? 

Me: Well, as I already discussed with [marketing director], my fees start at $X and go up to $Z. 

Client: And people PAY you this? 


I left without a contract or anything. The marketing director got in touch with me a day later and apologized profusely, basically begging me to come back. I agreed on two conditions: that I wouldn’t have to work with the owner and all my approval would come from marketing, and that I would be paid for that useless, useless trip into the office.

When’s the last time a client wasted YOUR time?

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Cropping out the competition

Clients from Hell - 9 January 2021 - 2:10pm

I once had a client who didn’t like that the Google map plugin on their site showed some of their nearby competitors.

Me: I can’t just alter Google Maps.

Client: Find a way.

I wound up up having to just take screenshot, crop it, upload it to their website and link it to Google Maps. Unreal.

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Now it’s perfect!

Clients from Hell - 8 January 2021 - 4:00pm

When I was a student in college I was contracted by a company to film and edit a video. The pay was only $200, but I agreed because I needed the money.

To do the job, I took pro equipment to several locations, setting up, tearing down, and taking responsibility for all transport. I spent hours editing the video. I sent frequent updates to the client throughout the process. Despite my best efforts, they kept asking for major revisions at every turn. 

Client: Can you add this footage to the video?

I found a way to make it work and edited the video numerous times to meet their needs. I sent it to them and they were impressed… for five minutes, when they asked me to try something else entirely. 

Client: Can you just try-

Me: I’m sorry, but we’re well past reasonable expectations for revisions based on this budget. Any additional adjustments will require additional pay. 

Magically, the video was perfect and needed no further corrections.

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Are you TRYING to make me look bad?

Clients from Hell - 8 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: I was talking to my client, and I said you could turn this around by this afternoon.

Me: What? There’s no way. I have other deadlines and this is a major project!

Client: Are you TRYING to make me look bad?

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You know Brad, right?

Clients from Hell - 8 January 2021 - 2:00pm
I work in IT support for a software program. We also have an online reports website, a training site, a user forum, and a purchasing site where clients can buy hardware and peripherals.   

Client: Brad is unable to log into his account and he definitely has one. What do you know about that?

Me: Well, nothing yet. Which account?

Client: BRAD. In the [X] Department!

I don’t know these people. I don’t know “Brad.” They didn’t even provide a last name. 

Me: …Okay. Do you know which account?

Client: Brad’s account! Are you even listening?

Me: Yes. Is it Brad’s account for the software?

Client: NO!

Me: Which account is it then? His training one or the-


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Power play

Clients from Hell - 7 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Me: Okay, with your approval, that’s job done!

Client: Excuse me? The job’s not done until I say it’s done. 

Me: I mean, I know that. I said “with your approval.” I can do revisions if you want.

Client: No, it’s done. Just watch yourself. 


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