Overcome by bad-job blahs in the leadup to the holidays? “Clients From Hell,” a website where freelancers share stories of encounters with terrible clients, has you covered. These eleven stories will fill you with gratitude (and possibly schadenfreude).
I was one of six artists asked to take part in a local Christmas exhibition. Each of us were to make 4 original illustrations, for a total of 24 between us.
On November 6:
Client: Can you provide your illustrations by December 1?
Me: Absolutely! I just need to know what theme I’m working with and what size you’re looking for.
Client: Great! I’ll call you tomorrow with the details!
I didn’t hear back for a month. On December 6:
Client: Can you bring those illustrations tomorrow? Also, they need to be framed.
Me: I can’t draw four illustrations in one day. I needed that information and followed up on it a few times. It would have been cool to be part of this show, but I have other clients who need work from me, so sorry, I can’t participate..
No response. I got another email a day later that totally ignored what I’d said.
Client: Hey, can you actually bring 24 illustrations tomorrow?
I guess none of the other illustrators wanted to produce new work in a day – though I’m not sure why they thought I’d be willing to produce all 24 in a night.
I’m a co-chef for a restaurant that does catering. The other day I got a call from a client we’ve worked for in the past.
Client: Hi! Just checking in that everything is underway for this dinner tomorrow.
Me: That’s weird… We don’t currently have any events scheduled for you. Are you sure you booked us?
Client: We didn’t call, but you guys do this for us every year! What’s the problem?
Me: You still need to TELL us you’re hiring us. In previous years you gave us three weeks notice so we could prepare a menu and get everything together.
Client: Why are you making this so hard? Just, do what you did last year.
Me: That menu took four days to prepare.
Client: Whatever! Just do it!
We ended up catering to them in a crunch. We all had to work a bunch of overtime to finish it.
When it came time to pay, surprise surprise, the event organizer was surprised at the amount of our bill.
I work with a client who does not allow me to use any stock images, illustrations, or vectors. Only their products, and their studio images, or plain black and white backgrounds. They sent me a list of 30 content pieces they wanted to be created, with very specific criteria for each one.
Me: I’ve run out of studio images to use. Now, I can grab photos for the products from the website, but some of these are impossible with what we already have. For instance, you’re asking for Santa stockings, tinsel, mince pies, etc… we don’t have those already, but they would be really easy to find as stock images. Unless you would prefer that I draw them?
Client: We don’t have any new photos. We don’t want any stock images or drawings. Use products and photos. Make it Christmassy.
Client: I’d like to hire you for a wedding shoot. Your website says initial meetings are free – is that right?
Me: That’s right. I’ll meet you to show you my portfolio and discuss your budget, requirements, etc.
Client: Great! Can you meet us at [time, date, location]?
Me: That’s a bit outside where I would usually go to a meeting, but sure.
I showed up to the “meeting” and… it’s actually their wedding. he’s in a suit, she’s in a wedding dress, and there are hundreds of guests milling about.
Client: Well, looks like I tricked you. Anyway, per your email, this is the “initial meeting” and it’s free. So please get your camera ready, and we can get started.
I explained that this wasn’t going to happen. She threatened to sue, and when that didn’t work, told me her groom and his guests were all marines who were about to go overseas. I’m not sure if that was a threat or a call for sympathy. I left. I’ve worked with some pretty terrible clients, but this one takes the cake.
Me: I’m finding it difficult to understand what you’re describing. Can you please clarify how I should change the drop shadow to make it look “sexier”?
Client: Can I send you an example of what it should look like?
Me: That’d be great!
I open my phone to see a picture. Of a box. Of condoms
I was approached by a porn star that wanted me to re-do her site. She agreed to my price and I fulfilled the job. She paid and that was that.
A few weeks go by and I’m contacted by her husband.
Client: I’d like you to update the site again. As payment, you can have sex with my wife once a week.
Client: I want you to merge these databases across all our European operations.
Me: Sure, we can do that, but it’s a big job. The last time it took eight years.
There was a thoughtful pause.
Client: So, will it be ready by next Wednesday, or will it take until Friday?
I set up, designed, and maintained a vanity blog for a bored, wealthy middle-aged woman. After a few months, she wanted analytics installed.
Client: You installed my analytics wrong.
Me: I’m sorry. Is it not tracking anything?
Client: It’s only tracking a couple of people.
I sign in and look to see everything working fine.
Me: I’m showing four page loads this week. It seems to be tracking just fine.
Client: Well it’s not. My husband says he reads it every day, and all of his employees do too. So do my friends and neighbors. And the other day, I went to Florida, and everyone there said they were reading it too!
Knowing there is no way out of this conversation…
Me: I’ll take a look at it.
There’s no easy way to say “all your loved ones are lying to you.”
I do design work for a small print shop and the owner/my boss is not old per se, but he absolutely hates change and anything to do with technology. He regularly has me run credit cards and scan invoices for him because he doesn’t know how.
Me: You know, I could show you how to do this. It’s pretty easy.
Client: No thanks, I don’t want to learn anything new.
I have no idea how he can run a business when he can’t even run a credit card.
Client: I noticed you changed some of the text.
Me: I made some slight grammatical changes, yeah. Mostly adding commas where they should be, etc. Is that a problem?
Client: Yes, it’s a problem. I want you to keep the text EXACTLY how you receive it. I hired a professional grammarist and there is no need of any of your input.
Client: I don’t like what you’ve done with the logo on the ad we printed.
Me: I don’t understand? You approved the design before it went to the printers.
Client: I know I approved it, but it’s your job to make sure what I approve looks good before it goes out.
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