Clients from Hell

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July 24, 2014

Our development team was working on a content management system for a corporate client. It was a big system that administered units produced in a variety of languages and applications and, as a result, required careful user interface design and a lot of backend code.

We were doing a show and tell with our partially working system for a couple of corporate VPs to get their feedback on the design. We took a lunch break, and when we got back, the two VPs said they had something they wanted to show us.

They proudly presented a series of PowerPoint slides that showed where they wanted the buttons and pick lists placed.

Client: There, see? This is the arrangement that makes the most sense to us. Can you do this?

Me: Certainly.

Client: You know, I really don’t understand why it takes your team so long to design these interfaces. We knocked this out in about an hour.

The entire team sat stunned until the senior programmer—a man of very few words—pointed to a button on the PowerPoint screen.

PROGRAMMER: What does this button do?

Client: Well, clearly it administers the training and testing selected by the user.

PROGRAMMER: If I click it right now, it will do that?

Client: Well … no. Actually, it doesn’t do anything yet.

PROGRAMMER: That’s why it only took you an hour. 

I work as an in-house graphics designer for one of my country’s largest paintshops for trucks.

Client: Listen! We need a brochure ASAP. I know we talked about it ages ago, but we need it done like right now!

Me: I sent you a more or less finished layout almost a year ago. You said you’ll just look over it and let me know if you’d want any changes done.

Client: Oh. Oh right! Send it to me again and I’ll have a look.

Much later, about 10 minutes before my shift ends.

Client: This looks great! Why didn’t you send me these earlier?

Me: I did. Last June.

Client:  Well, you know I’m a very busy man.

Me: Yes, yes. I know. While we’re at it, have you had a chance to look at those spray can layouts I did a couple of weeks ago?

Client: Uh, yes. It looks great. Send them off to the printer ASAP.

Me: Which one? I made four of them.

Client: Oh. Uh. Well, if I had it my way, I’d just have white blank ones and write the company name on with a marker, so like - I really don’t care.

When everything gets back from the printers:

Client: This looks like shit. I can’t believe you sent these things away without my approval first! That’s extremely unprofessional, you know that?

July 23, 2014

Internet Cash: On a very special episode of Clients From Hell, our hero learns how easy it is to make money on the internet, provided he’s a porn star or a cat with a poor grasp of the English language.

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Me: I’ve attached four different options for the cover page. Please let me know which one you prefer so I can purchase the relevant stock image. I’ve provided the cost of each image below for your convenience. Thanks.

One week later.

Client: Yes, I like the images. 

"Love the logo! What font size did you use so we can reproduce it in Word?"
July 22, 2014

So last week I tried using a language analogy for a client’s project. The project manager said the project was straight HTML/CSS when in fact it was C++.

To help him understand the problem I used this analogy: “Let’s say you’re asking me to write something in a specific language, I am fluent in English and Spanish. Meanwhile, your project is in Chinese. Since I don’t know Chinese and it is not remotely similar to any of the languages I know, I am not your best option for this project. You need someone who is fluent in this specific language for the project to be successful and stay on budget.”

He said he understood and thanked me for my time.

This morning I received an IM from another developer asking: “Why is ‘so and so’ asking us if we are fluent in Chinese?”

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July 21, 2014

My friend brought work to me from clients who requested design services. I never actually met or spoke to this client; my friend was the middle-man.

To make a long story short, the client had a gym and he wanted a logo and some illustrations for a children’s martial arts class. The client gave clear direction and the concepts were straight forward - he even provided his own version as reference.

The client decided to go with my work instead of the work he provided as reference. I was paid in full and I quickly forgot about the job.

Months later, my partner and I brought our son to his playgroup at the local community centre. We talked to other parents while our son played with the other kids. There were a pair of parents there for the first time, so we introduced ourselves and chatted them up. The dad and I got along great; we ended up talking about what we did for a living, and naturally, this guy brings up the gym he runs. At that point he hands me his card.

It had the logo I had made month’s earlier, and the back featured both of my illustrations. I remarked that the design work was quite well done. He responded:

Client: Thanks mate! I designed the logos and cartoons myself - start to finish!

Client: I threw out that black pen, it was out of ink.

Me: What black pen?

Client: The one that was lying on your tablet.

Me: You threw out my $150 Wacom pen?

Client: I tried writing with it and it didn’t work. It must’ve been out of ink.

July 20, 2014

After working for months on a client’s website, we finally got it to (their vision of) perfect, nailing all the brief points e.g. modern, interactive, etc.

A day later…

Client: We need to fix the website.

Me: Did something happen?

Client: It’s not centred when I print it.