I did some work for a client involving website design and photographs of his company’s products. I finished the projects about two months before I was planning to leave the country and asked the client to send over the payment. After numerous reassurances that the check would be sent out by his accountant, he finally stopped responding to my emails, texts, and calls after more than a month of hounding.
The week before I left the country, I received an email from him that told me a check would be sent out that week... meaning I wouldn’t be able to ascertain if he had actually done so until I returned two months later. Fast forward two months, and of course, the check was never sent.
I once again contacted him to ask for the payment, and a few weeks after I emailed him, he told me that his old accountant was terrible and unreliable and that he’d since gotten a new one. He assured me that that I would receive the payment within a week. Then he asked if I was free to design a few other items he needed. I told him I would, but that I would need a 50% deposit upfront this time.
I do knit development, and help designers create their line. One jewelry designer wanted to add knits to her product offerings, so I spent a ton of time helping her source yarns and define specifically what she wanted to make. She decided to buy yarns on her own without me, and sent me a huge box of them to make samples, while she kept the yarns she liked herself. I made samples with what she sent me, then got nastily dressed down because “the yarns looked nothing like what she had.”
She then sent me daily emails asking for pictures of what I was working on to make sure they matched what she envisioned in her head. She also wanted me to “hire ethnic ladies" to do production of her line for $5. an hour. We’re in New York, by the by.
I sent her an small invoice for consulting, and excused myself from continuing the job.
I worked for a call-waiting company. We had established that the optimal amount of text for a three-minute message was four small paragraphs. We always give our clients an example of a message with their contract.
One day, a client sends me the text he wants: one paragraph, single-lined, and a little over one page.
I called a client to ask him if there were any adjustments to the sitemap I detailed in my proposal before we moved on to a final contract. He said that he was driving, and hadn’t looked at it yet, but that I could just read it to him and go from there. I politely declined and asked him to please read my proposal (this is a large project) and we could talk for a few minutes on Monday. He happily agreed.
I called on Monday and asked him if he had any additions.
As a design intern for a small non-profit, I was shopped around to other departments for their design needs. On one occasion, I was asked to add some copy to an InDesign document. I was told it was going to be super easy.
We run a small illustration company and were hired to work on a one-off children’s book. The project was a disaster from start to finish. After turning in the spec art for the parents that would appear in the book…
Client: This dad is too handsome. We need more of an everyman. More like Edward Norton. We like the mom though. Let’s keep her pretty.
Me: Okay. We can revise the father’s face and send you new specs this weekend.
We sent the revised work and received this reply:
Client: We think he’s not handsome enough.
Me: But you specifically asked us to make him less handsome.
Client: But how would he get a wife who’s so hot?
Me: Would you like us to go back to the original?
Client: He should match the attractiveness of the wife. Why don’t you just make him look like me?
I usually don’t do work-related favors for family, but last Christmas, I agreed to design a holiday card for my uncle. After five revisions and numerous options, my uncle was satisfied and sent out the cards. I found $10 in my PayPal.
Me: Hey, what’s this for?
Client: A tip for that card.
It was seemingly thoughtful, but when the whole family got together for the annual gift exchange, it became apparent that I was somehow forgotten. The card I created was to inform each family member who they were the secret Santa for. And apparently, my uncle was supposed to be mine.
In the 1990s, a wonderful older client and I created a full color 32-page real estate magazine, successfully producing it for 3-4 years. The magazine was then purchased by a 30-something real estate salesman.
After about a year of working together on the magazine (which included a full color pull-out map of homes for sale in the area), the salesman bought his first desktop computer. He began complaining bitterly about paying me for my work. One day, he declared that from now on he would be doing the magazine on his own - using MS Word.
I was working with a client who was launching a series of illustrations in support of a good cause (though it did help their business as well.) Since it was for a good cause and because I was just starting out with my freelance career, I agreed to do it for half what I normally charge. I ended up taking a lot more work than promised (like looking for material, ideas, and translating text), but at the very least, the creative freedom translated into the resulting product.
After 25 illustrations were done and posted…
Client: The series is a great success! I don’t know if you’ve seen our facebook page, but there are 3000+ likes and over 2000 shares for almost every image. God bless you for giving it your all!
Me: Thanks! It means a lot to be appreciated.
Client: This exceeded our expectations. Obviously, we have a lot more work for you.
Me: That’s great!
Client: T-shirts, slogans, more illustrations - but we want to pay you 30% less than what we were paying you before.
Me: Uh… I already told you that I was charging you half of what I usually charge.
Client: Since we’ve been so appreciative by giving you more work, can you make a deduction?
Me: I already made a deduction for the project as it supported a charitable cause; I can’t cut my rates any further without needing charity myself.
I once did a photo shoot for website headshots with a client. We took photos of about a dozen people. I had the photographer bring a laptop so after shooting several frames, we’d ask each person to come over and take a look, not to decide on the spot, but to make sure each person was happy and could find a shot they would like.
One person, who approved her shots, called me the day she received the electronic proof sheets.
Client: I hate them all.
Me: But you looked at the screen the day we shot and told us there were several you thought you could choose from.
Client: Well of course I didn’t wear my glasses for the photo shoot. You should have realized I was looking at the screen without my glasses on!
We had to schedule a second shoot in order to receive our payment on delivery.
My agency served as a setting for an event marketing challenge for a popular reality show. Myself and another graphic designer were each assigned to a team, to help them out with signage and design. I spent an hour chatting with my team about what they wanted, doing sketches, etc. My colleague went into the conference room, and came out again in five minutes.
Me: What happened?
Colleague: They said they had it covered and didn’t need me.
Me: Okay then.
We both shrugged. We were both under explicit instructions to do exactly as the teams asked.
Eight hours later, I received a panicked phone call from the printer we’d given them to produce the final signs. They’d sent over word documents with word art and pasted images from the web.
I told him to go to print. They said they could handle it themselves, and they did.
I was shooting a wedding at a church when a guest yelled at me, stating that I “ruined the sanctity” of the wedding because my camera was making clicking sounds with each shot. He said that, because I’m not shooting with film, my camera did not need to make clicking noises.
The guest made sure to inform the bride, groom, and their parents of this ‘fact.’
A client was extremely adamant about how inviolable the grid of their bi-weekly product folder was. They even wanted “maintaining sanctity of the grid” to be part of my job description. It divided every page in a specific set of tiles that could only be combined but never diminished in any way.
Client: There needs to be another product added to this page after all. Put it between these two.
Me: Okay, but you do know that would break the grid, right?
Client: No it doesn’t, you can adjust the grid. Just shave a few inches of those other square spaces and squeeze in another smaller one there.
Me: But then they’d all be different sizes.
Me: If all spaces are different, it’s no longer a grid.
I run a printing shop that offers design work to compliment our services. Prior to any prints, we carefully explain our rates and any potential extra fees the client may encounter. However…
Client: I like them, how much do I owe you?
Me: Well, for the business cards you owe $XXX.XX and then for the design fee, you owe us about 15-minutes of work which is $X.XX (it was less than $20).
Client: No, I designed it, not you.
Me: Well, you supplied us with the logo, but we designed the card based off a color scheme similar to your corporate colors, we arranged the contact information, and we offer a copy of the illustrator file so you can avoid any sort of design fee in the future. Prior to printing, I told you -
I was handling a project for my that required me to create the company’s new website. When I presented it to my client, he liked the site but wanted a different set of photos to be displayed in the site.
I created a brochure for an organization that offered a senior-based service. At the top of the brochure was a group photo of seniors with two Caucasian couples, an African-American couple, and an Asian couple.
Client: I think it looks good, but you can take out the picture at the top? We don’t help people like that. Can you find a picture with just some normal people in it?
I didn’t ask after which people they didn’t consider normal, preferring ignorance and a payday to the borderline hate crime. But when they rejected the ethnically-ambiguous photo I replaced it with, calling it “confusing,” the truth became unavoidable.
We are a custom-apparel manufacturer who provides garments to a local boutiques. After eight months of phone calls and repeated attempts to make contact with a client to collect payment, we finally cornered them:
I recently accepted a design request for an invitation suite. The process took longer than expected because the client was “too busy” to respond to emails, and would take a week or more to look at revisions. About three months into the project I received a phone call.