Clients from Hell

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July 19, 2014
via Jhall comics

I have been working with a client on a logo for her firm. She seemed directionless, but after meeting for a few hours, we developed a design brief. After I’d presented sketches – using the brief she’d signed off on – she “played around with it a little bit” and sent me back a sketch that had nothing to do with the brief.

After another face to face meeting, I agreed to work with the new concept. Really, the only thing that stayed the same was a request for hand-lettered typography, which I felt I already had in the bag. I drafted a proposal and presented a final sketch. She “played around with it a little bit” and sent me a PDF with the main design element of the logo removed and a delicate type solution that was not only unreadable, but would not work as hand-lettering - the look she originally was after.

I told her that she’d come up with something really interesting and felt she could finish it herself since she had such a clear vision and was now so close.

She requested that I "play around with it a little bit and see what you come up with.”

I fired myself.

July 18, 2014

Me: Since we are on such a tight schedule, could you please be more precise when giving me feedback on this?

Client: It needs to look a bit nicer. 

19th Century Clients from Hell

Charles Babbage received funds from the English Treasury between 1823 to 1842 to build his engine. Today, we would know that engine to be more akin to a mechanical computer.

Babbage recorded his interactions with two members of parliament. It went as follows:

On two occasions I have been asked,—

“Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?”

I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

July 17, 2014
"It looks wrong. It should look right."
July 16, 2014
"I’ll be into the office around 1:30 on Monday. Will that work for you? Sorry for any incontinence."

I was working with a client, whose son was in his mid-twenties and liked to be involved in the design of the website. He was into the ‘newest technology’ and buzzwords, so asking me to make things ‘pop’ was an everyday occurrence.

Client: I don’t like that colour. You should try something brighter. Like green!

Me: It is green.

Client: Oh. Well, we should do a different green!

I showed him a range of greens to replace the previous one.

Client: No, I don’t like it. Why don’t you try red? Or yellow?

Me: That would contradict the colour scheme for the entire website.

Client: Yeah, but I want to see how it looks!

I later found out that he was completely colour-blind.

July 15, 2014


I had a simple, common contact form on my design portfolio website that worked well for about a year. Then I had this exchange with a prominent local reporter / blogger via Twitter to her 5,000+ followers:

Client: #WEBDESIGN #FAIL! @(myhandle)’s contact form terribly broken! Can’t get in touch about my project—won’t be using her services! #Inept!

Me: @(Client) Thx for yr honest feedback. Sorry to hear you had difficulty w/my form. I’d like to diagnose the issue—pls contact me @ (myemail).

Client: (via email) What kind of web designer are you? I tried to upload my project’s documents, only 25mb of PDFs, using your contact form and it didn’t work! 

Me: Yes, my contact form isn’t designed to allow uploads of any kind; it’s just a simple way for folks to state the nature of their project and start a conversation. I’m so sorry that misunderstanding was frustrating experience for you. Now that we’re communicating via email, I’d be more than happy to take a look at your documents and learn more about your project.

Client: I’m not stupid, you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m well connected in this city, and you won’t be getting any recommendations from me!

I created content and hosted files for a client for over a year; at least, until she sent me a cease and desist letter. This voided my contract a month before the final invoice was due. I believe this was an attempt to avoid payment – there were otherwise no issues in our working arrangement.

A month after I complied with her wishes, she wrote me an email asking me why I stopped hosting files for her business.

Me:  After I received the cease and desist letter and turned over the files, I didn’t see a need to continue working for your company for free. My last email stated I would be deleting the contents of my server after a month (the end of our original contract) in order to avoid any further legal trouble. Didn’t you copy or save any of the files that I sent you throughout the year?

Client: No. Why would I? Just send me the files that you compiled for my company over the last year.

Me: I deleted them after I sent the last email.

Client: What!? Why?

Me: Because I fulfilled my contractual obligations and the language of your letter implied I would be held accountable if I still had access to any work I did for you.

Client: Well that was stupid.

Me: Agreed.