Clients from Hell

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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.

July 14, 2014

I translated some text for an organization and sent it back to my contact person, along with the invoice and my usual message:

Me: Little typos or missing accents can occur during the transfer from text to image. If you need me to review the translation once the final layout has been completed, I will be happy to do it free of charge.

A couple of weeks later, another person from the same organization sent me an email asking to review a different document before it went to the printer.

Me: I would be happy to. It will cost (this much). Please let me know if this works and I can get right on it.

Client: What?! I thought you did that for free!

Me: I do – for my work. That’s not my work. And taking a glance at it, it seems like an automatic machine translation; there are a lot of changes to be made.

Client: … so?

"I’m not sure what to think of this designer. His portfolio seems okay, but I’m like 90% sure he’s gay and I honestly don’t have the patience to deal with that in the long-term."

— A client who accidentally CC’d me in an email to his colleague after inquiring about a project. 

July 13, 2014

Client: These drawings you sent me are all screwed up. This is an abomination and you should be ashamed.

Me: What’s wrong with them, exactly?

Client: Everything.

After a lot of back and forth, I figure out the issue.

Me: I think I understand. The drawings you are having issue with were ordered and shipped last month.

Client: Correct.

Me: And the issue is that you are missing a bunch of drawings from the set?

Client: Yes.

Me: And the drawings you are missing were sent to me, by you, yesterday?

Client: Correct.

I can tell it’s not quite sinking in.

Me: So, you ordered and got drawings last month.

Client: Yes.

Me: Then, yesterday, you sent me new drawings.

Client: Yes.

Me: That you wanted in the set I sent you last month.

Client: Yes. What aren’t you understanding!?

Needless to say, I now make that client put all his orders in writing before he signs off.

If a client spends a certain amount, I offer a discount in order to encourage bulk ordering. Usually, it’s as (seemingly) simple as free shipping.

Client: I don’t understand why there was a shipping fee on this invoice. Last time I worked with you there was no shipping fee.

Me: If you remember, we agreed that if your order was over $50, I can offer you the shipping for free.

Client: Yes, I do. But this invoice is for $50 and it has a shipping fee on it.

Me: Because it was under $50 before the shipping fee.

Client: But you said anything over $50 would be free to ship.

Me: Yes. Anything more than $50 BEFORE the shipping fee is added.

Client: I don’t understand.