After finishing basically a week’s worth of paperwork for a client:
Client: I’ve changed my title. Please edit the paperwork to reflect that.
Back when I was getting started in my early days of book design I took a job from a small publishing house (that basically helped created files for people hoping to self-publish).
The entire job was an absolute nightmare start to finish. The approved design got stripped down until it resembled the author’s original Word file and the book went through two freelance editors and three proofreaders. FINALLY, the book went to press and looked as terrible as could be expected. I was paid, archived the files, and moved on with my life.
A few months later I got a message from the publisher asking if I could “return” the author’s original manuscript and photos. Assuming, they lost their copies somehow, I burned the files to a DVD and sent it along, only to get a frantic message from the publisher asking for the “original” CDs (which I’d thrown away). The author was apparently convinced that the publisher and I were working against her to sell these “originals” and somehow re-sell the book as our own.
I tried to explain that the CDs held only digital copies and that she should still have the originals on her computer, and either way still held the copyright.
Eventually, she told me to remove her files from my computer, to never show it on my website or portfolio and threatened to sue. I refused and she only stopped contacting me after I told her she’d have to go through my lawyer (at the time, just a friend with a law degree).
The scary thing? She was a former lawyer.
I never heard from her again.
I had just finished university and was looking for my first job in a print shop. I had a bit of freelance experience under my belt but I was hoping to gain some shop experience. I had an interview at a local chain printing place and university (and life in general) never prepared me for this experience.
It started out well enough. The shop was located in a downtown mall, and was staffed by two people - the owner and a single designer. The shop itself advertises itself as any services needed beyond branding, so original artwork is offered. Which is great for me because most of my freelance is my illustration work.
Client: Our customers come to us because we’re fast, we promise to have proofs available for approval same day, typically within 1hr.
Me: One hour? Even for illustration work?
Me: But… depending on the complexity of the work, that’s not always feasible.
Client: If it takes you longer than an hour, you’re working too slow. We normally never even need the full hour, just take a look at what we’ve been able to accomplish.
He takes out a binder of incredibly basic business cards. They’re not very well designed. They’re all examples of Helvetica or Arial on a flat color, no logos, with the occasional directional gradient and drop shadow. Stuff that would have been torn apart by instructors if it were handed in as student work. I nod and say nothing.
Client: What I need is someone reliable. I need to know you’re not going to call in because you and your boyfriend had a fight and you’re too emotional to work.
Me: I don’t even have a boyfriend? Reliability is not an issue, my references will vouch for that.
Client: Well do you plan on keeping a job? I don’t need you deciding to quit because your friends offered for you to live in their basement rent free.
I was so taken aback, I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Why was he talking about basements? This really didn’t feel like an appropriate interview question.
Me: No. I’m looking to gain print shop experience. I enjoy working design, I find the work fulfilling, that’s why I chose the industry.
Client: Well let me tell you something - you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Jobs aren’t for fulfilment, they’re for working. That’s not what you come here for, that’s what you spend your free time on. You’re young and you don’t know better, but I know.
He actually sounded angry as he said this. The other staff member was still in the room, pleasant smile on her face, just clicking away carefree at her computer as if the shop owner didn’t just raise his voice at me. I was super uncomfortable at this point and I just wanted to get the hell out of there.
Me: Sorry, I disagree. I really don’t think this will be a good fit.
Client: Me neither.
As of today, that franchise location is no longer in business.
Maybe you can’t polish a turd, But at least you can roll it in glitter.A wise client appraising my work.Maybe you can’t polish a turd, But at least…
I have a video production business and a potential client was referred to me. This is been one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had in 19 years of doing business.
The client was a realtor who wanted a sales video for a property he was developing into condos. He was difficult to negotiate terms with, changed what he wanted several times (at various points he asked for a thirty minute video, a two minute video, and a two hour video) dragged his heels when paying a deposit, rescheduled our shoot date 4 times and attempted to change it a fifth, and did not sign off on the script until I sat him down the day of the shoot and made him finalize it with me… and THEN he tried to change it again a few hours later after the shoot was done.
He sent a very insulting and condescending email to me after the shoot. Here is an excerpt:
Client: I hate to say it but sensed it would be the case when I showed up and saw the type of camera you were shooting with and that you were alone without any gear other than a small fairly basic camera. My full frame canon with wide 17-24 is superior and even isnt considered in the higher end professional quality for video and photography. Still a $5000 set up though. From what I saw yours was a couple thousand dollar camera body and lens at best.
I shoot with a canon DSLR, wide frame lens, with a pro tripod, slider, etc… which is more than up for the job. Also, please note that the budget for this video was $1000, which doesn’t exactly cover a film crew (which he seemed to expect). crew to show up for the day. While negotiating I told him it was going to be about a 2-hour shoot.
Me: I’m sorry you feel that way. If you’d like I can give you the raw footage and you can have someone else edit it.
Client: No, you should do it.
We had a deadline to finalize the video, and two days before the deadline in the morning I sent him a screener with watermark and timecode burn for him to approve. That afternoon:
Client: You know what? I’ve had enough. If you don’t get the final to me by this evening I’m not paying you.
Me: The deadline we set was two days from now.
Client: You heard me.
I work for an agency as a content specialist. We began work with a local branch of a larger corporation. The branch manager put us in contact with someone at corporate for access to their content management system. There were several emails back and forth and it was clear the person I was talking to wasn’t sure what exactly we needed. I explained that we had approval from corporate to curate blog posts from the main site on the branch’s site, and that I needed access to the CMS to post the blogs onto the branch’s site.
Client: Duplicate content is a MAJOR NO! This is a red flag. As an SEO specialist, you should know this will negatively impact the site! All blogs for each branch site must be different. Attached is a document that will provide you with blogging direction.
Attached was a document titled “How to Write a Blog Article.” Thanks for explaining how to do my job to me, I guess.
I was working with a client who I didn’t know that well. I don’t want to use his real name, so let’s call him “John.”
He wasn’t paying his invoice so I called the number he gave me.
Me: Hi, am I speaking go to John?
Client: No, I’m afraid not.
Me: Can I speak to John then?
Client: No, he is not available, and I don’t know when he’ll be back. Can I take a message?
Me: I’ll call back, but I’m just checking in about an invoice I sent him. Thanks!
I tried calling four to five times, and every time John was “out of the office.” Eventually, I got suspicious and called, trying a different topic.
Same voice as before.
Me: Hello, John!
I do IT support.
Client: My PowerPoint presentation has disappeared! I have a meeting at 15:00 and I need to get my presentation back! (It was 14:50 when she called).
Me: When did you last have the PowerPoint?
Client: It was about three months ago. It was always on my desktop!
Me: It seems that your PC was recently upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7. Staff in your office were informed several weeks before the upgrade that any data stored on PCs needed to be backed up to corporate network drives so it wouldn’t get lost.
Client: I never received any emails about this! You have lost my PowerPoint presentation! Now I have to go to the meeting without my data!
Me: I’m sorry that you feel this way, but your office has been advised several weeks before the upgrade to ensure that no data is lost. We kept the original hard drives of upgraded PCs for several weeks after the upgrade, but as this is now about 3 months ago, the drives have been salvaged. I will check to see if we still have your old hard drive, but chances are slight.
Client: (screaming) I cannot believe you lost my data!
She kept yelling a bit longer and then hung up on me.
Afterwards, I checked with a colleague, who suggested that there could be a backup folder on the staff member’s desktop. I remotely checked her hard drive and guess what – there was a folder called “BACKUP old PC” on her desktop, and in it was the PowerPoint presentation she claimed we had lost.
I immediately called her back and left a voice message to tell her that the PowerPoint was on her desktop. I then copied it into an email which I sent to her, advising her of the same.
I never heard from her again. I later learned that she had called several of my colleagues in the past when she was in similar situations where she was late with projects, ill-prepared, and she always blamed IT for her failures. She had a habit of yelling at us and then hanging up.
We were all happy when we heard that she left the company.
I work for a 3rd Party Logistics company. I answer the phones, transfer calls, and try to provide basic assistance after hours. One day at 4:50 pm central time, I received this call.
Client: Is [representative] there?
Me: I’m not sure who you mean, exactly, do you know his last name?
Client: No!! I’ve been calling him ALL DAY and I just keep getting his voicemail! I must have called eleven times!! And he hasn’t returned my calls!
Me: Okay. How can I help you today?
Client: I need to know if my loads are going to be picked up today! And [rep] won’t return my phone calls!
Me: Okay. Do you have any reference numbers for these shipments?
Me: Okay. What’s the name of the company paying for the freight?
Client: I AM!
Me: Do you know your account number? Or can you spell out the name of the company for me, please?
Client: It’s [name of company]! I have FOUR shipments that need to be picked up TODAY before 3:30 pacific time!
Me: Okay. I found your account. I do see four shipments scheduled to pick up today out of the same warehouse by 15:30 PT today, all scheduled with [name of carrier], so most likely they will only send one truck to load all four shipments, as they are scheduled as LTL.
Client: But [rep] hasn’t returned my calls! I need to know if they’re going to be picked up!
Me: Okay. Well, if you can hold for a moment I will call the carrier and double check that they will be sending a truck today.
Client: Then do it!
I called the carrier. All four loads had been cancelled by the representative this client was trying to contact. I was freaking out, so I tried to call this guy’s manager to see if I could get any help. He was in a meeting. My manager told me to try to calm the guy down and see if we had his rep’s cell number so we could see what was going on. I took the guy off of hold and found out what was really going on.
Me: I apologize, it looks like the carrier does not have these shipments scheduled to pick up today. I am attempting to reach out to your rep and his manager to see if maybe they had booked a different carrier–
Client: I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. That’s why I’ve been trying to call him all day! My secretary found a better rate, so we cancelled these pickups with you, but she’s an idiot and she booked them wrong! And now you HAVE TO get them picked up by 3:30 today! That’s in two hours! And [rep] won’t return my calls! You have terrible customer service! Absolutely terrible! I need these shipped today! It’s Friday!
Me: I apologize, however, as your rep is not in the office today, we will likely not be able to reschedule these shipments on such short notice.
Client: Well why isn’t he in the office! It’s Friday! We’re all working!
Well, some people work different schedules and don’t cancel orders at the last minute expecting everything to be worked out by yelling at someone who didn’t cause their problem – but I guess that’s life.
Not strictly a client, but definitely professionally frustrating. I had a job available on my team for a potential video shooter and editor. An early twentysomething guy interviewed and failed miserably to get the job. Not even close.
Three weeks later I get a call from one of my competitors saying he (the interviewee) had cited me as a past place of employment and asked me if I’d give him a reference.
Interesting tactics. I almost respected him for the audacity. Almost, but not quite.