Clients from Hell

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September 21, 2014

When you contact me via my website, a few drop-down menus offer some options for the services you might be interested in. It helps me sort jobs and gives me some more initial info on what the client wants.

I received an email from a client telling me they’re after a single half-hour profile shoot, which is offered for people that need a couple of headshots for business or LinkedIn profiles, etc.

This being such a small service, there’s no need for a face-to-face, so we correspond by email. She asks me to meet her at a particular time and place. She wants the natural light offered by the location, and doesn’t need external lighting. I bring my basic kit: tripod, monopod, DSLR, a couple of lenses, and a flash for fill light if needed.

I get to the location. The client is wearing a wedding dress and is surrounded by six other women in matching bridesmaid dresses. She stands up and thanks me for coming. I’m assuming the worst, but I ask anyway:

Me: What’s with the wedding getup? Is it a fitting or a dress rehearsal and I just happen to be getting some profile shots at the same location?

Nope. It’s actually her wedding day, and she’s hired me as the photographer. She starts telling me all about how she wants shots of the people mingling outside, her and her bridesmaids, the groom and groomsmen, and how I ‘should be able to work out the usual stuff on my own.’

I asked her why she told me it was a profile shoot when it was actually a wedding, saying I was dangerously unprepared for a wedding shoot. She tells me - proud of being so cunning - that she figured I’d charge her wedding rates, so she’d get a better deal if she told me it was just a cheaper shoot. I told her that’s not how it works, and gave her my usual price for a wedding. She just shook her head and said:

Client: I’ll give you the price we agreed to and I signed a contract for. Besides, you said you were unprepared - a real pro would be ready for anything!

I chose to leave.

September 13, 2014
"I didn’t feel like reading the help document you sent me, so I figured I would call and have you walk me through it."
September 05, 2014

After sending five different layouts of a client’s company truck:

Client: I just received the layouts. I’d prefer if you put the logo on the front too. Right now, it looks sort of empty and you couldn’t tell it was MY truck unless you see it from the side. 

Me: Where on the front would you like me to put the logo then? 

Client: In the middle of the upper front! There’s a great big space there!

Me: You mean like I did in option 3, 4 and 5?

Client: Oh, well. I haven’t looked at ALL of them yet - but I’ll need some more options from you within the hour.

August 20, 2014

I was working with a client on a cover for his band’s latest album.

Client: Can you Photoshop me with blue eyes?

Me: Sure, do you want to use this photo for the album cover instead of the one we already have?

Client: No, I just want to see.

It was a strange request, but I do it anyways.

Client: Cool. Now can you do it in this photo, where I have a mohawk?

Me: Uh, I could - but am I getting paid for this?

Client: I’d rather not pay you for this, it’s not for the album.

Me: In that case, I’d rather not do it.

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?

July 11, 2014

I offer a four-day (96 hours) turnaround on illustration orders, usually juggling five-eight orders at a time. I’m comfortable doing so. Part of it is that I have a formula for this service.

Typically, I respond as soon as I get the order, and then again when a sketch is decided upon in order to communicate and confirm that I am about to get to work. This usually takes up the first day or two. After that, I start the illustration. I make it a point to let clients know I can’t be in constant contact at this point, especially if I’m handling more than one request.

However, there are those clients who veil impatience with ‘concern’, and message me within hours of my confirmation message that tells them that I’m starting work. This is the most recent example:

Client: Hi there, I haven’t heard from you in a while. How is my order coming along? 

I received that after 8 hours.

Client: Hi! How’s everything going over there? :) Are you keeping well? Have you finished my order yet?

I received that after about 12 hours.

Client: Look, you’re taking your time here. I’m not going to be played for a fool. Get to work or give me my money back.

I received that (on my birthday) after 20 hours. 

July 06, 2014

Client: Ideally, we’d have you come in every day of the work week, from 9am to 5pm.

Me: I’m sorry, I thought this was a contract position.

Client: It is! But we’d like you around in case anything comes up.

Me: Sorry, I’m a bit confused. This contract only allots 20-hours of my time. We’d burn through that within three days.

Client: Oh, I see why you’re confused. No, we just want you around. Just in case, you know? We’ll only pay you for the work you do. 

June 14, 2014

I received an outline Friday afternoon stating that my final copy was expected Monday morning.

Me: I’m sorry, but I don’t work weekends. I can have it by Wednesday.

Client: But I thought you work from home?

Me: … Yes.

Client: So if you’re at home, you can be working!

June 03, 2014
"Remember, you can do work outside of your paid hours as well."
May 22, 2014

A client sent me the final specs for a design late on Friday.

The following exchange took place on a Sunday afternoon. As a general rule, I don’t answer emails on weekends/holidays. However, given that Monday was a bank holidays and the number of angry emails was on the increase since Friday evening, I decided to email the client back, letting them know the obvious.

Client: Why aren’t you answering my emails? I haven’t heard from you since Friday evening.

Me: It’s the weekend. 

Client: I think you should work weekends.

Me: No.

Client: Fine, but you should know that I think you are making a very big mistake by not working weekends. Regardless, I expect to see designs complete by Monday morning.

Me: I can’t see how that would be possible. Also, Monday is a holiday. I will start working on Tuesday and you can expect to see designs later that day.

Client: In this current economic climate, you should work on bank holidays as well.

Me: Thanks for the advice. We can talk about it more on Tuesday.