Clients from Hell

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August 29, 2014

After getting out of the movies, I looked at my phone to find 10 texts from a friend explaining how, exactly, she wants me to design her son’s second birthday invites.

I had never discussed this with her, she didn’t ask, and she simply assumed I was doing it.

Client: Toy Story themed…. Paste his face on Woody’s head… Maybe Buzz Light Year to the side, I dunno you can design however you want… Toy Story fonts, Toy Story backgrounds, etc.

After the texts stopped coming in, I texted her back:

Me: We need to talk.

To which she responded:

Client:  …but I don’t want it super themey.

April 25, 2014

Just before I was due to start work at a new client’s office, I received a text message from the client saying that the rain had flooded their office and the electricity was off, so the project would not be going ahead.

I was already out (and drenched to the bone), so I decided to drop by and see the extent of the damage. The office appeared to be dry and well-lit. To my surprise, an old friend from my home town was just outside. It turns out that he has also gone to school to be a graphic designer, and he had just locked a job. In fact, it was the job I was supposed to do, although they were paying him less.

We had a coffee and a chat in the office, after which, I called the client to commiserate about the recent rain. They complained about the situation and how unfair it was - up until I revealed where I was sitting. This revelation was met by a palpable silence.

A couple of months later, the client had the audacity to call me and ask me to work there after my old friend didn’t work out. I told them that my terms were 100% down payment, and I never heard from them again.

April 23, 2014

I am a screenwriter with friends who make a living as crew film and television.

I have another friend who has a coding business (that, admittedly, I don’t fully understand, as it’s not my expertise).

Client: I want to make a commercial for [his product].

Me: Ok, great! What did you have in mind?

He excitedly tells me his idea. His passion is clear, but I know it’d be one boring commercial.

Me: Ok, um… yeah, we could do that. I could write a script for [low price because he’s a friend] and then I know a few people who could work on the commercial at a discount. We’d just need to get a good location and—

Client: Oh, I’ve got the location, we can shoot in my backyard.

Me: Oh.

Client: And I wouldn’t be paying anybody - especially at those prices. But I’m sure when they hear the project, they’d love to jump on board.

Me: Well, all the people I mentioned are professionals and -

Client: Do you know how many people would kill for an opportunity like this? This could make us all a lot of money.

Me: Well, again, they’re all professionals and would need to get paid up front for their time on set.

Client: But they’re just friends of yours. And we’ll be shooting in my backyard.

Me: Yeah, but these friends of mine are working professionals who make way more than the prices I mentioned. I might be able to convince them to work at that rate since it’s my script we’d be producing, but I won’t be able to push any further than that.

Client: But I’m sure they’d love this project and want to jump on board.

Me: For free…

Client: Exactly!

Me: You know what, I actually don’t think I’ll have time.

Client: Oh. That sucks. Well, give me your friends’ contact info so I can still get them.

April 01, 2014
"Why should I pay? I thought we were friends…"

A client I regularly work with (and am paid by) 

March 23, 2014

I designed, programmed and uploaded a shop site for a client. In addition, I edited all her image files, edited her text, created animations, searched stock images, and put up with her midnight idea changes. All of this was done at a discount because she was a family friend.

Then, for six months after the site was complete and uploaded, I tried to collect payment. She ignored my attempts. So I removed the main page. She finally responded to the last invoice I sent.

Client: Why did you remove my site?

Me: Because you have ignored my past attempts of contacting you for payment for my work.

Client: Oh, well - about that. I didn’t think I should pay you for this site.

Me: Why?

Client: Well after about a week, I didn’t receive any customers or traffic to the site. I don’t think you did your job very well if it can’t instantly grab attention of the public and bring them to my site.

Me: Then why do you still want the site?

She ended up paying me to get the site put back up. 

October 24, 2013

I was doing a simple bit of free hosting help for a family friend — nothing complicated, just hosting a WordPress site and installing a theme.

I sent the person five recommended themes. A week went by and I heard no response, so I sent him an email reminder. Another week went by, no response, another email reminder. That cycle repeated three more times.

Finally, six weeks after my original email, he sends the following three emails all in one night while I was away from my computer:

Client (10:11PM): I want to talk sometime before 10:30PM tonight. I’m really ready for this to get off the ground.

Client (10:44PM): I guess we’re not talking tonight. I’m getting very tired of waiting on this. Email me back ASAP.

Client (11:07PM): I’m going to find someone else to do this. It’s clear that you just can’t reply in a timely manner.

Did I mention I was helping him for free?

August 28, 2013

I had my grandfather and his much younger business partner as a client.

Client:Your grandfather’s yahoo is broken.

Me: His yahoo? What, do you mean the email account has a problem, or is the website down?

Client: Yes, his email. You have to fix it. Do you have a few minutes?

Me: I live in Toronto, remember? He lives over two hours from here.

Client: No, I mean over the phone. You tell me, I’ll call him and tell him what to do. I think Yahoo has a virus.

Me: You mean you think his email was hacked?

Client: No, a virus. He can’t log into his email. You reset his password and he can’t log in. I can log in using his email and password but the yahoo on his computer must have a virus. He took it to one of those shops and now his Yahoo doesn’t work.

Me: Are you sure he isn’t typing his new password in wrong?

Client: No, that’s ridiculous. It must be a virus. Can you, like, Google a virus?

Me: Uh, yeah. I’ll call you back.

I had a coffee and checked my schedule to see if I could fit a trip out of Toronto to see my grandfather over the weekend. When I called to see when would work…

Client: It works! Everything is fine. Problem solved and your grandfather is relieved.

Me: Good! I’m glad the virus is gone.

Client: Don’t be silly, it was the password. He wasn’t typing it in right. Your grandfather’s very old, you know.

August 09, 2013

My uncle contacted me about doing three or four illustrations for his organization’s website. He said the work would be paid and we agreed on my price, adjusted for family. We corresponded and discussed what he wanted and what I was doing, with copies of my progress sent every now and then to keep his mind at ease.

I sent over some work when we were about 75% complete so he could see how it was coming along.

Client: What are these?

Me: Illustrations, like you asked me to do.

Client: Actually, we were hoping for you to redesign the website. These are nice though.

Me: Well, I can redesign the website too, but I’ll have to charge a separate fee for that.

Client:  I spoke to some of the other guys in the company. We were hoping that you’d do it for free, because you like the company.

Me: But you said this was paid work.

Client: Only to get you interested.

July 03, 2013

This was a friend, who was some unfortunate designer’s client a while back:

Client: Hey, I just downloaded Photoshop. How do I save jpegs as .eps in good quality? We need to get our company clothes printed ASAP and the printer doesn’t accept jpeg.

Me: Don’t you have your logo in vector format?

Client: The old one’s vectorized, but we only have small jpegs of the new one. Also, I made some adjustments. Photoshop lets me save as .eps, but it looks kind of bad.

Me: You can’t do that. Why not contact the agency that made the logo?

Client: That was a few months ago, and we haven’t exactly paid them yet.

June 29, 2013

I do photography on the side, and have done a friend’s family portraits for the past five years. I noticed recently that my friend and her mother were promoting her new boyfriend’s “awesome” photography. His album (titled ‘family’) was a mix of the past 5 years of my photographs, with his watermark stamped on top of them.