My first client as a digital marketing specialist was epic. I went to meet him for brunch and to discuss the timeline of the changes he wanted me to do on his website. I have to mention we initially talked on the phone.
Everything is nice and good, I have already ordered one coffee, one tea (because he accidentally mentioned he’s more into exotic teas) and some cookies. He arrives at the lounge and I can see him from the table waiting inside, in front of the door and looking around.
On my way to invite him to the table, I can see his eyes getting bigger and suddenly a disappointed face shows up.
Client: What? Is that you? I… I didn’t expect a child.
I am 21.
Client: Sorry, I don’t wanna waste my time.
Me: Nice to meet you too! I guess my voice and advice sounded pretty smart on the phone if you thought I was older! Don’t want to waste my time either, I’m going to finish my coffee and I’ll send back papaya and kumquat tea I ordered for you.
The client smiles genuinely and invites me to the table:
Client: Show me what you got, kiddo!
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Once upon a time, I submitted a quote for a network overhaul, including a NAS (Network Accessible Storage), routing/switching gear, mail server, and a ticketing system (OTRS). The scope of this was based on the lack of security.
The owner of the company was notorious for letting his little head make decisions, his ex had a dance studio attached to the office, and his current partner had a "brother" that was a web developer from overseas.
I knew it was trouble when I discovered they had forked over $30,000 for a WordPress site with no content and that he had purchased portable hard drives from a major retailer because they were "on sale" for use in the NAS. That's a huge no-no.
During my time there, I encouraged them multiple times to pull their info from my company repository for their security overview, password policies, and access information for all major systems. They neglected to do this for over six months.
Once the work was complete, they decided they would make an attempt to short me on my final invoice, stating that they needed "more details". What they meant was that they wanted me to submit a ticket for every item I had performed. That didn't sit well with me and I made my exit without pay.
Fast forward a month. One of the systems went down and they needed the passwords... that they didn't pull from my company repository and no longer had access to. They contacted me and I let them know that we weren't able to provide support or file access as they were in arrears (net 15) and no longer a client. They really didn't like that and attempted to contact other vendors to badmouth me and see if they could back-door my work. Said companies cancelled their contracts on moral grounds, giving them thirty days to migrate off of their equipment.
Ultimately, they were forced to courier a certified cheque out in exchange for the files. I also charged them for two of for my time and an overage for the USB key. The "courier" was the cleaner that was promoted to tech support the moment I left.
Long story short, if they sound like they can't afford it, they can't afford it. Don't waste your time.
What's the shadiest client behavior you've ever dealt with?
I worked at a very small grocery store (four aisles) to help pay for grad school. I was the manager of the restocking shift.
My job consisted of preparing the space for the delivery truck to arrive by asking people to move their cars or having them towed if they blocked access. I would then remain onsite until the truck arrived at any time from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am. Once it arrived, I would text the rest of the shift members to come in and we would restock shelves.
The signs in our parking lot clearly stated that the driver had to remain on the property with their vehicle or risk a tow. Still, many people would miss this. I became very used to dealing with upset people whose cars I had gotten towed.
One shift was on a holiday, so the store had closed early and I was the only employee present. All other stores on the property were also closed. A single car was parked in a spot directly in the way of the truck access and directly in front of a parking sign. I had to have it towed.
About an hour after the towing, I came out to the parking lot to do one of the various small things I had to do to prep and found a group of teenagers standing in the spot. I approached and asked if they were the owners of the car. One girl stepped up and said yes.
Me: I'm afraid that your car had to be towed because it was blocking access to the property for the delivery truck. You weren't on the property with the vehicle, as required by our parking policy.
Driver: I was just visiting my brother.
She gestured to an apartment complex across the street.
Me: I'm afraid that the sign clearly states that you have to remain on the property with the vehicle.
She was upset but seemed to accept it. I returned to the interior of the store. I left the rolling door for the back storage room up - a mistake - as I'd have to go back out soon to make sure no one moved the traffic cones blocking spots and parked to block access. About forty minutes later, I heard this.
Voice: HELLO? IS ANYONE HERE?
I came out to find the girl and her mother standing in the middle of our storage room. I informed them that they were trespassing and directed them out into the alley behind the store.
Mom: Are you the one that had my daughter's car towed?
Me: Yes. I-
Mom: That's ILLEGAL! You can only have a car towed during store hours!
Me: Actually, our parking agreement, as stated on the signs, does not specify any time, only the location of the driver. This is becau-
Mom: YOU SPECIFICALLY TARGETED MY DAUGHTER! YOU WATCHED THEM PARK AND THEN IMMEDIATELY HAD THEM TOWED!
Me: Actually, I first found the car at 6:15. I left a note on the window and checked in over the course of the next hour before I called the truck. I'm required to clear that space by 8:00 pm as we don't know when the truck will arrive.
Mom: SHE WAS JUST ACROSS THE STREET!
Me: Which isn't part of this property, putting her in violation.
The next twenty-five minutes or so involved a phone call with the store owner and the mom repeatedly lying about what the signs said. After the fourth time I corrected the mom about the signs, her daughter went to go read them and tried to tell her mom. Her mom covered the receiver and told her to shut up. When the mom lied a fifth time, I again corrected her.
Driver: Stop it! I already told her!
Me: If she wants me to stop correcting her, she is free to stop lying.
In the end, she got nothing new from the owner. I got a lot of threats; at one point, the brother walked by later and said that he would beat me up because the truck hadn't shown up yet, so I was clearly lying. It showed up as he was talking. The mom threatened to take me to court if I didn't pay for the tow. I didn't pay. She didn't sue. Shortly after this, I quit. The little bit I was saving on student loans wasn't worth that.
I had a client reach out to me that she wanted me to join her team on a new SaaS (Software as a Service). I kept asking her what exactly she wanted me to do and her answer was always, "Little things, ideas, architecture." We scheduled a Zoom meeting which lasted two hours. She explained how her current architecture worked and asked me if I had any ideas. I did have some and she told me that she is definitely interested.
A week later, I heard back from a mutual friend that she gave my ideas to her current developer and even thanked that friend for introducing us.
The worst part is that after that, she opened a group for me and her developer so that I could share ideas directly with both of them. My partner eventually told her that she had to pay me for that, so she asked for a quote on a huge project. I gave her a good price based on an hourly rate and this is how our conversation went.
Client: I am not really ready yet, so can you give me a better price?
Me: The proposal is based on an hourly rate, so we can spread it out over a longer period until you're ready.
Client: So, how do you plan on doing it?
Idiot me went on to repeat the same mistake, and wouldn't you know it? She actually implemented it. She requested a meeting with me after that, paid, but I told her unless she accepted a proposal from me, I wouldn't talk to her.
What's the rudest thing you've ever had a client do to you?
My wife and I are artisans and sell our work at renaissance festivals. She is a hat maker. Last fall, at the only show we had in the last three quarters of 2020, I'm alone in our shop, and in comes a lady with a thick Russian accent. She spends some time looking around and trying on hats, never asking for prices. Finally, she settles on one.
Me: That'll be $139.
Lady: I give you $100.
Me: No, thanks. I'll keep it.
Lady: Perhaps you need a few minutes to think about it.
I thought she was going to make me an offer I could not refuse for a minute.