I was booking jobs
through one of the freelance design sites, and sent a proposal to a client
who had written a children’s book and wanted a print ready layout done. I sent
a project estimate, and after a very friendly phone call, we agreed on the
project scope, terms, and deadline.
The first stage in the
process was to drive over an hour to his house to photograph paintings
that his mother had made as illustrations for the book, as well to sign a brief
general contract and collect a 15% deposit. I arrived, we chatted for an hour
while I photographed the paintings, we both signed copies of the contract, and
I left with a deposit check. We were scheduled the first round presentation for
a week from then.
Three days later, he emailed me.
Client: Can I get
a first look? Just something rough to see how it’s coming.
This was earlier than we had discussed, but since he was
excited about the project I understood.
Me: Well, I still
need to do photo retouching and font selection, so all this is very much
subject to change but here is the cover mockup and the first few pages.
I sent them clearly
marked “PROOF.” He immediately wrote back.
Client: This is not at all what I expected. I hope the
next time you send me something that reflects significantly more effort.
He also informed me he
wished to receive final files a full week before our original agreed upon
After a lot of back
and forth, we finally settled on a delivery date four days earlier than I was
comfortable with, but I made it work… until my computer crashed. I lost two
full days of work, including the latest round of layout for his book. When he
emailed that day (two days before our now very rushed deadline) asking to ‘see
just another peek’ at the work, I had to tell him I was set back, and that it
would be another day before I could show anything new. At this point I had
already conceded to every single one of his extra-contactual requests.
He didn’t like that at
all, sent me four nasty emails in a row about how terrible I was for wasting
his time, demanded that I refund the 15% deposit (now well below what he owed
me in design time), “delete all of the pictures and text since it was his
intellectual property,” insulted every bit of work I had done, and wrote a
terrible review on my profile detailing events that had not occurred between us
The best part? He was
the head print manager at a national online printing company. If you work in those circles, I guarantee
you’ve heard of them.