Despite appearances, this story is extremely pertinent to creative client work.
Back in college, I had a part-time job bagging groceries at a little mom and pop health food store. A little old lady was buying a significant number of items: a gallon of milk, a bag of flour, several canned goods, eggs, fruit and veggies, etc. As I’m strategically placing her items into two bags, paying attention to the weight distribution and trying my best to make it easy for her, she turns to me and says “Just put it all in one bag, but don’t make it heavy.”
Uh… Ok, lady.
Back then, I was baffled. Now, twenty years later as a designer, I realize that this was the basis for half the client interactions I've ever had.
A potential client contacted me about an extremely technically demanding software project. Seems they were earning tens of millions of dollars a year from it, but due to them hiring bad software developers, they couldn't get it to scale. Now they wanted someone to keep developing it while they simultaneously rewrote it in a different programming language it was easier to find software developers for.
No problem. I specialize in this. After a short period of time discussing what their problems were, they were very excited because I quickly figured out the primary bottlenecks, how to fix them, and explained that it would take me a few months of work to stabilize things, given the size of their codebase.
They said "yes", but promptly offered me part time at a junior developer's hourly rate. I'm one of the top experts in my field. I politely said no.
They came back a year later. Seems the $100/day developer they hired from a lesser-developed nation wasn't very good and stopped responding to their email.
They again offered me part-time at a junior developer's hourly rate to maintain software they were making tens of millions of dollars from.
Last I checked, they pivoted their entire business in a different direction because their competition finally caught up with them.
I was working for a company in a completely dysfunctional team. While looking for options to find a path out of that team, I learned that IT was going to be implementing a new tool that I had experience with. I took a few more courses and certifications with the aim of freelancing myself to the other team and eventually gain enough trust and experience to move out of my dysfunctional department.
It turned out the tool was going to be implemented on MY team, so I was the only one in the unique position of knowing my job inside and out plus having certifications on the tool. I managed to get myself onto the project, and jumped on the first conference call to plan how the tool should be used.
Boss: The information we need isn't currently in the system, so we can't tell it to send emails.
Me: Let's just add a table so w...
Boss: It's too hard and expensive to add new tables to our existing systems.
Me: I didn't mean add to the system. You can create a simple table in Excel and upload it to the tool, then just tell the tool how to incorporate the information.
Boss: This tool can't DO that.
Me: (irritated at being interrupted) Yes, it can.
I explained how and why.
And that was how I was kicked off of a program implementation and given the silent treatment when I was the only one who knew both the tool and how my department worked.
Apparently, it's more important to not offend a director than to properly implement a new expensive IT tool.
I left a few months later, I'm curious how/if the rollout went.
A asked me to redo their website. I offered a lower hourly price than my normal hourly because it was a long term project.
Client: Is there any way we could get you full time?
Me: I have other clients, and I wouldn't be able to do any work for them. They pay more per hour. I'd lose money.
So the client made me a proposal for full time - at $4.00 LESS per hour.
Client: With taxes we'd be paying the same amount per hour, so that would be fair, right?
Me: So in exchange for losing money from my other clients, you're offering to pay me less?
Client: Yeah, but at full time.
I'd been hounding a client for weeks to get me information I needed to put together a product catalogue. They never, ever did, and said I should "work around it."
I was designing the document, so I did my best with the scant information I had and assumed that they could fill in the content.
I sent them a review draft and... they printed it. They sent it to the printer. They just printed the damned thing.
Client: This is full of errors! I'm not paying you for this. This cost a lot of money to print, and now we have to throw this all away!
I had a silly project where I had to make a superhero, called Hyundai woman, for a dealership.
Client: Can you make her more Asian? Hyundai is Korean and we want to honor that, so can you make her have more slanted eyes?