Client: We need this rush job done! Please!
Me: Okay, I'll clear my schedule and get that started right now.
Client: Thank you!
Three hours later, I'm almost done:
Client: Actually, cancel that. We don't actually need it.
Over the past couple of months, I have printed labels for a client's farmer’s market product. Each time they order they don't give me enough notice and argue over the rush fee.
Last week they sent me an e-mail at 7 PM, asking for another batch of labels to be ready the next day and to be put in the mail first thing in the morning.
Me: I’ll be glad to do this for you, but it will be a rush order. That will cost extra.
Client: Why do you keep charging me extra? I’m a repeat customer. All I want is my labels the next day and guaranteed shipping to my door by Saturday.
Me: We’ve been over this multiple times. It costs extra to ship Express or Priority to your state. It also takes two days minimum without rushing to print and prepare your labels. I'll need to stay up late tonight and work overtime to get it in the mail at all tomorrow.
Client: I’m a small startup. I can’t afford such huge rush costs.
Me: Say you’re at home eating dinner, and I message you to print labels for the next day. Then you have to drive 20 miles one way back to the design studio, which you only just got home from, and spend 4 hours working. You need to arrange for someone to look after your kid in that time, and because you're working until after midnight you wind up on a sleep deficit for the rest of the week. Do you really expect me to do all of that for you just for free without additional cost?
They finally responded with two words:
Client: I understand.
They then proceeded to agree to the payment terms for their rush order.
I’d say this had a happy ending, but I’ve had clients conveniently “forget” lessons like this before. Let’s hope the lecture sticks.
I’m not the designer nor the client in this story. I work at a start-up and my boss hired a freelance designer to design the company logo. There were WEEKS of numerous daily revisions, asking the designer to create multiple versions of whatever crazy idea popped into his head that day, demanding to have them done immediately and then rejecting them all.
Desperate, the poor designer finally decided to have a long meeting with my boss in which he worked while my boss watched him and not leave until the final logo design was approved. That meeting lasted six hours.
The next morning, after finally approving the final logo design
Boss: I will not be hiring this designer for any future work.
Me: How come? He did dozens of designs with every adjustment you asked for and did not even bill for extra hours.
Boss: Yes but I designed this logo. I shouldn’t even be paying him for it.
Boss: Yes, everything was my idea. All that designer did was drag a few things around on his computer and do some fine-tuning.
Boss: Anyway can you call him for me? I can’t login to my email and I want him to fix it for me.
I think I should quit.
I’m a developer creating programs and backends for a university.
Client: We are going to focus around Programmes and Students who attend them. Use that language.
A year and a half into development.
Client: Mmm…. We don’t like the name “Programmes,” make it “Cohorts.”
Me: But we already have all the models, relations, API routes, mobile app that uses these routes, tables, constants named with Programme in mind. It’s going to be a huge task to change all that now.
Client: Yep, still, make it Cohorts.
Me: …OK, fine.
Eight months later.
Client: We’ve decided against calling them “Cohorts.” Change everything back to “Programme.”
Me: (considering violence, whether self- or otherwise).
A client wanted a PDF where the first few pages had editable text boxes. With each round of amendments, he requested changes to the text in the editable fields, despite being able to do this himself as he specifically requested the editable text boxes so he could amend the wording to suit different clients.
I sent him the final PDF file WITH editable fields and the images.
Client: Why is this an earlier version? Fix it!
I didn't know what he was talking about, and he wouldn't clarify. After cross-referencing the designs to previous proofs and versions three times (re-exporting and re-sending to the client also), I couldn't understand why he was insisting the files I sent were a previous version. That's when I realized that one of the amendments in the editable boxes had reverted from a 7 to a 6.
Turns out he was reaching the 3rd page where this amendment had been missed, assumed the rest of the document was an older version and refused to look at the rest of the pages to check it was the latest document, despite the fact the text was EDITABLE in the EDITABLE text box he had REQUESTED from the beginning that he can edit HIMSELF.
Instead, he got me to spend hours trying to find the issue when he could have changed it himself. Or, better yet, told me what the issue was.
I got paid, but all the extra work made it not worth it.
I'm a freelance artist that offers hyperrealistic traditional commission paintings, and my pieces usually take several weeks to complete. I received a message from a prospective client just a couple of days before Christmas
Client: Hi! I'm [Name]'s assistant and I'm looking to order a commission for one of their friends as a Christmas gift. What are your turnaround times like?
I had never heard of [Name] so out of curiosity, I did some quick googling to find out they were some Z-list celebrity I've never heard of with some very minor roles in a couple of well-known shows and movies.
Me: My work usually takes a few weeks to complete and I'm currently booked up for the next several months. I'm also afraid that the postage deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery was last week. Let me know if you'd still be interested in booking, and I'm happy to answer any questions you might have!
Client: You're sure you can't turn it around by Christmas for [Name]?
Though certainly not my worst prospective client, it always surprises me that some people expect highly detailed work to be completed in a snap of a finger- and of course, wait until the last possible moment to try to order a commission.
Maybe they thought that name-dropping might motivate me to work against the laws of physics.
I work for a hospitality design firm: clients hire us, we design their hotels, the hotel brand signs off. Previously the approval process involved a 30% submission where they see our concept and general ideas and have the major design review, 60% with partial drawing set and minor revisions, and 90% where we submit a full drawing set and final tweaks occur. It's caused us a lot of heartache, but after almost two years working with this brand we've finally managed to navigate their process. And then this morning...
Client: We just forwarded you the new Design Process package. Design Review will now occur at 60% and will require a 90% drawing set submitted for review. You are expected to have 60% of the design completed without any major feedback from the brand and complete the same round of revisions that you would at 30%.
I'm still trying to work out the math for how we're supposed to have 60% of the design completed with 0% feedback prior to submission and still perform the revisions before the 90% submission.
I recently quoted a client for a promo video to be shown on their website.
Client: We’ve decided to go in a different direction.
They eventually came back and hired me. I got the truth out of them later:
Client: I was going to shoot this on my phone but I couldn’t record my voice at the same time.
This was a multi-million dollar company whose smallest contract is still six figures.
Client: Things are not working, the amount of hours we agreed is not being respected and your developers are late in the deliveries. When can we talk to sort things out?
I went to the dev team to talk and this exchange followed:
Me: So, what is happening? Are problems arising during the sprint? The client is frustrated with the delays, and I need to know if you need some support or renegotiate something.
Dev: We have no problem at all with them, we are only lacking time to do what they need.
Me: How are you and your colleague dividing the time?
Dev: Well, my colleague spends the day programming, while I'm, at 9AM, have a call with the client that usually goes for two hours, then again at 2PM I have another call with'em and this one usually goes for four hours, then I code until 7PM.
Me: That explains a lot.
Turns out the client knew this time was billed as dev time, but they expected the developers to be coding while on the phone with them!