Client: We don't participate in late fees for unpaid invoices.
Me: Participation isn't mandatory, but payment is...
A long-time client wanted to start a new project. I scoped it out with him and gave him a quote of $1,000. He approved.
I presented the work to him.
Client: Can you make these changes?
Me: Those are significant changes that are basically another new project. They will cost $750.
I delivered again, and he made requests for changes. This time they were minor so I charged an additional $150.
I sent him the invoice.
Client: (furious) What is this? You told me the project would be $750!
Me: What? No. I told you it would be $1000, with additional charges.
Client: No, you said $1000, and then when I wanted changes you lowered the price to $750.
Me: So you think when faced with doing more work I LOWERED the fee?
Client: Well what you did definitely isn't worth $1900.
We are a marketing agency with digital services, graphic arts, translations, etc. I am one of our Founders.
We have been courting a potentially enormous client (as in 7 figure, multi-year contract) for THREE YEARS. These high-level relationships take time to gain trust. So, after three years of talk, a thousand bucks on dinner for his team over time, and after we've outlined all our services in plain English, the guy tells me:
Client: We will entertain a commission-based fee only. We don't pay for activities. We pay for results.
He wanted us to do investor research, write proposals for grants and funding, as well as translate websites and create art. But he was saying that we will only pay us if we actually get him an investor?
C'mon... That's not how to do things.
He is sending us an itemized list of what he wants done, thinking we will accept his proposal for commission-based fees only. He is wrong. We are going to return a policy sheet stating that we do not work on success fee basis or any promise of FUTURE pay. We take a 4-figure retainer (at least $2,000 up front) and then an agreed-upon hourly rate. Our team does not waiver from this position. This is our separation tool. We suspect they will hold firm in their position as well, expecting us to agree to their price structure. This will not happen, so this Client from Hell story is about managing time better; and cutting to the chase faster.
The good news is along the way, we made more huge connections and can sell them our services. Always hold yourself in highest esteem as the contractor. They are talking to you because they CANNOT do what you can do as a software designer, artist, etc. Hold your head high, my contractor friends, and do NOT accept less than you are worth. Any success fee type potential clients reading this: take heed.
Thanks for the chance to tell my story.
I do cheap art commissions through a website from time to time. I have regular customers who are usually no problem. However there are certain clients who I have problems with.
One problem is they are both the same person, trying to pass themselves off as two different people. The, second, main biggest problem is, they ask ME for money to buy a commission from myself because they're "advertising my work."
What's wrong with some people?
I worked as an in-house designer for a couple of weeks. After those weeks, the marketing coordinator decided to leave the company and start a coffee shop in her neighborhood. She asked me if I wanted to design her visual identity and collateral. I said yes.
I usually do 3 rounds of revisions until we have something concrete. We agreed on a look, she gave me logos she liked and set up a mood board. So far, so good.
After 2 months of exploration and presentations, she was not liking any of the logos.
I showed her tons of explorations with Coffee + Mid-century modern look. Nothing was pleasing the client.
After my 3rd round of revisions, while I was already defeated, the client went on an online logo builder, designed her own logo and showed it to me.
The logo now had nothing to do with coffee and had diamonds on the background of the type.
Client: See, it’s not that hard. I could do this job.
She decided not to pay me for my services and the time spent on developing good solutions for her business.
I took legal action was taken and got paid, fortunately.
I was discussing a Google Ads marketing strategy and social media project with a lawyer who worked in a large city.
Me: What’s your budget for Google Ads?
Client: About $300 a month. I don’t want to pay anything more than I need to.
Me: That’s not very much. It could cost you a lot more to see the results you are seeking. But the ROI could be worth it. How much are you willing to pay someone to work on this marketing project? There are a lot of other considerations and topics to discuss, such as SEO and your social media strategy.
Client: I am looking to pay someone about $25 per hour, no more than 5 hours per week. You're not charging me for this conversation, are you?
Earlier in the conversation he'd dropped that he's going on a very expensive vacation and was very proud of himself.
I decided to move on from this "opportunity" pretty quickly.
I'm an illustrator. A client contacted me with very specific demands.
Client: I want ten elaborate illustrations. I will have full rights to the characters within, and you will only have permission to use up to three of these drawings in your portfolio. Oh, I am going to pay this outta my pocket by the way :)
I'm not sure where else they would pay from.
Client: Let's meet near my house because I have to pick up Suzy from school
No, I don't know who Suzy is. I guess their daughter. Anyway, I had to drive far out of my way to meet them.
I arrived at the coffee shop, showed some proposals, and gave them a quote. Believe me: it wasn't expensive.
Client: (visibly upset) You charge this much for your little drawings? And you say I only have the rights to use these images for this project, and not for upcoming ones?
Me: We can negotiate future use of the characters, but if you want future use of the intellectual property that will cost more.
Client: (indignant) GOODBYE.
I drove nearly an hour for a meeting that lasted less than five minutes.
I chatted with a client about how he wanted to make more money with his travel/tourism/transportation business. He was getting a lot of customers and wanted to expand. He had one vehicle where he drove people around, and he wanted another one so he could hire another person on his team.
He sounded very stressed on the phone.
Client: I need to make more money to support my family, and I don’t have much savings to buy another vehicle. What do you think I should do?
Me: Well, there are various options.
Client: What do you think of a Kickstarter campaign?
Me: It might work if it was marketed really well online.
Client: Ok, let’s do that.
I am not convinced I want to work on this project yet, so I continue to ask questions.
Me: How much could you pay me per month to work on this marketing project?
Client: $200 per month.
Me: Uh… hmm…
I didn't have the heart to tell him on the phone that's not what I had in mind for payment and just told him I didn't think we'd be a good match.
I later look up this guy online, and I see a mugshot of when he was arrested for a DUI. I wondered how that might affect his Kickstarter and online marketing efforts.
I posted an ad on a local job board advertising my house cleaning services, as I was seeking some extra income as a side gig. A woman replied and said she was interested. I chatted with her briefly and learned she needs the whole three-story house cleaned, and she hasn’t had anyone clean it in a while.
I give her my hourly rate, which was the average rate in the area from people I had talked with.
Client: That much? That’s too much!
Me: Well, it’s very physical work, and I would need to recover afterward. It’s different from a desk job.
The client sullenly agrees.
When I arrive at the house in a nice part of town, I notice she barely has any cleaning supplies (even though she stated she had everything). I made the best with what she offered me.
Client: Here are some rags.
There are 4 rags. I had to use some scarce paper towels for the rest - not ideal.
I almost passed out from the amount of work that was needed. Some areas of the house hadn’t been cleaned in months from the looks of things.
At the end of nearly 4 hours, I was glad to be finished. The woman criticized some of my work - which I didn’t appreciate, especially since I went over various areas twice to ensure it was extra clean.
She then writes me a check.
I say thanks and leave, wanting to never return to that house.
I tried to cash the check soon after, and it bounced.
I had to text her various times to ask for payment - explaining the check bounced.
Client: Stop texting me!
Me: I will need to take the issue to small claims court if I don't hear back from you in a week with payment.
Client: You didn’t even clean my house that well. I hired another housekeeper who did a much better job than you!
She finally re-sent me a check that went through.
Words of Wisdom: ask for cash at the end of a home improvement / cleaning job.