I work as a freelance proofreader, and one day I was asked to proofread a more than 400 pages long post doctoral thesis. I gave her my estimate, and she agreed.
One month later:
Client: Sorry to say but I can’t pay more than [less than half of the estimated amount], because I had some family and health issues.
Me: I’m very sorry to hear that, but I can’t do that for this little money. Let me calculate this for you.
I gave her a detailed calculation of why it would cost at least twice as much, and since having some health problems myself at the time, I declined and offered to give her other contacts.
Client: No, it has to be you, you were recommended to me. I can pay a little bit more.
Me: OK, fine. But if you only have that much money, I can’t provide you full service. It will only be a quite superficial proofreading with only a short preparation of the layout, and no layout control at all.
Client: Fine, thanks!
She then gave me ridiculously strict time tables that made me work during my family vacation but she herself never stuck to, and always came up with more and more tasks. I told her repeatedly that those weren’t covered by her budget, and she apologized, only to come up with other tasks three days later. In the end, I finished the project a day before the deadline, sent it to hear and – nothing. Not one word.
A week later she replied to me.
Client: Sorry to reply that late, but there still was SO MUCH to do in that document!
Well, yes, I told you at the beginning and then ten times more that your budget is way too small for a proper job. I need to learn to say No when it smells like trouble from the beginning…