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A collection of client horror stories from designers and freelancers on CFH.

That’s The Time To Walk Away From The Job

, , , | Right | December 2, 2023

I was making an advertisement that featured children playing in the snow. The client used a horrible stock image account, and finding a lot of pictures to choose from was almost impossible, but I managed to find a good one of two little kids making an igloo.

The kids just happened to be Asian.

Client: “Can you find a picture of kids that aren’t ethnic?”

She actually forced me to find a picture of white kids instead. I actually felt sick to my stomach.

You Know That Saying About Having To Spend Money To Make Money?

, , , | Right | December 1, 2023

Client: “We don’t have one, but I’d like to put a video on our website that gives a tour of our drop-in centre programs and shows a little of what we do. What do you think?”

Me: “Sure, that sounds fine.”

Client: “So, can you do it?”

Me: “Oh, I can put up and feature a video on your site, but no, I can’t make a video. I don’t know anyone who produces videos, but I can ask—”

Client: “Can’t you just find one on YouTube and put it on our site?”

Me: “You mean you want me to find and use an existing YouTube video that describes your company?”

Client: “Yes! I don’t want to shell out a bunch of money when there’s all this free stuff floating around on YouTube.”

The Client’s Intent Was Exposed

, , , , | Right | November 30, 2023

A potential client from the fashion field comes to me because they want an exclusive web project for one of their fashion branches. They also ask if I’d be interested in doing this for free as “exposure”. Since I want something from fashion in my portfolio, I do not say no.

Me: “Well, okay, we can work out something. I think I’d like to have a fashion customer in my portfolio. I will prepare a contract for you.”

Client: “A contract? Why? Why do you need a contract if you work for free?”

Now that’s a red flag.

Me: “Well, not exactly for free. For exposure, right?”

Client: “Yes.”

Me: “Also, I need a contract to set all commitments, all boundaries, and a full project scope, so I don’t end up working endlessly for free.”

I prepare it and send it to them. All of my contracts include a clause that says I have a right to feature the project on my website and in any marketing material like presentations, and that I also include my copyright mark at the bottom section of a website.

Client: “Everything looks great, except that clause.”

Me: “What’s wrong with it?”

Client: “Our policy is not to allow it. We’d like people to think we made that ourselves and that we did not hire anyone else do it. Can you remove that clause?”

Me: “I thought you wanted someone to do this for free in exchange for exposure?”

Client: “Yes.”

Me: “So, how is this exposure if I am not allowed to expose it?”

Client: “Well, you will gain valuable experience! You will know that you, yourself, you made this.”

Me: “No, that is not what exposure means. Exposure is when I publish a website with my copyright, put on my website, and receive a good testimonial from a client. Usually, they also separately thank me in their Facebook or LinkedIn posts, etc. In this case, you are simply asking for free work by inserting some keywords like ‘exposure’, but you don’t really know what they mean.” 

The client never responded.

How Did You Mean It, Then?!

, , , | Right | November 30, 2023

Client: “Make the logo 80% the width of the page.”

Me: “All right, here you go.”

Client: “Woah, woah! What happened?”

Me: “What do you mean? I did exactly what you asked. It’s 80%—”

Client: “When we said 80%, we didn’t mean it literally.”

It’s Time To Point The Many, Many Fingers At A.I.

, , , , , , | Right | November 30, 2023

Client: “I’ve been looking at all these photos being taken by A.I.”

Me: “They’re generated by A.I., not taken by a camera, but yes, I’ve seen them, too.”

Client: “Well, if A.I. can make me anything I want, why do I need you for my projects?”

Me: “Well, A.I. can be very random, and it’s full of strange artefacts that you might not want in your photos.”

Client: “It sounds to me that you just don’t want to admit that your job has become obsolete.”

Me: “And it sounds to me like you just don’t want to pay your creatives.”

My once-regular photography work from that client suddenly dries up, but I am fine with my wedding and magazine work. (Try getting an A.I. to take nice pictures at a wedding!)

A few weeks later, the client is back on a call.

Client: “You do photo touch-ups, right? I need you to do some fixes to our photos, but at a discount since you’re only touching them up, not taking them.”

What they send me is the most laughable attempt at A.I.-generated photography I have ever seen. Some of these artificial people are outright monstrosities.

Me: “What do you need me to do with these… uh… images?”

I refuse to call them “photos”.

Client: “Just fix some of the things that look a bit weird.”

Me: “Like how this person has sixteen fingers?” 

Client: “…”

Me: “On one hand?”

Client: “Look, just tell me when you can get them done by!”

Me: “Ask your A.I. to fix them for you.” 

I did not take that job, nor did I take any other job from them again.