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

Cowardice Should Cost Extra

, , | Right | August 9, 2022

Client: “I don’t like any of the logos my current designer did and I want you to see what you can come up with.”

Me: “Great, I’ll have some concepts ready for you next week.”

Client: “Oh, do you do any writing?”

Me: “Yeah, what do you need?”

Client: “This would have to be for free. I need you to use my Outlook to email the other designer and tell her that I don’t like her work.”

Getting Knocked Down A Peg Can Be Expensive

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: WritesForDough42 | August 8, 2022

I used to work for a direct mail company that also had a seventeen-foot Canon color laser printer so we could do specialty print jobs. I had been in marketing for fifteen years at this point, and while I wasn’t a graphic designer, I knew enough to have intelligent conversations with real designers.

A quick graphic design lesson: when designing for printed products, you can’t put anything behind your photos or graphic elements. That is, if you stick a blue background behind a photo, your printer thinks it’s supposed to print the photo and the background. The photo will look like it’s at the bottom of a swimming pool.

To avoid this, you have to cut out a box the size of the photo — called a knockout — and put the photo inside the box. That way, you don’t print the blue background under the photo.

Anyone who understands how to design for print knows that one simple trick.

I had a marketing agency as a new client. My contact was the son of the owner, and he thought he was hot s***. It took everything I had not to roll my eyes whenever I met with him.

[Contact] wanted 500 brochures for a big real estate agency client. It was only $250, so not a very big job.

Me: “No problem. Does your graphic designer know how to design for print?”

Contact: “Oh, sure. She just graduated from college and has her degree in graphic design.”

Me: “Sure, but most people don’t print things anymore, so most designers don’t learn it. So are you sure she knows how to design for print?”

He assured me that yes, his designer was also hot s*** and knew her stuff.

Contact: “So, when you get her file, just print out the order. Don’t mess with it. At all.”

Once I got to my car, I rolled my eyes so hard I saw the back of my skull.

The file the designer sent over had large black polka dots as a background on the entire page, with a large red box in the middle. My production manager showed me the sample and — you guessed it — the black polka dots showed through the red box.

Production Manager: “Should I fix this?”

Me: *Smiling* “Oh, no. [Contact] was very specific about not messing with it.”

I told her about [Contact]’s designer and she cackled with evil delight. She printed the job and our delivery driver delivered it that same day. A few hours later, I got an angry phone call from [Contact] demanding my presence at the agency.

I showed up, and there was [Contact], white-knuckle clutching one of the offending brochures.

Contact: “What the h*** is this?”

He was clearly winding up to make this whole thing my fault.

Me: “I know. It looks like s***, doesn’t it?”

Contact: “You’re g**d*** right, it does. Why does it look like this?”

I paused and took a breath.

Me: “Do you remember when I kept asking whether your designer knew how to design for print?”

Contact: “Yeah.”

Me: “And you told me that she absolutely, without question, understood all that?”

Contact: “Yeah…?”

He wasn’t sure where this was going, but he wasn’t liking it.

Me: “Well, she doesn’t. Because people who know how to design for print know that you never put a background behind other graphic elements. They know you need a knockout behind the photo.”

Contact: “Yeah, but—”

Me: “And we didn’t fix the problem on our end because you told us to absolutely not touch it at all.”

Contact: “Yeah, but—”

Me: “If you’d like, we can rerun the job for you. And even though it was your error—”

He gave a pained gurgle.

Me: “—we’ll rerun the job for half the cost.”

Contact: “Half?!”

Me: “My boss wanted to charge the full amount, but I talked him into half for you.”

He didn’t; I hadn’t.

Me: “Just have your designer fix the problem, and resend it, and we’ll get it done for you tomorrow.”

We could have fixed the error, but I wanted the hotshot designer to learn how to fix her own error so she didn’t make it again.

She fixed it, we ran the job early the next morning, and I hand-delivered it to the client myself by lunchtime. Our client was happy, their client was happy, and they always gave us print-ready work from then on.

Entitlement Has Hit The Roof

, , , , , , | Right | August 7, 2022

I work for a roofing company. I am heading to a client’s home a week after we have finished installing his new roof. This is a normal inspection to sign off, but I also need to double-check the installation as our area suffered a major storm a few days earlier and a lot of houses have been damaged.

I am walking onto the site when the client comes rushing up to me.

Client: “You! You need to talk to my insurance company about the roof!”

Me: “Okay, let’s inspect the storm damage and I would be happy to provide a professional assessment.”

Client: “What storm damage?! There isn’t any! Your g**d*** roof didn’t lose a single tile in the storm!”

Me: “Oh. And that’s… bad?”

Client: “Terrible! My insurer won’t pay out because there’s no roof damage, and it’s all your fault! What are you going to do about it?! Hmm?”

Me: “Get you to say all that again on camera for our site?”

You’re Missing The “Social” Part Of “Social Media”

, , , | Right | August 6, 2022

Client: “We want more Likes on Facebook. We share our page five to seven times a day and nothing.”

Me: “Where do you share it?”

Client: “On our wall.”

Me: “Well, that is not a surprise, since only the people that already Liked your page can see that post.”

Client: “Where do I share it?”

Me: “Anywhere else possible.”

Client: “Oh, I see! Thanks!”

He then shared it on my timeline… five to seven times. 

Well, Ain’t That The Darnedest Thing

, , , , | Right | August 5, 2022

Me: “The price for the project we’re talking about will be [total].”

Client: “Really? I had another designer work on this for me last year and he did it for free.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t work for free. You may want to try going back to him and seeing if he’ll do it for free again this year.”

Client: “I can’t. He’s no longer in business.”