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


, , | Right | October 24, 2021

Client: “We need a newsletter to be made and sent.”

Me: “Okay, what is it about? What information does it need to include?”

Client: “We actually already made it and it just needs to be sent.”

The newsletter is mostly written in caps lock and in addition, sentences end with three exclamation points. 

Me: “Sorry, but do we really need to put three exclamation points? And it is usually not a good idea to write in caps lock, it can seem a bit aggressive.”

I tried to be as moderate as possible in my comments so as not to offend the client.  

Client: “But how will people know it is important if it is not written like this?”

Me: “How will they know what is important if everything is emphasized?”

Client: “Oh, yeah.”

Two Days, Two Weeks, Same Difference!

, , , , | Right | October 23, 2021

I had agreed to a two-month contract with a client to create a new scheduling system using software that runs off MySQL. I arrive and am greeted by the CFO.

CFO: “So, we have had a change to the budget since we spoke. Instead of paying you for two months, we can only afford to pay you for two days.”

Me: “That won’t be enough time to complete the job, or even make a dent in it. What do you expect me to do in that time?”

CFO: “Well, today we want you to write out in as much detail as possible what you would do if you were going to be here for two months. Then tomorrow we have three interns arriving and we’d like you to walk them through the manual.”

I left pretty quickly. I kept my deposit, but still…

The Moment You Take Vacation Is The Moment They Need You

, , , | Right | October 22, 2021

I told a client I would be out of the town for several days on vacation, and mentioned it to him numerous times. Then, I receive this text:

Client: “I need you to call me ASAP.”

Figuring it’s an emergency (and currently hurtling down the freeway), I pull into the nearest town, scrambling to find a phone (mine had died), and finally get a hold of the client. 

Me: “Hi, sorry it took so long to reply, I’m in Manitoba. What’s up?”

Client: “I need you to scan a picture for me when you get back.”

What Part Of “Legal Liability” Did You Not Understand?

, , | Right | October 21, 2021

I’m talking to a new client about documentation needs.

Client: “I see you don’t have your last project in your portfolio. Why not?”

Me: “That’s because the information on it was proprietary, and I couldn’t take any copies as part of the conditions of my contract.”

Client: “Well, we’ll need to review it before we can hire you. Do you have backdoor access to the server so we could get it ourselves?”

Me: “No, because that would open me up to legal liability. Even if I did, I couldn’t share access with you without being sued and possibly prosecuted.”

Client: “Well, we can’t hire you unless we can view those documents, so send the backdoor access password as soon as you can.”

Punchline: this was AFTER I had to sign a massive non-disclosure agreement just to get the interview, attesting that I’d never share or allow access to any of the client’s proprietary information under penalty of law.

You Really Thought We Wouldn’t Notice, Huh?

, , , | Right | October 20, 2021

Client: “Your company is exceptionally slow compared to others in your field, but we’re willing to give you one last chance. We have a project that other companies can turn around in [number] weeks. What can you offer us in terms of timelines?”

Me: “We’re literally the only company in the world that offers the services you need on this scale, so I’m pretty sure nobody has offered you a [number]-week timeline. We can’t match it by any stretch considering the gargantuan scope of work, but hey, you’re free to go to these “other companies” you’ve mentioned. We wish you the best of luck.”

Client: “Oh, no, the companies are most certainly real. But… uh… hypothetically speaking, what kind of timeline would it be if we stuck with you?”

Me: “Hypothetically?”

Client: “Hypothetically.”

We’d be working around the clock and weekends just to make double that timeline. You better believe the expedite fees aren’t getting waived. Some part of me genuinely wants them to attempt getting quotes from other companies and getting the door slammed in their faces when they explain what they want and how soon they want it.