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

Leaving On A Jet Plane

, , , , | Right | October 16, 2021

My buddy has just decided it isn’t worth it anymore. He’s a screen printer/logo designer and garment prices keep going up and his customers want to pay less. He has sold everything, his house, his building, his equipment, and his cars, and left the country.

He wraps up his affairs, finishes up his orders, and notifies the majority of his customers that he is out of business. He then gives me all of his artwork in case a former client wants it.

Former Client: “I need a hundred T-shirts for this weekend.”

Me: “[Buddy] is out of business. I am an emergency contact.”

Former Client: “Tell him I’ll pay double; I need the T-shirts for this weekend.”

I look up the customer’s information and he hasn’t ordered in many years.

Me: “[Buddy] ave has left the building; find another printer.”

Former Client: “Tell him to die a slow painful death.”

I delete the client’s artwork and block the number!

My Photoshop Skills Are Nearly Extinct!

, , , | Right | October 15, 2021

I was having fun using my meager Photoshop skills by inserting dinosaurs into movie stills (Scarlet O’Hara getting attacked by a velociraptor, for instance). I would post them on Facebook and it gave my friends a few laughs. It’s the sort of thing that can get a chuckle in a group of friends who know each other but has no value outside of that. Any professional looking at one of them would probably spot a dozen mistakes or ways of improving them.

A few weeks after I posted these, I got a message from someone I didn’t know. Apparently, the dinosaur-movie mashups had gotten shared on someone else’s timeline and this person had seen them.

Stranger: “Hi. I love your dinosaur stuff! Can you make posters out of them? I’d like to sell them in my shop.”

I make the mistake of not simply blocking a message from a stranger.

Me: “I’m glad you liked them, but the images are hardly professional enough to sell and there would be copyright issues if I did anything commercial with them. Also, I have no idea how to produce a poster. I’m not a professional designer or artist.”

Stranger: “Oh, poo! They are so funny! No one will notice if you sell them! I just run a small curio shop. It’s no big deal and anyone who can use Photoshop is a designer. It’s something anyone can do nowadays.”

Me: “Sorry, but even if we ignore the sketchy quality of the images, there really are legal issues. I can’t help you out.”

Stranger: “This is silly. It’s a way to make money. Maybe it could be a new career for you.”

I gave up at this point and just blocked them. I was almost curious to find out what this person would be willing to pay for a poster of sketchy quality, but knew not to go down that rabbit hole. Whoever the stranger was, it was another case of someone who decides that “anyone” can do quality art or design work as long as they have a computer.

Lost In Cheap Translation

, , , , | Right | October 14, 2021

A potential client approaches; they have a complex website and they need to add another language.

Client: “We are losing a million euros a year because we do not have multilingual functionality. As we are an international company, it is very important for us to have another language.”

Usually adding another language (translations excluded) is very simple, but the website itself is very big and requires a lot of customised work, so the offered price is 1000 euros.

Client: “Are you insane? No, we cant invest such an amount of money, this is ridiculous. I can pay 50.”

Me: “This is a very complex website; it is not enough just to install a plugin; it requires a lot of customization. But the strangest part for me is that you say you cant invest this money. I am actually offering you to transform your 1000 euro to a million euros, and you say my offer is not fair? How is that even possible?”

Client: “What?”

Me: “You told me yourself, you are losing a million euros per year because your website is not multilingual. If you said that only to look cool, well… anyway, good luck with the project, I hope you can find someone who can do it for 50 euros, but we can’t do that.”

Never heard from him again.

It’s So Satisfying To Call A Liar’s Bluff

, , , | Right | October 13, 2021

Me: “This project would cost [price]€. It could be done by [client’s deadline], but only if we start no later than next Monday.”

A couple of days later:

Client: “I have another proposal for this, and the cost is [more than 80% less]€. I’d like you to match it.”

We then sent a message explaining our pricing structure and informing him that we couldn’t match the price. We pointed out that it was freelancer pricing; we are an agency, and you can’t expect freelancer pricing from a well-established agency.

We thought it was it, but a week later, we got a message from the client.

Client: “So, how about this project we talked about earlier? Are you able to do it by our deadline?”

Me: “Sorry, but we have already booked our development fully for another three weeks, and we can’t start this project immediately. The earliest we can do it is [new deadline].”

Client: “Wait, what? Why the h*** didn’t you inform me? It will cost me a lot of money if I miss that deadline.”

Me: “What do you mean? You yourself informed us that you’d found someone who would do this for the price of [lower price] EUR, and we are unable to match it, as we are not a one-man freelancer. We are an agency, and at least four different highly experienced people would be working on your project. Anyway, why aren’t you working with that person?”

Client: “I was just assuming this could be the budget. I believe I could have found someone else for that kind of budget. Is there any way you could still do this?”

Me: “Not on our primary proposal. If the deadline can not be moved, we need to charge more for a rush job. It is a standard procedure in any agency to add a percentage for rush jobs because it means we will need to pay our people for working overtime or weekends.”

So, overall, our budget increased by 30%. The client was happy with the outcome of the project, and we are planning future projects, as well. I bet he won’t be using a fake “I have this proposal for [a lower price]; match it” card again.


, , , , | Right | October 12, 2021

I do photography on the side as something to keep me busy when I feel like it and do software development as my daily job. I get messaged on my personal Facebook account a week and a half before their wedding on the 4th of July weekend.

Client: “Hi! I’m getting married on July 3rd and my photographer just dropped out. I only need 2-2.5 hours from around 10 or 10:15 to 12:15 or 12:30?”

Me: “Sorry to hear that happened. I can definitely do that! I would bill just for three hours at $100, just for some leeway for shots after the wedding with family and friends. Let me know what you think.”

In my experience as I’ve done a few weddings, a little extra time never hurts.

Client: “Thank you! I will probably take it! I will let you know. Do you have some pics of your work?”

Me: “Sounds good! You are always welcome! I do! Here’s some of what I’ve done in the past year.”

I insert my (watermarked) portfolio.

Client: “Thank you! So would we do more of a 10-1 thing?”

Me: “You are welcome! Yep! That would give me enough time to get any shots you want outside of the wedding.”

No response after that. The next day:

Me: “I was just checking in to see if you are still interested in me being your wedding photographer. I wanted to scout the location of your wedding this weekend to see what I would need to bring. I also want to get in touch with the venue operators and see if there are any regulations regarding photography at their place of business. Please let me know by tomorrow, or I will assume that you have chosen someone else to do photography for your wedding. Thank you!”

Client: “Hello! I should know within the next couple of hours if we will be receiving pictures for a gift or not! I will let you know ASAP! Also, the wedding is actually at my parent’s house.”

The evening of July 2nd involved a Coors Light or two. July 3rd involved me sleeping in and enjoying my long weekend.