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

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.

A Colorful Request

, , | Right | October 19, 2021

A client asks me to color some black and white pictures of his mother as a child.

Client: “It’s for her funeral next week.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear about her passing. What type of hair color and skin tone did your mother have as a child?”

Client: “I’ll snip a piece of her hair off. You can scan it and take the color from there.”

Me: “…”

There’s A Reason I Cannot Afford Clothes

, , , , | Right | October 18, 2021

After working for a designer for over six months at an unpaid internship, I finally had to tell her that I could no longer work without a paycheck. We set up a meeting in which we discussed details about working for her at certain one-night events and receiving pay for the event itself.

After three weeks of my emails going ignored, she finally emails me back a day or two before the event:

Designer “Sorry, my boyfriend’s wife died and we were taking care of him for the last three weeks. I couldn’t email you.”

I reply, gently:

Me: “Business is business and I need info on the details of the event and how much I was being paid for it in order to help.”

I hear nothing from her until the afternoon of the event:

Designer: “Hey, be here for the event at 5 pm, okay?.”

I call her to discuss payment with her (because I was not going to work an event for free, especially after she was notorious for borrowing money from me and never paying me back), and she says:

Designer: “Hey! I have a great idea! In return for working tonight, I’ll give you sample pieces of fabric I’m not using and you can take them home and make your own clothes since I know you can’t afford to buy them right now. Then, we can put my label on them and sell them and I’ll give you 10% commission!”

I politely told her that I could not help her out at the event because I needed to be paid in US Dollars.

Her boyfriend called me back to yell at me about how ungrateful I was being.