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


, , | Right | January 17, 2022

A client wants his dissertation laid out for print. It’s a pretty complicated task; it has tons of special characters and specific formatting, so I have lots of trouble with fixing all the little fails in the document.

One step before I am finished (and have already have been paid a fixed price – stupid me!), the publishers find out the author hasn’t even read the annotations of the second reviewer and it has almost a thousand mistakes left in the document that he just ignored. At this point, I have already worked hours for free just to finish this project.

The publishers and I tell him to give me the list with the mistakes, so I can fix them in the fragile, complicated, easy-to-destroy document. He refuses. We try to convince him for weeks. He refuses. We tell him if he does it himself, it will be more work for him, me, and the publishers and will result in a worse-looking book. He refuses.

Client: “I’ll pay 100 extra euros.”

Me: “That’s not even enough for three hours of work, and I will need eight to ten hours to fix what you will be ruining.”

The client goes on with doing whatever he’s doing and ignores me. When I get his document back, it will be h*** for almost no pay. Why can’t they just listen to the professionals?

Logo No Go

, , , | Right | January 16, 2022

I work as a graphic designer at a sign shop that makes, well, signs. We also do some car decals and wraps from time to time, but mainly it’s large format signs, banners, channel letters, and so on.

This time it’s a client for some truck decals. They come in and we take measurements and photos of the existing graphics. They want the same exact decals that are there but larger, so that’s what I set up in a proof, set up pricing, and send it over to them. They approve the proof in the portal, which is time-stamped with his email showing it was approved and paid and everything. Seems like an easy job and super simple to do.

Fast forward to when I email him to get scheduled for installation. I tell them the decals are ready and list the dates for installation. They pick a date and time and we get them on the schedule. All of this is through email.

Client: “Can I see how the decals will look?”

Me: “Here’s a screenshot of the proof. This was the same one we sent over to you for approvals when the order was first placed and was approved by you. Let me know if you have questions.”

Client: “Let’s take this part of the sentence we have on there and move it. Also, in this other decal, I want the logo flipped so it’s facing the other way. Does that make sense?”

The logo part they are referring to is inside of the blue portion of a stylized American Flag. It’s cut out of the vinyl and flipping it would cause the logo to be backward from how it normally looks. The sentence was just cutting off a word and moving it elsewhere, which is super easy for production to do.

Me: “The sentence part is something we can accommodate. However, the decals were made once the proof was approved and are based on that. It looks like the proof was approved on [date] and we moved forward with that.”

Client: “I am not happy at all. I refuse to put the logo on my car backward.”

This logo is facing the right way all along. They wanted it flipped around and backward. 

Of course, now I go into a panic. I talk with my coworker, who works in the production room, and he’s like “yeah the decals are already made so we can’t do anything unless they buy a new one”. My boss isn’t there, as he’s out doing installs all day long, so it’s just me vs the client. I go back to my email and see that the client has emailed again. It hasn’t even been a few minutes.

Client: “Reimburse me my money or let’s get this right. I admit I didn’t look at the proof but approved it via the portal assuming you’d make it look EXACTLY how it looks like in the photos, which is why you took them.”

Once they said this, my panic instantly goes away. I know I have the trump card as I saved those photos from my phone to my work computer so I could reference them. I go back to the photos and took a look and, lo and behold, I did it right. The photo is even on the side of the truck the client had wanted it flipped on. I had mimicked it per their words when I spoke with them.

Me: “I did reference the photo and mimicked it when I was setting up this proof. Here’s the photo I referenced.” *Shows them the photo.*

Client: *Immediately apologetic.* “Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was backward on my truck currently as well. I’ll still proceed with the install as is, but is it hard to order a new decal? If so, how much?”

In the end, the client came in and said to just install them as they are. They apologized for being a pain and didn’t like to be a complainer, which was nice of them. They said they were going to do some other decals once their new business got off the ground on this same truck, so we can make the change then.

They Need To Look Up “Professional” In A Dictionary

, , , | Right | January 15, 2022

Me: “Hey, I’m glad I caught you. I’m calling about that request that I made five weeks ago. You never responded to any of my emails or voice messages. I’m just wondering what the status on that is?”

Client: “Well, the reason I didn’t respond was because your first email about it was unprofessional. We’re all professionals here, and I expect to be treated professionally. You really need to work on your communication skills, and I expect better from you if we’re going to continue working together.”

Me: “I’m looking at the whole email chain right now, and it seems fine to me. What seems wrong with it?”

Client: “Well, for starters, you could ask how my day’s been. Or you could put a joke at the bottom of the email. And you should really get rid of that line with all your company information at the bottom, it looks so unprofessional.”

Pretty Much What Most History Books Are Doing These Days

, , , , , | Right | January 14, 2022

I’m designing a photographic history exhibit for a prestigious university. The project requires a series of panels that each depict a different decade, from the 1930s to the present.

Client: “You know, this is all great, but it could use a little more diversity. Right now, there are a lot of photos of all white men, and we don’t want to send the wrong message.”

Me: “Okay, that’s a reasonable request. I could pull some photos of your black student organizations and women’s center and add those to the panels showing the school’s more recent history.”

Client: “Actually, we’d love more diversity in the early panels too.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Client: “Like this panel depicting the university in the 30s. All the photos are of white men!”

The school did not admit black students until the 1970s.

Wait Until They Find Out About The “It’s A Free Country” Part

, , , | Right | January 13, 2022

Me: “I’ve looked at the brief and it’ll cost [total].”

Client: “I thought you were a freelancer.”

Me: “I am.”

Client: “No, you’re not. You’re a chargelancer!”