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

Their Personality 180 Is Not Polished

, , , | Working | December 9, 2021

I work in the marketing office of a small college and we had a new department VP. She has been on the job for about two weeks, and she has yet to converse with me for more than five minutes. We have a half-page ad promoting some autumn homecoming activities due in the local paper.

VP: “I don’t like any of the established brand colors, logo, or typefaces. The ad needs to look more polished!”

I foolishly believe that someone whose last title had been Brand Manager would be super savvy about such things and can throw me a bone:

Me: “Okay, when you say “polished,” do you mean… um…. a serif typeface? A different sans serif? Script? Should I appeal to the likely audience for the musical act, or more to appeal to the wealthy local alumni of a certain vintage?”

VP: *Very confused look.* “Just make it look more polished.”

Me: “Okay, just remember that this is due by tomorrow, but I will be out of town, so I need to turn it in today.”

VP: “Okay.”

A couple of hours and several radically morphing versions of “polished” later, I get grudging approval on the design, which is still not “polished” enough, though she still cannot define what she means beyond that one word.

VP: “After these minor text corrections, it can go to the paper.”

An hour later…

Me: “Here are the text edits you asked for. I’m going to send it in like you said.”

Secretary: “Oh, she left for the airport half an hour ago and apparently she turned off her cell phone. I can’t hold of her either.”

Me: “Oh, okay. She never told me she was only working half a day.”

I send in the ad and it runs in the Sunday paper. On Monday we both get back from our time away.

VP: “You circumvented my authority! Don’t ever do that again! I am going to put a note in your file!”

Me: “Wow… nothing like that has never happened in the fifteen years I have worked here. I couldn’t get hold of you and the deadline was looming. I wasn’t trying to undermine you, and you did tell me to send it in after those text edits. I really was operating in good faith, sorry.”

VP: “Oh… I … ah… sorry…” *Turns to leave the room.* “Oh by the way… I really like your blouse!”

She later sent me a very formal and stilted email summarizing the “incident,” stating that it wasn’t going to be a written warning… just verbal. Pretty sure she totally BCC’ed her boss. In writing.

Laptop Flop, Part 32

, , , | Friendly | December 8, 2021

I am currently studying to become an IT Specialist and have become the go-to guy for my girlfriend’s friends and family with anything tech or computer-related.

Her father asks me to make his laptop “go faster”. The laptop was quite old and loaded with bloatware so I decided that it would be best to swap the HDD for an SSD and re-install the operating system along with the most important to him applications – all free of charge.

Before I start, I inform him of my plan.

Me: “What do you want to keep?”

I ask this a few times.

Girlfriend’s Father: “I just want my documents, photos, and music files, I don’t need anything else.”

I proceed with my plan and before I can get started, I already encounter a problem: he has forgotten the Windows login details, including his password. After scratching my head for a couple of hours and managing to successfully guess the password, I am able to log in and make a backup of all the files.

I then swap the hard drive (with a spare SSD that I had which I also didn’t charge him for), re-install the operating system, run all the updates and install a couple of basic apps such as Chrome and a media player.

I then copy all the backed-up files onto the laptop and even take some time to sort through some of the files to remove duplicates and the like; he has 60GB of music, half of which are duplicates.

I was happy with the end result, the laptop is running much faster, is not making a loud noise, and does not have tons of apps running at startup. Satisfied with my work I give the laptop to my girlfriend to give back to him, thinking that I will get at least a pat on the back or a thank you.

The next day I get a phone call:

Girlfriend’s Father: “What have you done to my laptop?! Where is all of my music?! Where is the Amazon Music App?! Where is Thunderbird?!”

Me: “Hi, I have kept all of your music, documents, and photos as you requested, they are saved in the respective folders.”

Girlfriend’s Father: “But where are my apps?! Where are all my desktop icons!? I had Windows Music Player on my desktop and now it’s not there!?”

Me: “Do you remember our conversations where I asked you more than once if there were any apps or anything else that you wanted to keep, otherwise it would be deleted?”

Girlfriend’s Father: “Yes, but that’s not what I meant! I just wanted my music, my documents, and my photos and now I don’t have Windows Music Player and all of my Amazon music is gone!”

Me: “Windows Music Player is still there, as it comes pre-installed with Windows and I will be happy to re-install Amazon Music and any other apps.”

He calms down and agrees. After meeting with him and installing Amazon Music and Thunderbird we encounter a familiar problem: he has forgotten his login details.

After explaining to him that there’s not much I can do unless he remembers his e-mail address, he gets annoyed and demands that I put everything back to the way it was.

Already frustrated at the situation and the wasted time I swap the drive back and gave him back his laptop. Shortly after I broke up with my girlfriend. Just over a year later, I received a message from him asking if I still remember the password to his laptop…


Laptop Flop, Part 31
Laptop Flop, Part 30
Laptop Flop, Part 29
Laptop Flop, Part 28
Laptop Flop, Part 27

Thanks For Your Two Cents

, , , | Working | November 30, 2021

I work at a bakery in a thrift store. The owner, a multi-millionaire, comes in one day.

Owner: “Go into the employee breakroom and unscrew the lightbulb in the employee fridge. It will save me money!”

Really Should Have Checked

, , , | Right | November 29, 2021

Client: “It has been nine weeks and I haven’t received anything from you. Nothing! Where is the work I hired you to do?”

Me: “Your deposit invoice has been sitting unpaid for nine weeks. It’s in the contract that I don’t send anything until the deposit is paid.”

Client: “Oh, I saw that and just mailed you a check.”

Me: “I never gave you my mailing address.”

Client: “Oh, I just sent it to the guy at your office who did it last time.”

Me: “I’m a freelancer. I work for myself. I think you mailed my check to my competitor.”

Client: “Well, they cashed it!”

Do You Know How Trees Work?

, , , | Right | November 28, 2021

Me: “Your trees are all trimmed. I just need to pick up the branches, and I wanted to get your approval.”

Client: “I don’t like it! Put them back!”