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

It’s Like Listening To A Wall

, , | Right | December 20, 2021

Client: “You’re doing your work wrong.”

Me: “What did I do wrong, sir?”

Client: “You’re not listening to me, this is just wrong.”

Me: “Can you please tell me what I did wrong?”

Client: “You’re still not listening… this is like talking to a wall.”

Might As Well Have Explained It In Chinese

, , , , | Right | December 19, 2021

A client for a software project says the computer language is HTML/CSS when in fact it is C++.

To help him understand the problem I used an analogy:

Me: “Let’s say you’re asking me to write something in a specific language; I am fluent in English and Spanish. Meanwhile, your project is in Chinese. Since I don’t know Chinese and it is not remotely similar to any of the languages I know, I am not your best option for this project. You need someone who is fluent in this specific language for the project to be successful and stay on budget.”

He said he understands and thanks me for my time.

The next morning, I receive a message from another software developer:

Developer: “Why is [Client] asking us if we are fluent in Chinese?”

Logo Away, Part 2

, , , , | Right | December 18, 2021

My friend brings work to me from clients who request design services. I never actually meet or speak to this client; my friend is the middleman.

The client has a gym, and he wants a logo and some illustrations for a children’s martial arts class. The client gives clear direction, and the concepts are straightforward, he even provides his own version as a reference.

The client decides to go with my work instead of the work he provided as a reference. I am paid in full, and I quickly forget about the job.

Months later, my partner and I bring our son to his playgroup at the local community centre. We talk to other parents while our son plays with the other kids. There are a pair of parents there for the first time, so we introduce ourselves and chat with them. The dad and I get along great; we end up talking about what we do for a living, and naturally, this guy brings up the gym he runs. At that point, he hands me his card. 

It has the logo I had made months earlier, and the back featured both of my illustrations! I remarked that the design work is quite well done, with the aim to jokingly introduce myself as the designer, but then he responds:

Client: “Thanks mate! I designed the logos and cartoons myself, start to finish!”

We did not become friends.

Logo Away

The Problem Is Shrinking

, , , | Right | December 17, 2021

I’m designing a one-page brochure for a client that was supposed to provide the copy. When the copy arrives, it’s a four-page Word document.

Me: “Umm, I think you’re going to have to remove some of the copy, there’s no way we’ll be able to fit all this text into a one-page brochure.”

Client: “Are you sure?”

Me: “I’m absolutely sure!”

Client: “Okay, we’ll reduce the copy to one page. I’ll send you a new file.”

Ten minutes later, an email comes in.

Client: “Okay, it was tricky, but we finally got the text to fit.”

I open the attachment, and, amazingly, they managed to get the copy down to one page.

Unfortunately, they didn’t remove any, they just used a size three font.

Takes Less Than An Hour To Destroy Your Argument

, , , , | Right | December 16, 2021

Our development team is working on a content management system for a corporate client. It is a big system that administered units produced in a variety of languages and applications and, as a result, requires careful user interface design and a lot of backend code.

We are doing a show and tell with our partially working system for a couple of corporate VPs to get their feedback on the design. We take a lunch break, and when we got back, the two VPs said they have something they want to show us.

They proudly present a series of PowerPoint slides that show where they want the buttons and pick lists placed.

Client: “There, see? This is the arrangement that makes the most sense to us. Can you do this?”

Me: “Certainly.”

Client: “You know, I really don’t understand why it takes your team so long to design these interfaces. We knocked this out in about an hour.”

The entire team sits there stunned until the senior programmer – a man of very few words – points to a button on the PowerPoint screen.

Programmer: “What does this button do?”

Client: “Well, clearly it administers the training and testing selected by the user.”

Programmer: “If I click it right now, it will do that?”

Client: “Well… no. Actually, it doesn’t do anything yet.”

Programmer: “That’s why it only took you an hour.”