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

Ah, The Royal “We”

, , , , , | Right | November 16, 2021

I have been working for a businessman who’s selling his mentoring courses, among other tasks.

Being paid monthly while I keep studying, I also host his website, design all his branding, and even prepare some of his talks. I slowly became a part-time assistant for his antics. Suddenly, my client changes his mind the day before an event he organized.

Client: “My wife told me that your work is great, but I want to get the same result… but different. Is there a way “we” can do [a long list of long, vague, time-consuming edits] for free before midnight? I will call you again to give you some creative input in a few minutes.”

Me: “I’m afraid the task you are asking for is lengthy; each one of those edits would take me a while even with automation. Within that time limit, it’s impossible to do it for today, but I could try to give you another close estimate date, or even better, prepare a plan so both of us can—”

Client: “By “we” I mean “you”. Also, don’t tell me we can’t. Tell me what can I do so “we” can do it for today!”

Clients Into Darkness

, , , | Right | November 15, 2021

Client: “We would like the white background to be a darker shade of white.”

Tricked Into Freelancing

, , | Working | November 15, 2021

I work in the interior home industry.

Colleague: “Hey, can you produce this custom artwork for my own personal home?”

Me: “Not really. This isn’t customer-paying work and I can’t do private jobs during working hours. We’re also super busy with paying jobs at the moment and already have weeks of overtime ahead of us. If you like, though, you’re welcome to contact me outside of work and I can send you a quote.”

The colleague emails details over, doesn’t like the very modest quote provided, and decides not to proceed. No worries.

The next day in the office…

Colleague: “Great news! I went direct to our CEO, who’s agreed to let you do this on company time! I only have to pay them half what you quoted me this way! Amazing, right?”

Me: *Internally* “Yeah, amazing… You’ve done this knowing full well you’re adding to my overtime. Plus, our work hourly rate means I won’t be compensated properly for the personal time I need to spend on this. So happy for you.”

Fortunately, I was able to speak to the CEO and got this job canceled due to an already over-stretched workload. I have no idea why this colleague thought I would be happy about being paid less for the same work.

Not Too Bright

, , , , | Right | November 14, 2021

It is the late 90s and I am a software developer who also gets brought into a lot of web projects. Many clients don’t really understand the ‘net at all:

Client: “The page background is too dull. It needs to be a brighter white.”

Me: “It’s already #ffffff; that’s the brightest white possible.”

Client: “It’s still too dull. Fix it.”

Me: “Try turning the brightness control on your monitor up.”

Client: “…That fixed it! That’s great!”

Followed by…

Client: “So how do we turn up the brightness control for everyone who visits the site?”

Buy Benny And Bjorn, Get Agnetha and Anni-Frid Free!

, , , , , | Right | November 13, 2021

I’m an in-house designer for a large, international corporation. Although the company is well-established, the design team is new and ‘design’ is handled by whichever secretary has some free time and a knack for PowerPoint. A common job request is to design printed invites for client hospitality events. On this occasion, we are treating some clients to a performance of the stage musical ‘Mamma Mia!’ I get this request from a secretary…

Secretary: “So we’re taking fifteen clients for dinner, and then to see Mamma Mia. Can we get a nice invite to send them? Just stick the poster on the front, and I’ll email you the text for the back.”

Me: *Confused.* “I haven’t designed a poster for this event…”

Secretary: “No, silly, the poster for Mamma Mia! You can get it off Google, no problem.”

Me: “I’m afraid we can’t use the show poster as that would be copyright infringement. It would be very obvious we’d used it without permission and would make us look very unprofessional. Besides, it doesn’t fit our corporate branding.”

Secretary: “Oh. Can we not get permission to use it? I mean, it would be like free advertising for them.”

Me: “In the highly unlikely event that I manage to trace and contact the copyright owner, I very much doubt the global theatre phenomenon Mamma Mia is going to care about free advertising for a handful of businessmen who already have tickets.”

Secretary: “Oh, okay. Can we Google a picture of ABBA instead?”

Me: “No, we can’t use any images off Google! They’re all under copyright. I mean, unless we licensed something at hundreds of pounds for one small invite. But anyway, that wouldn’t match our corporate branding!”

Secretary: “Oh! What if we use a picture of just two of ABBA? Would that be cheaper than all four?”

Me: “…No. Look, how about a nice picture of the Greek island where Mamma Mia is set? We can afford that with our Getty subscription, it will match our brand, and most importantly won’t infringe any copyright.”

ExecSec: “Oh, alright. So is this new then? This copyright thing?”

Me: “Er, no?”

Secretary: “Well no one told me about it when I used to do the invites. Must have just been from when you started.”

Me: *Giving up.* “Yep. Sure.”

Even though the firm actually gave mandatory copyright training to everyone, I thought it best to quit while I was ahead!