We asked members of the HeyOrca community to share some of their most outrageous client stories for Halloween, and they didn’t disappoint. So get comfy, make sure all your doors and windows are locked, and read on.
Agencies and freelancers beware, you’re in for a scare!
1) The Tale of the Dog and the Dummy
By Werepup Sharptooth
We had a client in our office for an extended meeting. This person was known to be difficult to work with, often changing stances on a whim after weeks (if not months) of work had been done based on previous direction.
One of our days of meeting happened to coincide with “bring your dog to work” day. This client, during a break, picked up a dog and got right in its face making smooching sounds while the dog growled back into my client’s face. The client, completely unfazed by the dog’s obvious discontent, continued to smooch on it until the dog had enough and bit through my client’s lip. There was blood everywhere.
Not willing to postpone our meeting, our conversation continued. The client then bled all over bandages, dressings, ice packs, etc, at the main table in our conference room, shaking, in either rage or fear, the entire time. Somehow the agency held onto the client, but, needless to say, pet visitation rights were revoked moving forward.
2) The Tale of The Priceless Painting
I was working at a small marketing agency startup when one day this seemingly sweet old lady walks in with a print out of Google results and asks if we ‘do websites and stuff.’
We told her yes, and asked if she wanted to set up a meeting. She looked around our office and didn’t see anyone but my boss and myself and says, “Sure I can chat now,” and walks into our conference room. She sits down and starts pulling out photo albums of different paintings. My boss and I, after giving each other the look of ‘Oh no it’s cool we weren’t busy or anything’, sat down and started asking the basic questions (i.e. what are your goals, what’s your budget, etc.). She then tells us she wants a website so her friends all over the world can buy her paintings, she wants ‘the SEO’ because she heard that will help people find her, and she wants ‘viral social media’ so people know she’s ‘still kicking.’
When we got to talking about her budget, she says that she was going to try to pull a fast one on us, but she decided she wanted to play fair so she was going to give us one of her ‘special paintings’. She valued it at about $200 but wouldn’t explain what she meant by ‘special’. The most we got when we asked what made it special was “Oh you’ll find out!”
We eventually told her that we would have to do some ‘market research’ and to come back in a few weeks. I Googled her name later, and couldn’t find ANYTHING about her. She said some of her paintings were displayed at this local theater, I tried to find it, it didn’t exist. She never came back.
3) The Tale of the Phantom Project
By Tone Bonington
Once a manager asked me how a specific project was going that I had never heard of. What ended up happening was that the client assumed I was going to do a project for her and put my name forward to run a social media campaign. Obviously, this would have been fine, but I didn’t find out about it until the week before the campaign was set to launch!
The week of the campaign was annoying because we had to do most of these posts on the fly as the required videos wouldn’t go live until each day of the client’s event. Luckily we got it done, but we could’ve had this go a much easier with a lot more notice. I felt uncomfortable having to depend on the client when they were off some days and then they’d come back sporadically for updates.
Weeks later, my manager wanted analytics which was easy to do but not organic since it was weeks after, and then I had the uncomfortable experience of having to explain social media analytics to someone who doesn’t understand it.
4) The Tale of the Redundant Effort
By Wednesday Poe
I once had a client that I worked with on and off for a few years who refused to implement digital marketing at all, despite making the connection between potential growth for their market and ease of use for their skill level.
After months of applying strategy and having solid numbers showing major benefits, I made it known that it was time to move on from the contract and start working full time for just them. As part of this initiative, we decided to train the client in digital literacy so they would see the benefit of keeping us on.
My team and I went through four separate detailed trainings with the client to help them learn to be digital literate. It was very interactive and hands-on and actually became the basis of my quite successful training I offer clients now. Alas, nothing stuck, at least not with the owner.
My time with the client ended like this:
The owner, after taking training and working out a comprehensive strategy to take them through the year, months past the contract end date: “I just can’t with all this computer stuff, I just can’t. I don’t need to be on there as a business because all of my friends know what I do anyway.”
5) The Tale of the Two-Face Two-Timer
By The Hocus is not The Pocus
We have one individual who calls the office every single day to discuss a quote for social media management. Each day he makes up a company name and wriggles out coming in for a chat and pushes for a ballpark figure. The worst part is he is already a client and is always pushing to pay less. He doesn’t seem to realize we know it is him who is calling every day!
6) The Tale of the Ugly Exchange
By Lovecraftia Reddington
Client: Hi! I have a website for my business. I am a business software company.
Me: That’s great! What can I help you with?
Client: I want to ask for something.
Me: You want to work with me?
Client: Yes! I need blog posts.
Me: Oh, you want to contract for blogging services. Here’s a little packet that gives an overview of what I do and what my prices are. If you would like a certain number of posts per month that are not on there, we can discuss a specific price for what best fits your needs.
Client: You’re too expensive.
Me: I’m sorry to hear that. Let me know when you’re ready to work together!
Client: You shouldn’t be so proud.
Me: What do you mean?
Client: You’re just a freelancer. You’re not a whole company or anything. You should be lucky someone even wants to work with you. You’re just one person, so you can’t ask to be paid anything more than our rate of $10 per 1000 words. That’s standard. Don’t be so proud.
7) The Tale of the Shadow Client
By The Knight and The Damsel of No Media
I remember it like it was yesterday. This was one of my first clients as I ventured into graphic design and social media management. We sat in her office and discussed all the details of what was needed. The agreement we struck was for the client to pay in full for the work once the event was completed. Nine months out from the event, all our planning was done, however, I wouldn’t hear from this client unless they wanted something. I tried to contact them about whether the like the work and they sent back one simple text: “Looks great!”
One month before the event, the client contacts me about one big mailing push with over 2000 email addresses. Of 2000, only 150 were qualified email addresses and the rest were spam, so of course, we couldn’t send to them. Despite reaching out about this, I didn’t hear from the client until the day of the event. When I did, they wanted me to come to the event even though I had prior engagements for the day. In the end, attendance for the event was less than the client would have deemed successful.
Afterwards, I attempted to follow up with the client to get the social media and website updated with the event photos. No response. Three months pass by and still nothing. Her next event was on our calendar, but other than a date we had no other information.
About six months go by with no contact. When they finally did get back in touch, I was basically blamed for the lack of success for the event. “If you had done all I said, then the event should have been packed!” As you can imagine I was stunned by what I was hearing.
Guilt had me working with the client for the next event, and I updated the website and social media. While I updated everything, I wanted to make sure it looked great. Spoke with the client and touched base on the payment schedule. The event gets canceled and the client says that we can work something out.
To this day, I haven’t heard another word from the client and didn’t get a single penny out of her despite my hard work. The website is still active, and their social media is still getting hits, and I have nothing else to show for it working for this client from hell.
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