Categories / Inspiration

20 Terrible Client Emails That Every Designer Dreads

Creative Market March 31, 2021 · 1 min read
Do you ever dread checking your email? You just know that today’s the day when you’ll get one of those terrible client emails that will make your cringe. To help ease the pain, here are some unfortunately all-too-familiar emails that we hope will make you laugh. If you see something familiar, Pin, Tweet, or otherwise share it out. If you have a terrible client email that’s even better, share it with the world with the hashtag #badClientEmails. client-emails-1 client-emails-2 client-emails-3 client-emails-4 client-emails-5 client-emails-6 client-emails-7 client-emails-8 client-emails-9 client-emails-10 client-emails-11 client-emails-12 client-emails-13 client-emails-14 client-emails-15 client-emails-16 client-emails-17 client-emails-18 client-emails-19 client-emails-20 client-emails-20

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  • Here is another one good, from one of my clients, sadly: "Imagine this is your website. Do it like you'll like. But I don't like the design." 7 years ago
  • Hhahahhahaha :) I remember the days when these used to freak me out :) Then I learned to a) say 'no' to some clients, b) explain the steps of the cooperation very clearly to others and b) insist on payment upfront, at least partially. Suddenly 90% of these are automatically resolved. Magic! 7 years ago
  • Fantastic collection! I just had a good laugh and some of them sound so familiar... 7 years ago
  • Good list! I've been slowly weeding out my "I want twice the work for half the price yesterday" clients over the years. My happiness and income have actually increased and my stress levels have decreased. 7 years ago
  • How about also "Please center everything" and "We need to fill in all the white space." Great collection. Funny and cringe-inducing at the same time. 7 years ago
  • Have to play devil's advocate here... Half of these could be completely avoided with a good contract in place. And if there's no contract, that's the designer's fault, not the client's. 7 years ago
  • adding the Instructional designer's favorites: We already have a training, we just need the powerpoints spiffed up. Can't you just format the textbook into our template? There is no exact way to show the behavior of protons, but can you make an animation? We like to write the tests AFTER the course is designed. We have 600 PDFs. Just convert them to eLearning, OK? 7 years ago
  • All of these made my heart cringe. Another favorite is run-on paragraphs about changes that need to be made and them changing their minds a million times throughout. 7 years ago
  • I've had a few of these happen. One more - just last week I met with my nightmare client who I (was) designing a new logo. After 2 rounds of great designs, he said he likes his old 2 color logo, the same font and basically the same exact logo. I did exactly what he asked and then I received an email. "I'm not happy with the logos you just showed me. I just want to keep my old logo. Send some money back". Lucky I asked for half down, so it wasn't a total waste of my time. No - it was a total waste of my time. I didn't refund a dime. 7 years ago
  • Do it for free and you can put your name and website on it so everyone will know you did it and it will get you a lot of work. 7 years ago
  • I love ... I got to it personally. "If you make me the project for free, I promise I will speak about you to my clients." Yes of course! We live with the fresh air and promises ... 7 years ago
  • "We really liked the last 12-page report you did for us. We have another report that is also 12 pages with twice as many photos and 3 times as much text, and we want to get it out next week." Two months and ten rounds of edits later... 7 years ago
  • I will never forget this one: " Hi, we had some photos taken this weekend at a family picnic, problem is grandpa has his back to the camera in all of them. Can you turn him around so we can see his face?" It was at that point I reconsidered joining the Peace Corps. 7 years ago
  • I'm cringing at SO many of these! I still get irritated about this one... "Why can't you get a proof to me yet today? (Requesting a custom designed invitation on a Sunday around 5pm) It's such a simple design I'm asking you to make for me, it should be really easy and fast to do. I could very easily design it myself, I just don't have the time." Ugh!!! And @Linda B that is HILARIOUS!! I'm laughing so hard at that one! ;) 7 years ago
  • Linda, you must be joking;) 7 years ago
  • @Linda B Sure thing, I'll just make a "flip grandpa around" Photoshop action that I can run on all the images. Ten minutes of work, tops. 7 years ago
  • Thanks Josh, I've been using your PS action, but it doesn't look much like MY grandpa! Is there an update soon? 7 years ago
  • My favorite just came in. I know we owe you a lot of money but we need this newsletter printed asap. If you won't do it I will find someone else. Two weeks ago a new client called on a Thursday and said "I need a logo designed, business cards, presentation folder and presentation folder inserts by next Tuesday". (and I pulled it off somehow) 7 years ago
  • Here's a recent one: "I don't like the color you used, can you change it to a different color?" I had a client get upset with me because my contract says 50% beforehand. And I told her "Well it's better than shopping at the grocery where you have to pay the full amount for your groceries before-hand" 7 years ago
  • Thanks Josh, that would be SO helpful, ;) Ondrej, I am not kidding, at all! 7 years ago
  • im fairly new in the business but now i know to get minimum 50% up front and if client refuses then too bad is neighbor just offered the entire cost upfront with a tip at the end. :) 7 years ago
  • These are great. Also… "Don't get me wrong, I like it. It's just missing something…" "Can you just add some gloss?" Anything that starts with "Can you just…" "I want my website to have a black background." Then they send a really intricate logo, as a jpg at 7kb on a white background. 7 years ago
  • haha :D 7 years ago
  • Wow. Turns out I'm a perfect client! LOL 7 years ago
  • I have one client for years and he is a great example of "final-final.v4.jpg" and then "Looks great, can we just try to change the color of some elements?" These "can we just try to..." turns the final image into final-final-final-final.... :) On the other side, this client is paying me for hours spent on the design, so I don't care to try unlimited tweaks for him. 7 years ago
  • newfinal-final-finalest-fuckingfinelestshit-v237.jpg :D 7 years ago
  • If it's any consolation to all of you, writers get these emails too. I can count 10 or 11—at least—that I've received. 7 years ago
  • +1., Designer is an extremely patient person! :D 7 years ago
  • "I'll pay you soon for all the past work, meanwhile can you create a full-color flyer? I need it tomorrow. And start thinking about how you will help me create other stuff down the road." 7 years ago
  • hahaha :D If you take this project on for free... 7 years ago
  • "It turns out we won't be using your design, so we won't be paying your invoice." If a client feels comfortable actually saying this, the designer did something wrong. It's important to let clients know up-front that they are paying for a SERVICE, not a PRODUCT. Put it in the contract just as a reminder, and collect partial payment up-front (my projects usually involve 2-3 installments). I also make it clear that any amounts discussed are estimates, not binding budgets. I keep close track of my time and keep my clients regularly updated on the burn, so any unplanned revisions, changes in direction, etc are an opportunity to let them know how that affects the budget and whether additional funds need to be approved or something sacrificed elsewhere. In other words: Quality communication is key! 7 years ago
  • This is awesome! I have gotten. Every. Single. One. Email dread is getting better but it still exists. I get 50% down non-refundable and fire these people All. The. Time. Great post. 7 years ago
  • All red flags. Learn to say "No" often and set boundaries. Know your price and never negotiate. Have contracts/down payments for large projects with and paid up front for small projects. Spoil your good clients with good service, honesty, and thank you notes. Unfortunately some clients don't "get it" and you might need to bump up a level to companies with a marketing budget. They will be used to working with a professional and not looking to you as a kid with a computer. 7 years ago
  • I recently had a family member ask me to help with a logo – "I'd do it myself, I just don't have the right programs". Bless. 7 years ago
  • I just laugh at those... If you do this one for free crap...there's never any work at the end of that project. But also how is this one... I need a 60 page coffee table book withing 4 days... Designed, printed and delivered! 7 years ago
  • brochure.psd dont open in PowerPoint? ok 1 create a new Powerpoint file .psd file in GIMP or Photoshop. 3 Save it as .jpg or .png 4. insert the .jpg file in Powerpoint 5. save as .ppt file. 6. Send it to client. 7 years ago
  • This is just brilliant. I think if we all send one of our collection to Creative market they will release book with that haha. My last one was 'Can you do the design and when finish i will give you tip' since when we start serving coffee haha 7 years ago
  • You missed "my friends' cousin's nephew's brother in law who is a designer said the site looks awful." I always wonder why said person won't take them on as a client but have enough time to critique someone else's work. 7 years ago
  • I'm so glad I sell my designs "as is". 7 years ago
  • wow that is amazing! This looks like you share your personal experience.. 7 years ago
  • I really enjoyed this! 7 years ago
  • These are all horrible -- and horribly familiar -- but I just gotta ask: who lays out a brochure in Photoshop? Nightmare. 7 years ago
  • "It just doesn't look like what we thought it would. Yes you showed us some images, however we expected you to use them as guidelines to find even better ones." 7 years ago
  • last one made my day :D so true, got daily mails like that in caps lock :D 7 years ago
  • Over 30 years you can imagine I've seen these and more., except gramps up there, I'm still waiting to see his face! One of my All Time Favorites was to a client who just didn't understand why it is he didn't "Own the Code" if he was paying me both design and write it. I told him he could, but that would be XX price, 3 hours later, he still didn't understand and I referred him to the UC Berkeley Library. Then there were the clients from Hell that literally broke me from ever ever creating another shopping cart for a client again in my life. Publicist - Owner (who didn't always agree on what needed to be done) Owner delegated responsibility to Publicists - the finalfinalfuknfinal-v.498 has nothing on these two woman - publicist would want something - owner would reverse it - publicist would win a week later and I'd be redoing it again, with 'slight changes' then the kicker was.. Every time I sent an invoice the owner wanted to go over it line by line for exactly why the costs where the way they were. (invoices are always sent with the backup i.e. the change/modification order attached to it.) I normally don't charge a client for time spent for normal questions by email or phone. But at the end of this, I was charging them to explain their charges to them, I kid you not. - Oh, and the only time I have ever asked a client to find a different designer/developer co. and gave them a 10 day notice. (as contractors) The older I've got, the easier it has become to spot these types of clients and shy away from them all together. ~Seriously~ 7 years ago
  • What if I don't like the work, will I still need to pay you? 7 years ago
  • Anonymous
    Most terrible clients are when they send a message with Caps Lock turned ON 7 years ago
  • Wonderful article! I needed the laughs after I received this from a “client”: “SO Mommy domain host has a special right now that they'll make me a complete website & logo design for only $300. But the offer only runs until 3 days from now. I'd rather give you the job, but you have to have it done on Monday.” This was on a Friday evening... I told him, in the kindest way possible, that he should get the host to do the design. 7 years ago
  • hahaha all too true. I do a lot of video editing and get the same emails. But I also get the one. "I can't view the file it doesn't work on my iPhone" When I send them a .zip of a 1gb video file. 7 years ago
  • How about my favorite type of conversation, usually revolving around business card files: "It's saying the file is too small and it should be 2500 px wide. What's going on?" -That's unusually large for a business card file. What company are you using? "Well I wanted to make it my banner for XYZ business page." -Okay, well that is a business card file, so it's only going to be good for printing business cards. 7 years ago
  • haha~!yeah!!great!! I also have one" I don't like it however! We have another designer who sent to me only in 48 hours, so we want a refund!" 7 years ago
  • "My client never paid me, so I cannot pay you...sorry." 7 years ago
  • I have had most of these. Here is another one: "I know you are on your way to your grandfather's funeral, but can you adjust this line in the logo and put it on a zip drive and bring it to me (50 miles in the opposite direction)? It isn't out of your way and they will wait for you." I was a pallbearer. 7 years ago
  • i once had "that Troll is not as I'd imagined" 7 years ago
  • These are the guys paying the bills. Just because they don't understand everything does not make them a bad client. They may not understand design, but that's likely why they hire us in the first place. Just remember they're good at what they do and we're good at what we do. It's when solid collaboration takes place that great work is produced and the clients are kept happy with the results. 90%+ of these situations can be cleared up with better communication (usually on the designer's end), actually selling your work well, and a solid contract in place that clearly defines the scope of work on projects. 7 years ago
  • Let me ask you all - do you know the different types of flour a baker uses? or the correct terms for structural elements in a building? probably not, and yet does the baker or builder call you an "idiot client" for that lack of knowledge? Client bashing has completely "jumped the shark" -it's time to rise above, be professional, and provide the service. As for the "it'll be great publicity" and "Can you do me a logo for $50?" clients. Don't even get your blood pressure up - let them go wherever they can, 9 times out of 10, they realise you get what you pay for - and no amount of making fun of them or ranting about it will ever change this. We're a profession - its time we acted like professionals. Not snobby and cleverer than our clients! Rant over. 7 years ago
  • PS: really, i'm not grumpy - and "Clients from hell" used to make me laugh a little -but what was original is now way too common place - the joke is sour. tell me, really i'm the only person feels like this... peace out! 7 years ago
  • @Andrew Paschall - thank you!!! I just saw your post. I'm glad other people feel the same way. Clients shouldn't be design experts, any more than we need to be master mechanics. 7 years ago
  • i had a client .......she want their website background is transparency ...... 7 years ago
  • I have a couple clients that has various projects in one month. They have my current contracted price list with them which we both agreed to. BUT it seems when I bill them at the end monthly there is always a problem if the invoice is a thousand or more. Now I do individual billing once the project is delivered... no more monthly. I learned people dont like to write big checks. Thank God Im a fast learner. 7 years ago
  • @Sambruce Sam, I literally laughed out loud when I read your comment. I've had something similar, but it only went to v22 lol However, in the HTML designs I do for a client, there's always a comment in the CSS along the lines of "Designed by: 29 pots of coffee, 2 heads of hair pulled out, 323 curse words said & one life nearly taken." 7 years ago
  • Entreprenuers...a wise man aka my Dad taught me in his final days. People will buy want they want and beg for what they need and most importantly doing a job for someone should not cost you to work for them! The work you do is your job. Work=$$$ Stay true to yourself. 7 years ago
  • lol :D 7 years ago
  • lol 7 years ago
  • What a great post! I can relate to most and I'm glad to see others that understand the "pain" as well :P 7 years ago
  • Dealing with a tough customer now. I was told "I think it's unprofessional to inform a client it's their fault you can't meet their deadlines because they won't hand over assets to you. The customer is always right. It's your fault if you can't meet my expectations." 7 years ago
  • whahahhaha... bad memories on this. 7 years ago
  • Twenty years of that and I never grew to accept it. Makes me cringe! Finally packed it in and became a photographer thinking it would be better... it is 10 times worse! "We won't be paying for this, but we will credit you and tag you on instagram, this is great for your portfolio" This is the most recent comment from the UK's biggest model agency while looking to get some photographs done for a Channel 4 actor. Both with bank accounts that I am sure are overflowing! Or the last design job "We want a 40 page magazine, but have no copy or images yet, can you design this for us and we will then give you all the information" Design a mockup of 4 pages... "but it needs to be 40 pages" 7 years ago
  • Heard at a meeting recently: "We're going to need to re-font this whole brochure." 7 years ago
  • I have some: take these images as a briefing and do it like that because I dont have time for briefing meetings. or I want amazing free fonts, can you go back to your school and find some for me to use. or I can't pay you but you will gain a lot of experience and exposure. or please send me the psd file even if I don't know how to use Illustrator. or can you modiify this image in case of copyright probls and then add it to the logo. or I thought you have your style but just copy the template I sent you. or I thought you were more professional (the client sents images as briefings), etc, etc, 6 years ago
  • As some designers have already commented, a lot of these are NOT the client's fault... (Sending a psd file to the client WITHOUT making sure they have the software to open it for a review? Please. Using 'lorem ipsum' WITHOUT telling your client it is a dummy text supposing everyone on Earth speaks the lingo? Gimme a break. And so on, and so forth.) 6 years ago
  • My personal favourite: "Here is our very low resolution logo embedded in a microsoft word document". 5 years ago
  • All true. That's why I started my CM shop :D 5 years ago
  • hahaha Already see all this e-mail in my inbox! 5 years ago