I was creating a TV commercial for a client who owned one of those rug businesses that’s always got a “closing down” sale happening. After finishing the filming, I rendered out the initial draft for his review.
Client: This is ridiculous! You made my business look like a dank warehouse!
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I have a culture-specific side business where I sing and lead singing folk songs for a pre-wedding event for Punjabi/Pakistani/Indian weddings. When I first started, one of my first queries was from someone who said they were looking for performers for her friend’s (the bride’s) event. We spoke at length, and she asked me to send them videos of me singing/performing. I advised that I was having a reel made, but for the time being, if they wished, I could make a video of me singing so they could get an idea as to what I sounded like. She agreed. My phone at the time was terrible, but I recorded two decent videos of myself singing so they could hear my voice, the types of songs I sing, my pronunciation, etc. etc.
I got the following e-mail from the husband:
Client: We are still working on some minor details with the hosts and hence the delay. We should be able to close it out this week and will pay you your deposit. In the interim, please send across your service agreement so I can review the same. Can you please share 2 references and some videos where you have performed in an actual event? The videos you sent were very dark and also not what we were looking for.
I sent them my agreement. They e-mailed asking to meet and we went back and forth, with them changing the appointment time last minute, and also clarifying that they’d wanted videos of me performing elsewhere. I advised that I could provide references, but couldn’t get them the types of videos they requested prior to our meeting. When I sent an e-mail re: my fees, I got a call from the wife asking me to eliminate the travel fee. We finally ended up meeting at my office for my main business on a weekend. They expressed their displeasure at the videos I sent them and clarified that they wanted video of me performing at another person’s event:
Client: Basically we want proof that other people have paid you for this service.
Yes, they said this.
Notes about my agreement at the time: My particular service is/was new in the area, so there isn’t really a market rate, but my rate at the time was lower than musicians/other singers hired for similar events. I charged a flat fee for an hour-long performance plus a travel fee based on how far I had to travel, and a stipulation that the client pays for parking – all fairly standard. I also required a 50% deposit to hold the date. This particular event was to be held a two-hour drive away from me so my travel fee was $50 to cover gas/tolls. But like I said, the wife haggled me out of my travel fee prior to our meeting.
The meeting itself was pretty exhausting, but it basically came out that the husband and wife have a band (they both sing) and they’d been hired by their friend to take care of the entertainment for the event. They were given a certain budget, the bride requested a traditional folk singer, and they had been haggling with me in order to keep their margins.
After our meeting I received the following from the husband:
Client: Thanks for your time the other day. I did a review of the service contract and would like to suggest a few changes.
Please change the duration of the performance to 2 hours from the start of the performance. I will confirm the exact start time to the extent possible but as you are aware, it is an Indian wedding which typically follows IST
Please add that artist will partner with other vocalist from ——- to deliver the performance.
Please add that you will be a part of the ——- team and will not solicit business as an individual
———has the right to record and publish any recording of the event as part of their promotion via various social media and artist provides full permission for the same.
Client will compensate no more than $20 if there are any parking fees charged at the venue. Artist will make all reasonable attempts to find free or economical parking at the venue.
For additional terms:
Please change (4) to 1 week from 2 weeks [re: cancellation]
Please change (5) to 1 week from 2 weeks [re: cancellation]
Since you have not been able to provide any verifiable references or recordings of your past performances, to cover our reputation risk and to meet the client request of getting a group of female singers, we would like to add a clause that you will get together with us to do at least 2 1-hour sessions prior to the event to prep.
Given that we are working with each other for the first time, it makes sense for both of us to be cautious but I am absolutely certain that after this event, we will not even need any kind of formal contracts and so much back and forth. Just to give you some context, I have NO paperwork whatsoever with the DJ who is the real backbone for the entire success of this event since it is an outdoor location which needs a lot more horsepower in terms of sound and also configuration as we have worked with him for over 3 years.
In terms of compensation, we will only pay 50% of the total amount of $xxx which is the industry standard.
Yes, they wanted me to include one of their singers in my performance, rehearse with them prior to the event, and perform for twice as long, but they wanted to pay me half my fee. Much more than that happened afterward, but this post is already super long. No, I didn’t take the gig, but it took multiple e-mails and messages for them to understand why.
Client: You can’t charge me for cancelling that meeting; you didn’t respond to my email requesting confirmation.
Me: For one, I confirmed the day before, as we normally do. For another, you sent that email four hours before our meeting, which is 2am my time, and then canceled two hours after that.
Client: I sent that email at noon my time, which is a perfectly reasonable time to expect a reply. I work with people all over the world and cannot be expected to keep track of YOUR time zone. It is not my problem that you were not available to respond timely.
I always thought it was a myth but it finally happened to me:
Client: Can you turn the photo around so we can see behind where the photographer is standing?
To be fair, they were thinking of the time we used Google walkthrough to double-check some details on the property and thought we could do the same with a photo, but I laughed out loud. It was not well received.
I got contacted by a 70+ man who wanted to publish his book. He asked for a quote and the terms for working with my publishing house. I gave him a good price but he decided to go with someone else because they were pushy, even though they gave him a higher price for ONLY the printing services.
A week later:
Client: We want a reprint. This time we will do it with you, because we like the way your books look. We will send you our previous layout and cover so you can have a starting point.
Me: Great! I’ll submit to you in a couple of days a new layout, something that looks a bit more 2019.
Client: Well, we used as inspiration this book
He sent me a cover of a book published in 2004.
Anyway, I sent a layout and three new covers and told him we’d be using a serif font throughout the book. He agreed with the layout and design so we started working on preparing the book for print.
Two days later:
Client: Mr. publisher, we liked your layout, but we want you to change it a bit. Serif fonts are hard to read, we should use sans serif.
Note: he had no idea what those words meant a week ago and now knows better than me on the subject.
Client; Also, about the cover. We like yours, but my son said we should use the old one. Yours is a bit reddish and we think the beige version was a bit warmer.
That moment when you realize that the color red isn’t warm enough.
Client: Oh, and my name has to be in italics on the cover. It is a must!
Me: So we should reprint the book the way it was before.
Client: Yes, but we hope they will look as good as your books.
I work as a copywriter at a digital marketing agency. One of our most-hated clients is known for making “urgent” requests, and then changing every aspect about the request once we’ve completed it.
Client: We need you to provide us with two months of social media content ASAP.
Me: Okay. What are you focusing on in the next two months? What do you want me to push or avoid?
Client: The same stuff as you’ve been doing!
Me: (knowing this is about to go very wrong) Okay.
Me: Okay, it’s all done. I spent six hours straight on it and did a lot of research and dove into your analytics to see where your audience is coming from, so the content is pretty fresh and targeted. What do you think?
Client: This is NOT what we want! Why didn’t you write anything at all about the new campaign that we just figured out that we’re launching? Or our offsite events that we just decided to have? What about Twitter copy? In our in-house meeting we had ten minutes ago, we made a Twitter account! Why have you left that out?
A client wanted me to design a Super Sixteen birthday party for her autistic, anime-loving son. I was excited to help suck a great cause, so I submitted a full-on anime proposal with activities, decor, entertainment and refreshments.
Client: I want the kids to bring gifts to donate to a charity for abused and neglected children.
Me: Great, okay!
Client: And I think we should invite the abused/neglected kids to the party.
Me: Okay, but they’re going to range from toddlers to teens.
Client: The party invitations need to say that the dress code is black tie.
Me: The abused/neglected kids probably aren’t going to have access to that kind of clothing, and they might feel out of place if everyone else is dressed up.
Client: Oh, and since the party is in December, I want the color scheme to be red and green. You didn’t have any holiday decor in your proposal, and I want christmas decorations everywhere.