I was booking jobs through one of the freelance design sites, and sent a proposal to a client who had written a children’s book and wanted a print ready layout done. I sent a project estimate, and after a very friendly phone call, we agreed on the project scope, terms, and deadline.
The first stage in the process was to drive over an hour to his house to photograph paintings that his mother had made as illustrations for the book, as well to sign a brief general contract and collect a 15% deposit. I arrived, we chatted for an hour while I photographed the paintings, we both signed copies of the contract, and I left with a deposit check. We were scheduled the first round presentation for a week from then.
Three days later, he emailed me.
Client: Can I get a first look? Just something rough to see how it’s coming.
This was earlier than we had discussed, but since he was excited about the project I understood.
Me: Well, I still need to do photo retouching and font selection, so all this is very much subject to change but here is the cover mockup and the first few pages.
I sent them clearly marked “PROOF.” He immediately wrote back.
Client: This is not at all what I expected. I hope the next time you send me something that reflects significantly more effort.
He also informed me he wished to receive final files a full week before our original agreed upon delivery date.
After a lot of back and forth, we finally settled on a delivery date four days earlier than I was comfortable with, but I made it work… until my computer crashed. I lost two full days of work, including the latest round of layout for his book. When he emailed that day (two days before our now very rushed deadline) asking to ‘see just another peek’ at the work, I had to tell him I was set back, and that it would be another day before I could show anything new. At this point I had already conceded to every single one of his extra-contactual requests.
He didn’t like that at all, sent me four nasty emails in a row about how terrible I was for wasting his time, demanded that I refund the 15% deposit (now well below what he owed me in design time), “delete all of the pictures and text since it was his intellectual property,” insulted every bit of work I had done, and wrote a terrible review on my profile detailing events that had not occurred between us at all.
The best part? He was the head print manager at a national online printing company. If you work in those circles, I guarantee you’ve heard of them.