Client Conundrums

Mikey 23 comments
Client Conundrums

Clients: Can't deal with 'em, can't shoot 'em. Actually I shouldn't generalise like that. The vast majority of my clients past and present are actually pretty decent intelligent people. But as any web developer will testify, every now and then a client comes along that has you seriously considering a career change.

Inspired by an incident that happened to me this week, I present for your viewing pleasure some of the more eye brow raising (and head shaking) scenarios I've experienced. I'll start with this weeks incident.


After submitting a web design which was in accordance with the clients brand...

Client: We don't like the blue design you sent us. We want it orange instead. In fact, send us some different coloured versions - but no blue.

Later that day I send the client modified versions with varying colours, including a blue one because I strongly felt that - you know - it was important to keep their brand colours, and I got this response.

Client: We like the blue version. Please proceed with that.

The curious quotes

After getting 3 different quotes for printing...

Client: Thanks for getting the quotes. I have to say I don't understand why the quotes are all different. Please explain this.
Me: I obtained the quotes from 3 different printing companies.
Client: I guess that's OK.

The 'full screen' web site

Client: The web site doesn't fit my screen. Please make it fit my screen otherwise it's useless!
Me: The design is showing a fixed width as per spec. I could make it fluid if you like, but I would have to quote you on the extra time it would take.
Client: I'm not interested in the technical details. Please make the design fill my screen.
Me: Try pressing CTRL and the + key on your keyboard.
Client: That's better thanks, and so fast!

It gets better. I learned from a colleague a few days later that she had (using the CMS) put a message on the homepage instructing people to press CTRL and +.

The web site is down

Easily the most technically challenged client I've had.

Client: I can't get to my web site. It must be down.
Me: I'm checking looks OK from here. Can you press refresh?
Client: It's still not working.
Me: What browser are you using?
Client: What's a bowzer?
Me: The program you use to look at web pages
Client: Oh that, I'm in email right now. Do I need to use a bowzer? I'm looking at an email with my web site address in it but it's not showing the web site.
Me: (banging head against the nearest wall I realised he was actually talking about a hyperlink in an email he had received) OK, try clicking on the part of the email that says your web site address.
Client: (after a brief pause) OK it's working now. What did you do?
Me: (lying) I rebooted the web server.

Reluctant to share

At the end of the meeting...

Client: OK, so we've got some ideas for what we'd like to see in the design, but we will share those with you after we see what you come up with.
Me: What if we talk about those ideas now and I take that information with me to include in the design instead of wasting hours on something you might not like?
Client: It's unorthodox, but I suppose we could do it that way.

The FrontPage aficionado

Meeting with the person the client had hired to oversee the web site development...

Client: We have FrontPage at our office so we would like you to build our site in FrontPage so we can edit it later.
Me: We don't use FrontPage, but the site won't be editable in the traditional sense - we are building a content management system for you so you don't have to edit pages and upload them.
Client: But how can web pages be edited without FrontPage? Can you make them in MS Word instead? I know you have MS Word.
Me: Web sites aren't built with Office tools. We hand code them, but as mentioned you will have a CMS to manage all your content anyway. You edit the pages in the web browser.
Client: So we save the pages from the browser and edit them in FrontPage?

The geometry skeptic

Client: Can we have those circle bits kind of - you know - rounder?
Me: They are currently perfectly spherical in shape. What do you suggest?
Client: I don't know, but they need to be rounder.

Unrealistic expectations

After informing us at the beginning of the meeting that they don't have a big budget, the client started talking about what they wanted on their web site...

Client: I reckon it would be pretty cool if we had like this guy walk in from the left side of the screen - no wait! - the right - no wait! - maybe he floats in on a cloud or something - and then he starts talking about our products. Then this list of our vacuum cleaners appear above his head and you click on one to see what it's about. The guy then walks you into another room where he demonstrates the vacuum and the user can interact with it like vacuuming the floor. And instead of the usual menu the guy would ask you where you want to go at regular intervals. We feel it would me more interactive that way.

I should mention this was early into the .com boom days when the technology barely existed to pull this off - not that I would have attempted something so stupid. While this guy continued to talk about even more of these 'fantastic' ideas, I am doing rough mental calculations in my head...$1000, $3000, $10,000, $15,000 etc. It turns out their budget was $1500 max.

Secure alternative?

Client: We already have a web site with a cart but we want a little padlock icon to appear at the bottom of the browser so people know it's secure.
Me: No problem. Do you have an a SSL certificate?
Client: No we don't need one of those. I got a picture of a padlock from clip art so can we use that?

Alternative payment?

After 2 scope meetings and 2 days of preparing a quote for a start-up that was going to be inventing an online 'currency' that could be used to buy real products and services, the client informs us they would only be able to pay us using said 'currency'. We declined the project and billed them for our time wasted.



Thursday 26th February 2009 | 08:02 PM
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LOL @ 'It's unorthodox, but I suppose we could do it that way.'

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Matt L

Thursday 26th February 2009 | 08:10 PM

I thought this was just going to be a copy paste from the usual ones we've seen a million times. But oh man they're all original gold especially the last one. Glad I'm not you :-)



Thursday 26th February 2009 | 08:11 PM
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Oh my. Excellent funny stories man.
I hope you charged these people a metric ass ton of money, Mikey.

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Thursday 26th February 2009 | 08:15 PM
235 total kudos | 1 for this comment response to this comment by EricVonZipper. Haha - you bet.

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Thursday 26th February 2009 | 08:25 PM
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Golden. I love an relate to every one of those.

My favourite two from my IT support days at M****** University.

Hard to believe but genuinely true.
I got a call from a guy who was annoyed I had sent him a computer with "American" power plugs (we're in Australia). He was annoyed but also proud he had "fixed" the problem. Considering I personally packed his computer, I doubted this situation. So I went to see. Upon arrival, I found he had opened the box, and seen the pass-though power cable that goes from the back of the computer directly into the back of the monitor - not to the wall socket. He'd assumed this was a US power plug. So he'd taken a knife and cut the plastic casing off, then bent the metal prongs with pliers until it fit into an Australian, 240V, 15A power outlet, completely exposing his feet to live electricity.

And secondly, feeling your pain Mike
I once got a quote from a company to provide our printery with an online submissions system, which allowed people to send Word docs, etc to the printery, which would be automatically converted into PDF and then costed, based on requirements such as # of colour pages, # of copies, etc. They wanted almost $100,000k. In under two week I recreated all the functionality of the entire system costing the Uni nothing but my time. Upon showing it to management, foolishing expecting some sort of praise, the only feed back I got was "I don't like the colours" (of the web interface). The web page matched the Uni's corporate branding.

Clients, mate...

These days I understand that if they pay and keep paying, it's all good. :-)

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Thursday 26th February 2009 | 08:37 PM
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Dealing with the general public can be fun in retail.

Customer "I bought this curling wand yesterday and it doesn`t work! I plugged it in and nothing happened"

Manager (me) "Okay, go and have a shop around and I`ll have a look whilst you`re shopping"

Manager "come back in 5 minutes"

Customer (who by chance is blonde) "Ummm - Okay"

Customer returns and I say to her "hold your hand out"

I then place the red hot part of the curling wand in her palm....

Customer yelps and pulls back in pain....... (not a good look)

I then explain to her "you have to let it heat up sweetheart - it`s not like a light bulb"

Customer says "Okay, I`m glad you fixed it" whilst rubbing her palm and picking it up by the hot end again!

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Thursday 26th February 2009 | 09:00 PM

I honestly can't tell if any are from the time we worked together. I could pick a couple that may have been our old boss. :P



Thursday 26th February 2009 | 10:37 PM
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i guess we all do say stupid things at times and not realise it at the time!!!

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The Movie Whore

The Movie Whore

Friday 27th February 2009 | 12:38 AM
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It is a miracle that you have not bitch slapped some one.

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Friday 27th February 2009 | 08:22 AM

You poor bastard

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Pete J Kline

Friday 27th February 2009 | 09:11 AM

Sucks to be you Mikey! Hahahaahahahaha

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Friday 27th February 2009 | 10:15 AM

yep.. the general public sure can make you want to find the nearest brick wall so you can beat your head (and quite possibly theirs) against it..

when i was vet nursing, i used to see a lot.. made me wonder how ppl got out of bed in the morning.. let alone walk and breathe at the same time.. one such client wandered into the clinic with her dog..

client: um.. there's something wrong with my dog.. its bleeding from *lowers voice* down there
so me knowing fully well whats going on, and liking to string out the whole uncomfortableness of it all
me: where.. its foot?
client: *still in hushed tones* no, down there.. (points to general direction of the dogs genitals)
me: oooooh. ok.. so your dog hasnt been steralised? how old is she?
client: around 9
me: ok, well it seems as tho your dog has pyometra.. an infection in the uterus.. she needs to have an operation to have it removed. i'll book you in for a consult
client: you dont think it happened because she ate a rat do you?
me: no.... why is that?
client: because rats eat rat bait... so it would make her bleed

so many times i had to control myself from either wetting my pants from laughter.. or just reaching out and smacking them upside the head

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Jake Farr-Wharton

Friday 27th February 2009 | 12:09 PM

"I rebooted the server"

I've it Mike, how diplomatic of you... I would have had trouble witholding the sound of seething through the phone.

Actually, back when I was selling CRM system autodialers for telemarketing firms, I helped the GM of one of the companies sort out something uber simple with his email (sorting or something stupid like that) and he ended up being one my largest long term clients... it shows that holding back your dissent can be profitable!

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Friday 27th February 2009 | 01:10 PM


That is hillarious mate. The best I've heard. ha ha ha

How you didn't laugh your head off with the website is down part!!! your a saint!!




Friday 27th February 2009 | 03:03 PM
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Reading these always makes me feel a little better -

basicly a mass collection of quotes from similar experiences

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Friday 27th February 2009 | 03:42 PM
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Whats a bowzer LOL

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Friday 27th February 2009 | 06:35 PM
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haha lovely

i had one experience. we are basically doing subsea pipe-laying for crude oil, so our client was providing this huge reel of a special thick cord. we needed its dimensions and specs, etc to install it in our ship.
the client are real idiots.

me: we need the weight of the reel, its dimensions, and specs of its driver
client: here's the drawing of the reel (no weights or dimensions), and what is the drive specs?
me: thanks for the (useless) drawing, we need the dimensions too, and you need to tell us the drive specs because you are sending it to us
client: here's another drawing of the reel (totally useless), and please make yourself available at this date to meet us to discuss about the drive specs
(in meeting)
me: dimensions and specs please?
client: some drawings of different types of reel (useless), and what kind of drive specs you need?
me: its your dam reel and your stupid driver, so you should bloody know, not us
client: give us some time, we'll discuss with our supplier

fools haven't come back to us yet. they sent us more useless crap

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Friday 27th February 2009 | 06:58 PM
235 total kudos response to this comment by Gong. Fark - sounds like they have sonic dyslexia (a term I just made up)!

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Friday 27th February 2009 | 08:50 PM
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sonic dyslexia!! have to remember that one.

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Saturday 28th February 2009 | 10:50 AM
36 total kudos response to this comment by Mikey. i think that's just one of their problems

they probably have mental constipation too

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Sunday 1st March 2009 | 06:38 AM
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That some restraint u got there Mikey. I don't know how you didn't slap em in the face

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Chris Walters

Chris Walters

Sunday 1st March 2009 | 11:28 PM
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I haven't L'edOL whilst reading online for ages!!!

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Monday 2nd March 2009 | 06:33 PM response to this comment by Haddy. Have to agree with that

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