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25 Signs That You’ve Got a Bad Client

Filed Under Human Factors, Humor

This is a reader guest post by James Ehly. James is the author of DEVTRENCH:Web Development from the Front Lines, a web development blog.

Danger Sign

Has a client of yours ever said or done something that made the warning bells go off in your head? After you pay your dues for while in this business you can become quite sharp at discerning who is going to be God’s gift to your clientèle, and who’s going to make you wonder why you interact with other people.

Below is a list of red flags that I’ve come across in the last 10 years of doing web development. All of them are true.

  1. When you meet with a client to discuss your project they love it, when you get back to your desk at the office you have an email with a 43 item list about how much they hate it.
  2. The client stares into space or at the wall when they talk to you.
  3. When you show your client the design of your project for the first time they freak out right in front of you.
  4. Your client sends you spam that they get and asks you to look into it to see if the offer is legitimate.
  5. Client types in all lowercase, and uses very little punctuation because they don’t know what the shift key is for.
  6. Two weeks ago you were working with Rob who quit, last week you were working with Rich who was fired, and now you’re working with Rod who doesn’t know what the hell is going on.
  7. You get a phone call, and a client says they are ready for you to start on their website…the website you wrote a proposal for a year and a half ago.
  8. Every time you try to ask your client for some information, they have to check with someone else.
  9. The client treats anyone under them in their company like crap.
  10. The client is gone half of the year. Not physically, just mentally.
  11. Client calls you (super pissed off) and wants to know why their website is down. After calming them down you ask if they can get to any other websites, to which they answer, “Uh, I guess not. So is this a problem with our site then?”
  12. You have to coach the ‘tech guy’ at the company on how to set up email.
  13. The client says, “Wouldn’t it be great if…”, or every other sentence starts with, “Is it possible to…”
  14. After looking at the client’s code you realize it’s been written in PHERLJASP with an ORACCESSQL database.
  15. The client wants impossible results in an impossible timeframe, like if their 18,000+ static page website can be redesigned and launched in 3 weeks.
  16. Every time you ask your client for a password they give you the wrong one, the same wrong one as last time.
  17. Your client has over 50 credit cards, and has had over 300 in the last 5 years.
  18. Client says, “I don’t have a lot of resources right now, but I’d be willing to pay you double later…”
  19. You just gave your client the 9th website mockup, and they still just don’t know.
  20. You invoice the client and they let you know that they won’t be getting funding for 3-4 months.
  21. Client insists on using the company name for their passwords because its ‘easier that way’.
  22. Your client just had to have a proof that day. Two weeks later they still haven’t been able to get to it.
  23. The client still uses AOL
  24. The client’s response to your email about needing critical passwords, and other project stopping information is, “So what’s the hold up?”
  25. Client tries to make you feel guilty by saying things like, “It took a long time to save the money pulled out from tithing to be able to start this project”.
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7 Responses to “25 Signs That You’ve Got a Bad Client”

  1. Jeremy N on October 22nd, 2007 6:52 pm

    Brings me back to some of my own experiences with clients. Here are a few that I figured added to the list of client coolness:

    – Website with 1,500 static pages that haven’t changed in 5 years and the client wants to implement RSS feeds.
    – The client tells you about their cutting edge project management methodology: Scrum’erfall.
    – Your primary contact with the client refers to the Internet as the “Inter Web.”

  2. devtrench on October 23rd, 2007 8:51 am

    Jeremy N – LOL, that’s one of my favorites…”the Inter Web”. Lookout!

  3. Chris P on October 31st, 2007 12:32 pm

    How about:

    “We’ve got a state of the art server room. But you’ll never get to see it.”
    “Make no assumptions.” (One of our suggestions was Solaris/Oracle) “Hooo, that’s way too expensive.” (So no to Solaris/Oracle then?) “Make no assumptions.”
    On a large system of hundreds of pages, before we’d discussed screen design, agreed database design or written a line of code: “Please detail every input field, drop down, button and link, detailing the size, input ranges, any error codes, hidden fields, session states and a graph of the navigation taken in any circumstance.”

    All from the same client.

  4. K on October 31st, 2007 1:01 pm

    “15. The client wants impossible results in an impossible timeframe, like if their 18,000+ static page website can be redesigned and launched in 3 weeks.”

    If they used a consistent layout, you could probably make a Perl script to extract the information, but yes, it is an unreaonable request.

  5. S on November 1st, 2007 4:31 am

    From personal experience, when the client brings her own pack of fruit tea to leave with us to the first meeting; not a good sign 🙂

  6. David Carr on November 1st, 2007 3:08 pm

    How about “I need you coding right away. I don’t want specifications, can’t you use that Agile approach?”

    Quickly followed by “I don’t have time to look at the software or meet you. Just carry on and let me know when its finished.”

    Followed by “It doesn’t look like, perform or do what I expected!”

  7. October 2007 Recap and Traffic Report | DEVTRENCH: Web Development from the Front Lines on November 2nd, 2007 7:55 am

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