young man in disbelief

Funny Horrifying and Sadly True Client Tales

The sun is shining, taxes are paid and it is the perfect time to take a laugh break. For today’s post, we asked a wide range of communication professionals to share their stories on the outrageous things clients have said to them. There was no shortage of hilarious and even jaw dropping anecdotes. We have eliminated client and consultant names, but kept all the juicy details for your reading pleasure.

This and that

I once had a client tell me that she didn’t like the word “that” and request that I always use the word “which” instead. Her reasoning? “It sounds more elegant.” It’s not easy to tactfully explain elementary-level grammar rules to an adult!

You don't get a car

I had a client years ago (a couple). The wife supposedly used to do PR, and the husband pushed to hire me to promote their book/speaking/workshop platform. They signed a 12-month contract, and I did a lot of expectation setting before I would sign them on. After just a month together, I received a nasty letter from the wife, saying that they weren't going to pay me because I hadn't gotten them on Oprah or The View yet and, as she suspected, “If you want something done right, you should just do it yourself.” I gladly let them out of their contract. The husband followed up with me to apologize.

Donuts kill careers

Early in my career, I was in a client meeting with a doughnut chain. At one point in the meeting, a fellow twenty-something, who happened to be on the client side, went on a tirade about how bad donuts are for your health. The group collectively dropped their jaws and let him finish, and then he was finished.

girl with look of astonishment

This interview will not be televised

A lawyer client told me to avoid a particular TV station with a pitch. I asked, why. He said, “Because I sued them after the last time we were on that show.”

They like me…. I think

I had been in talks with a potential client and in our third or fourth meeting they said, “We like your work and we don't have time to look for anyone else, so we'd like to work with you.” Um, wait, what. Shade much.

Catechism and capitalization

I tried to explain to a client that the names of seasons are not capitalized. He exclaimed, “That's not how we did it back in Catholic school!” Since he brought religion into it, I decided to avoid a holy war and I let that one slide.

The only way up the career ladder

A boss at an association who said the only way I could move up would be to sleep with members of the executive board. I moved out…

Dog covering nose

I'm so smart you should pay me

Client was the CEO of a large service business. She loved to drag out our regular planning meetings over lunches where she would pontificate on and on and on. Two, three hours. She refused to move the meeting time (her “only time available”). She refused agendas (“they stifled her creative thinking”). Fine, I let the meter run. After several years, she finally realized I was charging for the meeting time. Mind you, she got itemized invoices where this was clearly spelled out. She was furious and argued I should not be charging her anything. Allow me to quote her rationale: “I should be charging YOU for all the education and insight I'm providing you!” Yes, I finally fired her.

Since you’ll be in the area

I had a client ask me to water her plants and feed her dog since I would be driving by her house anyway on the way to the airport.

Take one for the team

A client said I should show my appreciation for the work they give me and show that I'm a team player (since they are optimizing and need to trim X amount of dollars) by doing additional work at no charge.

How about you? Any funny client tales to share? Join in the discussion in the comments below or on social media using the #solopr hashtag.

  • KensViews

    Thank you for reminding me why I’m no longer in the agency business! I’ve been working as a consultant, executive coach, and workshop trainers with agency owners leaders, and soloists for ten years now, and believe me, they are absolutely delightful, especially in comparison to what you’ve described. And many of my clients treat ME like a client. Must be in their blood. So thanks!

  • Hi Ken, one of the greatest perks of solo life is the freedom to choose your clients. These types of clients still exist but we do not have to work with them.