5 types of terrible clients I have encountered

I have worked with a number of clients over the years, as an individual and as part of a team. I have encountered different types of customers/clients, the good, the bad and the cruelly ugly.

This article would talk about the bad in a top 5 list. Do note, the list is not in order of significance. :)

1. The Changeling

Yeah, these ones can be quite a headache.

Picture this :

You have a project with frozen specifications, the client has agreed that these are the features expected in the final version of whatever product is being built, then a few weeks to completion of the project after months of hard work, you receive a phone call or an email from the client stating that they have had a thought, “just a small change”, about some new feature for the product. You decide to listen and you are slammed in the face with a whole new product description. Not just a totally different product but one that doesn’t even fit the initial description.

“It is just a small change nah. Your people can have it done in a few days. You just have to totally change the solution from an application for farmers to one for local government workers, you can see? Just small sturvs”

May the spirit of contract agreements save you. These customers have a close relative called…..

2. The Stalker

Project commenced 2nd of August, with a document already vetted and signed by both parties with a prototype date set for September 2nd.

August 6 : Phone call from their manager.

“Hello, How are you Mr X? We are just calling to ascertain progress on the project. You know we have a strict deadline for it and would appreciate if you would keep us abreast with the situation.”

August 10 : Phone call from the manager again.

“Mr X mai fren!! How far? Any progress? Hope your team is keeping the furnace burning? You know, one of our directors dropped by the office today and was asking for a progress report. We assured him that everything is ok, everything is ok abi? We believe in you.”

August 12 : Phone call from a strange number that turns out to be…surprise!! the manager.

“Mr X, Can you please tell your team to keep stoking the fire. We like it when………..”

August 15 : Project Lead is unavailable, CTO gets a phone call………..

On the gloomy side, half of these type tend to be…..

3. The Debtors

You know those ones who never pay on time and still somehow think they have a right to make your life miserable? Yeah, you would have to deal with them.

They are rarely very subtle about it. 45 missed calls in 2 mins. Your email gets flooded with “the sky is falling” messages.

Ask them to settle their bills, they’d send you a long email about how doing business is about building relationships and not about money, which would make sense if said client had paid the 3 months overdue infrastructure fee.

Politely ask them to pay up, you end up with……

4. The Angry Byte

These ones are terrible beings. I actually mean it. They would call you on a hot afternoon huffing and puffing on the phone. Try explaining to them that the issue is not something you have control over as they didn’t send in their requirements on time and had used over 2 months on internal politics, the original timeline cannot be met and you hear things like “How old are you sef? I am old enough to be your father!!”.

Heavens help you fragile soul.

As if you don’t have it bad enough, you meet ….

5. The Cheapskates

This project is being costed at #X. This is a detailed break down of the cost.

“Ahn! Ahn!! Even the guys we first used didn’t charge us this much. Cho!! Let us slash it by 50% nah. Ehn! Epp us!!”

But sir, this is a software firm. That sort of price is ridiculous.

“See your problem? This is why people contract out to the Indians. You Nigerians companies are too expensive.”

Alright then, please go ahead and contract out. We wouldn’t be budging concerning this price we set.

5 months later. Email from their PM stating that they have had a change of heart and would love to work out a deal if we can give a 20% discount, guess some people got screwed over by the Indians. :/

Well, I could only think up 5 types. Intended hitting a 10 mark but feel free to add yours in the comments section.

I would advice you have a structured contract agreement drafted and acknowledged by both parties before initiation.

When I was fully into freelancing, I would usually wire back any initial amount paid by anyone of the above clients once I feel frustrated enough.

My peace of mind ranks high above any clients paranoia, besides, I can’t work effectively if you are hounding me.