Customers from hell

Working in graphic arts can be fun. Printing is among the few industrial processes in which non-professionals are allowed to supply the raw materials. That can lead to hilarious situations. Below are stories that people sent to me or that I picked up in forums. Add your own horror stories using the Comments function or check this hilarious thread on the B4print forums from which some of these stories originate.

In a meeting with a client who worked for a major tobacco company, I presented my designs for his press ad to which he seemed most unimpressed.

Him: “What did you do these in?”

Me: “Um… Photoshop.”

Him: “That’s why. I don’t like Photoshop. Have you ever used Powerpoint? I can make some great stuff in Powerpoint. You should use it.”

Me: *blink*

We once got a request on price for a 2 color job…  “black and white”.

I’ve got one customer that always asks for ‘Fire Engine Red’ so one week on the work order I put down ‘Fire Engine Red’. The next week she said the red was the best red they’ve ever had!

Customer quotes:

“I want it justified without any hyphens”

“Why can’t you scan the newspaper clipping we gave you – isn’t your scanner good enough? Ours scans it.”

“Please supply a Quark EPS file with all the fonts imbedded in it”

“My manager says you must send it as a Quark JPEG”

“We must have a proof in time for the Governor’s meeting on Monday. (But you have only given us half the copy and less than half the images to lay the brochure out). “Well can’t you just proof it and pretend the text and pictures are there?” (That’ll mean we have to use dummy text and dummy pictures which will cost more) “We don’t want to pay more! Can’t you just insert clipart – Word does?”

We received a disk from a customer, if memory serves I think it was a pagebreaker file, anyway, they didn’t send ANY fonts with it. So I call the customer and explained to him that if I was to print without the correct fonts then everything would by courier. He got mad at me because “I didn’t know anything” for the simple reason that he prints it from his computer and everything looks great!

A client sent in a job the other day created completely in Photoshop. Of course, all composited, and he wanted us to do all sorts of work that couldn’t be done without a layered Photoshop file. The CSR asked if he had a layered file and he said “…hmmm, I don’t think so”. He wanted us to fix a paragraph that was murdered by spaces in which he admitted adding spaces in the middle of LETTERS not words to make it look justified. The part that brought me to tears was that he wrote on his laser to make the type “boulder”.

The ‘designer’ stored all images in a myriad of arcane directories. So… get this, to make it easy… they searched for all jpg, gif, tif, eps files on their hard drive and copied them all to a CD and sent them to me (so we could relink the graphics). And, from a quick look at the contents of that disk, it was obvious that they used their computer to browse the web extensively.

At a graphic arts trade show, a lady asked for a scanner demo. I put a photograph on the glass plate and fired up the scan software. While the scanner was performing its calibration, I told the customer that the image would be scanned in 3 colors: red, green and blue. Immediately she lost all interest in our scanners. Her originals had thousands of colors in them!

A designer send us a file to be output on film. As usual, he didn’t fill in our form so we had no idea what resolution or screen ruling should be used. I called the designer and asked for the screen ruling. “What do you mean ?” he said. I asked “What screen do you want?” to which he replied “I created it on a 15-inch Sony but if you could use a 21-inch monitor, that would be great !!!”.

A guy calls and asks if we can put photos on a CD. We say yes, so he walks in and hands us an Elton John CD and a photo. When he was told that we’d have to scan first, then read out the audio CD and make a new one with the scan and the music he said: “No, I want it exactly on this CD!”. We told him no go – he didn’t understand why. In the end it turned out that he wanted the photo printed on the CD.

The most memorable moment caught in memory would be a conversation that took place with the purchaser for a government agency. Supposedly this women was the print guru in their department so I had to be extra nice. The specs were as follows: 32 pages stapled, normal gloss paper, 3 colors: black, red, and white. The white that she was referring to was the knockout text in a solid red box.

A customer sent their files but did not send an oddball font. We requested they send the missing font, but what we received was a revision of the document that contained ONLY the text that was set in that particular font! Designers must be one of the only professions that doesn’t actually require you to have any knowledge of your craft.

I just asked a client what color inks this 2 color letterhead and envelope is supposed to print with and I told her I picked Pantone 286 blue and 116 yellow to use in her proof and she says, “I don’t know what Pantone 286 and 116 is but I always used white.” You think that will be hard to read?

Designer: ”Can you give me a list of printing companies you have a relationship with so I can get an estimate?”
Client: ”No, sorry. We owe them a bunch of money.”

3 thoughts on “Customers from hell

  1. Had a customer supply a word doc without the wacky fonts. I call him up and said I needed the fonts and that I could walk him through how to find them. He said “That won’t be necessary, I can do it.”
    The next day I got a new word doc with five lines of type…
    Line 1 : Bleeding Cowboys (In missing font Bleeding Cowboys)
    Line 2 : you get the idea.

    I didn’t have the heart to call him back. I couldn’t think of a way to explain it to him without using the word retard.

  2. From a long time ago.

    A new girl in the accounts dept at a magazine publisher.

    She queried the cost of film, because she could buy it a lot cheaper at the local photographic shop!

    Thanks for something to give me a smile – even amused a designer friend.


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