Client Story: Funny, Frustrating, and Downright Strange

Dec 23, 2021 | My Thoughts | 0 comments

Let me start by saying I will not release the person’s name I’m going to speak about. My intent is not to trash talk this individual person but rather share a rather funny (in hindsight), frustrating, and downright strange experience I had with a (no longer) client of mine. It was very short lived but is forever etched into my memory and I’m sure I’ll be telling the story for years to come. Here goes.

A woman contacts me about rebuilding her eCommerce website. I ask her a few basic questions; she responds nicely and includes some very nice compliments on my music. That seemed very nice and indicated she took some time to look at my website and find the links to my music (which you must dig for as my website is for my website business). This is usually a good sign, right? I ask her if she’d like to schedule a phone call.

This is the very first line of her response: “Hey, Joe, (Don’t let this ebook scare you. It is mainly background stuff.)” In hindsight, (I may be saying that a lot here), I’m thinking the next time someone responds with the word “scare” in the first line, I should probably run.

Next are six very large paragraphs of text. The first paragraph includes this nugget, “This book includes pages about the xxx with photos in color.” Wow, in color! Is this 1965? She also says she’s on Kindle and to do a search for her. Then mentions a USA Today article where she’s apparently mentioned and goes on and on about colors in her logo and her CD cover, etc.

The fourth paragraph starts out, “Hope this is not too much background.” It was. She says she wants to “Keep it simple stupid” which I’m a big fan of and said, “Selling a xxx with a xxx was a horrible experience. Now that I am old, things are starting to look up and be fun!” Ok, I’m a sucker for the old lady routine so I keep reading.

The fifth paragraph starts with this. “I may be confused with what I have on the xxxx, but I will email it to you when you are ready.” Oh boy was she confused. She wants to sell downloadable products. Remember this. She closes by saying she will call me at the scheduled time. I say great and I’ll see ya then. She’s not done yet.

She asks if it’s ok to hire me now. I said, “You can hire me any time you like. I have a few minutes now if you’d like. I have another call in an hour and a half.” She agrees and we speak on the phone at no charge to her.

Our phone call. Her voice is a bit scratchy and sounds like she may be a bit elderly. She did mention earlier that she was old. I’m then hit with about 45 minutes of her rambling on about everything from her multiple careers dating back to the days of black and white photos. (See how I circled back there?) She proceeds to tell me that she had a terrible experience with social media as she was continually attacked on Facebook, called names like an ego maniac, and all because they were jealous of her. Okay.

So far, I have very little in the way of what my role would be. Just a lot of “background”. I managed to squeeze in some time to try and find out her requirements. From what I could decipher, she told me she has the downloadable files in a particular format. I said I would need to convert them to another format for the web which I can do for her if she likes. She didn’t quite seem to understand what I was trying to say and would go into another one of her lengthy digressions.

Essentially, she was trying to tell me that she has very little experience with online stuff and needs me to guide her in choosing the best way to accomplish her goal of selling downloadable files. Yep, I can do that. While I felt like I was forced to sit on Grandma’s lap having her pinch my cheeks and talk ad nauseum about the bad times, I was sympathetic to her cause and agreed to help her like the sucker I am for old people. And I knew that I’d be able to build her a great website that will do exactly what she wanted and a lot more. I told her what I thought it would roughly cost and she said it was a little high and was hoping to stay under $xxx amount. I said yes, I think that can be done. We hang up and I need a sandwich. That was exhausting.

Next, she tries to hire me and says, “Have approved your offer. I don’t think we need a chat, but seems like I’m having to do things over and over. It’s their system.” Doing things over and over. Remember this.

She finally manages to hire me. She says, “Looks like you are already in wordpress.” I say, “Not sure what you mean. I have not received any login info from you yet.” Another long paragraph follows and is hard to decipher as she’s going on about being in the dashboard and highlighting something and I don’t know what she’s trying to say. At this point, she has not sent me any login info whatsoever.

This may be the very best part of this entire experience…

Remember she wants to sell downloadable products including printable PDF files. The last line in the above paragraph she says this. “By the way: How heavy should the paper be that is used for the downloads. Can you explain about that to me.” OMG. In hindsight, I should have run at that point. But no, still the sucker. I guess she thought she would go to Office Depot and get a supply of paper that she would sit on her desk and each time someone purchased one of her products, a sheet of paper would magically disappear from her stack. I wonder if she had paper listed in her budget and if she has that incorporated into her download product pricing?

After a short battle with getting the proper login credentials I’m off to the races. I run thru my preliminaries checking the server, the live WP install, etc. I setup a staging site in no time and get a nice head start. Everything is running smooth.

The next message I receive starts out, “Joe, I wanted to touch base after all the emails that I sent to you.” I double check my inbox and message system and there are no emails or messages from her. It’s followed by 10 paragraphs with about half of it more fluff like something about her nephew in Florida. And then 2 more messages from her saying she sent me some files. Nope. She did not send anything.

My next message to her contains all my notes for work done that night which was a lot. Everything was documented and written as clear as possible knowing she may not understand some things. I also had some tasks and questions for her. This is her response, “*WOW ! THANK YOU GOD! *Now back to earth! I’m going to have a REAL WEBSITE! THANK YOU, JOE.”

She then sends me URLs to Google Drive where her files reside. The ones I need to convert. I download them, convert them and upload them to the site. Her next message, “WHAT A MARVELOUS JOB YOU ARE DOING!!! Am I crazy and getting senile? I have obviously been on the website and am totally in awe of your work.” How nice. Things are going well so far.

But she then goes on to say the file on the website does not sound like the file on her CD and how much time she’s invested and blah blah blah. I told her that MP3 files are the ones people will want to download and they cannot download CD files. They must be converted and maybe she can and audio expert to make them sound better in MP3 format. Not good enough for her. In hindsight, I should have told her that needs to have a stack of CDs on her desk for folks to download.

I then make the site shine and she’s loving the way it looks. Frankly, I am too. I sent her my notes of work done today along with a list of items I still need from her. That’s when Hyde showed up. Here are some excerpts from the large single paragraph in her first message.

You have had a change in attitude and it is about nothing but the music. So disappointing.” Huh? Attitude? What the hell? Later in the paragraph, “It is such a shame that you cannot believe that I wrote the music.” She then talks about going to Nashville and dropping names, etc. I looked at my notes and I think the line she’s referring to is where I said that I did a “search” NOT “research” using her name on a site she mentioned and told her that I could not find her. This is exactly what I wrote: “NOTE: Your bio mentions xxx website but I could not find you there. I have a xxxx account and did a search for both your name and your company name.” Somehow, she made the leap that I’m researching her and don’t believe that she wrote her music. OMG. And how would that benefit me?

Next message begins with this: “This is very long, but it works like the phone only is documented. I lost your last comments when I started to print them.” What the hell is that supposed to mean? This is where she admits she’s 82 years old and having a hard time with her email with things being in the trash when moving things to Gmail and on and on. Oh my. That explains a lot. Then she nicely says, “How many times have I told you how much I love what you are doing and the way you are doing it.”

Next message is another 5 long paragraphs with all kinds of random line breaks making it more difficult to read. God only knows what she was using to send her messages. All 5 paragraphs were very nice with so many compliments it was a bit over the top. She had just a few questions. Then, 10 minutes later I get a scathing message telling me she has paused the project “until certain things are corrected”. Here is the entire redacted message:

“Hi, Joseph (Joe), I have paused this contract until certain things are corrected. Please remember this is my website and according to what I have understood about xxxx policies, the hired person does what is asked from the person hiring. It isn’t the other way around. Until the music situation, regarding your use of the year 2017 manufactured tracks by xxxx that were sent to you by their mistake instead of using the 2021 tracks by xxxx which are tracks that you are supposed to be using and also sent to you by them, things are at a standstill.”

Ok, so I was sent the wrong files, converted them, and uploaded them. I never got a message with newer files. It continues…

“Also your use of extracts of each song instead of using each song in its entirety and your reasons for doing so are outdated. I want each song, as I stated in the beginning, played in its entirety.”  Outdated?

She meant to say “excerpts” and is what I had suggested in one of my messages about having maybe a minute of each song as a teaser to purchase. It was just a suggestion, but I did not make excerpts. I simply converted her files and uploaded them. It continues…

“As I have stated to you in writing, if these corrections are not made, this website will not go active until I find another person who is willing to do what I ask. You did some wonderful things on my website until we got to the actual music. I do not need to be investigated, as you have done. You have music of your own on your website that we are directed to see by xxxx. I hope there is no jealousy here concerning my music. I sent you an email proving to you that some of these songs are played on xxxx. You did not believe me, bc you could not find me on xxxx. That is bc for almost 2 years I have not supplied them with a photo or interesting remarks to build my fanbase. Yesterday I sent you an email that I received from xxxx proving that my songs have been played. I do not appreciate your lack of judgement in your investigation. I am what I am. Check out the copyright page. That has been extremely annoying, to the point that I no longer trust you. Besides doing what I have asked you to do, there had better be a change in attitude, or I will not be able to work with you ever again!”

Investigated? Jealous? Attitude? You’ve got to be kidding me. Am I in the Twilight Zone? All I’m doing is building a website and I’m getting hit with this paranoid shit?

She also sent me a link to download all the files related to this project. The zip file was 1.7 GB in size and contained multiple zips inside of it totaling in the thousands of files, including the raw CD files which I’m not able to do anything with. And there is no rhyme or reason to the naming convention of each folder or file along with a ton of duplicates making it almost impossible to decipher. Not to mention that I’m not skittish on using anything for fear of pissing her off again.

To summarize so far. Initially I’m told all about her distinguished career and to look her up and then told that she’s offended by my “investigating” her. Holy shit show Batman.

I sent her a message delicately stating that I think she’s confused, and I’d like to speak to her on the phone to help clear things up. Nope. She just wanted to write more making claims like I have not communicated with her in 2 days. The reality is, I worked many hours on Saturday and sent her all my updates, took Sunday off and sent her a message on Monday morning. It was just over 24 hours between messages.

Her next message says she sent me 2 files, but she did not. Much later she admits however she was replying was not attaching the files to her messages. No apology, however. I told her I have not received any files from her which set her off on another tangent on how to find these files by scrolling to the very bottom of her email, which I never received. Instead of simply sending the file at that moment, she thought it was better to write more and more insulting messages which took way more time to write than it would have to upload the files. What fun we’re having.

And then I get this gem. “If you do not have the insides for xxxx, then something is wrong. I will say one more time that they look like regular documents in a zig zag kind of way. Ignore that part and keep scrolling. They are at the end.” Regular documents in a zig zag kind of way? Are you kidding me? What the hell does that mean?

Ultimately, she can upload the 2 files and I update the site. It’s pretty much ready to go live at this point with maybe a few tweaks here and there. Or so I thought. I gave her a list of the tasks I perform before going live for her reference. Just a short bullet list of 9 items and I tell her I’m ready to go live whenever she is. I’m so anxious to be finished with this one and say goodbye. No way am I going to continue this relationship.

I also asked her a few eCommerce related questions like if she’ll be using coupons or need a terms and conditions page. She’s now responding in all caps and says in part, “THAT IS ALL SUPER GREEK TO ME.” Big surprise there. Then back to the compliments. “IT IS REALL NICE. ALL OF IT IS. I AM SO HAPPY IT WILL BE THERE FOR THE PEOPLE.” The people. That cracked me up! “I NEVER DREAMED I WOULD BE HERE AT THIS TIME.” “I LOVE THE WAY YOU DID THE…” You get the picture and I’m sure you know what’s coming next, eh?

The next few messages were cordial and all the updates she requested were done quickly, almost in real time. Then I get this primer, “You have not changed out my brief bio. Not my full life. This is only a segment in my life. You cannot keep what is there by simply adding my name. If that were so, I would have never asked you to change it.” Huh? I simply copy and pasted what she sent me (another image embedded in a PDF file again). Then complains about a missing page that I mentioned twice before that she has not sent me yet. Uugh.

Next, she takes a look at the generic privacy policy page I added for her and gets pissed that is says that the site is for 18-year-olds and up. I told her that relates to being able to use a credit card and this is a generic policy I use on most of my eCommerce sites. She wanted me to re-write the entire policy for her business. Not happening.

At this point, I’ve already made several test purchases and all the email notices and receipts were sent to me and worked perfectly. I then updated them to send to her and placed several more orders. I asked her if she received her notices. Of course not.

She then asks me if I have her credit card stuff setup as I have not mentioned this. Indeed, I did mention this and was in the very first message I sent telling her everything was configured and working. I then placed several real orders using my personal credit card and everything worked perfectly. I received all my email receipts and see the bank charges in my account. But of course, she got nothing. At this point, I don’t care as I know the system is working.

The next few messages are again cordial and I think I’m near the end of this dark tunnel. Then I get this, “My own work has been nearly doubled bc you have said you did not receive it.” Remember my earlier comment about her making double work for herself? I think she was printing out her documents, scanning them into a PDF file and sending to me. All she had to do was simply send me the digital files she was using to print! Somehow that equates to me doubling her workload.

Next, she says, “I cannot respond to anything else, bc I don’t have the knowledge it takes to answer.” These were the simple eCommerce questions I referred to earlier. Then follows about 10 more messages, half of which are again berating me about things like the Privacy Policy and the missing page she still has not sent me and the other half was about herself…again.

Finally, I send her a message respectfully asking her to refrain from the insults and condescension. Her response begins with this, “I agree with the above only to a certain point, and the fact that I have had to say what I have.” Okay.

Her next message contained this, “Let me know asap whether you are still on board or not, so that I can contact my backup which I do have.” She has a backup person? Sweet! Now I won’t feel as guilty for firing her. She has a few small update requests that I take care of immediately and get her out of my hair.

Another message in reference to my test order purchases she says, “I see you paid yourself. Good! I won’t need to call my bank, and that is why I received no notification. Very Good!” Nope, don’t know what this means but whatever. At this point, I’m willing to pay her to go away.

The next message contains this line, “It is not your job to delete anything.” I knew she couldn’t hold out for long. And “That is a misrepresentation and only a segment of my life.” As if I was re-writing her bio with sinister intentions. Again, how does that benefit me? I deleted nothing and again simply copy/pasting what she sent me.

Even after I respectfully asked her to stop the insults, she kept at it and wanted a few more things changed. I can’t take any more. I think she’s starting to enjoy torturing me. I sent her a message closing out the project with this first paragraph.

“With the deepest respect, I’ve closed out this project. I enjoyed working on your project and quite proud of the way it turned out. But I cannot continue working with you. I’ve been very tolerant of your nasty comments but will no longer accept your unprofessionalism.”

Her responds, “THANK YOU!”

THE END

A bit anti-climactic I know but I thought someone might enjoy or relate to this experience. Leave your comments below. Especially if you have a similar story to share.

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