How to Know and Beware of Some Bad Clients?

This article is not really a usual site. Conventionally we have been told that our dear Mr. Client is the best thing that has ever happened to us. And we must do any and everything with in our reach to make certain that the client remains gleeful and satisfied with our services. More often than not, it is the client who walks out on us, the other wise hard working and dedicated professionals, who he may term are “unprofessional and incompetent” but here in the write up we will shed some light on the other side of the story.

The relationship between a client and the service providers is a crucial one and quite a tipsy curvy one in that regard. If the journey goes out of track, it is not always the fault of the professionals. In fact clients plays an active role in the entire relationship.

When we talk about the qualities of a good working professional, we mean two things – commitment and wisdom! Commitment means standing by your words even if it costs you from your pocket, and well wisdom is all about not making such choices, which will demand you to pay from your pocket!

We, in this write up have assembled the wisdom oozing out of personal experience. We have categorized the “bad clients” into five different categories and have also elucidated upon ways to combat the same. We are hopeful you would learn from this piece of information and in the future will be wary of such clients.

Clients, Potential Clients and Identifying the Bad Treacherous Clients

A client is someone you are actually working for. You owe him some thing and in return he owes some thing back to you. You have legally gotten into a contract with this one individual or the organization and there shall be implications and consequences, if in case you decide to walk out on this client.
The other stage is of a potential client. The potential client is some one you are in talks with. You have not yet gotten into a professional contract with this person or body in question, and it is the wisest of all, if you identify him to be a potential “bad” client at this stage itself and walk out, before it costs you too much.
Below are the few general traits of the “bad clients.” Read them all carefully, it shall be significant in identifying and being wary of such treacherous clients.

Mr. Inaccessible!

If it is too hard to reach out to the client than oh boy, you are in so much trouble.

instantShift - Inaccessible clients

Why Mr. Inaccessible client is a problem for you, as a working professional can be grouped under two stages of the website – while the work is still on and after you have completed the work.

While the work is still on, the project cannot really materialize until and unless the client is participating in the discussions. No matter how much proficient you are with you own work, you do need the inputs of the clients at regular intervals. The delay may force you to reschedule your own time table, and hence the client end up becoming a liability that you just wish to get rid of.

Lots of reasons can cause inaccessibility and hence you should be kind before doing anything harsh. The client may be suffering from an illness, a personal turmoil or there may be death in the family and other related stuff. Be patient first and communicate the consequences of not keeping in touch. Once you have done that and there is no reason of the client being inaccessible, you just have to take the harsh step and walk out.

Another scenario is when you have submitted the project and not client is not really replying. Does that ring a bell? The client is only trying to escape paying you! Of course there may be other reasons like financial crisis and stuff, but the bottom line remains, you have completed your task and its time he completed his.

Mr. Hamlet (or the one in the making)

instantShift - Hamlet clients

We all know Hamlet, the tragic hero of Shakespeare play. The one who is never really able to come down to a decision and procrastinate instead. If you have a procrastinating Hamlet client, this only mean the project is supposed to run longer than your life and what you can possibly ever imagine. Mostly, the work will not progress as supposed to the time frame and time line being agreed upon. Besides, the constant pestering from the client side may force you to sacrifice other projects at hand and pay immediate attention to this client’s needs. Even if the client is important and you are drawing a good amount of business from this gentleman, you cannot always go on rescheduling your time table and other projects at hand, just to respond to the needs of Mr. Procrastinator.

The client may procrastinate on the project and its requirements for a constant communication due to the following reasons:

  • – He may not consider project that important (Ouch!)
  • – He may have scheduled the project at a time when he has other operations to take care of.
  • – He does not really bother about the trouble his haywire schedules is giving you (calm down my friend, peace!)
  • – He is just a true replica of Shakespeare’s Hamlet!

Mr. Unreasonably a Perfectionist

The benefits of working with a perfectionist is that they draw the best out of your skill and often help you in learning more. With your own skill set being in place, you learn a great deal about management and the way to present and organize your skills and lot more.

instantShift - Unreasonable Perfectionist clients

However the problem with some one who is unreasonably a perfectionist is that such clients consume you thoroughly. You are not really left with any thing else to say or do then just throw your hands up in the air, pull the strands of your hair out and exclaim in despair “i wish I knew what this client really wants.”

Surely, we all must have encountered such clients. Some typical behavior of such a client is represented through the following statements:

  • Rejects the designs and suggestions just because he is the client and think that rejecting the designs will make him appear more smart and well known. The same is represented through the statement “it appears fine, but I want something more, I don’t exactly know what!”
  • Expects you to provide extra features, which were not even discussed originally, without you charging him extra for the same.
  • The requests for delivery are often absurd and unrealistic. Something like – “I would like to see the 2 different versions of the website, for the final selection tomorrow. Thanks!” And later you realize its already 10 in the night when he has out of the blues decided to drop the bomb.

Often the the client suffering from the perfectionist syndrome, will ask you to make changes and revisions, without really telling you why. Even if you are being paid to include the extra features and for the extra time you are spending on the project, you cannot really dwell on such a relationship. A health relationship with the client must be based on something logical, concrete and not abstract and absurd.

Mr. Rude Disrespectful and Obnoxious!

And yes, we could not really think of a better name to give to this particular type of client. They are patronizing, utterly self conceited, and talks foul each time they open their god damn mouth.

instantShift - Rude Disrespectful clients

Have not you ever heard a client saying “My nephew is a fifth grader and he can do it better than you!”

It is clear that we, as a web developer or designer or any working professional is providing him a value addition which he other wise cannot ascertain, but often our job is not taken seriously and well enough respected.

If a client is rude and disrespectful, he will never be appreciative of what all you have done for him and will never even acknowledge the fact that you have worked this hard and have gone out of your way for HIS project.

They have just taken it as their birth right to act bossy and noisy, patronize the professionals working for them and never treat you as a fellow counterpart, an associate in the project. Instead, they would always doubt your level of involvement and sincerity towards the project. He would not care to ask for your opinion before assigning you the work, and often will be rude and obnoxious in the way he conducts himself with your.

Mr. Frugal and Invisible

instantShift - Invisible clients

Perhaps one breed of clients that we are all aware of. Everything is fine till the time project is going and the moment you deliver the final draft and poof! The client is so completely out of reach. It is as if they had the invisible cloak of Harry Potter, were just waiting for you to provide the final draft before they conjure up with their magic trick of invisibility.

You may try any possible mode of communication, but the client will not respond. It is evident, they just do not wish to pay you. They can be viewed as the special case of Mr. Inaccessible. The kinds who have just one motive – to avoid the payment any which way possible. At times it could be because of some unforeseen turn of events, where the client genuinely can not contact, but usually, there is no bigger catch behind the same, other than the client wishing to avoid paying.

Usually they avoid all possible sort of communications possible, hoping that you would just give up and not bother them with the payments reminders at all.

Combating The Bad Clients

Do not despair and lose hope. You can still do a lot in the regard of being wary of such clients. What we share here is an age old wisdom of developing long lasting client relationships and the ones that are beneficial for both the parties involved, a sort of symbiotic one in their respect.

There are two steps one need to follow, in order to avoid the bad clients and being wary of the same, if in case you have already gotten into an agreement with them.

instantShift - Combating The Bad Clients

The first step will help you avoid such clients altogether, steer clear ahead of them. The second step will help you deal with your current clients and ensure it is not repeated again with the potential clients.

Step 1: Information

Knowledge is power, is it not? Thus when it comes to avoiding crucial disasters in making the choice and transforming a potential client into full time clients, your only rescue is information.

The Initial stages

The initial stages of the meetings and conversation with the client matters a lot. It is the only way you can be informed about the client and get a glimpse inside their psyche, the way they work and what potential blunders they may be hiding under their skin.

Do not let your guard down even for a second, and skilfully examine each and every detail of the clients. When you are in a meeting with the client, pay attention the way they talk and communicate. Are they paying due attention to little details, how do they carry themselves etc. We have examined our subordinates with the same eye, if we are hiring someone to be a part of our team, we over analyze them up an down several times, now it is time we implement the same skill and articulation on our clients as well.

Tell them what you do and do not!

Before going any further, it will be the most intelligent thing to communicate what you are good at, what you do and what you will not do. Most of the designers have a problem working with Flash while developing the website. But most of the clients wants Flash websites simply because they look smooth and awesome. If you do not do Flash, tell them well in advance, instead of letting it become a problem in the future.

Reference check

While you are still in the meeting with the client, ask if you are the first web designer or developer that they are working with or have they also worked with others in the past. Keep a note of all those designers and they shall provide you with crucial information about these clients. Even if you choose not to trust the feed back of the designers they have worked with, it will still help you a great deal ad preparing your self to work with these clients.

Step 2: Be objective

Being strictly objective is the sure shot way of keeping a client from turning hostile.

The first requirement is getting into a contractual agreement with the client. Nothing can further finalize if you do not have a contract with you in hand. The essentials of the contract includes:

  • The nature and scope of the project
  • Time table set and anticipated deliverables
  • Features and attributes agreed upon
  • A total approximate of the costs
  • Provision for implementing new features and costs
  • Terms and conditions of terminating the project.

Contact Information

This is your escape route when it comes to clients that may be absconding at any stage of the project development. If you are working for a company, ascertain all the possible means with which you can contact them, which includes the email id, contact number of the company and personal mobile number as well.

If you are working for an individual, make sure you take the number of their ally or accomplice as well. If they do not have an associate what so ever, do not shy away from asking for the contact number of a close relative and a friend. Explain it to them why you need it and by delicate with your interrogation. If they are genuine enough, they will oblige, other wise, you just saved your self from a bad client!

Combat Procrastination

Make the client understand that you are a self motivated and ambitious professional. He may not be the only one that you are working for and thus it is extremely important that you both stick to the decided time lines. Here, all you have to do is be ready from your end. Do not allow any slip from your side and if the client is not communicating on time, you have a solution already agreed upon. Right in the beginning set the standards to combat the issues and implement the same if the problem arises.

Dealing with Hamlets

If you feel that the client is not responding because of the ever dying indecisiveness, it is high time you switch on the convincer within you. Inform them that their indecisiveness is slowing down the entire process and they really need to be on time, in order to facilitate the timely completion of the project. Help them in making the decisions. Be genuine and communicate the consequences of their decisions.

Charge Fines

Now this may sound strict, but after a while, there is no bigger motivator than the money itself. Set up the costs for stipulations and not limiting to the set time table. However if you are dealing with a humble small scale business, you cannot scare them off with highly stringent stipulations. If the issue is regarding the untimely payment, be flexible with payment options. Instead of asking them to pay the entire sum in 2 installments, give them more options. Like a weekly payment, etc.

Demo designs

Mr. Perfectionist may give his patronizing and tough task master skills a rest. You need to be sure in the very beginning how many demos you will include in the entire project, based on what you are being paid. Never put up a random figure, rather just convey in the very beginning that you would only provide two ultimate demos and otherwise more demos accompany costs.


Also set time for implementing changes. The client shall not expect the design revision on the very next day. If he is deciding the changes to be made after the demos, you decide the time it will take you to provide the same. This will discourage them from making needless changes in the design.

It sure is a tumultuous task, working for different clients, but with all the exhaustive details included in the article, we are hopeful you will be guided in making effective and well thought after decisions in the future.

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  1. very nice and interesting article!
    I like it…
    And My boss is also similar to Mr. Frugal and Invisible
    thanks for the information…

  2. There is no mr. normal??

  3. I like to work with Mr.Perfectionist but unfortunately most of my clients are like Mr.Hamlet and Mr. Disrespectful.

  4. An article you can forward to design and web copy clients to help avoid these scenarios. :)

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