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How to handle a completely arrogant sadistic client?

Community Leader
Dusko A Member Since: May 12, 2017
1 of 4

It's been some time since I had to ask for some guidance or help. Recently I got a client which offered great opportunity on working longterm on very interesting project which I am fully capable to do. We had nice talk before we did video interview and all was fine. I did noticed at some moments during the video call that what I was telling him he kinda ignored and kept on talking for what his brain was set out already. I sensed maybe the connection played a part or not being able to understand each other because of it so I thought okay.


Then we started the work. The work is not black and white and requires time and going step by step which I told him before I took the project because the project is pretty much a matter of a taste as anything is in the design field. The first things I did he gave no constructive arguments but straighforward "ugly" although they adhered to the instructions. When I asked first time for some hint or help from his side, which will help me understand his idea better and deliver better work he replied: "there is a place called google. There you have search box and if you type this and that it will give you what I am looking for". I replied to him in most polite way that I am already aware of Google Sir and that I did actually that but that there are so many examples that I would like him if he can point out to few that are most beautiful to him. Then he replies: "What do I pay you for you are the designer". I say okay, looked up again the guidances he gave and started correcting the issues.  Before I knew it he started insulting me. He started to avoid saying my name and referring to me as "explain please to this guy", "this guy is making me sick of it" (because we are three people, the client, his other freelancer he hired and myself) and so on. He kept being dramatic, irational, hyperbolic, making things look worse then they actually are and putting the blame on me.

I had enough experience over the past 4 years on UpWork to know that once in a while you will run into a person who is described like this but this is guy is just whole new level.

In the past I've had a missunderstanding with a client due to ENG/US dictionary that led to things like that. Okay I recognized the problem corrected myself and went ahead.

I've had clients who wanted to trick me. I've learned the lesson and went ahead.

This time I have a client who is diminishing all I do and insult my work, my skills, and me personally. I will most definitely move forward from this one too except I want to try and minimize the damage he can do to my ratings.

Briefly I would like to put an example of how things go:
Client:  He demands work
Myself: I do the work and send to the other freelancer he hired the next day

Client: Requires additional changes he hasn't told me before
Myself: Im doing that as well and send to the freelancer next day

Client: Requires additional changes he hasn't told me before

Myself: Im doing that and send to the freelancer next day
Then the freelancer is gone for 4 days and on the 5th day the client comes out of nowhere saying:

"**Edited for Community Guidelines**

Excellent! He is not the talk guy, he is the result guy but the only one who can give him results is me but he is not willing to listen to me because apparently he knows everything. He demands excellence and no mistakes, but also he wants work done ASAP for cheapest price. I know what kind of people they are as I have experienced them first hand in my life. The worst type of managers or people you would like to work for. People that will end up alone in the end because have no empathy or care for their employees, people who run over people to get their things done.

I am working on a national holiday during weekend and I write to him to ask for opinion of the work if there is anything that he wants to be improved and he replies: **Edited for Community Guidelines**

This guy, is a complete wreck to work for. I am not complaining, I am not crying over it, I will get over it. I am just concerned for my rating that these completely irrational human beings can influence and what is in my power that I can do to preserve myself other than delivering the best job I am delivering already and will keep delivering until I turn things around. But it's hard to get sense with another human being who doesn't want to be talked to.

Please if anyone has any experiences with clients like these, the outcomes and what should I do, is very much welcomed because I am long way off the phase when I cared and stressed over to make him happy and have sleepless nights to try and solve problems. Where I am now, I am pretty much ignorant as well. He deserves no better.

Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
2 of 4

It's been a very long time since I had a client like that, but yeah, it was basically the same situation. I had this guy who was really nice and a great client, and he asked if I would do a letterhead design for his wife. So I sent her a few ideas and she said, "I don't like them, what other ideas do you have?", without giving any further feedback. When I asked if she could go into more detail, she'd respond, "Do what you think is best - YOU'RE the designer." And we went in circles like that for - ugh, 6 months, I think? - while I came up with every design that I could think of. I really tried to make it work because I didn't want to lose her husband's business, but finally I quit the job and said that she didn't have to pay me anything (I just wanted out). Then her husband actually sent me the full payment! I think he felt sorry for me. She never reviewed me, either (this was on Elance). But that project probably worked out to paying me about 2 cents per hour that I spent.


So, what do I wish that I'd done? I wish that I hadn't agreed to take the project in first place. We had a phone call where she said that her previous designer hadn't worked out (probably because her previous designer quit, like I did) and there were a few other alarm bells as well. And I should have quit way before I did, obviously.


It sounds like you had some reservations after your initial phone call, so that's the number 1 piece of advice - listen to your gut, and vet your clients carefully. And if you're still working for this guy, stop. You're going to have to quit eventually - and he'll probably give you a bad review anyway - so why not get it over with sooner rather than later? But be nice and professional, say that you're sorry but you're not a good fit and you want to stop wasting his time so that he can find someone else. If he gives you a bad review, it sounds like you've been around long enough that maybe you have the top-rated perk, or enough reviews to absorb one bad one? (I can't tell because your profile is hidden.) 


But yeah - sorry. I feel your pain. 

Active Member
Eihab S Member Since: Apr 14, 2020
3 of 4

To be honest, the second the client started getting unprofessional is your sign to end things. No one is entitled to your time, work, effort or energy. You give work in exchange for money -- that's the end of the transaction.


Clients that act that way have no manners and as such, you shouldn't really deal with them as it'll only bring misery. Clients start by requesting work -- no room for "demands".


I think next time you should be very careful about vetting the clients. You need your peace of mind.

Ace Contributor
Lindsey M Member Since: Jan 27, 2019
4 of 4

I've recently had a client similar. But he wanted to talk for hours on the phone every day and walk me through what he wanted. He was a terrible micro-manager. 

I was able to finish the project to my satisfaction (probably not his though). I told him I was no longer able to work with him. I didn't give him any reason, but I that I was able to pass on his contact information for another designer. I reached out to my network and explained that this client was a pain, but if anyone wanted to work with him to get ahold of me and I would pass on his info. 

Then I went on to end our contract through Upwork. If you're a Top Ranked freelancer, you should be able to remove any negative feedback he gives.