Dealing with Clients from Hell

by Ashvini on June 17, 2014 · 3 comments

in Entrepreneurship,Managing Customers

In all our working life, most of us would vouch working for a client who is tough and demanding. . Dealing with such a client is a stressful affair. With their overbearing nature, all they do is to create difficulty for project team members.

So why are they clients from hell?

  • setting their own timeline
  • haggling for price
  • haggling for additional features
  • negotiating needlessly
  • constant checking of progress
  • nit-picking over small matters
  • bullying over unsatisfying results
  • demanding priority over others
  • constant comparison with other vendors
  • providing bad reference to other client
  • threatening to walk out and lawsuits

Such clients are too busy to satisfy their own ego rather than getting the work done.

Impact on the project

A client who has the problems above often make life more stressful for the vendor. Sometimes vendors are to be blamed for poor delivery but that is no excuse to treat every vendor the same. To make things work both parties need to work together. In these cases, the end result is often a fatigued vendor and dissatisfied client.

How do we deal with the situation

My personal experience says that one needs to prepare in advance to deal with such a client. Here are a few things I would do

Keep Terms and conditions as clear as possible

Edit out any portion that is vague and clearly outline the assumption in advance. Also mention that you cannot foresee all issues in advance and that if they arise will be dealt with later on in a suitable manner. Involve a lawyer in drafting agreement if needed.

Keep meetings short and to the point

Building relationship is important. But in this case , more friendlier approach may lead to more demands. Thus keep meetings short and to the point.ID-100217746

Timely and to the point reporting

Always be prompt and timely in reporting and stick to reporting facts in the report

Discuss in advance how new demands will be incorporated

Set up a mechanism by which new requirements will be studied and charged. Do not hesitate to ask money because client is demanding ( one of the purpose of being aggressive is to lower the price down )

Discuss in advance how many revisions are acceptable

If you are a designer for example, you cannot go repeating infinite iterations. Give client a suitable number of iterations and then charge for anything beyond that.

Negotiate with an insistent client

If a clients asks for a discount , add more value to the product and the negotiate from there.  If client perceive value , they will stop haggling. Remember negotiating is a two way process and one side may not lose all.

Getting rid of the tough client

Though I don’t recommend this, getting rid of a tough client is sometimes desirable. A good way is to set up high amounts for next project. If client is intelligent enough , they will know that they have been unreasonable in the past. They might either walk away or settle for peace with you.

Image courtesy of [franky242] /

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike DeFelice June 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm

I have been lucky enough to have great clients, but I do have a few potential clients that always seem to want to haggle with pricing. In fact, I had one this week say “I really love your work, but I want you to lower your price.” The client wanted a 40 percent discount which is simply not feasible.

I have had to let one or two clients go in the past because they always wanted more than what was agreed upon, or it came to the point that when I opened up my email, I would cringe at the thought of seeing a new order from them.

Long story short, sometimes it is better to let go of a client that is eating away at your time or simply causing you to hate your work.


Ashvini Kumar Saxena July 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Hi Mike,
Sorry for late reply. Your comment was buried under tonnes of spam I get.
Great to know your thoughts. Yes I agree sometimes people demand more than what is actually possible in the available time or money. I think 40% discount is too much. That should come with lower scope of work too ;). We all have those days :).

Thanks for your comments and have a great day.


Adrienne June 20, 2014 at 4:37 am

Hey Ashvini,

I guess I’ve never had to deal with a tough client yet. Not in corporate America or online. I was the client that our vendors had to deal with and although I wouldn’t say I was tough and demanding but I did expect the work to be done within the time frame they had promised me or I could be a little annoying.

As far as online goes, my consulting clients have been anything but great. It’s really been surprising to be honest with you but I have heard a few stories that web designers have had to deal with. I would probably be a nervous wreck so your suggestions are very very good.

As always, great information you share my dear so thank you. Enjoy the rest of your week.



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