Client Types: The Bully

I recently was referred by a previous client for some work elsewhere. The referring client was easy to work with, sang my praises and listened to my advice, so naturally I welcomed a referral. She sent my information on and the referral contacted me within ten minutes.

The new client suggested a Skype chat. I obliged and we were chatting within 30 minutes of first contact. And this is where it should have ended.

The first red flag came when she referred to our discussion about her project as an “interview”.

Let’s be clear: I am a consultant and practitioner. I was referred to this client as a peer who could assist, not as a subcontractor. I had already submitted a website full of samples, plus additional requested samples were emailed and reviewed.  This project was posed to me as a kind of favor for this client. But I went with this ‘interview’, assuming it was standard process or the like. We discussed fairly high level work, so I agreed to check it out and signed a nondisclosure agreement.

Then I received a Work Order. For 10 hours of work. On a project that, if done correctly, would take 40 – 60 hours in the real world. This is Skype the conversation that followed:

Me: This  work order is for one 15 minute module out of 6 that will be in a particular lesson, correct?

Bully: NO it is one storyboard with six 15 minute lessons. The course has thirty 15 minute modules total.  You are doing one piece of it with 3 other designers.

Me: So ten hours to develop 90 minutes of material? [Editor’s Note: 90 mins of storyboarding, even for a very simple training course, has a mean of 60 design hours]

Bully: Correct.
Me: …That seems rather short. Do you have any of these storyboards developed for this project? I

Bully: Each lesson is 10-15 minutes. Not sure where the confusion lies. You would be responsible for 6 of these mini lessons

[Oh now they are MINI LESSONS??]

Me: There is no confusion, I am trying to get a sense of how much research and rework of the material would be required, or if it a matter of using the existing information.  If there needs to be objective development and decision making style scenarios created, I don’t think I make a quality lesson in 1hr 40 per module.

Bully:There is no research. You copy/paste from the documents specified in the document for that lesson. So thanks again. great to work with another ID veteran. This is my 19th year.

[The fact she had to point out this is her 19th year should have told me – stay away!]

Later, after realizing she had not even looked at the very lengthy and detailed information that was in NO WAY ready for “copying and pasting” into a storyboard, I backed out:

Me: I’ve spent 3.5 hours on module 6 and I’m only halfway through. I can see that I will not be able to create 6 lessons in 10 hours.

Bully: [Seeing I had her switcharoo figured out and was about to back out of the whole thing, softens up] Sometimes it takes a while to get familiar with the content and template. Are you having trouble breaking the content down to make it short and sweet for the module?

Me: I’m not having trouble, I can absolutely create these, but the writing and interaction creation and image finding is too involved for the amount of content.

Bully: You should just be able to locate the topic from the outline and pull the information on that topic from the document. you only need a 1-2 sentence overall description.  would you like to schedule a call?

Me: No, we don’t need to have another call. I’ve spent too much time on this already and I see that perhaps you haven’t acquainted yourself with the material. I suggest you look over the very first lesson and reconsider your time frame.

Bully: Oh that is just f***ing great! You are just going to leave me hanging? And here I thought you were  a professional!

I didn’t answer her.  Bullet dodged.



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