How would you handle?

I’ve been in business for a long time and rarely have I had this happen… how would you handle?

Client who worked in reception at a office with 4 others all in which I have done business with for many years, this client is now moving from reception to working as an agent in this business and contacts me to do her business cards. We have the usual discussion, she sends photos, I create a signal logo and produce 3 versions of her card for approval in which she comments about a specific ‘Canva font’ she doesn’t appear to understand that her signature logo is not a font it’s what I’ve been working on … anyways she proceeds to ask for a different font and other changes in which I deliver specifically what she asks for, I don’t like it but I do it.

Today she sends me an email stating such BS … claims her husbands colleague surprised her with a business card, so she no longer needs me. She doesn’t even have the decency to offer to pay for the time Ive spent.

How would you handle? Would you just invoice her for time, would you drop it in light of the other clients in that office I work with; one being her brother. Or would you spell it out to her?

I’m most interested in how you would handle.

Following Graphic Artists Guild guidelines, I have a section in my contract that addresses how much I will be compensated in the event the client cancels the project before completion and delivery.

I wouldn’t let it go. It sets a precedent and makes it more likely the issue will come up again in the future.


Do you have a series of back-and-forth emails where you’ve mentioned prices? Do you have a contract that’s more than a verbal agreement? I typically ask for 50 percent upfront with new clients, but I also understand this was sort of an extension of an already-established relationship.

I’d probably send her a friendly, upbeat email saying you’re sorry what you put together for her didn’t work out for her and that you’ll be sending her an invoice for the time already spent on the job — perhaps 50 percent of what you agreed upon in an email (that you reference in the note). Then I’d wait for a response to see what you’re up against.

At that point, I’d send her an invoice. If she doesn’t pay, well, there’s always small claims court, but it’s probably not worth the effort. I’d certainly not take any more work from her, though.


Thank you Mojo and Just-B

I appreciate what you suggested in the way of a ‘friendly letter with invoice for payment’ as this is what I was thinking. This was an unusual situation for me as I mentioned earlier in that I work with several of the people out of that office and I’ve always run office things through this particular client. I was ‘disappointed’ to say the least as I would never have expected this from this individual… I continue to live and learn.

Once again, thank you!

I find it very useful to talk to clients on the phone, especially when something is not clear or misunderstood. Sometimes fear or anger dissolves very quickly with a call.


The irony is today clients with the exception of a few want to email, text, anything to avoid the issue at hand.

I’ve been in this for over 20 years and It’s shocking at how I’ve seen this change… it concerns me especially with design - of how much can be misunderstood or miscommunicated… I find myself spending an unreasonable amount of time just on emailing and insuring everything is crystal clear etc.

Yes, and many of them rarely read or adequately respond to emails that contain more than two paragraphs or one question.

It’s a problem. At the agencies where I used to work, there were always hour-long sit-down meetings with clients where we would get to know them, get to know their businesses, and mutually explore the problems they came to us to solve.

This lack of casual back-and-forth conversations inhibits an exchange of ideas and the kind of creativity needed to best solve the clients’ problems. Emails are great for asking simple questions and making quick responses, but they’re lousy for really digging down and understanding the problem. Email is equally lousy for exploring, presenting, and selling ideas to clients.

I fired a client recently after she began a habit of responding to my phone calls and emails with quick text messages that she dashed off on her phone while doing other things. I wasted so much time with this client trying to pry information out of her that I finally told her I couldn’t take any additional work.

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So true… and how right you are about ‘not reading’ past a question or a couple paragraphs, I have found myself trying to condense and be detailed at the same time and it’s absolutely true that if there is more than one question I’m lucky if they answer the one.