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Annoying "friend" clients



Don't you love it when the opportunity to help a friend out comes along?

I just had a call from a friend that went horribly wrong. I've known this guy for about 6 years and he seems to think that because he took a BTEC IT course that he knows all about web development and graphic design, which was apparent considering he kept using web/graphic terms in the wrong context in a kind of "Yeah that thing, I know what you mean <insert incorrect terminology here>"

He told me he wanted a website so I asked him what kind of website he wanted and what he wanted on it. His response was "Yeah, I'd like a basic website, something that just shows a telephone number and explains what we do. I also want some kind of quote system - to which I said can you explain how that system would work for the user and what it actually does - where people can look at something and get a rough idea of how much it costs." I was at a loss as to what he wanted to I took a stab in the dark and asked if he wanted a gallery... "Yeah..!". I explained to him that it would be much better to find a website on the internet that looks 'something' like what he wants (I really had no idea what he wanted - I'm not into stealing designs and stuff) and send me some links. His response was that all websites on the internet are crap so there is no point.

Anyway... long, agonising story short after lots of other unreasonable questions and wasted explanations he then decided to ask when I would be able to start work on this project which he could only pay me "once we had some work coming in". I had already explained that I currently have 5 other on-going projects that I am heavily involved in at the moment. I said to him that I'd be able to start in January. There was a long pause which ended with him saying "Are you serious..?? I was expecting you to be able to start next week.."

I kind of laughed, expecting it to be a joke, but no he was deadly serious. The next 5 minutes consisted of him repeating a question similar to the following "So.. you can't give me an exact date as to when you can start?" After around 5 times of explaining that due to my current heavy work load and my decision to not prioritise a potentially non-paying job (to which I had already offered him a substantial discount) over paying jobs that I would be able to start around January time. He then kept repeating himself saying things like "So you can't actually give me any kind of time-frame as to when you can start...!?" in a constant tone of utter disbelief and frustration.

I was pretty frustrated at this point because the conversation had already gone on for about 20 minutes - excluding the chatting and catching up which probably took it to around 40 minutes. He began asking me why I can't give him a time frame again so I just had to interrupt him and end the conversation politely.

It just left me feeling a little annoyed that someone could be so ignorant. Sorry, rant over, what about you guys? Have you ever been in a similar situation?


Senior Member
Its happened to us all! The other day I had to remote into someone's computer to change their email signature because they didn't understand how to do it themselves!

Friends, actually no, mates, friends understand, are the worst people to work for because they want the best thing in the world for (next to) nothing and they want it yesterday. Why not recommend he goes out and chases some work and then pays you upfront to encourage you...I know, I know...that will never happen.


I did actually mention that to him because he said something which contradicted something he said earlier, which was that there was no work coming in and they want the website to help with that. I then said well, surely you can do your job without a website - it's not like you physically need it in order to do some work for someone. I thought I made sense but apparently I didn't.. and he told me that that he does actually need the website to complete work. I quickly discovered that there were a number of (non) issues which he argued relentlessly and gave up hope of coming to an agreement.

I decided that I don't want to work with him and if he asks again or tries to apologise I will just turn it down. Oh well!


Staff member
That's why I say "this is my business, I don't care if you're my mate, this is my source of income and I need to pay bills etc".

I'll maybe give them a discount if they're lucky or good enough mates/friends but other than that they're treated the same as the rest of my clients.


done work for a "mate" before.. never again.. totally destroys the friendship and generally makes things very hard completing any work for said "mate".


I wonder what it is about working for a mate that ensures complication and difficulty. I'm thinking perhaps a combination of lack of understanding for your job and that they feel you're obliged to help them, but I'm wondering if it also proves the person is lacking in character, ability to consider other people's situations or some other kind of negative blemish on that persons qualities (or lack of!).

It can't be that it would end badly for every person put into this situation. I'm quite happy to accept that no one knows, I realise this isn't a psychology forum :p

Paul Murray

Staff member
Some of my favourite jobs have been for friends. I'm even willing to design stuff for free for them because I know they appreciate it, and I'd rather they went out into the world flying one of my flags, than that of a contest or logo maker site.

Occasionally you'll hear from someone you haven't spoken to in a while who's looking for something done on the cheap. I got this tweet recently from a mate...

@pmurraydesign Sup dude, I'm looking to launch a website in the new year ill pay you to do it for me. It needs to have everything. Let me no
What exactly is the site for/about? What is 'everything'? I don't even offer web design as a service because I'm pretty crap at it (friends know this).


Yeah, I can understand that completely, I was happy to offer him a reduced price because I thought in the long term him and his work partner may be able to get me work in the future which I see as an alternative method of payment.

One thing he did say which was quite funny was "I don't want a mega website with tons of stuff like HTML and things like that". It took a lot of effort not to make some kind of witty remark about that...


Senior Member
I must say, my girlfriend (web designer) is very good with these situations. She'll go
"If you want a website as a present, just say so. I might be able to help you with that,
but you have to be flexible in return". It makes sense because she always have her
own templates ready (created entirely by her) that can be easily adapted.

Then she'll say "Alternatively you can just you can just accept these rules".
Another very effective thing she'll say if her friend mentions the possibility of future
rewards is "Please don't offer me amazing unplanned future returns. Just decide
whether you want a present or whether you prefer to be a client".

Well... It works!
Squiddy, sounds like your 'friend' had very unrealistic expectations and was wasting your time; you needed to walk away.

I'm working on a major web site project for a friend at the moment. I originally declined because the budget was way too low - bespoke requirement for an out-of-the-box budget - and because it often turns bad doing work for friends.

In this case he had some quotes (without much of a spec) from a number of dev agencies, was messed about quite badly and the project drifted. I ended up taking it on partly out of sympathy for his experience with a bunch of muppets and partly because I will also be involved with content, SEO, eMarketing, etc., so I can be instrumental in the site's success, which makes the work more interesting and rewarding.

The process has been avoidably time consuming so far (he is also the creative/designer): inadequate planning, design not accounting for content and an insistence on building things to see how they look rather than nailing visuals first. Having said that, it looks like we will actually get there soon.


Active Member
Hay Squiddy,
Sorry I do appologise I have been on DF for over 3 hours now and only logged on to answer your other thread about jobs when I checked my emails, dear lord. So haven't read other peoples responses, so i do appologise peeps.

Honestly Walk.

I just wrote this in another thread. Its all about clients expectations. When you said he wanted a basic site. I went yeah add a gallery, add a slideshow, add a CMS to that statement and the £hundreds you quoted for turns close to £3000 at mates rates.

There is no such thing as a basic site.
To me a basic site is a site that has words on it and a design. To others its Ebay bells and whistles. Basic is only basic if you have a proper understanding of what went in to create it in the first place.

What you need is in writting exactly what he wants, I have done 2 sites for a mate recently after his last awful ones and both the ones I have done for him he came to me after a cheaper supplier well.... granted I learnt far more on the second time round about asking on improving what is "basic" and asking him to spell out what he wants. Because otherwise you ghave just sold you unending services for a small amount.

Roughly how many pages,
How many pages will require animation slideshow, flash etc...
What does the system need to do
What does the sytem require to work
How will the system be updated etc...etc...

Then in writting explain as this is discounted I will get to it in x amount of days, give an actual date in January when you can start it, if you start it eariler all the better, and then plan out how long it will take you to achieve what he has sent you in writing.

Confirm a deadline of when payment will be made, not just when work starts coming in, wish I would take my own advice, next time my mate comes to me I will do that one because there is still £200 outstanding on his last site, with a open when work comes in attachement.

Then anything outside of that is extra and you haven't just got a crafty mate who has expolited you.

I had a mate site first time round and the darn thing with "basic" functionaility took me so long as I had to rewrite a PayPal payment api for a CMS system for a "basic" shipping improvement and I ended up working for around £2/hour in the end.

Hence next time round it was clear from the start, and its worked out okayish this time. But get it in writing and everything first and then look at managing his expectations. As nothing is ever quick.

Also say if its that easy you do it if he keeps pushing it. Personally I would hes your mate and this means you can get away with calling him a numnuts to his face. :)

If he goes else where he goes else where, that may be a good thing from my experiance.