A group of dentists are making a directory for their 500+ member organization. The job comes to my print-shop-day-job, but we can't do the file creation part of it (they have ancient computers and no InDesign) so my boss sends them my way and suggests I freelance it to keep the job close as well as "help me out" with extra income. I'm saving for my own house so I do need the money so I talk to the clients.
The client said they will provide an excel sheet with data about the members. I need to use that 500+ directory of data to make a book divided into three sections.
- Directory organized alphabetically by members' LAST NAMES
- Directory of members organized by the COUNTY their practice is in
- Directory of members organized by their SPECIALIZATION in the field
I give them my hourly rate and let them know what I need to complete the job. They assure me they've done this before and that it'll be sent over very soon.
I have better computers than my day job, and I’ve done data merging like this in InDesign before, it’s 500+ members, but it should be a simple data merge and a little tweaking here and there to get the layout to flow correctly. Should be easy enough, right?
NOPE. The second I get their file I want to quit.After several months of silence from these doctors they finally send me their file. It’s an excel sheet with only partial data and what little data I have is completely incorrect with a ton of blanks and 2 different categories for counties with some filled in on the one and others having different data in the other. Some of these doctors don’t have names or complete addresses, and a bunch of them list the wrong county and some are even out of state! Plus, no logos or pre-made artwork! That means the book covers, organization logo, and everything else need to be re-designed from scratch which is NOT what I signed up for or what was promised.
Me, being the idiot I am, I didn’t reject the job at that point like I should have.
Instead I ask that we wait for complete files, I tell them that I need logos, and provided artwork and explain that doing this now with this false data that will need to be replaced is a huge waste of time because it’ll all have to be redone and that this all costs hourly design time as discussed earlier, but they don’t care. They want a proof and they want it NOW. Like, tomorrow-NOW. They have a meeting and need to show something to the members to make it seem like they're on the ball with all of this when the waited until the day before to get it to me.
I work my 9-5 day job, drive the hour-long way home, and start working on this nightmare book. It takes 5+ HOURS to roughly mock-up logos and separate and merge all the data to give them their first proof, which will all have to be re-done anyway when I get the correct data. It’s time consuming, not cost effective, and rage inducing because of all the time cleaning up their excel sheet to even work out a data merge in the first place...but I get it done.
They get their proof, about a month of silence with no response...THEN THEY EMAIL ME AGAIN.
I get a new excel file with new partial data and this time even MORE incorrect stuff. We’re talking addresses listed in the wrong county and everything, which entirely defeats the point of creating a directory. Especially when one section organizes the members BY COUNTY! Again, they have a meeting coming up and demand a new proof to show members that some progress is being made, regardless of how stupid and wasteful this all is and that it’ll all need to be redone when you get all the complete data. I do it again as requested. 4 MORE HOURS OF MY LIFE GO INTO RECREATING THIS BOOK’S CONTENTS. AGAIN. With WRONG data, knowing this will just happen again and again until I get the correct file, but they don’t care about design time they say, they want proofs now to show their peers.
FLASH FORWARDThey have done this to me and ignored my warnings 4 FREAKING TIMES!
16+ HOURS OUTSIDE DAY JOB HAVE GONE INTO RECREATING THIS BOOK OVER AND OVER AGAIN INCORRECTLY. ON PURPOSE.
I never should have taken this job. I should have run the second I saw their shitty files. I shouldn’t of let my bosses pressure me into keeping this client close. It’s been utter hell and even with all my warnings about design time and them saying it doesn’t matter, we’re at $960 dollars. I bet they’ll argue when that final bill comes in and pretend like they didn’t get my warnings and time estimates so far. Plus if they get angry they might walk away from the print portion of the job ruining the connection this was all supposed to keep in the first place. Really, this was my fault. I should have said no when I saw the files and walked away.
Just a little lesson to those of you doing freelance on the side. You shouldn’t take every job that comes your way and don’t feel pressured to keep jobs when clients can't keep up their end of the bargain. You aren’t a slave! All this stress and time spent was not worth it. I’ll likely be in a legal battle to get paid for this freaking job in the end, all because I didn't say no.
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