Unprofessional Designers, a Firsthand Experience. Ugh.

I often wonder what someone is thinking when they are acting in a way that gives a black eye to their profession. Unfortunately, not too long ago I was a firsthand witness to a lot of designers behaving in a way that probably makes the entire profession look like it’s full of crazy people.

I responded to an ad placed on Craigslist (Yeah, I know. Not a the best place to find decent clients but you never know.). The ad was placed by someone wanting a reworking of his logo. It was brief and I was pretty sure that the guy didn’t really know how to go about hiring someone and he was most likely only looking to spend $50 or so.

I sent my information to the link and a little later on I received this email (All errors in email text are not my fault):

Thank you for your quick response.  Attach you will find the logo that I want to improve.  The idea would be to make a different, new and improved logo, you can send me one or several, I had over 80 applicants, I would pick the one that I like the most.  I will pay $150 for the job.

Um… OK. Let’s leave the whole “working on spec” debate alone for now. I’m sure I’ll be writing on that some time soon.

Fortunately—or fortunately for the purposes of this post—the email was CC’d to over 50 email addresses. About 45 minutes later, responses started coming in. And these were only responses that were CC’d to everyone.

The first I received went like this:

Hello Xxxxx,

I believe you are a little confused on how this works. First of all, I give you the price, not the other way around. Also, I do not start on the project until a deposit of 50% has been made. The fact that you disrespectfully included everyone in one email is a clear indication of how you do business. Yes, the economy is bad, but we designers will not work for free. Our talents and services are valuable and you need to pay for them accordingly. I am not about to spend 2 hours on designing a logo for you only to have you choose another one. This is not a contest, it is a business deal.

I urge everyone here, that Fabian so carelessly included on one email, to disregard his offer of working for free. Fabian, if you want good graphic work, you need to pay for it, plain and simple. If I ran my business like you are requesting, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I hope you learn to have a little more respect for people.

Much of what is contained in this email regarding how a design job should be contracted is pretty much correct. Did the responder really need to scold the client for the way he is trying to set up this business deal? Certainly not. What is gained besides the opportunity to vent frustration on someone in a public manner?

But it gets even better. Here are four more quotes from email that came along after.

…Its clear that Xxxx has no idea what he is doing. And to charge $150 for a professional logo when you are seen posing here in front of 2 sports cars is pretty lame.

And then this

This guy is a real nutcase. I refuse to work with people like him.

After that came

I bet a nutcase like Xxxxx will go out of business before he gets anyone of us to work for him.

And finally

Are you kidding, right? I hope so.

OK. Great. There’s nothing like behaving in an unprofessional manner when presented with a client that needs to be educated. And what’s the point of all this? What was accomplished? All I can see that was accomplished was the client was left thinking that designers are temperamental little children who spit out insults when anyone dares to incorrectly solicit work. If that’s what the goal was then it was successful.

I’m not sure if a cooler head prevailed and sent a private email letting the client know how things should work. I do know that the client now has a very negative view of designers and he should. He’s not a big client like Coke or FedEx so what’s the big deal, right? Well, he might become a big potential client some time in the future, right? So why create a negative image of professional designers?

I once spent a few weeks putting together a direct mail campaign proposal for a large client. After all that work—and actually finalizing some numbers with my office while in the hospital awaiting my second child—we were told that the client would not work with Vendor X and rejected the proposal. I was told by Vendor X that they knew the reason. There was a rep working there several years before and had an issue with one of the client’s decision-makers. And this was while the decision-maker even worked at a different company. Needless to say, that proposal never went anywhere after that.

So one person I never even knew existed had a direct impact on my ability to write a winning proposal.

I wonder if any of the responders to that small ad asking for a logo redesign thought about the long-term damage a short-lived email could do. I doubt it.

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