Lifestyle

"This Was My Worst Client Ever": Gig Workers And Freelancers Are Sharing Horror Stories, And It's Rough Out There


Plenty of people rely on gig work for various reasons, like as a full-time source of income or a second job for needed money. If that’s the first time you’re hearing that term and are confused: Gig work is when people work as independent contractors or freelancers and get paid on a per-gig basis.

a person riding a bike delivering food

As with any job, gig work has its pros and cons. I asked the BuzzFeed Community to share their gig work horror stories with me. I also combined those answers with some from Reddit threads discussing a similar topic. Buckle up for some of these.


1.

“I do dog sitting as a side gig. I work through an app, but most people just recommend me to others because I LOVE dogs! I got a gig through the app and a woman and her dog were awful. She wanted me to give him only sparkling water, sit next to him while he ate four times a day, and spend pretty much all my time at her place. Her dog was very low-energy and not super cuddly. It seemed like he couldn’t care if I were there or not. Except when it was bedtime — he would growl and bark at me and refuse to let me lay in the guest bed. If I did manage to get in, he’d hump my leg and nip at me. He chewed my shoes and peed on my bags. The best part was the woman had cameras everywhere and saw it all but refused to reimburse me. She was incredibly wealthy but was also super cheap. I had to cut her loose as a client SO FAST.”


2.

“I am a freelance designer for theatre and TV specializing in costume. A broadcasting company wanted me to come work for them in a really good position for where I am career wise so I took it, not realizing it was 90% voluntary and would only get paid or credited if I passed a stupid amount of assessments and training days — like two months every day of free work. I lost it and their only excuse was ‘well work with us is very lucrative so we’re doing you a favor.”

canunotmywaywardson

3.

“A few years ago in Chicago, I was doing gig work full time for my income. I decided to go out and take some on-demand food delivery service orders during the Pride festivities. What a mistake! I ended up picking up a sandwich and coffee for this young guy. The restaurant was on the west side of Pride, and the dude’s apartment was on the east side of Pride, basically between Halsted and the lake. What should have been a 10-minute order got me stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for OVER FOUR HOURS. Needless to say, the dude never got his sandwich. I ended up eating it. It was pretty good!”

4.

“For those of you who use food delivery services and do not tip or you remove the tip, I just wanted to show you how important the tip is to us drivers. I deliver for 1-4 hours a day after my 8-12 hour shift to make ends meet as a single father of three children. Your tips mean everything.”

u/no_part_of_it

5.

“I tried to get a job at a gig job site to make extra money. The work I took on for a software job took me around a week to complete, four hours a day after my usual office hours. I thought, it will be a stable extra source of income, but after the initial job, nothing followed. So, I thought, ok that was just a quick buck and so I just moved on. After a month, the client started to complain about a problem. It turned out that he had asked someone to take over my work but the other person couldn’t figure it out. So I fixed it in an hour and got paid. Then the following week, he asked me to look into another thing, but this time some other person did something new, and he wanted me to integrate my work. And every time the client makes it sound like it’s a defect and part of the initial work we agreed upon. But I still did as he asked and got paid a couple of hours more.”

“Then, the next week it was another problem. The thing is it felt like I was a full-time employee supporting the project anytime the client needs me to because I have to respond asap to any issues he faced, my fault or someone else’s. Long story short, it felt like an on-call support arrangement and I got paid for the actual hours of work, which is 1-2 hours per week on average. If it’s my only job, I wouldn’t mind getting paid even if it’s for 1-2 hours, but the client knows I have a day job. And, so I tried to quit and close my account altogether, but the client kept on asking me to solve some problem when I already told him, it was because of something else.

Now, to get out of the deal, I just gave up and planned on giving his money back. Lesson: If you are looking for a side gig to earn extra money using these online gig websites, it may cause more time and stress than your day job. I think because employers here don’t have enough cash, they will squeeze you for every penny that they pay you.”

u/PermissionPale3773

6.

“I’m a former teacher here who needed a second job to pay high winter electricity bills. Picked up a job delivering food. Ended up getting my foot caught on uneven payment, flattened on the pavement, and fractured part of my left foot. I had so much adrenaline and shock that I didn’t realize how badly I was hurt so I picked up another order. By the time I got out of my car again, I couldn’t walk.”

“Thousands of money owed for emergency room and specialist visits. Ultimately, I had to quit another second job because my foot hurt too bad if I was on it for too long. Finally healed but I owed other medical bills to figure out if abnormal test results were related to the injury.”

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7.

“One night working a flexible package delivery service gig job, I looked into the weather and noticed it was supposed to be a cool and non-rainy night for delivery. My shift was 5:45 pm-10:15 pm. I got a few snacks, gassed up, and was ready to go. I got to the warehouse and it started to look cloudy. Then it got worse and rain started pelting down. By the time I had to go into the warehouse, grab the packages, and come back out not only me but the poor 20 packages were wet. I felt horrible but the warehouse workers made me walk a long while to get my packages to my car. Thankfully the rain stopped, but just as it was getting dark the rain started up and it was bad. Let’s just say it felt like a monsoon had started in the middle of the boonies where I was delivering. Not only did I not know where I was but the roads were winding and the rain made it hard to see anything two feet in front of my car.”

8.

“Right, like Uber Eats drivers are making enough money to tip.”

9.

“I had gotten a new car at the beginning of 2021. One of the first things I did was sign up to be a food delivery person. Well, my first (and last) pickup was an order from Dairy Queen. I go to pick up the order and this is the start of my complicated story. I get there and the order is just for four ice cream cups or something like that. Firstly, the store was out of an ingredient for one of the ice creams and when I texted the customer about substitution or what he wanted to do I never got an answer so DQ just made the ice cream with a substitute ingredient but to where it would taste the same. I then leave the store, click on the directions to the customer’s address on the delivery that they provided, and headed there. Long story short I end up driving an hour away from home and the customer is calling me asking where his food is.”

10.

Being a personal assistant is never easy, some of your clients are super easy to work for and some are just downright the worst. I was hired as an office manager which turned into being a PA. This is the worst client I ever worked for without going into specifics. She was a tyrant and when she wanted something done it had to be done that day or the next. There was no putting it off. Period. Once she gave me a task to do for her home which wasn’t part of my job responsibilities. Being the office manager was what I was told would be my job and working there Monday through Saturday, it would be a typical 9 to 6 job. But the worst part was driving all over the place with her crazy demands. Her first was the worst though… getting something done to her home. I’ve never done anything like that before and worse it wasn’t my fucking house dude.”

—Anonymous, former office manager

11.

“When I was a waitress I had a problem with people calling my job — which I kept for as long as I could — a ‘gig.’ I’m not booking ‘gigs’ telling job jokes for one night, I’m literally trying to feed my family.”

12.

“Several years ago I had relocated to a new city that was quickly becoming a major hot spot. I was struggling for decent work and landed a contract gig with a guy who was buying houses and converting them into temporary rentals. He hired me to decorate and furnish the houses and wanted me to focus on second-hand finds. The gig itself was really fun, but the guy was an absolute monster. He was a douchebag tech bro from San Jose. He was an absolute scum bag who was constantly demanding way more than what I was contracted to do and tried to play it out like we were friends and I should help him out before screaming at me and telling me I was a POS. When my contract ended I declined to sign a new one and he didn’t take that well.”

—Nicole, 40

13.

“I worked as a driver about six years ago, at a time when there were still very few female drivers (especially ones in their early 20s like me). One night I picked up a man after a Halloween party and was driving him 30 minutes to his house in the suburbs. He kept commenting on my allegedly short skirt and glasses, saying I looked like a porn star. He started rubbing my shoulders from the back seat and kept telling me how sexy I was and that I should come to his house. At this point, I was on the expressway with nowhere to go so I just trucked it to his house, where he refused to get out of my car. I finally called my boyfriend, which got him to leave. I reported the incident to the company I was temporarily working for who said I wouldn’t ever be matched with the rider again. I was so upset that he wouldn’t be outright banned and I never drove for them again.”

Do you have any gig work horror stories? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!


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