By now, you've all heard about the "unlimited changes" on GeBiz, which even the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has stepped out to deem as "unfair". 

I applaud their fast action, but am puzzled about one thing. Why didn't MOF talk about the fact that there wasn't just one guilty party, and to make matters worse, that there are also demands for unlimited meetings on GeBiz?

I'm writing this publicly because earlier, I had already sent MOF a copy of the guilty documents before they made this announcement, informing them that there were at least 5 guilty parties (not just one). Yet, what I saw from their announcement seemed to communicate an entirely different message.

From my own investigations when the incident first gained traction,
interestingly, I found that all of these 5 government parties on GeBiz had one thing in common:

Source: GeBiz. I didn't even need an account to grab these screenshots.

I don't see any need to publicly shame the individual schools responsible for such a ludicrous act by naming them here, but The Online Citizen has already identified one of them. I found 3, and the last unaccounted for screenshot originally provided by Kelley Cheng clearly shows it is issued by a school as well.

Furthermore, while the attention and public debate has been on unlimited changes, there hasn't been enough attention on the unreasonable demands that many clients make with regards to unlimited meetings.

Here's an example I took from another GeBiz document:

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how the party whom some thought to be "bitchy" responded, so here's the screenshot in full. Note clause 1 and 5.

Thanks to MOF (yay!), this party has now made the following changes. While the change to clause 1 is fairly satisfactory, take a look at the new clause 5, which conveniently does not mention a cap on the number of meetings either. Hmm, if I were the client who issued this, I would presume I have the right to still ask for as many meetings as I want in the name of "discussion". 

What do you think? I'll let you be the judge.

Nothing irks me more than cheap or unreasonable clients. As a former account servicing director, I've had my own experience dealing with horror clients, but a recent incident really took the cake when the client decided to pay just slightly over $600 for a 9-month marketing campaign.

If you're curious, the scope of work that was executed included:
  • Conceptualisation of a holistic route-to-market campaign including public relations, marketing, advertising, corporate publicity and social media.
  • Strategies for the brand's route-to-market.
  • Strategic development of USPs.
  • Guidance on conducting market surveys + editing of survey questions
  • Analysis of the survey results to gain insights, resulting in a developmental copywriting of key marketable messages.
  • Advisory on developing the 3 key messages into a video and infographic, which later materialised.
  • Conceptualising + drafting of animation video script and sound bites.
  • Editorial guidance for animation video.
  • Editorial guidance for instructional video.
  • 3 face-to-face meetings, over 50 emails and numerous Whatsapp messages providing advice and feedback.
  • Copywriting + design for an infographic which client was originally charged $300 by an outside vendor.
  • Design of instructional installation manual.
  • Photo manipulation of Facebook cover photo and profile picture.
  • Copywriting for product packaging + refill packaging.
  • Copywriting for website (which was later not used).
  • Copywriting of chlorine test.
  • Drafting of a influencer brief to guide and direct all social media influencers' postings.
  • Advertorial pitches and liaisons with 15 social media influencers.
  • Liaison with 3 media outlets to obtain customized / latest advertising rates.
  • Advisory on Facebook 
Client was also originally charged $300 for an artwork, which I pulled personal strings to get a cheaper rate for her, and in the end she decided to pay only 1/3 of what her original cost would have been, if not for me.

Because there were no clear contractual terms stated out before, and the whole liaison process was based on business trust, the client saw fit to pay just $615 for all of the work listed above.

Fun fact: The same client paid $1,200 for an advertorial with a local blogger to write about her product, which was designed by herself and manufactured in China. 

Many clients choose to hire freelance creatives because they're more affordable compared to working with an agency, but who protects these freelancers? While this debate is indeed timely, I can tell you that such "slavery" antics (termed by has been a problem in Singapore since years ago.

It is about time we implemented measures to protect the interests of designers / the creative / arts industry, which are often "bullied" by many clients who think that our work is easier than it seems. 


  1. I completely agree with the author. Who protects the freelancers. Just because they work on a ad hoc basis, that does not give any employers the right to exploit these workers. Shameful business practices like this should be abolished immediately.

  2. It is not that these clients think the work is easy. They know it is tough, they know it is difficult, that is why they want outside help. But they also know they can bully you because you are a freelancer - a single person vs a company which they can hide behind.

    For business owners, there is no incentive to pay immediately when they can delay payment and keep their cash flowing for bigger priorities, or just for the fun of it.

    Why would the company want to be considerate to a temporary freelance person when they can just recycle another freelancer to do the job after this one quits from the abuse?

    I was a freelance translator for a while, and this scenario was always on my mind, I even had a client run away with arrears of over $2000! Worse thing was, I actually had a good working relationship with the guy for close to 5 years.

    Business is a jungle, stick to being an investor and let the ones working in the company face the animals, or be the animals, and collect the fruits of their abuse. That is a much better game plan ;)


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