12 Customer Horror Stories That Show Just How Bad Retail Can Be. These Make Online Shopping Look Gooooood.
When we're at work, we're all just trying to do our job. Sure, some of us try more than others, but if you're dealing with someone at their job it should be obvious that they might be having a bad day, or that they're at least due a minimum amount of respect.
Well, that's not so obvious to everyone...
Here are twelve customer horror stories from the front lines of retail.
Many thanks to the Reddit users who responded. Check out more answers from the sources at the end of this article!
1/12. I used to work at a very popular lingerie store.
It was just after Christmas and we had a ton of customers--people returning things to using gift cards that they had received. I'm working at the registers, when this lady comes up to the counter and says that she wants to return a bra that she bought.
She had the receipt, but the bra was clearly used so I was hesitant to let her return it. But my manager just said to do it, so, following the return policy, I told her that I could put the money back on the debit card she had used to pay for the bra. She had been polite up until then. But then she started screaming "NO! I WANT CASH!"
I was pretty surprised, but tried to calmly explain to her that I couldn't do that because the computer wouldn't let me. I didn't have the authority to override the return system. She starts screaming "YOU B*TCH! I JUST WANT MY CASH!" The manager comes over and tries to resolve the issue, but still the woman keeps yelling "YOU MOTHER F***ING BITCH GIVE ME MY MONEY!" over and over. Finally she throws the unwanted bra in my managers face and storms out. I thought it was over....but boy was I wrong.
After she leaves, the computers stop working. I guess because we had been trying to override the return system, we had messed something up, because it would no longer accept debit or credit cards at all. Then about 10 minutes later she comes back, walks right up to my register and hands me a debit card. Knowing the response I was going to get, I calmly informed her that the computers were no longer accepting debit cards. Good god the crap she yelled at me. I just stood there silently nodding and apologizing every now and then while she just yelled and yelled and yelled.
After she left, the other customers in line all gave me thumbs up and said stuff like, "Hey, she was crazy. Don't worry about it." Worst day of my whole time working there.
2/12. I used to work at a haunted house.
I worked both ends of the venue when it was slow. I would sell tickets and then jump into costume to scare. I was pretty good at my job.
Family of three going through, pretty basic stuff. The father is jumpy but looks like he is having a good time, the mother and daughter are terrified. I take advantage of one of my favorite spots towards the end to give them a good finishing scare. I jump out, yell, and then the daughter turns 180 and runs face first into a wall. I take off my mask and radio my buddy to turn the lights all the way on. She is bleeding pretty bad but I can't tell if her nose is broken.
I escort them out to the lobby, grab the first aid kit, paper towels, instant ice pack, and a cold bottle of water. I start to apologize but before I can finish the father goes all batsh*t on me. Starts off just yelling and poking me in the chest. Then it escalates to "WHY IS THAT WALL THERE" and shoving. The whole time his wife and daughter are telling him to calm down and that she is fine.
Being me, I laugh when he asked why a wall was there and he got really handsy. Backed off told him if she was fine they could leave "No buddy I'm gonna kick your a**".
I clocked out then and there, and walked out to the parking lot. Still dressed as Jason Vorhees. Nothing ended up happening except him yelling at me more. OH and some guy in the parking lot yelling "AWW SHEET THIS DUDE ABOUT TO FIGHT JASON"
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3/12. I work as a deli slicer at a grocery store. Yesterday, I came back from my lunch to be put in one of the most uncomfortable situations I've ever been in at work. I'll be Me, and this customer will be LJL (lemon juice lady).
Me: Hey, what can I get for you today?
LJL: Um... Oh, look at me. Hungry, but no idea what for! Do you have... How old are you?
I could tell this was going to be a weird customer before she asked my age, but that one really surprised me with how out of the blue it was. I was so shocked that I just kind of answered her.
Me: Uhh, I'm 20.
LJL: Ok, let me give you some advice. Trust me, this really works!
I probably should have mentioned that I have had pretty bad acne since 15. This is relevant because she decided to take this moment to tell a COMPLETE STRANGER that he should start wearing lemon juice on his face for the next three weeks to cure it. No idea if this really works, and I have no intention of trying it out.
She talked to me about this for a solid two minutes without pause, as I just stood silently basking in the embarrassment and waiting for it all to end. Finally taking a break and letting me reply, I answered with the only words I possibly could:
Me: What can I get for you today?
4/12. I worked at a grocery store in high school. We were having a 10 for $10 sale on canned vegetables, there was a large sign stating this at an end cap near the registers.
A woman with a cart full of cans walks up to my register and starts putting them on the belt.
Me: "Did you find everything you were looking for Ma'am?"
C: "Yes I did. I can't believe the sale this store is having on canned veggies."
Me: thinking I guess 10 for 10 is pretty good. "It's a good deal."
I finish ringing her up and she balks at the total.
C: "That is way too high I got 30 cans (or so, I can't remember) the total should be $3 not $30."
Me: "Ma'am the special is 10 cans for $10."
C: "NO, the special is 10 cans for a dollar."
Me: Pointing to the sign right behind her, "The sign there states that the special is 10 for $10, Ma'am."
She starts yelling at me for correcting her and demands to see a manager. The lead cashier comes over and talks to her. He explains that the deal is indeed 10 for $10 which saves the customer about 30 to 60 cents per can. She storms out offended that the store was selling off some over stock at a price that won't kill the profit margin.
My coworker told me not to worry about it. I guess some people just can't read.
5/12. Not exactly retail, but college students doing horribly because they don't study and then, when they receive a poor score on something, get their parents (yes, in a 4 year university) to send you an email asking what they can do better/why they scored low.
It's a university, people; I don't give a f*ck who your parents are or what they think about your work ethic.
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6/12. I work at a McDonalds in Australia. A few Fridays ago there was probably the most inconceivable act by a customer.
A lady and her elderly mother came through the drive through. They had to wait on fresh food and so we asked them to park to the side. They decided, while parked, to get dessert aswell, so the lady came inside to order. When she was served, she also received her order from before.
Another customer waiting on food thought that she had just come in to the restaurant and got her food before he did, when he'd been waiting (approx. 8 min) so he gets angry.
This guy abuses everybody in the store. Customer, crew, manager, and this lady. She tries to leave, so the guy goes out to her car, opens the door, pulls her elderly mother from the passenger seat and beats her.
He beat an elderly woman. Because he had to wait 8 minutes. For McDonalds.
7/12. I was working the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college at a science museum in South Florida.
That day I was an operator for the Mars Rover ride. It's morning and we have a a few families and couple of summer camps running around ages 7-12 and so I was pretty busy stopping the ride to tell the kids to sit down and stop hitting each other (the ride had a monitor so I could see inside).
It starts to quiet down as one of the camps goes to lunch so there's not so many people but since I'm running the only ride in the museum and kids are still flocking to me constantly.
So I'm running the ride and this family of 6 (mom, dad, aunt or something, teenager, older kid and little kid) come up and wait in line. The little kid is going bat shit running around.
NONE of the adults do anything to stop him and neither do I because I'm busy watching the monitor since the kids on board have already gotten up and switched seats mid-ride twice. I was on the in-ride intercom telling them to sit down when I hear a howl-scream from the line area.
The little kid had run into the metal chain (at neck level) that we kept to separate the loading are and the line area and had fallen backwards. The mom marches up to me and starts screaming about how I wasn't paying attention and I let her kid get hurt. I stand there dumbfounded because I can't believe she's actually mad at me. She makes me get my supervisor to get me fired.
I'm right there and she's telling the supervisor what an impenitent person I am and that I have no business working around children. My supervisor who is awesome says very calmly, "Miss, this is a museum, not a babysitting service. You need to keep watch of your children, not the ride operator."
The lady and her family of goons storms out. She called the city for poor safety but the city only told us we had to change the chain separator to plastic or rubber. The maintenance guy did it the next day. He looked at me and went "things going downhill when you have to idiot proof a museum."
Did I mention it was my 3rd day?
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8/12. I used to work in a bowling alley.
Our policy with the bumper rails (or gutter guards, whatever you want to call them) was that they were generally for kids 7 and under, but we could bend the rule if the kid was having lots of issues and we could be sure that they wouldn't throw so hard as to break them. Unfortunately we didn't have the kind that went up and down electronically, or this could have all been avoided.
Anyways, this woman comes in with her 9 year old son, and asks me to put up the rails for him. I tell her our policy, and that he should try out a few frames to see how he does without them before I put them up. Halfway through explaining this, this woman starts shrieking at me that it's f*cking bullsh*t and she wants to see my manager, and there's a grown man playing on a lane with bumpers (with his 4 year old son), but her kid couldn't have them. This went on for a good 10 minutes of her yelling at me and my manager, all while this little boy is standing there crying.
So we end up getting her calmed down, and on a lane. Five minutes later, she comes up yelling that her son sucks at bowling and needs the rails. So my manager reaches into the cash drawer, slaps her money on the counter and tells her that she's no longer welcome at that bowling center. And she leaves, bawling son in tow.
9/12. Years ago I worked at a full serve gas station.
I had a very rude customer who started off the transaction by asking me if I was stupid from inhaling gas fumes. It went down from there until I just cut off the pump, handed the guy half his money back, and told him to get gas elsewhere.
He jumped out and threatened to fight me. I walked away (pretty scared, I was a chubby 16 year old at the time). He called after me, threatening me.
The shift leader came out, filled up his car, and admonished me for my attitude.
When the shift leader told my manager, the manager said "Why'd you fill up that a**hole's car when he told him to leave?"
10/12. I worked in the lumber department of Home Depot in college.
A coworker of mine was a really funny guy he'd smoke pot before work, during his lunch and on his 15 minute breaks. He was very mellow, but if someone was an asshole, he would call them on their bullsh*t.
Anyway, a customer came in with a huge cut-list for his lumber. My coworker informed him that we usually just cut things down to size so customers can fit their purchases in their cars, but he'd be happy to make the cuts as long as it was understood that our saws are shitty and we don't guarantee accuracy.
The customer consented, and my coworker began the thirty or so cuts while the customer left to do other shopping. When he came back, he was carrying a tape measurer pulled from the shelves in hardware, and he began to inspect his wood. He then remarked that he wasn't going to pay for it because the cuts were off by 1/8", and then he accused my coworker of being too stupid to work.
My coworker told him to get lost, but the guy freaked out and took a swing at him.
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11/12. I was at the end of a very long shift at Trader Joe's, when a woman completely freaked on me because my exhausted brain couldn't do a basic math problem.
Essentially, she gave me $50.00 for a $45.63 total, then gave me another $1.13 that she dug up from the bottom of her crusty purse after I rung her up. I know that it's a simple math problem, but I couldn't get my exhausted brain to kick into gear and figure it out. So, I just asked her what I owed her, and she went off. It was almost like she was waiting with gleeful anticipation for something like this to happen, so she could take a shit on someone's day.
She told me that she was a 2nd grade math teacher, and that any one of her students could easily figure out the change. She asked me why they didn't require a math test before they hired me, and essentially told me that I was a drooling moron. The dozens of people within 15 feet of her could hear the whole thing. The worst thing is that I was so pissed off and frustrated that I still couldn't figure out her damned change. And she refused to tell me because that wouldn't 'let me off the hook'.
This remains one of the top ten most humiliating moments of my adult life.
One of the managers was at a nearby register, and he heard the whole thing. He came over and told the woman that I was a third year nursing student, and my math skills were clearly better than a seven year-old's, but I had been at work since 4AM unloading trucks and I was clearly mentally and physically exhausted.
She tried to rail on about how stupid she thought I was, but he stopped her, gave her the change, and told her to not come back until she could treat the staff like actual human beings. There was a small smattering of applause from the people in my line when she left in a huff. She wrote an email to corporate and the supervisor got a talking to about it, but he maintained that he was in the right.
That dude was solid.
12/12. A lady came in once and when I finished pumping her gas she whipped out a calculator and found that the total was 1 cent more than it was supposed to be. She starting freaking out and causing a scene. I offered to give her a penny but she said no and that I was a con artist and I should be fired.
I told her she would have to talk to my boss and he wasn't there so she said she was gonna talk to him and get me fired. I knew nothing was gonna come of it but I just couldn't wrap my head around how ridiculous the situation was. She wasn't mad at the owner she was mad at me personally. I was just a 15 year-old kid making minimum wage.
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It's hard working in customer service, especially with irate customers. You need to be able to empathize and understand where your customers are coming from, show sympathy, and be willing to help them with their problem. However, if they come at you ranting and raving about an issue which clearly has nothing to do with you, well, then you're free to rant about them on the internet.