If you’ve never worked in it, you have no idea how hard it can be. From working as a waiter in a restaurant, to a cashier in a store, to taking calls in a call center, working in the customer service industry can be brutal. People on Quora share with us the rudest thing a customer ever said to them.
Comments have been edited for clarity. The source can be found at the end of the article.
The rudest part of this wasnt to me but I was there.
One day at a hotel I was training a new Guest Services Agent in how to do check-ins as well as some of the peculiarities of the hotel. Part of doing this is letting the new agent deal with people all by herself . The young lady I was training had shown herself to be smart and capable so when a guest had a request that took me away from the desk for a couple of minutes I felt that she would be okay (I also double checked with her that she was comfortable).
I get back to the desk a few minutes later and a guest is yelling at her (and the valet that had stuck up for her) calling her names and questioning her intellect. I quickly intervened and apologized (to her) and asked her what was going on. The property is an historic one where the locks still use real keys. The keys are marked but coded, and she had accidentally given him the wrong key initially. When he came back and was snarky shed gotten flustered and messed up again. Hed come to the desk again and Id returned moments after.
I gave him the correct key, apologized for the confusion and told him that if he were to treat our staff members like that in the future he wouldnt be welcomed back to the property.
I sent my trainee on break to decompress, while she was gone our contact from the company that had hired the rude guest as a 3rd party contractor called. Id known this lady for years between her doing business with my parents and through the hotel. When she asked how everything was going I informed her of the issue wed had and my warning to him. She wasnt pleased.
About an hour or so later the guest was back at the desk, he apologized to the trainee and said he was out of line. He then proceeded to check out. I called our contact to see what had happened.
It turns out that when wed gotten off the phone she had called the guy that was going to be the contractors boss, told him what had occurred. They agreed that he had breached the good conduct clause of his contract.
Because hed been a jerk, he lost a contract that would have been very lucrative and got himself blacklisted with a company that he could have used as a contact. I was asked to pass on to all of our staff that we should pass on ANYONE who presented this type of behavior.
Anyone in a similar situation should report incidents of bad conduct to group or company contacts, its not guaranteed to produce results but it could make a huge difference.
In the December holidays of 2013, I was working at Panarottis, an Italian pizza and pasta place, when a lady came walking in by herself. I greeted her, seated her and gave her the menu so she could pick her meal. She wanted a Sprite Zero as a beverage. I got this lady her Sprite Zero can, placed it on a serving tray with two glasses, one for her to drink out of and one filled with some ice cubes. I went to her table and did the following:
Placed her Sprite zero down, followed by the glass for her to drink out of, lastly, her glass with ice.
This did not impress her or even remotely generate any appreciation.
Her: What did you do wrong here?
Me: Sorry? (I was awfully confused).
Her: You placed the can down before the glass! You should put the glass down first! Were you not taught that? (along with gestures.)
By this time I thought she was joking so I proceeded to laugh it off and said:
No, I was not taught that.
Oh boy, she was not joking.
Her: I do not think this is funny. If you are going to think of this as a joke then I will call the owner right now and report you! I apologized for the inconvenience, when I really wanted to set her on fire.
I found out a few days after that this woman’s son used to be a manager at this restaurant, but was fired for incompetence, laziness and general sloppy work.
Im not sure what her motive was, and this might sound horrible, but all I know was that I knew exactly why she was sitting all by herself at a table that seats six!
Not really one rude comment, but more of just a bad attitude. Back when I was in the restaurant industry, one of the companies I worked for would have what is called a soft opening for new locations. Basically you dont tell anyone and just open the doors for business so you hopefully get a light crowd and the crew has time to practice before they get slammed with new customers at a grand opening. We would also comp everyones meal during the soft opening, so the food was free. Made me popular, since I would let friends know when a soft opening was happening.
A new opening was all hands on deck and so even myself the CFO would go hang out to help if something went wrong. I was at the opening for one of our BBQ locations and all was going well, until a lady came in and ordered a hamburger. Yes they had hamburgers on the menu, but they were cook to order and this was literally the first hamburger to ever be ordered at this location. These were really good hamburgers, but I guess the lady was expecting McDonalds where she could order it and 10 seconds later a burger is slapped on her tray.
When she found out it would take 5 minutes to cook her burger, she went nuts. This lady was berating the cashier and any other employee who would listen to her.
Since every other manager and company executive there was busy actually working to help out, I took it upon myself to confront this lady. I said mam, I am an officer of the company, I am sorry you are upset that it takes 5 minutes to cook your hamburger, but yours is the very first hamburger these folks have ever cooked at this restaurant and they want to get it right.
“I do promise you the burger will be a really great burger and whether you love it or dont like it, the burger is free and is not costing you a thing, so I just dont know what else we could do to make you happy.”
I guess I talked long enough for her to calm down and realize what an jerk she was making of herself over free food, because she just got quiet and just said ok and sat down to wait for her free hamburger.
When I was 15 years old I got my first job at Burger King. This was the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of high school.
Literally the second day on the job, a woman and her three kids pulled up in the drive through. Still being naive and thinking everyone was a good person, I happily greeted them. She asked for three ice cream cones for her kids and I made them and handed each one to her. I even did the cool thing and stacked them up. I did not want to be one of those servers who made small cones.
Then she said now and all her three kids threw ice cream at me. The oldest one was probably 13, and the younger ones looked about 11 and 9.
What a crappy person.
I started treating customers differently after that. Nice, but cautious. And that cautiousness actually worked out for me because one day a lady tried to throw a soda at me through the window. I was ready and closed it right away. She wanted diet apparently, and I gave her regular, because that is what she initially asked for.
I’ve also had customers try to steal things behind the counter, yell racial slurs (Im white, so this was weird), and one customer peed on the floor.
People suck sometimes. But I was actually a good worker, I swear.
A few winters ago, I was working at a grocery store. For some reason, its a job sometimes regarded as a low-intelligence, end-of-the-line-for-you job that anyone can do that doesnt even require a skill set. Oh, you work at a grocery store? Well, I guess it isnt McDonalds. Sure, Im not solving world hunger or synthesizing a cure to pancreatic cancer or inventing the next revolutionary piece of technology, but I mean, someone has to put your tomatoes and your cans of corn and your hot dogs on the shelves for you to buy.
Contrary to apparent popular belief, everything doesnt just magically appear on the shelves from the Back Room of Infinity. But I digress.
One of the tasks I had to perform was to gather shopping carts from the parking lot corrals. I had to do this, to take a page from the Post Offices book, in snow or rain or heat or gloom of night, and yes, snow includes blizzards.
It was February, the day after a nocturnal blizzard, and I was the lucky winner of a midday cart run. It was a freezing day.
The snow that melted because of ice-melt on the pavement quickly froze back up into slush, rendering the several bags of ice-melt we dumped on the sidewalk leading to the front doors moot. Snow was still falling.
As I struggled to shove the carts through the slush and snow, a woman came tottering up to me. Despite the wintry weather, she wore heels, a knee-length skirt, and a long coat that looked more fashionable than it did warm. She placed a hand on my arm, either to stop me or to steady herself, and smiled at me.
Please note that this encounter happened several years ago and while I remember what she said to me and what I responded, I dont remember exactly how things were said. This is a summed-up conversation.
Honey, youre doing such a good job, she said.
Can I help you, maam? I asked.
I just wanted to tell you that I think youre doing a good job, and someday if you keep working hard, youll make yourself into a decent, worthy citizen. Im sure its hard, having to work harder than others because of your social standing and Im glad to see someone working instead of receiving assistance from the state. I wanted to tell you to keep up the hard work, she said. Someday, Im sure, youll be able to make something of yourself and it wont matter where you came from.
Then she smiled at me, but it wasnt a smile of encouragement or a smile to be nice. No, this was one of those self-satisfied smiles you get when you feel youve just accomplished something. This lady thought shed just done her good deed for the day by telling me all this.
So I leveled a stare at her colder than the frigid February air around us and began my tirade, in the most customer-service sugar-sweet tone I am capable of (which is pretty saccharine, if I do say so myself).
Maam, Im working here for the pocket money, not because its my only source of income. Im currently pursuing my masters degree in ancient scripts, scrolls, and texts and their impact on todays modern world, with a particular study of the Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred the Mad, I informed her.
Oh! I didnt realize! I-
And Im currently studying at Miskatonic University in Massachusetts, which gives me a nice stipend to use on my studies. Surely youve heard of Miskatonic University!
O-oh yes, of course, Mis-tonic, yes, thats a good school, she stammered.
Yes, so you see, I would feel badly using my stipend on things in my life not related to my studies, so thats why Im here, pushing carts in the middle of a blizzard.
Well, I didnt mean to bother you, miss. Ill be on my way.
She carefully walked away, deliberately taking each step to avoid taking a dive. She got into a luxury car and drove away, slipping and fishtailing the whole way. I guess luxury cars handle snow as well as her heels.
I had never seen her before this encounter and never saw her again.
Still, though, Im not sure what made me more sad; the fact that she really thought she was better than me because she had money to burn and I didnt and actually thought it was somehow acceptable to say those things to me, or the fact that she was so ignorant of classic American genre-changing literature that she didnt recognize the work of H. P. Lovecraft.
Once while working as a bartender I had a customer tell me I had major depression issues. This bar stool shrink would put back 812 oz. of Canadian whisky every afternoon and an equal share most evenings so it wasn’t too hard to discount his opinion.
Same job but said to a coworker: What am I, black? when a customer felt he wasn’t getting served fast enough. My coworker replied No, but you are leaving I’ve rarely been so proud of a fellow bartender.
I work in telephone customer service, answering customer questions about a huge genealogy website whose name rhymes with San Destry. Ive had irascible rude customers before, but this lady took the cake.
She calls in, and I give my standard answer, Thank you for calling [client], this is Lorri. How can I help you today?
Oh, Im so glad you speak slowly (Im from the Southern US and we tend to speak more slowly than other USians.)! I have hearing loss and cant keep up with fast talkers.
Not a problem, Ill take my time. [laughter] Now how can I help you?
I need to know what subscription I have.
Okay, let me verify your account. [verification] You have the World subscription, which gives you access to all of our records, US and international.
[Complaining about her hearing loss and how suicide isnt an option for her, then a request to repeat what Id just said.]
[clearly enunciated] You have the World subscription. It gives you access to all of our records, US and international.
[more complaining about her hearing loss, and moaning about how its almost impossible for her to hear on the phone anymore.]
Ever helpful, I broadly suggest using a relay service — Im sure your state can help you get it.
WHAM!! This unleashed a rant of epic proportions, accusing me of calling her stupid, and OF COURSE I KNOW ABOUT MICHIGAN RELAY!!! YOU DONT THINK I KNOW ABOUT THAT?
Honestly, I didnt think she did because of the way she was moaning and complaining about her hearing and using a telephone…
I apologize profusely, try to get her back on track and ask if theres anything else I can do for her.
What subscription has the military and newspaper records?
That would be our All Access subscription, maam, I say.
[clearly enunciated] All. Access.
Now, I dont know what she thought I said, but she lit into another rant about how I should be ashamed for messing with a hearing impaired person, and that this call was going nowhere.
She then said she didnt have to put up with being teased about her hearing loss by some uneducated telephone operator.
Im sorry maam, I wasnt making fun of you. I have a hearing loss as well, and it was the furthest thing from my mind to mess with you. I was simply trying to enunciate All Access so that you could hear me, and Im sorry to have given offense.
Too late. Shed hung up on me.
Oh well. She probably wouldnt have done the survey anyway.
Not exactly serving the customer, but when I was a teen I had the privilege of working at McDonald’s. We took turns going out to the dining room and tidying up during out shifts. I was out there cleaning up one day. Lots of people never clean up after themselves and there was always a lot to do. I had just bussed a table and had started spraying a little cleaner on it to get all the icky stuff off.
A little boy who was with his mom at the next table thought the spray bottle was cool and fun and started to chat me up about it. The mom shushed him and said, Don’t talk to him.
I thought that maybe she didn’t want him to bother me, so I told her it was fine. Without acknowledging me, she told her kid, You don’t want to end up like him, do you?
During a dinner shift a couple of months ago, I was seated with a table of 10 people. Now, at the time I had been serving for about a year and a half in this particular restaurant—big tops were nothing new to me, and I was very good at my job.
When it came time to drop the bill, I explained to the man paying that my work had a policy that stated for parties of six or more, a 20% gratuity will be added to the bill, so no need to worry about that aspect of paying.
He then, very rudely, exclaimed, Oh! Lucky you… I wasnt going to tip you that much anyway. This will forever go down in serving infamy.
I was about 14, working at Burger King. This regular customer, who was such an a**hole, came to my til. He asked for a combo, with a salad and drink. I asked what kind of drink he wanted. He didn’t hear me so I repeated it. Then he got really upset and yelled that he wanted Coke. I was a tad flustered. I meant to ask next what dressing he wanted for his salad, but I accidentally said drink again. This time he went OFF! Yelling about how stupid I was and that I should go back to high school. I gave him his food and told him I was in grade ten.
Youre probably not going to be in business very long if you can’t figure out how to clean a window. That’s what she said to me.
This was a difficult customer to say the least. I was at her house on call back to fix the work my employees did. I get there and she has a whole list of complaints, basically saying, They’re not clean. They’re not clean.
Trust me. They were clean. I could have grabbed five random strangers in the neighborhood to judge the quality of the work and I guarantee they all would have said the windows look fine.
I couldn’t see anything wrong with the windows. My employees did just fine. I ended up having to reclean all of the windows myself and listen to her talk about how the other guys her husband hired did a better job, quicker, and for the same price.
Took a lot for me to keep my composure. 99.9% of my customers are great. This one, not so much.
I was flying with Emirates at the time and was doing a flight from Dubai to Karachi and back. I have done quite a lot of Pakistani routes and have found extremely nice people and I think they liked me more because I was Indian and they all wanted to know more about me .
On this particular flight this guy sitting on the emergency exit was huge and asked me in the start of the flight if there is separate toilet for people who have British passport (I had to keep a sane face and say no)
During the meal service he asked for chicken out of the options and I told him we ran out of it and offered him lamb. To which he started yelling and telling me how he is a valued customer and he needs to eat only chicken (like his life depends on it). He refused to eat anything but chicken. I somehow arranged a chicken for him from business class but there wasn’t a parantha or roti with it and he was bewildered about that. He said and I quote “you are not serving me properly because I am a Pakistani…you bloody Indian.”
I had tears in my eyes but I just said I am still standing here and listening to you because I am an Indian.
One time this tiny little short woman who was shopping with her elderly mom who had to use one of those electric scooter carts provided by the store. Elderly mom turned the cart off and got up and left. She left the cart in the wrong place. Short woman wanted to move it but didn’t realize her mom turned it off. So in her infinite wisdom, short lady decided she was too small to move it (complete not true). So she grabs me by the back of my shirt, and tells me she’s too small to move the electric cart and since I’m so fat, I should be able to move it with no trouble! I’ve never been skinny, but seriously? That’s was horribly rude!