Working in an electronics store lets you be on top of all the new tech trends and cool gadgets. It also gives you access to a lot of people's private lives through their phones and computers. However, with great power brings... a lot of photos that they can't unsee. Ever. No matter how hard they try. The people in the following stories share the strange, disgusting, and sometimes illegal things they've found on customers devices and what happened next.
(Content has been edited for clarity)
"We had this 90-year-old man come in a lot asking for help with various things. One time, he needed help managing his adult video subscription. He was paying $30/month for some adult site, but his logins weren't working and customer support was saying it was Verizon's fault. Also, that subscription was supposed to work on an affiliate site but it kept trying to double charge him again.
I was working on just canceling both of those services and helping him get a Pornhub account and he said, 'Boy it's getting pretty hard to be a dirty old man these days, Jesus.' It made me laugh so hard the whole thing was worth it.
He was also pulling up various adult videos (it was a slow Sunday, no customers and he was sitting with us in the backroom since he had a hard time walking and the chairs were more comfortable).
One video he pulled up was from like xxxtra small teens and it featured a mail order girl who was delivered packaged in a cardboard box. When the guy pulled this naked girl out of the box, my customer just chuckled and said, 'You reckon they actually shipped her off in that box just for this video? I don't reckon.' And then he just kept chuckling."
"I was a repair tech for Sprint for like, six years. I remember at first there was almost a voyeuristic feeling of going through someone's phone, but after about two weeks it just got old and none of us cared anymore. We would only go through pictures if the customer actually had a problem with their pictures and we HAD to look at them to verify the issue. There was one old dude who would take pictures of his junk and then wait for the cute girl tech to be working to bring his phone in and complain about camera problems because he knew she would have to look. He did it twice and then the third time, we had the cops waiting for him when he came back to pick it up.
Anyways, the weirdest one was a twenty-something Asian girl that was having trouble getting her photos to save to the SD card (card was just full) but when I went in to verify that it didn't save, the first picture on there was her on her back with a glass soda bottle in a place a coke bottle should definitely not be. The weird part came later when I went to dinner with my girlfriend at a Red Robin down the street, and the Asian girl was our waitress.
Other notable stories where:
-A phone chewed to bits by 150lb Alaskan timber wolf. The guy had the dog in his truck when he came in. A+ super friendly, would pet again.
-A rancher left his Palm Treo 600 on top of a fencepost and then forgot it was there and went to drive the post into the ground, hit the phone with a sledgehammer full force. We actually saved this phone, the main board was ok so I just swapped out...everything else.
-A crazy lady was CONVINCED that her ex-husband was hacking her phone, so when she wasn't actively using it she would keep it in the oven to block the signals. Forgot it was in there and used the oven to bake something. Somehow this was my fault.
-Toilet phones. So. Many. Toilet phones. They never tell you why it's wet until you've already handled it, too. Protip: if you ever repair phones as a job, ALWAYS wear gloves if it's wet.
-Phone full of dead and living ants (the little tiny black ones).
-Small packets of illegal substances behind the battery, causing the battery to lift off the contacts and the phone to not work. This was actually surprisingly common, and people were always so surprised like OH MAN HOW DID THAT GET THERE?!
-This wasn't at my store but at one in my area. There was a guy who was dissatisfied with his service so he went out in front of the store, dropped trou and defecated on his phone. "
"When you touch someone's phone, they'll either warn you about naked photos (when all I'm doing is restarting the phone) or not warn you about naked photos and there's just a naked woman as their home screen.
I've had men have me move their photos from their phone to their SD card and while we're both looking at the screen, a pic of their junk appears. And usually, they didn't care or actually seem proud. People having hundreds of adult video tabs open, wondering why their phone is slow. People who downloaded any and every app that claims to boost their signal, free storage or clears viruses, thus destroying their phone.
One time I had a lady call in and say, 'There's a pop up saying I downloaded a virus from an adult site. Well, as a woman, I don't watch that stuff.'
This was during my last week so I was like, 'Well, as a woman, it wouldn't hurt you to be a little more open-minded.' She asked for the manager. I was the manager.
People with crusty and sticky stuff on their phone that they physically came in to have ME clean. I visibly gagged one time and got yelled at. I handed them their phone back and told them to leave whilst applying hand sanitizer The most unsettling experience was an older guy who would come in once a month to move screenshots of young and pretty girls from their Instagram to an SD card. I showed him how to do it every time but sure enough, he'd come in the next month to move more. The one time saw a cute girl pay her bill and after she left he asked me what her number was. I told him to never come in again.
Six years working for a local, low-end phone store in the Midwest. I have hundreds of stories."
"It was around the time the iPhone 4 came out. At the company I worked for, the 'policy' was to open someone's picture folder after the transfer, show them their pictures were there and hand the phone back to have them confirm.
Depending on the phone and the machine you were using to transfer, you had to physically click each picture, upload them, and then transfer them to the new phone.
Around fall, it never failed that girls would come home from college and get new phones before they go back. This led to seeing tons of nudie Judys and lots of fights between mom and daughter.
With older people, especially (and almost specifically) men, you'd know what kink they had within a minute or two of transferring the content.
One guy had me transfer the pictures from his phone. It was going to take hours, so he said he'd come back. I hook his phone up, go to lunch, and come back to police officers standing at my desk. Turns out his phone was filled to the brim with inappropriate pictures of kids. Thankfully, I didn't have the misfortune of looking at the phone before they informed me.
One girl who had just graduated high school had her mom get her an iPhone 4s for her 21st birthday. As I'm transferring pictures from the old phone, I had to manually pull them over - that is - click each individual picture to select it - and batch them to the new device. There were pictures of her doing compromising things with her pets. Videos, too, though I didn't click around much after the first couple showed up.
All in all, I'm glad I'm out of the biz."
"I'm a former phone tech store employee. A woman comes in, trying to figure out why she keeps blowing through her data plan. I take a look at the data usage listed on her phone and find that 99% of it is coming from Chrome. I ask her how she uses the phone, her activities on the web etc. 'Oh, I only use it to text, call, or go on Facebook usually, but my husband uses it too.' I ask her if either of them watch a lot of videos (the usage looks typical of someone watching a fair amount of videos). She says not that she's aware of. I ask her if I can check her browser's history. Yes. Lots of adult video site entries. I tell her I suspect her husband has been watching a lot of videos and I'd get him to use the Wi-Fi when watching the videos. I asked her if she has Wi-Fi and explained how to know when you're on Wi-Fi etc.
I wish I could just straight up tell her that her husband watches adult content on her phone for the reaction, but professionalism.
Another time a dude and his partner come in with a phone that has the screen stuck on a negative filter. He thinks his camera caused this, so he shows me the camera app and then scrolls through his photos - lots of naked photos of him and photos of him and his partner 'together' (who was taking the photos?). He didn't seem embarrassed, almost kind of proud. Probably showing me deliberately. I go into the display (or was it developer...) settings and remove the negative filter. He's very grateful.
A customer came in, a girl, in her early 20's, with an old Android Gingerbread phone killed by app and services updates, and is clean out of storage. She refuses to upgrade to something more capable. With her okay, I go through deleting cache and files. She only has one app installed from the store, Tinder. It takes up a lot of storage, the phone will probably run okay without it and the pesky low storage notification would go away. I asked her twice if I can remove it. No. I asked her again if she's considered one of our cheaper models. No, I don't want to spend money. Okay. She leaves. Probably a great Tinder date, this one."
"I work as a sales rep for Bell, we have a regular come in at least two times a week who can't read and doesn't have any family in town, so we do a lot for him (adding contacts, reading stuff, changing passwords, the usual). One day he came in and was trying to go on a date with some girl he met on Facebook. He wanted me to message the girl and ask her to call him. Before I did I scrolled through some of the messages to see what was going on because he can't read, he normally just sends the girls a picture of his business card and emojis. Well, this girl didn't like that and was telling him to leave her alone or she would report him and call the police. I told him this but he didn't believe me and told me to send the message anyways. Well, I did. He came back the next day and no surprise to me but his Facebook account was locked. He didn't understand how no matter how many times I tried to explain it to him. So I made him another account (charged him $25 to do) and this is where I learned that Facebook forces you to put a clear picture of what you look like on it, which he did, and it got locked again as they recognized it was still him."
"A repair came in from a member of a Hollywood production crew. She told us what she did and offered the opportunity for us to check out the photo gallery, as there were set photos and such. There was Zach Galafanakis talking into a banana.
We also get wet phones from teens with liquid they aren't old enough to drink inside the phone. We are usually bros about it and just tell parents it was water or soda.
We then had a couple that was very open about their swinger lifestyle, and she needed a data transfer (this was before iCloud transfers were a thing) and I saw everything on her phone.
I also had a phone come in that was water damaged, with a post-it note asking for the utmost attention to fixing his phone, as he had jumped into a pool with it trying to save someone's life.
Another phone we had come in had been dropped in a deep fryer and another one that someone had gotten wet and proceeded to attempt drying it in the oven. Surprisingly, that one was recoverable.
There have been plenty of phones that I have gone through a lot to get working again, or at least salvage photos of deceased relatives and pets and such."
"I worked at an electrical retailer as the returns manager and was training up a new member of staff on his third day, when he came to me looking worried clutching a mobile phone.
An elderly man had brought it in, saying he didn't know how to delete photos, his phone had no storage left and he wanted them all gone. He told us he knew nothing about technology. We were across the road from a supermarket and people with simple fixes often went to do their shopping whilst we worked on their phone/laptop/whatever, this guy did just that.
This 17-year-old kid I was training offered to do this job as it was one he could do without help. He found the vilest and disgusting images. We're talking animal smut, child smut, and child abuse. I nearly vomited. We called the police and they were waiting for him when he came to collect the phone.
It absolutely baffles me why this guy asked us to do this without much concern - perhaps he didn't realize we would have to view the pictures to delete them? Maybe he thought we wouldn't care? Possibly he wanted to be caught? I just don't know.
We had to give statements to the police and were asked to be witnesses, but the guy decided to change his plea to guilty on the first day of the trial. They found loads more stuff on his computer and thumb-drives in his home, and it turned out that some of the children in the images were his grandkids.
The guy got 9 years, which to me isn't even nearly enough - but he was 77 at time of imprisonment and he died inside."
"I used to manage some big brand phone stores, here are the two that come to mind:
I live and work in the UK. A Spanish guy in his 20's comes in saying his phone has broken, so we take it in and give him a temporary phone. He comes back a week later to pick his phone up and give the standby phone back. Phone is taken back by someone then given out to another customer who had just taken their phone in for repair.
This customer then comes back the following day saying he is disgusted at what is on the phone, as he gave it to his kid. We look confused as the phone had been wiped but saw a memory card had been left in.
On this memory card, there was a video, around 40 minutes, of a dead body on a table being cut up and someone defiling with the pieces. I didn't watch it all, but I remember whoever was filming did some disturbing things.
We called the Police, the customer got arrested, not sure what happened after that.
Another time I was working in a busy UK city center store when a Chinese fellow in his 60's comes in and buys an S7 from me. My manager hands this guy over to me as he'd found some way to pay off his £200 contract so I got it all sorted for him and he left.
The next day he comes back to kick off with me, asking why I'd charged him £200 (I hadn't, there was £200 on the Receipt, but underneath a -£200 refund which made it £0).
After spending 15 minutes talking back to his shouting about how I've ripped him off he understands, he then immediately says, 'Oh yes, so I have another question, how do I get naked ladies?' I was a bit confused, but yep, 10 minutes later I'm legitimately explaining how to download adult content on an S7. I swear I deserved a customer service badge."
Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock
"When I worked in a phone store I had a few weird things happen. People trying to show you naked pictures of themselves wasn't as rare as you'd think. By no means did it happen all the time, but more often than I would have ever guessed.
I had a young kid in with his mom. He was probably around 15. They were coming in because he had some problem with updating his iPhone. I turned the screen on to see a girl's butt in bikini bottoms displayed on the lock screen. The mom was looking over my shoulder and she made a shocked gasp and said, 'Is that (girls name)?' The son doesn't skip a beat and proudly exclaims that it's his phone and his girlfriend and she likes being on his phone. The mom then asks if the girlfriend likes the guy working at Verizon seeing her that way. The kid turned very red.
Another time, a lady brought her phone in because it wasn't working properly. She sets an old iPhone 4 on the counter and instantly I can tell there will be no saving this phone. Between the grimy cracked screen and the smell of cat urine coming from the phone, I didn't even want to touch it. I take off her horrible otter box and find the water damage indicators have been activated. I tell her this and she yells about how the case is supposed to be waterproof. I wanted to explain to her that any phone with that many crumbs and hair lodged in different holes and that much cat pee on it would be in bad shape regardless of a case.
We had one girl come in and ask for help backing up her photos. I tell her just to download google photos. She asks me to do it. Then she snatches her phone out of my hands and tells me she needs to go through her pictures to make sure there is nothing bad on there. Then she hands me her phone back with one of her nudes right there on the screen. Like I said before, this wasn't super uncommon but this chick was extremely attractive which made it a little odder. I just exit out of the photo album and download the app for her. A little later she brings a guy in with her and asks me to do the same on his phone. While I'm doing this apparently confusing and difficult process of setting up google photos, the guys tell me not to look through his pictures. The girl responds with, 'It's probably nothing he didn't see on my phone.' Dude was not happy."
"My coworker was helping a customer transfer his pictures onto a computer. He was sitting there with his business partner, blubbering about how his wife left him and she is so awful etc, etc. Well, when you are transferring the pictures you can see thumbnails of them. Cue the pictures of the business partner and him in a compromising position.
Another time I was helping a mother and daughter with an issue where her computer wasn't picking up the pictures from her phone. It was an issue fixed easily and the mom and daughter were giggling about all the pictures popping up on the computer screen. Until we got to the daughter's nudes. The mom started screaming at the daughter. I closed the laptop and looked at the mom and told her she is going to have to wait until she gets out of the store for the lecture. They left in silence after that."
"I once had a pretty regular customer that would come in to pay her bill and ask the occasional question. She was older and always brought her little dog. The problem was her personal hygiene was awful. One day she came in saying her pictures disappeared on her phone. So I opened her gallery and her photos are there, but she moved them to some random category. I point this out, but oh no, that's not good enough. I need to show her the pictures. So I touch the icon and up pops an astonishingly wide variety of nude selfies for a woman of that age. What's weirder was there was also a ton of nudes of middle-aged guys. Easily 30 years younger than her. This woman had to be in her seventies at least. So after I open it, and the psychological damage is done, all she does is a smirk. She then paid her bill, and let out a nasty ashtray burp in my face. Not cool lady."
"I used to sell phones at a kiosk in a truck stop. The money was actually pretty good, and 90% of the customers were good people. This was around the time the Razor was the best phone out there, before iPhones.
One guy came in complaining about his wife finding text messages between him and his girlfriend like it was my fault that he was caught. I asked him how she found out, and he said she looks through his phone when he's home sleeping. The genius had his girlfriend saved in his contacts as 'Tiff - TX GF' (Tiffany - Texas Girlfriend).
I'm not necessarily proud of what I did next, but I told him, 'Maybe you should change the names of your contacts...You know, maybe rename Tiff to Tom.'
It clicked in his head and he said, 'Wow, I should do that with all of them!'
I'm sure his wife now thinks her husband has a weird relationship with 'Tom, Mike, and John.'"
"I worked at a tech department during the summer break from uni. I found dirty photos mixed with illegal substance pictures from Grindr on one dude's phone.
Another guy came in, 40ish years old white, with his 70-year-old dad. Told me he bought a phone off the street from a guy and had his 'Obama phone.' Turns out the phone he bought didn't work on the service he had. He needed to get another phone (you can't just buy a phone off a street and expect it to work). So I'm activating his phone he just bought and he goes to check out the Bluetooth speakers, and he says, out loud in a big city, 'I should buy that to scare away all the (n-words) downtown!' Well on his Obama phone, which he tossed to me, was a picture of white powder, I didn't know what exactly it is, but it's definitely an illegal substance of some form. His dad basically ignored him and talked about baseball with me. That is just one you remember forever. His 70-year-old dad bought his 40 dollar phone for him."