In any profession that requires you to directly interact with customers, you're all but guaranteed to get a fair share of people who are crazy, entitled, rude, or some combination of the three. However, some stand out more than others in both their ability to leave a lasting impression and their level of obnoxiousness. Workers wouldn't wish these people upon anyone, but their clownery does make for some entertaining stories!
Whether it's a lady losing her mind about keyboard cleaners or a horrible little boy spouting hate speech at other customers, these people really need a lesson in how to act like civilized members of society. Here are some of Reddit workers' wildest, most absurd stories about the worst customers they've ever had. Content edited for clarity.
"When I was manager at a handbag store, having women use a $500 bag and try to return it was fairly common, but this one woman swore up and down that she had NEVER used the bag and only kept it for 5 months because she never got around to giving it away as a gift. This bag was torn to bits: damaged leather, torn lining, ink stains, the whole nine yards. I obviously refused the return.
After arguing in circles for a few minutes, she wanted to call corporate. No big deal, I've had plenty of customers do this in front of me. No, this witch wanted ME to call corporate for her. She was screaming so loud I figured I would do it to appease her. Big mistake. After navigating the phone tree and being put on hold, this woman screaming all the while, I finally got through to a live person.
After explaining the situation to the person on the other end with screaming in the background, the corporate higher-up decided I should do the return because of the customer service issue at hand. With my blood boiling, I thanked the person on the other end of the phone and returned over $500 to the woman for a handbag that she had destroyed.
The story doesn't end there. Apparently, the person from corporate I ended up speaking to was the CEO's assistant, so I received a rather longwinded e-mail explaining my customer service issues and spent the rest of the month having to kiss butt to the store manager to make up for it. Retail management blows, and I don't wish it on anyone."
"I used to work at Kmart, and they have these Rewards Cards where 1% of every purchase you make goes onto the card. Then after they accumulate, you can use the money on the card to pay for future purchases at either Kmart or Sears (owned by same company).
One day this lady came in with a bunch of groceries and after I rang them all up she handed me the card and said she wanted to use everything on it. I scanned it and double checked with her, 'You have $5.40, you'd like to use all of it?'
Then she went into a rage about how there was supposed to be $40 on it. She was yelling at me about how I do a terrible job, how Kmart is a horrible place, etc. I asked her if that was her usual card, suggesting that maybe she had another card with that amount, and she angrily told me no. I finally asked her why she thought she had $40 on that card.
She told me that she bought $400 worth of appliances at Sears the previous day, so I stopped her mid-rant and explained to her that 1% of $400 is $4, not $40. She didn't believe me, so I got a pen and paper and showed her the math. Then she went into a rage about wanting to see a manager, so I pointed her to Customer Service and she waddled her way over there. The managers (of course) refused to credit her for $40, so she cancelled her card and stormed out. I saw her shopping again the very next day. If she hated the store so much, why keep coming back?
"I used to manage the children's section at an independent bookstore, and we used to have a Muslim mother who brought a hoard of neighborhood kids in a few times a week to read to them.
One day, a really sketchy looking redneck guy (complete with a wife-beater and cutoff jean shorts) brought his kids to read on the same day. His little boy, maybe 5 or 6 years old, ran up to the other kids screaming, 'BROWN PEOPLE GET OUT! BROWN PEOPLE GET OUT!'
I thought that the situation might be salvageable, so I grabbed the kid and the father to talk to them about the outburst, but the kid started right off with, 'Dad, go tell the brown people to GET OUT! THEY AREN'T ALLOWED TO SHOP WHERE WHITE PEOPLE SHOP! GO TELL 'EM!'
Keep in mind, this was a family store in a New York City suburb. I told the man and his kids to leave, but the nastiest one still managed to assault an Asian couple and a few other shoppers on the way out, spouting racial epithets the whole time."
"I come from a family of jewelers and we design and handmake our own stuff. Many years back, we had a lovely mall store with these tall, narrow glass showcases inset into the walls. The glass fronted to the mall aisle, there was a stand inside that we would put our best items on, and there was a 2' wide, 10' tall glass door on the backside. We kept these scrupulously clean, as any respectable business would do.
Well, one day some loud, rude jerkbag came strolling in with his trophy girlfriend. He started yelling around the store, asking for some designer from New Mexico (this was in Arizona), so we politely told him that he could find that specific line in New Mexico. However, he cut us off shouting (everything he said was shouted) that this guy made the best jewelry and he would only buy from him, blah blah.
We tried to ignore him, but then he started asking about something else that was trendy at the time, just trying to show his knowledge off. I got stuck waiting on him as this scared 16-year-old kid just trying to make a buck for the family, so I didn't know what to do. Then the guy started wondering why we didn't carry any 18k gold, yelling about how it was better, and you couldn't answer him because he'd just cut you off and ask another question.
He headed over to one of the narrow showcases, pointing at some large designer piece in the window that he was sure he'd seen it somewhere before, yammering about his New Mexico designer again. He was moving kinda fast and for some reason didn't see the huge brass door handle on the case and must have thought it was just open in the back.
He hit that thick glass so hard that it made a harmonic 'thwang!' and wobbled. He fell back a little dazed, rubbed his forehead, and left in silence. The woman that he was with just lost it and was laughing so hard that she couldn't stand upright. We left his forehead print on the glass for a few weeks, it was so satisfying."
"I waitressed in high school and this happened when I was about 16 or 17. A guy came in to eat with his family, a little girl and his pregnant wife. They were really friendly and at first I thought it was a great table.
Then the wife went to the bathroom and the guy asked for the check, and on the check he wrote his phone number in the tip area along with, 'Call me, baby.' I ran the payment, waited until his wife came back, then brought over the guy's card and his receipt. I handed the receipt to the pregnant woman and told her something was wrong with the tip. She got SUPER upset and I got in a lot of trouble with my managers for stirring up trouble.
In retrospect, I probably didn't handle it the best way, but at the same time I was furious that some guy would come to eat with his PREGNANT WIFE and try to hit on a girl half his age. If he's doing that stuff so brazenly, God only knows what else he's doing behind his wife's back."
"This happened when I was working in a pharmacy:
Customer: 'Why isn't my prescription ready yet?'
Me: 'We're trying to get in contact with your doctor because of a problem with the prescription. Your profile says you're allergic to penicillin, is that correct?'
Customer: 'Oh yeah, that stuff is real bad for me!'
Me: 'The medication your doctor prescribed has penicillin in it, so we're trying to get ahold of him to find out what he wants you to take.'
Customer: 'Oh, well, he wants me to take the penicillin. That's what he wrote down, right?'
Me: 'Yes, but you said you were allergic to it.'
Customer: 'But he's a doctor, so he knows what's best. If that's what he wrote, then just give me that.'
Me: 'Well, we'll check with him first to make sure that it's safe for you.'
Customer: 'Of course it's safe for me or the doctor wouldn't have prescribed it! He probably just cured my allergy. Check my old prescriptions, I bet he prescribed me something to cure my allergy!'
Me: World's Biggest Facepalm."
"This is my favorite retail story from when I worked in a non-chain (i.e. awesome) video game store. It goes without saying that part of the job entails selling horrible games to the horrible children of horrible parents, but this seemed like a redeeming moment. A woman came up to the register with her nine-year-old son and handed me Grand Theft Auto 4.
Woman: 'I'd like to trade this in, I'll take whatever you can give me. I walked into the room as he was playing and he was standing over a dead woman, beating her over and over again. Do you know what he said to me?'
Woman: 'He said, 'It's okay, mom...she's just a dirty streetwalker.'
I passed her along to one of my coworkers to complete the trade. But before they left, I looked the kid dead in the eyes and said, 'Streetwalkers are people, too.' But I was amazed by his mom, a parent that pays attention! My heart grew three sizes!
Not fifteen minutes later, another mom came in with a different young boy and proceeded to purchase her son that EXACT game we'd just processed. I begged her not to.
Me: 'Ma'am, this game is awful. Really, really bad. Like, beating women to death in the middle of the street bad.'
Her: 'Oh, no it's okay (she leans in, conspiratorially), he goes to a private Christian school, so...'
Me: 'Still...it's full of criminal activity and violence and filthy images. It's really, really bad. Are you absolutely sure you want to get this for him?'
Her: 'Don't worry, I make him play with the sound off.'
As I rang her up, my weak little heart, so full of hope, shriveled into nothing."
"I used to work at a large nationwide consumer electronics store which is no longer in business. Our store was pretty large and didn't exactly have the best selection, so we would stock smaller items along the empty shelves to take up space that would otherwise be empty. This resulted in the longest aisle of keyboard cleaning canned air (compressed gas) that I've ever seen in my life.
Our managers mandated that we walk up to, greet, and offer assistance to absolutely every person that entered the store. Now, like most retail workers, we weren't especially fond of customers, which translated to most of the employees doing their best to look busy or disappear entirely to avoid dealing with the people who came into the store. I was (foolishly) one of the 'better' employees, so I always ended up dealing with the customers no one else wanted to.
One day after concluding a sale, I noticed a woman standing in the aisle with all of the canned air. I was on the other side of the store and there were other customers in my area to help, so I attended to them first which took a good 10 minutes or so. After dealing with the customers in my area I noticed this woman was still standing in the aisle, staring at the canned air.
It seemed odd to me as we only carried one or two brands and it really wasn't something people took time to look at or had questions about. Nevertheless, my managers were watching and I had to oblige their mandate and go talk to this woman (who, naturally, all the other employees had been avoiding).
Upon asking if there was anything I could help her with, this woman began an extremely lengthy diatribe about the evils of canned air. Didn't I know that canned air was killing teenagers all over the country?! How DARE we sell such a product, out in the open, no less! I had to stand there and take a very rage-filled rant from this woman until I couldn't stand it any longer.
'You know, ma'am, kids can snort glue and markers as well but they're still widely sold. We're not responsible for the poor choices people may make with the products we sell.' Bad move. That REALLY got her blood boiling and she continued to rant and rave for a while before realizing that her effort was going to waste and she (thankfully) left the store. It was an absolutely surreal experience. Won't someone think of the children?!"
"I used to work customer service at a major grocery store. We had all kinds of crazy return situations because we didn't have any policy about returns, so we literally just accepted everything and offered the customer some sort of refund, even products clearly labeled by another grocery store!
I found that quite frequently, lower-income people would bring in very old merchandise they had in their pantry in order to buy edible food for that week's groceries. One day a woman came in complaining about a bad chili pepper. It was partially sliced, but it looked fine. She didn't have a receipt, but I know chili peppers cost ten cents each so I gave her a dime back.
She looked kind of peeved that she was only getting a dime back and said, 'Well, this pepper ruined a whole pot of chili.' I said sorry but since she had no receipt, there was nothing I could do. Then she said, 'Well, I can tell you right now, it all came out to about $20.' Again, I said sorry but too bad, I can't just open the drawer and give you $20 based on good faith. She was really ticked and stormed off in a huff.
A couple hours later, an equally angry man showed up with a receipt. He slammed it down on the counter, saying, 'Now you can see just how much damage it did!' On the receipt he had circled the items involved in the chili and written a total at the bottom. I said fine and began to process the return when I realized that there were several odd items included in this chili, including marshmallows.
I was dumbfounded and said that I needed to call a manager to verify the transaction since they didn't have the product present (which was true). The man, fuming, snatched the receipt and left, as though I was the dark queen of customer service who had personally swiped the food from his children's' mouths. Amazing."
"I work in a mobile phone shop and on a daily basis, we have customers come into the store and demand a new phone after they've broken the one they got at the start of the contract. We go through the normal routine of telling them its not the company's fault and that they would have to replace it themselves.
One guy did not see the logic in this. He started asking me why it was that way, and of course, I don't make the decision nor do I know the reasoning behind it, so I said I don't know. This agitated him A LOT. He started trying to grab me and calling me awful names (I'm half Indian) so I told him to get out. My manager started phoning security and the guy disappeared.
Fast forward to the end of the day, guess who was waiting for me outside? He grabbed me and started shouting, 'Who do you think you are talking to me like that?!' so I kneed him the balls and ran away. What a terrible person!"
"I used to deal with some pretty crazy people in the coffee shop I used to work at, but this was by far the worst. We had one regular customer who was a sweet angel of a woman, and then her cheerleader daughter, who was a complete witch from the underworld.
The daughter would start fights in the cafe and we called the police on her more than once for that nonsense. One time she tipped over our ENTIRE condiment bar by trying to balance on it, and to top it all off, she was INCREDIBLY rude to all the employees. I'm not talking about, 'I'm in a hurry,' rude, but, 'I think I'm hot stuff,' rude.
Every time we got her drink out to her, it was 'about freaking time, God!' and if we took more than a minute or so (mind you, there are huge lines throughout the day) she would say something like, 'Where is my drink?! God, you people are so slow!'
The thing was, we didn't know the sweet woman and the cheerleader witch were related. It wasn't until I saw her drop her daughter off one day that I put two and two together and admitted that I will never understand how something so evil can come from something so pure.
Well, I tattled on her. It was a classy, well-thought-out memorandum: 'Hey, I was just wondering...do you know your daughter can be rude to our baristas sometimes?' 'What do you mean?' the mom asked, and I explained at length.
Next time I saw the girl, she was with her mother...on one of those humiliating human leash things. This 17-year-old girl was outright crying and the mother was just folding her arms, not taking her nonsense. They were outside our store so I couldn't see what happened, but the girl turned around and shouted something at her mother. The sweet woman just BACKHANDED her daughter and pointed, saying something, and the girl continued to cry and walk along.
Unfortunately, we never saw the sweet, older woman in our store again. I think she was too ashamed of her daughter's behavior to come back, even though we would have been happy to have her."
"I used to work in a frame shop as a framer and most of the time I was in the back, but from time to time I'd end up working the front, rehanging the stock art on the walls, helping out customers, that sort of business.
One day this really old dude came in and began poring over these prints by a local photographer who we happened to stock quite prominently. We had a catalog of his work in back so that people could order some of the more obscure ones, but we had the majority of his collection already on display or unframed in wooden boxes on the floor.
This guy literally spent six hours examining the prints (of which there are maybe forty varieties) and then came to the counter, demanding that I disclose the location of those that were missing, which he insisted we had in stock. We must've been hiding them, he claimed, and hoarding them for ourselves.
I was alone in the shop at this point as my coworker was on break. I didn't really know what to do since I was unaware we had a catalog at that time, so I just told him we had what we had and that I'd ask the owner about the other prints when she got in. He huffed off and spent two more hours looking at the things before I finally had to tell him we were closing for the night. He ended up purchasing nothing.
So the next day I come in and he's already waiting for us to open the place up, whining and moaning all the while. He started talking to my boss about ordering other prints, so she presented him with the full catalog, but he insisted he remembered others that weren't in there. My boss says that she is sure that those are all the photographs in the collection.
After that, he returned to the display and sent another seven hours just...staring. Eventually, he picked up about 150 of the little 8x10 prints, unframed, and brought them to the counter. My coworker rang him up and he produced a worn sock from his back pocket containing, I kid you not, a fist-sized wad of hundred dollar bills. I like to imagine that he kept all his remaining assets in various socks, hidden in various places. He unrolled two or three, paid, picked up his purchases, and stormed off, never to be seen again."
"I worked as a waitress through college and it was awful. My state allows servers to not be paid minimum wage provided their tips make up for it, but my restaurant was so crooked that, looking back, I'm pretty sure it didn't matter.
The worst customers ever were the Kansas City Chiefs. I recall them taking over the place, ordering the entire menu, being creepily flirty, and pretty much demanding that we all bend over backward for them because they were an NFL team.
What made things even worse was them trying to exempt themselves from a rule that we had on the menu: tables of 8 or more had an automatic 18% gratuity added, which is pretty standard. Keep in mind, this was nearly the whole team plus a few wives and girlfriends.
The reason why they figured they shouldn't have to pay the 18% gratuity? They said they never found out their servers' names. We wore name tags, they were calling us by name the whole time, and we personally wrote it on their bill with our little, 'Thank you for eating here,' blurb. It was unbelievable...or believable depending on your views about pro-athletes and their attitudes. In any case, it was an, 'Are you kidding me?!' moment. They weren't successful in getting out of the tip, but I still root for whoever is playing against them."