Customer service is not for everyone. For better or worse, people who work in retail have to deal with the public every day. It's no surprise that a few of those customers come up with some absolutely ridiculous questions. Whether it's insane demands or questions that make zero sense, retail workers hear it all. The worst part is they can't just laugh it off. They have to come up with an answer.
These retail workers share the most insane things people have ever asked them while on the job. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I work at Walmart stocking shelves in the grocery department. During one busy day, a woman came up to me with a crying kid who was probably about 5 years old. The mom said, 'My kid is ticking me off, watch him for me while I go get some things.'
I told her that it wasn't my job to watch her kid and that I had to go in back and do things and he couldn't come with me anyway. Then she told me she was going to walk away and leave her kid there and if anything happened to him it would be my fault. So I told her if she did that I was going to take her kid to customer service and tell them he was lost and have them page her until she came back.
She started to walk away anyway so I took her kid's hand and started to bring him to customer service. All of a sudden she yelled, 'WHERE ARE YOU GOING WITH MY SON?' I froze, but fortunately, a bunch of customers had overheard the whole conversation and explained what had happened to my manager who kicked her out of the store. Poor kid."
"I was working at Hollywood Video for a while. A man walked through the front door, about 5 feet from me. He was still in the entryway and stopped. Quite literally, in full view, there were movies as far as the eye could see. He asked me, 'Where are your movies?' I just kinda stared at him blankly for a moment. My brain wouldn't register the question. So I said, 'Excuse me?'
The rest of the conversation went something like this:
Him: 'Where are your movies!?'
Me: 'Uh... Everywhere. I can help you find what you need.'
Him: 'Just show me where the movies are.'
Me: 'What kind?'
He was starting to get agitated. Him: 'The kind you watch!'
I was confounded by his stupidity. Me: 'Sir, I don't know how to help you.'
He stormed out. He called customer service later. I found out he wanted to know where in the store movies could be found to PURCHASE not rent. He was apparently just too stupid to articulate this."
"I used to work as a photographer in a studio next to an opticians office. I once managed to have a long conversation with an older man looking for glasses, without either of us realizing he was in the wrong place.
Him: 'Hi, I'm Mr. McFakenamington, here for my appointment.'
Me: 'Huh, that's odd... I don't see you on our schedule. I have time for a walk-in though, just fill in this paperwork.'
We have a little chat about possible clerical errors that could lead to a missing appointment as he's filling in his paper. I chalk it up to human error and tell him we can get started in a few minutes anyway.
Him (after a brief silence): 'So about how long do these appointments take?'
Me: 'Well, generally it takes 1 to 2 hours for the whole process. Really depends on the person.'
Him: 'Wow, that's a long time...'
Me: 'Well, if it's just you, it shouldn't take so long. The long appointments tend to be families with children. The most time-consuming thing is picking out the ones you like.'
Him: 'And after I've chosen, do you make them here? When can I pick them up?'
Me: 'We send out your order to our lab and it comes back here in a week or two.'
Him (looking around): 'Do you have frames I can look at?'
Me: 'Not really. We've got some pre-framed products but generally, customers buy their own frames from somewhere else.'
Him: 'That's ridiculous! How could you not sell frames here?!'
Me: 'Well... there are some in (adjacent department store) if you don't have any around the house. Frames are really not so hard to come by. I mean, you can even get them at (nearby pharmacy).'
Him: 'But you'd at least set up the frames for me, right?'
Me: "Sorry, no, but for most frames it's pretty straightforward. Usually, it's just a couple simple latches in the back. I can't imagine I'd be better at it than you, or anyone else for that matter.'
Him: 'I don't even get to try anything on today? How will I know how it looks? How do you get the size right for the frames if I don't have them?'
Me: 'I'm sorry sir, I really don't follow.'
Him (practically yelling): 'So you just want me to buy glasses I've never seen for frames I don't have, and I have to frame them myself?!!!'
At this point, it dawns on me. I explain that I'm a photographer, point to the photos hanging up around the studio. I tell him that optical is next door. He looks sheepish, and I walk out with him to make sure he gets to the right place.
This entire conversation occurred while I was under a sign that said 'Portrait Studio' in a room filled with photos of families. I guess the poor guy really needed those glasses."
"I used to work at a bookstore. You'd be surprised how many people came in and asked us to help them find a book that they knew nothing about. We're pretty good at figuring out what people need, but when they don't know anything about the book besides the cover color, it's pretty much impossible.
'Do you know the title?'
'Do you know the author?'
'Do you know what it's about?'
'No, but I know that it's blue.'
'I'm sorry, we have a lot of blue books.'
In a huff, 'Well, I guess I'll have to go to your competitor - they'll be able to find it for me.'
Another time I had a mom and her 16-year-old daughter come in one day and they asked me for the sequel to Anne Frank's Diary. When I explained that there is no sequel because she died during the Holocaust, the mom became annoyed with me and asked me for 'something else in the series.'
One last story: I also had a guy ask if we had the 'Anarchist Cookbook.' I told him we didn't have it in the store but I could order it for him. So I bring up the system and ask him his name so I can order it. His eyes became huge and he got all nervous and asked me why. I said because we hold special orders behind the counter for you to pick up. He said nevermind and walked out the door looking around like he was about to be jumped by government agents."
"I once had a customer drop off a black and white film, then complain because the photos weren't in color. After the third time explaining that black and white film creates black and white pictures she said, 'Well, can't you just take a picture of that photo with color film?'
I had to really try hard to not just say yes and then do it and try to get her to pay for the results."
"I used to work at a store in a small midwestern town that sold, among other things, jumbo jelly beans. One day, I received the following phone call.
Customer: 'I was just in there the other day. I bought a pound of the black licorice jelly beans and I think there's something wrong with them. '
Me: 'Why do you think that?'
Customer: 'I put it in my mouth and it just...it just sat there.'
Me: 'What do you mean, sir?'
Customer: 'Well, I just put it in my mouth and I had it in my mouth and it just STAYED there. It used to be I'd pop one in my mouth and after a few minutes, it would go away.
Me: 'Do you mean it would disappear?'
Customer: 'No, I mean it would just... It would melt away.'
Me: 'Sir, it sounds more like you were eating hard candy to me. Jelly beans are kind of chewy and they'd probably take a good long while to dissolve in your mouth.'
Customer: 'Well, I guess I don't know what to do. I got a pound of these jelly beans and I don't know what to do with them.'
Me: 'I would suggest chewing them, sir.'
Customer: 'Oh, okay! I'll try that! Thanks!'"
"I used to work at Icing, it's like a more grown-up version of Claire's (no Hello Kitty). We were especially busy in September with a lot of high school girls coming in to get jewelry and such for their homecoming dances.
One night this cute little old lady came in with her orange, stuck up granddaughter. The women kept picking up things to suggest for her this girl and each time the girl gave an eye-roll and said no. I go up to her and ask if there is anything I can help with to which the girl says, 'Well if you have taste like this freaking idiot (referring to her grandma), I want you to stay as far away as possible from me. It's bad enough having to deal with one dumb, clueless waste of space.'
The worst part is her grandma just stood there and took it. I briefly entertained killing her right then, but the thought of her dying alone, looking like a shriveled up grapefruit, with no inheritance from grandma gave me much more satisfaction.
Still, it was little witches like that that made me wanna burn the whole freaking mall down."
"I work at a job where I go to customers homes and fix their equipment. I don't know how many times the parent has taken off and left me alone with there child. Why in the world they think that it is ok to leave their child with a complete stranger, I will never understand.
The best was a lady told me as soon as I arrived to her home that she had to leave. I asked if there was anyone 18 or older at the premise that would be present, her response was no but my son will be here, he is 8, so it will be ok. I informed her that if she left I could not stay unless there was an adult present. She threw down her purse sat down on the couch with a very dramatic auuuugh, then said fine...whatever.
Satisfied that she understood the company rules I went on with my work in the basement. I came back upstairs about 30 minutes later to ask her a question but could not find her. I asked the kid if he knew where his mom was and he said that she left a while ago because she wanted to go downtown to watch a commercial get filmed. Stunned, I called the cell number listed on the work order and asked why she left when I had already explained the company rules to her. Her response was: 'I will only be gone for a few hours it will be ok.' I told her that it was not ok and that I was leaving without finishing the work and that I was going to report this back to my supervisor.
She said: 'But if you leave who will watch my little derp?' To which I replied probably the police when they show up. I told my supervisor and he noted the account so that no one could go back for a few weeks to finish the work."
"I had a customer that just couldn't grasp the concept of percentages. She wanted to return an item, but because she had used a 20% off coupon, we refunded her the amount she had paid for the item. For 35 minutes, she argued with my manager about the price. My manager just kept trying to explain that percent off coupons take a percent off of every item, so she only paid so much for it, and that we could not refund her more than she had paid.
I've seen plenty of people try to abuse our policy and leave managers no other choice than to give them what they want. And while those people tick me off to no end, I really don't think that was this woman's agenda. This woman was either the best actress I've seen or was actually too thick to understand percentages.
It was just sad to watch."
"I used to work at Staples as a PC Repair tech. Every once in awhile I'd have to sell a computer/printer/anything else on the sales floor.
One day I had a lady come in and ask me for help with ink for her printer. Being the only sales associate on the floor, I helped out. Here's how the conversation went down:
Me: 'What kind of printer do you have?'
Customer: 'Well, its a printer copier scanner thing... its grey...'
Me: 'Okay, do you know the model number by chance?'
Customer: 'Ummm... I think it's a Canon, Epson, or Lexmark...'
Me: 'Well those are all very different printers... Do you remember the number on the ink cartridge?'
Customer: 'Ummm... I don't.'
Me: 'Let's see if I can look it up under your Staples Rewards.'
I tried looking it up. She never purchased ink from Staples with her rewards card from what I could tell.
Me: 'I don't see it... well, without any information, I don't know what cartridges to help you find. There are literally hundreds of cartridges, and without knowing which one you need, it's impossible to make sure you get the right one.'
Customer: 'Can't you just help me look?' snappy tone
Me: 'Well, I'll try.'
We then proceed to look at about 30 or so different cartridges. There are other people in the store now, and like I said, I was the only one there.
Me: 'Ma'am, I'm sorry I can't help you. But if you get either the cartridge number or model number of your printer, I can find it for you [snaps fingers] like that.'
Customer: 'FINE! I DIDN'T WANT YOUR FREAKING HELP ANYWAY.'
Me: walking away 'I'm not a freaking mind reader, lady.'
Customer 'WHAT!?!' storms out of the store."
"I work at Walmart. I have to do carry-outs sometimes. One particular carry-out was for an elderly gentleman who was a little too frail to unload his cart himself. So I followed this fella out to handicapped parking and unloaded his groceries into his truck. People normally either help you unload or get in their car at this point while you finish; but this guy stayed sitting in his motorized cart, which I thought was a little odd.
THEN HE ASKED ME TO PICK HIM UP AND PUT HIM IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT!
He then bragged about still being able to drive when all the other old people were stuck at home. I wonder how many people he killed that day."
"I worked at a grocery store. A family came through the line and with the rest of their groceries, they had a single stick of butter. They had taken it out of its package and left the rest on the shelf. They were extremely confused as to why they couldn't buy a single stick of butter.
It was weird, they had a lot of other groceries so it's not like buying the rest of the box would break the bank. Plus, even if they almost never used butter and just needed a single stick, butter literally lasts forever in the freezer.
After it all they ended up not buying any butter."
"My boyfriend used to work in electronics retail. Apparently, he had a customer come in once to buy a USB drive off of him. So he was standing there explaining the drive to them, however one explains something that simple. They asked, 'Does it get heavier as I put more files on it?'
He gave them his best poker face and said, 'yes.'"
"I worked at McDonald's, so not really retail, but some of the dumbest people came to my store. One guy asked me 'What's the difference between the 4-piece nugget meal and a 6-piece nugget meal, besides the price of course?'
I just looked at him and said '2 nuggets,' and he was actually surprised. I think he was hoping something else would come with the meal, but I don't know why."
"I am an older female. I was working retail at a large supermarket chain in a small town. I was about 58 yrs old at the time. I was walking back to the employee lunchroom for my 15-minute break when a customer grabbed me by the arm. He was around 45 yrs old and a big mean looking guy. He pointed to a 30 lb bag of dog food, and told me: 'put it in my cart.' I said, 'I am going on my break, why don't you ask someone else, perhaps one of the men working here?' This guy was a big, strong, athletic dude. He was with his teenage son who was also a big strong guy.
The man turned to his son and said, 'This employee, it's her JOB to wait on me, and put that bag of dog food in my cart...that's how you need to keep them on their toes.' The son looked appalled at his dad but didn't say anything. By now I had lost 5 minutes of my break, so I grabbed the 30 lb bag and shoved it into his cart. Then I walked away. The man was obviously showing off for his son, but I think he made an idiot out of himself. I wish that now I would have told him to take the bag of dog food and shove it but I needed the job at the time."
"I worked at Macy's. One Christmas, my manager put me in charge of merchandising all of the accessories and fragrances for the holidays, which is a big deal in the bizarre world of retail.
One day, I was stocking and merchandising a display of Harajuku Lovers when this incredibly large, greasy looking woman began shuffling in my direction. The stench she emitted as she came closer was a raunchy mixture of body odor and mall pretzel cheese, of which she had a smidgen of in the corner of her mouth, crusty and gleaming yellow, which is a very accurate description of her teeth, as well.
'Hey you, girl,' she drawled. That very second, a rock begins to form in the pit of my stomach, and I am trying to think of an escape. Too late. 'Do y'all have any of that there perfume...Juicy Cooter?'"
"One time, this man asked me where the pants Joe Jonas would wear would be. He said he was his personal stylist. He reminded me to keep in mind that Joe 'has a big bulge.' I wanted to die. He came in with body glitter all over his face, a life-size plastic microphone, and a Miss Piggy doll in the crook of his elbow. He was insane.
Before he left without buying anything, I had the pleasure of enjoying a 5-minute conversation with him that felt like an eternity. It was all about how he's the premiere celebrity stylist for people like Perez Hilton. He explained how he had to buy all of our music equipment (record players and stuff) for Jay-Z and Beyonce's then-unborn baby because she's going to be a DJ. My manager came over and saved me because I'm pretty sure by the way he was looking at me and commenting on my appearance I was two seconds away from being pushed into an unmarked van and chained up in the boiler room of a low-rent apt building somewhere."
"I managed a hotel years back and we had this Long Island youth baseball team staying with us. They wanted to go see a movie, but couldn't decide. One of the dads comes up to me and says, 'Hey, have you seen this 'Often' movie?'
At the time, I was unaware of a movie with that title playing. I told him that. His response, 'Often, you know, that Often movie.'
My response, 'Sir, I don't know of any movie titled 'Often' can you tell me what the movie is about.
His response, 'It's about that often, the one with the often.'
He just kept repeating 'often' and not giving me anything.
I looked up on the computer the current movies playing and nothing stuck out. Then he said, 'the one where the often kills her adoptive parents... Often.'
My response, 'Ooooh, you mean Orphan.'
His response, 'Yeah, that's what I said, Often.'
Freaking Long Islanders."
"I was working at Aeropostale at the Herold Square NYC location years ago. A guy asked me if I would go tell a pack of what appeared to be 12 to 15-year-old girls shopping in the store that he was the owner of Aeropostale.
He said he thought it would be a 'real panty dropper.' The guy had to be in his 50's. I did not oblige him. Instead, I had store security take him out."
"Years ago, had a gentleman wishing to buy a product. It was clearly marked as $125. He asked for a discount, could he have it for $100? I said no, as I was just an employee and I would have had to pay the difference out of my own pocket. He wouldn't accept that, and things got heated from there. I should note that I was the only person in the shop at that time. It was past the time I should have been packing up and I was not being paid for the extra time.
So I was busily trying to close/clean up the shop. To me, I had already answered his question, and that was the end of it. But, he wouldn't let it go and kept pestering me even though I was obviously very busy, closed, and wanting to get out of there. So I started to get very annoyed and finally I 'snapped.' I grabbed a magic marker, crossed out the $125, and wrote $150 instead. I said, 'Now if you want a $25 discount, no worries.' He freaked out and started saying things like, 'You're a bad man. A bad businessman. Bad man.' I was holding a hammer coincidentally and told him to get out and not to come back."