There comes a fateful day in the life of a server of the public when a difficult customer pushes them so close to the edge that they almost completely lose their cool. The employee does not mean the person any harm, but wishes that they would just cease, desist, and just keep their mouth shut.
Then comes the moment in which the worker decides that they have the perfect way to silence them and using it proves to be quite effective. Employees took to Reddit to share the moment they satisfyingly brought a customer back down to their level and shut them up. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I used to work for an independent coffee shop. One Christmas Eve, 15 minutes after we closed, a cantankerous old lady started banging on the door. You see, she needed coffee beans even though we had cashed out, and was being a total brat. I decided, 'Tis the season,' and let her in. While I was weighing out the beans, she noticed my sleeve (tattoos) and said, 'How are you going to explain that to your grandchildren?' in the most obnoxious way possible.
My reply: 'Actually, I was just diagnosed with cervical cancer, so I'll never be able to have children.'
The look on her face was AMAZING! I didn't get an apology, but the shame I saw was enough to make me happy."
"I worked at a photo printing lab, and we got people in all the time who claimed we were stupid and had messed up their pictures.
One woman had us print 800 vacation pictures. They were bad quality, dark, and out of focus. When she came to pick them up, she insisted that we had ruined them, that they were perfect on her camera, and that she had a very expensive camera and so there was no way the pictures could be dark or out of focus. We finally gave her her money back, even though we had done nothing wrong and were out a lot of time and paper. She called us 30 minutes later and told us she was at a store across town, and they had reprinted all of her pictures and they were beautiful, in focus, and bright.
I had to tell her that the same person who owned our store also owned the store across town and that not only would it have taken that store several hours to reprint 800 pictures, but their printer was down that day, so they couldn't have printed anything. She hung up on me."
"During high school, I worked at a Burger King. There was this one woman who would always stop by the drive-thru during the afternoon and ask for a Whopper Junior with extra onions. And I mean, a LOT of extra onions. And no matter how many we put in, she always came into the store and screamed that there weren't enough. Still, this was in the middle of the afternoon, so we didn't care.
However, one day, we had four buses full of US Army enlistees at the store at the same time (convoys of chartered buses would go by periodically, and they usually stopped at our store because the bus drivers knew my boss).
Now, these people were always the nicest, most respectful people you can possibly imagine, which was a welcome change after dealing with bums the whole day. They also always ordered a ton of food (all king size, tons of double and triple whoppers, the whole nine yards). My boss would always have me give them the 'senior discount' (15% off), and they enjoyed that immensely because it said that they were getting a senior discount on their receipts.
As nice as they were, they strained our store to the limit because they ordered so much food. So we were almost going hammer and tongs to keep up, and then the two-faced woman entered the drive-thru. My boss told me to just grab two handfuls of onions and put them on the sandwich because she didn't need a scene when we were as far behind as we were. I could barely close the sandwich because of the onions, but I managed and we gave it to her.
The store was completely full of US Army enlistees. They probably had not had fast food for weeks. I think they were going from boot camp to get their first assignments), and the line was out the door. So, two-faced woman pushed her way past all of these people, rudely shoving them out of her way, and came up to the counter screaming that she didn't have enough onions. My boss was livid, so she took the sandwich, handed it to me, and told me to do whatever I wanted.
I dumped the ENTIRE TUB of onions on it (probably about 1.5 LITERS of onions), wrapped it up really, REALLY tight, and taped it shut. Note that the wrappers were somewhat elastic. My boss handed it to the two-faced woman, and she opened it right on the counter to 'make sure we had enough,' even though it was like six times bigger than normal.
The thing EXPLODED ALL OVER, which was so awesome. All the troops were trying not to laugh. One of their officers was waiting by the counter for his food, and finally, he just gave up and started laughing his butt off. The troops took this as a cue, and she had about 250 troops all dying of laughing at her.
It was one of the best days of my high school life. She didn't come back for a month, and she never EVER complained about not having enough onions."
"A well dressed business passenger bought a plane ticket on continental from Indianapolis to Manchester. There are no direct flights, so he would have to connect in EWR (Newark, New Jersey). After arriving in EWR, he strolled over to the Manchester gate and saw a small 50 passenger regional jet parked outside. He thought nothing of it and boarded the airplane a while later. After taking his seat and just prior to the boarding door being closed the flight attendant makes an announcement, 'Welcome aboard flight ####, service to Manchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE!'
This guy goes completely crazy! He starts scrambling to get his things and get off the plane, all the while yelling at the flight attendant, gate agent, pilots, and other passengers. He was trying to go to Manchester in the UK (airport code of MAN) and he bought a ticket for MHT. The gate agent was getting completely verbally abused by the guy at the podium as she tried to rebook him to the proper destination. She took it all in stride and was really trying to help the guy, even though he was being a complete idiot and going on and on about how it was a mistake in the computer.
And then she saw how much he paid for the ticket. Her exact words were, 'You only paid 300 dollars for your ticket and you really thought that was going to get you to England?' He was quiet after that."
"I was working at a gas station in a very rich part of town. During a nice summer day, a prime example of the idiot variety of the human species drove his super-expensive Lamborghini in, and in that haughty, I'm-rich-so-you-must-do-what-I-say voice demanded that it be filled with premium. The attendant started to, but the guy immediately snatched the nozzle from him and screamed, 'You're too stupid to do this on your own!' We were in Oregon, by the way, where you can't pump your own gas. State fire law.
Well, being that he was a huge grump and an idiot, gas spilled out from the nozzle all over his sparkly grump-mobile. At that point, he truly flipped out, and stormed into the store where I was working as the cashier and de facto manager. He immediately demanded to speak to the owner, saying that we were going to pay to have his car repainted AND he was not going to be paying for his gas. I tried my best to calm the situation, but he had a good rage going and did not want to be calmed down.
While he was spewing forth, I noticed that an officer from the local police department was about to come into the store to get snacks or a drink or some such. This gave me a nice idea.
'Sir,' I said, 'I'm afraid that the gas is in your tank and you pumped it yourself, so you are going to have to pay.'
Cutscene of an explosion. Grump guy then asked, 'So, what exactly do you think you can do if I just go and get in my car and leave?'
Thank you, good Lord, for timing. He said that, at full bellow, right as the officer walked through the door. My response: 'Well, personally I can't do much, but the nice West Linn police officer standing behind you will probably arrest you for second degree theft.'
Grump guy turned around to see the officer, with a very predatory smile on his face, nodding vigorously. Yeah, he shut up, paid, and we never saw him again."
"I used to be a low-level manager in a call center, it paid the bills.
Anyway, a customer called us and been perfectly pleasant, giving us his account details, and business got underway. At the end of the call, he asked for one more thing that we couldn't have done, and was informed of this. He immediately got extremely aggressive with my member of staff. At this point, her hand shot up in the air (cue me) and she handed over the headset and chair so I could view the details. I was called various other names and then we got down to the grand finale: the threat. I'm paraphrasing but here's how it went:
HIM: 'Listen, hun, I can see your company's address on your website, and I'm going to come down there and mess you up.'
ME: 'Good, give my colleague your name and address first, and I'll make sure to hand them over to the police somewhere in the few hours it's going to take you to drive down here. We'll be waiting.'
"I used to work for a grocery store in high school as a cashier. One busy Saturday, an older lady came through my long line with about $150 worth of groceries. Among her items was a prepackaged piece of meat from our deli department that is normally priced by weight. Her meat did not have a printed sticker on the package, and I would've needed to find a bag boy or manager to run to the deli to get it priced. Because we were super busy, I decided to wing it, and set it on my scale.
'Looks like it's almost a pound, so... let's say... $2.77? Does that sound fair?' I began to ring it as a miscellaneous item.
'No, it does NOT sound fair!' she yelled. 'You need to get that priced!'
Groans began from the line behind her, as I found a bag boy to run and get the price sticker. A manager came by to see what the commotion was about, and the lady explained the situation. I explained why I had made the decision I made. The manager, of course, stuck up for the lady (which we laughed about later) and she accepted the apology. We then waited for what seemed like an eternity of eye-contact avoidance and thumb twiddling.
The bag boy came back and handed me the pork. I smirked and showed her the price. '$2.78,' I said. 'Huh, I would've saved you a penny!'
The man behind her chortled. Never saw her again."
"One of my favorite stories from my brief time in customer service was when a man called up the night after a minor hurricane screaming that his service didn't work, that he had complained multiple times, and this was the last straw. Clearly our service sucked and it was our fault his cable was out. He kept cutting me off, and calling me rude names when finally I just interjected:
'Sir, your cable isn't out because of an issue with our service. Your cable is out because a tree branch fell across the cable line. What's that? How do I know? Because you live at 78 "Fakename Road" and I live at 75 "Fakename Road." I saw the branch fall. I'm the one who went out in the rain last night to get the branch out of the street. In fact, I know you know it's a branch, because I could see you looking out your window at me moving the branch that fell on your property. Not only that, but when I was done, I went inside and called into work on my day off to arrange a bucket truck to come out and rerun the cable so you could beat the rush of calls that came in all across the island due to the storm. You didn't even have to call. A truck is already on route.'
Well, that shut him up."
"I used to work at a restaurant chain that started about 15 or 20 years back and has about 15 stores in total. People, all the time, would complain and release their vague threat 'I know Tommy! (the owner who started the chain) Do I have to call him to get some good service?' Such freaking crap from so many people, but we had to put up with it, because that's what you do in the restaurant business.
But one time when this happened, Tommy was actually in the restaurant. He would come in once every couple months or so and just act like a regular customer, just to kinda evaluate how things were running from a non-owner perspective. Of course, everything magically went smoother for him than any other customer. Imagine that.
Anyway, this lady (who had been a total witch the entire night) started complaining, talking about how her meal was cold or bad or some crap, even though she had powered through four-fifths of it. She wanted her money back for this atrocity! And then she dropped the bombshell: 'I know Tommy! He wouldn’t stand for this!' The only thing was, Tommy was sitting almost directly behind her, and pretty obviously didn’t know her. She didn’t recognize him.
After getting a bit of the old discrete 'Go ahead' nod from him, I just said, 'Ma’am, Tommy is in the restaurant right now. If you could just point him out right now, I’d be glad to let him know what you think of his restaurants.'
She stammered and gave the 'No he's not, I would've seen him!' until the owner stood up and said hello. He put on the kind of sickly sweet personality, where you're ever so polite but a total turd at the same time. She shut the heck up and paid pretty quickly after that."
"A customer smoking in the supermarket in 2000 in Perth, Western Australia. We actually allowed smoking in the shopping centre that the store was in until 1999, but never in the store. A staff member asked the customer to stop smoking. The customer refused to stop. The customer escalated to me, as customer service manager at the time.
I grabbed a fire extinguisher (large, CO2), walked up to the customer and said, 'If you don't put that out now, I will be forced to assume you're on fire and act accordingly.'
The customer dropped the smoke, stamped it out with her foot, and left the store.
Clean up, Aisle 3."
"I work at a bar, and once a customer came in without his ID. I told him he'd have to leave, and he messed around for about 20 minutes pretending to leave and slinking back in with his friends. I got fed up after a while, and confronted him in front of his friends, telling him that if he didn't leave, his entire party would be kicked out.
He finally left, and returned about half an hour later, with his ID. He'd gone all the way home to get it. I checked it, thanked him, and said, 'What can I get for you?'and then he ordered.
I handed him the drink, and he mumbled, 'You didn't have to be such a turd earlier.' I looked him in the eye and said, 'Pardon?' He repeated himself, louder, 'You didn't have to be such a TURD earlier.'
I grabbed the drink out of his hand and held it up in front of his face. I said calmly, but somewhat loudly, 'Look, you can call me a turd, or you can order a drink. BUT YOU CAN'T DO BOTH. What's it gonna be?'
He looked around at everyone staring at him, mumbled that he'd like a drink, and tipped me $5 on that one drink. He never sassed me again."
"I work in a shoe shop. One of the services we supply is to check how well school shoes fit our younger customers. Once a staff member has signed to say they are a good fit, the customer is able to bring them back if there are any problems.
This one time, a mother came back in with her son a week after being fitted with a pair, loudly mouthing off that the shoes were too tight and causing blisters. Even though she was being a psycho beast about it, we offered to get her a new pair.
Once back in the kid's department, she spotted the girl who fitted the original shoes and went freakin' crazy on her, demanding that the girl should be there while a better pair was fitted so she wouldn't make the same mistake again.
Despite the mum saying some pretty degrading stuff about her, the girl agreed to sit in on the re-fit in an attempt to help out. She remembered the customer, even to the point of remembering the child's name, and was visibly upset about doing a bad job. Returning to the till, the fitter offered to put the exchange through as a final gesture of goodwill, and then froze, with an awesome grin on her face.
'These aren't your son's shoes,' she said to the customer. 'They have a name tag inside saying Tommy, and your son's name is Billy.'
Turns out the kid had swapped his shoes with another boy in his class. We laughed that crazy woman out of the shop."
"I used to work at an amusement park and I started in food, which was by far the worst of the four details (games, rides, pavilions, food). My stand made funnel cakes and corn dogs. The average wait time on a busy day could be upwards of 30 minutes in the sun, which I'll admit sucks, but it's not any cooler in the stand slaving over a 450-degree fryer. Anyhow...
This guy came up, and ordered four corn dogs. I rang him up and asked him if he wanted any ketchup or mustard brushed on. He declined. I took his money and handed over four corndogs. His little girl bit into one and then tugged on Daddy's arm and said she wanted mustard. I politely inform him that since she'd already bitten out of her food, we can't brush it on; however, if he'd head 50 steps to an adjacent building, he could skip the line and just grab some condiment packets.
Apparently, this was unacceptable. Up until this point, he was just a normal guy, but now, sudden anger. 'DO YOU KNOW WHO I WORK FOR?! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?' he yelled.
I told him no. He then half-chuckled to himself and pointed out his pregnant wife sitting at a nearby table, and begrudged the time he spent in line. I again reassured him that they would give him some mustard packets if he just walked next door. He lost it: 'I'M THE REGIONAL MANAGER FOR COKE IN THIS AREA. I WILL BUY AND SELL YOU, KID...' This self-aggrandizing and demeaning talk toward me lasted a full 60 seconds or so. Then I told him, 'We only carry Pepsi products.'
He was flush with embarrassment and rage and anyone within earshot was laughing at him. To spite me (really his little girl), he didn't go get mustard packets. He was forever known as Mustard Man."
"I used to work in a call center for American ATT Wireless customers. I got a call, said my opening thing, asked how I could help. This lady said, 'Oh, thank God. I'm so happy to be talking to an American! Seems like every time I call any customer service line it's always freaking Indians or something!'
ME: 'I hear ya. Now how can I help?'
HER: 'It's not just the accent. I hate companies that ship their jobs overseas. We need to keep our money in this country! So where are you located?'
"I worked at a concession stand for a children's baseball park. It's a large park (nine or so fields) and we got lots and lots of customers. Having lots of customers, we had to make things in large quantities and the quality wasn't especially swell. It was a concession stand, not a restaurant.
Anyhow, it was about 20º out and people were ordering hot chocolate by about five cups at a time. Only two of us were working. It's funny how people magically get sick when the weather is crap.
The process for making hot chocolate was putting an extremely large container of water in our extremely large microwave, and then stirring in an extremely large amount of cocoa powder. It was nothing fancy, but it tasted pretty good all things considered.
Late in the day, I was working the register, and my co-worker, Peter was running around making everything. A lady came up to the side window, screaming at my Peter about how he was ruining the hot chocolate. Peter could not hear her, seeing as how she was yelling through a window at a guy working around a lot of refrigerator fans, among other things. She finally comes to the front counter and told me he was ruining it.
HER: 'He's going to ruin the milk! He's going to ruin it in the microwave!'
ME: 'There is no - '
HER: 'HE'S GOING TO RUIN IT!'
ME: [pretending to get super peeved] 'DON'T EFFIN' RUIN THAT MILK!'
HER: [wide-eyed stare]
PETER: 'What milk?'
ME: [still yelling] 'THE EFFIN' HOT CHOCOLATE MILK!'
PETER: [now up at the front looking VERY confused] 'There is no gosh darned milk!'
ME: [to the lady] 'Hmm. I suppose we don't use and milk.'
She left looking very scared to talk to us ever again."