Customer service industries can reveal some horror stories, but sometimes they go above and beyond anything you can imagine.
Here are 11 stories of food service workers sharing the worst comment a customer said to them. Check them out
1. Quick wit!
When I went to university, I worked at a fast food joint. Usually, I worked the drive-through. One night, a car pulled up to receive their order, when the driver stated, ‘I thought I was hungry, then I got a look at you. I think I lost my appetite.’
While handing her the change that was due, I remarked, ‘And I thought I left a town of incompetent people, bound for a city with more intelligence and culture. I guess I was wrong, about that.’
The next day, the customer showed up to the restaurant and complained to my boss that I was ‘rude to her.’ I explained the situation. My boss smiled, looked at me, and said, ‘Yup. Still one of my best employees!’ I apologized to my boss, later, for the trouble I may have caused. He told me that my witty comeback was nothing compared to what he may have done. Sounds like my customer was lucky.
2. Was it worth?
When I was younger I worked as a bartender. Usually, people were very polite even if the bar I worked for was not a lovely place.
One night, a guy with his girlfriend came in and asked me to prepare some drinks for them. While I was doing my job, the guy was talking with his girlfriend about the bar. He was not very delighted to be there and I really did not understand why they came in the first place if they did not like it.
After few minutes, this guy said to me, ‘Hey, do I have to wait 5 hours to get those drinks?’ (my ears are quite big). I told him they’ll be ready in 2, 3 minutes.
After a few minutes I gave him the drinks, and he told me, “You have a very big nose, why don’t you use it as a third hand?’ I answered him: ‘I have big ears, I have a big nose, you can easily see it, but I also have something else much bigger, but you must ask your mother about it, she will tell you.’
The next thing I remember was a bottle to my head.
3. Basic math!
I used to spend my summers waiting tables, while I was in high school and college.
Once, a group walked in to be seated. As is customary, I asked how many were in the party. I could easily see that there were six of them, but I always asked the total in case more people were on the way. One woman said ‘Four adults and two children.’
A man, I assume her husband, then sputtered: ‘That makes six total.’ I didn’t really think anything of it, until I heard him turn to his wife and say quietly (but not so quietly that I couldn’t hear), ‘You have to make it clear for the waitress, she might not be able to add them.’
I turned to him and with the sweetest smile said: ‘Oh don’t worry. I just wait tables over the summer. During the school year I attend the Oregon Institute of Technology where I’m double majoring in Civil Engineering and Applied Mathematics. I know that 2 and 4 make 6.’
I kindly showed them to their seats and they ended up giving a very generous tip.
4. This sounds planned.
When I was 15 years old I got my first job at a fast food place.
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.
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 have also had customers try to steal things behind the counter, yell racial slurs, and one customer took a piss on the floor.
5. Can’t fool me!
I was working as a barista at a popular cafe’s kiosk inside a local grocery store. We frequently had customers come in and try to get free coffee from us. Usually, this took the form of bringing in an old cup, claiming they had been in the store previously that day (we offered a refill price of about 50 cents if you had ordered within the last hour) and asking to get topped off. I’ve had customers bring in cups that were so torn up and gross and obviously several days, if not weeks old.
On this particular day, a man came up to the kiosk with the grossest, grungiest, most falling-apart cup that was not even a cup from our store and asked us to ‘refill’ it for him. I rang him up and let him know that it would be $2.25. He immediately grew angry and coldly informed me that refills were free. I explained that they actually were not, and they were only offered at the discount price if he had purchased a cup at full price within the last hour. I then told him I’d be happy to serve him a coffee, but the price would be $2.25. I asked him if he’d like a cup of coffee to which he replied the thing I still remember to this day, before he stormed off.
6. That escalated quickly.
When I was 16 I had a job at a bakery. It was my first day and I was serving a man behind the counter and he requested a specific type of muffin. Because it was my first day, I was still learning the various types and I couldn’t see the signs in front that described which muffin was what flavor. We were the only two people in the store.
I pointed to the one that I thought was the one he mentioned and asked ‘Do you mean this one?’ I had picked the correct one, but I wanted it to be sure before I put it in the bag to ring him up. His eyes darkened as if I had told him I had killed his puppy. He looked at me with disdain. The corners of his mouth turned down. ‘Yes, THAT one….did you graduate high school?’ he asked.
Wow, I was completely blown away at the nerve of this fully grown man. I ignored him and proceeded to cheerfully ring him up. ‘I asked you a question,’ he said in an authoritative tone. He saw me as an inferior human being, and he wanted to make sure I knew it.
I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Sir I am only 16 years old and I am a junior. I am not old enough to have graduated.’
‘Do you plan on graduating high school?’ he asked.
‘Of course ,’ I said.
‘Good,’ he said and then left the store.
I was floored that someone could be so rude, especially since I was just being thorough.
I later told my shift manager about the exchange and she informed me that I never had to take that kind of abuse. Under those circumstances I was allowed to tell the person to get out of the store and never come back. Fortunately, while I had some rude customers, I never had anything on that level again.
7. Oh, Jenny.
My first job was working at a donut shop. One day it was just me and another girl working. Let’s call the girl Jenny for the sake of the story. I had just clocked in and the first customer I helped got a dozen donuts and a few of those were Boston creme donuts. She pays and then leaves.
5 min later she calls the store and Jenny answered the phone. The lady was upset and yelling about how the Boston creme donuts she ordered didn’t have any creme in them. Jenny said something about how strange that was and if she wanted to come back in we could check and see if there really wasn’t any creme in the donuts and if there wasn’t then we could switch them out and give her like an extra one for free.
That just made the lady even more pissed. Jenny ended up in tears and was trying to play it cool but the lady hung up the phone. A few minutes later she walks in the door still pissed. I told Jenny I would talk to the lady.
She was yelling about how I was making her waste gas, time, blah blah blah by coming back here.
It turns out Jenny had given the lady some Boston cremes that we hadn’t filled yet. No big deal. I offered the lady a free dozen donuts for her trouble. She just laughed and then called me a jerk and left.
Like… what. How am I the jerk? I just offered to give you an extra dozen donuts for free for something that wasn’t even that big of a deal! It’s not like the Boston cremes are inedible now that they don’t have any creme in them, they are basically a chocolate frosted donut at that point. Still good.
I don’t know what that lady’s problem was but needless to say I was not the jerk, she was.
But seriously… Who turns down a free dozen donuts?
8. Serious horror stories.
I had a customer dump a drink onto the floor specifically to be entertained by me mopping it up. There was a group of men who frequented the fast food restaurant I worked at in college. They were the sorts who were quite annoyed by the fact that they had to speak to a woman in everyday contexts.
In the beginning, I was met with disdain. They’d try to tell the cooks behind me their order to avoid speaking to me.
The policy was that we would only grant student discounts if students showed their IDs–and even if they were repeat customers, we weren’t allowed to remind them about the discount. To top it off, our general manager seemed to not have anything better to do than watch (and listen) to the cameras and recordings all day.
So, this group comes in every. single. day. and ‘just so happens’ to ‘forget’ to show me their ID until I’ve taken their order. Which requires me to void their order, call the manager over and restart each. and. every. time.
The first time one of them realized they could inconvenience me in such a way, I witnessed the most sinister smile I’ve seen in my life.
Then they would leave their garbage all over the table. No reason to pick it up, right? That’s obviously my job.
But then the day came. The day that would test my patience as a minimum wage worker.
We went through the standard, ‘Here’s my ID after you put in my order’ ordeal. Then, full eye-contact, one of the guys walked back around the counter, took the top off his soft beverage and poured it onto the floor–with a smile.
Then told me I needed to clean it up.
And, as the good employee I was, I grabbed the mop and cleaned it up.
Nope, no one said anything. No one stood up. I kept my head down and quit a few months later in favor of a better job.
9. Not cool, whatsoever.
My rudest experience was not something said to me but about me:
I was working as a hostess at a restaurant when I was in college. One evening, I finished sitting a family down and had gone back to the hostess station to seat the next group. Not long after seating the group, my manager asked me to come to the kitchen area. He fidgeted for what seemed like a minute, not really knowing where to begin. Finally, he said, ‘I can’t have you back on the floor for the rest of the night.’
I was speechless and had no idea what I had done wrong.
‘The family you just sat down, well, they complained about your clothing. They said your clothes are too revealing.’
I was wearing a button-up blouse and a black skirt that came more than halfway down my thighs. I also had dark tights underneath, so no actual skin was showing.
My manager seemed so uncomfortable, but he continued, ‘Now, I don’t agree with them and your outfit seems perfectly fine, but I can’t have you back on the floor the rest of the night. The woman said she would come back later and make sure you didn’t work the floor again.’
WHAAAT? I asked if he was sure it was me.
‘Yes, she said ‘That girl that looks like a sex worker!’ I’m so sorry. I hate to do this to you, but we are a family restaurant and if a customer complains, we have to act.’
I was absolutely horrified! But I donned an ugly kitchen uniform and resigned myself to stay out back for the remainder of my shift.
Later that night, my friend who was their waiter said that the wife kept yelling at the husband the whole night in front of their kids. According to her, he came into our restaurant frequently and she was convinced he was having an affair with an employee there. When I sat them, he must’ve looked at me somehow and she became enraged, accusing him of coming to the restaurant only to check me out. The waiter told me she kept calling me a whore and some pretty nasty racist names. I think she was a very twisted, insecure, jealous woman who went off the deep end that night and took it out on me.
10. Another one?
Of course, I encountered many rude customers, but this incident stands out to me as it was resolved with such satisfaction.
At the age of 21, I had been working at the bar for three years (in Australia, the legal drinking age is 18). By this stage I had proven myself as an efficient, gregarious and valuable employee, and had built great rapport with the owner, therefore, he had made me a Venue Manager.
Naturally, Friday and Saturday nights were our busiest shifts of the whole week. This particular Saturday night I had about three bar staff call in sick earlier in the day. Being that it was the middle of the Australian summer and understandably many people go away for the weekend when they can, I was unable to fill their place with other staff members. I knew the bar was going to be seriously short-staffed, so I decided I would assist them by also bartending the majority of the night.
Our bar had a casual and relaxed atmosphere. As the Venue Manager I would dress my outfit up a little, but the female bartenders would usually dress comfortably in shorts and t-shirts during summer. As I was bartending that night, I was dressed in the same casual fashion, with dark blue denim shorts. They were definitely ‘shorts,’ but certainly not inappropriate in any way, and definitely not out of the ordinary for the environment.
Early in the evening, before we were too busy, an American bloke came up the bar alone. He must’ve been about 30, quite good-looking. We had quite a few Americans frequent our bar and my overall impression is that they are extremely friendly and LOVE to chat. I greeted this man with my usual friendly demeanour and he gave me a somewhat cold response, while scanning my body up and down. He then ordered a tap beer, as soon as I started pouring says ‘I’m not sure if you know this, but your shorts… they are too short, much too short.’
Feeling quite humiliated for a second, I put the beer down – were my shorts hiked up somehow?! I looked down and they were sitting normally. He then scanned the rest of the bar staff quickly and says ‘Actually, all of these girls shorts are too short’. His condescending tone made my blood boil.
Me: ‘In what world would you think you have the right to come in here and comment on our employees clothing?’
He was SHOCKED.
Him: ‘Excuse me? I am only making a point — it is sad to see girls dressing this way just for a tip.’
By this point I was completely and utterly enraged. The tipping culture in Australia is entirely voluntarily and somewhat uncommon – no one should ever feel obligated to tip, as we have a minimum wage.
Me: ‘We do not work for, or expect tips in Australia. But more importantly, we do not allow people with your disgusting attitude in this venue. You have 20 seconds to get out.’
Him shocked laugh ‘Is this a joke? I want to speak to the manager immediately.’
Me: ‘You’re speaking to her. She just kicked you out.’
The man went speechless got such a fright that he immediately stepped backward, half-tripping on his way. The man looks around the venue, sees the majority of bar staff watching the scenario in hysterics, looks back at Tony, and completely humiliated and dumbfounded, quickly dashes for the door.
The first time I’ve ever experienced someone being rude to me was a few months into my first serving job at Olive Garden.
I had a table of 5 people. From how they interacted, they appeared to be a family of 5 – the parents had 3 adult children. They were pretty rude to me as they sat down, demanding for this and that (which in most cases, was a pretty normal occurrence; bossy customers are a norm).
I offered them a sample of wine, as is the norm at Olive Garden. One of the ladies kept asking for more samples. Then when she finally ordered her glass of wine, she accused me of giving her less than the stipulated 6oz. I explained that we can’t give her any less because the appropriate amount is marked on the side of the glass by a little etching of a grape. She threatened to get me in trouble for not giving her the proper amount of wine. The mother accused me of the same thing.
When everyone finally settled down after I had gotten them their beverages, I started to take down their meal orders.
The first guy, making fun of my Malaysian background, ordered in an offensive Chinese accent.
I was stunned by this man’s speech. Everyone else at the table were snickering. The man who was doing the fake Chinese accent looked really pleased with himself. Everyone waited to see how I’d react. I mustered every ounce of professionalism I had in me and responded in the most fluent, unaccented, and grammatically correct English. The man who had been rude to me looked taken aback. I smiled at him pleasantly, took all the menus back, all the while my heart was pounding on my ears, and quickly walked away to put in their order.
That was the first time in my life that someone was blatantly racist towards me. My response had been to kill them with kindness. I’d made an offhand remark to my coworker after I’d put the order in and she was livid to hear it.
Unbeknownst to me, she had gone to the manager and told him what had happened. Moments later, the manager came to me and asked me to recount the incident. After I’d done so, my manager took a plate of raw asparagus, went to the table, and set the plate down rudely, saying, ‘I hear someone wants asparagus?’ He then proceeded to have some words with the customers, and told them that if they disrespect any of his staff again, that he’d call the police on them.
When I returned to the table to check on their meal, the man was exceedingly polite to me, as was the rest of the table.