When someone's day is going badly, it can be easy to take it out on other people. But, throwing a full-blown temper tantrum because an innocent retail worker made them upset? That's just too much. It does happen though. Retail workers deal with people's short fuses all the time.
Here are the worst temper tantrums retail employees have ever seen a customer throw. Content has been edited for clarity.
Christmas Is Ruined
“So I’ve worked in a ‘paint your own pottery store’ for the past couple of years, and for the most part, our customers are great. But, like most places, every now and then we get a rude one.
Now, I’ll preface this by saying that our story was partly at fault for this incident, due to an innocent mistake. However, this lady’s reaction was way out of proportion.
We do custom painting, wherein a customer buys a blank piece and has our staff paint it for them. We get a TON of these orders right around the holiday season from people wanting their family name on a Christmas plate and whatnot.
About two days before Christmas, a woman comes in to pick up the plate that she had custom done. I was not the one who painted the plate, in fact, I had never even seen the order before. Nevertheless, I was able to find it and show it to her.
She seemed pleased until she noticed one small detail. In the corners of the plate, were several tiny holly berries. Or at least holly berry leaves. You see, whoever had painted the plate had accidentally painted red berries onto a red background, and after the piece was fired, they no longer showed up. This lady was very mad about it.
Now, I understand being upset that something you paid for didn’t turn out quite right, but this was barely even noticeable. In fact, I wouldn’t have even seen it if she hadn’t pointed it out. The rest of it looked really, really nice. But no, in her eyes, it was ruined.
Despite this, I apologized profusely and told her we would repaint the berries and re-fire it free of charge. Unfortunately, because it was so late in the season, it would not be ready before Christmas. Our standard waiting time is one week, not to mention we were in the middle of a holiday rush and had literally no room in our kilns.
She was having none of that, so I ask her if she would like a refund instead.
She glared at me and said, ‘No, I’ll just take it like this, give it to me.’
Before I could even react, she yanked the plate out of my hands and stormed out of the store, slamming the door on her way out.
About ten minutes later, we got a phone call that my coworker answered. It was the same lady, bawling her eyes out and demanding to speak with a manager. My coworker basically told her no and hung up.
So apparently we ruined this woman’s Christmas. Whoops.”
Why Did He Expect To Return This In The First Place?
“I worked as a customer service supervisor at Best Buy 13 years ago. A guy tried to return a busted up car stereo head unit that he’d purchased six months ago. It was abused or had been physically damaged in an accident, plus he didn’t buy the warranty.
I told him that we couldn’t do anything. He called me a homophobic slur. I said something like, ‘I’m sorry we can’t help you any further.’ He got mad, threw a chair at me, missed, and told me he’s going to violate me when I left the store. Then he stormed off.”
He Called The Cops For What?
“A customer came in this morning and attempted multiple times to purchase gas, but all three of his cards were declined. I was in a good mood because I won $200 on last night’s mega millions, so I figured I’d spot him $20 for gas. He then went to the pump, pumped $5, and came back inside to demand change.
Customer: ‘Change from pump three, please.’
Customer: ‘Change from pump three. I only pumped $5.’
Me: ‘I offered you $20 in gas. I wasn’t planning on giving you change.’
Customer: ‘Let me speak to the manager.’
Me: ‘The manager is here from 5 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday.’
Customer: ‘Give me his number.’
Me: ‘Sorry, but the company doesn’t provide work phones, and I can’t give out his personal number.’
He starts yelling,’Where’s your corporate number?’
Me: ‘Outside, on the door.’
Fast forward two hours, and the police arrived. The responding officer told me someone said there was a cashier here that was refusing to return people’s change. I explained the situation to the officer, who then asked to see the tapes. I had to call the manager, who was irate because he had to come in on his day off. After about 30 minutes, my manager arrived and played the tapes for the cop. They came out of back office, the officer apologized to the manager, and left. The manager then told me that if the guy came back to the store to refuse sale and tell him not to come back.
I guess it doesn’t pay to be nice.”
The Cat’s Starvation Is On You
“In my nearly two years of retail, this was my first time (barely) losing it with a customer. I work at a big chain pet store, the really big one. Most pet stores (including mine) have their food sorted by brand, regardless of formula (can or bags or rolls), but a few newer shops have sprung up that separate by formula. These stores have just cans and just bags. I prefer the way we do it because it just makes more sense.
Last night, I was working in and out of the back room, which had heating issues. It was literally 14 degrees back there, but I was trying to be happy on the sales floor. I was running to the office when I helped a customer in our Blue section. For those unfamiliar, Blue is a prestige natural pet food brand that has four different lines for cats: Spa Selects, which has the most options and is pretty average; Basics, which is for limited ingredient diet; Freedom, which is still pretty limited ingredient diet; and Wilderness, which is super high protein and grain free.
I asked if she needed help with anything in my kindest voice. She rolled her eyes and said, ‘I think we all could use help in this section. It’s a mess!’ I looked over and noticed that it was straightened up well and everything was in stock, in its home.
I ignored her complaint and asked what she was looking for. She told me she always buys the grilled chicken kitten cans for her cat. I told her I’d go ask my manager if that sounds familiar since I didn’t remember ever carrying anything but pate formulas for kittens. In fact, we sell literally one kitten canned formula from the line she was looking at and it was chicken pate.
I went over and asked my manager, who has been with the company forever, and she said it doesn’t sound familiar so if it’s not on the shelf then we don’t carry it. I delivered this news to the customer, pointing out that there is very little difference in formula and that she could just give her kitten a little extra of the adult grilled chicken.
She turned her entire body to me and began yelling at me about how poorly organized our store is and how we need to change it like we ourselves choose the layout. Then she says that her senior cat, who needs kitten formula because he doesn’t eat much, will just starve because of how horribly ‘you all’ decided to organize the aisle. I’m going to take this time to point out that the aisle set up makes a lot of sense. Small, trial sized bags on top; cans in the middle by formula (pate, grilled, etc) and bigger bags on the bottom. Every canned formula is listed on the boxes they’re in, in giant letters.
I am so mad and she’s taken a step towards me as she’s ranted, so I just snap, ‘Well, I’ll call corporate and let them know!’ And walk away.
I heard her say, ‘Corporate won’t care!’ as I walked away. It took everything I had not to shout, ‘Well neither do I!’
And of course, I later saw her checking out with what I had recommended her, which she had deemed inappropriate for her cat.”
The Secret Shopper With A Temper
“I worked at Staples as a tech. It was the Monday after Black Friday.
A customer came in and said they were there to pick up their computer. I asked for a name and it didn’t sound familiar, but I checked anyway. Only seven computers were eligible for pickup, but nothing was under her name. Long story short, she did not have a computer with us at all.
Commence the screaming.
She went from ‘sour lemon face’ to full out, red-faced screaming about how terrible we were. Spittle hit my face and her breath was god awful.
After about an hour of off and on screaming, she realized that it was Best Buy, not Staples, that had her computer.
It was probably the worst day of my life, but revenge was mine.
We received a 0.0 on a secret shopper report a few weeks later. The store manager pulled the report I signed after the incident and compared the notes to the secret shopper report. She was the secret shopper. Since our tech stuff is filmed with a high-resolution camera, we sent everything to the corporate office and received an amended report with a perfect score and I got a $500 Staples cash card.”
She’s Got Quite The Arm
“I worked in the retail store at Killington Ski Resort. We had a strict no-returns policy on ski goggles. This was because people who often left their goggles in their hotel rooms would just buy a pair, use them for the day, and then try to return them. We weren’t renting goggles, we were selling them. Anyway, a customer tried to return a pair of goggles she had used for the day. After I told her about our policy, she started screaming and throwing a fit.
I told her I was sorry, but that I couldn’t budge. Once she heard this, she took the goggles and chucked them at me, all baseball-pitcher like. They hit me square in the face, breaking my nose and causing blood to pour from my nose like a faucet. She ran out and that was that.”
“Teen Night” Was Always A Huge Headache
“Back in high school, I was a big shot manager at the local roller skating rink. On Saturdays, we had a 5-7:30 ‘family session’ that was cheap and tailored to younger kids. After that ended, we would close down for 30 minutes, clean up and re-open for the 8pm-12am ‘teen night’ which was more expensive and basically a ‘club atmosphere.’
As was common, we’d usually get some teens coming in to pay the $2 ‘family night’ admission and then they’d try to hide in the bathrooms or in the back to avoid the ‘teen night’ admission surcharge. Since we had an off-duty uniformed police officer, these situations usually handled themselves. One night, I caught a couple kids hiding in the back and kicked them out.
Their mother showed up about 30 minutes later, demanding to speak with me, yelling and cursing at other employees in the process. I called her over to the window and told her why her sons would have to pay. She said she didn’t know, etc. I told her I’d take 50% off the teen admission, but that we told every single person who paid during the family night that it ended, and the next session was more.
She lost her mind and grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, then she straight up spit in my face.
The smell made me gag and some of it had gotten in my eyes and my mouth. The cop came over and put her in cuffs while I went to the bathroom to wash my face off. I could have pressed charges for assault but I didn’t really need to. The cop ran her name, she had violated her probation and was going to jail anyway. He left to take her to jail and her sons, who were about 14, just glared at me from outside the rink. Some guy came and picked them up later. When we left that night, I thought I was going to get jumped. This is when I learned my job was not worth the $10 an hour I thought was amazing pay.”
Drinking And Tasers Don’t Mix
“This happened last New Year’s Eve. I had just closed up self-checkout for the night. We had to have everything shut down early since our closing hours were different. I still had about a half an hour or so left in my shift, so I went to go help with some of the restock stuff. I was at the far end of our soda aisle, putting 12-packs up on the shelves, when I heard ‘Bzzt.’
I stood straight up and thought, ‘Was that a taser? Why would somebody have a taser in the store?’
As soon as I finished thinking that, I heard one of the cashiers loudly ask very, ‘Why do you even have that in here?’ That question was followed by another ‘Bzzt.’ Something was about to go down, so I ran to the registers to see what was going on. I got to the registers to see a large circle that had formed around this one customer. She was yelling at another person in line, so I asked the cashier for a quick rundown. She explained that the customer was wasted and trying to buy a bottle of bubbly. The cashier denied the sale and the lady pulled a taser on her.
Our night manager hopped out of his check stand and stood next to me. The taser lady had stopped yelling at the other customer and was demanding the bottle of bubbly.
The taser lady said, ‘You’re gonna give me that bubbly, right?’ My boss told her no. She said, ‘Why not?’ The whole time she was speaking, she was also waving the taser around.
My boss said, ‘Well, for starters, you’re already hammered. And you’re out here threatening people with a taser.’
She asked, ‘Is that a problem?’
My boss said, ‘Yeah, it is. I’m gonna give you the opportunity to leave now or I’m gonna call the cops.’
The other customer chimed in with, ‘Too late. I already did.’
The taser lady turned to face the other customer and said, ‘I’ll deal with you in a minute.’ Then, she turned back to my boss, ‘You wanna come over here and kick me out?’
He told her no. She taunted him with, ‘What? You afraid to get tased?’
He responded, ‘Yeah. I don’t feel like wasting my New Years getting tased cause you’re an idiot. Seriously, just leave now.’
She said, ‘I’ll do whatever I want. I’ll leave when I want. I’ll drink what I want. I’ll…’
The other customer cut her off, ‘No, you should leave now. I’m still on the phone with the cops. They can hear you. The dispatcher says they are maybe a minute away. Unless you want to get arrested, then by all means, please, keep being dumb.’
The taser lady thought it over, waved the taser at the customer, then made her way to the exit. Our security guard, fresh from stopping a fight in the parking lot, went to walk her out while keeping at least 10 feet away from her. They were halfway to the door and taser lady started screaming at him to stop following her and started swinging the taser at him. He looked back at us like, ‘What is going on here?’ Then he turned back and laughed at the lady. She finally walked out.
Everybody got back into their normal spots and the customer who had called the cops said, ‘I have a confession to make. I didn’t actually call the cops.'”
An Extreme Reaction
“This is probably my most shameful story. I had just started working in a tile store; I was about two weeks on the job. One evening, a woman came in after close and purchased tiles. Part of the order was mosaic tiles which she brought to the counter. I put through her order and she collected a few days later.
A few mornings later, the telephone rang and I answered politely. It was the lady from several nights before, and she was NOT happy.
Lady: ‘Hello, I’d like to speak to [me].’
Me: ‘That’s me, what can I do for you?’
Lady: ‘YOU GAVE ME THE WRONG MOSAICS!’
I was immediately stunned by this woman shouting down the phone at me. She went from 0 to 90 real quick.
Me: ‘I’m sorry, what mosaics?’
Lady: ‘The ones I bought the other night! I brought them to the counter and you still messed it up! Do you even wake up in the morning?’
Me: ‘Uh… yes I do… what mosaic did you receive?’
She describes the exact mosaic she brought to the counter. An important fact to note is that this lady was in so long after closing time that the lights had been dimmed and so she had mistaken the color of the mosaics she bought. Once she took them home and saw them in proper lighting, she didn’t recognize them.
Me: ‘Okay, looking at your docket I can see that is the mosaic you-‘
Lady: ‘NO IT IS NOT! I NEVER EVEN LOOKED AT THIS MOSAIC! ARE YOU STUPID?’
Me: ‘Ma’am, if you’re unhappy with the mosaic, I apologize, and we’d be happy to swap them for you.’
Lady: ‘You are useless! How did you even get a job? If I were your manager, you would be fired! You shouldn’t even bother getting out of bed in the morning!’
I was so shocked at this woman’s tirade that I just stammered out another apology. I was shaking from head to toe, and I was furious but being new to the job I didn’t want to act aggressively towards a customer so I just apologized over and over again until finally –
Lady: ‘I DON’T CARE THAT YOU’RE SORRY, YOU SHOULD JUST KILL YOURSELF YOU, USELESS IDIOT!’
After that, she hung up.
One of my biggest regrets is not standing up for myself to that woman. I’ll probably always remember that phone call, but now I take no crap from any customers because of it. So, I guess it helped me in a way.”
Snow Brings The Crazy Out Of People
“I just started my job as a cashier at a grocery store about two weeks ago. I was in a register by myself now and it was going alright.
There’s a forecast for heavy snow later that night, so the store was slammed. People were fighting over items in the aisles, over carts, and over places in line. I’m not sure what it is about snow on the weather forecast that makes people lose their minds.
A customer came up to my line and I began scanning through his items. He was complaining about how busy the store was and how long the lines were through the transaction, which is understandable.
After I ring up his purchases, he handed me a coupon for his corned beef. There was a huge discount on it in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.
However, the coupon didn’t start until the next day. I informed him of this and he said, ‘It’s only one day, can’t you give me the sale price anyways? What does it matter to you?’
After telling him I couldn’t use the coupon, he picked up the package, yelled, ‘WELL THEN, I DON’T WANT IT,’ and threw it at me. Hard.
I managed to dodge it so it just brushed my shoulder but it hit the floor with a lovely ‘splat’ sound.
It was so busy that I didn’t want to bother anyone so I just picked it up, voided it, and finished ringing him out, but I really should have told him to leave right then and there.”
“I work with self-checkouts at a grocery store. We were extremely busy yesterday. There were customers at every register, lines wrapped around the store, and we were understaffed. I needed a manager override for two registers, and of course, nobody was picking up the phone.
As I was dialing various phones and paging different people just trying to get ahold of someone while also talking to two customers, I heard a guy yell, ‘YO,’ from one of the registers on the other side of the store. I looked over and saw a guy leaning on the produce scale/scanner, and the machine loudly telling him to remove everything from the scanner. This was something people did a hundred times a day. So I put down the phone and walked over to tell him this, and he instantly became hostile.
Me: ‘You can’t lean on that, it’s a scale.’
Guy: ‘First of all, DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CAN’T DO! And I wasn’t leaning on the scale!’
Me: ‘I just watched you lean on it.’
Guy: ‘I WAS NOT LEANING ON IT.’
Machine: ‘Please remove all objects or items from the scanner!’
Me: ‘You’re leaning on it right now.’
This went back and forth for a bit. I kept telling him it wouldn’t let him start if he continued to lean on the scale. He kept insisting he wasn’t leaning on the scale while leaning on it and continued to make a big show out of looking at my nametag and mispronouncing my very common name. He asked for a manager, so I went over to page someone for like the fifth time.
He kept arguing with me and yelling for a manager while I tried to tell him that I had already called her, and then he dropped this bomb on me:
‘Are you telling me that me leaning on the scale is the reason I didn’t get a receipt?!’
I never told him that, and until this moment, he never mentioned anything about a receipt.
As the whole store was a mess and there were carts of both bagged and unbagged items scattered everywhere, I didn’t even know he had already paid.
Just as I finished processing that this was what I was supposed to gather from him loudly screaming ‘YO’ at me from 20 feet away, the manager walked up. I walked over to my computer and printed out a receipt for the guy, while the manager checked the printer on his register. It turns out the roll of paper ran out, and he started screaming about how I KNEW it was out of paper because he used to work there.
As he was yelling about that, I handed the manager the printed receipt because I didn’t even want to look at this guy. Finally, the guy left, screaming at the manager the whole way out.”