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The Worst People Ever: Retail Edition

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We’re all in agreement that some people out there are terrible, right? Well, here is a list of the most memorable terrible people that I met working retail.

The mesquite turkey shopper I once worked in what you would describe as a grocery superstore, in the deli area. This store was located in a very affluent, very protestant area. The mega church behind our store did a twenty-six million dollar renovation during the year this story took place. That was the same winter that seven people died under bridges downtown because they were homeless and they froze to death. But whatever, Jesus take the wheel.

Anyway, I find that in all of my work history, customers in this area were the worst. They wanted to let you know all the money they had, and that you were far beneath them because you were serving them, but they also wanted to argue about prices like they couldn’t spare an extra nickel. And they wanted you to wait on them like they were god damn royalty and the only people in the entire universe.

One day, we were super, super busy, when a woman came up and said she was interested in getting some turkey we had on sale. But the problem was, we cut the plain turkey on the same slicer as all the other turkey, including the mesquite flavor, and her son was allergic to the mesquite flavoring. She couldn’t trust the turkey already in the case, and would need us to break down the slicer and completely wash it before cutting her order. Yeah, this was a total pain in the ass, but her kid was allergic, right? What else was I going to do? And you could buy the same kind of turkey in the grocery section, but people who came to the deli were generally buying in pound quantities, or they wanted a certain thickness or whatever, so I didn’t think twice.

So, I work my butt off breaking down this slicer, completely cleaning every part, and praying that the stuff in the deli case won’t run out and I won’t have to slice more turkey and start over. I get it all done, and here comes the woman, and I ask her how much turkey she wants.

“Oh, about an eighth a pound.”

You guys, an eighth a pound is like three slices. I was like, “Are you sure that’s all you want?”

It was. She made me break down an entire slicer in the middle of a super busy day, keeping me occupied so I couldn’t help other shoppers, placing an extra burden on my coworkers who had to scramble even more to keep up.

For three. Slices. Of. Turkey.

The wedding underwear shopper I worked for a while as a sales associate at a Frederick’s of Hollywood store. Though the mall closed at nine, we had a policy that if any customer came in before nine, even if it was 8:59:50, we would help them. Even if customers came in and just browsed a minute and we didn’t have the gate down until 9:06, it still sucked, because your feet hurt and you had to close and you just wanted to go home. But I never hated anyone for staying a little bit over, especially if they were going to buy something.

But I hated these customers. It was a mother and a daughter. They came in at 8:58. And, they explained, the daughter was getting married and needed to try on foundation garments for her dress. This isn’t a straightforward, “Hey, let me grab some underwear,” type thing. Measuring, sizing, trying on foundation garments takes a long time. And she tried every single one. Merry widows, corsets, bustiers, anything we had, multiple sizes, with chicken cutlets, with cloth pads, just.fucking.everything. At 10:30, the mother breezily declared, “Well, none of this will work. We have time, though, the wedding isn’t until May!”

It was September. And they didn’t buy a damn thing.

The inappropriate response to injury I was heavily pregnant with my first child and still working at the deli from the first story when I had a fall. I was headed up to the counter to wait on a customer when I stepped in some grease that had spilled in front of the rotisserie oven. It was a very minor fall, and everything was fine, but it looked alarming, as I hit my stomach on the corner of a steel table as I went down ass-over-tea-kettle. My co-workers immediately called the store’s first aid department and gathered around me to be sure I was okay.

At this point, the woman at the counter, who had viewed the entire incident–that is, saw an eight months pregnant woman fall spectacularly–huffed and shouted, “Isn’t anyone going to help me?”

The Beanie Baby I’ve worked at McDonald’s a lot over the years. By the way, never abuse fast food employees. That job is hell on earth. You work super hard, only to have people scream insults at you all day long because you forgot to put extra napkins in their bag or some shit.

Anyway, I had the bad fortune of working at McDonald’s when they did their fourth Beanie Babies promotion. Teensy, limited edition Beanie Babies  were offered as the Happy Meal toy prize (if you don’t know what they are, you can learn, but never unlearn, about the fad here). Usually, people are able to just buy Happy Meal toys separately. I think they were seventy-five cents or something. But because people were going nuts and trying to buy up whole cases, which left nothing for the kids looking forward to the toy in their Happy Meals, our franchise made a rule: you could only purchase the toys individually if you made a food purchase (any food purchase, even a hamburger that was, at the time, 59¢), and non-Happy Meal toy purchases were limited two to a customer.

People were not happy. Like, super not happy. One irate customer will go down in history as my all-time favorite angry customer. She came in and asked to buy one of each Beanie Baby we had on hand. I think there were like eighteen different ones. I explained our policy to her and she went full-on nuclear meltdown. This wasn’t fair, it might be illegal, you can’t force people to buy food, blah blah blah, and all the while I’m just smiling pleasantly (because it so pisses customers off if you don’t let them rattle you) and repeating the policy. Finally, she slams her purse down on the counter and screams in my face, “FINE! I WILL TAKE A BAG OF COOKIES AND LIPS AND FLIP!”

And I’m like, wtf is a Lips and Flip? Beanie Babies all had names, but since I wasn’t obsessed with them at the intensity this woman was, I had no idea. I was like, “Which ones are Lips and Flip?” and she looked at me like I’d taken a shit on a crucifix right in front of her. Her whole face went red and she screamed, “THEY ARE THE CAT AND THE FISH! I JUST WANT THE CAT AND THE FISH!”

I looked at her, and in the calmest voice possible, as I struggled not to laugh, I said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry, we can’t sell the cat and the fish together.” “WHY NOT?!” she bellowed. And I said, “Because the cat would eat the fish.”

This story ends with “I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR MANAGER!”

The Racial Justice Crusader When I worked at The GAP, I had a good time with shoplifters. And since I was a seasonal employee (and my first day of work was Black Friday), I had plenty of opportunities for that good time. Some of my favorite techniques were to follow people around after they shoplifted, and suggest stuff that would go well with whatever item they’d just shoved in their purse. “You know what would look good with that baby blue button down cardigan? These dark wash boot-cut jeans.” One time, a woman who was pulling the buy-something-so-you-aren’t-suspected-of-stealing-all-the-shit-you-saw-me-stuff-into-this-other-shopping-bag stunt, and I rang her up for the items she’d stolen, too. Her face was so satisfying as she emptied the stolen goods onto the counter.

But the worst shoplifter. The worst ever. She was a willowy blonde white teenager who came in with her mother. This was a very Kris Jenner/Kim West thing, where it was clear the mom was sharing her daughter’s clothes and trying to live out her youthful whatever. They came in and looked around, and then mom was like, “I’ll meet you at Starbucks. Here, take my bag,” and left.

So, the girl is wandering around, looking at stuff, cool as a cucumber, picking up stuff, putting it back on the table, going through the racks. And I go over and I say, “Hey there, is there anything I can help you with?” and I happen to look down and there’s fucking tinfoil in the Abercrombie bag her mom had left with her. It was a fucking booster bag. They came in specifically to shoplift.

So, after a while, I’m following the girl, just picking up the empty hangers or really obviously refolding a shirt from the stack she’d just stolen from. Finally, she tries to leave, and the manager (who’d seen me following her and got the hint) stopped her. Right about then, mom comes back with the Starbucks, and she’s shocked, SHOCKED that her daughter would do something like this. That’s when I pointed out that mom was the one who’d left the booster bag with her daughter. And that’s when white, blonde, apparently middle-class mom lost her shit, calling us liars and threatening to sue not just The GAP, but us, personally. And then the daughter began accusing of us of reverse racism.

Let me be clear, both the manager and I were white. But she believed I was “reverse racist to blondes.”

Both women thought that accusation would fly in court, and continued to argue that they were going to call the police on us, until the manager suggested he would dial for them. They threw their bag full of nearly-stolen merchandise down, and the mother declared she would never shop with us again.

The moral of all of these stories is, of course, that people become absolute monsters when they’re given the power of the almighty consumer.

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114 Comments

  1. Catherine
    Catherine

    Ppl are the worst 🙁 feeling superior and shit. I hate that kind of ppl.

    May 12, 2015
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  2. I am reading this at work. I am trying so hard not to laugh hysterically at the Beanie Babies story that I am crying.

    Thanks a lot! 😉

    I worked in a grocery store for a couple years in college and part of that time in the bakery. This was in New York state. One winter, there was a pretty major snow storm predicted that might shut the area down for three or four days if it hit (it ended up not).

    Grocery stores order stock MONTHS in advance, based on buying trends from the years before (obviously). But, of course, when a snow storm is coming, people raid the stores. My mom had gone out that morning and bought some food to have around just in case and had no problem. By 6 that night (this is also on a Saturday, which of course is a super busy day, anyway), when this particular customer sauntered into the store, the shelves were quite literally bare. There was maybe a dented can of soup or two left. I mean, people were PANICKING.

    So I’m in the bakery and he comes and wants bread, but we’re out. The bakers were gone. There was no more bread.

    He threw a fit. He said he was going to call the guy who owned the chain (Wegmans, if anyone’s heard of it) and lodge a complaint specific to our store because, “Every time there’s a snow storm, you don’t have any food on the shelves!”

    May 12, 2015
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    • ella
      ella

      I once had a woman tell me she knows Sam Walton and was going to call him to get whatever item she wanted. Problem was Mr. Sam had died many years before.

      I loooooooooove Wegman’s, the closest one to me is about 45 miles away and wish I could go more.

      May 12, 2015
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  3. Wow. I kind of want to read a whole book full of these. I feel like, even in a different country in different types of retail than you’ve worked, I have met each of these people too. Especially Turkey Lady.

    May 12, 2015
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  4. Rob
    Rob

    Politeness at the deli counter is inversely proportional to income. Shoppers at the working-class independent store? Friendly as can be. (Sometimes too friendly; last week a guy replied to the deli lady’s “Can I get you anything else?” with “Just your phone number!”)

    But Whole Foods? I’m guaranteed to get stuck behind someone complaining that no one can tell him or her if the $40/lb. prosciutto is gluten-free.

    May 12, 2015
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  5. Sherry
    Sherry

    First, the reverse racism re: hair color…that is epic. I’d accuse you of making that up but you couldn’t possibly.

    Second: “and she looked at me like I’d taken a shit on a crucifix right in front of her.” I don’t know why that’s hitting me as being the funniest thing I’ve ever read but I am so borrowing this.

    May 12, 2015
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  6. Kayleigh Jones
    Kayleigh Jones

    I worked at McDonald’s too. I totally understand. I once I had woman throw a hamburger at me because some of the ketchup had gotten on the INSIDE of the wrapper.

    May 12, 2015
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    • Magdalen77
      Magdalen77

      I worked as a McD’s crew person and manager for ten years. The people who made the biggest fusses almost always were the people who bought just about nothing. One of our most particular customers always bought just one small coffee and at the time that was about 0.37. But it was a major project to get the exact perfect ratio of coffee to cream to hot water to please her. Out owner sucked up to her because she was the one who sold the land to him so he could build the store and also because he was a cheapskate who wanted to get the last dollar in town.

      I also had another crazy lady who complained that I embarrassed her by telling her that the senior coffee was not free after breakfast time was over. I got hollered at for that, but the owner would have screamed even louder if I gave someone an undeserved freebie, so there was no way to win.

      McD’s workers deserve a raise. If people end up paying $ .05 for their damn Big Mac so be it. It’s a hard and thankless job and anyone who thinks being a fast food worker requires no ability is full of shit.

      May 13, 2015
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      • Kim
        Kim

        “The people who made the biggest fusses almost always were the people who bought just about nothing” Truth. The people who either complain they aren’t getting extra stuff or not enough attention or information, they are the ones who will say something like “I’m spending good money in here, you know” And I’m just standing there thinking why, why do you think $20 is a number that gets you special treatment when my last customer just dropped $300 without wasting my time on repetitive questions? Also you’re in a corporate retail chain, not a market in Fez, why do you think I am empowered to haggle with you?! The prices are what they are and they’re set at a level well above my manager who isn’t going to change them either. At most, if you really whine, she’ll knock off 10% Congratulations, you’ve just gotten out of paying the sales tax.

        May 14, 2015
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    • Raging Brainer
      Raging Brainer

      I always wonder how many meals they actually get without spit in them. It seems like they probably eat more of that than they know.

      May 15, 2015
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  7. DonnaF
    DonnaF

    Love it. What’s a booster bag and what’s the significance of the tin foil?

    May 12, 2015
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    • Jess
      Jess

      The tinfoil protects the tags from raising the alarm as you leave the store. I’ve never done this but I know a serial shoplifter!

      May 12, 2015
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      • DonnaF
        DonnaF

        Wow. They have all sorts of tricks, huh? Thanks for explaining it.

        May 12, 2015
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      • Carolina West
        Carolina West

        So how do they those little ink things off the clothes?

        May 13, 2015
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        • Carolina West
          Carolina West

          *get*

          May 13, 2015
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        • Suzy
          Suzy

          Several ways. You can freeze them before pulling them apart or use wire cutters/small hack saw to cut the pegs.
          I work in retail and have learned all the tricks from AP. The worst is the ones who steal stuff and put it under their baby in a stroller. UNDER. THEIR. BABY!

          May 14, 2015
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  8. Steph
    Steph

    I love stories like this! They are so entertaining. I think the 3 slices of turkey would have pissed me off the most, I can just imagine getting sweaty and anxious trying to take apart the cutter while customers are getting pissed that you can’t serve them. But it’s even better when you, as the retail worker, get the satisfaction.

    Here is my story: many moons ago, I worked as a waitress in an Italian chain restaurant. I was working in the lounge one evening when a man, woman, and young child came and sat at booth in the corner. They ate their meal and paid up, but then the man took the child across the parking lot to the toy store while the woman remained in the booth. The second they left, the woman started ordering 8oz glasses of wine in quick succession, like I think 3 in the space of an hour. I wouldn’t have served her any more after that, because that really is a lot of wine, but then her husband and child came back to get her. She had taken care to actually bring the empty wine glass and set it on the bar herself the second she was finished, probably so that they wouldn’t know she was drinking. Anyway, she gets up right away and tries to walk out without paying, so I catch her at the door and say “Excuse me, you haven’t paid your bill”. And the husband turns to me and says “Yes, we did, we paid before I left”. The woman keeps saying “I didn’t order anything else” while shooting me meaningful looks, and I’m all “Yes, you need to pay for your wine”. So the manager hears them getting kind of upset about this and comes over. I leave to deal with other tables, while that fight keeps escalating. Eventually my manager comes up to me and says “That woman says you called her a bitch and threatened her”. WTF! Obviously she was trying to distract her husband from the fact that she was sneaking drinks by making it out that I was picking on her. Or something. Whatever, I don’t care, if you had paid your bill I wouldn’t have outed you. Gimme my money.

    May 12, 2015
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  9. Kristy
    Kristy

    This post made me cringe, I still work in retail and I hear this stuff all the time.
    I work in wine, which is family owned, with a husband wife duo. A couple years ago the husband passed away tragically. People aren’t above still trying to use his name to get free shit or like impress upon me how important they are because they met/knew him. Or her for that matter. The man is dead and it makes me feel like second hand shit when people throw his name around. I had this man come in and he was generally rude and entitled, asking me if I was gonna stand around and write all day or serve him. I had been making a stock list for the store. Anyways, he begins to argue with me about opening a bottle for him to try. I said no. He said he’d never been refused and is friends with the owner. I said, that’s wonderful, if you’d like you can take a bottle home or arrange a personal tasting with her as she can open any bottle whereas I can’t. He gets huffy and demands the manager. I smile, I am the manager on duty. Call head office he demands. I say with a smile, no one is at head office on Sunday and regardless, I have the ability to decide which bottles to open not head office and my answer is no. I’m not opening this bottle for you. He got so irate, talking about how close and personal friends he was with her and how I’d be fired now. I shrugged and said, so be it.
    A week later he calls sheepishly and asks if she’s on vacation because she’s not been taking his calls. I laughed so hard. So much for my job being sooo at risk. I’m still here a year later and he hasn’t been back since. 🙂

    May 12, 2015
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  10. Liz
    Liz

    Some of these stories made me laugh hysterically because they were so ridiculous. I’ve only had a couple of jobs, mostly seasonal, and all were retail. Thankfully I never experience anything like these stories. I’ve had customers that made me roll my eyes so damn hard at their attitudes but nothing to write home about.

    I did have one customer that wouldn’t let his son get a toy that has Frozen characters on it. The mother, who looked like some high school goth reject, was trying to get him to take a Spider Man toy which he didn’t want at all. He was sobbing like crazy. I kept saying that it doesn’t matter if it had Frozen on it, just let him have it. I didn’t stop though until she told me to mind my business. She ended leaving both toys behind and the son was still sobbing as they left.

    May 12, 2015
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    • Samantha
      Samantha

      That is just awful. Awful.

      That poor kid.

      May 13, 2015
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      • Liz
        Liz

        I know! I was able to keep myself in check, cause if not I would’ve gone on longer and given an angry look.

        May 13, 2015
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        • Samantha
          Samantha

          One time, this kid was farting around in front of the deli case and stepped up on the shelf under the case which holds crackers and stuff. Of course, it’s not sturdy enough to hold a small person and it collapsed sending boxes of Zweiback and Nancy’s Gluten Free spewing across the floor.

          I immediately ran over to help sort it out (there were no customers at the till), and the parent who had not been paying attention to their small person at all up until this point said, “Now see? See? Now you’ve made this lady mad at you. See what you’ve done??!”

          I was almost speechless, the poor kid looked at me in terror, and I said, “Oh no, it’s okay, this happens all the time. Here, Small Person, would you like to help me rebuild our cracker box fort?” And then, when he was happily putting stuff back on the shelf, I said softly to the parent, “Please don’t make your kid afraid of me. It’s not a big deal and I’m not mad.”

          There was a bit of huffing and puffing about “how dare I lecture him on his parenting…” but I just walked back to the till once the kid and I sorted out all of the boxes. Later, that parent and his kid became some of my most enthusiastic customers. Parent said that Small Person always looked forward to coming in, hoping I’d be there.

          Guess it helped to have been a teacher of Small People for a couple of years.

          May 14, 2015
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  11. Artemis
    Artemis

    I’m lucky there aren’t any customers in the store where I work right now, because I was full-on laughing out loud at that Beanie Baby story.

    I moved away from New York City about six months ago, and people like the wedding foundation garment customers seem to be especially bad there. I worked three different retail jobs there (including at Bloomingdale’s, where there was a lady known for staying long after close, after the lights would automatically turn off and the security guards would start their nightly patrols with big, scary guard dogs, and this lady would still be shopping and insisting she just needed to do one more thing). And everywhere it was a rule that you couldn’t actually ask these people to leave. You could hint, you could do passive aggressive nonsense like turn the music off (or down), start turning off the lights, etc., but if someone came in right before close, you couldn’t turn them away.

    This past Sunday, I was at work in my new city, and I was headed towards the door to flip the sign to “closed” when a guy came in. I said “I’m really sorry, but we’re just about to close, if you just need to grab something quick that’s fine, but otherwise we open again at noon tomorrow…” I fully expected him to insist he just needed one quick thing, then spend at least ten minutes wandering. But instead, he apologized and left! I was blown away. I seriously can’t remember the last time someone actually just left like that when I was trying to close a store…

    May 12, 2015
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Gee, I always leave if they’re closing unless I know exactly what I want (6-pack of ramen, etc.)! Not only because I worked in retail looooong ago (but unforgettably), but also because if it’s a big project (outfit for special occasion, etc.), I know there’s a better chance they’ll do extra things like look in the back to see if that one size/color I need hasn’t been put out on the floor yet. If only those MeanGirls knew how they cut themselves out when they pull rank….

      May 12, 2015
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      • I leave if they’re closing because it’s rude not to! Some people just shouldn’t be allowed in society (not you — the mother/daughter).

        May 12, 2015
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      • Sarah
        Sarah

        I once ran into a paint store as they were counting the register. I think they were closing in less than 5 minutes. I just needed to grab a paint chip and I was pretty sure which one I needed. I looked at the cashier who had that look on her face that I was going to screw up her getting out of work on time and smiled and said I didn’t need to buy anything and would just be a second. I think I was in and out in 30 seconds.

        May 16, 2015
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    • Abby
      Abby

      When I worked at a fabric store, customers would always pull part of the fabric of the bolt to feel and look at it. For closing shift, we had to go through and re-tuck all the fabric. Usually we’d start tucking about an hour before close. One night this old woman comes in 5 minutes until close, when everything is tucked, and proceeds to pull out every single piece of fabric on several different aisles. She then only wanted 1/4 of a foot of fabric. It took forever to re-tuck everything.

      May 14, 2015
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      • Miss Kitty
        Miss Kitty

        Ugh. I thought it was bad enough when a customer comes in at 4.59 (when we close at 5) and I have put away the cash register and have to get it out again. At least that only takes 5 minutes or so to re-balance, but having to go through and re-straighten the shop would be the worst!

        May 16, 2015
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  12. Amanda
    Amanda

    Oh, flashbacks to my retail days!! I stocked shoes in a department store for a while. We did not receive commission, despite the many people threatening, “You’ll lose my commission!”

    The very old (and previously sweet-looking) lady who BALLED UP HER AD AND THREW IT AT ME because we didn’t carry the shoes she wanted in purple.

    The woman who became ENRAGED by the fact that we didn’t have a boot-length shoe horn for her father to use to try on boots, screaming “What kind of shoe store is this??” (We weren’t a shoe store, we just had some shelves of shoes). She yelled so long, so loud, and so insultingly that coworkers from across the store came over afterward to see if I was okay.

    And of course the guys who took the “I literally am required to smile at every customer or I’ll be written up” smile to be a “I am flirting with you” smile, no matter how robotically I pasted it on. One guy came in several times, yelled at me because he didn’t like our stock, and then immediately asked me out. Charming! Or the guy that came in to tell me he liked watching me bike ride to work every morning, where did I live? Yes, let me tell you! Or the guy who tried to put an arm around me while I was carrying a stack of boxes, and I freaked out and threw all of my boxes into the air. Don’t touch meeeee.

    Oh this topic! I could go on for days!

    May 12, 2015
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  13. Lieke
    Lieke

    This is not really on topic, but I never get to tell Retail stories, so I’m telling it now, dammit!

    I worked in a discount clothing (and everything else) store for a while and one of my co-workers was just amazingly racist. Not like awesomely racist – because that doesn’t exist – but in the sense that I was baffled by her prejudice. And by how obvious she was about it. I’m used to people saying super racist shit and trying to pass it off as a joke, but I guess I’m not used to seeing racial profiling in action.

    Anyway, a young, black guy came in and my co-worker was on the alert immediately because he was ‘acting suspicious.’ He was not. I think it’s called ‘walking while black.’ I swear that he was not doing anything to set him apart from other shoppers. He was just browsing. My co-worker followed him around very conspicuously until he left. Then she reiterated to me that he ‘behaved suspiciously.’ I worked there for about a month. While I worked there, she never thought anyone else acted suspiciously. Probably because he was the only black customer we had during that time.

    May 12, 2015
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  14. Artemis
    Artemis

    Also, I think the worst customer I’ve ever dealt with was a lady who literally yelled at me for a solid 45 minutes because she thought my store had overcharged her (we hadn’t–she had read her credit card statement wrong) and then came back the next day to yell at me some more, finally insisting that she was going to call the police on us. When I smiled and said she should go ahead and call them, she pointed to the store phone and told me to call, because she didn’t want to waste her minutes.

    She will forever be the Lady Who Made me Call the Police on Myself.

    May 12, 2015
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    • Liz
      Liz

      Did you actually call the police?

      May 12, 2015
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      • Artemis
        Artemis

        Oh, definitely. And everything got very quickly settled once they got there, and the horrible lady actually apologized to me.

        May 12, 2015
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  15. Dorothy
    Dorothy

    I used to work at Build A Bear in high school and college. It was a great first job- most of my coworkers and customers were really great! The only group I consistently had problems with? Grandmothers. We had a great sale at the end of summer- one animal, outfit, and pair of shoes for something like $30. Obviously if you got a more expensive animal/outfit you saved more, but most people were okay with what they got. The woman and her granddaughter came in late one night when it was just me and my manager on the floor. The girl picked an inexpensive bear, a mid-range outfit and her shoes, saving less than five dollars overall on her purchase. The girl was fine with it; the grandmother SCREAMED at 17 year old me because apparently I set the prices? I tried explaining the concept of the sale, I tried interacting solely with the granddaughter (who was the one paying!) and eventually the woman made me cry. My manager finished the sale and let me go out back. After the grandmother left, the little girl came back and apologized for her grandmother’s behavior. She wasn’t more than eight. I really hope that girl is still the polite person she was then and that her grandmother grew up a bit after that incident, but I don’t hold out much hope.

    May 12, 2015
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    • Jen
      Jen

      I worked there for four years, was a manager for three of them. I hated the people who would come in right before closing, or even at closing, and decide to build a bear, taking forever to go through each stage. One time, the Saturday before Easter, I had a lady come in and get 5 animals five minutes before closing, then stand in front of the sound machine for 10 minutes because she couldn’t figure out how it worked but didn’t want to ask for help. We were busy with other customers. It was me and two other employees trying to close the store, and once we did, we still had a major floor reset to do on top of it. Another time a family walked up as we were closing the doors on the fourth of July. They asked if we were closing, because the act of shutting the doors obviously didn’t convey that enough. We said yes, the mall closed at 6. Me and the girl I was closing with had plans after work, so we weren’t going to let them in. We were already closed, I’d already started counting down the last register. The dad looked down at his son and said, “I’m sorry son, I guess they don’t want you to have a birthday present.” That pissed me off so much. They were the ones who waited until the last minute on a freaking holiday and then blamed us for the kid’s disappointment. I so badly wanted to say, “I’m sorry that your parents don’t love you enough to have made getting here a priority.” I just bit my tongue until they were out of sight and then ranted to my coworker. Then there was the reactions when popular animals would sell out during the holidays and someone would inevitably come in on Christmas Eve and ask, hey do you have this? When we’d say no, it’s sold out, we’d get to hear, “It’s all my child wanted. You’re ruining their Christmas!” Um, I am not the one ruining their Christmas. The parent who knew it was important and didn’t think to see if we’d still have some in stock that late and left it until the last minute is the one ruining Christmas. Not the employee who has no control over how much is ordered and when it will sell out.

      May 13, 2015
      |Reply
      • Suzy
        Suzy

        I had a similar experience this last Christmas Eve. The store I work at was open til 10pm. For the last HOUR we made announcements about how long they still had to shop. At 9:45 I started making the rounds to herd everyone up to the front. I had this one couple who refused to go the front of the store, they still wanted to shop. I told them that would be closing the last register at 10:25 and would be locking the doors at 10:30 with out with out them being finished. They got right up in my face and said I was ruining Christmas. I stopped them dead. I told them they were ruining all of my team’s Christmases as well as mine as several of us still had several hours drives to get to our families. They demanded to speak to my manager. I told them she was at the service desk. And when they tried to complain, she said to them that she needed to get her team home to their families so they needed to finish their shopping. It was EPIC!

        May 14, 2015
        |Reply
        • Jen
          Jen

          Being open until 10 on Christmas Eve is eviiiiiil

          May 15, 2015
          |Reply
        • withenoughcourage
          withenoughcourage

          Ugh. Shoppers who won’t effing leave.

          I worked in a coffee shop and we were expected to be out of the store by our scheduled time to leave- the manager got miffed if we left later. Which meant that the espresso machine had to be cleaned while we were still open. So I cleaned the machine and had the gate partially closed to let people know we were closing soon. Less than five minutes until we close and this mother, father and their three kids come in. I’m already dreading having to re-clean the machine, but what the hell, it happens, ya know? Then the dad orders complicated drinks for each person, taking a LOOONG time to decide exactly what he wants, making me explain every item in detail. When he gets to his oldest daughter, he asks what she wants. She glances at the clock, and quietly says she doesn’t want anything. The dad tries to convince her. She still says she doesn’t want anything. I have already turned around to start making the 4 other complicated drinks he ordered and I hear him say, “Order something! Don’t worry about her! She has to stay here and serve us until we get what we want.” The daughter still says no and the dad ORDERS ANOTHER COMPLICATED DRINK FOR HER, repeating again that “she” has to stay until he’s satisfied.

          I have never before been treated like less of a human being. I was clearly this man’s private coffee machine who apparently also didn’t have ears in his mind. And it was like his ego needed me to make a fifth drink. Seriously, why push so hard for that fifth that your daughter doesn’t want just to make some poor hourly worker wait on you? What kind of weird ego trip are you on?

          May 18, 2015
          |Reply
  16. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Anglophile dress shop. Our customers were never as bad as our management. When our first manager left to get married, instead of moving up the assistant manager, the regional brought in this dreadful woman from New England. She was so racist that the three southern belles who already worked there used to exchange looks and wonder what her damage was. She also looked with suspicion on every black person who came into the store, even though she herself wore clothes she had neither paid for nor got on the staff monthly allotment, and then either stocked them out for new employees to borrow (in styles and colors that suited no one–including her–and mixed with nothing), or just shipped them off to other stores, sweat stains and microbes included. She had regular manicures, even though she said they made her feel like a Jew. After learning that I was half-Cuban, she and a waspy type she hired referred to me in my hearing as “Beaner,” and told everyone else not to try the Guava Paste I had brought back from a Miami visit because “it looked weird.” She was furious if she saw anyone not standing, even when doing tasks such as labeling tiles in a bottom shelf display that were more practically done sitting, and even for one worker who was 8 months pregnant. Then she sat in the back, scarfing up macaroni salad and complaining about her weight.
    Some of the customers actually were a buffer against her! There was a French lady who used to ask for me, because I knew just enough high school French to explain which outfits would work until the end of her pregnancy and which would only fit until the 2nd trimester. She saw that we were being bullied, and after telling the manager that I had been very helpful and not making a dent in her hostility, she said something sympathetic to me, in French. It was a great relief to vent a little, right in front of the manager–also in French! The manager not only didn’t know French, she barely knew English, for someone who was born and brought up here–used piss-elegant turns of phrase like “Between you and I” or “If there’s a problem, tell it to the Assistant and I.” She pronounced supposedly, “supposably,” added syllables to words to make them more elleRgant “negativistical,” “fabrication” (for cloth). She relentlessly criticized other employees’ appearance, but once came to work wearing flame-red knicks under a pair of white linen trousers (and no, she wasn’t trying to be Madonna. She was always hoping to pass for a Socially Registered WASP, although she clearly wasn’t one). If this weren’t enough, that same day, she suddenly said, in front of our one nominally male employee (played for other team, but she allowed him to sit and constantly tried to flirt with him–I think she was oblivious, rather than open-minded)–“Oh my God, I’m LEAKING!” and ran for the bathroom to change her tampon. (I leave it to you to figure out how this arbiter of taste decided that wearing white linen trousers on such a day and relying only on a plug instead of double-protection plus a neutral-toned shaper was a good choice.)
    We knew the regional would punish us for if we complained by finding someone even worse, and had probably told this manager to make us miserable enough so we could quit. No one wanted to get embroiled in a labor dispute if we could avoid it, in case it hurt our chances with other employers. So until we could find better jobs (or for the married staff, get maternity leave, etc.), we contented ourselves with trying to see the humor in it. Because of the manager’s combination of ignorance, delusions of grandeur, and paranoia, I decided that she was the unholy offspring of Captain Queeg and Fanny Squeers.
    Eventually, most of us did find better jobs. We got so many allotment dollars per month to apply to clothes to wear on the job, and the allotment clothes used to be ours to keep. When they changed to a point system, she tried to apply, retroactively, a new policy that they must be returned to the store when you left (usually for a better job) unless you had been there for a particular amount of time. Several of us used some of the info above (discrimination, health violations in wearing and transferring clothes, labor violations–trying to get people to work on their lunch hour, etc.) to make it clear that there would be legal counter-claims if she didn’t back off. Although it was in a very affluent yuppie neighborhood, within a few years, that location was closed for lack of profit. I wonder if upper management ever figured out why.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  17. ali
    ali

    i used to work at a victoria’s secret, and they send out “free panty” cards once in a while. it’s pretty clear on the card that you can only get white, black, or “vs pink” (at least at the time), but this was the cause of most of my bad customer interactions. people get so upset when they can’t have exactly what they want for absolutely no money! the absolute worst person was the woman who straight up lied to my manager and said i had told her she could have whatever she had picked out. she got to keep her fancy free panties, i got in trouble for saying “i’m sorry ma’am, i think you misunderstood me” because apparently that was rude?!, and she pulled this whole stunt in front of her tween-ish daughter.

    my other bad experience was totally the fault of the people in charge and not the customers. i was at the ticket window for a halloween attraction. problem 1– for god knows what reason they decided to write their own cash register / credit card handling program. it crashed a lot. problem 2– the price was initially something like $29, but someone didn’t get enough $1 bills at the bank and we literally ran out of small bill change. so, with about 1-2 hrs left to actually go through the mazes (which all had lines) they UPPED the ticket price to $30. yes. people were not happy.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
    • Artemis
      Artemis

      Halloween attraction customers are so terrible. I feel for you.

      May 12, 2015
      |Reply
  18. Flo
    Flo

    I love that you have “named” them all, I remember doing that too, we had a woman who used to come in all the time with her kids and ran around screaming after the daughter. She was forever known as “Buffy’s Mother”.

    The all time worst story I have happened right after Christmas. Woman comes in with a pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt she wants to return. She had a legitimate complaint, the elastic in the sweatpants was rather bizarre and was rubbing a raw spot on her back. Since she had no price tags or receipt, I had to get someone from the women’s department to look it up for me. The whole time I’m dealing with her, I notice this stink, and I just figured she had bad B.O. or something. While we are waiting, some other woman walks in, the husband waves her over and says to his wife “oh, I want you to meet Linda, she is the one who moved in across the street from us.” The wife responds “oh, you’re the stupid bitch who leaves your Christmas lights on every night, you’re going to burn your house down.” I swear my jaw darned near hit the desk below and I kept thinking to myself “hurry women’s department with that price!” Finally I get the price, give the woman her money back and she goes on her way.

    A couple of minutes later the desk phone rings again, it’s the person from the women’s department. “Uh, you might want to get someone to come and watch the desk so you can wash your hands. She apparently didn’t wear underwear with those sweatpants and didn’t bother to launder them before she returned them.” EWWW!!

    You can’t make this stuff up, truth really is stranger than fiction!!

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  19. Heather
    Heather

    Retail is evil, just evil. Having to deal with The Public is always hard but it really does seem that some people go out of their way to be extra special assholes.

    I worked at a florist for five years. Other than being super busy during the big three holidays for us – Christmas (oh, Thomas Kincaide (the company), you will never know how much I loathe you and your stupid collectible Christmas crap), Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day – I never had any real problems with customers. If I could do anything in my power to make them happy and content, I would. It’s flowers, for goodness sakes – they tend to make folks happy.

    Then my final Mother’s Day happened. So, here’s the thing about the big three – we make most of those arrangements WAY in advance so we can get them out as the orders come in, both locally and over the wire from all over. Also? It’s really hard for us to guarantee a specific time on those days. WE can deliver it ON the day – but by 1:15? Yeah, dude, not gonna happen probably. If you want her to get it at a specific time – come in, pick it up, and deliver it yourself, yo. You’ll also end up with fresher flowers that way. Just a tip from me to you. Anywhoodles, this evil man comes in on the day before Mother’s Day and demands that I send flowers to his mother in Arizona the next day. We don’t deliver on Sunday. Most florists don’t. I calmly explained to him that we could have them delivered on Monday – but Sunday was a no go. So he says – well, deliver them now. I again calmly explain that in order to have them delivered today, his order would have had to be in by Thursday, because it takes time to figure out routes and which arrangements need to be on which trucks and all of that sort of thing. He proceeds to scream and curse at me in front of a line of customers. He refused to take no for an answer. By this time, I’m crying because no one likes to be screamed at during a stressful busy day. Finally my boss comes out of the back and tells him he needs to leave. He spouts some nonsense about the customer being right and she flat out tells him, “You are not our customer. You are a rude man who waited until the last minute to order flowers for your mother and expect us to fix it for you. It’s not happening. We neither need nor want your business. If you do not leave the premises, I WILL call the police and have them remove you. Good day.”

    And then the best thing happened – the entire line of customers started clapping. After he huffed out, the rest of the folks in line were the nicest, sweetest folks you could ever hope to wait on. For as many terrible people as there are – and boy howdy there are many – there are even more glorious awesome folks in this world.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  20. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    That was a GOOD boss!

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
    • Heather
      Heather

      She was hands down the best boss I have ever worked for. Always happy, funny, and really fair to us. She never asked us to stay late if she wasn’t willing to stay with us and when we were slow, she taught us how to do up all of the cool arrangements – which she wasn’t supposed to do. She was the designer – we were only supposed to clean and answer phones and such. I ended up being able to do my brothers wedding flowers when he got married due to everything she taught me. I have a college degree but I still tell people the only actual marketable skill I have is flower arranging – and that’s thanks to her just being cool and loving her job and wanting to share that creativity with people.

      May 13, 2015
      |Reply
  21. Melodie
    Melodie

    Oh god, retail, how I do not miss thee. Customers can be the worst people ever.

    I’ll always remember the Crazy Mousse Lady, who wanted to buy a bottle of mousse at the grocery store I worked at. I took her directly to the hair products aisle, found the exact bottle she wanted (she’d brought her old one from home), but it didn’t look exactly the same anymore and the new bottle “had more bubbles in it.” She kept asking me “why does this one have more bubbles in it?” to which I had no clue because I don’t make the stuff. Then she got mad because the new stuff had “with conditioner” on the bottle and she asked why they would add that, it was just “extra shit and chemicals” I apologized and said that I had no clue why the company would change anything and was getting really anxious to get the hell out of there. She continued to rant at me about how chemicals are bad and how dare they change the formula and add more bubbles. Then she finally took the new bottle anyway then said, matter of factly “I would thank you but you irritated me.”

    Right back at you, Crazy Mousse Lady. Right back at you.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  22. Ellie
    Ellie

    On “the fish would eat the cat,” that is absolutely commendable in the face of an unreasonable, ungrateful person. I remember the beanies (with some shame) because my mother adored the bears. We had burgers in the freezer for months! >_<

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  23. kel
    kel

    I once worked at an indie bookstore that prided itself on customer service. We got a lot of kooks to put it mildly. Most were harmless and made for a silly stories, Shy Math Guy, Angry ESL teacher (tangent: Angry ESL teacher once rear ended another car out front, left her car in the middle of the street to come in and get her special order books. Seeing her being escorted out by the police was a great day for those of us that had to deal with her). Ok back to main story. I was helping a guy in the religion section. He wanted a book on Buddhism written by an imaginary person. The book just didn’t exist. I think he made it all up. I was stuck in a pointless computer search for nonsense. He was physically a quite large man, tall, imposing, a little scary in a possibly unhinged way. Or this is what I had been thinking while helping him. I tried to get him to go browse the shelves to see if anything else would work, but no go. I was trapped. So after the 20 minutes a slightly, only very slightly scruffy guy walked near the desk and said very politely “sorry for interrupting, but could you tell me where the nature books are?” Well, original guy just completely snaps. He started screaming at scruffy guy, “Can’t you see she’s helping me! We are working on important things over here. Something you wouldn’t know anything about. It’s your kind that is ruining this country! Get a job you homeless fuck!” Other employees come running from all over, I am freaking out that the guy is either going to start choking scruffy or have a stroke. It was so scary. For the record scruffy did not appear to me to be homeless, not that it would have mattered if he had been.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
    • xebi
      xebi

      Ugh, why are people such fuckers to homeless people? Whether that guy was or not, I would have chucked that big guy out of my shop.

      I once worked in a shop where the manager actually blanket banned all homeless people from the shop just because one or two chocolate bars had gone missing a few times when a particular two people came into the shop. He couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to distinguish one homeless person from the next (you know, as if they were human beings or something) or be more vigilant or actually use the CCTV that was running all the time the shop was open. And who were they going to complain to that would listen to them? The shop was privately owned – by that manager’s partner. That was a major factor in me ditching that job even though I desperately needed the money.

      The same guy basically hated everyone based on a sort of hierarchy according to how much they differed from him demographically. He was a white, gay, Irish man in his fifties. The member of staff who got the most grief from him was a black, straight Jamaican girl of nineteen who quit after about two weeks. I think I came second on his hate list.

      The customers were mostly ok compared to him. Although there was this one guy who would come in every morning and buy sixty cigarettes in an “ultra light” version of his brand. The first time, i misheard and gave him “lights” instead of “ultra lights.” He yelled at me for several minutes asking if I was trying to kill him. Um no sir, I think *you* are…

      May 13, 2015
      |Reply
      • Suzy
        Suzy

        We have a homeless guy who shops at my Target all the time. I get complaints about him. And I just want to say to the complainers that he always buys something and never unfolds 28 tee shirts on one table…unlike you. But I can’t so I say he is welcome in our store as a valued guest.

        May 15, 2015
        |Reply
  24. Alicia
    Alicia

    I love reading all these Dumb Customer Stories, and I felt the burning need to include my own.

    I worked in hospitality for years, in a state that only recently outlawed smoking in publicly shared spaces. Hotels were grandfathered in – if you had smoking rooms prior to the law taking effect, you could continue to provide them, as long as they didn’t make up more than 20% of your total room volume.

    So, maybe a year or so after this law took effect, a guy called to book a room on the weekend before Sturgis. I wasn’t in South Dakota, but on an Interstate leading directly to it, amd the weekend before the rally started we were always booked. Like, the year before booked. People made their reservations for next year as they checked out.

    But, he calls and wants two doubles, non-smoking and adjoining. I explained we definitely couldn’t do that, but that I’d had a cancellation and could provide smoking rooms next door to each other, just not adjoining.

    He flipped. His. Shit. How dare I not have an incredibly specific room configuration available?! What the hell could be happening in to justify this abuse?!

    I explained about Sturgis, and he retorted that I should move some of the “dirty, disgusting bikers” (they were always our nicest, most respectful customers) to the smoking rooms and give him what he wanted.

    I explained thatany of those reservations had been made nearly a year prior, and we’re often pre-paid. I wasn’t going to do that.

    When he realized he wasn’t going to get his way, he started going off about the existence of smoking rooms at all. How dare we supply them?! It was disgusting!

    I explained the legal situation, and suggested if he wanted action taken on the presence of smoking rooms he was free to go to corporate.

    His response: “Go to corporate? Why don’t you GO TO HELL!” … and dial tone.

    We laughed for a while at that.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
    • Seren
      Seren

      Saw your comment about bikers, and the bikers who come through at our frozen custard stand are my favorite customers, hands down. Super nice, friendly, polite, they always tip– I’ve even had them compliment my cones and sundaes as being “tasty and nice to look at”– none of my family believes how much I love having them for customers. XD

      June 5, 2015
      |Reply
      • Zee
        Zee

        One of my teachers was in a biking gang. Best high school teacher ever. Partly because the school was high pressured and his attitude was “girls, you’ll be fine. Not getting all A’s won’t destroy your life.” (Compared to my physics teacher who was like “why are you not putting my subject first, above breathing?”) and partly because his gang would do stuff like play Pooh sticks on a Sunday drive break and get the whole village involved. One time he had a biking accident – completely unavoidable, he came around a tight corner the same time as a car and there was no way to slow down or swerve each other – and we were all worried about him, but he was like “the last thing I saw before I blanked out was a clear blue sky, and I thought, if I’m going, that’s the nicest thing to see before you die.” Freaked us out at the time, but I get it now, that he saw something beautiful that he wanted to hold on to. I saw him in town once but didn’t want to bother him, and when I told him the next school day, he was like “next time, say hi and I’ll buy you a coffee.” He was my form tutor for two years, and when I went through a really shitty time it felt like he was one of the only people who cared, and tried to do something to help. Bikers are total teddy bears 🙂

        June 27, 2015
        |Reply
  25. Earthed Angel
    Earthed Angel

    McDonald’s Beanie Babies solidarity! I worked at SE Michigan McD’s from ’96-’00. I’m also MI-nerd-ing out that the deli counter was totally in Meijer, right?

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  26. Rachel
    Rachel

    Oh man. I’ve been working retail for about five years for a college bookstore. My section is art specific. Some people you just have to laugh at. College students can be the worst though. Here are my top stories.
    So it’s a normal day and all of a sudden the fire alarm goes off. It’s not a drill so we’re asking people to leave and closing the store down. In the meantime, this guy is trying to buy some easy mac. My manager tells him that, hey the fire alarm is going off. We’re not going to sell you anything. So then he just stands there as we’re shutting stuff down trying to ring himself up. My manager at that point tells him at point blank to leave the store. Why would you try to buy food while there is a potential fire?!
    Had a huge argument with a customer who tried to use his Mom’s check to buy his books. I tried to explain that it’s not your check, so we can’t take it. Like credit cards we need ID and the names need to match. He said that the check was his because his Mom gave it to him. Oh man. That went on far longer than it should until a manger explained the same thing to him. The. Same. Thing. Sometimes you just need to hear it from a tie.
    We used to sell coffee, but because it’s the art section, a lot of students would want to take cups for projects and the like. So we would charge 25 cents because otherwise we wouldn’t have cups. So there’s this long line of people getting rung up and the girl walks in and grabs a cup and tries to leave. I stop her and say she’ll need to pay for the cup. She gets mad and I say it’s only 25 cents. She then throws the cup at me and leaves.
    I hated the coffee because customers, when the milk carafe was empty, would come up and shake it in your face and say that it was empty.
    Another thing we sell is photo paper. When we ring customers up who buying it we let them know, once it’s opened it can’t be returned. So this girl buys a pack of photo paper a leaves. She comes back a few hours later and wants to return it. So I take her pack and look at it. It’s open and she doesn’t even have her receipt. I tell her we can’t take it back. She asks why and I tell her the policy, needs to be not open, needs to have a receipt. She says she didn’t know, which is a lie because I rung her up. She says that all the paper is there and I saw we still can’t take it back. She flips out. Says that her Dad is a lawyer and she’s going to sue. I laugh in her face. Not my proudest moment, but I just couldn’t help myself. She is less than pleased by this, so I just get a manager over who is going to let her return it.
    But as bad as customers can be, if you have a bad management team it can make it ten times worse. We currently do and the morale in our store is super low. 🙁

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  27. Laina
    Laina

    *just comments to subscribe*

    I’ve only got bad library stories (if your kid is screaming at the top of their lungs while you hold them by the back of the shirt and they fight with every fibre of their being to get away WHILE I AM READING AS LOUDLY AS I CAN – take them out of the room.)

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  28. Nikki
    Nikki

    So I’m headed for the break room when I see this lady doing the “I need help” shuffle. I go over, ask if I can be of assistance, and she says, “Yeah, follow me.”
    “Shit,” I think.
    Turns out there was toilet paper overlapping the tag of a cheaper brand (while still being very clearly marked at it’s own higher price). The lady wants the expensive toilet paper for the lower price because, and I quote, “Well, don’t you think I deserve that?” At which point my brain-to-mouth filter switches off and I snort. I went to find a manager to deal with her.
    The best one, though, happened when I wasn’t there (and my boss repeatedly emphasizes how glad she was about that). This older lady comes in to return sliced roast beef from the deli because it was too tough for her to chew. She doesn’t have a receipt and the customer service counter refuses. So she goes to the deli itself (that doesn’t even have a cash register) to demand they give her back her money. The girl who helped her (one of the nicest, most hardworking coworkers I’ve ever had) explains to her that she can’t so the old bitch takes the meat out of the bag and throws it at her. This is why I sometimes hate my own species.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  29. Brian
    Brian

    I work at an adult toy/movie/magazine store. I had a woman come in, go over and look at the magazine titles, then come up to the counter and tell me that she’s Hugh Hefner’s ex-wife. Then she asks if I have any of the Playboy royalties that she’s owed. Stifling my laughter, I told her that no, we hadn’t sold any today. She accepted that and left.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  30. I think that customers forget that the people who work retail are actually people. Heck, after dealing with rude customers all day, sometimes I would even forget I was a real person who deserved respect. The one story that still makes me cringe almost seven years later is when a person came into the clothing store I worked in specifically to ask me what I ate to make my thighs so big. I tried to deflect the question multiple times, but she kept pushing. Sadly, that was not even close to the only time that people thought it was appropriate to comment on my body and appearance.

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
    • xebi
      xebi

      So true. I worked at a McDonalds for a while and my least favourite thing was the customers who talked to me as if I were a machine, completely ignoring what I said and just talking at me. I would greet them with a friendly hello and a big smile and they would respond, “Yeah. I’ll have…”

      Seriously, when someone says hello to you or asks how you are, the polite response is NOT “yeah.”

      May 13, 2015
      |Reply
      • Danielle Charron
        Danielle Charron

        I get that a lot.

        “Hi! How are you today”

        “Yeah, I need….” or “Give me…..” or “You need to get me……

        People suck.

        May 13, 2015
        |Reply
        • Jen
          Jen

          Or you greet them and they quickly and snottily say, “Just looking.” So I started smiling extra sweetly and say, “That’s not what I asked you.”

          May 13, 2015
          |Reply
          • sunnysidemegg
            sunnysidemegg

            I loved to do that. “good for you! But what I asked was …”

            My manager made me greeter or line-wrangler because I “look so nice that people can’t be mean” while saying ridiculous/assertive things. At most, people would look confused, trying to decide whether to be insulted.

            May 17, 2015
      • Samantha
        Samantha

        I had one guy who was so busy on his cell phone during the transaction that he not only couldn’t swipe his card and input his pin without interrupting his actions (four digits!!) with his friendfacing or whatever, but his small person broke free and ran out the door…

        … and I collared the wee toddler in the middle of the street and brought him back into the store, to find his dad, yep, still on his phone.

        May 13, 2015
        |Reply
        • Wow, that dude should NOT be allowed to have a child.

          May 15, 2015
          |Reply
        • Raging Brainer
          Raging Brainer

          I don’t work in customer service anymore, thankfully. But whenever I got someone on the phone I wouldn’t move and just stare at them. They would get annoyed that I wasn’t ringing them up and I would just say that I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt them. Usually it was enough to get them to put the phone down and I always said it in a way that if they complained they wouldn’t be able to actually point out what I did wrong.

          May 15, 2015
          |Reply
  31. Petra Newman
    Petra Newman

    One of the worst jobs I’ve ever had for dealing with the public, ironically, was when I worked for a charity selling raffle tickets in the street. It’s was the lowest paid job I’d ever had (we earned 5 pence/ 7 cents a ticket) and it was on a commission only basis; so you really were doing the job in part out of the goodness of your heart. You basically stood in the street, in all weather’s, hoping to sell enough to make a minimum amount of cash. Even then people still expected you to be doing the job for free. We learned pretty quickly not to explain the reality because people would be mean about it, so we often said we were working for a Duke of Edinburgh award (a scheme for young people in the UK). This worked great until the inevitable day I ran into someone whose son was doing his Duke of Edinburgh award and insisted on having a twenty minute conversation with me about it. I suspect I’ve dealt with ever type of person during that job; from the ones that throw their rubbish at you (I kind you not; we used to regularly have to sidestep waste food being lobbed in our direction) to the ones who pretend you’re not even there (we’d call this invisibility disease which could strike you down without notice and often lasted at least until the person ignoring you had rounded the corner) then proceed to run you over with their kids prams (aka bumper cars). Inappropriate men were also an issue and on more occasions than I care to remember I was forced to threaten/push away/ yell for help to get the heck away from pushy men who thought “would you like to support this charity?” was actually code for “would you like to feel my ass?” One of the most noticeable things was the way in which a certain type of woman (who we referred to as the ‘Chanel handbag brigade’ or CHB for short) were amongst the most rude, least generous people we came across. I’ve seen people, who clearly were struggling financially, dig into their purses to make a contribution while the CHB would, at best barge past you as if you were pond life they needed to scrape off their shoe, at worst, spend ten minutes lecturing you on your life choices and how you shouldn’t harass people in the street; all without contributing a penny. If you want to see the best and worst of humanity spend some time standing in the middle of a town, working for charity!

    May 12, 2015
    |Reply
  32. Rez
    Rez

    Way back in the day, I worked in returns at a grocery store, and this older woman came in to return some cheese.

    “Oh, did you get the wrong kind?”

    “No, I left it in my car overnight, and it’s melted and moldy now!”

    “Um….let me get my manager.” The manager on duty was always just barely this side of not stoned, which made this situation all the more fun. The little granny couldn’t even start her story before he asked her how long she left the cheese in her car for. She left in a huff with out her refund. 🙂

    I currently work in retail still and one night, I had not one, not two, but THREE customers in a row walk in 5 minutes before closing and say “Oh are you guys about to close? I should get out of here, I sure do hate it when people walk into MY job right before closing! Anyway, I’d like to………” And spend 20 more minutes in the store. After we close.

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
  33. Lovell
    Lovell

    I love all of these stories (and by love I mean love reading them but are rather sorry they happened). I dont have a specific story but a conglomeration of memories from when I worked “Concessions” at college football games in the deep south. (For the uninitiated, College Football (especially in the SEC rankings) is second only to God in the south. People by the truck-loads start arriving 7, 7:30 am – no matter what time the game actually starts – and drink till the game ends.)

    This happened multiple times across multiple games: repeatedly trying to explain to beligerent drunks that no, we cannot sell them a 40-60 dollar sweater/jacket/what-have-you for their 20 dollar bill because, (a) thats a 40-60 dollar sweater/jacket/what-have-you, and (b) our cash registers have been returned to the main store, so there is *literally* no way this transaction can take place. But you can walk the 2 mins to the main store and get it from there. Which, of course, the beligerent drunks would argue about till they stormed off, refusing to walk the less than 2 mins to the main store.

    The best story I have is when, during the middle of the game (which was the quietest), a family (comprising of an elderly couple and their college-aged son) inquired how much money a toddlers cheerleading outfit cost. When I told them it was around 60 dollars the mother burst out laughing, before the family walked off.

    I laughed too. 60 dollars is a ridiculous amount of money for a university monogramed toddler’s cheerleading outfit.

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
    • xebi
      xebi

      I would go one further and say that a university monogrammed toddler’s cheer leading outfit is pretty damn ridiculous in itself.

      May 13, 2015
      |Reply
    • Suzy
      Suzy

      7:00 am. Please. Tailgating at Ohio State starts at 5 and the drinking continues until your liver ends. And in sub zero temperatures. But I worked at an OSU gift shop three blocks from Ohio Stadium. Drunk people shopping are hilarious! I almost sold an Ohio State coffin one game day.

      May 14, 2015
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        I did grad school at OSU, and you are not kidding! When I was a T.A., I used to beg my students to line their stomachs with food the morning of the Michigan (gasp! “Team of North”) game, and emphasized the fact that if they had to be rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning and have their stomachs pumped, not only would I not give them an excused absence for being stupid, but while they were in triage, they might MISS THE GAME.

        May 15, 2015
        |Reply
  34. noisyninja
    noisyninja

    I’m not alone! Yeah retail totally sucks. I’ve seen some real prize winners in my time, from the lady who brought in a tarnished bracelet (our jewelry was all costume) who didn’t want to exchange it, she just wanted it to be gold again (I forever regret not taking it to the back grabbing a new one, and letting her think I’d fixed it) to the many many times people have tried to return items from the beginning of time. I guess some high end department stores have basically no return policy, but ours is 60 days, receipt or not, unless you want store credit in the mail for current value. We also get a lot of people, especially after holiday, returning gifts with or without a gift receipt, who are super upset about what the item is worth; oh, she would never pay less than $20 for a gift? Surprise! She got it final sale, % 40 off! I also love people who lie to my face because they don’t remember it was me who rang them up. Because of COURSE I told you it was final sale!

    I totally feel you on the giveaways too, people are always trying to get something for nothing.

    I also sympathize with you in working black Friday your first day. It is literally the worst time of year, and I no longer enjoy the holidays at all.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to quit soon!

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
    • Kim
      Kim

      On people wanting to return things from the beginning of time. I worked at a shoe store with a very generous return policy but it had some logical limits, we thought. Not logical enough for a customer who came in and wanted to return shoes she had bought FIVE YEARS AGO in a different fucking state because….they had started to smell. I haven’t had too many terrible customers and I’m generally pretty easy going about ridiculous customer demands. They want what they want, taking a little extra time with the difficult ones is my job. As long as they don’t get abusive, I’m fine. But that is one moment where it took all my strength to not just say “Take your old smelly shoes and get the hell out of my store and don’t ever come back, you incredible moron”

      May 14, 2015
      |Reply
  35. Cheryl
    Cheryl

    My best ones all come from working in an adult novelty store. I think my favorite was the woman who gave me a five minute lecture (at top volume) about how I was going to hell for selling “sin tools”. This lecture came immediately after she picked out and paid for a glow in the dark vibrator. She was holding the bag in her hand while yelling at me for being a godless heathen sin peddler. Ok…

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Did you recommend she try it underwater?

      May 13, 2015
      |Reply
  36. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    You’re not kidding. I went to Ohio State for grad school (where football may not be God, but Woody Hayes is), and anyone who knows how fast kids grow would have to figure the kid wouldn’t get one entire football season’s wearing out of it, unless they bought it so large she was swimming in it in September and stuffed into it like a sausage by December. And you know what? People bought those overpriced toddler cheerleader outfits anyway.

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
  37. Carolina West
    Carolina West

    I’ve never worked retail, thank goodness, but I do have a crappy story to tell. A few years ago I was a dishwasher at an American Legion post in my old town. The manager didn’t like me because my mom had the gall to argue with her about something, though I can’t remember what it was. Anyway, my fellow dishwashers (and the waitresses, too) made it a habit to sit down and talk, even when we were busy, usually leaving me as the only one working. I was there for two or three months before I was fired, for doing something everyone else there got away with.
    No big loss, I think I only made about $60 a month, anyway.

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
  38. I haven’t worked retail, but I have worked fast food. When I first started at this McDonald’s place, we wrote a first name on the food receipt and called those for people to come get there food. I was training a new kid, and he asked this guy for a name, and the guy jumped right into this speech about how we were invading people’s privacy, and name were important because you could steal SSS numbers with them. Poor new kid. Manager came out and took care of him, though.

    I think the weirdest thing I experienced, though, was this little white old lady’s racism. The McD’s I worked at had a lot of racial diversity. I worked with a lot of Hispanics, and we also had two Chinese girls for awhile. This old lady came in and asked for a very specific hamburger, and she says to me something along the lines of, Oh, it’s a white person. I’m so glad they finally hired someone who could speak English because they always get my order wrong. They need to do that more often.
    Just as a side note, we had a good core of efficient workers there; only a few didn’t speak English very well, and it was more important that we had people who spoke Spanish because of the customers who came in that couldn’t speak English or spoke it poorly. I was the one asking for language help, not the other way around.
    Anyway, this old lady can’t see very well. She gets her hamburger and almost immediately complains to me that there aren’t enough pickles. When I get her some more pickles and hand them to her, she shows me the distinct “lack”, but trust me, she had pickles. But, in her eyes, it wasn’t my fault. It was those Spanish people who don’t understand English very well, and shouldn’t the management hire people who can speak better English?
    Mind you, I think one of our managers was white. The rest were Hispanic. (Fun fact: we were owned by a rich white lady).

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
  39. In 2007 on Black Friday while working at Target, a guest climbing on a shelf grabbed a handle on a LCD monitor box and pulled the entire stack down on my head and shoulder. The result was a concussion and a shoulder injury that had me in PT twice a week for a month with recurring pain after. But the real gem was the woman who, as I was crying, clutching my head, and pushing my way to the front of the department with mascara running down my face to look for help, stopped me to ask where she could find a telephone that wasn’t even in-demand on on sale.

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
    • Uhm … wow. I hope that guy had to pay for this (like literal money). But that woman :O

      May 15, 2015
      |Reply
  40. Emma
    Emma

    Not sure if this is terrible as such, but it really annoyed me at the time. I’d just served this lady when she comes back to me at the counter and asks me if I can change the five pound note I’d just given her because it was “tatty”. (There was a slight tear at the bottom of it but other than that it was fine. I’ve seen worse.) I explained to her that I wasn’t allowed to open the till myself and I’d have to get my manager (who was busy in the back room) to come and open it for me. Honestly I thought she’d just tell me it didn’t matter, going through all that trouble and disturbing my manager for something so trivial, but no. She was adamant about changing this fiver. So I had to ring for my manager, and wait for her to come and open the till to swap the note. And a few customers later I gave the five pound note in question away in change, and they didn’t ask to have it swapped!

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
  41. I worked at Disneyland for 2 1/2 years. Some of the worst customers I’ve ever seen have been there.

    To sum up some of the best:
    Disney has an unofficial gay day, goth day, and deaf day (amongst others). Unofficial meaning Disney doesn’t actively support the groups but the company gives us a heads up day of saying to expect a lot of x. Well this particular day was the deaf one. And I was dealing with a few customers (I’m sorry…guests) that were deaf. I know a little sign language but finger spelling is exhausting and takes A LOT of time. Luckily these people had pen and paper so they could communicate (which is a great idea on their part, I mean I did too because cashier but normally guests don’t think that far ahead). This dude gets in line behind them and gets upset because they’re asking me questions and I’m answering them. All while writing everything down. He got upset because I obviously shouldn’t have been helping (his words) these “retards” and should have instead focused on him since we could talk.

    Another time I had someone get pissy because they came from across the pond somewhere (I don’t remember but it was Europe) and 3 of the big attractions went down. At the same time. I don’t know what happened. I know at the time Indiana Jones was having mechanical issues up the ass and was going down every 2-3 hours. Space Mountain had an issue and went down. And Big Thunder Mountain had an issue and went down. Not to mention Splash Mountain was down for rehab (basically maintenance and upgrades). And they were so angry at me for it. It’s like I’m not even in the attractions department so how can I help that?

    Another, I had parents get angry with me because I worked at the fruit stand in front of the Jungle Cruise and it was a REALLY windy day. Bad enough that some of the bamboo and branches of trees fell into the water and on the track. Well we can’t tell guests shit like that. So the kid was really disappointed that JC was down because of it. So he asked me why when he came up to buy an apple. Or a soda. or something. And I told him it was because the hippo in the tree (part of a joke on the jungle cruise) was jumping out of the tree and trying to capsize the boats so we had some hippo experts trying to talk the hippo out of it so everyone could enjoy the cruise and not have to worry about that. And so no one accidentally got hurt. Kid was happy as a clam with the explanation. Parents were pissed that I was lying to their child.

    The one that takes the cake though. We were excessively short staffed. So my Lead had to cover not only our location but 4 others. Well because the fruit cart was by itself in no man’s land (that’s what we called it because it was so far removed) and I was the most senior cashier there, I got the lead’s keys because we had a new register system that was constantly going down. I knew all the prices by heart and could look at someone with what they had and tell them off the top of my head the price. We had me and one other cashier. I was told to go on my one break (short shift that got extended) and then when I came back the other cashier on her lunch. Well I was against it but since this lead and I butted heads so much I just did it anyway. I left on my 15 minute break. No line. Just one person paying my other cashier for their food. Come back and the line is all the way around our square enclosure and half around that. My other cashier apparently was REALLY slow. I told her finish her transaction and I’ll take over the line from there (meaning I’d help the next guest in line and then everyone else in the line order they were in). Well a lady who was 4th in line saw me go over to my register (coincidentally where the end of the line was) and assumed I was going to start at my register (which makes no sense) with people. She got out of line (even though she clearly heard what I told my counterpart and heard me telling the next 3 people what their totals were) and stood at my register. I saw her get out of line and presumed she forgot something because that happened A LOT and thought nothing of seeing her at the end of the line at my register. So I continue helping people in the order they’re in line and she gets rude and uppity. The guest I was helping told me to help her first since she was making a scene. I apologised and thanked them and went over to her and got the bitching out of my life for it. Throughout it all I kept a smile on my face and kept apologising and helping her quickly as I could. Then she demanded to know where she could file a complaint. I nicely directed her to city hall and told her “my name is -name- and this is tropical imports. You’ll need both of those for your complaint. And have a MAGICAL rest of your day” But everyone else could hear the sarcasm in my voice and the falseness (even if she couldn’t) and could tell it was an insult (judging by the snickering behind me) and she left. No complaint was filed. And 5 minutes later I had gotten everyone checked out and happily on their way. And my second cashier was shocked that I had no line when she came back. I taught her a few tricks to help her be able to go faster. But that was a stressful and busy day (basically too many call outs and not enough people scheduled).

    I swear the motto for Disney is leave your brains at bag check.

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
    • Disney IS NOT the happiest place on Earth! I live in Florida, but I didn’t grow up here. My fiance did and his father worked there and is now retired. So we go at least once a year and I dread it every year. I would so hate working there. I hear a lot of stories about working there from people I know who grew up around Orlando. I guess it was a right of passage down there. lol

      I seriously hate that place 99% of the time. Sometimes I like Epcot …

      May 14, 2015
      |Reply
  42. Jessica
    Jessica

    I used to work at a greasy spoon diner as a waitress. Every Friday, this little old lady would come in and order the fried chicken. And every time she would very rudely complain about how terrible it was. Every single time. I would try to suggest she order something different, but nope, it had to be the fried chicken with a double helping of cranky old lady attitude.

    May 13, 2015
    |Reply
    • Jessica
      Jessica

      I realize this isn’t retail, but she was always my favorite bad customer! None of my retail customers were as regularly infuriating as her.

      May 13, 2015
      |Reply
  43. Sarah
    Sarah

    I was in a bookshop once, as a customer not working thank God, and the lady in front of me in the queue was complaining because Edgar Allen Poe was in the classics section and she thought he should be in horror. She wanted the cashier to go over and move them all.

    May 14, 2015
    |Reply
  44. Andrea Taylor
    Andrea Taylor

    When my daughter was little, we stopped in at a fast food place that was apparently having a Pokemon toy thing. There was a sign up saying they were out of the toy, but this woman in front of us decided she had to argue over it at length. My daughter didn’t even know what Pokemon were at that point, and it really didn’t matter to her if she got a toy or not.

    The woman eventually decided she wanted the staff to call other restaurants in the area to find out if they had any in stock, and the cashier said she couldn’t do that, and the woman huffily requested the manager, who came out and took the woman to the side so the cashier could take our order. The cashier eyed my daughter and said, “I’m sorry, but we’re out of toys.” To which I nodded and replied, “I understand. Must be a hell of a day.”

    The woman eventually left in a huff while we were waiting for our order to be ready. When our food came, I was unpacking my daughter’s food, and lo and behold, there is a Pokemon toy in the bag. 🙂

    May 14, 2015
    |Reply
    • Rhiannon
      Rhiannon

      ha ha I bet that staff member had kept that toy aside and then thought you were a worthy recipient 😉

      May 15, 2015
      |Reply
  45. Hannah
    Hannah

    I used to work for a zoo doing educational stuff: the tours, birthday parties, animal meet and greets, etc. The worst experiences were birthday parties with affluent parents. They had 1.5 hours for the party. Just enough time for playground, snacks, animal time, and cake. The breed I liked to call “Pintrest Parents” would come in with cartload after cartload of decorations, want to wait for every single guest to arrive before playing structured games and opening presents. Then they would get pissed when I had to speed through the animals in order to get the out in time for the next party.

    There would always be a parking issue, because it’s the weekend and everyone wants to go to the zoo. So we’d have to direct a lot of the party guests to overflow parking. Once I had this guest start screaming at me about the parking situation as if I could make more parking spots appear. Hell, the overflow parking was closer to the entrance than the normal parking. She was one of the parents who refused to let her child touch any of the animals. I always despised those parents.

    May 14, 2015
    |Reply
  46. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon

    About the story of falling down when you were pregnant and the insensitive cow who didn’t care – considering you said it was in an area with a mega church – I bet she was a rabid anti-abortionist too…
    I hear a lot of stuff from my husband who works in retail here in Germany. Like the woman who asked him if he could help her choose a washing machine. My husband works in the camera department on another floor. He told the woman that he couldn’t leave his floor and that there was a staff member in the white goods department. So the woman said ‘Oh the n***** wasn’t very polite when I spoke to her so I thought I would come here because you are the only German staff member’. He asked her what she had said to the woman up there and apparently she had addressed her as ‘Frau N*****’, so my husband basically told her that was probably why she hadn’t been very polite… ‘Oh, but I read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and in those books it says it is ok to call them n*****’…
    (I haven’t actually read any Mark Twain but I know it is seldom a good idea to consider a book from the 19th century as up to date…)

    May 15, 2015
    |Reply
    • Mark Twain used that word to make a political point. It was what people called black people in the US, especially when slavery was legal. Twain was vehemently an abolitionist and very much against the way people treated black people in this country. Those books were NOT meant as a guide, but a statement against that society — ESPECIALLY that was the case for Huck Finn.

      Oy.

      But I suppose you can’t expect someone that stupid to get the subtlety.

      May 15, 2015
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Holy moly, talk about a naive reader! What was that German customer smoking?
        It’s true that un-ironic racist language and ideas are to be found in some old books like Thomas Dixon’s (one of his books, “The Klansman,” was made into the infamous movie, “Birth of a Nation”), and some authors did hold those attitudes themselves.
        But as Renee has pointed out, the whole point of “Huckleberry Finn” is this boy cluelessly spouting the racist ideas of his society, only gradually realizing that his society is a corrupt one. Eventually, he recognizes the fact that that escaped slave Jim has been a better father figure to him than his own white, trashy, abusive, drunkard father.

        May 15, 2015
        |Reply
        • Rhiannon
          Rhiannon

          Thanks, I thought it was probably something like that just wasn’t sure. Well she didn’t sound like someone who would get subtleties. The problem here too with elderly Germans like she was is that they were often in the Hitler Youth when they were kids and some of that stuff has stayed with them.

          May 15, 2015
          |Reply
          • Yeah and oftentime, they just don’t care. They expect to be right, always.

            May 16, 2015
  47. Stormy
    Stormy

    I worked for years at Bath and Body Works in a very upscale neighborhood and the sheer amount of entitlement I had to wade through from customers was astounding. On the sales floor, I would occasionally be tasked with handing out shopping bags. We were instructed to patrol the floor, helping where needed, and note when customers had their arms full and offer them a bag.

    “Would you like a bag to help with your shopping, ma’am?” I asked a customer who was juggling several bottles of lotion. I held the bag open with a cheery smile.

    “Oh, great,” she responded, unloading everything into the bag I held. “Now follow me.”

    I didn’t have the guts to tell her that wasn’t what I meant, so I ended up following this lady around the shop for a good ten to fifteen minutes, holding her bag of products.

    The most common bad customer, besides the ever-present shoplifters, were the “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU NO LONGER CARRY ____? ones. It’s Bath and Body Works. Fragrances rotate constantly. Some of them are seasonal, and when they’re gone, that’s it. Some of them only come back twice a year. Sometimes, during Christmas, we just plain sell out of something! But oh my god, the way people carried on, you’d think I saw them coming down the street and said “Wait! It’s that person! I hate their money! They’re coming here for the plumeria bubble bath! QUICKLY, EVERYONE, INCINERATE ALL THE PLUMERIA BUBBLE BATH SO THAT PERSON CANNOT HAVE ANY!!” I had to listen to so many angry rants about how DARE we not carry that fragrance! Don’t we know it’s their favorite???

    In less batty, more harmful bad retail stories, I used to work at clothing shop with a transwoman. She’d only recently started transitioning and didn’t pass very well, and the amount of shit she got from customers broke my heart. Constant misgendering, being called “it”, etc. One drunk couple came in while she was fitting a customer and started asking her if her boobs were real, why “a man” was wearing a skirt, and all kinds of bullshit like that. The woman first tried to reach out and poke my coworker in the chest, then leaned down and tried to lift up her skirt, asking “So what do you have under here?”

    At that point, I rushed over and knocked her hand away and said “NO!” like you do when you’re scolding your fucking dog and told them they had to leave. WTF.

    May 15, 2015
    |Reply
    • Rhiannon
      Rhiannon

      Arg about your trans colleague 🙁 I have a friend who is a transwoman (well, now she’s a woman, of course, this was a few years back!) but before the surgery I did see some of the abuse she endured, and yes we went to a restaurant once and some guy came up to her and asked if he could do a ‘Crocodile Dundee’! My friend didn’t know what that was and the guy just grabbed her crotch! I mean honestly, he would never have dared to do that in the middle of a restaurant to a cis woman! >:(

      May 15, 2015
      |Reply
      • Psst, “trans woman” is not a transitional term. She has always been a woman. “Trans woman” is just the complementary term to “cis woman” and both of them are women.

        May 16, 2015
        |Reply
  48. Miss Kitty
    Miss Kitty

    I work in a hardware store and am female. I have worked there longer than most of the guys who work there and know exactly where to find everything in the shop and how to use it. But I still get guys coming into the shop who, when I say ‘Can I help you?’, will say, ‘I’d like to speak to a guy please.’ Or even worse, they will start telling me what they want, and one of the store guys shows up, and the customer will turn his back on me as if I had suddenly disappeared and start talking to store guy. I love it when the store guys will say, ‘Kit here can help you with that’, and I smile sweetly at the customer and say ‘So you were looking for a…?’ It leaves them speechless 🙂

    May 16, 2015
    |Reply
  49. Fork
    Fork

    I used to work in a video store and one weeknight I was closing by myself when a couple came in with two young children five minutes before closing. They had ten returns and handed those to me and then sent the kids to the free kids section and went to browse. I told them it was closing time so I would be cleaning and asked them to hurry.
    I vacuumed and then followed around behind them straightening all the shelves again. After they had been there almost half an hour, they finally yelled for their kids and went to the counter to check out.
    While I was ringing them up – another ten movies, but all free kids movies and old dollar rentals for a grand total of six bucks – the guy suddenly turns and runs toward one of the doors. He doesn’t make it though and vomits all over the floor. He turns to the woman and says, “I told you I needed to go soon.”
    He then walks outside and vomits again on the sidewalk in front of the door. Instead of paying for the rentals which I have just finished ringing up, the woman just grabs the kids, doesn’t say a word, and walks out the door and they leave.
    It’s now 45 minutes past closing time, I have twenty movies to put away, I have to completely redo the kids section because their kids threw half the movies in the floor, and I have to clean up vomit before I can finish the closing tasks.
    Worst. Night. Ever.

    May 16, 2015
    |Reply
  50. KHon
    KHon

    Loving these stories, have a few of my own from cashiering at a bookstore.

    I had an older lady come to pick up a book she had ordered, and she insisted she be charged the price we had over the weekend since there had been a sale. I call my manager, he gives a firm “no”, and she says, “I’m so sorry Borders closed instead of you.” Then she starts going off how we’re going down the tubes just like that Kenyan Socialist Obama letting all the immigrants across the border. It took everything I had to keep from laughing in her face.

    Later that same day I had one of *those* California mothers come up to complain about our program that gives kids a free cupcake on their birthday, and how dare we offer children “cancerous sugar.” GOD FORBID anyone offer you something for free that you don’t want. I told her she could get a pretzel instead.

    The one that really floored me was a guy in the history section looking for new books on the Holocaust because he wanted to see if his father was mentioned since he was at Auschwitz. I was kind of jazzed to help the son of a survivor because that’s important history.

    And then he said his father was an officer.
    In one of the cremation zones.
    “That was an unpleasant business,” he said with a laugh.

    I’m almost 30 and I still needed an adult. Not sure if he even noticed that my smile had gone from friendly to horrified.

    May 24, 2015
    |Reply
  51. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    I think I would have lost my job at that point. I don’t believe in blaming the sons for the sins of the fathers, but having him chuckle about it is simply bizarre.

    May 25, 2015
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    • Person
      Person

      I would most certainly have lost my job at that point. His father could have burned my grandfather’s family and he’s fucking laughing about it? His father burned innocent human beings alive and he’s fucking LAUGHING about it? That’s not just bizarre, that’s incredibly disturbing.

      May 26, 2015
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      • KHon
        KHon

        Yeah, it seemed like he was trying to pass it off as an “awkward laugh,” to diffuse tension, but if you suspected that your father’s involvement in the Holocaust would make people uncomfortable (hint: IT ABSOLUTELY WILL, AS IT SHOULD), you wouldn’t casually mention it to a total stranger. Mostly I was rendered speechless by how badly creeped out I was and got away as fast as I could.

        May 27, 2015
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      • While I’m not excusing anything, they didn’t burn people alive. They killed them first. I suppose it’s possible someone was alive and unconscious in the crematoriums, but the practice was to burn dead bodies, not live people.

        But, yeah, that guy should have just asked for the book and left it at that. Did he really think that was something to brag about? Or even mention outside of the, “I’m kind of ashamed about it,” context?

        May 27, 2015
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  52. Heatherbell
    Heatherbell

    Ugh, GAP is the worst. I worked there for a year and a half while I was at uni.
    One day about a fortnight before Christmas one of the tills broke. Naturally we were busy that day and people had to queue for the remaining two tills. I explained the difficulty to each customer at my till and apologized, made small talk, the usual. Most people were fine with it. Except for Her. Her was an older lady (fifty-something, grey hair) who, when I asked how she was doing, told me she would never shop with us again because of having to wait to be served. She then proceeded to rant about our slow service and general laziness. At the time I was too stunned to do anything other than apologize, which is probably for the best because now I can’t think about her without laughing. Seriously, you’re pissed because you had to wait for two minutes in a queue?? PLEASE promise you’ll never shop here again! The best part, though, is that the next few customers who came after her asked if I was ok and spent a few minutes roundly abusing her!

    May 25, 2015
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  53. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    One hopes it was a nervous laugh. Although had he had any shame at all, you’d think he’d have asked for the book and bought it without giving a reason.

    May 27, 2015
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  54. Lilly Adzler
    Lilly Adzler

    I worked retail in college. Retail workers don’t get paid near enough. I remember that at my store, customers didn’t seem to understand the difference between a bathroom and a fitting room. They would go into a fitting room stall, close the door, and piss or shit. Or leave used feminine products or dirty diapers. Wtf.

    One time someone grabbed a bunch of gift cards and stuffed them in his jacket. He was caught when they all fell out. Security thought it was hilarious because gift cards don’t have any money on them until you put some on there at the cash register; he was basically stealing…nothing.

    May 29, 2015
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  55. I know this is an older post, but I must share my experience as well. I’ve worked three retail jobs. The first being Suncoast (the movie store—I genuinely loved working there because of all the free movie promotional shit we got and I was and still am a huge movie nerd. When I was on my shift, my coworkers would just direct people to me when they were looking for a specific movie they’d never heard of and I would always be able to point them in the right direction). I started working there when I was 17.

    Pervy Marine:
    I was on cashier duty this night and I’ll preface this by saying that, as a teenager, I could have passed for 19 or 20 (strangely, now I keep being mistaken for a teenager and I’m 29). So, this Marine comes up to my register with a copy of “Showgirls” and proceeds to stare at my chest and try out his best flirty smile. As I reached for a bag for his purchase, he asked me if I’d like to watch it with him. Irritated, I bagged his DVD and said in my sweetest voice: “I’m 16. I don’t think I’d like that at all.” His face completely fell and I’ve never seen someone turn that white before (or since). Yeah, I lied about my age, but he made me really uncomfortable.

    Sake Guy:
    I worked at a used bookstore that was in a strip mall right next to a Japanese teppanyaki. This guy would be there every Friday night and would often slap the store window when he walked past me. The only time he ever came into our store was when he was so drunk that I could smell the sake from my post behind the main counter. He stood in front of the history section and loudly asked where the history section was. I told him he was looking at it and he burst out laughing and screamed: “I can’t read!” then stumbled back outside.

    Pearl Necklace Assholes:
    Macy’s during the Christmas season was a nightmare. I hated working there. I worked at the jewelry counters, moving between costume jewelry and the stuff that required a key when I was on schedule, but the worst was when I worked in the semi-precious register. Part of my job description was trying on the jewelry pieces for customers to get an idea of how they were worn (but only if they requested it). On more than one occasion, I had to try on the pearls for men who were very obviously NOT going to buy them and put up with them laughing at me. God, I hated it there.

    June 11, 2015
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  56. Zee
    Zee

    Relating to two of your stories … When I did my time at McDonald’s, one of the guys I worked with had stress-induced non-epileptic fits. At the time we didn’t know the cause, we just about knew that he seemed dazed about half hour before he triggered. Most of the time, we could get him out back before he went and the customers didn’t see him, so he didn’t get embarrassed. One day, we missed his cues completely, and he went on the front counter, right in the middle of the tills. We didn’t have a large till front – five tills long then the drive thru – so he fitted across most of front counter. Three people helped him, supporting his head and making sure when he thrashed his arms/legs he didn’t hurt himself, and our manager told the rest of us to carry on serving. Front counter customers could see we were trying to help this guy, but I was working the drive thru window, trying not to get in his way while I bagged orders from the heat bin behind him, then manoeuvring around to take the food over. It added to my times but he was my bigger concern. One driver was like “what’s taking so long?!” (He’d been at the window maybe a minute and someone else had given him his drinks already) so I said “I’m really sorry, someone’s fitting in here.” And his response was “well, someone’s going to be fitting out here if I don’t get my order!” I think I gave him the dirty look he deserved at the very least for that shit.

    I hated that McDonald’s, we had drunk people pee through the pick up window, people would go to the local methadone clinic, get their benefits, then come into our disabled toilets and shoot up (one guy brought his four-year-old in so we HAD to let him. My manager banned him in he end) and when I was six months pregnant, some guy insisted on smoking weed in his car and blowing it in my face while he had his own kids in the back.

    But we would never spit in people’s food. We could be worse. Like, you don’t like pickles but you’re being a dick? Your patty got double-dipped in pickle juice. And your bun might have met the five-second rule before being run around grill grease.

    June 26, 2015
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  57. Nico Murray
    Nico Murray

    i managed a fabric store within a department store many eons ago. I could say it was a daily parade of people who deeply needed therapy.

    I’ve been growled at, yelled at, had people threaten me, throw merch at me, hang around past closing, lean over me as I’m cutting fabric and get closer to me than my spouse.

    The woman who stayed for 8 hours and wouldn’t leave at closing. For three days in a row. The one who showed up reeking drunk. The woman who realized her kid needs their home ec kit or halloween costume on the fly, RIGHT NOW, 4 min to closing. Brides sobbing when the thread didn’t match the satin. Wifes sobbing when they realised they had no hope of a martha stewart esque layout ( pre pinterest). the woman who ordered me around “Girl, fetch me this. Girl. Fetch me that” in front of her teenage son. The proselytizers.

    Who treated us well: designers ( for the most part) and film crew and the drag queens coming in for fabric for their costumes.

    general public? It wasn’t a normal day till someone cursed me out before noon. And I was GOOD at my job.

    I think i did come close to murdery when a woman came in day after day to get scarf width cuts of polarfleece, every day. ten, 20. And she’d watch to make sure every one was dead straight. She’d scoop up her strips ( the minimum width we allowed) and goes “I take them to my office and cut fringe into them and sell them as scarves! I’m a business woman”. Lard above, almost put my shears in her neck. Cutting polar fleece leaves blisters on one’s hands with metal shears.

    I never sabotaged anyone but if you’re an ass, I do the absolute minimum I need to get rid of you and if you never come back, that’s all the better for me.

    September 4, 2017
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  58. pip
    pip

    The fish and cat story almost made me die omfg. I hope your manager gave you a promotion for that completely perfect response

    May 13, 2018
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