Anyone who works with the public on a day-to-basis knows what it is like to deal with insufferably difficult customers. A simple altercation involving an out-of-stock item or an invalid coupon can rapidly evolve into a nightmarish war of words. But how often can one claim that these bitter encounters have escalated into a brush with violence? These employees can.
The following stories, found on Reddit and edited for clarity, detail the time that a customer thought the only way they could get their way was through abuse... resulting in their ultimate downfall.
“She Said We Were ‘Sentencing Her To Death'”
“I think I met one of the craziest women on the planet.
She came in with a broken GPS and started spouting off about how she had nothing but bad service from another branch and if I didn’t do what she wanted, she would never shop with us again. Oh no.
I said, ‘OK, well, sorry to hear that blah blah,’ and told her we needed to send it off to get repaired. She then freaked the heck out, saying that she needed it for her new job because she was going up north and didn’t know her way around and would get lost without a GPS. We expressed our sympathies and explained that, unfortunately, it’s procedure to get it sent off. We can’t just swap it and, sometimes, it can take up to 10 days.
It got real and she started yelling and abusing us. She then went on to say that, as a woman, she was scared that without a GPS she would end up on the wrong side of town and get in trouble with thugs, insinuating that without a GPS she would get assaulted or even violated. She then elaborated and said that by us not giving her a new GPS we were ‘sentencing her to death.’
Things carried on that way for a while, going around in circles about how we would rather have her dead then lose a few hundred dollars. It ended with my manager printing her out some stupid Google maps for her trip and us sending off her GPS.”
“That Woman Deserved To Get Her Butt Kicked”
“I work at a movie theater and, usually, I’m seen working the customer service counter and box office, as they are built into each other. On slow days, I work them both. I usually just do a lot of exchanges or refunds for bad movies or 3D showings or things of that nature, but on occasion there have been the ‘less approachable’ customers (you know the type – screaming and throwing a fit).
For example, we had a lady come up, who was very courteous, who claimed that the woman behind her in the theater was kicking her seat, and when she had asked them to stop, the seat kicking lady’s boyfriend claimed he was going to ‘kick her butt’ after the showing was over. We had an attendant hide around the wall of the theater and listen to more of their conversations after having the woman go back into the theater. More threats of the like had been made, and so these customers were asked to leave. No refunds. No exchanges.
Well, it was my lucky day because the employee who had asked them to leave was new and hadn’t thought to accompany this ‘nice’ couple out of the building. I couldn’t blame her, though. The guy looked like he was on steroids. So, after leaving the auditorium, he made a bee-line for my counter. Not realizing who he was, I asked how I could help him.
ROID MAN: ‘Yeah, your employee just kicked me out, without a refund.’
ME: [realizing who it was] ‘Was there a reason that she kicked you out?’
ROID MAN: ‘Yeah, this chick lied and said I was threatening her.’
ME: ‘Oh, well there’s not much I can do. No employee is authorized to kick a customer out without a manager’s approval, and I know for a fact that approval was given. If you would please lea -‘
ROID MAN: ‘NO, FORGET THAT! LET ME SEE THAT MANAGER!
ME: [sigh] [realizing it’s going to be a long night] Could Manager [let’s call him ‘J’] please come to customer service. The man from Theater 9 would like explanation.
J walked up and gave me a look like I should have said, ‘Nobody’s home.’
ROID MAN: ‘Are you the manager? Why am I being kicked out?’
J: ‘Because I personally witnessed you cursing out and threatening another customer. If you’re going to make a fuss about this, I’ll have you banned from all of our locations for life, and the police will be called.’
Being banned from our locations is like being banned from the only theaters in town, sans the discount second run theater.
ROID MAN: ‘This is stupid! That woman deserved to get her butt kicked.’
J: ‘Sir, that’s enough. Leave now or I will call the police.’
ROID MAN: ‘Freaking call them to come save your butt, you little prick.’
At that point, the man ran at my manager and, just like in a freaking movie, my manager stepped aside, the guy tripped and fell on himself, and finally walked out, fuming, as everybody laughed.”
“I Just Completely Lost All Control Of My Temper”
“I was walking around, shelving stuff. I walked past a woman who was pushing a cart and, out of nowhere, with no warning, and without saying anything first, she reached out and grabbed my wrist and YANKED me back to her as hard as she could and said, ‘Wait, I have a question!”
Because of the physical abuse I experienced as a child, I don’t handle being manhandled very well at all. I particularly lose my temper when someone does something that makes my body move without my control, such as pulling on my arm or any other body part, pushing me, or shaking me– basically just anything that moves my body without my consent or control.
And, well, this woman had grabbed my wrist (which hurt by itself, as she grabbed hard enough to leave a red ring around it) and yanked me backward as I had been walking, which caused my entire body to fly backwards and I almost fell. So, I lost my freaking temper.
As soon as she said, ‘Wait, I have a question!’ I yanked my wrist out of her hand and I just laid into her. I just completely lost all control of my temper. I screamed at her not to EVER grab me or anyone else like that again, to keep her hands to herself, and to ask using her words instead of physically grabbing and pulling someone to her. I didn’t just say this, I admit. I screamed it.
She just stared at me with her mouth open and was completely silent. I don’t think she had thought about what she was doing. She just did it without thinking. My manager came over and told me to go to the break room to calm down. Later on, she called me to her office and gave me a demerit (or whatever they called it when they took points off, I can’t really remember now) and made me explain myself. I told her what the lady did and why I lost my temper over it, and she admitted that she wasn’t watching when the woman actually grabbed me and pulled me backward and didn’t know she’d done that until I explained, but that she still had to give me some sort of consequence for screaming at a customer.”
Don’t Call Her Miss
“I worked at a high fashion retail store that had a continual flow of older, uppity, southern women. I have always referred to my ‘clients’ in four ways: ‘sir,’ ‘gentleman,’ ‘young lady,’ and ‘miss.’ I have been in high-end customer service long enough to know that terms like ‘young lady’ and ‘miss’ is found charming; especially to our older cliental who haven’t been called a young lady in four decades.
Our checkout counters are a little higher, so I have to reach up a bit when I give them a pen and the receipt to sign. Now, this lady was about 60 years old and as southern uppity as they come. I handed her the receipt and pen simultaneously and said, ‘If you would sign on the bottom line, Miss.’
SHE SLAPPED ME! Like a nun slaps a kids hand with a ruler. I stood there, completely stunned. Did this woman just slap me?! She sternly said, ‘I am NOT a “miss,” I am a “MA’AM!!”‘
The only words I could think to whisper were, ‘Ummmm… sorry??’
I then had to wrap up her items and bring them around the checkout counter to her.
‘Thank you so much, MA’AM,’ I said. ‘Have a wonderful day, MA’AM.’
So thankful to be done with that mess and getting over just being slapped in my own store, I saw my manager approaching her. The evil old woman (EOW) stopped to look at a few things before she left. My manager said, ‘Excuse me, but I’ve had several customers and associates tell me that you hit my associate.’
EOW: ‘Hit? No, I slapped her. She disrespected me and had to be put in her place.’
MANAGER: ‘So, you did hit her?’
EOW: ‘Yes. I have a title and it’s not “miss.” I shouldn’t have to teach manners.’
MANAGER: ‘MISS, I will not tolerate verbal abuse and I definitely will not tolerate physical abuse of my staff. We have your information on file along with a security tape if she decides to press charges. I have to ask you to leave the store at once and your business is no longer welcomed here.’
EOW: ‘This is ridiculous! I’m never coming in here again!!’
MANAGER: ‘That’s the point of banning you. Have a great day, MISS!’
Never saw that crazy uppity witch again.”
“Why Did You Block Off My Bike?”
“I was lining some carts up at the cart door, but there was one major problem. A customer had parked his motorcycle in front of the cart door. I had to think of what to do. I put the carts around it and did not touch it.
I came back there about 20 minutes later to drop off more carts. Nearby were three big managers from the store. Pretty sure they were on lunch break. Anyway, the owner of the motorcycle, a man who looked like he was in his 30s, came out and started screaming at me at the top of his lungs.
‘Why did you block off my bike?’ he screamed at me. I politely explained that this was where we left the carts so they could be pushed inside. He was not OK with that answer. One of the three managers overheard and yelled over, repeating what I said – ‘That is the cart area, not a parking area.’
He continued yelling, saying that a bike must be parked up on the sidewalk, not in the parking lot. One of my managers again yelled over (everyone could hear him screaming at me, by the way – he was making a scene) saying that bicycles need to be parked on the sidewalk, but motorcycles need to be in parking spots.
I started kindly moving the carts out of the way of his motorcycle so he could back out. Instead of just letting me do that, he grabbed some of the carts and attacked me. He slammed them into my abdomen. Thankfully, I was not badly hurt, but I was stunned.
One of my managers, one who is second to our store manager, ran over yelling, ‘Don’t hurt her!’ and comes up and said, ‘Go inside. We’ll take care of him.’
I went inside for about five minutes, and then started walking out the opposite entrance of where the incident happened. A customer stopped me on the way and asked me if I was OK, and I said I was. The guy who attacked me was gone when I got back to the original spot, but the manager that went over to him was still there.
She said, ‘We dealt with him. We’ve got your back.’ I assume they threw him out ASAP. I have some awesome managers and I really appreciate how they handled this.”
“I WILL TAKE YOU OUT TO THE PARKING LOT AND GO VIETNAM ON YOUR BUTT!”
“I work for a chain of optical stores. It’s pretty dull, usually. This happened one evening and, while it didn’t happen to me, I did hear ALL of it. I was sitting at a desk near the front, trying to figure out an older lady’s problem with her insurance. I heard near the middle of the store raised voices and I saw my store manager (‘SM’) speaking to an older man, say late 60s early 70s. Man will be henceforth known as crazy man, ‘CM.’
CM: ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CANT PUT LENSES IN THIS FRAME OF MINE?!’
SM: ‘Sir, this frame is nonRxable. Meaning the lenses don’t come out so we cant put new ones in.’
CM: ‘THIS IS RIDICULOUS I WANT TO SPEAK TO THE LAB.’
At that point, our lab manager (‘LM’) was already coming out of the lab due to the noise. He took a look at the frame and repeated what the SM has already said. CM did not like this.
CM: ‘MY DOCTOR SAID YOU WOULD SO YOU NEED TO DO IT!’
LM: ‘I can’t do it. Sorry. Have a nice day. Goodbye.’
LM started to head back to the lab, where CM followed. SM told him he could not go into the lab. CM pushed my 60-year-old SM out of way. He told her to shut up and, well, my LM was understandably very angry at that point.
LM: ‘You need to leave or we will be calling the cops.’
CM: ‘Oh, so you’re one of those that call the cops! Come out here so I can kick your butt!!’
Now, my LM is not a small man. He used to bounce at clubs for God’s sake, is much taller than the man, and has at least 100 pounds over the CM. ‘
LM: ‘You want to fight me in the store? Get out. We’re calling the cops.’
CM: ‘I WILL TAKE YOU OUT TO THE PARKING LOT AND GO VIETNAM ON YOUR BUTT!’
LM: ‘I’m not going to fight you. Get out of the store now!’
CM finally left, spewing curses and threats out the door with his wife following him. My SM later told us that she told him his insurance would pay for a new frame! She sent emails out to her boss, who told us if he came back to call the cops.
“I Knew She Was Trouble When She Walked In”
“I work at a liquidation store for groceries. Think of it like Big Lots or Ollie’s for mostly food only. We’re also set up in a fairly poor part of town, so we get a fair amount of characters. I don’t want to start a argument about the current state of socioeconomics of America, but, suffice it to say, a lot of our customers have somewhat of an entitled attitude, as though they expect things to be handed out to them.
This specific story occurred about three months ago. A lady and her elderly mother came in to shop. This lady will be called ‘Entitled Hag’… or ‘EH’ for short. EH approached me as I was making my way to the office to change a price in the system. She was nice enough at first.
EH: ‘Excuse me, sir?’
ME: ‘Yes ma’am?’
EH: ‘I saw you had some wheelchairs up front.’
For context, we usually have two or three wheelchairs up front until they get stolen. They usually get replaced via customers bringing in older ones as our company budgets pretty tightly and won’t buy any.
ME: ‘We do. If you need to use one, feel free. Just please return it to the store if you take it out to the parking lot. Let me know if I can help you with anything else.’
I started up the steps to the office.
EH: ‘Don’t walk away from me.’
For some reason, I say that to any customer that says this to me regardless of if I heard them. It just seems polite for some reason.
EH: ‘I wasn’t done. Where are your electric scooters?’
ME: ‘We don’t have any.’
EH: ‘You had one last week.’
ME: ‘Somebody had ridden that from [another store] and left it here. They came over to get it back.’
EH: ‘You need to have them. I won’t push my mother around. You have to provide electric scooters. It’s the law.’
ME: ‘I’m sorry, but we don’t provide those.’
She turned around to talk to her mother, and I hightailed it into the office. While I WAS up there changing the price, I looked up the ADA laws regarding wheelchairs and scooters for kicks. Turns out, you’re not required to provide scooters, or even wheelchairs. You just have to provide handicapped access to your building. I ran into the MOD (Manager on Duty) and had a giant grin on my face. For more context, this MOD is a gruff, old, former trucker. She (yes, she) doesn’t give a crap about anything. She asked me what the heck I was so happy about. I just said nothing and continued on my way.
About 20 minutes later, I heard some yelling coming from the registers. It’s a smallish store. You can hear people that are yelling from across the store fairly easily. As I was the only male in the store, I headed to the front in case there was an issue that might evolve to physical violence. This, sadly, isn’t an overly rare issue. Anyway, I witnessed this conversation:
EH: ‘I had to push my mother all the way around the store.’
EH: ‘What do you mean “So?!?!” I wanted her to use an electric scooter.’
MOD: ‘And your point?’
EH: [getting angrier, with specks of spit starting to fly]: YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE THEM!
MOD: [cool as a cucumber because, as I said, she doesn’t give a crap] No, we don’t.
EH: ‘LOOK UP THE LAWS! YOU HAVE TO!’
At that point, I said, ‘Excuse us for a second’ and pulled my MOD to the side to inform her of what the law actually said.
MOD: ‘We don’t have to provide you even with a wheelchair.’
EH: ‘YES YOU DO! I’M GOING TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE POLICE!’ (As if that would even go anywhere.)
MOD: ‘Why? We don’t have to provide you with a wheelchair, and if anyone’s going to call the police, it’ll be me because you’re being extremely disorderly. Would you like me to do that, or are you going to get your butt out of here?’
MOD: [in her most sarcastic, cheery voice] ‘Have a nice night!’
EB: ‘I’M NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN!’
ME: [silently, to myself] ‘Bye Felicia!’
That MOD and I didn’t get along for the first six months I worked with her, until we realized that we’re actually a lot alike after this incident, and now we’re pretty good friends.”
“You Enjoy Ruining Kids’ Days?”
“I started working at the local amusement park when I was 16. It’s one of the country’s bigger regional parks – a seasonal, corporate themed place. That first year I worked on one of our bigger roller coasters where the heigh limit was 48” in order to ride. Given that it was a Saturday in the summer, we were pretty busy. By 4 pm, our line to ride as already at a one hour and 15 minute wait. We rotated positions every hour between checking bars, ‘driving’ the ride, and ‘greeting.’
I had just been sent down to greet, which is where you stand at the front of the line and tell guests how long the wait is, that they can’t bring their drinks in line, and, most importantly, check the height of any kids who may not be tall enough. We had a metal scale the kid would stand on. You’d make sure they were standing straight up and then slowly move a bar across the top to make sure it touches their head. If the bar can freely swing across and over their head, they don’t get to ride.
Height checks are important, not just for safety, but if you miss a kid and they wait an hour in line under the hot sun with their already stressed and annoyed parents only to be told as they’re about to get on the ride, you get a nasty scene on your hands. Some parents are totally cool about it all and actually encourage their kids to get measured, but most parents are total imbeciles about it. I’ve had all kinds of responses to denying kids from: ‘I fought for your freedom, what do you mean my kid can’t ride?’ to ‘He’s tall enough to watch the Nascar race!’ But this one was my favorite of all time:
So it was about 4 o’ clock. I went down to greeter to relieve the girl who was there. Everything was going OK until this little girl came by with Mom and Dad.
I politely said, ‘Excuse me guys, do you mind if I check her height before you enter the line?’
DAD: ‘She’s ridden it before. She’ll be fine.’
ME: ‘I’m sorry, sir, I still have to check her and if she’s tall enough, I’ll give her a wristband so that you guys don’t have to deal with this again.’
Dad seemed annoyed, but had his daughter stand up nice and tall on the scale. I measured. She was nowhere close. I told her to put her feet together and stand up as straight as she could (pretending to make an effort and act like you gave two craps usually helped), but she was still a good 1.5 inches too short.
I let the parents know she wouldn’t be tall enough to ride. Girl started crying, Dad was mad but quiet, and Mom started trying to explain to the daughter why she can’t ride. The family walks off to the side, about 10 feet from me. Dad had sunglasses on, but was just staring at me, clearly angry. Mom was holding her daughter, trying to make her stop crying while trying to convince Dad to move along. Dad stood there staring for a good 10 minutes. By then, I felt uneasy.
So, I walked over to him and said,’I’m really sorry guys, but rules are rules. Tell you what, is there another ride you know she’s tall enough for? I can get you a pass to skip that ride’s line.’
Dad just kept staring.
ME: ‘Is there anything I can do?’
DAD: …. [staring]
By then, I was kind of annoyed and maybe a little too arrogant for a 16-year-old with a first job so I said, ‘Well, if you’re gonna stare at me…’
Then, all of the sudden Dad woke up and started going nuts.
DAD: ‘Staring at you!? I’m not freaking staring at you! Why would I stare at some fat jerk who makes kids cry? You enjoy ruining kids days, fatty?’
I cut him off with, ‘Leave or I call security.’
DAD: ‘You’re gonna hide behind security, fatty?’
ME: ‘Grow up, get lost, or I’m calling secur-‘
Before I could finish my sentence, the next thing I know, he stepped toward me and swung with his right fist. What kept him from hitting me was his wife jumping in between us, daughter in her arms, as she screamed at him and grabbed his arm. I was stunned. Who the heck tries to assault some 16-year-old kid?
I ran back to the booth, called security, and ran back to find the dad. He had taken off running while his wife and kid tried to catch up behind them. Security came, I told them what happened, they said they’d keep an eye out.
Three hours later, I was coming back from break when I saw him in our ride station, sunglasses on and staring at me again. This time, his kid had a wristband (whoever gave it to her wasn’t doing their job). Wife was nowhere in sight. I called security, who arrived with two actual police officers. As he and daughter were about to get on the ride, the cops motioned for him to get out of line and come with them. They exchanged words at the back of the station and escorted him away as he carried his, once again, crying daughter. The whole time, he kept staring at me. I waved goodbye and smiled.
He and his family were ejected from the park. I ended up working there for seven more seasons and, despite stories like this, it was one of the best jobs I ever had.”
“Spit Was Flying From His Mouth As He Yelled”
“I work for a company that owns several parking ramps throughout the downtown area of my city. My job is sort of an operations supervisor. I supervise the booth attendants who are on the front line selling the parking tickets to customers as they enter the ramps. I dispense and track all of the money coming in and out. I coordinate with security and dispatchers to ensure things are running smoothly, and I fix any and all machinery that breaks down.
One night, there was an event that brought in 15,000-plus people. In addition, there were several smaller events, plus your typical Saturday night bar crowd types. Nearly every ramp we have was completely full. That night was probably in the top five busiest nights in all of my time working there. Despite that, the night went relatively smoothly until the end. Most people were orderly and not causing massive traffic backups, there were only minor issues with the machinery, and even the least competent of my employees were keeping their heads together and doing their jobs well.
Then, the big event let out. Fifteen thousand people were trying to leave the parking ramps all at the same time. Inevitably, there are backups in the ramps, and it can take a long time for people to get out. In this case, it was about an hour, which is actually pretty extraordinary for an event of this type. To put that in perspective, there was an event about half the size the previous night and it took over two hours for everyone to get out of the ramps. Security and booth attendants were stationed at all of the ramps to help customers exit.
It may seem like exiting a parking ramp should not be a complicated thing, but thousands of inebriated people who are all pumped up from the event that they just left made it very complicated. Most people are very excited about the event they just attended and they are happy and joyful and funny (and quite wasted). Some people are very, very ticked off about how long they had to wait in the ramp to exit. Most of the ticked off people just make some snide comments about how poorly we are running things, and I just smile at them and tell them to drive safely. A few people take things to the extreme.
The ramp I was in has two exits on opposite sides. I had a security officer at the top end directing traffic to each exit. I was assisting at one exit and a booth attendant was assisting at the other. There was one gentleman in particular who drove me to write this. I have dealt with all sorts of unreasonably angry people during my time at this job, but never have I experienced anyone like this before.
Near the end of the line was this person who was reaching the security officer who was directing traffic. He was so wasted and angry about waiting that he was visibly shaking. Even from my spot 20 yards away, I could see how worked up he was. He stopped his car, got out (he was then blocking everyone behind him from exiting), walked up to my security officer, and began screaming in his face. He was losing his mind so thoroughly that spit was flying from his mouth as he yelled. I saw my security officer about to lose his patience with the guy, so I rushed up to try and diffuse the situation.
When I got to them, I asked what the problem was. The guy yelled, ‘I’ll tell you what the freaking problem is, you freaking idiot!’ and clocked me right in the face. He seriously just punched me across the mouth. Before that day, I had never been punched in the face, and I have to tell you that it really, really hurts.
I fell to the ground, dazed, and the security officer jumped on the guy’s back to keep him from further attacking me, all while calling for other security to back us up and for a dispatcher to call the police. The rest of it is rather fuzzy for me as I’m sort of small, and not exactly used to being punched in the face, but the two of them scuffled for a while until the cops showed up. They arrested the guy and I went off to the hospital. Nothing in my face was broken, just good and bruised up. I was also on some pretty fun painkillers. I told the police that I would, in fact, like to press charges and the man sat in a jail cell that night.”
“It’s Not His Fault, He’s Blind”
“This took place in a British newsagents I worked in almost 10 years ago. I was busy tying up a bale of old magazines with my back to the door when I heard a tapping sound. Tap…… Tap….. Tap. Suddenly, something blunt poked me in the back. I turned around and was face to face with a blind man. Before I could ask him if something was wrong, he began yelling.
BLIND MAN: ‘What the heck is your problem?’
ME: ‘Excuse me?’
BLIND MAN: ‘Don’t play dumb! You freaking saw me come in and you ignored me!’
ME: ‘Sir I…’
Before I could finish, the man raised his arm and threw the hardest punch he could in my general direction. I’m not gonna lie – it wasn’t exactly hard to dodge. He almost sent himself tumbling into a confectionary stand. I called the guy a crazy imbecile and told him to get out. At that point, my supervisor came over and did something that really ticked me off.
SUPERVISOR: ‘Oh sorry, Sir. Sorry, sir! I saw the whole thing and I can only apologize for the actions of our staff member.’
He then guided the man around the shop, picking up every item the guy requested, and eventually accompanied him to the front door. After the man leaves he returns to me.
SUPERVISOR: ‘Are you OK?’
ME: ‘What the heck was that? He was a total prick! Why did you kiss his butt like that?’
SUPERVISOR: ‘It’s not his fault. He’s blind.’
ME: ‘What?!? Just because he’s blind doesn’t mean he can’t be an prick. It just means he’s a blind prick!’
SUPERVISOR: ‘Let’s just agree to disagree’
I was proven right a couple of weeks later. The man returned twice more and was abusive to staff on both occasions earning himself a permanent ban from entering the store. He was also well known to the local police as he was barred from both the nearby railway station and several other shops in the area for similar incidents.”