Ah, the world of retail. It can be one of the most stressful jobs, because of one reason: customers. Sometimes, they're reasonable people who understand things happen. Sadly, that's not using the case. Customers usually don't care about the retail workers, and are usually just focused on getting what they want. Which can be both rude and entertaining.
Retail workers on Reddit share their worst encounters with customers. Content has been edited for clarity.
“But I Am A Customer”
“I worked at Walmart, and this customer came in and realized I played video games. So, he started talking to me about this new massively multiplayer online game that was supposed to be a Wizard of Warcraft killer. He blabbed on about it for at least an hour, and if someone has ever talked to you about an massively multiplayer online game you don’t play, you’ll know how utterly uninteresting it is to listen to. I didn’t play massively multiplayer online games so it was especially uninteresting to me. He was getting super in depth with all the classes, questing systems, world, abilities, etc. Just utter gobbledygook to someone that didn’t play massively multiplayer online games. Again, it went on for like an hour–no end in sight.
I was finally at my wit’s end, so I say as politely as I can, ‘Alright, man, well… It’s been fun, but I should probably get back to customers now.’
He balks, and says, ‘But I am a customer.’
My heart sank, because I knew I was stuck. I was like a prisoner in some super nerdy prison. I had to listen to him for another half hour just blather nonsense about this game. At the end, he tried to convince me to play it with him. I was clearly disinterested (at this point I could no longer feign any interest), he got offended, and left. I went on an immediate smoke break.”
“I Tried To Tell Her Not To Worry”
“I worked at a department store. I was in charge of the truck and stocking. Usually, this included making the department I worked look good, refolding clothes, straightening stacks, sizing the clothing racks, etc. I’d just finished the juniors department when I turn around and see so many clothes on the floor. There was a teenager picking up folded shirts to look at them, and then she was just throwing them on the ground.
It was a particularly bad day for me, as all but two of our truck team had called in. I didn’t have time for this nonsense at all. I politely asked her to stop throwing the merchandise on the floor. It’s fine if she wanted to just set the stuff back onto the tables, but seriously stop throwing it on the ground.
This turned into her proceeding to throw piles of folded clothes on the ground. Picking up hanging items and just tossing them. So I asked where her parents were. She refused to answer. So I paged overhead asking for the parent of said teen (I described her clothing and hair) to come to the juniors department, as their daughter had an amazing surprise for them.
It wasn’t long before a lady walked over with a smile on her face, and then it just fell into the most annoyed /disappointed/disgusted look. She looked at me, then her daughter. The girl tried to say I was the one that did this, and was trying to blame her for being bad at my job. Her mom was having NONE of that. Her mom apologized profusely for her daughter’s behavior, and asked me to show her how we folded the clothes. I tried to tell her not to worry about it, I just wanted her kid to stop. She insisted, so I showed her the fold we used on shirts and the ones we used on pants.
I started picking things up, and noticed the mom had gone to work, telling her daughter how to fold everything. Eventually she told me I could go do something else, they weren’t leaving until her daughter fixed everything. I had other things to do, but I came back later and they were finishing up. Daughter was in tears, saying she was humiliated and that this wasn’t her job.
Mom just kind of stood there chuckling and said, ‘It’s your job right now, you make a mess you pick it up. Rules don’t stop at our front door, they apply to anywhere you go.’
Started off as one of the worst experiences but ended on a high note, for me at least.”
“I Saw Red”
“This crazy woman was already a known problem customer in our store. Being one of the managers and a longtime retail veteran, I usually helped her when she came in.
One particular day, she came in wanting to return a clearance item she’d bought 3 MONTHS AGO. I knew she knew our return policy and pointed out the ‘Final Sale’ note on her crumpled receipt (The day she’d bought the item in question had not been a fun encounter to begin with). She started screaming she should be allowed to return it because she has cancer, and I have no idea how hard that was. I nursed my grandfather through Stage 4 lung cancer, so I had some idea but simply gave her calm reassurances. I did stick to the policy though. Side note: she’d been a nightmare long before she became ill, and probably should have been banned already for some of her antics.
After more back and forth, she asks that I let her just exchange it. As she’s giving me a headache, I agree, inform her that the exchanged item WOULD NOT be able to be returned or exchanged and reminded her of how much credit she had. She comes back with another item and slams it onto my counter. Lo and behold, there’s a dollar and change difference between her original item and the new one. She’s furious, shouting that she shouldn’t have to pay it and don’t I know she’s suffering! I firmly insist she coughs up the difference as THAT’S HOW EXCHANGES WORK.
She responded by pulling a fistful of change out of her purse and throwing it at my face. A nickel bounced off of my glasses. I saw red but calmly counted up the change, slid the excess across the counter (which she threw onto the floor) and she stormed out.
There had been a young couple in line behind her who promptly approached the counter and asked if I was okay. The head manager took over the register and sent me to the back to calm down. When I came out, she told me that the crazy woman had caused a ruckus at our sister store a few doors down and was now, finally, banned from both stores.”
“What Did You Say To Me?”
“I was a cashier at Kmart way back in the early ’90s. Through high school, I’d made good money babysitting. So, this was my first job outside of that. I was 18, just starting college. I’d only been working a few months. This woman comes through my line, buying some kind of diabetes supplies. She had a coupon. I was stunned by how expensive this stuff was, even with the coupon–having never had to deal with it.
I made some kind of comment about, ‘Wow, this stuff is pricey even with the coupon.’
She says, ‘What did you say to me?’
I kind of laughed and repeated what I’d said.
She says, ‘That’s not what you said. I heard you. Get a manager up here now.’
I was so confused. I had no idea what she was angry about or what she thought I’d said.
I call my manager up and he asks what the problem is. The woman goes into a rant about how rude I am, and starts listing all these horrible things I’d just said to her. I supposedly called her names. I couldn’t believe a grown adult could stand there just lying through her teeth. I tried to defend myself, but my manager shut me down. He told me to finish the transaction and he told the woman he’d deal with it. He then shut my line down–ushering the people in line to a different cashier.
That woman–it’s been decades and I still see red when I think of her. By this point I was crying (I cry when I’m angry), and she just stood there with this self-satisfied smirk. When she’d left, my manager took me aside and told me to never interrupt the customer and try to defend myself. He said he knew she was lying, but I’m not to contradict the customer. He then told me to go take a break since I was still worked up. I’d barely made it to the break room before he paged me to come back to the floor, because the lines were too long. I wish I’d known how to stick up for myself back then.”
“I’m Coming Close To My Limit”
“Once when I worked in the airport at a kiosk for Brookstone, a man came through for earbuds. He was rude from the start, in a hurry and acting like I was wasting his time for ringing him up for a purchase he wanted to make. So I skip the upsales just to get him away from me.
He comes back ten minutes later with earbuds he broke by ripping them out of the package too roughly. Instead of even pretending to be apologetic about it, he throws the package at me. Literally throws it across the counter at me, and demands a refund. It’s like 6am and it’s too early to deal with arguing with this guy about why I don’t have to return an item he clearly broke, so I ask him for the card he put it on.
Unsurprisingly, he argues with me before having to exert untold amount of energy to just reach into his wallet to give me his stupid card. He tosses it to the counter despite my outstretched hand, and I’m coming close to my limit. What seals it is when I ask for his ID and he loses it at me, arguing that I don’t need it.
I literally could not process a return without customer information and tell him as such, going back and forth with him until he throws that at me. He then mutters under his breath ‘freaking brat.’
I don’t know how this was the straw that broke the camel’s back when having things thrown at me wasn’t, but it was.
I don’t think he expected me to call him on it because when I said ‘Excuse me?’ he looked surprised.
Before he could say anything, I cancelled the return, put his cards and the receipt on top of the box, and slid it back over to him.
I said, with so much satisfaction, ‘Sorry, I can’t process this return for you, but maybe the local store in your arrival city can.’
I was the only employee there at the time and a manager, so arguing with me didn’t help his case much, especially not with a Metro police podium right next to my store. As much as I wanted to lose my mind at him, the satisfaction of forcing him to either eat the cost and throw the busted earbuds out or hold onto them to try to return later and purchase another pair for his flight made up for a lot.
The second is both my favorite story and when I knew I was running out of cares to give. Same company, but at a mall location before I moved to the airport. It’s about 20 minutes past opening time, the mall is mostly dead, and this older woman walks in.
Per company policy, I greet her with the customary ‘Good morning, how are you today?’
She whirls on me immediately, snapping at me ‘I’d be better if people stopped asking me that question.’
I looked her dead in the eye, smiled, and just told her ‘That’s what online shopping is for,’ before walking away.
The outrage on her face before she spun around and stomped out warmed the dying embers of my cold heart the rest of the day. It was better than losing it on her ever could be.”
“It’s My Job To Help Her”
“I worked at Target in the clothing department for about 3 years. One night, I was on the closing shift (6pm-11pm). If you work the closing shift, you spend pretty much the entire shift zoning your assigned area. For me, that meant folding clothes for 5 hours. This particular night I was assigned the women’s area, which is the largest. Around 8pm a woman, probably in her late 40s, approached me. She asked if I could help her find maxi skirts. I happily walked her to where they were. She then asks my opinion on which skirts I liked the best. Again, I happily told her. She grabs every single print we offer in the skirt. Then she asks me to come back to the fitting room with her. I obliged.
When we get back to the fitting room she wants me to stand outside the dressing room as she tries the skirts on.
She comes out after each one and spends about 5 minutes going back and forth on ‘Does this look good?’ ‘Is it the right size?’ ‘I don’t like it.’ ‘Actually I do like it.’
She asked me to fetch different sizes for different prints. She also has an attitude while she’s doing all of this. Telling me that it’s my job to help her. This went on until about 9:30. Finally, I think she’s done. She now has about 20-25 skirts in her dressing room. She leaves them all sprawled out in the room and proceeds to tell me that she doesn’t want any of them. Then she tells me to have a good night and leaves, leaving her mess behind. It took everything in me to smile back and to say have a good night as well.
Also, about 2 years later, my cousin was working at an office and some lady came in there. When my cousin was telling me about the lady, and how she was a pain in the butt who kept going back and forth on things and was being so rude, we discovered it was the same lady I had helped before. So apparently this is the norm for her.”
“That Was The Moment I Lost It”
“I used to work in a perfume and makeup shop. An old ‘Karen’ walked in and spent some time in the store, and then left with a Chanel lipstick she didn’t pay for. The security guy immediately went after her and told her this counted as stealing. If she doesn’t pay for it, he would have to call the police.
Karen came back shouting and saying some awful things to the security guard, making a huge scene. The manager came down, and Karen told her she just wanted to see the color of the lipstick in the daylight, that’s why she walked out (note that it wasn’t a tester, it was a product), and the security guard harassed her.
At this moment the manager actually apologized, and told Karen that the guard made a mistake. And that was the moment I lost it, and I had to walk out before I say something that gets me fired. Managers like this give Karen’s power to do whatever they want.”
“Where’s Your Freaking Badge?”
“Former Blockbuster employee here.
There was a woman who not only absolutely refused to pay her late fees, but she became so enraged she threw her stack of tapes at me, hitting me in the face. She then marched around the store and knocked every cassette, DVD, and coverbox that she could reach off of the shelves while shouting obscenities. My manager got on the phone and called the police. When ‘Angry Lady’ finished trashing the store, she demanded to know which cars out on the parking lot my coworker and I drove. When we refused to say, she spit at us and knocked all of the candy/shelf talkers/etc. off of the counters, and began stomping on them.
I don’t know if it was divine intervention, or luck, or what, but as Angry Lady was spitting and stomping on the candy, another woman walked into the store. This woman just happened to be my next-door neighbor…and a police officer.
Officer Neighbor Lady approached; Angry Lady and identified herself as a police officer.
As she attempted to ask what the problem was, Angry Lady shouted, ‘Where’s your freaking badge, huh?!’, spat at Officer Neighbor Lady, and attempted to flee.
Officer Neighbor Lady grabbed Angry Lady before she could reach the door and a scuffle ensued. In a blink, Officer Neighbor Lady kicked Angry Lady’s legs out from under her and she went down like a sack of bricks. I’ll never forget the SMACK sound her face made when it hit the concrete floor (satisfying!). While she held Angry Lady down, Officer Neighbor Lady asked me to go get her purse, out of which she pulled a pair of handcuffs. As the cuffs locked around her wrists, it was then that Angry Lady finally realized what trouble she was in. She began to sob and wail loudly. She promised to make nice, pay her fee, and begged to be let go. Two uniformed officers arrived and hauled Angry Lady away, screaming and crying like a lunatic.
Turned out Angry Lady was actually the mother of a student at my school (I was in high school at the time). He avoided me for the rest of the year (felt terrible for the guy). We found out later that Angry Lady was not under the influence of anything – she was just a volatile, childish idiot. She was banned from every corporate Blockbuster store.
Oh, and the late fee she owed? $12.”
“You Did That Math Fast”
“I was just out of college, working at a big name home improvement store while applying for jobs in my field. Got a page to go to the Venetian blind cutting area since I was covering that department, and someone needed help. It’s a typical middle aged ‘Karen’ who had grabbed a few blinds off the shelf and had a piece of paper with dimensions on it. I put on my customer service voice and ask how I can help. She needed blinds for 3 windows cut to different dimensions and gives me the blinds and the paper. Of course, none of the blinds are the right length. I go to grab the right ones and she chides me that she picked out the ones she wanted. I point out where the length is written in big numbers on the box, and the ones she had grabbed were too short.
Then I pull out the machine to cut the blinds and get it set up. I ask her if she is inside mounting or outside mounting the blinds
She looks at me odd and then says, ‘They are indoor blinds.’
I hold back a laugh and clarify ‘Are you mounting them inside the window frame or outside the window frame?’
She still seems confused, so I show her the display and point to one mounted inside the frame and one above the frame.
She say ‘Oh, the inside the frame one.’
I then ask her if these measurements were from measuring the frame or the old blinds. She asked why, and I explained it could affect how I cut the blinds. She thinks about it, and says her husband measured the window.
So I set up the machine, line the blinds up and say ‘So the opening is 29 3/8ths wide?’
She confirms, so I set the machine for 28 7/8th. She stops me, gets very huffy and points out I had lined it up wrong.
In my customer service voice I explain ‘You need to leave room for the mounting hardware on an inside mount. It’s 1/4 of an inch on each side, so that’s a half inch off the total blinds. Twenty-eight and 7/8ths is a half inch less that 29 3/8ths.’
She says ‘Oh wow, you did that math fast, you must be one of the ones here that graduated high school,’ in a tone that made it seem like she genuinely thought that it was a compliment.
It made me so me mad, because she just insulted all my coworker friends by implying everyone there was a dropout. Also fractions are basic math and converting 1/16ths becomes second nature if you deal with any measurements at all (in the U.S where we don’t use metric for some awful reason).
I cut the rest of the blinds for her while holding back from saying that most of the people I worked with were college students.”
“An Exercise In Temper Management”
“I worked in a couple record stores when I was young. We had this one guy, who’s last name was a common vegetable. This dude would come in once every couple weeks and go through our import singles and dance sections. He would find a small handful and bring them up to the counter. But, no. Not to buy them, no sir. He would first ask for his ‘Hold Pile’ that was around 30 discs. He’d then sort through them, pick out a few to purchase and then have us put all the remaining back on hold. The whole time he’d be doing this, he would not allow you to leave his side. This process took up to 45 minutes.
I know, the first question you’re thinking is, ‘Why even hold them? Put them back out!’ Well, we tried that. He would come back in, and we’d tell him we put all the hold back out. He’d crab quite a bit, and then go out into the store and find them all. Bring them back up and buy a few, and place the rest on hold. If we refused to put them on hold, he’d go and hide them in the store. If we followed him around to make sure he wouldn’t hide them, he’d browse until we got busy with another customer and then hide them.
We got to the point where we’d nearly ignore him, and we just threw them in a box we left behind the counter. He’d come in, and we’d heavily drop the box on the counter and ask bluntly what he plans to buy today.
Nobody wanted to be the unfortunate soul that got stuck with him. It was an exercise in temper management.”
“You Are An Idiot”
“I used to work at a video rental place (living the dream as a 19 year old), and a customer comes in and asks if we sell movies.
I say yes, so she starts walking along the wall of clearly marked RENTAL movies, pointing at titles they want. I start telling them the ones we have in stock for purchase and the ones I will need to order in.
They eventually comes up to the front and begins to pay, I tell them the total (a lot more than the listed RENTAL price), and they get really confused as it’s a lot more than they were expecting.
I’m in the middle of explaining they are new releases when it hits me: they don’t know this is a rental place. I explain this kindly and carefully and that I have had to order them in.
At this point they drop all pretense of niceness and in front of customers and my shift manager give me a look of pure disdain.
‘You are an idiot’ they say.
‘Yeah, well at least I didn’t walk into a video rental place and try to buy the DVDs,’ I responded.
They roll their eyes and huff out of there.
Wish I could say my clientele only got smarter after that, but that would be a lie.”