"The customer is always right" is a generation-old phrase that businesses have followed to ensure that their customers feel taken care of and respected. However, over the years, people have learned to take advantage of this phrase in order to get additional benefits and have an excuse to treat workers like dirt. Fortunately, sometimes this blows up right in their entitled faces. Here are a few instances where workers share when one of their customers thought they were in the right, but ended up being very, very wrong.
"Back in the day, I used to work for Musicland (before they all became Sam Goody). There was this one kid who would come through the store spitting sunflower seeds on the carpet as he browsed around the sections. Since the seed shells are pointed, they would get caught in the carpet and I would have to get down on the floor and pick up by hand the soggy, hooked ones that the vacuum couldn't get (around 50%). The pattern of leavings was always the same: a small pile in New Releases, a trail leading back to Clearance, then a trail leading to a large pile in Rap & Hip Hop -- thus, convincing me that it was always the same kid spitting his saliva-soaked garbage on my floor.
One day I'm at the cashwrap ringing some lady out and my white whale sidles up to the rap section and begins to spit a heroic amount of empty, sodden seed shells onto the floor with a thpthpthp sound. He has so much to let go, he has to lean over to the side so they don't cover the front of him on the way down. I stop what I'm doing, turn to the kid in shock and say, 'Don't spit on my floor, you little demon!'
The woman at the wrap is his mother. Yikes.
She starts getting indignant with me, swearing and shouting and demanding an apology for calling her delicate son bad words (meanwhile, the naïf is studying a CD whose cover depicts a little person with a wound to the eye). I respond by asking whether he spits on the floors at home. That doesn't soothe her and she starts demanding to see the manager. I call up the manager (who was the best man at my wedding), and explain the matter to him. She says, 'Well, are you going to make him apologize?'
To which he replies, 'Do you apologize when he spits on the floors at home?' She grabbed her son and stormed out.
Two weeks later, I busted him in the back of the store stuffing CDs into his oversized pants (but sans sunflower seeds). His mother refused to come get him when the cops called her. Good times."
"A guy orders 'Hot and Spicy Onion Rings' with a subheading of 'Onion rings coated in a hot chili batter.' These were one of the favorites at the restaurant I used to manage, same recipe was used for as long as I remember the place existing.
I notice one of his toddlers gasping for air, so instinctively I run over with a glass of water, hand it to him and check on the kid. I ask him what's up and the boy says, 'Burns! Hot!' The young lad's about 3 or 4...
I clear up any debris on the table from the ordeal and walk back to the bar to check on staff, closely followed by his father.
The father claims he's going to seek legal action because I served the onion rings to the table and didn't make him aware that they had chili in. He stated that every other time he'd been to the restaurant, they never served them with chili, including the last time he visited, which he said was 1 month ago. It was my responsibility to make sure he knew they were hot, apparently.
Forget that -- I pointed out that the item on the menu contained the word hot, spicy and chilli more than once and that it was his responsibility to ensure the food that HE fed to his kids was suitable, not mine.
He blushed after seeing the menu information and blushed even more when I showed him the printed on date on the back of the menu. Nearly a year prior to the incident.
Needless to say, I enjoyed every second of knowing I, the manager, was 100% right."
"I work at Trader Joe's. This one lady came through my line one day. I say hi, she mutters a hello. 'How are you doing today?'
'Any plans for the weekend?'
'Why are you asking? You don't even care. This is absurd. Every time I come in this store, YOU GUYS ALWAYS ASK HOW I AM. YOU DON'T CARE. YOU'RE JUST DOING IT BECAUSE YOUR MANAGERS TELL YOU TO!'
At this point, I'm like, awww no this lady is insane. I look across my register to one of my managers, who's facing me. I kind of eye him a 'dude, help me out' kind of look. He shrugs, smiles, and goes back to helping his customer.
At this point, I'm dumbfounded by this woman who is still chewing me out. I look around, at other customers, who are wide-eyed and can't believe this lady is for real. I'm halfway smiling/laughing because I can't believe this person is so offended that I was making conversation with her.
I snap back into it after a few seconds, to hear her close with, 'blah blah blah, you guys are so fake.' I tell her 'okay,' look down, and continue scanning/bagging her stuff. No apology, because I wasn't sorry. Super awkward silence for a good 10 seconds. Then I hear a customer in the line behind her say, 'Well I'm having a great day, Evan! Thanks for asking,' and gives me a big smile. The lady next to her then said, 'Me too! Thanks for being so nice here.'
The woman's face at this point was PRICELESS. You could tell she wanted to burst with the rage of one thousands suns, but nay, she held it in. She was absolutely livid that other strangers were ganging up on her. I finish bagging her stuff, push her cart to her, and ignore her.
She then goes to the pit (for those of that shop TJ's, it's that boxed off area where the managers sit around and drink Starbucks) and she makes a complaint about me, and the store in general. I talk to the assistant manager (who she talked to) afterwards, he can hardly believed that just happened, gave me a high five, and told me to pray for her.
To this day, she comes in every Saturday. IF YOU HATE THE STORE SO MUCH, WHY DO YOU COME EVERY SINGLE WEEK?
That day I learned there are some really awful people in this world - very sad individuals. I also learned that, although not common, there are some totally amazing strangers to be found. Thank you ladies who stuck up for me!"
"I was at Fry's electronics in the return line because of some bad RAM (never buy RAM from fry's) and the lady in 2 positions in front of me got called up next.
She seemed normal at first; she was trying to return this vacuum cleaner because it wasn't sucking anymore... the thing looked like it had been used outside to clean a construction site. There was caked on white patches of dirt all over it, the cord had several knots in it, and the clear container for dust was packed full, no room for shaking at all. The person told her the problem looked to be that she just needed to empty it and it would work fine, and also mentioned that they could not take a return on it because the purchase was 7 months earlier.
She wasn't having this. She took an exaggerated deep breath and started yelling obscenities and curses. Everyone in the line and working the section as well as a few people walking into the store froze and stared at the spectacle.
This was no small woman either, this woman was about 5'6"-5'7" and looked like a rather large globe of cellulite. I'm guessing 400-500lbs Her voice had gone from sweet to rabid shrieking harpy instantaneously, no building no rising in volume, just straight screeching noise. It's like someone threw a mic in front of its own speaker with the volume on 11.
Her face made a similar transformation from white to red. The poor little girl who was tending to her literally took a step back in recoil and fell into the chair behind her. Then started looking side to side for further routes of escape.
The manager came sprinting out of the office hands in front of him pumping palm open towards her asking her to settle down. This did not work, it made Butterball the orca more angry and she started hitting the counter with one of the vacuum cleaners brush attachments. She was calling the girl a 'useless idiot,' the manager a 'dang toad' and kept threatening to sue them. This went on for about 2 minutes with nothing managing to calm her down.
There was a large crowd gathering now.
She proclaimed, 'FINE! IF YOU DON'T WANNA GIVE ME MY GOD DANG MONEY...' raised the long brush attachment up as if she were gonna strike the girl 'I'M GONNA..'
I'd had it, I wasn't about to watch this woman get violent. I yelled, 'HEY!'
She stopped mid sentence jerked her head at me and shot eye daggers in my face, all I could do was stare at the gobbler on her chin follow her jerky head movement and keep swinging around as if it were jello.
The words that came out were not the ones I'd intended: 'PUT THE FORK DOWN!' Her eyes went wider than they already were, eyes bulged, which seemed an odd reaction to what I thought I'd said in my mind. The whole area burst into laughter, then I realized what I'd said.
I was about to correct myself, but she started stomping towards me vacuum rod attachment high over head. So I decided to roll with it. I happened to be wearing a red jacket so I dropped my bag, swung it off and started acting like a Bull fighting matador. The woman saw me mocking her and just shrieked... she started literally galloping at me at me swinging the thing in circles above her head. She never even made it close, I was running like crazy. I got about 20 feet away when security confronted her with tasers drawn.
They didn't tase her, but the sound of one calling the cops on her for attempted assault calmed her down instantly. She immediately went into defensive mode. She ended up getting arrested and I had my hand shook by 4 or 5 people including the manager, I even got a girl's number out of the ordeal. The cow stepped on my RAM and crushed it, though, but the manager understood and took the return anyway."
"I was once at Subway eating my sandwich in peace when this woman comes in with her teenage kid and starts screaming at the girl behind the counter for messing up her sandwich. The young employee just stood there, silently tolerating her abuse. Having been in her shoes, I found my opportunity to say what I always wanted to say to a customer like that. They couldn't fire me, I'm another customer.
'Hey, lady ... they make it right in front of you, why didn't you correct her while she was making it? And why are you yelling at a minimum wage employee that can't stand up to you without getting fired? What is wrong with you?'
She turned, shocked. Her pimple faced kid stared at me with a dull, thoughtless look. 'Mind your own darn business!' she barked.
'It became my business when you came in here and ruined my meal by screaming like a harpy. I'll tell you what she can't - go shove it, you ill-mannered heathen.'
I stood up and walked to the door, dumping trash in the bin. As I reached for the door handle, her son pipes up ...
'Yeah, you can leave. Go now.'
I stopped, turned on my heel and took a step toward him. He shuddered a bit, realizing he bit off more than he could chew.
'Son, it's a little late for you to grow a pair.'
I gazed into him with nothing but fearless confidence. He said nothing."
"Woman came into my store and asked if her computer had finished being worked on. We'd barely had the computer for 24 hours and told her it was still being worked on. She immediately flipped out that we told her it would be done that day. Looking at her work order, it said that we would call the next day once the computer had been diagnosed. We were on track to have the computer fixed by the next morning, but she demanded we give her the computer back and refund her for the repair. I oblige and ask if she has her receipt. She gives me a stern, 'No.' So I ask if she has her claim check. To which I get another stern 'No!' So I ask if she has a driver's license. She replies, 'I don't drive!'
At the end of my rope I say, 'Do you have any form of identification on you?'
Her reply, 'Why are you making this so difficult?'
Knowing all heck is about to break loose I as calmly as possible state, 'I can't give you a computer without some kind of ID.' She totally flies off the handle and starts screaming for a manager and tells me to go away. I get our manager and an employee who was working at her time of check-in. He vouches for her, so my manager starts the refund process. Of course she wrote a check for $250, way over the $150 cash return limit. The manager explains that we have to mail her a check. Now the woman is threatening to call the police saying that we're trying to steal from her.
As a total exception, the General Manager comes out and breaks the sale into 3 returns that can each be returned as cash. Obviously this takes a little while to break apart the transactions and get enough cash into the register. So of course she starts yelling at the GM for taking his 'sweet time.' And it gets better. We had several visiting GM's walking through at the time. She grabs another GM from a different store and starts screaming at him. He's a total deer in headlights and has no idea what's going on. Finally my GM snaps and in a half-yelling voice tells her to get out of the store. Obviously she's gravely offended by this, scoffs at my GM, and walks out after silently collecting her computer and cash. Totally unnecessary! The customer is not always right! People need to be reasonable in all aspects of life."
"I work as a camp nurse at a children's day camp in a very wealthy town, from which the kids typically get picked up by moms who drive luxury SUVs in skimpy tennis outfits...or by their nannies. (I've met many a camper who had a full-time nanny and an unemployed trophy wife mom.) Needless to say, these moms have garnered quite the reputation with the camp staff; after several summers, I thought I had 'seen it all' and resigned myself to these moms' entitled antics...until this summer.
Only a few days into the camp season one of the campers brings a note to camp (signed by his mom) stating that he will be picked up early...between 1:15 and 1:30pm. This is really typical at a 6 and 7 year old's day camp, and as usual this camper is dropped off in the office by his counselor at the designated time and waits there for his mom to come in and sign him out. He is free to help us build our office racetrack (out of cardboard boxes that the juice boxes and snacks come in) or to sit and color with markers. When 1:45 rolls around and there's no sign of mom, the camp secretary calls her to check in on her ETA and informs her that her son is waiting in the office and coloring. Mom assures secretary that she'll be right in. 2:15; same deal. Mom claims she's rushing out the door as she speaks.
At 2:35, Mom finally shows up. She takes one look at her son sitting and coloring and blows up. I mean, loses it. Full-grown woman throwing a tantrum. She starts screaming at the camp director that this it is inhumane of us to make him sit and miss out on camp activities when she clearly wrote in her note that he was going to be picked up in a time range which (obviously) indicated that we have no right to do so. She raves and rants about 'what kind of camp you're running' at the camp director (kindest soul I've ever met--genuinely loves running the best camp he possibly can, been doing it for over a decade) who stands quietly; the camper is privy to all of this as he happily continues coloring."
"I'm a cashier at a grocery store. It's about 9 at night when a woman comes through my lane (which is clearly marked as a lane where you are to bag your own groceries) with a huge cartload of items. As I'm checking her out, she notices that no one is bagging for her. I explain that the lane is a 'you bag' lane and still offer to help her bag. She refuses my offer, finishes paying and starts bagging. At the end of the lane, there was a button you can lean on to advance the belt, this woman leans on the button, then starts screaming at me to 'stop doing that.' I try to calmly help her and try tell her what she is doing, but she screams more, saying things like, 'I just spent over a hundred dollars at your store, the least you can do it bag it for me! I spent my money and you're breaking everything! Stop it! Do something! Turn it off! What is your problem?' All as loud as she can, making a scene, people were giving me looks like, 'God, why won't she shut up?'
Eventually, I get her off the button, bag her groceries, give her the nicest fake smile I can muster and watch her leave. According to co-workers, my face turned red and it was assumed I was going to punch the woman straight in the face. I'm quite proud of myself for keeping mostly calm."
"My summer job when I was in college was for the harbormaster of a small but well-known touristy town. The Harbormaster Dept. in this town is a little bit unique because it handles most of the mooring and some dock space rentals as well as public safety.
One night I was working the late shift alone, and just before midnight, I get a call on the radio from the local ferry, informing me of a large unattended boat drifting through the harbor. I run to my patrol boat, race over to the drifting fishing vessel, manage to get it in side-tow without hitting any of the moored boats around it. The tide was going out, so the current through the harbor was pretty swift at that point; I ended up drifting back past my harbormaster docks before getting the boat back under power. Anyway, I managed to get the boat back to its dock and was met by a waiting police officer. We tie down the boat, and I realize the other boat that this one usually ties up next to is also missing, so I jump back in my patrol boat and race back to my docks to grab a search light.
As soon as my feet hit the dock, I hear, 'We need to talk.'
It's the captain of a 50-60 foot yacht that's rented our dock space. At first I think he's maybe seen the other fishing boat or something, so I stop. Instead, he starts going off on how I'm violating a no-wake zone and he's going to report me to the harbormaster. I'm completely shocked and just say, 'I am the harbormaster.' I meant harbormaster department, not that I was actually THE harbormaster.
He's yelling, 'You're not the Harbormaster, I know the Harbormaster. I'm calling the police, reporting you to the Coast Guard etc etc.'
Now at this point, I'm flooded with adrenalin, having just performed a pretty tricky rescue operation and afraid that another large unmanned heavy wooden fishing boat is currently heading toward the crowded anchorage area at the mouth of the harbor. I cannot believe that this guy is freaking out at me for rocking his boat a little bit when I probably just saved it from being smashed into.
What I should have said at this point is, 'Excuse me, sir, this is an emergency life-or-death situation. I'll return as soon as I can to discuss the matter.'
What I actually said was, 'Drop it,' and headed into my office to get the darn light. The guy's following me, still yelling, I think he may have been trying to place me under citizen's arrest or something. I'm not sure what I said to him after that but he finally realized it was in his best interests to leave me alone at that point.
It turned out the crew of the other fishing boat had taken her out for some reason and failed to tie the other boat up correctly. The guy complained to the Harbormaster the next day but I never got in trouble, just a half-hearted 'try to not tell people to drop it or bleep off.'
Ultimately I got a tiny bit of revenge later that year when I was building a reservation database for the Harbormaster Dept. I coded it so that if the yacht 'The Big Boss' ever tried to make a reservation, it would always show no available space. I know, kind of lame, but it made me feel a little better anyway."
"I'm glad I've always had bosses who were willing to stick up for me.
The worst situation I ever had with a customer was with a regular, who we called 'The Barker.' I worked at a public university library and this guy would come in a few times a week with his laptop, then he'd hook it to one of our patron computers and spread out across the desk, blocking access to another computer in the process. This guy was huge, at least 300 lbs. Whenever he had a question, instead of walking up to the information desk like a normal person, he would shout across the library at us. He was never polite.
On a holiday evening, I was left to close by myself, a generally easy task given that most people do not show up on holidays. However, this guy showed up about 30 minutes before we closed. I begin my closing duties as per normal, which included flashing the lights to alert patrons that we would be closing soon. The Barker apparently was not aware that were closing, because the day receptionist had posted the hours incorrectly on the door, though they were correct on our answering system and online. He got up in my face and proceeded to scream at me for several minutes, saying that I needed to stay there for an extra hour to accommodate him since he was unaware of the holiday hours. I told him I was sorry for the discrepancy but that I wouldn't be doing that and he could speak with the manager over the phone if he had a problem. He then called me a number of things including 'worthless pile of junk.'
I got my manager on the phone and explained what was going on. She proceeded to drive from home, picking up the assistant manager on the way. When she got there, she told the guy off for being such a disgraceful prick to me and let me go home.
We didn't see him much after that.
Best boss ever."