"Karen" is everywhere. One might not know her personally but we all know who she is. Karen is universal: the dyed hair, sunglasses, capris, shopping bag in one hand and a clenched fist in the other at the front of the line. The question "Can I speak to the manager?" floats from her mouth like the song of sirens. We all know Karen, we avoid Karen at all costs, and better yet are grateful that we are not her captive audience. For those working in the retail or service industry who have encountered a Karen, our hearts go out to thee. These stories, from the hilarious to the exhausting, recollect on the great public phenomenon that we all know and abhor as, Karen. Enjoy!
"I work in the complaints team for a major UK bank.The number of people who are angry that the money they paid into an overdrawn account. 'I NEED THAT MONEY TO FEED MY FIVE KIDS!'
You spent £60 on online bingo this morning, if you can't manage your money I can't help you.
Worst cases aren't the Karens, it's the ones where someone has messed up so bad I have to beg other departments to break rules to fix it.
One woman closed a bond to get money so she could get to her critically ill daughter who was on the other side of the country. Some dunderhead followed the wrong process and delayed it by a whole week. I spent hours fixing it, did what couldn't/shouldn't be done and got her the money that day so she could see her daughter, possibly for the last time.
Checked the account later after the customer said she never asked for a complaint, I looked to see if there were any clues to how the daughter was, like funeral costs. This lady spent every penny on online gambling.
She lied about a dying child, got me and several others to break process and risk getting in trouble so she could blow her life savings away. Then she tried to get me in trouble for doing it.
Kind of makes it hard to trust people."
"Five minutes before closing, a woman comes in and is sooo angry that we don't have any decaf. She demands to speak to the manager. I tell her that's me because I'm the only one here, and the coffee pots are cleaned for the night because it's five minutes to close. No, I'm sorry, I can't make another pot just for her. There's another place around the corner.
She screams at me, tells me she's going to 'find a real manager and get me fired,' throws half a cup of cappuccino machine sludge at me, and starts to look like she's gonna jump the counter. I'm holding a hammer under the counter thinking, 'don't do it, don't do it.'
I pick up the phone like I'm going to call the cops. She leaves. I lock the door.
She COMES BACK AND RUNS FACE FIRST INTO THE GLASS DOOR. LIKE A BIRD."
"I worked at an REI camping outlet for a while. One incident comes to mind though, involving an ex-Marine who worked at our store fixing bikes. As he was going back to the bike shop on the other side of the store, a customer who was being pretty loud and aggressive decided to grab my coworker by the arm very aggressively and try spin him around to face him. Marine training kicked in and the next thing I know angry customer man is laying in the remains of a display about eight feet away. Of course the customer jumps up screaming and yelling that he's going sue us and get my coworker fired, and we're all going to jail etc. Manager comes out, heard the story, looks at the security footage, and tells the customer he is never allowed to grab employees like that, he's welcome to call the cops if he would like because she's willing to press charges against him for assault, and he was banned from our store.
No one at the store was upset about losing that customer, he was kind of notorious for being a moron and constantly trying to abuse our return policy."
"At one of the restaurants I used to manage, we had this really expensive, huge lobster dish. We coated it in corn starch, quartered it up, and fried it. The effect was really cool and tasty.
One night, the kitchen accidentally left the rubber bands on the claws...sucks, but no biggie, no actual harm.
I was called over to the table, Karen asked about the bands, and I apologized. I offered to make a new one, she declined, I mentioned no harm to her, they are food safe, all is well. Not two or three minutes later do I get called over to her table again, this time she's freaking out.
She tried to eat the rubber bands!
She freaked out on me. Her family told her to calm down, and they just looked at her like she was the biggest idiot in the world."
"One time a Karen tried to return an expensive handbag that had obviously been used. She proceeded to say I was calling her a liar and her anger escalated as she paced back and forth at the till point.
The Karen then proceeded to tell me that she was going to call in some guys to come after me after I finish work. Throughout this I am politely repeating my request that Karen leave but in hindsight I think this must have been rather annoying... as Karen proceeded to grab the bag and launch herself over the till at me in an attempt to hit me with it.
At this point in time, a colleague who was yet to start their shift (therefore appeared as a customer) was on the shop floor and had witnessed it all. They tackled Karen into the wall, knocking down glass shelves which had been displaying around 30 bags. Karen is a crumpled mess on the floor, appears shocked, stumbles upright and runs away."
"I work at a Barnes and Noble cafe. An hour or so before closing, a Karen comes in and I take her order. She isn't a regular, yet she was snooty as I took her order. She tells me in the most condescending way she wants an iced mocha and I make it for her. I finish the order, tell her to have a nice day, and turn to talk to my coworkers at the counter. As we're talking she shouts at us that it's wrong and demands we make another drink.
Whatever, I apologize and make another one.
All the while, she's talking about how young people don't respect anyone, berating us for talking while working, making fun of personal stuff like the movie we were discussing, how we dressed, our accents (this is in Alabama, and she's obviously not a local), and even starts to make borderline racial slurs towards the black barista I was working with.
After about two minutes of this, I'm fed up. I finish the drink, go to hand it to her but as she's taking it she says, 'I bet you stupid disrespectful kids don't even know how to spell mocha, especially him' and points at black barista. I've had enough. I yank the drink back out of her hand, throw it in the trash can like a baseball, rip my apron off, come out from behind the counter, get right in her face, and I really lay into her.
I tell her that racial slurs and verbal abuse aren't something we tolerate, tell her there's a camera above us with sound recording everything, tell her that because she bought a five dollar drink doesn't give her the right to talk to any of us that way. I get even closer and tell her that the store might want her business, but I sure don't, and she can take her refund, and get out.
I don't even go to the register, I take five dollars and some cents of my pocket, throw it at her feet, point at the door, and tell her to get out of. I'm not even a manager but it felt right at the time. The whole time Karen's eyes are as wide as dinner plates. She sheepishly picks the money off the floor, gains her voice, and starts screaming at the top of her lungs. She says that we won't get away with this, she's gonna call corporate and get us fired. Then she'd find out where we lived, burn our houses down, and kill every last one of our pets and family members. I start to walk towards her like I'm going to throw her out myself. She stumbles a little, breaks off what she's saying, and scrambles towards the door. Once in the doorway she throws her shoes, hits a display stand of chips, and books it, nearly hitting two people in the parking lot.
I pick up the shoes, throw them in the trash, clean up, and finish what I was saying about the new Lupin the Third trailer. The other two baristas didn't know what to say and kept warning me about how I'm gonna get fired. Nothing ever came of it, no one ever talked to me about it, and I never heard from her again. I felt bad about it, I'd never been that angry and have never gotten that angry since.
It wasn't even what she said to me that set me off, but how she talked to the two that did literally nothing wrong. I realize now I'm not sorry for it and she really deserved to be thrown out of the store. Most of the time it's not worth it to react that way, but man sometimes you just have to stand up to Karens."
"The worst incident happened at a café I used to work at. We had a woman with Down Syndrome that worked three days a week. She is very sweet and helpful. A man and his wife came in and ordered a smoothie and an iced Americano.
I made his wife's smoothie first and handed it to the coworker with Down Syndrome and told her which woman to give it to. A minute later she came back with the smoothie. I asked her what was wrong with it. The coworker said she didn't know but the woman refused to take it. I took it out to the customer and asked what was wrong with it. She said straight up that she didn't feel comfortable with my coworker taking it out (implying it was because she had special needs). I firmly told her that she was an employee there and was very competent.
I then went to make her husband's drink. I made the iced Americano and called his name and said 'iced coffee' out of habit. He sat and looked at me, so I said 'Sir, your drink is ready.' He came up and said to me 'I ordered an iced Americano, not an iced coffee.'
Kind of exhausted by the two, I told him that it was indeed an iced Americano. He proceeded to explain to me, the trained barista, the difference between a brew coffee and an espresso drink... after I had already clarified previously that we only had espresso. I looked him dead in the eyes and said firmly 'There are two shots of espresso, water, and ice in this cup.' He then replied with 'uh huh' and then had the nerve to ask me if my coworker with special needs had made it. So I told him (not so nicely) that he could take the drink or not, and he could also leave if he would not treat people with respect. My manager only reprimanded me for swearing."
"Worked in a store once where a Karen pointed at the door behind the counter and screamed about how I should go into that room and get her what she wanted. I walked over and opened it to reveal the employee restroom to her. It actually stopped her for about five seconds."
"Is there a male version of Karen? Because I had a client like this once. Fairly wealthy, very entitled, and just a moron to work with.
We were the contractors doing an extensive remodel on his home and one of the light fixtures his designers chose was this expensive, custom order chandelier with a no return policy. We made sure he signed off on the spec sheet with a picture of the fixture and the no return policy highlighted.
When the chandelier was delivered, he insisted he'd never seen it before and definitely hadn't approved it. He kept insisting on this even after we showed him his signature on the order, even suggesting we forged it to cover a mistake on our part. Yeah, because I'm going to go out of my way to make my life more difficult like that."
"Happened before I became a manager, but once while I was serving at Steak 'n Shake, a customer had a coupon for a burger, fries and a shake for x amount of money. Anyway, on the coupon it stated that cheese on the burger was $0.39 up charge, although it did have a picture of a burger with cheese on it. Lady THREW A FIT in the dining room. She said that I was treating her unfairly, it was false advertising. etc. I told her I agree it's false advertising with the picture, but the text specifically states the up charge and unfortunately I can't do anything about it. The lady at the next table over heard everything and literally got up and put $0.50 on the table to cover it and said something to the effect of, 'I'll pay for your darn cheese if you just shut up.' This ticked the cheese lady off even more. My manager obviously sensed the issue and came out. Took the cheese up charge of the bill."
"I work at a truck stop. One of my coworkers doing garbage pickup comes to the desk to tell me someone at on one of the truck pumps is peeing in a bottle. Not in his cab, oh no, this guy has his willy out peeing in a bottle, with RVs with families in them walking around on this hot summer day.
As is procedure when someone is doing something frowned upon at a pump, I get on the PA system for a GENERAL announcement.
'I would like to remind all customers there are restrooms inside the store for your convenience, and that you are on camera on the pumps.'
Just that. No identifying information. Could have been anybody.
Sure enough, about 60 seconds after this big guy comes strolling in, belly hanging out of the bottom of his barely fitting tank top, and is SCREAMING at the top of his lungs at me behind the desk: 'HOW DARE YOU SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT!? YOU EMBARRASSED ME! I HAVE A BLADDER PROBLEM! YOU MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT LIKE THAT AGAIN AND I'LL MESS YOU UP!'
My supervisor is standing right there. Note that he is about a foot shorter than this trucker, looks right up at him and says clear as day, 'No, you're going to remove yourself from the store immediately.'
The blubbering for a solid 10 seconds was priceless, before the guy started flipping us off and yelling that he'd never come back as he left. I never said anything, though I dearly wanted to say that nobody embarrassed him but himself, since nobody would have known who I was talking about if he hadn't screamed it for the whole world."
"I was shopping at a Target getting ready to checkout and I overhear a lady on her phone.
'This is unacceptable. It’s a Saturday afternoon. I got things to do. I don’t have time to wait in line. You guys should really get more people on registers. I need to speak to your manager. All these registers should be open on a Saturday afternoon.'
I’m not sure what the person on the other end of the phone said, but the lady responded, 'I’m not in line. They’re too long. I don’t have time to wait.'
At this point I realized, she’s talking to someone IN the store. She was too big of a coward to talk to someone face-to-face about it and instead called the store, clicked through an automated response system, and waited for someone to pick up the phone. To make this even more absurd, SHE WASN’T EVEN STANDING IN LINE. This whole time she spent complaining, she could have easily been in line like everyone else moving on with their day.
I started scanning the store to see if I could find the employee she was talking to. And sure enough I found the employee hand the phone to the manager. The manager was helping customers at the self-checkout line while on the phone. The manager was moving around and they ended up being less than 10 feet away from each other, but neither noticed the other. At this point, I could hear both ends of the conversation. Nothing special, but I did appreciate they didn’t give into this lady’s laziness."
"Bestest of the best interactions I ever had.
'Karen' griped about not wanting to pay the price for the services performed on her computer, which was exactly the price quoted when she dropped it off and which she had signed for. She demanded to speak to the service manager. I called him from the back.
Service manager listened to her spiel as to how she should get a lower price because [irrelevant, pea-brained reason]. Service manager made eye contact with me over her shoulder. I did not react. He said 'No, price quoted was the price that would be charged.'
She said that was unacceptable, and she would be complaining to the owner, who was a good friend.
Service manager observed that she was evidently not that good a friend of mine, since I am the owner.
Her face was glorious, and made the whole thing worthwhile!"
"I'm not in retail anymore, but I was managing a popular mid range handbag store. Think 'typical Karen bag,' about $200-400. Anyway, most customers were fantastic. This one woman was this Shrek-looking, large redheaded lady who stomped in and demanded that we repair her 20 year old bag for FREE... and if we couldn't do that, she demanded that we exchange this old ratty smelly 20 year-old bag for a brand new one for her.
Unfortunately, we could only repair bags that were under the one year warranty...not 20. I tell her as such. I was pretty young for my position, and the customer, dissatisfied with my answer, asked to speak to a manager. I told her that I'm the manager and she began turning as red as her hair. She screamed and yelled about how she'll call corporate and never shop here again!! Well, that sounds like a real loss, losing a customer that is too cheap to repair a 20-year old bag and hasn't bought new from us in just as long.
I give her my best customer service grin and say, 'I'm so sorry, thats just the policy.' She demands corporate's number. I give her the customer service line that you can find on Google, unbeknownst to her. She huffs away, forgetting her keys on the counter. She's halfway out and she remembers, turns around, red as a beet, huffs in my smiling face and snatches the keys off the counter. It was hilarious. She came back months later, worked with a different person on the team, and didn't even look my way."
"I love the ones who seem to think extra food is free. You're not going to go to a different location and get special treatment and/or free food.
I had a couple come in got a taco salad. They asked for extra meat and queso. I told them they would be charged for each scoop. She flipped out, she started cussing at me about how it’s wrong, and why must we be so expensive while the other location does not do this. I gave her a big smile and let her know I am the general manager of that other store as well. So no, you do not get that treatment there. Sorry, extra food is not free. She then screamed for our corporate number and the store owner. I told her I couldn’t give out people’s private numbers and told her to leave and she is now banned from both stores. She did put in a compliant and guess who sees them and makes return calls? Me! She hung up on me when I called."
"I was working at a public pool in my town, and the rules are that you can't bring outside food or drinks into the pool. This rule didn't please Karen, who was very eager to let me know that she had just spent $12 on this coffee from STARBUCKS. She argues with me by saying that the public pool in the next town over allows it. I keep saying the same rehearsed response, that its our policy that outside food and drinks can't come in the pool. Anyways she dumped the coffee onto our computer and I called the police."
"I used to work Geek Squad when a lady came in to pickup her laptop. She explained that it was all of her information, but that the laptop itself wasn't hers:
'It's like they took all my stuff and put it into a different laptop.'
Spoke with her daughter, turns out she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. That was my first experience with the disease and man did it hit hard. And she wasn't even a relative."