There's an old saying that goes like this, "The customer is always right." While that phrase has become a major part of any training program at thousands of retail stores and restaurants in the past 100 years or so, it' not without exception. Sometimes, the customer is anything but right.
A Reddit thread recently asked people to share their most satisfying "that will shut you up" moments they ever experienced when dealing with an awful customer. Those in the retail and restaurant business will be the first to say that they don't enjoy acting like that or allowing a situation to get to that point, but sometimes enough is enough. Content has been edited for clarity.
"A well dressed, business passenger bought a plane ticket on Continental from Indianapolis to Manchester. There were no direct flights, so he would have to connect in Newark. After arriving in Newark, he strolled over to the Manchester gate and saw a small 50 passenger regional jet parked outside. He thought nothing of it and boarded the airplane. After taking his seat and just prior to the boarding door being closed, the flight attendant made an announcement, 'Welcome aboard flight 1019 service to Manchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE!'
This guy went completely nuts! He started scrambling to get his things and get off the plane, all the while yelling at the flight attendant, gate agent, pilots, and other passengers. He was trying to go to Manchester in the UK (airport code of MAN) and he bought a ticket for MHT. The gate agent was getting verbally abused by the guy at the podium as she tried to rebook him to the proper destination. She took it all in stride and was really trying to help the guy, even though he was being a complete loserand going on and on about how it was a mistake in the computer.
And then she saw how much he paid for the ticket. Her exact words were,'You only paid $300 for your ticket and you really thought that was going to get you to England?' He was quiet after that."
"I used to work for an independent coffee shop. One Christmas Eve, 15 minutes after we closed, a cantankerous old lady started banging on the door. You see, she needed coffee beans even though we had cashed out, and was being a total brat. I decided, 'Tis the season,' and let her in. While I was weighing out the beans, she noticed my sleeve (tattoos) and said, 'How are you going to explain that to your grandchildren?' in the most obnoxious way possible.
My reply: 'Actually, I was just diagnosed with cervical cancer, so I'll never be able to have children.' The look on her face was AMAZING! I didn't get an apology, but the shame I saw was enough to make me happy."
"I worked at a photo printing lab and we got people in all the time who claimed we were stupid and had messed up their pictures.
One woman had us print 800 vacation pictures. They were bad quality, dark, and out of focus. When she came to pick them up, she insisted that we had ruined them, that they were perfect on her camera, and that she had a very expensive camera and so there was no way the pictures could be dark or out of focus. We finally gave her her money back, even though we had done nothing wrong and were out a lot of time and paper.
She called us 30 minutes later and told us she was at a store across town, and they had reprinted all of her pictures and they were beautiful, in focus, and bright.
I had to tell her that the same person who owned our store also owned the store across town and that not only would it have taken that store several hours to reprint 800 pictures, but their printer was down that day, so they couldn't have printed anything. She hung up on me."
"I worked in electronics at Target, and one day, over at guest services, I saw a woman with her teenage daughter heatedly speaking to the guy at the counter. After a few moments, he pointed over at me in electronics, the woman's head whirled around, dragon-like, toward me. The rest of her body realigned with her head and she stomped in my direction.
When she reached the counter, I pleasantly asked, 'How can I help you?'
She slammed a receipt and PS3 controller on the counter, 'I paid $55 dollars for this, and I can only return it for $40!'
I asked, 'May I see your receipt?'
She nodded and I picked it up, 'See $55!'
'Yep, I see that,' I said, 'You bought this last week when the store gave away a $15 gift certificate with the controller.'
'You would shop at Target again, right?' I asked.
'Not if this isn't resolved!' she spat. Her daughter next to her was embarrassed.
'Hypothetically, if there wasn't an issue, I'm guessing you would and you would use that $15 gift card on your future purchase. If we let you return this controller for $55 then you would have a free $15. That is why the return price is $15 less. I can do the return for you over here if you don't want to go back to guest services.'
'I didn't want to return it, I just wanted to know why the return price was so much less,' she said. She picked up her controller and receipt and began to walk off. Her daughter, clearly ashamed of her mother, thanked me and followed her out."
"I was working at a gas station in a very rich part of town. During a nice summer day, a prime example of the loser variety of the human species drove his super-expensive Lamborghini in, and in that haughty, I'm-rich-so-you-must-do-what-I-say voice demanded that it be filled with premium. The attendant started to, but the guy immediately snatched the nozzle from him and screamed, 'You're too stupid to do this on your own!' (We're in Oregon, by the way, where you can't pump your own gas. State fire law).
Well, being that he was a huge loser and an idiot, gas spilled out from the nozzle all over his sparkly loser-mobile. At that point, he flipped out and stormed into the store, where I was working as the cashier and de facto manager. He immediately demanded to speak to the owner, saying that we were going to pay to have his car repainted AND he was not going to be paying for his gas. I tried my best to calm the situation, but he had a good rage going and doesn't want to be calmed down.
While he was spewing forth, I noticed that an officer from the local police department was about to come into the store to get snacks or a drink or some such. This gave me a nice idea: 'Sir, I'm afraid that the gas is in your tank and you pumped it yourself, so you are going to have to pay.'
Cutscene of an explosion. Loser guy then asks, 'So what exactly do you think you can do if I just go and get in my car and leave?'
Thank you, good Lord, for timing. He says this, at full bellow, right as the officer walks through the door. My response? 'Well, personally I can't do much, but the nice West Linn police officer standing behind you will probably arrest you for second-degree theft.'
The loser turned around to see the officer, with a very predatory smile on his face, nodding vigorously. Yeah, he shut up, paid, and we never saw him again."
"I used to be a low-level manager in a call center, it paid the bills.
A customer called us and was perfectly pleasant, giving us his account details, and business got underway. At the end of the call, he asked for one more thing that we couldn't do and was informed of this. He immediately got aggressive with a member of my staff. At that point, her hand shot up in the air (cue me) and she handed over the headset and chair so I could view the details.
I was called various names and then we got down to the grand finale: the threat. I'm paraphrasing but here's how it went.
Him: 'Listen, hun, I can see your company's address on your website, and I'm going to come down there and mess you up.'
Me: 'Good, give my colleague your name and address first, and I'll make sure to hand them over to the police somewhere in the few hours it's going to take you to drive down here. We'll be waiting.'
"I used to work for a grocery store as a cashier in high school. One busy Saturday, an older lady came through my long line with about $150 worth of groceries. Among her items was a prepackaged piece of meat from our deli department that is normally priced by weight. Her meat did not have a printed sticker on the package, and I would've needed to find a bag boy or manager to run to the deli to get it priced. Because we were super busy, I decided to wing it and set it on my scale.
'Looks like it's almost a pound, so...let's say...$2.77? Does that sound fair?' I began to ring it as a miscellaneous item.
'No it does NOT sound fair!' she yelled. 'You need to get that priced!'
I could hear the groans coming from the people behind her in line as I found a bag boy to run and get the price sticker. A manager came by to see what the commotion was about, and the lady explained the situation. I explained why I had made the decision I made. The manager, of course, stuck up for the lady (which we laughed about later) and she accepted the apology. We then waited for what seemed like an eternity of eye-contact avoidance and thumb twiddling.
The bag boy came back and handed me the pork. I smirked and showed her the price. '$2.78. Huh, I would've saved you a penny!' The man behind her chortled. Never saw her again."
"I used to work in Best Buy services. It was sort of like Geek Squad before Geek Squad, and it dealt with everything like TVs and VCRs and random junk. One day, we had a guy come in and complain about his little video camera not working. I agreed to take a look at it even though there was not much I could do but send it back to the manufacturer for him. It will take some time but that was 90% of the problem people had with services. Naturally, this guy wanted a new one on the spot and he started getting REALLY loud about it.
So I called the manager because I can't pee in Best Buy without getting manager approval. While I was waiting for the manager to come up, I was still tinkering with the camera in the back. I got some tools out and, hey, look, I got the thing open for the guy.
A minute or so later, I came back out when the manager got there. The manager was talking to the guy as I moved a computer up to the counter. I jumped in and said, 'Hey, I don't think we should give this guy a new unit.'
The guy gave me dagger eyes and the manager was like, 'Oh? Why's that?' Then I played the footage of what was unmistakably someone running around a pool, dropping the camera, which tumbled into the pool.
He had taken out the tape but it was recorded to the memory stick. The guy took his camera and quietly left the store. It was worth two years of an otherwise pretty annoying job."
"I work at Jimmy John's. At JJ's, if you've never been, it's mostly self-service: you get your napkins, and if you need a bag, you get them yourself. Our sandwiches are wrapped in a way that you generally don't need one, and everything is made 'to go.'
A lady came in one day and ordered like five sandwiches. As always, I redirected her to the end of the bar to pick up her sandwiches and grab whatever napkins and bags she wanted. Now, if someone asks us to bag something FOR them, we will. People generally don't (unless they're really old in which case we'll do it for them regardless) but nobody minds if they do.
This lady never asked once for someone to bag her food. She stood at the bar, quiet, bagging all of her sandwiches up, and then left. About 15 or 20 minutes go by. Her husband called the store and asked to speak to a manager (me). I picked up the phone and the conversation went a little like this:
Me: 'Hello, how can I help you?'
Guy: (shouting) 'Yeah, since when is it y'alls policy for people to bag their own food? My wife just came from there and told me she had to bag everything herself!'
Me: 'I'm sorry sir, but it's technically always been our policy. Everything is self-service here at Jimmy John's. We certainly would have...'
Guy: 'WELL, I'M GOING TO BE SURE TO TELL EVERYONE I KNOW ABOUT THE KIND OF SERVICE YOU GUYS OFFER OVER THERE!'
Me: 'Okay, well, thanks, I guess? I mean, it isn't any sort of secret...'
"During high school, I worked at a Burger King. There was this one woman who would always stop by the drive-thru during the afternoon and ask for a Whopper Junior with extra onions. And I mean, a LOT of extra onions. And no matter how many we put in, she always came into the store and screamed that there weren't enough. Still, this was in the middle of the afternoon, so we didn't care.
However, one day, we had four buses full of US Army enlistees at the store at the same time (convoys of chartered buses would go by periodically, and they usually stopped at our store because the bus drivers knew my boss).
Now, these people were always the nicest, most respectful people you can possibly imagine, which was a welcome change after dealing with tools the whole day. They also always ordered a ton of food (all king size, tons of double and triple whoppers, the whole nine yards). My boss would always have me give them the 'senior discount' (15% off), and they enjoyed that immensely because it said that they were getting a senior discount on their receipts.
As nice as they were, they strained our store to the limit because they ordered so much food. So we were almost going hammer and tongs to keep up, and then the two-faced woman entered the drive-thru. My boss told me to just grab two handfuls of onions and put them on the sandwich because she didn't need a scene when we were as far behind as we were. I could barely close the sandwich because of the onions, but I managed and we gave it to her.
The store was completely full of US Army enlistees. They probably have not had fast food for weeks (I think they were going from boot camp to get their first assignments), and the line was out the door. So two-faced woman pushed her way past all of these people, rudely shoving them out of her way, and came up to the counter screaming that she didn't have enough onions. My boss was livid, so she took the sandwich, handed it to me, and told me to do whatever I wanted.
I dumped the ENTIRE TUB of onions on it (probably about 1.5 LITERS of onions), wrapped it up really, REALLY tight, and taped it shut (note that the wrappers were somewhat elastic). My boss handed it to the two-faced woman, and she opened it right on the counter to 'make sure we have enough' (even though it's like six times bigger than normal).
The thing EXPLODED ALL OVER, which was so awesome. All the troops were trying not to laugh. One of their officers was waiting by the counter for his food, and finally, he just gave up and started laughing his butt off. The troops took this as a cue, and she had about 250 troops all dying laughing at her.
It was one of the best days of my high school life. She didn't come back for a month, and she never EVER complained about not having enough onions."
"I work at Zaxby's and we had a gentleman (prejudiced loser, I should say) walk into the store yelling at me that he wanted his money back (after he had eaten his food) because a Hispanic worker made it. He was under the assumption that all Hispanics were illegal and that his white buddies should have a job before they do. He promptly told us he would be calling our boss.
Low and behold, my store manager was my grandmother, and as she went to deal with him he kept going. Finally, all five feet of my redheaded grandmother lashed out and said, 'If your white friends would show up on time every day and do the work to the level that our Hispanic employees do, then I would be glad to hire them.'
He complained some more and screamed, 'I'm calling your boss!'
Next step up was our district manager, who is also my aunt...she was on the next register. Quickly responding, she said, 'My boss is family too. Guess we are just as inbred here as your family, have a nice day!'"
"I work at a bar, and once a customer came in without his ID. I told him he'd have to leave, and he messed around for about 20 minutes pretending to leave and slinking back in with his friends. I got fed up after a while, and confronted him in front of his friends, telling him that if he didn't leave, his entire party would be kicked out. He finally left, and returned about half an hour later, with his ID. He'd gone all the way home to get it. I checked it, thanked him, and said, 'What can I get for you?'and then he ordered.
I handed him the drink, and he mumbled, 'You didn't have to be such a loser earlier.'
I looked him in the eye and said, 'Pardon?'
He repeated himself, louder, 'You didn't have to be such a LOSER earlier.'
I grabbed the drink out of his hand and held it up in front of his face. I said calmly, but somewhat loudly, 'Look, you can call me a loser, or you can order a drink. BUT YOU CAN'T DO BOTH. What's it gonna be?'
He looked around at everyone staring at him, mumbled that he'd like a drink, and tipped me $5 on that one drink. He never sassed me again."
"I work in a shoe shop. One of the services we supply is to check how well school shoes fit our younger customers. Once a staff member has signed to say they are a good fit, the customer is able to bring them back if there are any problems.
This one time, a mother came back in with her son a week after being fitted with a pair, loudly mouthing off that the shoes were too tight and causing blisters. Even though she was being a psycho beast about it, we offered to get her a new pair.
Once back in the kid's department, she spotted the girl who fitted the original shoes and went crazy on her, demanding that the girl should be there while a better pair was fitted so she wouldn't make the same mistake again.
Despite the mum saying some pretty degrading stuff about her, the girl agreed to sit in on the re-fit in an attempt to help out. She remembered the customer, even to the point of remembering the child's name, and was visibly upset about doing a bad job. Returning to the till, the fitter offered to put the exchange through as a final gesture of goodwill, and then froze, with an awesome grin on her face. 'These aren't your son's shoes,' she said to the customer. 'They have a name tag inside saying Tommy, and your son's name is Billy.' Turns out the kid had swapped his shoes with another boy in his class. We laughed that crazy woman out of the shop."
"I used to work at an amusement park, and I started in food, which was by far the worst of the four details (games, rides, pavilions, food). My stand made funnel cakes and corndogs. The average wait time on a busy day could be upwards of 30 minutes in the sun, which I'll admit sucks, but it's not any cooler in the stand slaving over a 450-degree fryer.
This guy comes up and orders four corndogs. I ring him up and ask him if he wants any ketchup or mustard brushed on. He declines. I take his money and hand over four corndogs. His little girl bites into one, and then tugs on her dad's arm and says she wants mustard. I politely inform him that since she'd already bitten out of her food, we can't brush it on; however, if he'd head 50 steps to an adjacent building, he could skip the line and just grab some condiment packets.
Apparently, this was unacceptable. Up until this point, he was just a normal guy, but now, sudden anger. 'DO YOU KNOW WHO I WORK FOR?! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?'
I tell him no. He then half-chuckles to himself and points out his pregnant wife sitting at a nearby table, and begrudges the time he spent in line. I again reassure him that they will give him some mustard packets if he walks next door. He loses it.
'I'M THE REGIONAL MANAGER FOR COKE IN THIS AREA, I WILL BUY AND SELL YOUR KID...' This self-aggrandizing and demeaning talk toward me lasts a full 60 seconds or so.
Then I tell him, 'We only carry Pepsi products, eat garbage.' He is flush with embarrassment and rage, and anyone within earshot is laughing at him. To spite me (really his little girl), he doesn't go get mustard packets. He will now forever known as Mustard Man."
"I work at Ikea in customer service. On a daily basis, we have customers come in with items that have been used, broken, old, without their receipt, some not even Ikea products, and they are DEMANDING a refund.
But the couple that really takes the cake tried to return a broken and rusty ironing board. It was obviously used and without a receipt, so I'm limited with my options. We can only offer store credit if the item can be returned to stock in its original packaging. Obviously, it wasn't. With a receipt, you have 90 days to return your item in any condition.
After I refused the return, they asked for my manager. My manager offered to look up their receipt, but couldn't find it so we couldn't take it back. They then asked for her manager. Every time they got a 'no' they asked for the manager above.
Eventually, it got to our store manager. He came on down to the belligerent couple who were causing a scene because our customer service was apparently SOOOO poor.
After inspecting the item and removing the iron cover (which none of us did before, the item was so appalling that we really didn't want to touch it), he finds the date stamp. It was from 2002. The couple got real silent because the entire time they said they'd had it for less than three months. Our store manager said in the calmest voice I have ever heard in my life, 'I think it's about time you leave my store.'"