Retail workers deal with a lot of commotion. From crazy customers to Black Friday shopping, these workers see the worst in people. Occasionally, people can take things too far. In this piece, retail workers share the workplace incident so insane that the police were called. Keep in mind, stories were edited for clarity.
Accusations Were Wrong
“Service desk calls as a manager are the absolute worst calls! A customer was upset because a cashier ‘stole her gift cards.’ She wanted me to take care of it immediately as well as witness me terminate the cashier.
I asked her to wait while I went to look up the information on the security cameras with our loss prevention team. As we were researching the claim, I got an urgent call to come to the service desk. The customer had called the police and was ranting and raving about the thief who stole her merchandise. The cashier was new, and visibly scared and shaken. I assured her that we were checking the cameras and that we would come up with a solution fairly soon.
I got radioed to the LP office because he found out what happened to the gift cards. It turns out that the customer was so busy talking on her phone during checkout (I think that’s so rude) and while exiting the building that she pushed her cart into the cart corral without picking up her one and only bag! Another customer grabbed the cart and brought it inside to use it because he knew it was a busy time of year for us.
I explained what happened and she turned bright red. I simply voided all the gift cards off her receipt and started the sale all over again. She asked why I didn’t do that in the beginning and I told her that we take all complaints of theft very seriously. She was shocked that we started investigating asap!
The cop made her apologize to the service desk attendant, me and the poor cashier she accused of theft. Then he warned her not to ever call them for frivolous claims again unless she wanted to get arrested.
Ahhhh, sweet justice!”
Seeking New Heights
“I was about to leave, the manager on duty asked me to stick around because he spotted a shoplifter. As she passed the registers, we walked up to her and asked her to stop. She immediately grabbed my manger’s arm and bit down. I pulled her off of him, and we walked her upstairs. We sat her down in a chair, and told her we had to fill out a report.
While working on the report, the woman pulled out a box-knife she had found and slit both of her wrists. After about 30 seconds of bleeding, she stood up and held out her bloody hands, still holding the knife and started chasing us. We bolted down the stairs and slammed the door shut behind us. We called 911, and while waiting for an ambulance/police to show up, the woman climbed into the ceiling, which forced us to evacuate the whole store. The fire department found her up in the rafters after about 30 minutes.
The woman ended up surviving the incident, but ended up spending some time in jail. All of that was for a $12 razor. We wouldn’t have even charged her for stealing if she just hadn’t gone all crazy.”
The Crazy Coupon Lady
“So my store had a sale on hand soap. Buy one, get one plus a couple thousand points. Not a bad deal and the points can be saved up for later. Well good sales usually bring the worst types of customers into the store. The coupon crazed, middle-aged women who firmly believe that their expired $0.60 off coupon is worth more than the jobs of whatever poor retail slave gets stuck ringing them up.
Now our website does this cool thing where it tells you what store is closest to you and how much it has of whatever product you’re looking for. It updates it’s numbers every night after the computer runs its closing programs. Unfortunately, we sold all eight cases of that particular soap within the first hour we were open. Apparently, our sale coincided with a coupon for $1 off of 2. Even though our website hadn’t updated, we had couponers coming in all day demanding hand soap, or they would call corporate.
So we’re ten minutes from closing, praying that nobody else comes in looking for that dang soap when a woman walked in. You know the type: yoga pants, motivational saying emblazoned across their chest in rhinestones, one of those binders filled with coupons and the ‘let me speak to your manager’ haircut.
She zoomed back to the soap aisle where she was met with an empty shelf and the signs we put up stating that we were out of stock. She came back up the register, where I had already sent my cashier to start her closing duties, and demanded a manger. I informed her that I was the closing manager and that I would help her if I could.
She shall be CL (Coupon Lady-for obvious reasons)
CL: Excuse me, but your website says you have 96 of this Brand Soap. Your shelf is empty, so I need you to grab the rest from the back for me. I want all 96 of them.
Me: I’m sorry ma’am, but we’ve been out of them since this morning. If you had come in earlier-
CL (interrupted): Earlier? How could I come in early? I had to clip 96 coupons for this soap because YOUR WEBSITE SAID YOU HAD IT!
Me: Please don’t raise your voice at me. We get a new shipment later in the week. The sale will still be running then, if you want to come back–
CL: NO (Bangs coupon binder on counter for emphasis), you will go get me my soap. I know you have some you’re just keeping it for YOURSELF!
Me: I asked you not to raise your voice at me. Ma’am it’s now past closing time, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. If you want you can call the store tomorrow to talk to the Store Manager he might be better able to help you.
CL: You best be getting him on the phone RIGHT NOW. You ain’t a real manager and I AIN’T LEAVING UNTIL I GET SOME HELP. I CUT COUPONS ALL DAY AND YOUR WEBSITE SAID YOU HAD 96! I’m not leaving until I have 96 soaps!
At this point she was slamming her binder into the counter with each word she spoke because that is how reasonable people communicate I guess.
Me: If you won’t leave I’m going to have to call the police. I’ll ask you once more to leave and call back at a time when we can resolve this to your satisfaction.
CL: EFF YOU WITCH I’LL SIT MY BUTT DOWN RIGHT HERE AND I AIN’T GOIN NOWHERE.
She then yanked open her binder and started throwing the previously mentioned soap coupons onto the counter. I called the police, and she was still in the middle of her adult tantrum when an officer came in.
As we went through the standard ‘what seems to be the problem’ more police cars show up. His little radio thing on his hip starts squawking. After he answered it his whole demeanor changed. He asked her to come with him outside to answer some questions about the car she was driving.
She turned and bolted but didn’t get far before he caught her. My cashier and I watched as he led her to the police car outside. Five other police cars were parked in a semi circle around the truck she had driven. Several other officers were asking her male companion to step out of the vehicle.
My cashier and I watched from the window (officers told us not to come outside) as they tried for 20 minutes to get the guy to leave the truck. They had weapons pointed and everything.
I heard from the store manager later that the car she was driving was stolen and the guy she was with was her dealer, and he had the stuff on him. Apparently she was going to pay him in soap? I don’t know how that works. It was a roller coaster of a night.”
The Place Is Surrounded
“I used to work at a phone retail store. It was one of the corporate stores so it was one of the nicer stores in the district. I worked as a store host so my job was to check people in and manage the flow of traffic. There was a little candy bucket at my host stand filled with jolly ranchers.
One day I was working, and we had a mother come into the store with her 3-year-old daughter. The girl immediately ate a bunch of candy and started to run around the store. I was supposed to start cleaning the glass display cases, so I grabbed a paper towel and Windex and started wiping down the displays when I noticed the little girl was following me around.
I noticed that the mother was being helped by a co-worker and the little girl was bored, so I decided to ask her if she wanted to ‘help’ me wipe the displays off. She got very excited and I handed her a little cleaning cloth we used to clean phone screens, and she started going around the store wiping everything off. She was wiping of the counters and seemed content, so I went back to checking people in. I notice the little girl going behind one of the empty register stations and but the register was closed out, and she wasn’t doing anything besides wiping things off, so I figured it was no big deal.
About 30 minutes later I answered the phone.
Me: Hello thank you for calling [the store’s name]. My name is [my name], how can I help you?
Customer: Hello, this is the police, is everything ok there? Can I speak with the manager?
Me: Yeah. Hold on one second.
I rushed to the back and told my manager the police were on the phone, and when I walked back out front I saw that there were 4 police officers entering the front door in full riot gear, weapons out, the whole nine yards. I immediately get pointed at by the officer and my mind flashed to every wrong thing I had done in the past six months.
Officer: Is everyone ok in here? Nobody is hurt?
Me: I think everything is fine…
Officer: The silent alarm got tripped, we’ve got the entire place surrounded, we’ve been watching the store for the past 10 minutes.
The girl had ‘cleaned’ the silent alarm button, like the kind they have in banks signaling that there was a robber. The police had been preparing for a robbery and possible hostage situation and had almost every cop in the county there. To make things better, each time that button gets pressed costs the company I worked for about $5000.”
They Wanted To See The Emails, Not This
“I used to work in a retail store for a major wireless company. This guy walked in and handed me his phone saying he was having problems with his e-mail. We sat down at a table him across from me and I began trying to figure out the problem. I swiped down from the top to the bottom to get to the notification window and accessed the settings. I saw an e-mail notification and went to click on it but accidentally hit something else which displayed a Facebook message chat that had a photo that appeared to be very young looking boys in an explicit context. Since he was seated across from me, the guy didn’t know what I was looking at and just assumed that I was working in his e-mail. I scrolled up through the chat and was absolutely shocked at what I saw. There were several pictures of the same nature as the first throughout this chat between him and some other guy exchanging these disgusting images and commenting on how they liked them.
I had never received any training about what to do at that moment but I knew what I wanted to do. The photos were definitely child x-rated content. I thought about just beating the living out of him right there but the store was busy and there were families with kids there. Then I thought about walking his phone to the back and locking it in the safe and then calling the police why he was there. Ultimately, I chose to collect as much information about this guy as I could and contact the police after he left. I had his phone number and therefore all the info on his account. I took a photo of him without him knowing (luckily I remembered to turn on silent so that the shutter sound wasn’t audible) and I fixed his e-mail issue and sent him along his way. He was arrested and plead guilty to several charges including possession, manufacture, and distribution of x-rated children content.”
Sunglasses Indoors Is Always A Sure Sign
“Working in big box retail has yielded me some amazing stories. Some involve unruly customers, most involve Black Friday, and a few results in some hilarious attempts to steal stuff in the store.
Middle of the week in this store was boring as ever. Most of us kept ourselves entertained on our earpiece radios by playing guessing games and commenting on the mullets that came into the store and even giving a rating by referring to them as ‘Code M’ which would prompt about ten employees to start looking at the department. Our loss prevention officer was a good friend of mine, and at 6’7 with a hilarious sense of humor, the store tended to be more fun when he was watching the cameras up front.
On this day, however, we got our entertainment from a short woman who decided she was going to try to rob us blind.
It was a little cool outside, but nothing overbearing as it was early Spring. This woman came in wearing extremely heavy and somewhat baggy pants, a winter coat, sunglasses (kept them on indoors), and a heavy sweater underneath. It wasn’t a minute before she was in the DVDs and already frantically looking around and just acting sketchy. My friend in loss prevention, we’ll call him Alex, hits me up on the earpiece.
Alex: Hey man, can you wander over by this woman in DVDs and see what she is doing?
Me: Yeah…why? Is she acting strange?
Alex: Oh yeah. She did a triple take at one of the cameras I have locked on to her.
Me: Wow. Why is she bundled up like it’s 20 below outside?
Alex: That’s why I want you to watch her.
I set up camp about three aisles diagonally from her and actually had a good view. Sure enough, this woman grabs a bunch of the cheap DVDs that weren’t in security cases, looks around, and stuffs them down her pants.
Me: You catch that on camera?
Alex: Yep, already calling the police now. Just keep locked onto her.
She wasn’t content there. She made a few stops along the way, stopping at the Xbox 360 section, the Blu-Rays, and the PlayStation 3 games. Hey, at least she wasn’t a fanboy of one system or the other! Thieves apparently don’t discriminate!
She spent the next ten minutes or so walking around to make it seem like she was just browsing. At this point, there are four of us basically watching her from a distance while we wait for the police, who showed up in the form of two cruisers outside. One was set up in the parking lot, the other pulled up alongside the front of the building just away from the entrance. Alex went out to greet him, where the officer was outside stretching and limbering up.
Alex: Why are you stretching, sir?
Officer: I hope she runs. I need a workout!
Meanwhile, back in the store, our little thief had caught on to the fact that she was being watched the entire time and was putting the cheap DVDs back in a different spot than they belonged. Once she did that, even though she still had plenty of other things, she loudly announced to everyone as she made for the exit ‘I PUT EVERYTHING BACK DON’T YOU ALL DARE TOUCH ME, YOU PRICKS!’
Some people just don’t get it, do they?
Of course, the alarm goes off when she hits the exit and bolts right past Alex as he’s coming back into the building. Now, store rules for us meant that once she was outside the store, we couldn’t chase her. However, Officer Workout was ready and, sure as ever, she took off the moment she saw the cruiser. We would find out later that the officer used to play safety for a Division Three college nearby, which wasn’t a shock as he performed a beautiful form-fitting tackle on her in the middle of the parking lot. You know the type I’m talking about: Getting her from behind, lifting her completely off her feet, but making sure that he set her back down on the feet like you would in football warmups when practicing tackling form.
No injuries, no blood, just getting the thief.
The best line of the day, though, came from the officer after he brought her back in for us to show her the security tape and to fill out our official paperwork on her. He heads out of the office and comes over to us, giving us his direct phone number.
Officer: Seriously, guys, just call me next time and not dispatch. I love this stuff.”
Return Not Granted
“A while back I was working at Walmart as a Customer Service Manager. I got a page one day to head over to the customer service desk ASAP. I put down my paperwork and headed that way. My cashier came aside and told me that he wanted to return a bike chain with no receipt, no box, and it was extremely used.
When I got there, I told him we couldn’t return anything without a receipt, and we needed the original packaging. He started yelling ‘this is the same stuff I’ve heard at the other stores I’ve been to today.’ I told him that I was sorry, but we couldn’t help him.
The man disappeared for a bit and came back with a brand-new chain still in the box. He said he wanted to return his chain now. I asked him for his receipt, and he said he didn’t have one. I asked him for his license to do a return without one and go through that process. I got an error that said he was over his limit for returns without a receipt. This just set him off even more and he started flipping out and screaming at me and the cashier. I told him that three was the limit, but he was given four already by another manager.
He pulled out the old chain and threw it on the counter, saying, ‘I don’t want this anymore just gimme money for it.’ I told him that it was time for him to go, and he asked to speak with the manager. I kindly looked up from the monitor and said that I was the manager. He got even more upset now and decided it was a good idea to throw the chain at me. The chain grazed the side of my face and I told him I had called the cops, and he could either stay or go.
The guy bolted out of the door and half of the employees were gathered around doing the after incident ‘OMG, WHAT?, LOL, WHAT?’ The next day, my managers told me I could have handled the situation better and that my hours would be cut.”
“My first job was in a knife store in Los Angeles when I was 15 and I kept with it until I was about 22 when the shop closed. The owner was an old veteran from Chicago. I basically had run of the place provided I didn’t do anything inordinately stupid, or if I did, I cleaned up afterwards.
This particular incident was around the holidays at the end of the year. A regular customer had put in an order for about 2/3rds of the Kit Rae sword collection (cool looking but profoundly useless fantasy swords). She was intending to surprise her husband by putting them up in his den.
She came to pick them up, laughed politely when the boss hit on her, paid, and I helped her get the boxes out to her minivan with a roof rack. I loaded the things in the back and saw she had some twine knotted onto the rack, and so offered to cut it off.
She said ‘Sure, thanks.’
Out came the work knife, a cheap piece we wouldn’t sell because the lock would get stuck frequently. Twine cuts easily enough, and she asked me to wait a minute while she got something out of the car. No problem, but I couldn’t get the knife to close.
I slipped the thing underhand so the flat of the blade was against the bottom of my arm, that way if there was an accident, I would be the only one to get hurt.
She got her purse out and gave me a $5 for helping her. It was a huge order, another $5 was nothing. I thanked her, wished her a happy whatever and off she goes. I’m back to work, content that someone somewhere is slightly more armed.
Cut to the end of the day. I’m doing closing stuff, taking out the trash, when I suddenly go blind. Then come the orders.
Cop 1: ‘Put the bag down! Turn around and put your hands on your head!’
Cop 1: ‘Start backing up slowly!’
And now I’m handcuffed and getting searched. Cool. This was how I wanted today to end. They found my knives, which was fine, I wasn’t trying to hide them.
Cop 2: ‘What are you doing here?’
Me: ‘I work here sir. Right over there at Knife Store.’
Cop 2: ‘Knife store? Is anyone else there?’
Me: ‘No sir, the boss went home already. Can I ask what this is about?’
Cop 2: ‘We got a report that there may have been someone threatening people with a knife. You match the suspect’s description. And you have knives.’
Me: ‘Was this earlier in the afternoon? A woman…(insert description, I can’t remember now. Plain.) outside her car?’
Cop 2: ‘…Yeah.’
Me: ‘Okay, yeah, that was me. I had helped her pack up an order and cut something off her car. She tipped me. Who said I was threatening people?’
Cop 2: ‘It was an anonymous tip. Can anyone confirm your story?’
Me: ‘Well, the boss is gone for the day, you can probably call him. I should still have customer’s number inside by the phone if you want to call her too.’
The second cop seemed to believe me but went to look inside the store while his partner got out of the car.
Cop 1: ‘Hey, he works here! [Customer Cop] just confirmed it.’
I couldn’t immediately remember who the customer was, but he just got himself a discount. Well, a bigger discount. We gave discount to cops anyway.
The cops finished checking out the shop, and we talked for a bit while they took off the handcuffs and apologized for the inconvenience.
Apparently, some passersby saw the woman give me money with my knife out and assumed I was mugging her, called the cops, and they’d been coming by intermittently since. We chuckled. They told me my knives were too big after checking them against their palms, to which I gave them the law and statute explaining why they weren’t. They stopped laughing, gave me a stern warning about being more careful in the future, and left.”
Banned For Life Means Banned For Life
“Our hours on Saturdays are 8:30 am to 4 pm. My daily commute is about an hour in each direction. I haven’t even gotten dressed yet when I get a text from a customer one morning.
Customer: What are your hours today?
Me: 8:30 to 4.
Fast-forward to about 4:30 pm. I am in the pharmacy next door to our (now-closed) market, waiting for a prescription. One of the Amish teens who works at the market calls me to say that a customer is ransacking my shop.
I ran out of the pharmacy and met the Amish vendors at the market’s back door, who said, ‘She got here right after you left, and started hitting and kicking the front door. When Levi went to the door and told her that we were closed and that you had left for home, she told him that you were waiting for her. She kept kicking until a police car drove by [note: the local police station and misdemeanor court is in our shopping center too…because this is the only commercial building in town], then she drove off. But then she came through the back door while we were packing up our van taxis, and now we can hear her breaking things.’
I sent young Eli around to the police station, and went into the building with some of the van taxi drivers (all of whom are ex-felons and genuine pricks who make money under the table by ferrying the Amish and providing informal security to the market).
We found the same customer who had texted me at 6 am. She was opening all my drawers and boxes, letting things fall where they may, and has knocked over a display of fragrance valued at about $200 which had been on my front counter.
Two police officers arrived within a minute, and the customer told them, ‘She was supposed to wait for me. I told her that I was coming.’
I unholster my cell phone, and asked the customer and police officers exactly how I was supposed to deduce ‘I need something urgently, so I demand that you stay open after hours tonight until I get there’ from the single letter ‘K’ as texted to me several hours before the market’s opening.
The irony is that my shop is one of the rare retail outlets for a cosmetics company whose marketing advertisements have always featured women making home deliveries…and I would have been happy to deliver the product that she wanted, if she had simply called me while the shop was open.
She ended up taking a plea deal which involved her paying a small fine, agreeing to pay for repairs to the door and to reimburse me for the broken perfume display, and being banned from the market for life.
Less than two weeks later, she called me to request a home delivery, and contacted corporate when I refused. They upheld my right to refuse service to her.”
Police Getting Called On Police?
“So, a few sheriffs come in from a department to get some gear. Typical day in the store. There were five that I counted. We have a few ladies that work in the store, a couple on the retail floor. This is a heavily male dominated market we carter to, being law enforcement supply and all. Two of these sheriff’s stand out from the group; Deputy Prick and Deputy Gomer.
Deputy Prick approaches one of the ladies, Purple, and talks to her. Purple has become the poop magnet on the floor for some reason. Maybe it’s because she’s a girl or maybe it’s the purple hair that makes her stands out. Deputy Prick reaches his arm around her, holds her by the shoulders and tells her that she has the prettiest smile out of everyone on the floor. Well, she gets creeped out and leaves the floor to talk to one of our VP’s. The VP hears the story, calls the floor manager to his office and after a bit of discussion, walk out to have a talk with Deputy Prick. Not sure what was said, but Purple stayed off the floor till the deputies left. Purple asked if she would be justified in shooting the creep since she concealed carries. HR is looking into changing the employee handbook. We might be ok with shanking.
Deputy Gomer approaches Glasses and starts to get help from her. He said the most messed up thing I have ever heard and I wish I was making this up.
‘I want to paint you red and make you my traffic cone.’
I don’t… What?
Glasses has the ability to ignore crazy stuff said to her. This guy went on to talk about how he likes to practice mouth to mouth and other nonsense. The traffic cone thing sticks out to me. I don’t know if it’s a weird pick up line or racial or what. Can anyone help me with this one?
Last I heard, management is talking with the department’s chief.”