Retail workers deal with a lot of people every day. So naturally, they have some interesting interactions. Every retail worker's nightmare is having to wait on a super rude customer. But it seems that rude customers are unavoidable because every employee has the story of the rudest they've seen.
Here are stories from retail workers about the rudest customer they ever encountered. Content has been edited for clarity.
Straight Up Snob
“I’ve been in the service business for a while, but this was my retail experience. In Sweden, we have sorts of ‘internships’ at school when we are around 15-years-old where we get a taste of working. During this period, I was at a national grocery store chain. This one was located in a smaller town of around 2,000 people. Every Thursday at around noon, the elder home lets the elderly out to do some grocery shopping.
I was stocking the shelves and taking my sweet time since I was new. I saw an older woman going up and down the shelves trying to find something. I was not sure on how to treat customers so I simply asked, ‘Can I help you with anything?’
The older lady just said, ‘No, I don’t talk to servants.’
The fact that she said no wasn’t the issue. What was the issue was the condescending tone and that she called us servants. I was just wondering how she gets through everyday life if service people are servants for her.”
Bad Dog With A Worse Owner
“I work in a pet-related goods store. The only pets we sell are fish and rescue cats.
People are allowed to bring their pets into the store, which usually means dogs, although we occasionally get a rabbit on a leash or something strange like that. In the front of the store, we have a jar of treats which are free. We give them to pretty much every dog that comes in if the owner is ok with it. Some people even swing by for a free treat as they’re walking their dog, which is totally fine, and no sweat off our backs.
This woman comes in with an Airedale and it is insanely badly behaved. I’m not a strict pet owner by any stretch of the imagination, but this is an extreme case. The dog barks the entire time it’s in the store, marks its territory several times (which this woman ignores) and pulls her up and down the aisles. It harasses a couple with a French Bulldog, who have to pick their dog up. The lady laughs and claims that it’s not ‘a real dog.’
She finally makes her way up to the register. Her dog is jumping all over me while I’m trying to do the sale, and when I ignore it, it begins to nip at my hands. There is a line of about three people behind her. I complete the sale, and she stands there and says, ‘You know, he expects a treat.’ I think it’s a really bad idea to reward bad behavior, but I don’t have the time to argue so I grab one out of the jar. She laughs when I try to make the dog sit for the treat. It launches up and attempts to take my arm off for it. Wiping strands of saliva off of my hand, I turn to the next customer.
But, this woman has noticed that I am displeased and hangs around at the register. While I’m in the middle of serving other customers and trying to answer their questions, she interrupts and says, ‘So I take it you’re a cat person, then?’
I have a dog and much prefer them. I respond, ‘No, I’m more of a dog person.’ Unsatisfied, she waits there some more. The other customers are visibly annoyed. Finally, she leaves, grumbling.
Every Saturday after that for about a month, she would come by and peek to see if I was in the shop. If I was not, she would come in for a free treat. If I was there, she loudly stated, ‘Oh no, [dog’s name], the mean man is there, we better not go in today! Sorry!’ If I wasn’t there, she’d complain about me to my coworkers, who all couldn’t stand her.
I liked to walk up to the front of the store when she was inside, just to see her hurriedly leave. To this day, her dog isn’t any better behaved, probably because of her reinforcing its bad behavior.”
Demanding A Discount
“So this happened a few months ago when I worked as a cashier in a large grocery store in a big city. We got all types there, but being a teenager at the time, I never got put on the night shifts, so I apparently missed most of the crazy. I guess the night shift people just forgot that daytime crazy exists.
A lady approached my cash register in the afternoon one day when it was incredibly busy and I was working the express lane. I was new and was still working out the right to say things, so I was slow. She was shifty, looking around like she was paranoid, but didn’t do anything too weird, so I brushed that off and finished ringing her up.
Rewards card? Yes, she’s got that, no problems. She’ll be paying with debit, all right then. Oh, and she has a colleague discount card.
The policy at my store at the time was that if the cashier didn’t recognize the person, meaning they most likely worked at another branch of the store, we had to ask them for ID, which was pretty standard. This was because we’d often have people giving their friends or kids their discount. The colleague had to be present at the time of the discount. I got a lot of flack for that when that policy was set.
I didn’t know her and she wasn’t in the uniform, so I asked for ID. She flipped.
‘DO YOU BELIEVE THAT IN THE YEARS I’VE BEEN COMING HERE, I HAVE NEVER BEEN ASKED FOR ID? WHAT, YOU DON’T TRUST ME? I LIKE TO THINK I’M A TRUSTWORTHY PERSON! SURELY YOU’RE KIDDING?’
At that point, I was scared and tried to say something about the policy.
‘WELL OBVIOUSLY I KNOW THE POLICY, I AM AN EMPLOYEE! GET ME YOUR MANAGER, HE’LL TALK SOME SENSE INTO YOU!’
I called the manager. She immediately entered the discount through and left, leaving me dumbstruck. I was salty about that until I quit.
I was told later by a co-worker that the lady had been an employee, but that she hadn’t worked for the company in years. The managers knew her and would still let her through. She wasn’t even old. She couldn’t have been older than thirty. I pray for her former colleagues.”
A Million Dollars On The Line
“This was a while ago when I worked at the mall location of a certain cell phone provider. It was a normal day when a guy in a suit came in and was demanding we fixed his phone. From this point, he’ll be Suit Guy and I’ll be Me.
Me: ‘Welcome to my store how can I help you?’
Suit Guy: ‘Fix this now!’
Me: ‘Um ok, what’s wrong with it?’
Suit Guy: ‘I can’t hear out of it so my calls won’t work!’
Me: ‘Ok, can you make calls?’
Suit Guy: ‘Of course I can! What are you stupid?’
I sighed and called my coworker over. I said to him, ‘Hey let me call you from this phone and see if I can hear you.’ Proceed to call everything sounds fine.
Me: ‘Looks to be working fine.’
Suit Guy: ‘Well it’s not! Do you really think I would be wasting my time here if it was working fine?’
I sighed again, ‘Ok, well your account shows you have insurance. Yay! Here’s the info, you can file a claim online and you’ll have a replacement phone tomorrow!’
Suit Guy: ‘TOMORROW!! That’s unacceptable. I run my whole business off this thing. I can’t go a full day without it. I’m expecting a very important call and if I miss it, I’m holding you responsible for costing me a million dollars!’
Me: ‘Oh wow, that’s a lot of money.’
Suit Guy: ‘Yeah it is. So fix it or give me a new one.’
Me: ‘Well, you can’t upgrade yet so that’s out the window, but if there are a million dollars at stake here, why not just buy the new phone you want? I mean, I know if it was me, I’d rather spend $750 than lose one million.’
Suit Guy: ‘That’s not the point! Are you going to fix it or give me a new one for free?’
Me: ‘Sorry, we don’t have a technician at any blue store in this area and we can’t use in-store inventory for replacements unless it is within the 14-day grace period.’
He huffed and puffed and called my manager over. I was told to help another customer while my manager tries unsuccessfully to help him. The guy ended up leaving, threatening to cancel his lines due to bad service.”
A Horrible First Day Experience
“I worked at a large grocery store a few years ago and on my very first day, I had some interesting characters, but this guy took the cake for the day.
I was about halfway through my shift when an older man approached my line. He had a 24-pack of brewskies and was clearly over our age suggestion of 40, but this was my first adult beverage sale EVER at my first retail job EVER. I wanted to make sure I did it right. I had my trainer shadowing me and she agreed that I should ask for IDs just to get the hang of asking for it.
‘Hello sir, I need to see some ID for this.’
He responded, ‘Are you kidding me? I never get carded when I come here.’
I said, ‘Well, I’m truly sorry for the inconvenience sir, but this is my first day, and I don’t want to make any mistakes!’
He replied, ‘I don’t have my ID, you stupid girl. Clearly, you aren’t doing your job correctly, because I’m over 40.’
At this point, I had turned beet red. I knew he was over 40, but I still wanted to ID him to get the hang of it, and now I had to refuse the sale. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to sell him the drinks and he lost it. He started shouting, calling me incompetent and swearing, just making a huge fuss. I told him he could leave the drinks with me and continue the transaction, or I could suspend it, and he could leave to get his ID. The old man shouted louder, yelling obscenities and insulting me. Then he picked up his groceries and moved to the line behind mine.
I turned to my trainer and let her know that I saw the guy slide into another lane with the drinks. Seeing as we knew the guy didn’t have his ID, he couldn’t purchase it now, regardless of if he went into another lane. She smiled at me and said she’d handle it. She slid onto my coworker’s lane and ran the register for her.
My trainer said, ‘Hello sir, are you having a good day today?’
He said, ‘Of course not! I can’t believe that dumb bimbo over there wouldn’t sell me this when I’m OBVIOUSLY over 40.’
She said, ‘Well sir, I’m afraid I’m going to need to see some ID as well.’
He shouted, ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME?’
She said, ‘As I understand it, my trainee asked for your ID, and you said you didn’t have it. In order to sell this to you, I need to see valid ID.’
Still shouting he said, ‘THAT IS RIDICULOUS. I’M CLEARLY OVER 40!’
My trainer responded, ‘I can see that sir, but I can also see that you did not have a valid ID when we asked for it.’
He said, ‘THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I’M GOING TO GET YOU ALL FIRED FOR THIS! HOW DARE YOU TREAT ME THIS WAY. I ALWAYS SHOP HERE, AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN ID’D THE ENTIRE TIME.’
He stormed off and headed to customer service, ranting and raving about us and how he was going to get us fired for mistreating him. We didn’t get fired.”
Snow Brings The Crazy Out Of People
“I’d just started my job as a cashier at a grocery store about two weeks ago. I was at a register by myself now and it was going alright.
There was a forecast for heavy snow later that night, so the store was slammed. People were fighting over items in the aisles, over carts, and over places in line. I’m not sure what it is about snow on the weather forecast that makes people lose their minds.
A customer came up to my line and I began scanning through his items. He was complaining about the busy the store was and how long the lines were through the transaction, which was understandable.
After I rung up his purchases, he handed me a coupon for his corned beef. There was a huge discount on it in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.
However, the coupon didn’t start until the next day. I informed him of this and he said, ‘It’s only one day, can’t you give me the sale price anyways? What does it matter to you?’
After telling him I couldn’t use the coupon, he picked up the package, yelled, ‘WELL, THEN I DON’T WANT IT,’ and threw it at me. Hard.
I managed to dodge it so it just brushed my shoulder but it hit the floor with a lovely ‘splat’ sound.
It was so busy that I didn’t want to bother anyone so I just picked it up, voided it, and rang him out, but I really should have told him to leave right then and there.”
She’s Got Quite The Arm
“I worked in the retail store at Killington Ski Resort. We had a strict no-returns policy on ski goggles. This was because often people who left their goggles in their hotel rooms would buy a pair, use them for the day, and then try to return them. We weren’t renting goggles, we were selling them. A customer tried to return a pair of goggles she had used for the day. After I told her about our policy, she started screaming and throwing a fit.
I told her I was sorry, but that I couldn’t budge. Once she heard this, she took the goggles and chucked them at me, all baseball-pitcher like. They hit me square in the face, breaking my nose and causing blood to pour from my nose like a faucet. She ran out and that was that.”
From Bad To Worse
“I was a cashier at Meijer during college. One time, an old man and his 9-year-old grandson came through my line. They checked out. I moved on to the next customer and the old man came back. He yelled, ‘Where did you put my grandson?’ and slammed his fists on the bagging carousel. I was confused, so I just stared. Everyone looked at me. I turned bright red. He found the kid by the claw machine on his way out.
Another time, an old man came through my line. He was nice, but after he checked out, he sat on the ledge against a window and stared at me for 20 minutes as I worked. I was creeped out, but not terrified. It wasn’t until security came and took him away that I realized he was touching himself.
Last one. When produce is marked down, the department is supposed to tape a reduced price barcode over the original so when a cashier is quickly scanning, the old price won’t accidentally read. A lady came through with strawberries that had been marked down five cents, which was dumb, but whatever. I scanned the barcode, but the old one wasn’t covered well and it rang the wrong price. I totaled the lady out and she paid. About five minutes later, she walked up to me while I was assisting another customer and she was irate. She was yelling, screaming, slamming things on the counter, shoving the other customers out of her way, all the while demanding I give her back her money. Unfortunately, at least when I worked there, Meijer didn’t have ‘at-register’ returns. I told her how sorry I was, but she would have to go to customer service. She refused. She wouldn’t move. I tried to call a manager and she yelled and said a manager would take too long and that I had to fix it. I was silent and embarrassed, but she wouldn’t stop screaming. Then the name-calling started. When she finally called me a ‘made-up tramp and you’ve obviously been around the block a few times,’ I put my hand up in her face, reached into my pocket, and shoved a dollar bill into her hand. I turned off my light, ran into the bathroom, and cried like a child.”
Her Disapproval Was Made Clear
“I had someone come up behind me while I was stocking shelves and grab me abruptly by the arm.
It scared me because the only other person I was working with was in the back room. I thought I was about to be carried out of the store over someone’s shoulder and sold into slavery.
It was just some middle-aged woman who proceeded to start making small jabs in the form of questions about the fact that I have a few tattoos on my arms. I lightly jerked my arm back and asked her as politely as I could, to at least ask if she really feels the need to touch me. She also exaggerated her facial expressions to make sure I knew just how much she disapproved of what I had done to myself.”
It Doesn’t Pay To Be Sassy To The Shoe Salesman
“So today I was working our shoe department at our store. I was there for the majority of the day by myself. It was also the day that soccer/baseball/football starts for a majority of the kids in my town.
So naturally, we are slammed with parents coming in at the last minute to get their kid’s cleats and shoes. I handled most the day very smoothly, although a lot of people were in a rush, the majority of them were pleasant and understanding. Except when it came time for me to leave.
I stayed over a little bit to help two customers get shoes. I had just walked into the stockroom and climbed the very top of a ladder too when all the sudden I hear a lady yell into the stockroom: ‘HELLLLLOOOO!! IS ANYBODY EVEN IN HERE?!!’ So I get down and walk to the door and see this middle-aged suburban mom outside.
I said, ‘Yes ma’am. Were you calling for someone?’
The lady passive-aggressively said, ‘Yes I need these shoes in size eight. AND BY THE WAY, there’s nobody out here. You have a LOT of customers out here that need help too!’ She pointed to the exact customers I was already helping.
In the same tone of voice she used, I said, ‘Yes ma’am, I’ll be more than happy to get these for you as soon as I am done getting THOSE CUSTOMERS’ shoes first. I was already helping them.’ She stared in disbelief at the way I responded back.
As I walked back in the stockroom, she opened the door and shouted towards me, ‘And what’s YOUR name again?!’
To be fair, I felt bad after I said that to her. I was going to apologize when I came back out but she was long gone by the time I brought out her shoes.”
A Very High IQ
“This happened to a colleague and thought I would share it. We work in a DIY retail store and he’s one of my bosses. A call came in for some help on a drill he sold to a lady.
Lady: ‘This drill you sold me doesn’t have a chuck key!’ This is a tool used to turn the chuck and clamp the drill bit in place.
Boss: ‘It doesn’t need one, you turn the base of the chuck to loosen and tighten it.’
Lady: ‘Oh, I’ll try that.’ Click
It was bit rude to hang up without thanking but oh well, that’s the end of it. Nope, the call came back.
Lady: ‘I’ve twisted it, but nothing is happening!’
Boss: ‘Are you sure you’re twisting it the right direction?’
Lady: ‘Look, I have a high IQ, that’s why I don’t work in a shop.’
Boss: ‘Wow, OK. I can’t think of any reason why it’s not tightening.’
Lady: ‘Well it isn’t!’
Boss: ‘Have you twisted it all the way around until it stops?’
Lady: ‘Oh, it’s working now.’
Boss: ‘That high IQ of yours wasn’t much help, was it?’ Click.“
Stop With The Comments
“I happen to have bright turquoise hair that I dye other unnatural colors quite frequently. At the time, I was also a cashier at a lovely colorful place that rhymes with Farty Pity.
In this story, I am about 5 or 10 minutes early for work. I had to walk to the back of the store to get to the ‘EMPLOYEES ONLY’ part of the store.
On my way there, an old lady stops me and says, ‘Wow, your hair is very bright! But how would you expect to get a job with that hair?! Such a shame!’ I just kinda smiled and nodded because I am socially anxious and don’t know how to respond to something like that. Well, a few minutes later, I go up to the registers and relieve the cashier for lunch break, and clock in. No sooner do I finish a balloon order does the same old lady come up to the register and puts all of her items on the counter. Then she looks at me and realizes IT’S ME. The 20-year-old who she insulted 5 minutes earlier by calling me unemployable for my hair.
Needless to say, she stood red-faced, saying absolutely nothing to me while I rang her out and handed her bags to her. She practically ran out of the store when she had all her stuff and her receipt…I about died laughing when she left.”