"The customer is always right." If anyone has ever worked retail before, or in the customer service industry in general, they've probably heard this saying before. Even though that saying is thought of as the golden rule for great customer service, there are plenty of times when the the customer was far from right. Don't just take our word for it.
Take it from these customer service professionals who got so feed up with a customer they decided to turn to Reddit to air out their grievances. Content has been edited for clarity.
“I Don’t Want You To Get Hurt But”
“Back when I worked at a hardware store, I had a woman scream and cry at me for using my item scanner on her items because its laser would ‘make [her] sick,’ and/or ‘make [her] sickness worse.’
Her basket was stacked and she was effectively asking me to hold the line up for a half hour to dial in her product codes manually. She also screamed if I made eye contact.
When she left she told me something to the effect of, ‘I don’t want you to get hurt, but if something bad happens to you, it’s because I’m thinking about it.'”
“This Is NBC, Right?”
“I was a page at NBC Studios in Burbank in the early 2000’s, and part of our job was working the gift shop and ticket counter for the Tonight Show.
Two guys come in and say, ‘We’re here for the Lakers game.’
I was like, ‘Uh… I’m sorry, that game isn’t here, it’s over at the Staples Center.’
One of them just gives me a look and says, ‘This is NBC, right?’
I proceed to explain to him that while NBC is airing the Lakers game, we don’t shoot it at the studio. I explained that we take our cameras and crew and shoot it at the Staples Center where the Lakers play.
The one guy turns around and scribbles on a piece of paper and hands it to me. It says, ‘Two Lakers Tickets for [Insert Random Name],’ and he says, ‘What about this, huh!?’
Thankfully my supervisor jumped in and said, ‘Oh, you’ll have to come back Thursday morning, we’ll see you then, okay?’
That seemed to placate them and they left. My supervisor tells me this happened quite often and when you tell them to come back, they rarely do.”
“This Is My First Scheduled Oil Change”
“I used to work at an oil change franchise, and we had some incredibly stupid people pull in. My favorite was ‘The Chick With the Volvo.’
So, it was a slow day. We didn’t have anything going on, and this woman pulls up in a fairly nice Volvo. She pulls up to a bay, we ask her what she wants, and she says an oil change. We get her information, take down the mileage (50,467. I will never forget that number), and pull her car into the bay while my manager talks up the extra services.
She gets over the pit, I pop the hood and open the oil cap.
Black, billowing smoke comes out.
I call down to my pit guy, ask him to pop the oil pan. He starts coughing.
Black, billowing smoke comes up from the pit.
I get my boss, and tell him we’ve got a problem. He comes out, sees the smoke, and says, ‘Don’t touch a FREAKING THING.’
He walks back into the office, and I follow out of curiosity. He looks at the customer and says, ‘Ma’am, there seems to be a very serious issue with your car. You might want to get hold of whoever did your last oil change and get their information for a warranty claim. Who did your last oil change?’
This lady looks him square in the eye and says, ‘Nobody. This is my first scheduled oil change.’
We both stare at her in shock. She’d gone over FIFTY THOUSAND miles without an oil change. My boss stares at her some more while slowly trying to explain that cars are supposed to be serviced every 3k-5k miles. This lady starts screaming at him; ‘Who the heck does he think he is, he’s not a mechanic (he’s ASE certified powertrain and electrical), he ruined the car, it even says so in the owner’s manual that it’s every 50k!’
So, we ask her to get the manual. She does, looking all smug, like, ‘Now I’ve got these imbeciles,’ written all over her face. She whips it open, looks for the maintenance schedule, and finds the part we’re all waiting for. She’s not letting us look at it yet, and we can tell reality hit her, because her face falls a bit. Then, she has the nerve to tell us that we’re wrong anyway.
My boss looks at her and says, ‘Lady, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna pop the cap back on, and leave the FACTORY FILTER on your car. We’re going to top off your washer fluid, and we’re not going to charge you anything. Then, you can go down to the Volvo dealership and tell them what you did to their $55k paperweight. Have a nice day, and get out of my shop.’
The kicker is, we got a call from the dealership a couple of days later, and the service writer is laughing his butt off. Says this really old lady came in and complained that our shop had ruined her car. They took one look at it, figured out what happened, and said they were going to have to charge her for a crate engine. SHE COMPLAINED TO THE SERVICE MANAGER that they weren’t going to cover it under warranty!”
“Satan Was Trying To Communicate With Her Through The TV”
“When I worked in thrift store, it was protocol for the production workers to write a number with a red dry erase marker on all of the electronics, to indicate the date they went out on the floor. This would help determine which items to get off of the shelves if they had been sitting there too long and weren’t selling. It was also our policy that electronic items were final sale because people would buy them and break them or remove parts, and then try to return them.
A woman came in one morning trying to return a small flat screen TV. I explained to her that all electronics were final sale, and showed that it was indicated on her receipt. I was feeling generous that day since she was polite, and considered returning it anyway if it wasn’t working, so I asked her the reason.
She pointed out the little red dry erase number and said, ‘I need to return this because it has the mark of the beast on it.’
I was taken aback and asked her to explain further. She explained that she took the TV home and when she plugged it in the TV displayed static and a low frequency sound that hypnotized her and her children. She said that Satan was trying to communicate with her through the TV. I didn’t know what to say, so I just explained to her that the dry erase is just the date and showed her that it rubs right off with my thumb. The number was not 666 by the way.
I broke policy and allowed her to exchange it for something else, all while having no idea how to react to what she just told me. You bet your butt as soon as she left I went and plugged that tv in to see what happened and of course it was normal.”
“Ma’am, I Told You So”
“In my first years in the Army, I also worked a part-time job as an optician in the local mall.
One day a lady came in with her mother (about age 40 and 60) and they were quite hyper and giggling at each other. I asked if I could help them and they had a prescription for lenses. No problem.
She then asks if she can use her existing frames, and I was like, ‘Sure, we can just do lenses.’
She proceeds to hand me a pair of extremely cheap sunglasses she got from a dollar store.
I told her that there was no way those glasses would stand up to having lenses changed out. She insisted that I ‘already said I could.’ I asked her if she was sure, because it was almost guaranteed they would be destroyed in the process. She still insisted. I pointed out the sign we had up saying we weren’t responsible for damages (it was next to the register) and asked her one last time. She said yes again.
I put them in the hotbox (a box of heated sand you use to loosen up plastic frames to get the lenses out) and they melted into goo pretty much instantly, as expected. She was over my shoulder watching with these wild eyes, and when I pulled them out after a few seconds, she started screaming about how we destroyed her glasses and now we owe her free glasses. Her mom got in on the action at that point and started shouting also about how I did it on purpose.
I handed them back to her and said something like, ‘Ma’am, I told you so.’
They went into even more hysterics and by this time were attracting glances from passersby at the mall. I just walked into the back room to the lab guy and was like, dude, you deal with this, I’m done.
I then watched as he masterfully over-charged her about $100 for a $20 frame (it was on the display rack for $100, but we had a pile of the same frames in the discount drawer for $20), giving her a ‘20% discount,’ in the process. I was there when she picked them up in about an hour, acting like she won the lottery at my expense because I was so incompetent.
I was still young and had no idea the insanity people would go through to save a few dollars and to ‘stick it to the man.'”
How About You Take That Up With Corporate
“I was a supervisor at a call center for a major online retailer who was involved in a data breach a few years ago. As usual, we required all of our customers to change their passwords.
I had to take over a call from a lady who was absolutely refusing to change her password. I tried to explain as nicely as possible and she kept me on the phone for an hour, insulting me and screaming about how wrong this was.
Ultimately, she told me that I, personally, was worse than Hitler and that making her change her password was an offense worse than the Holocaust. No joke. I am not exaggerating at all. I mean, who says stuff like that?
I told her that her words were completely out of bounds and if she wanted to talk to someone, she can speak to corporate and hung-up on her.”
“Make My Freaking Sub!”
“I’ve worked at several restaurants. However… About a year ago, this is how a conversation went with this lady:
Me: ‘Hello there. What can I get you today?’
Her: ‘I would like a sub.’
Me: ‘Ok, what type of sub would you like?’
Her: ‘Ya’ know.. A sub… Just make me a sub…’
Me: ‘Ma’am we have over 12 different types of subs here…’
She points at my boss
Her: ‘Oh he makes it when I come in sometimes… He knows how I like it!!’
My boss, very confused goes, ‘Oh yes… Hi! Nice to see you again,’ with a who the heck is this lady look on his face.
He steps up and says, ‘And what sub am I making? What type?’
She goes, ‘Ya know… My sub…’
He replies, ‘…Ok? What type though?’
She starts to get very mad and goes, ‘MY sub! The one you make me all the time when I come in,’ despite the fact that ‘her coming in’ was only something like once every month if that.
He goes, ‘I don’t know what sub that is. Was it turkey? Roast beef?’
She sighs and says, ‘No it’s not. It’s a SUB!’
My boss goes, ‘Italian? We call it “The Sub” here.’
She goes, ‘Oh yes! That’s it! A SUB!’
He goes, ‘Ok, coming right up!”
So my boss then says, ‘What size bread?’
Her: ‘Sized bread? What is sized bread?’
Boss: ‘We have three sizes; ‘6 inch, ’10 inch, or ’12 inch.’
Her: ‘I don’t know… I just want a sub!! Is that so hard?’
At this point I was getting pretty frustrated and so was my boss. I don’t know if she was wasted? Under stress? High? I don’t know… She was getting pretty upset clearly.
She goes, ‘Just give me the biggest one… Biggest one!’
My manager then replies with, ‘Want white or wheat bread?’
This is when all education went out the door…
She asks, ‘White or wheat for what?’
My boss, clearly frustrated goes, ‘For the bread… Would you like it on white or wheat bread.’
She seriously says, ‘What kind of question is that? It’s a freaking SUB ok!?’
At this point if, I were the boss, I would have told her to please leave, or at least not talk to me like that, but my boss kept on asking her to the point she said, ‘Just make MY FREAKING SUB! The biggest one you got!!’
He makes her sub with white bread which is the default way we make subs. She says it’s for here.
She gets the super sub, which is our biggest sub, and she goes, ‘This was on wheat bread! Why is it on white?’
She throws the tray with the sub on it back on the counter by the cashier and goes, ‘I’m not eating this freaking thing! This isn’t MY SUB like you made it before!’
My boss says: ‘Ma’am… How am I supposed to know what you had for lunch in my restaurant a month ago? I have hundreds of orders a day, and you expect me to remember yours all the time?’
She says, ‘Well you do it with others!!’
My boss says, ‘Ma’am… Those people come in 3 sometimes 4 times a week and order the same thing. Not to mention the fact that those folks have been coming in here for more than 8 years.
She says, ‘So what?! Just make my dang sub!!’
He replies, ‘I made your sub, it’s right in front of you. Now I have to get back to making orders for the others you cut in line when you wanted to complain.’
She told us and raged, ‘I hope somebody comes in and shoots you all up, you freaking idiots,’ and stormed out…
We never saw her again after that.
THAT was the most messed up thing that ever happened to me working with the public.”
Somethings Are Better Off In The Trash
“I work at customer service for a home improvement store. A few months ago, a customer brought in a poop-smeared toilet seat. He claimed that he had purchased it this way, but didn’t discover the Hershey stains until he had guests visit a week after the transaction. He claimed it was ‘egregious’ that we would sell disgusting merchandise, and that we owed him money and an apology.
In diplomatic customer service fashion, we explained to him that we could not return it due to the health hazards associated with it. He proceeded to shout at everyone at the return desk and the manager that had walked over (after seeing the commotion). He then demanded that we throw the toilet seat away for him. We explained that we could not do that for him since it was dirty and a health hazard. We also explained to him that he needed to throw it away himself. He stormed out of the building yelling obscenities.
A few minutes later, the store janitor came to customer service informing us that there was a toilet seat on the trash can outside. Our trash cans sit outside of the main entrances/exits and have ash trays on the top of them. The disgruntled customer had laid the toilet seat so that the ash tray was in the center of the seat, exposing the poop stains to entering customers, and the lid resting against the building.
The coup de grace was that the customer left a note on the seat which read, ‘If it looks like poop, they won’t take it back.'”
“That’s The Worst Idea You’ve Ever Had”
“So I work in optical sales, this is about the strangest customer my manager and I had ever dealt with. So, I walk in to work, and my manager is working with a patient, and there is another one seated at another desk waiting to be helped. I clock in and introduce myself to the man:
Me: ‘Hi there, my name is Dave, how can I help you today?’
He points at my manager and says, ‘Actually, she was helping me.’
Me: ‘Oh okay,’ so I turned to my manager and asked, ‘Manager, would you like for me to pull up his insurance so that you can just run him through real quick when you’re available?’
She replies, ‘Yes, absolutely. Sir, Dave is just going to pull up your insurance, and then I’ll be over to help you.’
I turn back and smile at him, and ask, ‘So, what’s your DOB so I can look you up?’
Here’s where things start to go downhill.
The guy leans in, inches away from my face, and whispers, ‘Can you not take no for a freaking answer?’
So I just stood up and went in the back until he left.
Fast forward 3 weeks and this guy ordered his glasses with my manager and has received them. He loved them according to her.
He calls the store and gets me. ‘Yeah, so I bought these glasses, and I think I want to upgrade to transitions. How much would that cost?’
Me: ‘Oh no problem sir, what’s your DOB so I can look your profile up?’
Customer: ‘Is Manager available?’
Me: ‘No sir, just me today.’
Customer: ‘I think I’d like to talk to Manager, she (AND I QUOTE) sounds nicer than you on the phone.’ Hangs up.
He eventually gets a hold of her and orders the transitional lenses. Loves them according to her. Again. Fast forward another 3 weeks. He calls in and gets my manager on the line. Immediately starts telling her about how he doesn’t like the glasses and wants to return them. She’s tired of his shenanigans, so she just says that’s fine, and he can bring them back whenever he feels like it.
He then says, ‘Excuse me, I paid for the glasses over the phone, why can’t I return over the phone?’ He’s sounding very upset at this point.
My manager just looks confused, ‘Sir… You still have the glasses, moreover, I couldn’t process a return over the phone if I wanted to. Our system literally will not allow it.’
Customer: ‘Well this is just ridiculous. What if I just mail you the glasses then?!’
My Manager: ‘Sir, we still can’t process a card return over the phone.’
Customer: ‘Okay, then what if I mail you my card?!’
‘Manager: E-excuse me…? Mail us your credit card? Really?’
Customer: ‘No, my debit card!’
At this point my manager was just floored by this guy and finally broke character.
Manager: ‘So you want… To mail us… Your debit card?’
Customer: ‘YES Dang IT!’
Manager: ‘Sir, I’m sorry, but that’s the worst idea you’ve ever had.’ Click“
“I Paid For Four!”
“While working in retail, a woman who had come in the day before was furious that we had not bagged one of the items she had paid for. She claimed to have paid for 4 sets of boxers but only 3 were in the bag. We looked up her receipt on our register and saw that we only charged her for 3. We even looked back at the security tape to see that she had only brought 3 to the register.
After giving her a call back saying that she had only purchased 3, she blew up. Racial slurs, profanity, and threats were made about how we were scamming her. In 20 minutes, she came to the store with her receipt to prove that she paid for 4. We counted. 1, 2, and 3. Instead of accepting the facts, she ripped up the receipt and said that she paid for 4. She started knocking down clothes on the racks on her way out and demanded her set of boxers. The owner just gave it to her and told her not to come back.”
A Happy Meal With A Not So Happy Ending
“I’ve done retail, food service, and call center work. The weirdest one was probably the Happy Meal guy from when I worked in rental car billing. When I had that job, I was responsible for taking customer calls and responding to customer emails. I am so grateful this guy was an email, because I probably would have laughed in his face if he’d called.
So this guy rented a car from the Phoenix, AZ, airport in July. For anyone who isn’t familiar, this is a desert in the western part of the US and it gets ungodly hot in the summer. Cook an egg on the pavement hot. Anyway, when he gets to the car he goes to put the contract in the glove box. But when he opens it, he finds a half-eaten McDonald’s Happy Meal cheeseburger. At this point I’m thinking that’s disgusting and the dude wants compensation for us not cleaning out the glove box properly. But no, that’s not his issue.
He goes on to write that he naturally assumed this was a benefit of being one of our gold members, ATE IT, and got sick. He wanted compensation for his medical bills, distress, and (I kid you not) false advertisement. I gave him a coupon for a discount on his next rental and told him we apologized for improperly cleaning his vehicle.”
The Customer Is Always Right, Well, Not Always”
“I have had so, so, so many. One that comes to mind though was when a woman cussed me out when she asked me to move my car because she couldn’t find a parking space and was in our fire lane. We share a parking lot with 11 other businesses, so parking can be tricky, but that doesn’t mean I have to move my car for somebody! There were some meter spots open on the street but she said she didn’t want to pay.
She demanded I move it over and over and threatened to call the police and then corporate because, ‘Parking lots are for customers, not employees!’
I asked her where the employees who are providing her a service are supposed to park and she said I should go park in the meter spot.
Uh right…and pay a dollar an hour to go to work? There’s also a 2 hour limit on the meters. Does she expect me to go out there four times a shift to move my car or put money in?
She kept complaining for like ten minutes about how she was the customer and the customer is always right so I had to do what she asked. I refused and said I could take her order but I wasn’t going to do anything else. A few minutes later, a cop walked in and asked who was parked in the fire lane.”