Everyone knows that in a customer service industry, you'll have some bad days (and bad customers.) But these? These are nightmares.
“I worked at a soup & sandwich cafe for 3 years while I was in undergrad. Good job, easy money. Anyways, we offered quick breakfast options- bagels & cream cheese, breakfast sandwiches & burritos, and a quick 2 egg breakfast with toast, hashbrowns or grits, etc. We offered a $1 small cup of coffee because Starbucks was 2 blocks down and my manager was like that. We broke even on the coffee, not really hoping to profit. Just trying to get people in the door and serve quick, good food. That kind of place.
A super-yoga soccer mom started coming in every morning to buy a coffee. She would bring in her own bagel and her own cream cheese. She would purchase the coffee and then ask us to toast her bagel and put her cream cheese on it for her- and expect us to run the food out to her like we did for every other paying customer. While she was purchasing her coffee, she would ask that we put on new gloves while preparing her food. Okay, fine. Not a big deal the first few times- because the owner (a working manager) was trying to keep his customers happy all of the time. However, this budding new cafe was starting to increase in business, exponentially. This Bagel lady started coming in every, single day. The boss grew a little tired of her request because after all, he isn’t seeing the benefit of selling her a $1 cup of coffee and having us prepare her food for her. She didn’t tip either however, because my boss always lived by “The Customer is always right” method, he did this.
She came in on a Saturday morning once- thinking she got special treatment because she was a regular customer, she decided she would skip the line and put her bagel on the counter near the register. She waited in line, purchased her $1 coffee and noticed her bagel was right where she left it, untouched.
“Excuse me, I expected this to be toasted and ready when I purchased my coffee. I come in all of the time, you should know me by now. I am one of your most frequent customers.”
“Yes Ma’am. I apologize, I did not see it. Here is your coffee and I will bring it out to you in a moment.”
“I just don’t understand you people sometimes- so incompetent and rude to your customers. This is the kind of behavior that leads to disease and sickness in restaurants.”
I didn’t realize my boss was standing over my shoulder during this encounter. He sort of pushes me out of the way grabs her bagel (ungloved hands) takes a bite, goes to hand it to her, drops it and asks her to leave with a mouthful of bagel. He goes to his office and closes his door still chewing the bagel. He comes out and says “Coffee is now $2.”
“I work at a local tourist spot as a food services supervisor, and we have a few different food outlets in the park. As a supervisor, I’ve had to deal with all kinds of challenging customers, including some that have turned out well. One of the dumbest ones I came across, though, was dealt with by a co-worker of mine. Near the very end of the day, a lady came up to our fish and chips window and ordered a four-piece chicken strip combo. She said that she wanted it split four ways for her four children. My co-worker said sure, but informed her that since the combo just came with a small fries, that meant each of those four portions would include just one chicken strip and a few fries. He repeated it a couple of times, but she impatiently told him that was okay. You can probably see where this is going. When she came to pick up her order, she was irate. From the sounds of things, she wanted each of those portions to have at least two strips and a small fries–even though she was only willing to pay the price of a single combo. She screamed at my co-worker, told him he was incompetent, all kinds of things. (The fish and chips place is in a remote location from the main kitchen, so there was no manager there, just supervisors.) She wasn’t willing to pay more, though, and my co-worker wasn’t about to make her more chicken strips and fries for free, so finally he told her the outlet was closed and that if she had any more issues she should take it up with the manager. She left and he closed the shutter, but then she came around to the side door of the building and screamed at him some more. Even when they closed the door, she waited for them and followed them across the park when they walked back to the main kitchen…where they were able to meet up with the manager and she was asked to leave the park. We don’t allow meal-splitting anymore–if customers want something split, we’ll give them plates and knives and they can do their own portions.”
But… That Would Just Be…
“When I used to work at McDonalds some lady came in and ordered a cheeseburger without cheese. So being the person I am I just put it in a Hamburger wrapper and gave it to the front. Well she came back like 5 minutes later and all hell broke loose. She was yelling at the poor girl who gave her the sandwich and the girl was new. So I went up to help and asked what was the matter. This is what she said “I ordered a Cheeseburger without cheese you gave me a Hamburger I want what i ordered right now and i want to speak to your manager.” So I told her I was the manager. She proceeded to call me a liar even though I had a name tag that said shift manager on it. But I told her I would fix it. I took the burger and put it in a Cheeseburger wrapper and gave it back to her. She looked at it, then at me and I’m pretty sure she had the realization of what a Cheeseburger without cheese is. She then just walked away without thanking me or anything. Also, I sent the girl home since she was crying.”
“I used to make coffee at an espresso bar where the coffee machine faced out of the front window. One morning, I think around 10, this very pale and sick looking middle-aged man in very dark glasses sat outside right in front of me at one of the tables and started smoking, something not allowed in that city. It’s quiet, but there are other people around so I sigh and go out the front to tell him he has to stop. All he has with him is a small plastic bag with maybe ten packets of cigarettes and what looked like a couple of grand in fifties and twenties, all mixed up. I start telling him he has to put it out and he cuts me off, saying very quietly, “Leave me alone. You’re going to mess everything up.” I freaked out and ran back to the coffee machine. Over the next five hours he smoked constantly and just stared at me. At one point, he came in and bought a bottle of water. I grew increasingly more terrified and wondered what kind of incredibly dangerous shit storm was about to unfold in front of me. I was too anxious to decide what to do.
A few minutes before I was scheduled to close, a car pulls up in front of the shop window and two uniformed police get out. The creepy guy gets up and walks over to the car, talks to the cops for a minute, then throws the bag of money in the back and drives off without the police, who just walk away.”
“In the early ’90’s I was a waiter at Friendly’s. On Sundays I worked all three shifts: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sunday nights were particularly brutal: it was our busiest night, yet we were always undermanned due to staff not showing up, and I was tired from a long day.
Every Sunday night this large church group would come in, about 20+ people. They would come in at the tail end of the dinner shift, just as I was about to pull myself out of the weeds, and they would ask for me to be their waiter. Then, if they couldn’t get five tables near each other, they would spread out all over the restaurant into other waiters’ zones but still insist on me being their server. They would act disappointed (and in some cases annoyed) that I didn’t remember their drink preferences from previous weeks. They would place their beverage and food orders, then get up and change tables. Not to mess with me, mind you; they were just being sociable with each other.
Then they would get fussy with their orders. This or that was wrong, this is undercooked, I didn’t think it would look like that so can I order something else, etc. It was hard for me to tell if I had gotten an order wrong, or if maybe I had the right order for the wrong guy because they wouldn’t stay in the same seat throughout the experience. It went on and on. They were, per capita, the neediest customers I had to deal with all week, and there were 20 of them all at once. Every. Effing. Sunday.
Don’t even get me started on the a-hole cooks who couldn’t get the orders right. Let’s just say Friendly’s doesn’t exactly draw the best and the brightest, and only the dumbest ones showed up Sunday nights. I was too poor not to.
So here’s the kicker: religious pamphlets. That’s what I got tipped every week, plus about $5 in change.”
“I once had a family of 4 come in, a wife, husband and 2 kids, the wife ordered a cheese burger. Everything seemed to be going well, I asked if they like their food and if there was anything I could get for them, they said everything was fine. The wife finished her burger and got my manager, she told her that he burger was absolutely horrible and wanted a refund for the whole meal. My manager almost laughed at her and told her if she hadn’t finished the burger and had said something at the beginning she would have gladly gotten her another burger but there was no way she was getting a meal for 4 for free nor was she getting hers for free because she, at first, told me she liked it.”
Take It Up With Floyd
“I had a customer call the store claiming that she had gone through the Drive-Thru earlier that day and asked for a Large coke with light ice. She told me there was definitely the normal amount of ice in this drink and she demanded a refund, a new coke, and a milkshake for her inconvenience. I was speechless.
Other than this I’ve been called racist many times by customers with complaints that I made their food wrong because I’m white. (I’m a white manager with a mostly black crew.) I usually point to the black cook Floyd and say, “No ma’am that guy made your meal.” Floyd just smiles and waves.”
Or… You Could Just Wait Like Everyone Else
“I was a hostess at a fairly popular restaurant close to a movie theater. This can attract some large families on busy nights, so we strongly suggest reservations in our advertising.
It’s a Friday evening and we’re already on a wait. This family of seven saunters in, and the father asks us for a table. I tell him that we do have about a 40-minute wait, but if they’d like to wait on the patio and order an appetizer, there is space for them.
He frowns, whispers to his wife, then turns back to me. “Nah, we’re going somewhere else. Go f*ck yourself.”
I almost didn’t believe I had heard it at first. Seriously? I was blown away that this father, husband, adult man felt like it was OK to say that to a 20-yr old hostess. What.”
Walking On Eggshells, Unless He’s Allergic To Those Too
“I worked as a server at an organic restaurant. We were known for being vegan-friendly, wheat-free and willing to accommodate individual’s “special dietary needs.” One day a man and his family came in for dinner. He came up to the counter to order and he told me he had a few allergies. I told him that was fine, because we are used to accommodating allergies. Then I asked him what he was allergic to. “You might want to grab a pen” was his response. This man was allergic to eleven major food groupings including, all peanuts, tree nuts and pine nuts, all shellfish and seafood, dairy, lentils and peas and well as wheat. I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed the cook from the kitchen and brought him out to talk to the customer because I didn’t even know what to offer him. I understand that allergies suck, but cross contamination is so common in restaurants that someone whose life could be threatened by and number of common foods should maybe stay in to eat.
The story ends as the customer orders and eats steak and cooked quinoa. I stood within arms reach of the phone his entire stay just in case I had to call emergency services.”
Chiefs Among Sinners
“I worked as a waitress through college; and it was pretty awful. My state allows servers to not be paid minimum wage provided their tips make up for it. My restaurant was so crooked that, looking back, pretty sure that it didn’t matter.
The worst customers ever were the Kansas City Chiefs. I recall them taking over the place, ordering the entire menu, being creepily flirty, and pretty much demanding that we all bend over backwards for them because they were an NFL team. What made that even worse was them trying to exempt themselves from a rule that we had on the menu: tables of 8 or more had an automatic 18% gratuity added — which is pretty standard. Keep in mind, this was nearly the whole team, plus a few WAGS. The reason why they figured they shouldn’t have to pay the 18% gratuity? They said they never found out their servers names. We wore name tags, they were calling us by name the whole time, and we personally wrote it on their bill with our little “Thank you for eating here” blurb. It was unbelievable — or believable depending on your views about pro-athletes and their attitudes. In any case, it was an “Are you kidding me?” moment.
They weren’t successful in getting out of the tip, but I still root for whoever is playing against them.”
Nope, I’m Out
“Two women come in for a power lunch at Buzzard Billy’s, not the place I would have chosen for a business lunch, but whatever.
I greet them and they’re both very nice. Over the course of 2 hours, they order appetizers, entrees, drinks, desserts, and a more drinks. Their bill came up to about $250 for the two of them.
At the end of the meal they asked me to split their enormous check, which I did graciously since it was a large bill and was expecting a good tip. I hand them them bills and walk back to the kitchen expecting them to whip out corporate cards and pay. I come back to the table to discover them 1) gone, 2) they’d both paid by check (which we didn’t accept) 3) they had both rounded up to the next dollar for the tip.
I took my apron off, handed my boss all the cash and totaled out, and left , never to be a server again. F_ck that sh_t.”
“I worked at Tim Hortons. One day a 60 year old woman came into my line while I was working the cash register. I could tell something was off about her, and my suspicions were confirmed when she started telling me about her horrendous childhood. She took out her cell phone and showed me a picture of herself at 2 years old. Then proceeded to ask me if I “could abandon that little girl if I tried to.”
My co-workers and I are WTF-ing and we just get her the order and out of line. Then she comes back up when another customer is ordering, CUTS IN FRONT OF THEM and proceeds to tell me how her father molested her too. Luckily my manager saw what was going on and sent me to the back to wash dishes and he dealt with the woman. One of the saddest and most unexpected things I’ve ever experienced.”
Taking It Too Far
I used to work at Starbucks. My store was by the beach, and very busy in summer. You could wait in the register line for up to a half hour or even 45 minutes. It’s not like we were dicking around back there. Just that busy.
So, the thing about Starbucks is, people forget that the line to wait for the drinks is going to be a while too. You still are going to wait for a bit even after the register. All of a sudden, you waited in line for 30 minutes, and your drink is supposed to be done lickety split.
We had a party of several high school age girls getting frappucinos, and they’d waited in line for a while to get them. So they were pissy. This one chick in particular was acting entitled, riding me and watching me like a hawk while I made these drinks. Asking me if each next drink was hers.
Finally I told her something like “I’m going as fast as I can, we’re very busy, your drink will be out as soon as possible.”
Her father heard me say that and decided I was being sassy (I really wasn’t) and threatened violence.
It never came to that, I ignored the pr*ck just like I ignored his daughter, made the drink in order, and gave it to them. But jesus christ, threatening to punch some 19-year-old kid that’s half your size over the wait for a frappucino?