Some customers can get out of line when they don’t get their way. These employees share the most absurd customer tantrums they’ve ever seen on the job. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
Things Got Physical Over A Refund
“I was 18 years old, a full-time college student living at home and working 15–20 hours per week at a store called ‘S. Klein On The Square’. It was a chain store that started in New York and went out of business decades ago. This was my second, part-time retail position.
In my first retail job at the W.T. Grant Co., I was responsible for a department’s set-up, sales, and returns (women’s clothing). Rules for exchanging a previously purchased piece of clothing or returning it for a refund were quite clear. The customer needed to return the item in new condition (not worn or soiled) and have the original receipt showing the item was purchased within the previous few weeks. Very few purchases were via credit card in those days. Most were cash or check purchases; debit cards weren’t yet invented. So, keeping your cash drawer accurate to the penny at the end of your shift was very important. You would be fired if your cash drawer ‘didn’t settle’ at the end of your shift.
The rules for refunds were very similar at this second, retail job at S. Klein on the Square. So, I was experienced and knew how to politely tell a customer I couldn’t refund their purchase because they didn’t have the correct receipt OR the product was (obviously) used/soiled. But at this store, returns were centralized. The floor clerks would send customers up to the third level to process their refunds.
Most department stores in the 1970s did NOT have such a set-up for the refunding of returned merchandise. So, customers were unfamiliar with ‘Klein’s’ process, and were sometimes annoyed that they had to come up to the top floor carrying their merchandise for their refund.
In other words, many came with an attitude that grew in proportion to the length of time they needed to wait in line. I witnessed some of the worst of human nature as a ‘Returns Clerk.’
These customers were often argumentative with creative stories as to why they didn’t have a receipt, how the shoes were scuffed when they purchased them, or the dress with perspiration stains was like that on the rack and they didn’t notice until now.
So, for four to six hours every day, I listened attentively to such stories from some customers. The answer, after listening, was always, ‘Sorry, but I cannot return your money, as it’s against store policy.’
I also would then say something like, ‘I will lose my job if such merchandise were returned to the department.’
The more such customers argued with me (or co-workers), the longer the waiting line would get.
One day, a customer waited a little too long in the ‘returns’ line. She had no receipt. The product was a rusty, cast-iron skillet that was obviously well used (and not cleaned very well either). I examined the skillet, asked for the receipt, and she launched into one of the creative stories I had become accustomed to hearing after about four months of working ‘returns.’ I explained why her cast-iron skillet wasn’t eligible for a refund. She argued with me and then asked for a supervisor (I looked like a 12-year-old to most adults at that period of my life). I called my manager to the desk with the surly customer. My manager examined the used and dirty skillet, asked for the receipt which was not forthcoming, and politely said she could not issue a refund.
This customer became incensed and swung the iron skillet over the partition dividing us, hitting my manager over the head with it!
I rang the buzzer under the counter for security. My manager was not hurt too badly. I don’t remember if the customer was taken into custody, however. I was stunned at this ‘over the top’ behavior.
When I went home at the end of my shift, I told my parents what had transpired and that I didn’t feel safe working there any more. So, I gave written notice during my next scheduled workday. I was blessed to find a full-time office job for the summer semester break. I never worked retail again.”
Kid Had A Sailor Mouth
“When I was younger, I worked at the ski rental shop for a ski resort.
During Christmas time, lines were out the door every single day. On one of these days, it was business as usual, a quarter-mile line out the door, and nonstop craziness. I was at the bench closest to the door, helping a lady when this kid walked up to my bench. I asked if I could help him and he said he had reserved rentals online and he wanted to pick them up.
I said, ‘Okay! You’ll need to get in the back of the line and we’ll help you as soon as we can.’
This 13-year-old kid said, ‘This is freakin stupid!’
I told him that quite literally every piece of equipment in our store was reserved, and every single person in front of him had a reservation as well.
He started insulting me personally, saying, ‘You are a stupid prick.’ And continued to say he was going to report us to corporate because we weren’t letting him skip hundreds of people in line.
I literally laughed in his face. I was at no point threatened by this child, and at first, it was funny. As the first lady left my line, I asked the next person to come up which the kid didn’t like. He started yelling cuss words at me because I wasn’t helping him.
Up until this point, my manager had been a complete bum and I was not a fan of him. But he’d had enough of the Christmas rush as well and this kid was a perfect person to let off some steam on.
I went and got my manager and told him this kid was personally attacking me and yelling cuss words in front of customers.
So he walked up to the kid and said, ‘I’m sorry for the confusion, what’s your name so I can take a look at your reservation?’
The kid’s face lit up, thinking he finally beat the system and he got in front of everyone for throwing a fit. My manager went and found his reservation in the system.
When he came back to my bench, he said, ‘I found it.’
He proceeded to rip it in half in front of his face, and said, ‘Don’t ever treat someone that’s trying to help you like that. You are never allowed in our store again. And with every other store in town also being completely 100% booked on equipment, good luck skiing this week.’
I still didn’t like the guy, but I respected him one point more for the rest of the season for standing up for me.”
Moo-dy Karen In The Dairy Section
“I worked at a grocery store when I was younger. One day when I was working dairy, I had a lady come up to me looking for Nutriwhip (a non-dairy whipping cream kind of product). She didn’t say she wanted Nutriwhip (she couldn’t remember the brand name) but she described it well enough that I told her the name, showed her where it was, and handed her one.
She insisted that wasn’t it.
I put it back and asked if she was looking for Cool Whip (which is in frozen food) but she said she wasn’t. She wanted ‘the not-really-milk thing that was like whipping cream’ and that we kept in the dairy section.
I told her, ‘This is the only not-really-milk whipping cream product from the dairy section that we have ever sold in all the years I had worked at the store.’
She insisted I was wrong.
After trying to explain for a couple of minutes, I apologized and said I couldn’t help her find anything she was describing other than Nurtiwhip. I went back to filling the bag of milk nearby (milk comes in 4-liter bags in Canada).
She hung around for a few minutes, huffing and generally acting ticked off, looking at the products in the milk section, and then snapped at me, ‘HERE IT IS!’
I looked up and watched her grab a Nutriwhip, showed it to me as if I was an imbecile, and stormed off.
Another time I was filling the milk, a lady came up to the carton milk section and leaned right in, actually holding onto a carton around chest height as if for balance. I stepped back to give her room to find what she wanted. Still leaning in and with her face maybe a foot from the shelf and all the cartons, she looked left and right a couple of times and then snapped at me.
She said, ‘Where the heck is the buttermilk?’
I said, ‘You’re holding one.'”
“He Was A Creepy Dude”
“I worked in a big box home improvement store for about three years. I worked my way up to a sales position that was pretty high up. I got the job because everyone knew I could make any sale. But even I had a line. I got assigned to oversee another salesman’s install because he had passed away due to a heart attack while at the customer’s home.
I had been briefly involved in the beginning for some advice from the other salesman. So naturally, it got pawned off on me. I did some research on the customer (a quick google search was all I needed). It turns out he was a pretty creepy dude. He had lured women with a high-end job in his natural oil company and basically extorted them for explicit pictures.
I figured I’d just get the install finished and be done with him. But of course, things never work out that smooth with guys like this. Right off the bat, he was trash-talking the salesman that had passed away. I had to multiple times ask him to stop. He was always making up stories and damaging the product we had already installed to get discounts. And that was just the beginning.
Fast forward about a month later and the majority of his installation was finished. Due to some vendor issues, some of the products had arrived wrong. So I scheduled a second install date and got the product fast-tracked. The customer then proceeded to decide that he was gonna remodel his home and mess up almost everything we had already installed and blame everything on us.
I made multiple phone calls daily to try and communicate with him and resolve the issue but he would never answer my phone calls and would always call the store manager later and complain. Everyone at the store knew the stupid game he was playing and never let him get anywhere.
Anyways during this period, I got offered a better job elsewhere. I gladly took it and moved on and left the store to deal with this demon of a man.
A few weeks later, I came to visit my coworker, and sure enough, the customer was sitting at her desk berating her about the same nonsense that he spewed at me while I worked with him.
As soon as he saw me, he came over and started to get in my face. He apparently didn’t listen to my voicemail letting him know I was no longer working for the said store.
I said something along the lines of, ‘You need to relax. I no longer work here and am not obligated to take your harassment’.
He made some snotty remark about that it was a good thing and he knew I got fired when I stopped calling him.
I responded with, ‘Get off your high horse and be a decent human being, this whole mess is your fault. I didn’t even wanna work with you in the first place. I know your a perv and everyone here working with you does too.’
He stood there and his mouth dropped. I just walked away and left the store.
My old manager called me later that day and said that customer threw a fit after I left and said he was never coming back. Not gonna lie it felt pretty great to be able to get back in the guy’s face. Not many people get the chance without repercussions.”
It Was For Charity
“I had a customer threaten to call the cops because I wouldn’t give them 50 percent off of a CHARITY bear on boxing day (a shopping holiday in Canada). One hundred percent of the proceeds from these teddy bears went to the Make-A-Wish foundation and they were only 15 bucks.
The store had a 50 percent off everything sale for boxing day, but it didn’t include the CHARITY bears.
I basically just kept saying, ‘Ma’am, it’s a charity bear,’ because I didn’t know how else to explain that the point of the bear was to raise money that seemed more obvious.
People in line were starting to get really upset with her and she just started to freak right out and was starting to dial 911. My boss, so upset (she lost a son early in life to cancer so Make-A-Wish was important to her) just gave her a bear and told her to never come back.
A bunch of familiar customers of ours were so upset they pitched in the 15 bucks without us even saying anything, which was super kind of them. It was a restoration of faith in humanity, but what a nightmare for no reason.”
It Took Three Months To Resolve The Issue
“I was working for Geek Squad, but I was in a somewhat unique role in that I wasn’t one of the guys that worked behind the counter. I worked the sales floor and was supposed to train the sales team in how to present and offer services. But because I’m who I am and have the background I do, I would frequently get pulled to the counter to help if the line got long or there was a problem situation. I tended to be the ‘fixer’ in the store, if there was a problem, chances were I would be called over to deal with it.
Anyway, I came in for my shift (A 10 am to 6 pm shift for reference). I was about 40 minutes early so I headed to the break room to chill until my shift. On my way there I was intercepted by one of the customer service folks and was told that there was a big back up and they wanted me to clock on early to help with this one client. No biggie. It happens. I’ve dealt with it before. So I did.
I didn’t even get a chance to say ‘Hello’ to the client before she started demanding to know what happened. I had no idea what she was referring to so I asked if she could elaborate. She proceeded to tell me how she had been waiting for over an hour for someone to tell her what happened with her computer. Remember it was about 9:30 and the store only opened at 9 am.
I asked for her name or if she had any paperwork regarding her computer so I could get her some answers.
In a huff, she shoved this rumpled mess of papers at me that I sorted through to find that yes one of them was a Geek Squad Service order. She had checked her computer less than 20 hours prior and had an estimated completion date of two days later than the day this took place.
I thanked her for the papers, returning the ones that were not Geek Squad related, and went to look up the service order notes. The computer was a five-year-old Dell Laptop that had been checked in for not booting.
Upon looking at the notes, I found it was determined that the processor had burnt out which was causing the non-boot. I pulled some quick reference information, hopped on the link program, and had a brief exchange with a contact I had at the service center to ask about turnaround time and the likelihood of being able to repair the laptop.
Dell Laptops are kind of hit-or-miss in this regard because we had had times where Dell just refused to send us parts to repair their laptops.
Anyway, we figured we would be able to fix it, so I pulled some numbers and was able to put together an educated guess of repairs running about 250–300 bucks. I went to inform the client of the situation.
I got as far as informing her that her processor had burned out when she demanded to know what we were going to do to compensate her for all of her lost business. Turns out she was a Real Estate agent (apparently, a terrible one if all of her business was tied into a single laptop with no backup options).
I offered her the option of sending the unit in to be repaired but was unable to even provide my estimation of 300 bucks for the repair before she went off. She said this was utterly unacceptable and that she was fully expecting to leave the store that day with a working computer and proper compensation for her lost business because of the damage ‘we caused to her computer’.
Well, this was the point where I got the Assistant store manager involved because I could already tell we were going to be giving this lady something for free. So I called him over and tried to give him the run down, but before I could do that, the lady interjected. She told him that I had destroyed her laptop, not that Geek Squad had done anything, but me, finger pointing at me and demanding compensation.
I could already see it would be best for me to get out of the way and let the manager deal with it, so I went in the back and started trying to pull up purchase receipts for her so I could expedite the process of whatever returns and exchanges the manager opted to carry out. In looking into it, I found that the Dell Computer had not been purchased, but it had been exchanged.
An exception exchange to boot and had 200 bucks taken off its original sale price during the exchange. This isn’t exactly uncommon. When people throw temper tantrums or make a scene, managers will frequently ‘bend prices’ to appease them in order to get them out of the store. But looking further, I found a lot more questionable events.
The Dell laptop, which had been reduced in price by 200 bucks had been an exception exchange for an older model Toshiba that when I looked up related transactions had been itself an exchange. The store had also previously comped her a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 professional, and a Data Transfer when we had exchanged the Toshiba for the Dell.
The assistant manager came back and told me we were going to exchange the laptop for another unit and she would just pay the difference. On top of that, we were also going to comp her a Data Transfer and setup service. Not exactly unreasonable. So I tried to get a salesman to work with her so they could at least get credit for the sale.
Well to make a VERY long story somewhat shorter, we wound up dealing with this lady for the better part of three days. We exchanged her five-year-old Dell laptop for a brand new Lenovo Yoga that we reduced in price to match what she originally didn’t pay for the Dell, traded in her Gen-4 iPad for an IPad Air, that we reduced in price to match the trade-in value of her Gen-4, and comped her two hours of one-on-one time to get her iPad Air setup and all the data transferred from her old one, which she didn’t know the account information for and continued to blame me for not having her information available.
Then, after all of that, she was still furious because we hadn’t put some link to some system called ‘Zippy forms’ that she had neither told us about nor could tell us anything about what the system was or who made it so we could try and look it. She made a huge scene, nearly physically assaulting several other clients before storming out.
We found out she not only filed an insurance claim regarding the Dell Laptop, but she also left an incredibly lengthy negative CSI survey report and called Corporate to complain about how we had ruined her business. All of this snowballed into a crazy three-month dump-fest that honestly, I was surprised police and legal actions were not the end result of.”
Violence Is Never The Answer
“When I worked in the tool department at Sears, a guy wanted to get a replacement on his tape measure. I couldn’t replace it because it was the tape that was messed up due to the guy mistreating it and not caring because ‘sEaRs WiLl RePlAcE iT fOr FrEe.’
The dude threatened to go out to his truck and get his weapon.
As he pointed his finger at me, my manager who had taken over already, and my coworker who was standing nearby, he said, ‘I will shoot you, you, and YOU!’
I gave him the ‘Why haven’t you done it yet?’ look and he left.
I worked at Sears, I was ready to die.”
She Got The President Involved!
“As with any college bookstore, the start of the semesters was incredibly busy. In order to help ease the insanity in our small store, we set up a table outside the front door for doing returns. And that’s where I was stationed for the day.
People got in line. I processed the paperwork for their return and sent them inside for the cashiers. This is an important point. I had no cash, no ability to process cards. Just me, a table, a stack of paper, and some pens. That was it.
Well, a middle-aged lady approached me. She was obviously not lacking in funds. Her son had dropped all his classes and she was returning his books. So, I did all the paperwork, handed her back the document, and directed her inside.
And that’s when she went ballistic covering waiting in line again. I mean starting nuclear wars ballistic. The customers in line behind her actually went to my manager to file formal statements about her behavior. I had to take a break to shake it off.
A few days passed and the manager got a call.
It was the president of the college, with a complaint. The woman called him to complain about me. So my manager and I headed off to a meeting with the president and the woman. We walked in calm and polite.
The woman told her tirade, still screaming and cursing. My manager pulled out the statements of other customers from that day and without a word, handed them to the president. The president calmly read them. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do remember watching the woman turn redder and redder.
Right before he showed her the door, he said, ‘Don’t waste my time ever again.'”
Middle-Age Man Vs Teenagers
“I was 18 and worked at a local grocery store in the produce department. Beyond regular duties, we made fruit trays on weekends, nothing fancy, just a variety of cut-up fruit in large red bowls.
This dude came in after 10 pm, just an hour before we closed, and asked for a tray with specific fruits.
I told him, ‘We, unfortunately, don’t make custom trays.’
The 16-year-old dude who was also on shift with me overheard and told him, ‘It’s slower tonight so I can do it for you.’
He said, ‘Ok, good’, no gratefulness displayed at all.
This co-worker of mine was legit always extra kind to customers, it was legitimately admirable.
Twenty minutes later, my coworker came out of the backroom and presented it to this customer. He immediately started screaming at him about how bad it looked.
He yelled things like, ‘That looks like absolute puke! What the heck?! Are you an idiot!?’
I ran over to see what the problem was. The fruit tray looked standard but this guy wasn’t having it. He smashed it on the ground and kept screaming about how we were morons and how we wasted his time.
I snapped, ‘Get the heck out!’
He postured up. Keep in mind, this guy was in his 40s, ready to fight some teenagers over a fruit tray.
Numerous other employees ran over and yelled for him to get out.
He said, ‘I’ll be back for all of you knuckleheads,’ and ran out the sliding doors.
All this was on camera luckily so management called the cops regarding his actions and that last threat. They ended up arresting him later on because apparently he also had some warrants.
Hope the fruit was worth it, prick.”
“I was a supervisor in a store where people could trade in goods for other second-hand stuff.
This guy had previously brought a phone from us and came back demanding we give him his money back or a new phone as the one we sold him had a crack. As it’s secondhand we may have missed the hairline crack during our testing, no biggie, so we swapped it. Thought that was the end.
About a month later, he was the first customer of the day, and he was cussing us out because his phone wasn’t working. He had a warranty so we took the phone, opened up the casing, and guess what we saw. The phone was water damaged.
Absolutely not how we would have sold it since that was the first thing checked during a test. We told him his warranty was void.
He and his wife freaked out and started shouting, saying they would stay there all day and tell others to not shop with us.
I said, ‘You’re wasting your own time, at least I’m paid to be here.’
He obviously didn’t like that but he also slipped up by saying, ‘If I had known it was water damaged don’t you think I would have pulled the sticker off so you guys wouldn’t notice.’
The guy straight up confirmed he was a fraud. He kept demanding his money back. At this point, I called center security, telling them the issue. They came in and said he had to leave.
He said, ‘This is a public place.’
I decided to chime in and state, ‘This is private property, and you’re now banned. Get lost, bozo’
He still wouldn’t leave when security demanded it so they got on the radio to the cops as the guy was now technically trespassing. His dumb harpy of a wife screeched at him, and they both hightailed it out. All before I’d had my morning tea.”