People working in the food service industry face get a lot of flack from customers. Oftentimes, they receive ridiculous complaints from customers and have to deal with the issues. Food industry workers share times when they received ridiculous complaints from customers. Content has been edited for clarity.
He Wasn’t Even A Customer
“It wasn’t told to me but was about me. Back in the 90s, I worked at a national mediocre pizza chain. It was close to my house and I was an otherwise busy college student.
At the time stirrup pants were in style, so one night, not having done clothes, I was asked to come in on my day off, so I did. I needed the money. All I had were a pair of worn, grey stirrup pants. The night passed without incident, and yet, there was nonsense happening in the background.
A man who was not even my customer complained not to my boss, but to the middle manager of several chains. My first reaction was, of course, to think back and try to remember if I had shorted anyone money, or not provided service; nope, could not think of a thing. As I remembered, that whole night was rather slow and calm. We had had maybe a dozen or fewer customers.
The next time I went to work, I parked and I saw the manager at the window staring at me as I got out of my car. I was tempted right then and there to do a little pirouette but resisted. My whole attitude walking in was, What are you looking at? Look all you want, older middle manager of a national mediocre pizza chain. I hope it’s a thrill.
Fred asked me to go back there, and by ‘back there’ I mean a jury-rigged cubicle made up of plastic chairs and pizza boxes. Then the story came out. The complaining dude was not my customer and yet complained about me anyway. I asked what exactly was the complaint. Fred stumbled and stuttered. I just sat there, stony and silent, and let him fumble.
Then, 20 something me said, with no care left to give, ‘So this guy who was not my customer, complained about what I was wearing, and I didn’t serve him at all? You need to find better friends.’
I walked off and started my shift. I dared Fred to say something or fire me. Looking back, getting yet another hate comment thrown at me put even more steel in my spine, and intensified my already mouthy ways, especially growing up female in the Deep South. I quit that job a little later because my college work ramped up, and I was greasy after working every shift.”
“I wasn’t waiting tables, but I was delivering pizzas.
In the early ’90s, before I was working as a driver, I was a pizza cook and took the orders, too. The was pre-internet and in a store with almost no automation. The orders were taken over the phone and delivered to the cooking station.
I’d taken the order this particular night. He had asked for a supreme pizza and, as I recall, a pepperoni pizza. Since our supreme had everything but anchovies and jalapeños, our policy was to review the toppings and check for modifications. I reviewed the toppings with him and he said they were good. I then wound up being the same person to deliver the pizzas to his house.
Back at the store, he called to complain about how there were mushrooms on his pizza and that his wife was allergic to them. He wanted another without mushrooms delivered to him.
By this time, I recognized his number, his house, and his scam. This wasn’t the first time he’d pulled this but it was the first that I’d taken the order, helped with the preparation, and delivered it. When I returned to his place with his other pizza, I asked for any unused portion from the first to be returned. He said that they’d eaten it because they were hungry and it was only his wife who was allergic.
When I returned to the store the second time, I put his number and address on the ‘do not serve/do not deliver list.’ I happened to be working the next week when he called to put in another order. I didn’t take the order but recognized the address and told the cook he was DNS/DND (do not serve and do not deliver). I called him back and said he wouldn’t be receiving pizzas from us.
He, of course, went off and demanded to speak to the manager. The ‘manager’ at the time was another 17-year-old kid who was covering for the actual manager. He told our no-longer-valued customer we would no longer be serving him. The guy continued yelling as we hung up the phone. This man was in his mid-30s to early-40s. Despite his ‘maturity,’ he continued making false orders using erroneous addresses in an attempt, I guess to harass us.
Despite any lack of automation, the store did have caller ID. After one order sometime later, I mentioned it to a police officer who was in the store. I explained to the officer what had happened and why the guy has been doing it since.
He told me he’d take care of it. After that night, we didn’t receive any false orders from him again.”
I Expect More For A Five Buck Sandwich
“One of my daughters worked at a coffee chain restaurant that serves sandwiches, soup, and pastries as well as coffee and donuts. It had a very limited menu, fast food all the way, and no fine dining. A customer ordered a turkey club sandwich and a medium double-double (Canadian for a medium coffee, two cream, and two sugar).
The sandwiches were made to order. When the order was taken, a sandwich maker would cut the roll, spread whatever condiments were ordered, then add the meat and vegetables. A turkey club, by default, was served in a white roll with mayo, sliced cold turkey, tomato, lettuce, bacon, and cheddar. The customer didn’t ask for anything different, so he got the ‘standard’ sandwich.
He picked up his order, started to walk to a table, and then came back to the counter with the sandwich wrapper partly open.
He started yelling, ‘What the heck is this? I ordered a turkey club! This looks like a gas station sandwich. It has probably been sitting in the cooler for a week!’
My daughter asked him if he wanted a different sandwich, and he said ‘You dang well better give me a new one.’
She asked if he wanted anything different, whole wheat roll, other condiments, etcetera. He said he just wanted a ‘proper’ sandwich. She called the sandwich maker to re-do the order, and they came out of the kitchen to confirm and went back to start making it. From where they were positioned, the customer had a clear view of them putting the sandwich together, step by step.
This time, they placed the sandwich on a china plate instead of the standard paper wrapper. Fresh coffee was poured and mixed as well, even though his first one was only about three minutes old. He looked at the sandwich on the plate, looked up at the menu board where a photo of a turkey club was and smashed his open hand down on the sandwich.
He yelled, ‘This is unacceptable. You people don’t have a clue how to make a club sandwich.’
Before my daughter could respond, he picked up the plate and dropped it on the floor.
He then opened his coffee cup lid and said, ‘I can tell just by looking that the coffee’s cold, and it’s probably stale too.’
He took a big gulp of it. This was a bad idea because the coffee at this place was hot enough to scald you when it was served. Probably the only thing that prevented him from being burned was the two shots of cream added. Even with that, he dropped the cup like it was a rattlesnake. Coffee splashed all over his pants and shoes. He stomped out, yelling obscenities the whole time.
When he started going off, another worker went to the back office to get the manager. He arrived out front just in time to catch the exit show. The staff cleaned up his mess and carried on serving customers, thinking the guy had left. About 15 minutes later, though, he came back in.
He went straight to my daughter’s register and said to her, ‘Sorry, I might have overreacted. I just can’t stand getting food that’s not fresh.’
Even though she was quite young, she didn’t break down or snap back at him.
She said, ‘We’ll make you another sandwich if you like. What else can I get you?’
He ordered the same thing, a turkey club, and a medium double-double. The manager had already been told that the crazy guy was back and came out front intending to talk with him.
His order was entered into the till, and my daughter said, ‘That will be (insert money amount). How would you like to pay?’
He stood open-mouthed for a minute and then just went off again, worse than ever, and said, ‘How dare you try to charge me for your mess up! There’s no freaking way I’m paying for that.’
By this time, the manager was around the counter and escorting him to the door. The customer was yelling about how he was going to sue and have the manager arrested.
A local police detachment was nearby, and as it happened, a couple of officers were walking over to get a coffee when this was going on. They intervened, and he continued to rant and threaten. After a couple of minutes, he found himself handcuffed in the back of a police car, and a day later, facing a judge. All because of a five-buck fast food sandwich that, it seemed, didn’t live up to his Gordon Ramsay standards.”
The Chronicles Of Chick-Fil-A
“I’m a teen, and I work at Chick-fil-A. At my location, we run a very busy drive-thru. We have staff outside by the drive-thru taking orders and payments, giving receipts, and running out of food.
One day, I was working on the payment/receipts position.
I gave a lady her receipt, and she said to me, ‘You guys shouldn’t use plastic bags.’
For reference, we put our cold salads in plastic bags. It may not be the most environmentally friendly way to do it, but it is the best option for us, and it is a company procedure. I would understand her concern, but the reason she did not like plastic bags was odd.
She said she felt this way because ‘There are ducks behind Jewel.
Jewel-Osco is a grocery store about a half mile away from the restaurant. I wondered why she thought our plastic bags would make their way to the grocery store. I’ve never seen one of our plastic bags littered. Maybe she should have talked to Jewel-Osco’s management about their plastic bags instead.
The next car I gave a receipt to was a guy who said we shouldn’t have receipts because of the environment. Receipts are important for our customers, so I had to disagree with him. It was a wild shift. I’m all for being eco-friendly, but these things were not up to me, so I couldn’t help them.
Last week a GrubHub person came to pick up an order. The order was for someone named Laura, but the Grub Hub guy said, Lauren. We had an order for Lauren so we gave it to him. Later, we get a call from Laura, angry that the Grub Hub guy brought the wrong order and asked us for a refund.
We couldn’t do that because it was Grub Hub’s fault. Her husband called later and called our manager a bunch of choice words.
When our dine-in and takeout closed due to world events, we kept a back door open to let our employees in and out to work outside in the drive-thru. One time this man somehow walked in without us noticing and proceeded to ‘wait in line’.
When our team leader noticed, and said that we can’t take his order inside, he cried, ‘I just want to get my order taken!’
It was weird.”
When Life Gives You Lemons, Make A Scene
“I had a table who would complain about the food and how everything was done incorrectly. Their well-done steak was too tough. The prices were too high. They requested large amounts of lemons (which we gave out for free) so that they could make lemonade with sugar packets at our table. Often, they brought their drinks in.
At the end of the meal, they complained relentlessly about how they couldn’t eat the meal (it was so horrid) to try to get a discount, even though there were only a few bites left on their plate.
I had another large group try to do this on Thanksgiving (when we were packed). They would order one side and complain that the stuffing was too dry and they needed another side. I don’t remember specifics, but it was constant complaints and them sending food back five times over. It got to the point that the owner told me to avoid the table and let them sit and eat.
They began to harass our busser (a young girl) to correct things. At the end of the night, they tried to say how horrible everything was, how horrible the service was, and tried to refuse to pay for it. One lady became so irate she acted as if she was going to turn this fiasco into a physical altercation with the owner’s wife. In the end, she managed to get them to pay (with some charges dropped)and they screamed about how we ruined their Thanksgiving.
We had many wonderful customers and I loved serving most of the time. There were a lot of people that wanted handouts and would go to any extreme to get them through.”
“I was back to waiting tables for a little while some other career things developed. It never ceased to amaze me what people complained about. We had a couple come in for lunch. That day our local drink tour was changing, but unfortunately, we had not set up the new kegs of drinks for lunch.
We also were always running out of the most random items and drinks due to a large increase in demand during post-world events and re-openings.
I explained to the lady that her first drink choice was not available. I then offered a second choice which she and her husband agreed upon. No one at the restaurant told me we were also out of that drink. She was not happy when I offered her a third choice. They went ahead and ordered food and ate their lunch.
When I presented the bill, the original drink that she ordered was on the ticket. I left it on because it was less money than the drink she ordered. She insisted, ‘I’m not paying for a drink I didn’t actually drink.’
My response was, ‘Yes, ma’am, I understand that wasn’t the drink you drank. But technically, it is cheaper, so you’re paying less money for your total bill.’
She replied, ‘No, I want to pay for exactly what I drank.’
I had my manager put the more expensive drink on the ticket. Amazingly, they didn’t stiff me. The difference in the bill totals was a whopping 11 cents.”
No White On My Lettuce
“I’ve been a waitress most of my life. I have many memories of horrible entitled customers. The one that stands out the most was this sophisticated lady who was dining with her rich husband (late 50s I would guess). They pulled up in a glossed-up red corvet. The reason I know was that my section was the outdoor patio during the summer.
They both ordered steaks and baked potatoes with shrimp and dip for an appetizer. She told me her salad with blue cheese better only have green leaves, and if the lettuce had any white cores, she would be very unhappy. So I went back to make sure her salad was to her liking and pulled apart all the leaves leaving only green pieces.
Their bill came to more than 100 bucks because they ordered two bottles of delicious red cabernet. They ended up tipping two bucks. I was so disgusted because I made her salad so perfect, and she wanted to treat me like I was nothing.”
But I’m A Regular
“I can’t remember specifically what they said, but it’s happened a few times. I somehow get blamed for the prices or if the prices go up.
Customers will be extremely hostile about this, and all I can do is emphasize and apologize as well as say, ‘I’m sorry I don’t make the prices, I have no control over what we charge or even have the liberty of giving you a discount on your meal. But I’ll grab a manager for you if that’s what you’d like.’
Recently though, due to world events, my restaurant got converted into a curbside takeout location like any fast food restaurant.
Well, I was on the phone taking orders into our point-of-sale system, and my current phone call had been from a woman who ordered about four meals, but they were pretty standard. It was a special we had every Wednesday. Well, as we neared the end of the phone call, I began to explain to this woman that we were no longer accepting cash for sanitary reasons, and I had to process her payment by phone.
She began to get aggressive and told me she was a regular and was not going to pay through the phone. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t just come into the building pick up her food and pay with her cash. I again explained to her that I apologize for the inconvenience, but I would then get in lots of trouble with the owner and my managers if I allowed her to do this. At that point, the cops had been watching our restaurant to ensure we were following sanitary procedures, and the owners were worried about being shut down or worse if we didn’t follow every protocol.
I’d been told countless times in one day not to accept cash, and not let anyone in the building besides other workers. They had said they’d rather lose an order than risk anything. The woman on the phone was extremely hostile, and she kept persisting on the same thing; paying with cash. But I was told to not accept cash for orders. She was extremely upset, and in the end, canceled her order. All I could do was apologize, but I also was not going to risk my job or the sanitation of the restaurant because she wanted things her way.”
“I used to work in a local Canadian coffee shop called Tim Horton’s, and While studying I used to do the night shift there so I can balance my school in the morning.
After 11:00 p.m., we closed our doors for dining in, and all we offered was drinks through the drive-thru. There was not much food after 11:00 p.m.
Once, a guy in the drive-through walked in around 1:00 a.m. and asked for coffee and food. I politely told him we could only do drive-thru. Since he was walking in the drive-thru, I couldn’t serve him. He was so mad about it and started yelling at me. After much talk, he went away.
Then at around 2:30 a.m., the same guy came in with a shopping cart from the Metro, which was in front of my coffee shop. He demanded the same thing telling me to consider his shopping cart as a car and to serve me.
I told him the same thing that I could not serve him as this was a drive-thru. I don’t know what part of Drive-thru he didn’t get. He stood there with the shopping cart for almost an hour, and when he realized that I was not going to serve him, he left the place.
The incident was kind of funny, but I was shocked to see how people go to any extent just to get a coffee.”
What Was The Reason?
“My best friend was a waiter, and his story went like this.
He served this couple and did it well, he checked on them several times, made sure their drinks were full, etcetera. They left him a small tip; I don’t know how much. Five minutes after they left, he had this conversation with his manager, referred to as ‘M’. We’ll call my buddy ‘J’.
M: ‘This couple you just served, they complained and I had to comp their meal. Did they complain or say anything to you?’
J: ‘No sir, I checked on them several times and they told me everything was fine.’
M: ‘Well I had to comp their meal, so you must’ve done something wrong.’
J: ‘But they didn’t say anything to me.’
M: ‘You’re supposed to take care of the customer.’
J: ‘But I did, and as far as I know, they were satisfied with the service.’
M: ‘Okay, but they still complained.’
J: ‘Excuse me, sir, but how am I supposed to know what’s wrong if they don’t tell me?’
M: ‘I don’t know, but I still had to comp them.’
J: ‘Okay, I fail to see how that’s my fault.’
M (very annoyed now): ‘Just go back to work.’
J: ‘Fine, but before I go I should tell you now, you just got scammed by these people. They walked in intending to get a free meal. This is on you, I did everything I could to make them happy, and they indicated they were happy.’
So basically, the manager could only repeat himself over and over again like a moron, too stupid obviously to see that these people were just out for a free meal.
When I told another friend the story, they said they’d have done the same as the couple.
I was shocked and asked why, and he said, ‘The waiter is supposed to know what’s wrong.’
Seriously? I flat out told him that I never realized how cheap he was, and how this was just stupid to do. I also pointed out that if waiters could read minds, they wouldn’t be waiters. They’d have a mind-reading show, probably in Vegas.”
Bacon-Wrapped Burger Or Filet
“I had an older couple and her mother come in. They ordered three filet-mignons. The man came up to pay and screamed so loud about being served bacon-wrapped hamburger steaks instead. After a pretty intense interaction, I comped the three meals. The mother had not eaten all her steak. It was Saturday night, and we were busy, so the waitress did not have a chance to check.
The ridiculous part was that I worked the same five days a week every week, which included every Saturday night. The same three came back through, tried the same thing again, and complained to the waitress. I made them pay for the meal and told him the manager would speak with him in the morning. I thought of the chef, but the hotel manager told him we did not need their business again. They tried the same restaurant again; I could not believe it.”