Nobody enjoys dealing with a Karen. They’re entitled, rude, and downright destructive. What makes them act this way? Who knows! However, these managers weren’t going to let Karen get their way! Content has been edited for clarity.
Customer Service Cakewalk
“I used to work part-time at a bakery inside of a grocery store. I dealt with my fair share of Karens during this time.
Just to paint a picture of how the bakery worked, we had a binder with laminated copies of over one hundred different designs the decorators did regularly. A customer would look through the book, pick a design they wanted, and fill me in on the remaining details. This included when they needed the cake by, the size of the cake, the flavor, and any color changes they wanted.
Our decorators would come in at seven in the morning and stay for however long it took to complete their orders. Usually, they were gone by early to mid-afternoon. The bakery closed along with the store at nine in the evening.
One day, maybe around eight in the evening, a woman came in and said she wanted a cake. I figured she was referring to the cakes sitting in our cooler, which we kept ready in case anybody just wanted something quick and simple. So, I motioned to the cooler and asked her if she sees anything she liked.
Apparently, I’m a brilliant comedian because she starts laughing, and said, ‘No, sweetie, I need a wedding cake.’
Alright, no big deal.
I grabbed an order form and took down her information, and then I asked, ‘So, when do you need the cake by?’
She smugly replied, ‘Tonight.’
Mind you, the store was closing in less than forty minutes, so even if I could decorate a cake, I wouldn’t be able to help her.
I told her, ‘There aren’t any cake decorators here at the moment, they finished working earlier this afternoon. I can make sure there is a cake ready for you first thing tomorrow morning though.’
She was clearly upset by this, but replied, ‘That’s fine.’
I continued taking her order and asked her what size cake she’d like. Our bakery was not an upscale joint, and our prices reflected it; just about everything came in frozen. So for our cakes, they came in a variety of predetermined sizes.
She pulled out her phone, thrust it in my face, and said, ‘Whatever size this cake is.’
On the screen was a very beautiful cake. It had smooth white frosting, seven or eight tiers, and decorations made in fondant and blown sugar.
Before I even continued taking the order, I said, ‘Making the cake isn’t going to be possible. Our decorators are good, but most of them are just exceptionally gifted home bakers who don’t have any formal culinary training. I know an upscale bakery I can refer you to, and they should be able to make the cake.’
Then the dreaded six words came.
She questioned, ‘Can I speak to your manager?’
At this point in time, I had been working at the bakery for a little over a year, so I was capable enough to close the department on my own. As such, I was the only person there. I told her this and offered to leave a note with the customer’s name and number so my manager could call her tomorrow.
She hastily responded, ‘Fine then. Let me talk to a store manager.’
There were anywhere between one and three store managers who oversaw the entire grocery store and all of its departments a night. I went to our phone and paged a store manager over to the bakery department. The whole time we were waiting, she was staring daggers into me.
A manager I was fairly friendly with came to the counter a few minutes later and asked, ‘What seems to be the problem?’
I briefed her before she went to talk to the customer. The second we went over to talk to her, the customer started spewing lies about me.
She said, ‘Your employee is so rude! She refused to help me and just watched me stand here!’
I tried to defend myself, but the manager just told me to keep doing my closing work out back.
Ten minutes later my manager came back, shook her head, and rubbed her temples.
She sighed, ‘Wow, she was crazy.’
The customer service industry is a blast.”
The Food Court Fight
“I previously worked at a fast-food restaurant in a mall. The staff did not know it at the time, but our ketchup dispenser was empty. A boy, age ten or so, was just smashing down on the handle trying to get ketchup, but none was being dispensed.
A staff member noticed the kid smashing the ketchup dispenser, so I went out to see what was going on.
I told the kid, ‘Oh, the ketchup is empty. I’ll get a new bag from the kitchen. Give me two minutes and I’ll be right back with some new ketchup.’
I removed the empty container, took it back to the kitchen, cleaned the dispenser, and placed a new bag of ketchup inside. I took the ketchup dispenser back to the lobby and was met by an angry Karen.
She screamed, ‘Why did you take the ketchup away from my son? He was using it!’
I calmly replied, ‘The ketchup dispenser was empty, so I replaced the bag.’
Karen responded, ‘You took it away from him! Go get your manager, now!’
I smirked, walk about two meters, turned around, and introduced myself, ‘Hi! I’m the manager!’
She became absolutely livid and started screaming once more about the ketchup.
I quietly said, ‘Ma’am, please lower your voice. The ketchup was empty. I explained to your son I needed to take it back to the kitchen to refill it.’
Karen yelled, ‘You didn’t explain anything to my son! I was standing here the entire time. You took the ketchup away from my son!’
I asked her to lower her voice once again, and she continued to scream louder and louder. By this point, the entire restaurant had stopped eating and was staring at her.
I tried to stop her screaming and said, ‘Nope. Ma’am, please get your belongings and leave this establishment.’
Queue the terrifying meltdown.
She screeched, ‘I will not leave this establishment! I will burn the place down before I leave!’
Other patrons in the restaurant started to become visibly upset at what they were witnessing. My co-workers in the back called the police.
Karen gave her statement to the police. The police question me, and I gave my statement. She had told the police I had struck her son, pushed him out of the way, and moved the ketchup to an area in which her son couldn’t get access to the ketchup.
I disputed the claim and offered to provide video evidence, with sound, of what actually happened.
Police watched the video once, thanked me for cooperating, and walk out to the lobby.
An officer asked Karen, ‘Ma’am, does your son has someone who can look after him?’
She angrily responded, ‘His father is at work right now!’
The officer replied, ‘Okay. You’re being placed under arrest for making threats and a false police report.’
Karen was now uncontrollably crying.
In the end, she was charged with making the false police report, and received a lifetime ban from not just our restaurant, but the entire mall our restaurant was located.
I felt kind of bad. Not for Karen, but for her son. He has to live with her forever!”
The Diner Debacle
“One time, I was eating at a cheap, greasy-spoon kind of a diner which had been around since the fifties. All of the meat was frozen, and pretty much nothing but the coffee and eggs were made fresh. You knew what you were getting when you came to this restaurant.
A couple came in with their two young boys, I’d estimate ages six or seven for either. The mom made a minor scene about not wanting a booth and wanting a table instead. There was an entire wall of booths and multiple tables, but she specifically wanted the table in the middle of the room. The table needed to be bussed since the people who were using it just left, and she again made a scene about having to wait for a busser to take care of it. At this point, I wasn’t paying too much attention, but the family was sitting literally right next to us.
The couple ordered appetizers, steak, and shakes for the kids. Their waitress was handling several other tables at the same time, probably about a third of the entire restaurant. The waitress served some coffee and sliced pie to an elderly couple who came in after the family, and Karen threw an absolute hissy fit.
She yelled, ‘We were here first! How come they are getting their orders before my family is?’
The manager came out and explained in the most placid tone possible, ‘Ma’am, you ordered steak and multiple fried foods. Hot food takes time to cook. Coffee is available all day, and sliced pie is kept in a display up front so there is no prep time.’
The Karen calmed down a bit, but I could tell she was still fuming. She didn’t allow her children, who had buffet tickets, to go get their food until her and her husband’s food arrived at the table.
Once the adult food arrived, Karen just started digging in and ignored her children. The children were both just tall enough to see over the edge of the buffet, but not nearly enough to reach the tongs or reasonably serve themselves. A waitress from another section saw the children struggling to serve themselves and came over to help.
Karen flew to her feet and screamed, ‘How dare you tell my kids what they can and cannot eat! Who do you think you are handling their food?’
The manager came out again and Karen continued to complain. The waitress who tried to help her children was extremely old and was nearly in tears thinking she had done something terrible. The manager asked her to go chill in the back a bit while she smoothed things over with Karen, and the waitress obliged. Karen demanded balloons for her kids, and the manager gave them to her to keep them quiet. The husband and children were visibly embarrassed.
Finally, the husband’s steak came out last. He’s unenthusiastic about it, and Karen called for the manager a fourth time to chew her out over the steak being overdone. They send it back and demand another. Let me reiterate; this was a place you went to for greasy burgers and fries. The steak was on the menu, but realistic expectations and reason mean you’re not expecting high quality. When you come to this restaurant, you are getting what you pay for.
The manager stayed calm and kept apologizing for their bad experience, but beyond filling minor low-cost demands, they didn’t offer up much.
Karen shouted, ‘We will never be coming back to this establishment!’
The manager replied, ‘Sorry to hear you had a bad time. Have a nice night!’
I could imagine the entire restaurant staff was ecstatic she would never be returning.”
“I’m not in retail anymore, but I previously managed a popular mid-range handbag store. Think ‘typical Karen bag’, about two hundred to four hundred bucks. Most customers who came into the store were fantastic. Except for one.
One day, a woman stomped into the store and demanded we repair her twenty-year-old bag for free.
She said, ‘If you won’t repair my bag, you will exchange it free of charge!’
I replied, ‘I’m really sorry, but we can’t repair your handbag free of charge. The bags do come with a warranty, but the warranty is only up to one year.’
The woman, dissatisfied with my answer, asked, ‘Where’s the store manager? I need to speak to them.’
I told her I’m the manager, and she began to turn bright red
She screamed, ‘I’m calling corporate, and I am never shopping at this store again!’
Losing a customer who was too cheap to repair a bag over twenty years old didn’t seem like a real loss.
I give her my best grin and said, ‘I’m so sorry, it’s just the policy.’
She demanded I give her the corporate office phone number. I gave her the customer service line anyone could find on Google, unbeknownst to her. She huffed away, forgetting her keys on the counter. She was halfway out when she remembered, turned around, and snatched the keys off the counter. It was hilarious.
She came back months later, worked with a different person on the team, and didn’t even look my way.”
Department Store Drama
“I worked as a loss prevention manager at a retail store. An important aspect of my job was to be the, ‘No’, guy. If there was a customer who was starting to become hostile in our store, I was the person who had to diffuse the situation. Nobody else in the store was allowed to do so because loss prevention was the only person certified to touch a person if it came down to safety and security issues.
On this particular day, there was a Karen at guest services with her small child in the shopping cart. The child looked to be only two years old. Karen was extremely frustrated with an employee who had tried to tell her she could not return her DVD. She didn’t have a receipt, and the DVD was already opened and had a scratch on it.
I could already hear Karen screaming as I approached the guest service desk, so I had an idea of what was going on already.
She approached me and yelled, ‘Your employee doesn’t even know the store return policy! I just want to return this DVD!’
I explained, ‘Not only does store policy come into play, but we would be breaking a copyright law because the DVD has been opened and used.’
She cried, ‘Well when I got home and opened the case, there was already a scratch on it! I didn’t even use the DVD!’
I calmly replied, ‘Within our policy and the law, I can exchange the DVD for the same item. However, I need to open it before you leave so it can’t be returned somewhere else.’
Karen was so angry she started to shake.
She screamed, ‘Fine! I don’t even want to return in anymore! You can just have it!’
Karen proceeded to throw the DVD at me, and it flew past my head.
Afterward, she left the store kicking and screaming. Thirty minutes later, she called the store and demanded she has the DVD back.
I told her, ‘Sorry, ma’am. The DVD was already thrown in the trash compactor.’
I may have escalated the situation a little bit, and I probably could have helped her out. But with the way she treated the other employees and me, I wasn’t going to encourage her behavior.”
“I Hate You, Punk!”
“Years ago I managed a local pet store chain location. I was young and often dismissed as a manager. One night, a Karen walked up to me holding a parakeet cage and thirty bucks.
She asked, ‘Can you throw in some extra accessories for free? I really need some extra perches and food.’
I politely replied, ‘I can’t give you items for free, I’m sorry. I can give you a discount if you make a large purchase, though.’
She immediately started flipping out.
She yelled, ‘You know what? I work in retail, too! You are supposed to do whatever makes the customer happy!’
The yelling continued for a few more minutes, and I never got a word in. Karen set the cage down and stormed out of the store.
I laughed off the situation, and a customer watching said, ‘I don’t know how you deal with people like her.’
About half an hour later, my cashier told me there was an angry woman on the phone. It was obviously the same woman, and she wanted to speak to the manager. I picked up the phone and introduced myself.
She claimed, ‘I had an awful experience with the rude kid working in the store! He was being mean to the animals in the store and refused to help me. All I did was ask him for a discount! He needs to be fired!’
Everything Karen said on the phone was a total lie.
I asked, ‘Do you know who helped you earlier or remember his name?’
She immediately started describing myself, and I was struggling not to laugh.
I replied, ‘Ma’am, that is me who you talked to. I am the store manager. None of what you told me actually happened, and we have surveillance cameras in the store. I can pull up the entire ordeal in case my district manager would like to see what really happened.’
She screamed at the top of her lungs, ‘I hate you, punk!’
We didn’t actually have cameras inside the store, but I knew the bluff was believable enough. It was quite a satisfying moment. I had many encounters with Karen in my career, but this had to be the best because she was so crazy.”
Hair Salon Headache
“I’m a hairstylist and I manage the salon I work at. One day, a kooky woman booked an appointment with me to color her gray hair. I colored her hair and walked her to the sink to rinse her out. When I was done shampooing her, she sat up, looked in the mirror, and started flipping out. Keep in mind, that the mirror she was looking in was at least seven feet away. She wouldn’t even let me dry her hair or brush it out so she could see what it actually looked like. I had apparently ‘ruined’ her hair, even though her greys were completely covered and matched the rest of her hair.
After a few minutes of her screaming at me, I told her, ‘Your service is on the house today. You need to leave now.’
She yelled back, ‘Where is your manager?!’
I slowly responded, ‘Ma’am, you are yelling at her, actually.’
The woman began to shake and turn bright red. I could tell she was livid.
My boss was a well-established artist in the hair industry. The woman used her knowledge of this to her advantage.
She questioned, ‘What would your boss think of the mess you made of my hair? Would he let his clients walk around like this? Maybe I’ll just show him how you ruined my hair!’
I curtly replied, ‘Well, considering he is the person who taught me how to do hair, I am sure he will think your hair looks great. However, he will be in the salon on Tuesday if you would like to set up a time to show him your hair.’
After I told her this, she stormed out of the salon. Thankfully, I never saw the woman again.”
The Coupon Catastrophe
“This occurrence happened before I became a manager and I was still a server at Steak ‘n Shake. One night, a customer had a coupon for a discounted, burger, small fry, and shake. On the coupon, the print specifically stated the cheese on the burger was a thirty-nine-cent upcharge. In her defense, the picture on the coupon did have a burger with cheese on it.
I told the woman cheese would have a small upcharge, and she threw a fit in our dining room.
She angrily yelled, ‘You are treating me so unfairly! This is false advertising, and you are responsible for misleading me!’
I replied, ‘I agree, the picture is false advertising. However, the coupon does state cheese is a small upcharge. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about it.’
The table next to us overheard the entire altercation, and a woman got up, put fifty cents on the table, and said, ‘I’ll pay for your cheese if you just shut up already!’
This made the cheese lady even angrier. My manager heard the disturbance from her office, came out, and removed the cheese upcharge from the bill.
What the heck, Karen.”
The Public Pool Problem
“A couple of years ago I worked at the public pool in my town. Like many other public pools, we had a rule stating no outside food or drink was allowed. One day, a Karen came in and she wasn’t pleased about the rule.
She yelled, ‘This rule is stupid! I just spent twelve dollars on this coffee from Starbucks!’
She argued with me back and forth for over ten minutes.
Karen claimed, ‘Well, the public pool in the next town over allows it!’
I simply replied, ‘Ma’am, it’s just our policy. I’m sorry. I can’t allow outside food or drink into the pool.’
She walked closer to me, looked me in the eye, and dumped her coffee onto our computer screen.
I guess she didn’t want her coffee that bad.
Anyway, I called the police and she never came back.”
Rage And Receipts
“I previously worked as the assistant manager at a popular women’s clothing store. One day, we had a woman come in with some items and a gift receipt. The store policy stated items returned with a gift receipt could not be given cash back, only a store credit or an even exchange. Once Karen found this out, her tirade began. She became extremely upset and started yelling at the employees, so she was forced to leave the store. On her way out, she slammed the glass door at the front of the store and it shattered everywhere. She left her receipt on the counter and we had her information, so she was sent a bill to replace the door afterward.”