Everyone has their limits, and when pushed to them, they might lose it. But what happens if this were to occur while on the clock?
Workers on Quora share what happened when they snapped at a rude customer. Content has been edited for clarity.
She Couldn’t Be Happy
“As a manager of a chain pizza establishment, I had a lady come in to pick up a pizza she had called in. My cook was in the back doing prep and I was upfront and I made the order myself, so I knew it was right. She had ordered a large pepperoni and black olive pizza with extra black olives.
First thing on coming in, she demanded to see the pizza, so I showed it to her. She said it was not right, not enough black olives, I said ok and put more on and heated the pizza up to cook them in. She said it was not right and still short on black olives (I had doubled the amount, you could barely see the pepperoni) and demanded I completely remake the order.
I figured what the heck, it was a slow rainy day why not, so I remade her pizza, pulled it, cut it, boxed it, and showed it to her. She again insisted it was not good enough, it is just wrong, and I need to make it right just how she wants it. I explained it was made perfectly to her order, I put double the normal amount of olives and even put more on just to make sure, but no it was not good enough.
So I pointed out the window to a competitive pizza shop across the street and informed her the pizza was there.
She went bonkers, said she wanted to call my Supervisor, was going to call corporate, and get me fired. I gave her my name, my supervisor’s name, the corporate number and asked her if I could dial the number for her. If steam could come out of her ears, it would have.
I watched her almost wreck her car pulling out. The first thing I did was call my supervisor and let him know that stuff was about to blow up, never heard anything else about it.”
At Least Everyone Heard It
“Long ago and far away, I used to work for the local newspaper. Part of my job was ‘running kicks’ as they called it or, in plain words, delivering missed papers. Somehow this new customer was signed up for a subscription and somehow they kept getting missed. My supervisor made every effort to ensure they got their paper, but somehow it kept coming up missing- likely theft.
One morning, I was out doing my usual address checks and yes their address was on the list, yes the paper was at the end of their driveway, and yes, I left another one just in case. But a few hours later, their address came across my pager. So I drove over there and pulled up the driveway to the house even though there was a sign saying they didn’t want their paper left on the porch, which we could have done. There was a woman in the yard, and she immediately starts to scream at me, seemingly for everything wrong in her world.
She hadn’t even let me get out of my car, and I was trying to explain to her there was a paper left by her carrier, I had left another and if she wouldn’t mind us driving even halfway up the drive to leave the paper since the house was set back off the road a piece, she would be more likely to actually GET IT every day. Some way somehow this sent her into a rage and she started screaming at me again. She paused to take a breath and I took my shot.
I told her politely and in a calm voice, ‘Look, lady. I’m trying to help you. Do you want the darn paper or not? Because I don’t have all day to sit here and listen to you scream at me for something I didn’t do or have any control over. I have other customers who may have been missed or had their paper stolen too and they’re waiting on me to bring them one.’
She started screaming at me again, and at that point, I had enough.
I told her, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t get paid nearly enough to take nonsense like this off people like you. And by the way, since you have been so incredibly rude to me, if you miss your paper on any given day from here on out, you had better hope and pray I’m not working that day because I won’t be bringing you one.’
Now she was really set off. She threatened me with she would be calling my supervisor.
I replied, ‘Go ahead. I’ll have her on the radio before you make it to your front door.’
Since she was already headed across the yard to the house, I tossed her paper out the window into the dirt driveway/yard and drove away.
Yes, I had the supervisor on the radio before I reached the end of the drive. I told her what was going on and how rude this person is and was to me. Since it was the walkie-type radio, everybody in our office in the neighboring districts and the dispatchers all heard what was going on and how rude the woman was. I let dispatch know she would likely be calling in to complain and that her paper is in the yard, she just needs to march her crabby self out there and pick it up.”
This Woman Went Too Far
“Early 1988, I spent about four or five months working full time at Hungry Jacks.
I was usually in drive-thru and this particular day I was having a very bad day.
I’d been woken at the crack of dawn by my sister, who was in New South Wales, ringing to tell me her fiancés’ brother had just been killed in a freak work accident and she’d been called in to ID the very mangled body. Then just before I left for work, my mother rang to tell me her boyfriend’s mother had just died.
I was 16 and was very emotional and sensitive due to some stuff that had happened only a month or so beforehand. I was also house-sitting for my mum and had been getting crank calls and weird messages left on the answering machine. To say I was nervous and edgy would be an understatement.
Lunch rush at work comes and the drive-thru lane was packed. A woman ordered and then she got to the window gives me her money. I had a habit of always taking note of what coins and notes I was given as I put them away.
As I handed her the order, she started shrieking I hadn’t given her any change, I said no because she gave me the correct amount. Nope, she insisted she was due 15 cents change. I stated the bill came to $2.55 and she’d given me four fifty-cent pieces, a 20, a 20 a 10, and a 5. She insisted she hadn’t. By this time she was screaming at me and accusing me of stealing her money.
I snapped. I opened the till, pulled out some coins, and literally threw them through the window at her and said, ‘You’re wrong but here, have the money, and I’ll make my till up at the end of the day out of my own pocket you stupid woman.’
I then slammed the window shut, turned around and there was my manager standing there.
He took me into the office and said, ‘Is everything ok?’
After I sobbed out my story, he told me to head home for the rest of the day and that we’d talk the next day, and he arranged for someone to drive me home.
When I got in the next day, I was sure I’d be fired, but all he did was ask if I was feeling better and not to worry.
Seems that the fact I was normally so upbeat that my nickname was smiley meant he knew something horrible must have been going on. Plus, I was one of their best workers. I also asked about my till and he told me that at the end of the day it was 15 cents short.”
That’s A Pretty Good Bluff
“I used to work overnights at a convenience store.
We would have at least one adult beverage run a night. Our policy for those runs was to press the record button for the cameras and then call the non-emergency police line and report it. Nothing ever happened after that. I don’t think the cops care about runs when there are real threats out there.
Also, as an employee, we were not allowed to interfere in any way. So, in most runs, they grabbed the drinks and we silently watched as they ran out the door without paying. I never said or did anything. It sure was frustrating. Until one night, I had my chance to get back.
It was about 10 o’clock at night and I was the only one in the store, so I decided to go out in front of the store and have a break. As I stood there, I noticed the same SUV drive slowly past the store at least three times back and forth while I was out there for two minutes. So I headed back inside because I knew what was coming.
I see the SUV pull in backward on the right-hand side of the store parking lot. I could see the back of the SUV from the register. Four teenagers came in, each grab an 18-pack under each arm, and headed out the door.
As the last kid sped by, I said, ‘I can see your license plate.’
I really couldn’t see it.
He stopped, ‘Wait, what?!’
I smirked and said, ‘You backed in, I can see your plate.’
He got quiet and looked worried.
I said, ‘Have them bring all the drinks back and I won’t call the police.’
His eyes got wide, ‘Really?’ as he dropped the case and ran to the front door and screamed to his buddies, ‘Guys, bring the drinks back! He has the license number and that’s my mom’s car!’
A few seconds later, each one of the other three kids slowly walked back in the store with their heads down, drinks in hand.
‘Go put it back!’ I said, as I was trying not to laugh.
They all walked over to the cooler, put every 18-pack back, and walked towards the door.
I looked at the main kid and said, ‘I won’t call the cops, but next time, don’t use your mom’s car.’
He said thanks and ran out the door.
I started laughing as I watched them drive off.
I felt like I got payback for all those runs.”
“I was in sales with a multinational, was asked to entertain the MD of a customer to a weekend of skiing together with my boss. I did not like the customer, but in my early 20s did not feel I could say no. I did take the precaution of booking myself the last room in a different hotel to limit the time I had to spend with him. At the last minute, my boss bailed on me, leaving me, a young woman, to deal with this man for two whole days alone.
So we met and skied the first day, during which he continually tried to ‘teach me to ski’. I am a pretty good skier, but he was the customer, so I swallowed my wrath and said nothing. By the end of the day, I had had a bellyful.
We had arranged to have dinner together that evening. His patronizing and egotistical personality continued grating on me, and I was literally biting my tongue. Until the moment that somehow the conversation turned to a disabled skier we had seen on the slopes that day. I mentioned how inspiring I found such folks, truly demonstrating ‘where there is a will there is a way.’ He looked me in the eye and said he thought anyone who was ‘less than perfect’ wasn’t worth it. My blood literally boiled. I told him that far from being ‘perfect’ some people might think he was an ignorant, arrogant bully, but no one cared. I could not tolerate sitting there one second longer, and left.
The following day we met as prearranged, but I could still not tolerate this moron, and I knew the ski resort. So I led him down the first run, allowed him (the master skier) to overtake me, and then carefully took the right-hand fork where he had skied left. I skied alone for the rest of the day.
Fast-forward one month (I was waiting for him to file a complaint and to be fired – but I truly did not care) I was asked to drive to their factory to meet their CEO. I was nervous as I had never met such a VIP before (I was 23), and asked a kind-hearted colleague to come with me, having told her about the nightmare weekend. We arrived, were taken out to lunch by the CEO, the finance director, and the horrible customer. And nothing happened. There was a tiny bit of conversation about our business but for the most part just polite chat. On the way home, I told my colleague I had no idea what that was about. The following day, the CEO called me to tell me he had fired the horrible customer whose attitude the CEO felt did not embrace the values of his organization. But, he could not do so until he found a way to be able to get in touch with me, as their factory was dependent on our product.”
What’s The Issue Here?
“I had been selling tires wholesale at a tire store and got promoted to commercial sales. That is, I went from selling to other tire stores to selling to trucking companies. ‘Ken’ took over my wholesale accounts. A couple of months later, the tire company came up with a new sales plan for wholesale customers. The tire prices were much lower, but there was a catch. The opening order for each customer has to be at least $5000. Our store mostly served small customers who might buy $20k to $100k per year, but it was always lots of small orders. Never a big order. Ken was suddenly having a real hard time. These were all experienced customers. No matter how Ken tried to convince them, they were convinced corporate would abandon the policy.
One day in desperation, he came to me for help. I knew his customers much better than he did. I advised him to go to the warehouse and inventory every blemished tire we had in stock that was on special that month. Blemished tires sold at a 20% discount. Calculate every price. Call ‘Dealer’s Tire,’ one of his biggest but most stubborn customers. Take him through the list one by one. When he is all eager to buy some tires, tell him he has to give you a $5000 order to get those prices. Ken did exactly what I told him. I went about my own business.
About two hours later, the boss came out of his office. Steam was coming out of his ears. He wanted to talk to me right now. In his office.
Ken had done just as I had instructed. The customer was furious about the minimum order. He had called the boss complaining. He asked Ken, who immediately told him it was all my fault. The boss started raking me over the coals. Things were not looking good for my career.
Me: ‘So boss, has the guy bought any tires since the new minimum was put in place?’
‘No,’ said my boss.
‘Can he get this price without buying the minimum?’ I asked.
‘No,’ he replied.
‘Is he going to buy some tires now?’ I replied.
‘Yes, but he’s really mad about how this was done,’ my boss told me.
‘So he was not buying tires and now he is. And he can continue to get these prices the rest of the year on small orders. He really likes the new price structure?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ responded my boss.
‘So, why exactly are you griping? A customer who swore he would never buy another tire from us just gave us a $5000 order and will continue to buy tires just like he has for years. I don’t see a problem here,’ I firmly stated.
I was dismissed from his presence.”
A Solid Solution
“About a year ago, when I was working at Starbucks, I was positioned in the drive-thru window during peak time. It was fairly early in the morning and I was about halfway done with my shift. The line in the drive was really long, and some customers were irritated, but, for the most part, they’d pay for their coffee and go.
Since I had been dealing with some snarky comments all morning, I was feeling tired of the window and ready for a position change when this one customer drove up. It was a beat-up old truck with two dusty middle-aged men who had ordered a plain coffee and a latte.
The driver immediately handed over an old free drink coupon we no longer accept. It had been standard to not accept those coupons for months now, almost a year, so I told him as much. Corporate wouldn’t allow it. The guy started getting angry and demanding I take it. I told him I can ask my manager to see what she says.
Sure enough, she says no.
He was at this point raising his voice, waving the coupon in my face telling me to use it. I repeated multiple times that we can’t accept it and I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I could do. Even my manager had told me not to take it.
He asked in a snobby tone, ‘Is there an expiration on it?’ and I turn it all around, no expiration. Well, then I have to use it according to him.
‘I’m sorry, but I can’t accept this. The system won’t even allow it anymore,’ I explained.
He then yelled at me, ‘Stop telling me that.’
To which, after having him hold up my line for five minutes and yelling at me the whole time, I replied, ‘Then stop asking.’
He went beet red and demanded my manager, calling me a brat, and I headed into the backroom to let them talk and give myself a breather. He had yelled at her too and told her what happened.
When he left finally and it slowed down, I asked my manager what happened. Apparently, he was saying rude things to her too and told her I had a ‘poor attitude.’ She ended up giving him both drinks for free and banned him from the store.
Everyone there didn’t believe what he said about me and said my attitude was way too nice and that it seemed out of character for me to say something like that. They asked if I was okay and that was the end of it.”
Giving Her Some Options
“I had a difficult customer yelling at me. I no longer remember why, as it has happened so often, for so long. Since I wasn’t rolling over on my back begging for her forgiveness and giving in to her supreme Karen-ness, she accused me of intentionally being a sassy pants.
I said, ‘Of course I am!’
And then I said, ‘Would you rather have me be an idiot, instead?’
I thought her head was going to explode as she babbled the usual Karen threats; call corporate, speak to the district manager, never coming back, etc. Buh-bye, Karen!”
Caught In The Act
“When I was the jewelry department manager at Walmart, there was one woman who would come in three or four times per week to exchange her rings. At that time we had a couple of wedding and engagement sets for $58. These were the cheapest we sold that weren’t plastic, sometimes referred to as the ‘quick wedding special.’
There were only three varieties: a silver set and two different tones of gold. The woman would switch between these three, always with different complaints. This went on for about two months before I got a call from a jewelry department manager at another location asking about this customer. It turned out she was doing the same thing at two other stores. It was already driving me crazy, trying to figure out what she was up to, that made it worse. The rings she returned weren’t damaged at all, and it wasn’t like she could get anything by swapping the stone. I told our loss prevention guys about her and they agreed it was weird, but if they could stop weird people from being at Walmart, the place would go out of business. They told me to document what she returned, what she took, and even to try to maybe find a pattern, so I did.
Then came the day I couldn’t take it anymore.
She came in first thing and returned a ring for a refund. While I was on my lunch break, she bought the same ring back. I know, because when I got back she wanted to exchange it.
She was trying on a set and asked, ‘Can this be resized if I lose weight?’
I just couldn’t take it. I said ‘Ma’am, you and I both know you won’t keep it that long.’
She looked like I’d slapped her. I never saw her after that.”
She Could Have Waited A Few Minutes
“Back in the day, I was working at a local animal shelter while putting myself through college. The job did not pay much, and there were no benefits, but at least at the end of the day, I felt I was helping a life or two.
Anyway, I was one of the few employees there not doing community service. The community service employees did not always come in with the best attitude, but they did work as hard as the rest of us, and almost all of them ended up caring about the dogs and cats we took care of.
One day a woman was there to find a little Shih-tzu type dog and was allowed to go back to the cages and look around. One of the community service workers was down on her knees cleaning out one of the bottom-tier cages. The woman wanted to look at a dog and told the worker to help her. Now.
‘I am busy. You can wait until I am done or call someone else,’ said the worker.
‘Get off your butt now,’ the woman yelled. ‘You lazy people are only here because you do not know how to treat a customer at a real business.’ (I think she said a lot more, but it has been over 40 years, so my memory is not what it used to be.)
I was at another bank of cages when I heard the woman tear into the poor worker. I walked over to her and yelled in her face, telling her that the people working at the shelter were doing a lot more for pets than she ever would. The nasty woman walked out, but stopped and complained to the manager about me.
No, I was not fired. The manager asked me why I yelled at the customer, and I explained myself. They gave me a written reprimand, something that I have always been proud of. I wish I could have a copy of that reprimand so that I could frame it and hang it in my office!”