Isn’t everyone supposed to be jolly during the holiday season? After all, it’s the happiest time of year! Well, these shoppers did not seem to get that message. Workers on Quora who have worked during the holiday season share how they put rude customers in their place. Content has been edited for clarity.
Helping Her Get An Early Start
“Years ago, in the early 1990s, I worked for a now-defunct consumer electronics chain store as a sales manager. It was the weekend before Christmas, so it was very busy. Lots of customers were getting their holiday shopping ‘wrapped up’ – quite literally in some cases. There were three employees; myself, two registers, and a line nearly out the door. It was barely noon, and we had written up over a hundred sales tickets already. No time for lunch. It was that busy.
A woman was in line, probably waiting about 10 minutes for her turn. She had no items. When she reached our counter, she grumbled, ‘It’s about time, you guys made me waste my whole day standing around here in this dump!’, and then started digging for something at the bottom of her purse.
I apologized for the wait and asked her what we could help her with. She slammed a watch down on the counter (a model we sold), and then she stared up at me, then down at the watch, then back up at me.
I asked, ‘Is there a problem with your watch, Ma’am?’
‘No, idiot! Can’t you see? It needs a battery!’ She yelled.
How was I supposed to know? The display showed the watch was still working fine. But alas, I went to our watch battery rack and found the correct size that the watch required.
She then yelled, ‘I told you to put it in for me! You think I know how?’
‘No problem,’ I replied.
We did install watch batteries for something like $5, including the battery, even if it wasn’t our watch. So I opened the watch, installed the battery, then closed it back up, and began writing up her sales slip. By now, there were about 9 or 10 other people behind her waiting to make their purchases.
‘Hey, wait! You’re charging me for the battery? Why? I have a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty on this watch and I bought it less than a year ago. You can’t charge me for replacing the battery!’ she shouted.
‘Ma’am, the warranty covers the watch, not the battery,’ I explained, with as much calmness as I could provide.
‘I am not paying!’ She shouted. ‘I refuse.’
And she just stood there. For at least 60 seconds as all the waiting customers watched, some snickering at her.
I strongly contemplated taking her watch back, opening it, removing the new battery, fishing the old one back out of the garbage can, and reinstalling it. But we had the ‘$20 Rule,’ meaning you gave the customer what they wanted if it was under $20, and it saved the company some ‘face’ by eliminating a disgruntled customer.
‘No problem, Ma’am. Let me void your ticket,’ I said as I slowly slid the watch back across the counter to her.
She pushed it back to me, yelling, ‘Now set it for me! I don’t know how to.’
‘It’s easy, here, let me show you,’ I offered.
She sneered, ‘You do it! I don’t need to know, and I don’t read those stupid instructions they print in a zillion different languages.’
I set her watch to the correct time, and handed it back to her, but she still refused.
‘No! You’re not finished yet! You still have to set the alarm to wake me up at 6 am every morning!’ she demanded.
I took the liberty to set the alarm for 2 am.
‘O.K., Ma’am. Here you go. The alarm is set to wake you up each morning,’ I politely said.
She grabbed her watch, shoved it in her purse, and left without thanking me.
Hope she enjoyed the 2 am alarm every morning until she took the time to read the instructions, and to actually learn how to use her watch.”
He Did Not Want The Food That Hot
“Every Sunday, after services, this man would call up and order something like $40 worth of tacos, sanchos, burritos, taco burgers, chili dogs, taco pizzas, enchiladas, taco salads, and tostadas. Considering tacos were 15 cents back then, and burritos were 25 cents, this was a lot of food. Enough food to feed a lot of people.
It was so much food we had to empty one heated bin of taco shells just to fit it all in as we made it and waited for his miserable butt to arrive. We only ever had 40 minutes to do it in and were violently yelled at every time he arrived.
Every Sunday after, he would call the owner and complain the food was cold when he got home. So, every Monday, we had to listen to this nonsense about the food.
He never wanted to wait. So, even though we were flooded with people coming in after the morning rush, we had to have his order ready the minute he walked in. This was really very much of a challenge to do considering there were only two on staff on Sundays. I was the eldest. So we really cannot expect much, can we?
However, if the abrasive twit had to wait one minute, we would hear about it from not only him right then, but from the owner as well because this good for nothing bully was friends with the owner.
One Christmas season, the twit called and placed his order. Of course, he would be there in 40 minutes as that’s how long it took him to drive into town. He was exhausted of his food being cold when he got back home. He was yelling at me about it this particular morning and did not understand, much less care about how even if we steamed it for 40 minutes straight until it caught on fire, it would still be cold when he got home because of the drive.
As a matter of fact, when I tried to reason with him, he became ever viler and told me how ‘he was going to have my butt fired if his food was cold when he got home.’
Certainly, I knew he would do everything in his power to ensure his good promise was fulfilled, so I really had nothing to lose by making sure his food was hotter than heck when he got home.
Thus we set to work in the kitchen dicing up jalapeño peppers into such a fine grain we could barely see them and mixed them into the meat and beans to make his food. As the restaurant filled with customers, we got smart and decided to only use the pepper juice on his order instead, as we simply did not have enough time to do it right.
We made his entire order soaked in jalapeño peppers and its juice until we thought our fingers would burn off. My fingers burned for three days after, that’s how hot we made it.
When he came in, he was yelling at me about how he expected his food to be hot when he got home. I smiled at him and assured him we had taken every possible measure to ensure his order was hotter than the underworld’s fire itself, so he should be very pleased when he got home.
He seemed happy with this and promptly left.
About an hour later he called up and was screaming over the phone about how he wanted his food hot, not so hot he could not eat it.
I acted like I didn’t know what he was talking about and expressed that he had said a multitude of times he wanted it hot.
Since he didn’t say Mild, what the heck was I supposed to think when he repeatedly screamed he wanted it ‘hotter than heck itself?’
That Monday, the owner came in and said he had to listen to his friend yell for more than three hours about how his food was hot instead of the normal one hour each Sunday about how his food was cold before he blew up on him. He said the idiot would never come in again and although he didn’t like losing his business it was better than him ruining his Sunday every week. So, it worked out really very well for everyone.”
Taking What Was Rightfully Theirs
“I was working in a big box retailer and of course, Black Friday is one of the worst days to work.
A lot of things that are put in the promotions are usually limited in quantity in the stores. It’s supposed to get you into the store, and when they run out of the promo items, you’re supposed to buy something else that’s similar but has a higher profit.
I had one customer that was really nasty one year. They wanted 10 of a particular item, even though the ad said two per customer. Not per register ticket. Per customer.
Well, we only had four left when they came into the store because the other 21 had already been snatched up by other customers. And it wasn’t even 10 am yet.
So naturally, they started ranting and raving and screaming at the manager. They wanted the items. Then they wanted a rain check so they could come back the next week and get the sale items at the sale price. Then they wanted similar items at the sale cost.
The manager didn’t give them rain checks (thankfully) and went back to servicing other customers.
I was working the floor that day instead of my usual job and one of our best – and nicest – customers came in looking for four of those sale items. He had his wife with him so they could get two each for Christmas presents for their four kids (And their kids were totally awesome).
We were out of them at that point, but I saw the nasty customer wandering around, occasionally leaving their shopping cart alone for a couple of minutes at a time, and even taking items out of other peoples’ shopping carts for themselves (Real jolly spirit, right?).
My good customer was disappointed we were already out, but I asked if they could wait a minute and let me see if I can find some extras in the back.
So for about 10 minutes, I helped other customers and closely watched the nasty customer and waited for them to wander away from their shopping cart. That’s when I snuck over, took the four items out of their cart, and gave them to my good customer.
As they were leaving the register, the nasty customer started screaming about how someone stole the items out of their cart. And ranted for another 15 minutes, to the point where we had to call the cops and have them removed from the property.
My good customer looked at me as they were leaving and I just winked. The husband laughed and gave me a salute.
A week later, the good customers came back in for something else and we chatted about how I ‘found’ the extras lying around and we all laughed about it.”
That Stopped Her From Returning
“I only worked retail for one Christmas season in 1995. I worked at a department store at a mall in Southern Oregon. I was great at customer service and never took anything personally. I tried to make each day fun, no matter how busy we were or how rude the customers were. Or how absolutely nuts I went over having to hear the same Christmas carols over and over and over and over and over again.
Except for one customer.
I worked in the business suit section for women. Our section was right across the aisle from the lingerie section. This lady came to visit every day, sometimes twice a day, for nearly three weeks. She’d try on the same suit for three days in a row and put it on hold. But then she’d take it off hold, choose a new suit, put that new one on hold for three days, then take it off hold. Rinse and repeat. She never bought a single item. But the worst of it was that she’d send me and my co-workers to the lingerie section to get her underwear and bras to try on with the suits. She’d never put those items on hold (that would have required her to go to the lingerie section as well as our own, and she wasn’t willing to spend that extra time), but she was very particular in what she wanted and we had to track it down for her.
So after about two and a half weeks of this, one day when she left the changing room she left everything behind instead of bringing anything out to be put on hold. She’d obviously been on her period and every item, including the bra (seriously?), needed to be placed in the damaged bin. It was disgusting, to put it mildly.
This lady didn’t come back for the next two days, but then she popped back in as though nothing had happened. I truly think she had no idea we knew it had been her who had left that horror movie scene behind. And of course, being in customer service, there was no way we could say anything to her.
After she chose a new suit to try on, once again, she asked us to get her some panties and a bra to try on with the suit. Our passive-aggressive, most petty method of dealing with her was to get really random sizes of the lingerie. She wore the larger sizes in the suits we carried and somehow didn’t appreciate how we kept bringing her small underwear and 32A bras. There was no way she could have got those undies over her bottom and I’m pretty sure the bras couldn’t be clasped. Between my two co-workers and me, I believe we brought her the wrong sizes five or six times before she got fed up and left the store.
The lady never returned — at least not before I stopped working there shortly after the beginning of the next year. I can’t say a single one of us missed her, but she sure was the topic of conversation.”
Did He Actually Pay It?
“I work for a company that requires a $200 deposit to begin services. In order to waive the deposit, one can secure a letter from a different company showing no late payments, penalties, or disconnections of service for 12 months. This customer tried twice to pass a fake letter and I caught both. He then made a huge scene, screamed at me until he was blue in the face, and hurled all kinds of insults in my direction. His daughter called, apologized for his behavior, and swore she would arrive in office the following day to provide an actual good ‘Letter of Credit,’ she just needed his services started that day.
Management had grown tired of watching the scene unfold and decided to take her up on her promise. No surprise to me when she never shows, he never makes good on her promise either, and he simply paid monthly for his services for the next year or so.
A day rolled around when he is ready to do some Christmas shopping, so he called up to the office and requested his $200 deposit be applied to his account as a credit. This would ensure he could use his paycheck for something other than this pesky service bill. This credit could be applied to a customer’s account if they’ve made 12 payments on time and have actually paid the deposit.
I was no longer in the department at the time, but I was informed that he cursed, screamed, cried, etc., all to secure a deposit he swore he’d paid the previous year.”
Taking The High Road
“I used to work at Toys’R’Us during the holidays a few years back, and this lady approached me and said she was looking for a game system for her son. There weren’t any more on the store floor, but I went out of my way to get it from the truck where a few employees were unloading some merchandise.
As I went back, she wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see me coming, and I overheard her talking to someone on her cellphone.
She said, ‘I’m going to Target right after to get some supplies once this idiot returns with the game console. I’ll call you once I leave the store.’
She turned around, saw me, and immediately turned pale. She knew I had heard what she said. I had the game console she was looking for in my hand, and she was at a loss for words.
I looked at her, with a smile, and said, ‘Here you go. I hope your son enjoys it and Merry Christmas!’
I saw the sadness and guilt in her face. She knew she had messed up, but at the same time, I didn’t acknowledge what she said towards me because I felt like it just wasn’t worth it. Besides, it was the holidays and I’m always in the holiday spirit when that time of year comes. I felt that even though I would’ve been very petty by giving the console to another customer in front of her, I feel that it was bad enough on her part I overheard her conversation and she had to leave with a guilty conscience. I would’ve been the bad person if I only thought about myself and her son wouldn’t have got his present and he had nothing to do with that situation. At the end of the day, as far as with me, there were no hard feelings and I’m just glad I did my part on being someone that cared enough to not let something like that get the best of me.”
She Was Trying To Be Subtle
“I work in a grocery store in a fairly wealthy area. Most of our customers are pleasant people, despite the strange requests they sometimes make.
This one was two Christmases ago – A woman in probably her early 30s. She had her kids with her, dressed all nice like they were either going to or coming from somewhere important. They were maybe around age nine, if I had to guess.
There’s this milk she likes to buy them. Organic almond something or another. A specific brand, and to be honest, it’s no different from any of the other four or five brands we carry. In fact, our store brand comes from the same facility like the one she’s looking for. It’s probably the same stuff.
The shelf was empty, so I got the ‘Umm hello! Yeah, Over here! Yeah, this milk I want? It’s empty.’ Spoken in the tone you’d expect the kind of person that snaps their fingers at waiters might use.
I was busy as heck. I knew we didn’t have it. The warehouse had been out of stock for three or four days.
I sort of shook my head and said, ‘Sorry, it didn’t come in.’
‘So nothing in the back? Are you sure?’ she questioned.
‘Sorry, no. I looked for it earlier and didn’t see it,’ I replied.
Trying to explain even the most basic interworkings of a grocery store goes way over most people’s heads. The ‘back-room’ is a magical place where we grow fruits and vegetables, milk cows, slaughter chickens, etc, so a simple ‘I didn’t see it earlier’ usually works. It has nothing to do with stupidity in most cases. It’s that people don’t care. They just want their almond milk.
‘Really? Are you sure there’s nothing in the back?’ she asked again.
‘I’m sure. Again, I’m sorry,’ I told her.
Well, she was not having any of that. She then started talking to me like I was a four-year-old. She had this fake grin on her face. Eyes wide. She was nodding as the words came out – ‘Well, I think the SENSIBLE thing for you to do would be to go take a look in the back for me. Could you do that for me? Make sure you look EXTRA hard this time, though. I’m sure you have it.’
No lady. That would be a waste of time. I know what’s in the back… so I replied, ‘I’ll go take another look. You’re right, I probably just missed it earlier.’
So I walked to the back, replied to a few text messages. I had a sip of my coffee. I’ve got stuff to do, but I ghad make it seem like I looked ‘EXTRA’ hard.
So I go back out and said, ‘Sorry, I checked every box, and we just don’t have it. I do have other brands though.’
Well now she’s mad. She started going on what I call the ‘regular tirade.’ It’s normally some combo of the same 10 or so phrases customers like to say when they’re mad. She might have hit a good 8 out of 10, which is impressive. The jist of it was we NEVER have ANYTHING she needs and she’s just going to have to shop at [insert competitor’s name here] and how we just lost a very loyal customer, and it was also the last straw, and we’re rude and don’t care. Whatever. It’s always pretty much the same and they’re usually back the next week, or even the next day.
Anyway, I apologized again and sounded like I really cared she couldn’t get the almond milk with the picture she prefers printed on the carton. I advised her to fill out a formal complaint with customer service.
So then, she decided to get a little theatrical and asked me how a formal complaint was going to change the fact she’s going to have to give her kids ‘this garbage’ for the next week. As she’s saying this, she was attempting to grab the store brand version of the almond milk from the top shelf – the one probably the one she wants anyway but with a different label.
Well this wonderful thing happened. The milk she was trying to use as a prop for her little outburst, well, it must have been slippery. Condensation? Wrong season but maybe with all the people opening and closing the refrigerated doors. Maybe it was the sweat from her own palms. Who knows. Well, this thing slides right through her grip and it hits the side of her cart just right so we get a nice little splash of almond milk all over her groceries as well as all over one of her kid’s fancy clothes.
She stood for a second, mouth agape, face a little red, let out a huff and stomped away, beckoning her kids to follow. I went to go get paper towels for her, but when I came back out the only evidence of our encounter was the leaky almond milk carton on the floor.
I hope she really did start shopping at the competition.”
A Major Attitude Change
“December 23rd, I was working in a high-end homewares store. The mall where the store was located was open till late that night and it was getting to that angry, stressed out desperate stage. That stage where you could wrap literally anything in Christmassy paper and someone would buy it.
This middle-aged woman came in with her teenage daughter. The daughter was a walking cliché, eye-rolling, glued to her phone, answering her mother with grunts and theatrical sighs. Mother selected an expensive cookbook and stand and she wanted them wrapped together, sure no problem. I was not an expert gift wrapper at the time so it took me a while, we gave mum a ticket and she came back about 30 minutes later.
Something had clearly transpired between mother and daughter by the time they came back. Daughter was looking sulky and mother was fuming. She slapped the ticket down and said she’d changed her mind, she wanted a refund, then the floodgates opened, this store was too expensive, our products were tacky, we should be open more hours, you name it. Oh, and I had taken too long, plus my attitude sucked.
‘OK… here’s your refund ma’am, Merry Christmas,’ I told her.
She was back 10 minutes later with some stuff she had fished out of our discount section and wanted it wrapped IMMEDIATELY.
So I did. I also left the price-tags on everything.”
She Didn’t Want To Make That Appointment
“In college I worked at a makeup counter in a small town, back in the days before makeup videos. So women would come and get their makeup done pretty frequently since a lot of them simply did not know how to doll themselves up.
My best friend and partner in crime was gorgeous and a lot of women hated her, well, us I guess, because as we all know, women seem to hate women. Competition, I guess.
My friend had a loser ex-boyfriend that was dating a girl I’ll call ‘Kelly.’ Whenever we’d go out to the bar and see Kelly, she’d make snide remarks at my friend, like calling her a ‘skinny brat’ under her breath. Stuff like that. She was really just a grinch, so negative and annoying!
One December afternoon, I was at work and one of the other counter girls told me I’m needed to book an appointment on the phone. Well who should it be but dear Kelly, trying to book a makeup appointment!
She had the nerve to say, ‘Hi, I’d like to book an appointment tonight for 7:00 with anyone except Jaime.’
I said, ‘Oh, is this Kelly? Actually, this is Jaime, and guess what, I’m the only one working tonight! And I would be more than happy to do your makeup!’
“I was working at JCPenney during Christmastime in the ladies shoes department. I honestly loved my job, I loved shoes, and most of the customers were wonderful. Well, we had this one lady everyone hated working with. She would only go to my one coworker because he faked being nice to her.
Anyways, she kept asking for this one pair of heels to be held over two weeks so she could get the sale price (we only allowed shoes to be held till closing.) I told her this and she got super mad, she would call every day and place them on hold after that.
One day, she did not call so when I closed that night I bought the heels and wore them the next day (sale day) she came in and rudely asked for them. My coworker told her they were put back the night before due to no phone call and someone had bought them already. She flipped her lid. She started yelling and cursing. When she saw I was wearing them, she demanded I return them. I just walked away smiling.”