What is it about customers that makes them think they can act however they want towards workers? That’s never the case, something these people need to realize. Workers on Quora reveal the most disrespectful thing a customer has said to them on the clock. Content has been edited for clarity.
Karens On Vacation
“I work in retail, in a pretty upscale natural skincare/bath store that’s only found in 5-star resorts and hotels. So, I deal with a lot of uppity, rich people that pretend to know about the difference between mica minerals and red dye. This instance wasn’t aimed toward me, but it still hurts my heart to think about it.
I help manage a very small staff, so every time someone is rude to one of my employees, I want to destroy the person that upset them. My coworker, ‘Ella’—name obviously changed for her privacy—is just about the sweetest person you can imagine. She’s the only one out of my entire staff that never gets fed up with customers; no matter how annoying their demands are, no matter how many times she has to repeat the same information to them when they clearly weren’t listening, no matter how many times she has to bend over backward for people, she does it with a smile on her face. She never shows any sign of irritation with customers and only later, when they’re long gone, will she say, ‘Yeah, they were a bit much,’ when one of us says her customer sucked.
The pool had just opened on this particular day, so we were dealing with a lot of drippy customers coming in to look without purchasing anything because they didn’t have their money on them. Because most of our associates are commission or bonus-based, it royally sucked, and it put everyone in a sour mood. Ella was soldiering on, pretending not to feel the burn of only having $100 in sales for the past two hours, when a mid-thirties woman with two kids came in.
She made a beeline for our sink, where Ella was cleaning up all the bubbles and soap chunks from the last demo.
‘What are you doing?’ The woman asked flatly.
Ella smiled, ‘Just cleaning up. Do you guys want to see a demo?’
The woman rolled her eyes. saying ‘Yeah, whatever. Show them.’
She nodded toward her kids, a boy, and a girl, both of whom were somewhere between seven and ten. Ella reached down to pull up a stool for the girl, who was shorter than her brother. While she did that, the little boy reached into the sink and proceeded to dump an entire cup of bath soak into the sink. An entire cup of our bath soak is about twenty baths. That’s probably about a hundred demos, if I’m rounding down. Not only is it super wasteful to do that, but it’s also really messy.
Ella turned around just in time to see him doing that.
‘Oh, hey, can I see that?’ She said as she took the cup out of his hands.
‘Please don’t do that—I promise to show you how to use everything, just give me a minute,’ she explained.
‘Excuse you?’ The lady wheeled around.
She’d been mildly looking at displays, but the second she heard Ella talking, came rushing back over. ‘What the heck did you just say to him?’
I’d just started heading into the back room when I heard this, and I quickly turned around when I heard her yelling.
‘I was just asking him not to do that,’ Ella said. ‘But I’m going to show—’
‘What is your problem? Why are you so rude?’ the lady screamed.
She grabbed her son by the shirt and yanked him back against her.
‘Honey, did you do anything wrong?’ she asked.
‘No,’ he said, shrugging.
‘Exactly!’ The lady pointed at Ella. ‘This brat just wants to make problems because she’s mad she’s the biggest one here.’
I’ve never seen someone’s face crumple so quickly. Ella went from holding a confused, slightly nervous smile to total sadness in a second.
‘Alright,’ I said, stepping in front of Ella. ‘It’s time for you to leave.’
‘Me? Leave? I’m not the rude one,’ the lady snapped. ‘Let me talk to your manager.’
‘I’m the manager on duty today.’ I handed her our business card with my name on it. ‘Go ahead and call our corporate and lodge any complaint you want, but you can do that outside of the store.’
When she didn’t immediately leave, I pointed one finger toward the door. ‘Outside. Now.’
Still mumbling about how rude we all were, the lady gathered her kids and left. I went into the back, where Ella had retreated.
‘She sucked,’ I said firmly. ‘It wasn’t okay for her to say that to you, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get her to leave sooner. That wasn’t your fault. That was hers—she’s just a mean lady that really sucks.’
Ella sniffled, wiping away her tears. ‘Yeah, she was a bit much, huh?’”
Ban This Woman Please
“In the late ’90s, when I was only 21, I was working as a waitress in an ‘old country store’ restaurant in the US that serves Southern comfort food. The restaurant was and still is quite popular and always busy during peak times, especially since they are typically located close to exits on the interstate. The one thing the servers hated to see was a tour bus pull into the parking lot. These buses didn’t carry musicians; they carried elderly folks on group vacations. The reason we hated these buses was because we would get slammed with tables full of tired, cranky old folks who didn’t tip worth trash and were always demanding and difficult.
This particular day, we were already slammed by weekend lunch crowds, and my tables were full to bursting with old ladies heading to Vermont to view the fall colors of leaves. One of my tables that normally seats four people had a chair placed on the end to accommodate a party of five old ladies. This placed one of the ladies in the aisle where I had to walk in order to serve my other tables, including a two-top right next to them. I did my best to serve all four of my tables quickly and efficiently, but the old ladies were particularly needy and demanding and kept me running for something the entire time. The loudest and rudest of them was the lady sitting in the aisle.
After I served the old ladies their meal, I went back to the kitchen to get the order for my two-top. In order to serve them, I had to stand directly behind the chair of the aisle lady in a narrow opening between them.
From the time I made my re-appearance and all the way through serving my other two customers, the aisle lady kept yelling, ‘Excuse me! Hey, waitress! I’m talking to you! How dare you ignore me!’
I was ignoring her because I had a large tray with two plates of food, bread, and a bowl full of jellies. I figured I would deliver the food and ensure my two-top was set before finally turning around to address the harridan to my back because they were my customers, too, and deserved my full attention. My mistake. No sooner than I set the second plate of dinner on the table, the lady sitting behind me shoved her chair back until it knocked into me.
My large tray went flying and crashed to floor along with the bowl of jellies and basket of bread. The resounding crash echoed throughout the dining room and everyone went silent. All eyes were on me as I stood there stunned speechless by her actions.
In the loaded silence, the old lady said smugly, ‘THAT got your attention, didn’t it?’
Not only was I mortified by the incident, but I was FURIOUS. Still, I needed my job to support my two-year-old baby, so I kept my composure. Without turning around to address her, I apologized to the flabbergasted couple I had been serving and promised to bring them more bread and jelly shortly. Still ignoring the woman and her table, I carefully cleaned up the mess and retreated to the kitchen. After getting more bread for my couple, I found my manager and handed him the five separate tickets for the table of old ladies and told him he would have to finish the table because I refused to deal with them again.
I am a very non-confrontational person and always eager to please, so the manager didn’t even blink before taking them over for me. I was a waitress for over three years before I finally moved on to retail. I’ve never had anyone treat me with such callous disregard and rude behavior as I did when I worked as a restaurant server.”
She Seriously Didn’t Tip?
“A few years back, I finally found an amazing stylist. He was absolutely amazing. He worked at a lower-end salon, but his talent for color and cutting hair was of a high-end hairdresser. I became a regular and got my mother into seeing him too. My mom is a bit crazy, but this time she decided to take that crazy, and crank it up 1000x more. She became a client from heck, a Karen if you will.
My mother is a blonde and started getting her hair colored into a blonde to brown ombré. The process usually took four to six hours, depending on how damaged my mom’s hair was, and the normal cost was about $170–200. My mom began, trying to preach to our hairdresser during these long hours on how he was a sinner and going to heck, and began bringing in expired coupons demanding for a discount.
That’s not even the bad part, She would bring in those gospel tracts, the ones that looked like dollar bills, and give that to him with a few crumpled up $1s instead of a decent tip.
My mom was overdue for a color one month, and he was completely booked for the week. So she decided, instead of waiting a few days, to go to a different hairdresser who was 90% deaf, and she ended up with pink hair. So, in her entitled glory, she called up my hairdresser and demanded he fix it. He was such a nice guy and spent seven full hours fixing her pink over-processed hair, My mom didn’t even tip. He put an end to their client/stylist relationship and only sees me now. I always leave him a hefty tip for dealing with her.”
Throwing Coffee And Hands
“I worked at a certain national ‘Donut Shop’ in high school, and this middle-aged woman would come through, talking on her cell phone, stop at the order board for literally two seconds and maybe stop her conversation long enough to mumble, ‘a Pepsi,’ and then hit the gas to pull around. We had a lot of Brazilian people working there, and ‘a Pepsi’ can sound a lot like ‘small coffee’ when English is your second language, and the person is also in the middle of a sentence on a cell phone and immediately pulls up.
So anyway, this was literally my first day on the job and she said that, and my coworker, ‘Renato’ handed me the small coffee, and I handed it out to her. She was still on the phone talking, took the coffee, gave me money, took her change, and didn’t say anything throughout that entire exchange. Then, however, she took the change in her hand, and along with the small coffee, threw it all back at me through the drive-thru window.
I was 14 and didn’t even know what to do, so I gave her a Pepsi and she sped off. She was constantly harassing us. Yeah, I should have called the police or something, but I was young and needed the job. Soon enough, we started noticing her coming in with this guy and sitting in the dining area, making googly eyes at this guy like a schoolgirl. Rumors started to circulate this was her side guy, and she’d sometimes actually come in with her husband, who she was her usual, horrible self.
Well, lo and behold, one day I was on and she came in with a man she’s yelling at worse than she usually yells at us. Well, that time I got covered in burning hot coffee and all the incidents of being treated like the scum of the earth were fresh in my mind.
She walked up to the counter with her lawful husband and after she berated me and him a bit, I say as cheerfully as I can muster, ‘Oh, is this your brother? Where’s your husband today? You two looked so sweet together the other day when you came in!’
Well, she looked white as a ghost and just gaped at me. It all went quickly from there. He started screaming, she called me some sort of liar. But it was clear he knew something was up. The last I heard, the manager was questioning corporate whether we could release security tapes due to a request from a divorce lawyer. You don’t throw hot coffee at people. I regret nothing.”
The Audacity Of Some People
“I was working at a café in a hospital location. Shift change was coming, so the hospital staff lined up. Some for their ride home java, others for their jolt me awake java. There are three tills at the counter. The one I’m at from eight am-12 pm is the express line where people can get beverages only. It was six pm, and the express had been closed for six hours. This guy walked up ahead of everyone else in line and expected to be served.
I informed him, ‘I’m sorry sir, the express is closed. You’ll have to wait in line.’
He refused to, others waiting to be served are pressing him to listen. He wouldn’t move, he was blocking customers from approaching me. The next thing I knew, this blonde came up to me and said, ‘he just lost his father. He wanted to get a coffee before we head off to make the arrangements.’ My heart was bleeding for this guy but I don’t make the rules and we had a high complaint rate because of several employees behaving unprofessionally.
I stood my ground, there was an entire line of people that need their food/coffee before their own shift started! Case in point on behavior problems with employees at this place, enter my coworker nemesis ‘C,’ who thinks he’s a manager when he isn’t! Who thinks he runs the store. Despite several behavioral write-ups he still thinks he’s above the rules!
So he declared, ‘Sure we can get you that coffee!’
I glared at him in disbelief, and there was a massive disgruntled groan from the line. Well, looks like we’re lucky if we keep a one-star rating!! The blonde woman thanks him then looks at me and says, ‘Maybe one day when you experience this kind of loss, you’ll understand and have some compassion.’
I am the LAST PERSON you should say that to, regarding grief! I rang up their order and while I did this she looked at me in disgust, I then told her: ‘I have been where he is. On October 13th, 2011 at 11:15 am, my father passed away at Juravinski hospital after a 3.5-year battle with cancer and 10-day hospital stay following a seizure. So I know, better than any of my colleagues here, what it’s like to lose a parent. However, I still went to Dairy Queen and waited in line for my hot fudge sundae because everyone, every single day is going through something and I am not arrogant enough to think I’m the only one facing a tough time.’
I handed her the change and she stated, ‘I’m reporting you.’
‘Go for it,’ I clapped back. She did report me, but my account was backed by every hospital staff member who reported C for giving in to them, so he got another write-up and a non-paid suspension. I got asked to up my grief counseling appointments.”
“Working at a restaurant years ago, my manager came to me and said, ‘Take this table that’s coming in. They have been here fairly often, but the gentleman is a complete butt, so just serve them, keep your temper, and don’t expect a tip.’
I seated the gentleman (by his accent a German) and his wife (who never spoke a word to me) and proceeded to run off the specials and take drinks orders. The gentleman was very abrupt but not particularly rude and seemed to know what he wanted. Perhaps the wife couldn’t speak English, as she never spoke to me and their conversation was him asking questions and she answering in German.
It all went off fairly well till it was time to lift the empty plates. He was sitting in front of an empty plate with a knife and fork together at the four o’clock position (a convention indicating the plate can be removed) and she was still eating.
As I went in to lift the plate, he blocked me and said (in his abrupt way), ‘No! I’m still eating.’
I cleared the table when they were both done with no problem and offered desserts, which were declined. I went to prepare the bill and the manager came over and said: ‘He’s not going to tip you or he will give you a small amount, he’s done it before so be ready.’
I dropped the bill and the gentleman indicated he would pay cash and I should wait.
He counted out the bill exactly and then took a small coin (equivalent to a bit more than a dime) and pushed it across the table towards me with his index finger, saying in his German accent, ‘That is your tip, it’s all you are worth.’
I collected the billfold, leaving the ‘tip’ on the table and replied, ‘Never mind sir, you keep it. You need it more than me,’ before walking away.
When I looked back they were leaving, the table was empty, and we never saw them again.”
Someone Forgot The Golden Rule
“This is when I was working as ground crew at a major London airport. I was given the task of guiding a very ignorant/ arrogant lady to her flight. She caused such a scene at check-in about signage not being adequate, it was easier to take her to the aircraft (Bear in mind millions of people found their flights shows how stupid she was). Also, the flight was closing soon and there was a danger she would miss it. She demanded time to look in duty-free. Time she didn’t have, so I told her we need to keep walking.
After a good five minutes, I showed her the information screen was now on ‘last call,’ meaning she had a matter of minutes to get to the aircraft. To this, she got angry and demanded more time. Encore, I told her she didn’t have time. At this she yelled so loud, everyone around stopped to see what was going on.
To this day I can still hear her shouting, ‘You are nothing but a horrible little man in a horrible little suit who has no ambition in life.’
Usually, I’m not vindictive but she pushed all the wrong buttons. I phoned the gate to tell them she would not be there in time and to start offloading her baggage so as not to hold up the other 300 passengers. I left her to look around the shop without saying another word.
When she had eventually finished, she looked me up and down and demanded to be taken to the gate. I told her she was too late and was now denied boarding but she insisted I take her which I did. Her face was a picture as we arrived at the gate just in time to see the aircraft being pushed off the stand and her cases by the desk. She started shouting again, demanding the aircraft come back.
Then, she turned to me and demanded I do something.
I looked her up and down then said, ‘Sorry – us horrible little men with no drive and determination can’t help people like you,’ and walked off leaving her standing. She made a complaint, but all the other staff around claimed I never said anything of the sort. She had to wait nearly 24 hours for the next flight. Priceless!”
Crossing A Line
“I was a customer service manager for a large clothing retailer. One of the cashiers was having a difficult time with a customer, so I walked to her station. The cashier was quite competent, efficient, polite, and well-versed on store policy, so I expected the transaction to be one where a manager over-ride was required.
The well-dressed, middle-aged patron wanted to use a starter check to pay for her purchase. Starter checks are issued by the bank when you open a checking account, and were very common before ATM and debit cards were available or widely used. They were only to be used for rent/mortgage and utilities because they did not have personal information imprinted on the check, just the banking information. They could be easily stolen or used fraudulently. Bank associates would always stress they could not be used for purchases at stores.
No store accepted starter checks and it was on the large sign at the front of the store listing the types of acceptable payment.
When I understood the problem, I offered to take her items to the customer service desk and hold her items until she produced an alternate form of payment.
She began screaming at us. I didn’t even understand what she was saying.
Suddenly, the general manager appeared next to me and the cashier quickly filled him in, showing him the starter checks. In his calm voice, he began saying exactly what I had said.
Then the woman spit in my face.
My entire face.
The lines of people at the registers gasped and recoiled. I just stood there. The general manager put his hand gently on my shoulder in support. The cashier started crying.
Security took the well-dressed, middle-aged woman from the store.
One of the other area managers led me to the bathroom and gently washed my face. I could feel exactly where it hit me as if it was lava. When I looked in the mirror, I expected to see burns but there was nothing there.
My general manager offered to let me have the rest of the day but I stayed. My lovely, perfect, efficient cashier got hugged by the woman who was in line behind the spitter so she recovered quickly and was able to finish her shift.
Of all the things that have come out of a customer’s mouth, that was the worst.”
Dude, Just Push The Button
“The store I worked at was doing their annual St. Jude’s charity drive. We were required to ask every customer if they’d like to donate a dollar (As you can imagine, about 4/5 of the customers asked were disproportionately angry about this question). To make sure we were asking, each customer had to make a selection to either donate or not on the pin pad, which we, the cashiers, could not override on our register until 90 seconds had passed.
So, every time a customer said no to the donation question, I would put on my cheery customer service smile and say, ‘Okay, go ahead and push ‘no’ on your screen, please.’
It was always a tense moment for me because customers would often get weirdly huffy about having to do that. This guy, though, was the worst ever. He looked down his nose at me and, with a long-suffering voice dripping with condescension, as though he were annoyed at having to explain this at all, -‘“No. It’s not my job to push buttons for you.’
We weren’t allowed to go around to the other side of the register to push anything on the pin pad for the customer, so I simply said, ‘Okay,’ and waited for 90 seconds to elapse so I could skip ahead – an eternity in customer service time.
I maintained eye contact with the guy the whole time. I wish I could say he got flustered or frustrated, that he caved and pushed the darn button and skulked off, fuming, but instead, we shared a highly uncomfortable minute and a half of silence, and then he paid and left the store. The moment’s stuck with me, though – I’ve never met someone who so clearly believed himself above me, as though we weren’t simply two human beings on opposite sides of a transaction, but two separate species. The attitude of this guy still raises my hackles when I think of him.”
He Thought It Was A Gift
“We had a customer who had a bad habit of walking off with our pens. He would never come with one and seek help from the staff. We gladly obliged. But when our help was taken for granted and rather taken away to be never seen again, we became a bit conscious about our responses.
Being a client means being given a great degree of leeway by virtue of their relationship with the bank, the ‘customer is right’ approach, and also because of the ethics of ‘customer should be treated right’.
Coming back to the aforementioned customer. One day he again came for some work, asked for my pen, finished his task, and conveniently forgot to return it. That day his action just wasn’t acceptable to me. The pen in question had been gifted to me by our office staff for my birthday. It held a special meaning for me. I couldn’t let it go and politely asked for it to be returned.
He was taken aback and caustically replied, ‘We give you our money and you cannot even give us your pen? Cheap bank!’
The last bit was vitriolic and rude. He said the same laughingly but the shot was unacceptable. I wanted to retaliate but I didn’t want to go to his level.
I gave a simple reply, ‘Sir, if we safeguard our pens to this degree, you can be rest assured your money and investments will be protected and safeguarded as well. Rather way more.’
I expected a retaliation. I got more deposits instead!
A cool response works best.”