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Worst Customers Ever And Their Unrestrained Rugrats From Hell

Years ago, I worked in a cellphone store that was located in a large mall in Vancouver, Canada.  This is a story about the worst customers I’ve ever encountered.

Now our store had very specific instructions as to how everything was supposed to be displayed. Each demo phone had an assigned place on the wall and each demo phone had specific accessories that had to be hung below it. This wasn’t complicated but it was something that we had to do properly and it took a lot of work to make sure that everything was always up to date properly.

One day, a woman came in with three kids between the ages of three and five and a baby in a stroller. She needed help because her phone had stopped working. As I tried to explain that her phone wasn’t working because it had been dropped in water (there were drops of water in the screen and the battery was wet), the kids took turns pulling/pushing each other around on a mini skateboard. I looked up just in time to see one being pushed past our accessory wall with her arm outstretched. They were taking turns to see who could knock the most items from the shelf. I kid you not.  By the time they left, literally every item was on the floor and a lot had been pulled from their packaging. Only two of us were working and it took both of us three hours to have everything sorted and put back.

A few days later, I’d found out that a family friend had died. We were short staffed and I needed to stay so I was in the back room getting myself under control while my coworker managed customers. I heard the sound of kids having a great time and thought nothing of it until I heard a crash followed immediately by howling.

That family had returned. One of their kids had somehow managed to climb up the side of our alarm sensor and literally snap it off its base. Thankfully, they landed on top of the base and not the other way around. We had concrete floors and those sensors were two inch thick plexiglass so they were heavy!

Were the parents concerned? Nope. They kept arguing that they needed a free replacement phone. Meanwhile, the kids had started climbing on top of the boxed satellite TV units we carried. At this point, other customers were angrily demanding that these parents start watching their kids.

But where had they gone? The three and five year olds had gone to Starbucks to get free drinks and the four year old? A customer returned to the store to tell the parents that he had just followed their son to the sky train platform and that they needed to come and get him NOW.

The mom returned a few days later with a family friend to demand a free phone again. They left pretty quickly when I pointed out that our cost to repair the sensor was over five thousand dollars.

I’ve attached pictures of the sensormatic for you to see. They’re solid plexiglass with parts inside and to this day I cannot imagine how a child managed to climb one. 1125-16

Oops, I accidentally deleted those pictures because I couldn’t figure out what it was and made no connection to this email submission.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Marie March 9, 2017, 6:12 am

    In the Netherlands we are known to be blunt and rude – but in this case that would have worked out fine. No employee of a Dutch store would allow this, and no manager would fire an employee that would tell these people they needed to leave the store.

    • mark March 9, 2017, 9:12 am

      I think during the second visit it was time to call the police, and ban them.

    • Ketchup March 9, 2017, 4:27 pm

      You’re absolutely right. Employees in the Netherlands have actual power to say and do things. You won’t get fired for standing up to these terrors.

    • AndreaLynnette March 13, 2017, 7:40 am

      Around here, employers are so afraid of negative reviews and calls to corporate. It still amazes me the outright THEFT we allow because the mantra from my boss, and HER boss, is “don’t let them call corporate.” Apparently the way to get what you want is to scream and holler and pitch an absolutely fit because if you do that, then the store will give you what you want. And if that doesn’t work, call corporate and make something up. That ALWAYS works.

  • NostalgicGal March 9, 2017, 7:20 am

    You have a pass to the pearly gates, OP, I’m more than willing to write the absolution. (my faith plus my personal discretion allowed in my faith as I am ordained).

    Free phones? I only know of the recent iPhones not Samsungs (the last 3 years) at least if someone buys ‘applecare’ you get two replacements in two years for a $99 USD copay. (spouse cashed in his iphone 6+ after one year). (I commented at the phone store about the
    orphan/loaner bin…. apparently Verucca II (I submitted that story) is currently using the phone I turned in, the phone she tried to steal out of my coat pockets. Yes I turned it in for credit on the 7 Plus but still. Poetic)

    • NostalgicGal March 9, 2017, 12:24 pm

      Also, from going through that grief with Verucca a few years ago over my getting an iSlab, the phone stores/centers often do NOT have onsite security, and often can’t toss bad customers out. However once the child broke the sensor the store should have had the right to call the authorities and file against the parents for the damages, and should be able to ban the family from the store. However it might not happen. My local store has since installed CCTV to assist in security, and the tape should be enough evidence to file. Still if something happens or someone acts up it is still the staff on hand that gets to handle it as management is in another city and county. I really feel for the OP. As for the kids leaving the store, those that followed should have just called the authorities and let Child Protection pick the unescorted kids up especially from the skytrain station.

  • Julie March 9, 2017, 8:55 am

    I never know what policies stores have about unruly kids and absent-minded parents. My husband used to work in retail clothing stores and some parents would try to hide dirty diapers under the clothing displays. Stores really should have more stringent policies about vandalism and destruction of property…

    • Kay March 9, 2017, 5:03 pm

      I worked in a bookstore and parents would try to stash s–t filled or urine soaked diapers in a wastepaper basket under my cleanly work station. I would firmly redirect them to the restroom for disposal. Pigs. I can only imagine changing a filthy diaper and not having the decency to wash your hands afterwards, touching things in public places after.

      • SadieMae March 10, 2017, 12:10 pm

        I worked at a moderately high-end department store and we routinely found soiled diapers and used feminine sanitary supplies in the dressing rooms, just lying out on the benches. Once I even found a used condom in there! That’s in addition, of course, to the piles of clothes people would try on and then leave in heaps all over the floor, trampled on and smeared with dust and make-up.

        It’s awful what some people will do when they know no one’s watching…

  • Kamatari March 9, 2017, 9:00 am

    I think employees should have every right to kick out or call the police on customers who refuse to control their kids after being told to control the kids or leave. I don’t know why people aren’t embarrassed about their child’s behavior anymore!

    If I was working at that store when the kids broke the censor, I would have immediately called the cops. That’s destruction of private property. If they left in a hurry, I would get their license plate number if I didn’t already have their personal information up on my computer. The parents should absolutely be forced to pay for the damages and be banned from the store. 5 grand is nothing to sneeze at!

  • AS March 9, 2017, 9:11 am

    Don’t you have onsite security in the store? Or maybe security could have been called (just a threat to the parents might have sufficed). Or does the store believe in “the customer is always right” a bit too much?

    The evil me thinks that Starbucks should have given them free espresso shots once the mother is ready to head home! ?

    • Dee March 9, 2017, 1:12 pm

      If it’s an independent store (not in a mall) in Vancouver there likely isn’t enough profit to afford security. Even back then (whenever this took place) property values and rents were so high it is difficult to believe any store could survive there. I live near Vancouver and I know that the cities within Vancouver experience their own unique cultural identities, as we do in our city, too. Family values are often in direct conflict with what is considered modern Canadian “norm” and one can easily find themselves called a racist if one does anything to direct attention to those presenting the conflict. Of course, there are plenty of badly behaved “white” Canadians, too. I don’t think I would characterize things as being “run amok” here but there are definite challenges.

      • Amanda H. March 9, 2017, 6:48 pm

        Not only that but if it’s a store in a mall, mall security isn’t really there to turf out unruly customers themselves. They’re there to keep customers from being unruly in the main mall areas, and possibly police employee actions (for things like parking regulations and whatnot).

        The thing to do, if it’s at all possible (and often it’s not, per corporate rules), is to trespass the customers and call the actual police.

      • Rebecca March 9, 2017, 11:30 pm

        Vancouverite all my life here. Not sure what race has to do with it as I’ve seen kids of all ethnic backgrounds behaving badly while the parents just stand by. I’m not denying that there are cultural clashes here but this doesn’t sound like one of them; it sounds like a regular ole badly behaved customer, albeit a particularly destructive one.

        She did say it was in a large mall, and it’s near a Skytrain station, so I’m thinking Metrotown or Pacific Centre, something like that. And it’s a cell phone store, so I imagine one of the big giants you usually find in malls. The mall would have security. Thing is, employees could have difficulty asking a customer to leave.

        I’ve worked in retail (same city, but could be anywhere) and it’s not all that unusual to get nasty customers in demanding the most ridiculous things. And not unusual to have kids in tow that blow through like a hurricane. On the other hand, I’ve also had the experience of going into a cell phone store with a recently-purchased phone that wasn’t working properly, and been accused of dropping it in water and every excuse in the book not to admit simply that the phone they sold me is defective. (I know in this case the battery was wet so there was evidence).

        • Dee March 10, 2017, 11:45 am

          You’re right, OP did say it was in a mall. I missed that. As far as race goes, our city’s main “minority” population (I think it might be 50% or higher, now) has a traditional belief in “free range” parenting. That is, children are let loose anytime and anywhere.

          Every cultural has their own pros and cons. Our neighbours, when I was growing up, were from Poland and they believed that children need to be free to only be children. Their youngest was so spoiled and indulged that he tried the most patient of people. The older siblings had to cave to all of his demands. That is, until he was five and started his first day in Grade 1. Then he was no longer considered a child and had to tow the line, just like everyone else. Up early in the morn for chores and so on. He seemed to adjust quite well and made a success of himself, just like his siblings did for themselves. So, it worked for them.

          Problem is, of course, when society’s expectations directly clash with traditional values. We see this every day in my city and it often results in calls of “racism”, when it’s simply cultural clash. And it is a common occurrence in Vancouver’s cities as well, with the varied cultures in each of them.

      • Nicky March 12, 2017, 1:05 am

        What’s the old joke? Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy.

        • NostalgicGal March 13, 2017, 10:10 am

          Or: Unattended Children will be given Glitter and a gluegun?

  • ErinAnn March 9, 2017, 9:33 am

    Calm down. She doesn’t always comment on the stories.

  • Kimberly March 9, 2017, 9:48 am

    US companies that have this don’t throw people out because of their kids bad behavior are reacting to the squeaky wheel. The parents throw fits,file complaints,post bad reviews on line.

    The rest of us, and I’m including the majority of parents in us, need to be the squeaky wheel. We all need to complain about being subjected to the bad behavior of others and refuse to do business with companies that allow people of any age run riot.

    My extended family was out to eat and a group nearby was letting their kids yelll, scream, and run around. When we complained to the manager, we made it clear that if it didn’t stop we were leaving. The manger told the other group to stop or leave. As they flounced out, one of the women told us “obviously you know nothing about raising children”. There were 8 kids aged 2 yo – 13 yo sitting around our table. They are kids not angels, but some of the parents would take the littles for a walk between ordering our food and it being served easy to do with a large mixed aged group.

  • Cat March 9, 2017, 9:57 am

    My belief is that, if parents cannot or will not control their children in a store, they should be told to leave. If they refuse, security should escort them out.

  • Anon March 9, 2017, 10:09 am

    Ah yes, the “customer’s always right even if they cost thousands of dollars in damage and aren’t actually customers!”

  • Dyan March 9, 2017, 10:49 am

    OH yes the customers in Vancouver (I am one who work in Vancouver) and understand..
    when I would get customers like this in, when the kids were making a mess I would always say to them loud enough for the parents to hear..WHO is going to help me clean up this mess YOU since you made it…you can stay here all day with me and help me…

  • Harry March 9, 2017, 11:12 am

    Perhaps after a while, the kids unruly behavior just becomes ‘white noise’ to the parents as they grow accustomed to it.

  • Michelle March 9, 2017, 11:26 am

    I think companies should make it a policy that if their unruly children destroy/damage property the parents should have to pay for it. Put CCTV in every store and when parents complain and/or leave bad online reviews, the store could put the clip of what their children had done up so people could see the context. I don’t think the customer is always right. I think you should treat customers with respect and try to help them, but when they are unreasonable, use profanity, let their children run free and tear up the business, you should be able to tell them to leave and managers should have your back.

    My children were not angels and I was not a perfect parent. If they misbehaved in public, they got 1 warning. Then we left. If they went from fine to full-blown tantrum in seconds, we left immediately.

    I realize a babysitter is not always possible and yes, we should take children out in public and teach them how to behave/interact in public places, but parents (like the mom in the OP) don’t even attempt to teach how to behave. They don’t think they should have to pay for the damage and destruction their children do. It’s beyond time for those types of parents to actually parent their children. If you don’t want to parent your children because it’s too hard or you just don’t care about raising a child who has manners and knows how to behave, then don’t have children. It’s hard. It’s a lot of work. Some days are beyond awful and all you want to do it crawl back in bed. You can’t. You when you step outside, take a deep breath, get your game face on and push through.

  • Gary March 9, 2017, 11:48 am

    If an adult was methodically destroying the store, no one will just ignore. No one will say, oh he is so active and energetic. True story, a relative’s kid was messing with my work phone, she just commented, he is so good with phones. Why do we accept this behavior with kids? I can understand, not calling the police, but not even asking the parents to mind the kids or leave. Boggles my mind.

  • JD March 9, 2017, 11:56 am

    I believe I’d be calling the police about parents who were letting pre-schoolers wonder about a large area with no adult in attendance. I’ve followed a small child before more than once because mom or dad wasn’t watching at all, just so I could try to make sure the kid wasn’t going to get snatched. What are these parents thinking in this story? Can you imagine what their home life is like?
    We had a couple of manager types at work who were married to each other. They were all wrapped up in work, fitness, power and money. They had five kids, and those kids ran wild in the streets, literally. One of them, who was four or five at the time, got hit by a car, playing out in the street unattended on a Saturday morning, while mom and dad slept in. Luckily, the driver was able to stop enough that the child was only bruised and frightened. Neighbors finally stepped in and started watching the kids for them. The parents petitioned the courts a few years later to have their oldest, then a 14 year old, allowed to drive early, in busy city traffic, so she could take her siblings and herself to school, because the parents were “too busy.” This is all completely true, unfortunately.

    • Anon March 9, 2017, 1:05 pm

      Ugh, why do people have kids if they’re just going to make their own children look after the others because the actual parents don’t want to?

      • NostalgicGal March 9, 2017, 6:40 pm

        That’s how a school friend got to raise two of her brothers, literally from the moment they were carried in the door to potty trained and sleeping in a bed. In 6 years she got 4 months off from this duty. Her mom was very large and very irregular and wouldn’t catch she was pregnant until like 8th month. As graduation neared her parents started saying they thought she would be staying home and helping them for a bit, she flat out asked when her mom was due and the answer was a few weeks after graduation. Another friend helped her go to a nearby larger town and she found an apartment and a job that would start a few days after graduation. She stepped out of her graduation party and got a ride to her apartment. When her dad showed up with the sheriff to get her, she informed them both about being 18, graduated, and to get out or she was filing for theft (if her dad took anything). Sheriff backed up, dad had told him a bill of goods, and dad had to leave. He called me to give me h*** and I told him I didn’t help as I didn’t have a car, was six hours away and in the middle of finals. However she had had all the joys of unwed teen mother other than she never got to have sex first. He was melting phone and I hung up. Mom had her tubes taken when she delivered the next one as she was having all boys and her nanny-slave daughter had left. I bet that fourteen year old was SICK of being a ‘mini-mom’ to her younger siblings… and I bet at 18 she does a run the other way just like my friend did.

        • EchoGirl March 10, 2017, 12:27 pm

          It’s not just the stereotypical “irresponsible” parent who does this, either. I know people who were raised in certain religious cultures where having lots of children is a status symbol (a la “19 Kids and Counting”, but it’s not just one religion), and the older daughters are often pressed into service in this same way, not because the parents are doing nothing but because one adult can’t actually parent that many kids at once. It’s one thing to ask your older children to help out here or there, but when it gets to the point where the sibling is doing more parenting than the parent, I feel like that’s too many kids, and it’s exploiting the older kids for the sake of having more kids.

          • NostalgicGal March 11, 2017, 10:07 am

            The friend I mentioned actually had the just learning to talk brothers yell for her instead of MOM when they needed something. They didn’t consider their real mother their mother figure, that was their sister. The older of those two had a real hard time of it as he went to kindergarten as his sister was a senior and no other kid had a sister as ‘mom’ and nobody else used a name (her given name) instead of ‘mom’… The family had been girl, two boys, (2 and 3 years younger respectively) then six years pause, then mom started having boys about 3 years apart. When boy #5 was due was when sis left for elsewhere. And they had the cultural ‘boys rate, girls are maybe second class behind any boys’ mentality so the boys were not made to do any chores, housework, etc, and definitely NOT take care of their younger brothers. I never asked who raised #5…. [they had moved about the time #4 came along and a vicious war went up over the bedrooms and one of the boys was going to get the ‘choicest’ room until it was realized that the prized bedroom was the only one the crib would fit into…so birth order didn’t count and the one boy had massive fits but either his sister got the prize or he got to sleep with the baby, so he finally relented as he didn’t want to change diapers. I do not blame her for leaving. Nope.]

      • Asharah March 10, 2017, 11:47 pm

        They had a couple of doozies on SuperNanny. One family had 10 kids and the oldest boy was having anxiety attacks from Mom constantly dumping the kids on him to watch. Or she would yell at the oldest girls because the kids were fighting when they were supposed to be watching them. And the idiot wanted two more kids! Why? Because it was her “dream” to have a dozen kids. Seriously, she can’t handle the kids she has without forcing the older ones to parent the younger and she wants more.

        They had another family were two teenaged girls, I think from mom’s first marriage, plus three little boys not yet school-aged. The two teenagers were supposed to watch the little kids all day, while also home-schooling themselves, and doing housework. And heaven forbid if they didn’t do the housework up to dear old Dad’s standards, he’d throw a fit. The first night Jo was there, Mom was supposed to be picking up dinner and she was an hour late getting home because she worked late. Pretty much two workaholics married to their jobs who didn’t want to hire a nanny or a housekeeper and expected their teenagers to raise the younger kids.

        • NostalgicGal March 11, 2017, 10:14 am

          College friend of hubby, wanted a dozen kids. They churned out four fairly readily, two boys, girl, boy, then for some reason instead of having one every two years, she skipped and it was four years to the next one, boy. She’d gotten out of diapers everywhere and all the time and when this era returned she had ENOUGH of it and went and got her tubes taken. Oh, he was a fatherhood ended at conception type too, she got very little help with the kids… we visited and stayed just after #5 and I actually would help her with shopping and such, and she went ohmy this is So NICE. (go to Sam’s club, he would disappear and leave her to push flat, shop and ride herd on the kids. Someone actually there to help wrangle the groceries so she could wrangle kids, she was amazed at how easy and fast it was to go shopping. Was part of the reason she said enough.) He is now a grandfather with 8 grandkids and two more on the way and he’s STILL upset with her that they didn’t have the dozen kids he wanted. She’s still with him though.

          • The Other Elizabeth March 13, 2017, 12:58 pm

            That is so awful. What’s even the point of children if you can’t claim them beyond genetics? People like that make me sick, honestly sick to my stomach. It’s so inhuman to desire children, but not want any kind of relationship with them.

        • PM March 13, 2017, 5:54 pm

          That’s exactly what I thought of when you described your friend. Those poor girls raising three boys while the parents checked out entirely from their responsibilities. And you could tell how reluctant the mom was to change because things were working out pretty good for her. The girls literally did everything at home, including housework and raising her younger children. And then the dad got indignant and stern when Jo was writing out how the chores at home were split and it was becoming painfully obvious the parents did NOTHING. The girls had the temerity to claim that they folded the laundry and he was all, “REALLY? Really? Mom doesn’t do the laundry? How often do you do the laundry? When was the last time you folded the laundry? Name a date?”

          I wanted to scream, “Yes, REALLY. Do you really want to quibble over the dang laundry when the girls already have cooking, cleaning, dishes, and childcare on their list?”

          • NostalgicGal March 14, 2017, 11:09 am

            I was mom’s maid, bottlewasher and cook. Maidery started about 7-8, dishwashing not much after, laundry was about ten, and family cook, twelve. At least I was an only but by the same token there was nobody else to share chores with. She really DID miss me moving out. One plus for future husband fodder, at least I could cook. Heh. My DH said that was one reason he became interested in me… hehehe.

    • NostalgicGal March 9, 2017, 1:21 pm

      Gadzooks, I had issues with urban traffic at 23 (and I had started driving on the farm at 7 and could drive almost anything by then). 14 and thinking of the average urban traffic, NO. 16 is a bit young for some of those places even if you were born and raised there.

    • Amanda H. March 10, 2017, 9:52 am

      That poor 14-year-old.

      I don’t have an issue with older siblings helping with their younger siblings in most cases, but the operative word here is “HELPING.” Babysitting on occasion, help corralling younger siblings, changing a diaper or getting a bite to eat while mom or dad is otherwise occupied with parenting duties, etc. Generally in the cases where I’ve seen it work well, the older children are asked, not treated as substitute parents so the real parents can be lazy, and the older siblings in question still get to be their own people and move out when they graduate and everything. They don’t have the cops show up on their door with their dad who was misleading about the situation like NostalgicGal’s story (which I’m sure I’ve heard her share before, as it sounds very familiar).

      It’s when the “parents” in question think, “Hey, Oldest is old enough to raise their siblings for us. No more work for me!” that problems arise.

      • NostalgicGal March 11, 2017, 10:17 am

        Yes I shared it before. She ended up moving four states away and got married about 25 and had three kids of her own, the last I heard about her. And she has very little contact with her parents. Where the rest of the boys got to I never heard.

    • Tan March 13, 2017, 9:00 am

      I never get families who see a child as staff it always seems to just create problems and resentment in the modern world particularly when you don’t see kids as equal. The worse I remember hearing about was on a program on large families where the eldest daughter (I think 21 when this show was filmed) told her parents she recently had her tubes tied because she didn’t want kids after the “childhood” she’d had. The details were a bit hazy as they disagreed on everything- she insisted the “babysitting” was full time after her 13th and occasional from about 10. They were convinced it was a voluntary and “everyone pitched in” (even though they thought boys should not do housework). There was also disagreement over whether the girl wanted to leave school at 16 or if they made her. It was really messy and tragic however both her and oldest sister made it out when the younger one was 18 (the eldest was 19 and slightly younger sister got to stay on at school while older sister stayed home). They didn’t really talk to their parents anymore and only talked to 1 or 2 siblings (only a few were allowed on the internet and they didn’t like the eldest boys). The family was something like 2 girls, then 6 boys, 2 girls and a baby boy. Boys were not expected to babysit / do housework, and the 2/3 eldest boys were vehemently opposed to the idea with dad. They had a family owned business and mum had to drop her counter duties to raise kids when sisters left(2 boys had to go to work- one was happy but the other was clearly not happy not being allowed to do any further education)

      • NostalgicGal March 13, 2017, 7:19 pm

        Cutting the education IS WRONG. Long story about my mother’s family because it was large and when both parents died they left six kids under 16, and all the older ones (13 kids, 9 girls)… had to step in and take over with younger siblings ranging down to 4 at the time of second parent death. Not a lot of them got the chance to do highschool, my mother had to go to work at 14. (and there were four younger than she was). Social Services really didn’t exist then, it was the family that had to deal. I’m hoping in this case the ones that want the education get onto at least doing their GED. Whether or not they get to attend school, there are still ways. My era there were still a lot of kids, boys and girls, that bailed out into the military to get away from home (a classmate quit end of junior year and joined the army-as long as they guaranteed she could play clarinet in the army band. They did arrange it and she spent four years AWAY FROM HOME playing clarinet, and she did her GED. She didn’t come home after that, either. And a cousin of mine married an Air Force guy that had gotten his mom to sign so he could enlist at 16, same thing–he was the oldest and he wanted out of there. He did the same thing, get his GED after enlisting….)

      • Ajay March 13, 2017, 7:59 pm

        I thought you were talking about ‘that’ family in my small town (less then 10,000) 16 surviving children, 3 girls, a boy, 2 girls, a boy, 7 (of various flavours) then a girl and a boy.

        The eldest two girls were taken out of school for ‘home-schooling’ by the time they were 11, the eldest learned to read only when she started being a ‘nanny’ to a local family and their two youngest were learning to read (the family was a bit shocked, as she was 21/22 at this stage, and encouraged her to learn with the children, they bought her ‘readers’ which she taught the next eldest sister to read from) – it was about that stage that she had had enough and her and the next eldest sister ‘ran away from home’ – family members the next town over took them in and kept them ‘hidden’ for almost a year while they went to a technical school to bring them up to speed, (oddly enough, they both insisted on ‘paying their way’ by helping out with the their younger cousins and the cooking/cleaning, which their Aunt still praises them for) neither of the eldest girls talk to their parents (35 years and counting) and have even had to remove other girls from the family to stop the same happening to them…

        • NostalgicGal March 14, 2017, 11:17 am

          Good that someone intervened. I hope those kids are having a good life now. There is a difference between the days before social services and a large family having to deal when the parents died (my mom’s family) and the servitude attitude you describe. Some of my mom’s family got high school, some didn’t (they did try between them all to get everyone through highschool and most of them did, my mom didn’t like school that much and she was the one at the pivot age when the second parent died, so. I had tried to encourage her when I started high school to do her GED (a classmate’s mother did this, we recognized her to her great embarrassment at our graduation ceremony, she hadn’t gone to class with us, but she lived in our town and had completed her education too!)

  • Ty March 9, 2017, 1:12 pm

    I place at least partial blame on corporate culture that insists all customers should be treated like gods no matter how boorish or unreasonable they are. You can bet that the big-wigs who make all the customer service decisions have likely never worked in customer service themselves.

    • NostalgicGal March 9, 2017, 1:23 pm

      This. Management should have to work in the trenches without the power (aka have to follow the rules like any other CS rep or store staff) for six months to a year including a Christmas Season from kickoff to the end of Returns in January, before they get to sit in Mahogany Row.

      • Michelle March 9, 2017, 4:55 pm

        I completely agree with both Ty & NostalgicGal.

        This makes me think of this saying/meme: Anyone who says the customer is always right obviously never had a job with customers.

        • SadieMae March 10, 2017, 12:18 pm

          I recently interviewed (for work) a man who’s the CEO of a large chain of nursing homes. Every executive at the company – himself included – is required to work one full day each month as an aide in one of the homes, doing the most basic work: changing beds, helping residents with feeding and hygiene. The CEO felt that was the only way for his executives to stay connected with the company’s mission and with the concerns employees, residents and family members might have.

          Would that all corporate executives had to do this! (It’d be nice if they had to live on nursing aide/waitress/sales clerk pay one day a month, too…ride the city bus…etc.) The world would be a better place.

          • Ajay March 13, 2017, 8:01 pm

            SadieMae, that really is a brilliant idea, what a good person.

            My director refuses to have an office, he wants to be approachable and in a position to help whenever possible.

  • Ashley March 9, 2017, 1:50 pm

    When I worked retail, we had a strict “You/your kids break it, you buy it” policy.

    Enforced the heck out of it too, because we had live display cameras, and security cameras to prove who did it.

    Made a lot of parents mad.

    Maybe if you watched your kids rather than just letting them do whatever while you looked at office furniture, you’d be able to buy that desk and that chair right now, rather than shelling out $500 for the camera your kid broke when he YANKED it off the stand and then tried to throw it.

    • abby March 10, 2017, 8:40 am

      But what would you do if the parents just shrugged and said they didn’t have $500 to pay for whatever their kids broke? Or just flat out refused? I guess you could ask them to leave but I don’t see how you legally enforce this policy.

      • NostalgicGal March 11, 2017, 10:18 am

        If it’s listed as a posted sign, there is small claims court. That can be a long and painful bit too but it is possible.

      • InTheEther March 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

        It is illegal to destroy someone’s personal property, even if that someone is a corporation or business. And parents are legally responsible for their children’s actions (up to a certain degree). The process would be to call the police to file a report for destruction of property, and then you get to sue. Admittedly, for small amounts it probably won’t be worth it, but even without a posted notice the kid is still technically committing a crime. Taken far enough, the type of behavior described in the post can easily result in a juvenile criminal record for older children.

  • lou March 9, 2017, 2:17 pm

    This reminds me of working in a fashion retailer about 20 years ago (UK). Similar situation, mum was involved in browsing the rails and chatting to her friend. Meanwhile, her two kids (boy aged 5ish and girl 7ish) were making their own entertainment by wandering the store making a mess. We tried our best to keep composed but the point came when I had to say something. At this point, the little boy had climbed into the display window and was trying to undress a mannequin, whilst his sister had discovered the loss prevention sensor gates and was performing some kind of gymnastic routine on them. I asked them, in a fairly kind and friendly manner, to stop because what they were doing was dangerous – they did in fact stop and I got on with restoring the poor mannequin’s modesty. Next thing, mum flounces over – how DARE I tell her babies what to do?! They were only playing! They’re just children! They’re not going to harm anything! My colleague and I tried to explain that actually, the mannequin was not massively stable and could hurt if it fell on her son’s head, plus her clothes were held in place by rather sharp pins, plus the equipment her daughter was swinging on was nicely shaped to trap a small head and was also worth several thousand pounds so it would be better all round if it was left alone. She wouldn’t accept a word of it and eventually flounced out. I still don’t get the mentality of permitting children to engage in annoying, destructive and dangerous behaviour all so you can shop in peace!

    • Jelaza March 10, 2017, 1:00 am

      I don’t understand the “They’re only playing” defense. Because that’s going to stop them from getting hurt when they fall off something or pull something down on themselves? There’s a magic “only playing” forcefield?

      • NostalgicGal March 10, 2017, 10:10 pm

        Now defunct chain kid’s toy store… had some major parts of a backyard entertainment playground set up against a wall, fenced, signs saying DISPLAY STAY OFF and mother walked in with a four year old boy who ZOOMED right for there, over the fence, onto the display, and caught a finger and got it severed. Mother was totally incensed about her boy being injured and no why should he not be on it? It’s for kids to play on-he had a right to go play on it. She lost the case as they had CCTV of it, and the store rehung the display near the ceiling so kids couldn’t get onto it unless they could fly.

      • bern821 March 13, 2017, 1:33 pm

        And these are the same people who would file a massive lawsuit against the store when their precious snowflake is injured while terrorizing the store!

    • AS March 10, 2017, 10:51 am

      So basically, the kids knew how to listen, but the mum was under the impression that they don’t need to be told? She doesn’t realize how lucky she is to have kinds who are prepared to listen- unlike many parents who actually have to tell several times! Makes you wonder what goes on in their heads! Maybe she always wanted to break things as a child, but wasn’t allowed to; and is now living her fantasies precariously through her own children!

    • FunkyMunky March 13, 2017, 3:51 am

      That’s when you direct them to the nearest playground. Stores are not for playing in.

      • NostalgicGal March 13, 2017, 7:32 pm

        One small mall I used to live near, had 4 spokes with anchor stores at ends of each spoke, and the center, was a huge playpit. A few things to crawl on (there was this funky open cockpit plane, etc) that were hard foam padded, and a padded floor and it was sunk pit so kids were sort of corralled with nice seating all around the edge for the adult to watch. That was absolutely the best ‘mall decoration’ I’ve ever seen as it gave the kids a place they could terrorize instead of the stores. I was told by one of the old stores (had been there since the mall opened) manager, that there used to be plants and a small fountain and the stores had petitioned and paid up for the remodel. If your kid was being wild you could take them there to burn it off…. maybe malls need that instead of all the weird hard benches and live plants that thrive on neglect and low light in industrial planters.

  • SamiHami March 9, 2017, 2:31 pm

    I get that we have to be tolerant of customers and their children to an extent, but when you see children doing the things described in the OP I think it’s not only acceptable, but actually obligatory to put a stop to it. As in, “Ma’am, I am happy to assist you, but you will need to keep your children under control. They are disturbing other customers and making a mess of the displays. Please make them stop.”

    I really don’t see how any manager could fault an employee for protecting their products and other customers.

  • mark March 9, 2017, 2:55 pm

    Part of what drives this reluctance to “discipline/ban” customers is the internet. Places of business live in terror of bad reviews from customers. A modern business can be hurt by bad reviews. They are also very afraid of complaints to corporate headquarters.

    In my opinion it is somewhat short sighted of businesses to not “fire” customers like this family. This obviously is an extreme example but a lot of customers aren’t worth having, in particular dishonest/destructive customers.

    • AS March 10, 2017, 10:53 am

      To an extent, yes. But for example, I like to read 1 or 2 star reviews. And very soon into the reviews, it is obvious if the fault is on the business or customer.

      Anyway, badly behaved children with parents unwilling to discipline existed long before the Internet.

      • Angela March 11, 2017, 10:12 am

        Kind of like when a person sends a submission into ehell and it becomes clear in the first paragraph or two that it’s the writer who has committed an etiquette breach.

    • Ajay March 13, 2017, 8:32 pm

      Like that chap in Dublin who ‘fired’ large groups not booking and turning up with very very particular and limited dietary requirements… (his menu does happily cater for such dietary requirements, but this rather vocal group turned up without a booking)

      I think sometimes the customers need a wee reminder that some businesses don’t NEED ‘customers’ being snotty little brats, and will quite happily live on, in part, due to their no-nonsense-taking infamy, I know I’ll be making a booking to go to that restaurant in Dublin, (if I ever make it back to that side of the world) the owner sounds like a highly amusing character…

  • jokergirl129 March 9, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Good lord that woman is a terrible parent and talk about a complete nightmare with the kids causing all of that mess and destruction. Seriously it’s amazing how neglectful and uncaring parents can be concerning how their kids behave in public. From stories I’ve read on here and on Not Always Working (along with the other Not Always categories) you get so many stories about kids running around, being loud, making a mess and so on while the parents ignore the kids entirely or think that the behavior is cute or no big deal. And heaven forbid if you say anything because then the parents get angry and yell at you for telling their kids to stop and yell at you for questioning their parenting skills and so on.

    To make things even worse when this happens in a store or restaurant the employees are often powerless to do anything about it. Mainly because their managers and/or corporate won’t allow them to because they don’t want to lose customers and “the customer is always right”. So in turn they get away with this kind of behavior and they risk well behaving customers leaving and not coming back because no one wants to put up with that. And this goes to all bad customers in general not just parents with wild children.

    Honestly that mother should have been kicked out and banned after everything her kids did in that store. And charge for the cost of replacing/repairing the sensor. Sadly that isn’t always possible. That woman was lucky nothing happen to her kids while they wondered off. Especially to the kid that went to the sky train platform. Kids that young should not be going off by themselves!

    • NostalgicGal March 10, 2017, 10:14 pm

      Still say that those that observed the kids including the one that followed the 4 year old to the Skytrain platform, should have just called the police for ‘abandoned child wandering loose in public place’. Let the kid get picked up. (and the ones that went to Starbucks by themselves too). And have parent trying to explain why their kids were wandering and in danger?

  • PWH March 9, 2017, 3:04 pm

    I feel so bad for retail employees. The lack of respect some people have just blows my mind. I know kids will be kids, and even the best parent will have issues, but this is just crazy. The fact that companies view the customer as king and pretty much let them get away with everything, often leaving employees holding the bag, it’s just not good business. Also, as some other people have pointed out, there is no way an adult would get away with this type of behaviour. They would have swiftly been ejected by staff/security or a police escort. I know a lot of stores that have a “you break it, you bought it” sign or similar posted and will hold people to it. I think this should be the norm no matter what type of business it is.

  • kingsrings March 9, 2017, 7:59 pm

    I really don’t understand the mentality of patents who allow their kids to run wild in stores and restaurants. Not only is it totally rude, it’s totally unsafe for many reasons! How can they just go about their business while their kids are so wild AND at risk of being harmed?? Some public places are now starting to not allow kids or only allow them at certain times. A sure sign that society has had enough of bratty kids.

    • NostalgicGal March 10, 2017, 10:15 pm

      I would sure patronize a place that had kid-free hours and tell them I appreciated it!

    • Aleko March 12, 2017, 4:52 am

      Even in Italy, where traditionally children are indulged, this,is getting to be a problem. There was a news piece a few weeks ago about Italian trattorias that have taken to giving discounts for ‘bambini educati’ (well-mannered children).

    • Stephbwferni March 13, 2017, 7:23 am

      I’m not defending the actions of people who let their kids run riot, but I can tell you the mentality: they want to have their adult comforts. Meal, drink, conversation, relaxation. That’s the mentality. How do I know? Because I want my adult comforts occaisionally, too, unfortunately I have 3 precious boys who need me, instead.

      • Stampysmom March 13, 2017, 1:01 pm

        I definitely do too – I have 2 boys – and some peace is definitely needed. Separately my boys are pretty well behaved. Together I’m surprised we aren’t arrested – mainly for fighting and yelling at each other as they don’t touch things in a store or make a mess. So generally I only take one shopping if anyone comes along.

        My eldest is special needs so sometimes things become very overwhelming for him and he melts down. I take him out for shorter trips and to places were people might care a little less like Walmart or the grocery store so he can develop his skills.

        I’d like to think people notice that if things aren’t going well on a given day that I’m in my kid’s ear, either talking them down or threatening to end them vs me off doing my own thing.

  • Rebecca March 9, 2017, 11:44 pm

    Some parents just don’t care what their children are doing. I worked in a major retail chain (also Vancouver) where the loss prevention officers were pretty active – the room where they hauled offenders in was on the way to the break room and I could see they just about ALWAYS had someone in there. One day they had a couple of kid about 12 years old in there, and while the police were on their way they called the parents. The response (I was later told by a manager): “So why are you calling me, you deal with it, I’m busy.”

    • NostalgicGal March 11, 2017, 10:28 am

      I lived urban, and one day I get a call from a detective who says I have your daughter here, for shoplifting. I said I had no daughter. He laughed gently and told me oh yes I do. I used careful words to indicate I had never had a viable pregnancy or went to term, I never adopted, I never married anyone who had children. No, I had no daughter… no children at all. Whoever he had there wasn’t mine. He sobered up, we talked. There was another couple in town, that were unlisted and had the same last name as us (city metro half a million) and I knew OF them as I occasionally was mixed up with the wife at the local Sam’s Club. No I had no number or address, just knew there was another family with our name and could give the woman’s first name. And the officer would have to contact Sam’s Club about it. Apparently the daughter (he had mentioned her name) had been caught shoplifting with a friend and though their names had been gotten, refused to say anything more. So the detective had grabbed the phone book and called the one listed last name that matched. I wonder eventually if the girls caved or he did have to call Sam’s Club and try to get the number from them… which might have needed a judge, and in the meantime the girls probably got locked up. Still strange to have an officer insist I had a daughter when I never had one. (that didn’t meow or woof, anyways. I had furkids).

  • InTheEther March 10, 2017, 12:42 am

    I’m amazed that CPS wasn’t called when the kids went MIA. I am definitely NOT one of those people worried about random abductions, as every study I’ve ever seen agree that they almost never happen. But let’s be honest, small children have all the survival instincts of lemmings. The kids who went to the Starbucks could have gotten lost and wound up anywhere. And what would have happened if the four year old had been acting like a crazed monkey and fallen on the tracts at the sky tram?

    Considering the complete lack of interest shown by the mother when the kid managed to break the sensor, it really seems like she was bordering on criminal neglect.

  • iridaceae March 10, 2017, 3:35 am

    Honestly once that kid reached the sky train station I would have alerted personnel there about the stray kid and let them take it from there ” I noticed this kid walking by himself from the Mall; I didn’t see parents with him”. Not returned to tell the parents to go get him.

    • NostalgicGal March 10, 2017, 10:16 pm


  • Hemi March 10, 2017, 11:05 am

    The mother was so worried about getting a free replacement phone that she could not bothered to watch her children. The children ended up damaging thousands of dollars worth of equipment and merchandise, as well as 2 of them wandering off to Starbucks for free drinks and one to the train platform. Had they been injured and/or abducted, I’m sure we would have the “devastated” parents on the news and I’m sure that they somehow would have blamed the cell store.

    Who wants to bet which kid threw the phone in the sink/toilet/bathtub/puddle?

  • Stephbwferni March 11, 2017, 6:20 pm

    The mother of three physically-inclined, climby boys in me wonders what else was going on in this family’s life.
    I’m NOT defending this family’s behaviorist in this situation but I have become very aware of how bad things can turn, with young children, sometimes, and that this scenario the OP has witnessed is just a tiny slither of this family’s life. I’ve also become quite aware as to how a situation can be interpretted by different parties.
    I hope those kids (and their parents) are going to be ok.

  • Lerah99 March 12, 2017, 1:29 pm

    Kids are little humans.
    I’m not one of those people who wants to ban them from restaurants, airplanes, stores, etc…
    Part of learning how to behave in public is going out in public and being corrected when acting out.

    And I understand that kids are just kids.
    I don’t expect a 3 year old to sit quietly and perfectly still for an entire meal.
    I don’t expect a 4 year old to necessarily remember to use an “inside voice” without reminder.

    But I have no tolerance for parents who can’t be bothered to actually parent.
    – I’m looking at you, couple who brought your 8 year old to the Deadpool movie. (Please wait until the kid is middle school aged before bringing them to a movie where 3/4 of the jokes are about anal sex?)
    – I’m looking at you, lady who never even looked up from her phone while your kid knocked dozens of boxes of cereal on the floor and then walked away without picking them up.
    – I’m looking at you, couple who let your 4 year old run around the restaurant and demanded a manager when the waiter told you it was dangerous for your kid to run around like that.

    It’s not the kids that are the problem. The kids are victims. They are going to grow up raised by wolves. They have no self control, no coping mechanisms, and no idea how to function in polite society. That’s going to make it really hard to make friends, keep a job, build relationships, etc…

    Parenting is hard. It’s non-stop without holidays or weekends off. But you’re supposed to love your kids enough to say “no” and teach them how to be successful and happy adults in their own right.

  • astaraelsget March 12, 2017, 5:58 pm

    We should start treating negligent parenting like traffic violations. You get caught letting your kids run riot in a store? You get a ticket. You can pay off your first offense with parenting “traffic school”, but after that you have to pay a fine of $200 – $5000 plus any damage your kids caused. I bet parents would get their act together real quick if that were enforced.

    • NostalgicGal March 13, 2017, 10:39 am

      Ohgods, this!!!!!

      I have a friend who got his (twin fraternal boy and girl, and 6 years later, preemie girl) kids via IVF. Recently his missus got a boobjob and plastic surgery and Not For Him… oldest girl is 12 and we his ring of friends expect the divorce in the next few years. He’s supposed to work full time (IT so overtime happens often) yet ‘be there 24/7 for the kids for active parenting’. The 12 year old boy recently pissed the living room walls because he was mad at his father and all dad was allowed to do was send him to his room. The kids run wild pretty much or she has the Fit Royale. To this end, us that care have located him a very good divorce lawyer, that should be able to land HIM keeping the kids, the house, and not have to pay her alimony when she decides to run away. So sometimes wild children come from a dominant dysfunctional parent… sigh.

  • Sana March 29, 2017, 2:24 am

    I hate families like this. Why continue to have kids you cant control and refuse to parent? The kids will grow up to be just as disgusting as the parents. Its always people with bad manners demanding free stuff that let their kids lose like wild animals. I see this a lot while shopping and every time I think some people need to be sterilised.