Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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I worked for two years in a small toy store in a mall.  During that time, I witnessed a lot of tacky behavior by customers.  Here are some high - low? - lights:

- An amazing number of people seemed to forget that a toy store is still a place of business.  Many parents felt that their kids should be allowed to climb all over the store, pull countless toys off the shelves and spread them all over the floor, etc.  One little boy tried to climb on a stack of mats in the corner (with a posted ‘no climbing’ sign).  I politely asked his mother if she could please not have him climb on the mats, as he might fall and injure himself.  She yelled at me that we shouldn’t have them stacked if he couldn’t climb on them, then turned to him and said that “the lady” said he couldn’t climb on them anymore, shooting death glares at me the entire time.  If the boy HAD fallen, I imagine she would have yelled at me for not stopping him!

- Another time, two boys had taken our entire supply of plastic dinosaurs off the shelf and had them blocking an aisle while they played with two of them.  I knew my boss would yell at me if he saw the mess, so I started picking up the dinosaurs they weren’t playing with.  They apparently told their mother that I wasn’t “letting” them play, because she screamed at me about how I had no right to work in a toy store.  I actually went into the back room and cried, she had been so rude and mean.

- Parents also seemed to feel that ‘toy store’ = ‘day care’, and would leave their kids to run loose in the store while they shopped elsewhere in the mall.  This, despite posted signs asking parents to not leave their children unattended, and the presence of an actual day care center on the other end of the mall.  Security had to be called at least once.  These were fairly young kids, too – weren’t their parents worried about them wandering off, or being kidnapped?

- On at least two occasions, kids peed in the middle of the store, leaving a lovely puddle on our carpet.  Both times, their mothers pulled them out of the store without a word to any of the employees.  Luckily, we witnessed it happening both times and were able to clean it up before it seeped in.

- The store was owned by a Korean couple.  The husband had a very thick accent, as well as a tendency to be a bit abrasive.  One night, it was past closing time and a man was still wandering in the back of the store.  The husband told the man the store was closed and he had to leave.  Unfortunately, it didn’t come out as politely as it could have.  The man marched to the front of the store, where I was, and said to his wife, “He says we have to leave.”  “Who?” she asked.  “That (derogatory term for Chinese people) in the back,” he replied.  I was stunned, and grossly offended on my boss’ behalf.  In my mind, I was paraphrasing Margaret Cho: “Hey, he’s Korean, not Chinese.  If you’re going to insult him, get it right!”  But I felt it best to keep my mouth shut.

- We had a posted 30-day return policy.  One man came in wanting to return a Giga Pet (an electronic pet game on a key chain) that he’d purchased a year earlier!  He claimed it didn’t work.  He wasn’t even satisfied when we pointed out the reason it didn’t work – he’d never removed the white tag that was placed inside the toy to keep the battery from running out prior to the toy’s sale.  He became quite belligerent, yelling about how incompetent we were.  I think my boss gave him an exchange just to calm him down; those items were on clearance at that point anyway.

- The younger generation was not exempt from rudeness and tackiness.  We sold rolls of stickers that sat in front of one of the registers.  You tear a perforated sticker sheet off the roll, and it costs 99 cents or something like that.  One girl of about 7 was standing at the sticker rolls, sighing about how much she’d love to have one, but had no money.  It was obvious she was angling for a freebie.  I offered her my sympathies, but didn’t take the bait.  Then she turned and said indignantly, “So, are you going to give me one for free or not?”  I picked my jaw up off the counter and politely explained that my boss wouldn’t like it very much if I did.  She left the store in a huff.

Don’t even get me started on the fights over new shipments of Beanie Babies …



My fiancé owns a gas station/garage in a great neighborhood near downtown shops and restaurants. Customers often come in for oil changes or repairs and leave their cars to grab a bite to eat or do some shopping. I work there on Saturdays.

On a particularly busy Saturday, a well-dressed, soft-spoken gentleman came in and asked if we could sneak him in for an oil change. I said we'd be able to get it done, but it might be a few hours, could he wait? He said that was fine, filled out our form, but didn't leave a phone number. I asked if he'd like to leave his cell phone number in case we had any questions. He said no, just the oil change would be fine. I asked for the keys, he said they were in the car, and then he took off downtown.

About 20 minutes later the mechanic was ready to work on his car, but he couldn't find the key. He and I scoured the vehicle, looking under rugs, in compartments, around the car in the lot in case it fell out, nothing. And I didn't have a phone number, so I couldn't call the guy. He had lots of other cars in line, so we gave up.

The car owner came back about an hour after the mechanic left for the day, and I politely explained what happened, I was VERY apologetic. He berated me for being an idiot, told me they were right there in the ignition, how stupid could I possibly be? This guy was loud, and other customers in the store were starting to get agitated. Then the guy put his hands angrily in his pocket.... where he suddenly discovered his keys that had been there all the time. He said something like, "Well, see if I ever bring my car here again!" and stormed out. It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for.



I had a friend who worked at the checkout counter of a grocery store in high school, around the time that they started making fat free mayonnaise. The store had a big display of the product in question, "Kraft Free Mayonnaise." 

One night when my friend was working, a woman came up to her register with an entire cart full of mayonnaise...basically, the entire display shelf. My friend thought this was a little odd, but rang it all up anyways. When she gave the woman the total, the woman just stared at her and said, "I'm not paying that! These are FREE! It says so right on the bottle!" My friend tried to explain that the label on the product referred to the fact that the product was FAT free, not that it was being given away at no charge, but the woman wasn't having any of it. Finally, a manager had to be called over to handle the customer, who was practically foaming at the mouth. She finally left, without any mayonnaise. All of which begs the question, even if you're dumb enough to think that Kraft has created a product that they are just going to give away free all the time, and even if you missed all the publicity about what this product was, and even if you missed the price display on the shelf you took all the bottles from, what in the world is any one human being going to do with fifty jars of mayonnaise???



Here's a few stories for your customer section.

I worked as a front counter server at a Chinese fast food restaurant at the local mall. I worked at this job for almost two years to pay for college, and I sure met some strange people! Some people are just downright rude - I wonder why it is that if you're a fast food worker, people seem to think that they no longer have to treat you as a human being. Many of these people would never treat a waitress in the horrible way that they treat a fast food worker. Don't really see how this is fair, as having to serve up sometimes as many as six meals a minutes is very stressful, and a lot of hard work. Even if I'm just doing my job, I think I deserve to be treated like a human being while I do it. Minimum wage is definitely not enough compensation for being treated like dirt. Also, people take out their anger about store policies on us poor little peons. Like we have any say over what the prices are, how big portions are, or what selections go into which combo? Sorry, but those decisions are made by some big suits in an office a thousand miles away in New York or something, not buy us food servers. If I say that you can't make a substitution, I'm not doing it for kicks - I'd get fired if I did it!

Anyway, the woman in the first story was more clueless than rude, but I'll submit it anyway. She was a mall employee, which meant she got a 10% discount on the before-tax price of her meal. She was usually nice and polite. One evening, she came in an ordered a meal. I served it to her, rang up the sale, gave the discount, end of transaction. She was actually one of the few pleasant customers, she smiled and thanked me and left to go eat her dinner. About fifteen minutes later, she comes back, wanting a refund. Is anything wrong, I ask. No, she says, nothing is wrong. She wants a refund because she changed her mind, and decided she doesn't really want to eat Chinese food for dinner tonight after all. Perplexed, I ask again if the food is okay. The food is delicious, comes the reply, I just changed my mind about wanting to eat it. Can I please get a refund?

Huh? What was I supposed to do? Refunds are granted, provided there is something wrong with the food. Customer satisfaction is important to us. But are you really required to grant a refund for a product that the customer herself freely admitted is not only just okay, but delicious? Keep in mind that I had been working here for over 1 1/2 years; never had I been asked to give a refund for perfect food.

Not knowing what else to do, I summoned my supervisor, who gave the woman a refund. Wasn't really much else we could do, after all, 'the customer is always right'!

Another incident that occurred later was with three teenaged girls. While they were eating their meals, one of the girls got a nosebleed. The girl's friends quickly handed over their napkins and the problem was dealt with. They then came back to the counter and demanded a refund. Again, not because anything was wrong with the food, but because the blood had grossed them out, and they didn't feel like eating anymore. Again, my manager gave them a refund, not wanting to make an issue over fifteen dollars. Still, I think that this was really an abuse of refund policy, as there was nothing wrong with the food, and it wasn't like we had caused the nosebleed.

Another, very bizarre incident occurred one Wednesday night while I was working the front counter alone. A man in his late twenties came up and ordered dinner. He was very talkative, very friendly. Since it was a slow night (the food court was pretty much deserted and there were no other customers waiting) and I'm quite personable, we chit-chatted for a few minutes while I prepared his meal. Just as he was turning to leave, he stopped and asked if there was anyplace in the mall that he could get his hair cut at. Not unusual, I'm asked for mall information all the time. I informed him of the three salons and their various directions, and also indicated which one I always went to. He thanked me, saying, "I need to get a new hairdresser, as my old one committed suicide in his salon six months ago." My jaw dropped! What on earth are you supposed to say to something like that? Talk about waaaaay to much information! I finally managed to stammer something like, "Gee, that's too bad." To which he replies, "Yeah, he was a really good hairdresser." Sure, the real loss is to you in having to find a new stylist, not to the poor guy who took his own life, and the family and friends he left behind! That had to be the most bizarre incident I'd ever encountered in my whole two years of working there. I could go on for pages about the weird people I had to deal with, but I'll cut it off here.



For three summers in a row between college semesters, I worked at the local Wal-Mart in my parents' hometown.  While my first summer (as a sales floor associate) was fairly uneventful, there was still the occasional bad customer.  It only got worse for the second and third summers, when I was upgraded to the position of cashier.   

1) The one really bad customer from that first summer should have known better, in my opinion.  She was an older woman, probably in her mid-40's (or late 30's), and was browsing the toy aisle near the model Harley Davidsons.  I had just finished straightening that section up (right next to her, I might add), and as soon as I turned the corner she was digging through those toys.  Taking them out of the stacks, pawing through the available models, setting the ones she didn't want aside on other shelves between other merchandise...this woman had no sense of order.  When she was finished looking through them, she simply turned and walked away, leaving a veritable train wreck in her wake.   

2) As a cashier, things only got worse, as almost every customer in the store ends up at the registers.  Before we got upgraded counters at the express lane, we had a moving belt just like the regular lanes, although there was a very visible sign next to the lane number explaining that it was 20 items or less.  Many customers demonstrated their lack of observation skills by bringing a full shopping cart (or more) through the line, and throwing a fit when I tried to explain that the lane wasn't supposed to take that many items.  It got easier when they upgraded to the standard short counters you find in most Wal-Marts now, as a full cart load would no longer fit.  It wasn't much better with the various customers who would try to pass off a fake ID as real, or purchase something with expired coupons or credit cards and then throw fits over it.  One woman refused to accept that we did not take %-off coupons, despite the very large signs stating the fact at every register.   

3) One time, the moving belt on the express lane had broken, and I was politely asking any customers who came through to please move their items up to the register when it was their turn.  Most understood, especially when I explained the situation, and graciously moved their items.  Not this one older gentleman, though.  He set his items (including a one-gallon jug of milk) at the far end of the belt.  When it was his turn, he marched over to the register with his checkbook in his hand, leaving his items at the other end of the belt.  I explained to him that the belt was broken and asked him to please move his items closer so I could reach them.  He glared at me, then stomped over, *shoved* the items down the belt (sending a few including the milk jug rolling across the scanner), and stomped back to the register.  I began scanning things, but when one item came up the wrong price, he threw a further fit.  I explained that I could fix it for him if he would just wait a second, but he said, "I've had enough of this ****" and stormed out of the store without his merchandise.   

4) At one point we had a bit of a brouhaha in the store over a police sting that had caught one cashier failing to card a customer for alcohol.  So, to save our rears should another sting occur, store management explained that we had to card *everyone*, not just anyone who looked too young.  This included anyone very obviously a senior citizen (apparently the undercover cop in the sting looked at *least* 40, but the cashier was still fined).  Most of the senior citizens who came through the store were fine with the new regulation to card everyone, and took it as a sort of compliment.  One gentleman decided that I was being insulting and stormed out of the store (what is it with these older men storming out of the store when they don't get their way?).   

5) Along with the (temporary) policy of carding everyone, it was policy to card every member of a young-looking group if one was purchasing alcohol or tobacco.  This was to prevent a group of minors with one of-age friend getting their hands on alcohol by having the of-age friend purchase it.  Easily bypassed, I know, but we did what we could.  Well, a group of teenage-looking girls came through my line (about five girls in all), three of whom had individual purchases to make.  The first in the group was buying at least three cases of beer, so I carded her.  She's 22, fine.  I then card the rest of the girls with her (because it was obvious they were a group).  The 22-year-old protests, saying that she's the one buying it, not her friends.  I explain the policy, and card the friends anyway.  The other four girls ranged in age from 17-20.  I explained to the 22-year-old that I had to refuse the sale due to policy.  She threw a fit, but didn't purchase the beer.  

 6) I was not personally witness to this next one, but heard about it from a fellow cashier who had been part of the mess.  A local mayor is very fond of walking around barefoot wherever he goes, even in public.  From the way he treated my coworkers and managers, it would seem that most other establishments waive the "no shirt, no shoes" rule for him.  Not us.  As soon as he set foot in the store, the door-greeter (a very nice, polite woman) informed him that he would need to put on shoes to shop in our store.  He completely ignored her.  She got one of the CSMs (customer service manager, the red-vests) to tell him the same thing, and he ignored the CSM.  The fellow cashier also told him, and was summarily ignored.  Store security and the manager were called, and ignored.  Then the store manager called the police, and the mayor was escorted out.   

7) Nor was I witness to the customer who came in complaining about his TV being broken, and demanding a replacement.  Never mind the fact that his TV was two years old (return policy is 90 days maximum), or that he was the one who had broken it by dropping it, or that it was a brand we never carry, or that it was purchased at a completely different store.  He threw a fit and would not leave the Customer Service area until the store manager gave him a new TV just to shut him up.  I heard about that one from one of the Customer Service cashiers involved.   

8) One of my "favorites" (I use the term loosely) was a regular in the store, and well-known by all the CSMs and the cashiers who had been there longer.  My first experience with her was while I was still fairly "new" (I had just gotten back on the job at the beginning of my final summer there).  Essentially, I was a fresh face to her.  This is important to what she does that makes her so well-known.  She likes to pick out a cashier who has never encountered her before, go through their line with a bunch of items with several clearance stickers on them, and a bunch more items that she claims to have comparison ads for to get the cheaper price from another store (allowed at Wal-Mart as most people will know).  However, she did *not* have these comparison ads with her, and they were for obscure stores for which we did not have the circular (generally our registers have the circular ads of other stores so we can verify competitive pricing).  She invariably would claim that she had spoken to "CSM so-and-so," usually the head CSM, and that it was all right "so long as she brought the ads with her next time."  When she came through my line, I called the CSM anyway due to suspicious prices on the various clearance tags on a package of socks (one of the clearance stickers was very loosely stuck on the item--as though it had been peeled off of another item--and was also for more than one of the regular price stickers).  The woman argued with the CSM, who took her back to that section of the store to verify the price.  When they came back, the customer was visibly annoyed and the CSM informed me to ring the socks up for the highest price on the package.  The CSM then stood at the register to personally verify or veto each comparison price, and the customer backed down on most of them.   

The next time I saw her, she was going through a brand-new cashier's line right next to my register.  The cashier had been told to ask me if she had any problems, which she did with this customer because the cashier didn't know how to put in comparison prices.  I admit an evil smirk crossed my face when I saw this familiar customer, and I went over to help the fellow cashier since I had no customers of my own (it was a slow hour).  The customer visibly recognized me, but tried to pull the "CSM said it was okay if I brought the ads next time" line again.  I reminded her that that's what she said last time, and told her that we would have to call a CSM if she wanted the cheaper prices without the ad.  She backed down again.  I don't recall seeing her there since, though it wouldn't surprise me if mention of her was included in later cashier training sessions.



I work in a furniture retail store, as an office clerk, responsible for day-to-day transactions, taking cash, and inputting the invoices into the computer.

Now, I had put in a sale for about $2000 dollars, not counting the financing fee and delivery fee. To Finance, they had to fill out a form, which I take, input in a little computer, and send off to the company. The first time came back declined. So the man asked his father to be his co-applicant, and after faxing that away, we received it, declined, again. Of course, I was the bearer of bad news both times. During the faxing of the 2nd time, two women ( I assume the mother and the wife) came in to join A (father) and B (son). So I then had to tell the group that it declined. Well, A cannot seem to understand why it would. He's bought 4 houses, he paid for the one he lives in now, and he is good with money. Mom, God bless her soul, chimes in that maybe it's because they don't have a credit card. Keep in mind, I'm hemming and hawing at an answer and apology the best and most often I can. I nod, agreeing, as it is quite true that it makes a difference. As A finally stops brow-beating me, and they all get up to go, B chirps up that they will just come back with the money. You mean to tell me they had enough all along???

But, it gets better. Before they leave, A comes back, telling me to destroy the application that I have to keep so that our finance company has a signed copy that they allowed the use of the personal information. After saying no and standing my firm, but small ground, the salesperson asks A if we can keep the application if we just black out some of the info. What, he thinks I'm going to take his No Credit, and run it into... what?




Working as a cashier in one of my tiny town's convenience stores, I've had my share of rude, creepy, and even stalker-ish behavior. But nothing annoyed people like being denied their drug of choice. I personally think drinking and smoking ages are stupid, but I was bound to follow the law--and my coworkers regaled me with true horror stories about area workers who had unthinkingly sold cigarettes or booze to minors in "sting" operations, gaining heavy fines and, in one case, jail time.

Our store policy--heck, state policy--was that we should card anyone who appeared to be less than 26. My very first evening, I was working with an experienced worker alongside me to show me what to do. I had only just started, knew no "regular customers", and so had no idea who in our town was what age. I was paranoid and carded *everyone*, and some people were nonplussed, but they all produced ID and I gave them their tobacco fix. Then one woman, whom I had never seen before, came into the store and asked for cigarettes.

"All right ma'am, may I see your ID?"

There was a pause. "You're joking, right?" she asked.

"I'm sorry ma'am, I don't know who you are and I have to card everyone."

"Well, I don't HAVE my ID with me."

I was mortified, and there was a line forming behind her, but I insisted I could not sell her cigarettes.

She threw a scene. "This is ridiculous! I have two kids! I'm going over to the X-Mart, they know me there!" And she stormed out of the store. My coworker told me I had done the right thing, and I brushed it off.

A few hours later, though, this woman reappeared, holding her ID straight out in front of her like it was a giant crucifix and I was a vampire. I prepared for a small scene, but I thought I would finally just sell her cigarettes, and she would go away.

"I just want you to know," she announced loudly to the entire store, "that this is my ID. And neither I, nor my husband, nor my husband's *trucking company* WILL EVER SHOP HERE AGAIN!"

I wanted to fall through the floor. But when I found out that she, AND her husband, AND her husband's trucking company were on the list of people we couldn't take checks from, I didn't feel so bad.



When I was in college in the mid 1990's, I was lucky enough to land a job working the CS desk at a major American luxury car manufacturer. I worked the 24-hour Roadside Assistance line on the midnight shift. I got lots of truly bizarre calls, particularly as 2 a.m. rolled across the country and the bars closed. 

One night, I received a call from a women whom the computer identified was calling from suburban Chicago. She was slurring and clearly very angry: 

Me: "Good Morning, X Customer Service, how may I be of assistance" 

Lady: "What have you done to my effing car!?" 

Me: "I'm sorry ma'am, what seems to be the problem?" 

Lady: "The key doesn't work in the effing lock and I won't shtand for it. I need to go home!" 

Me: "May I have the vehicle identification?" 

Lady: "The what?! It's MY car" 

Me: "May I have your name?" 

Lady: "What the eff for?!" 

Me: "Ma'am, in order to send a locksmith I need your personal information, the car's VIN and your selling dealer. What make and model of vehicle do you own?" 

Lady: "What? I own a Volkshwagen Shetta" 

Me: "Ma'am, this is "X" Roadside Assistance. Have you tried Volkswagen Customer Assistance?" 

Lady: "What are you TALKING about. My car is back home in Phoenix!" 

Me: "Ma'am is the car you are calling about an "X"? If it is, I can call a dealer near you in Chicago and have them send help." 

Lady: "You really are out of your effing MIND. I'm in GRAND RAPIDS (Michigan)!" 

Me: "Ma'am, the computer indicates you're calling from Schaumberg, ILLINOIS." 

Lady: "WHAT the F-...wait a minute. Wait a goddamn minute. WHERE?" 

Me: "Schaumberg, ILLINOIS." 

Lady: "Oh goddamn, goddamn, where's Ricky?" 

Me: "Ma'am, I don't know who you are talking about." 

Lady: "What do I do now?" 

Me: "Could you possibly be trying the wrong vehicle? Is there another car in the vicinity that could be your car? What color is your car?" 

Lady: "Oh...yeah...bye."

It was only later that I'd realized what a moron I'd been helping the drunk fool get out on the road!



My customers from hell ordered two children's meals from our fast food restaurant. On the menu, these meals are one price, but on the register the clerk has to ring the meal and the drink separately. Somehow, despite the correct total (menu price times two,) the customers were convinced I was trying to cheat them. I patiently explained - at least four times - that the meal was $x.oo and the drink was $o.xx which equaled the price stated on the menu, $x.xx. No good. I was repeatedly called a thief and an idiot. To avoid losing my temper, I called over my direct supervisor. She explained in almost the same words how the children's meals were rung up. After two explanations from her, the store manager came to see why I was taking so long to serve one customer. (We were supposed to get the order to the customer in less than 2 minutes.) The store manager uses the same explanation that the couple has already heard six times from two different people. The couple says, "Oh! Well why didn't she say so?" (Pointing at me, of course.) Gggrrrrrrr!! No apologies for their accusations and insults.



I spent several years working for a major fast food chain when I was in high school. Everyone visits this chain, so, working there, you get to meet every kind of person, including the kinds you would rather not meet. I worked the drive-through window during the early shift during the summer. There are a lot of regular customers, especially so in the mornings, and I got used to seeing people who wanted their morning coffee at least a couple of times a week. There was one elderly gentleman who would either get his breakfast and lounge in the outdoor area for a few hours or just get coffee in the drive-through.

Now, I always like the regulars, and who doesn't like little old men? So I was surprised one day to hear my manager, upon hearing the old man order his regular coffee, say, "Is that Mr. Winky? I've never seen him, let me be the one to hand his food out." "Mr. Winky?" I said, "Who's Mr. Winky?"

I soon had an explanation, and believe me, I wished that I had remained ignorant. It seems that Mr. Winky, our elderly gentleman, was in the habit of driving around while exposing himself to the open air. Unless you leaned far out the window to glance down into his car and into his lap, you might never realize that this kindly old man was instead a dirty old man. Needless to say, I avoided this certain customer from then on, even if my manager did have a sick need to confirm what she had been told about him.

Experiences like that made the everyday rudeness of customers much easier to handle. I'll forgive you for not saying please and thank you or for treating me like I must be a moron since I was working in fast food as long as you're wearing securely fastened pants!!!



I used to work for an energy company in the UK, in the customer accounts department for small businesses. I received a lot of abuse on and off, usually because there were a LOT of huge errors made on a regular basis. I understood when customers were rightly put out.

But only one man really upset me. His meter wasn't working so I organized to have it replaced. Unfortunately the contractors upon whom the department was dependent were less than reliable, and so a simple problem that should have been resolved in a week ended up taking three months. Throughout these three months I was the first point of contact for this customer. I called him with regular updates, and was in constant contact with the contractors who continually let me down, easy for them as they didn't have to speak to an increasingly irate customer (understandably irate at this point, as we were not providing an efficient service).

During all this time I had agreed to give him monetary compensation for his trouble (which basically was nothing more than having to wait for their bill while a new meter was installed). I also agreed to HALVE his bill for this period, seeing as he had been without a meter and had told me that in that time his small business had undertaken "energy-saving" schemes, and he was worried that he would be charged an estimate based on his old energy consumption.

Anyway, the contractors finally did their job and a new meter was installed and what's more a week later the meter was read so I even had an accurate amount to charge him for at least the last week of this whole period. I sent out the amended bills, feeling pleased that it was finally over and thinking that the customer would be very happy to have received such a huge discount, as contrary to what he had told me, the latest meter reads indicated that they had in fact INCREASED their energy consumption.

I got a phone call from this guy probably as soon as he opened the damned bill. I was naive enough to think he was going to thank me for all my hard work. So I was incredibly shocked when he proceeded to scream at me about how I had "shifted the goal posts" and been dishonest with him because I had billed him to actual meter reads for the last week, instead of extending the half price rate to this period. I tried to explain that he was receiving a massive discount, as well as compensation and that this was all in keeping with the arrangements we had made a couple of weeks before, and as such it shouldn't be necessary for me to redo all my work and give him a further discount. He continued to abuse me, and in the end I had to excuse myself and say I would get back to him because I had burst into tears. No customer EVER made me cry before.

The worst thing was that when I told my boss (renown for doing anything to avoid confrontation) he just told me I was right but it would be easier just to do what the customer wanted. I was outraged, and though I had never spoken a rude word to him before I told him if he wanted it changed I would do the work but he could call the customer himself and tell him that because as far as I was concerned I had done more than the right thing and wasn't going to go simpering back to this obnoxious idiot. He let me calm down and then insisted I make the call. Which I did because I needed my job. I was not only hurt by this man's insensitivity towards all the work I had done for him, but humiliated by my supervisor's lack of support for me.

I'm not sure that this is bad enough to go on your site, but I think that if someone puts a lot of work and effort into doing something for you, even if it is their job, then it is extremely rude to throw it back in their face and accuse them of dishonesty.



I used to work as an insurance agent for a small agency in a small town in Kansas. As we were on the border of Oklahoma, we were also licensed to write insurance policies for that state.

One day I received a phone call from someone who was in Oklahoma who had just purchased a vehicle and he wanted to get insurance on it to drive it back to his home state, I think it was Washington. I asked where his permanent address was, which, of course, was Washington. I informed him that I was not licensed for that state and could only write a policy in Kansas and Oklahoma.

He spent the next ten minutes screaming at me that I WAS going to write him a policy or he would have my job. I calmly re-explained to him that I was only licensed in Kansas and Oklahoma, and that if he wanted insurance on this new vehicle he would have to call his insurance agent back in Washington to bind coverage on it and that the agent could fax a copy of the binder and temporary insurance cards to our office where he could pick them up. That wasn't good enough for him, he wanted me to do it. After further conversation it came out HE DIDN'T HAVE INSURANCE AT ALL! He finally hung up on me screaming that he was going to contact the tabloid show "Current Affair" and expose our agency for discrimination and fraud. (What was I discriminating against, out of towners?)

Anyway we had a good laugh over that bozo and "Current Affair" never did contact us. Darn!!



I work retail part-time, just for a little extra money to help defray the costs of my wedding.  I pity each and every decent human being that has to work with the "unwashed masses" (better known as the general public) every single day.

First of all, I work in a hardware store.  This means that I get a lot of dirty men coming in smelling of concrete, gasoline, mud, and oil.  This isn't a problem - it's honest dirt from honest work.  I do have a problem with people - especially ones that don't look like they just came from the garage or construction site - smelling like they haven't bathed in a month.  Dirt is one thing; BO enough to kill a buzzard is just evil.

I should point out that I am a young woman working in said hardware store.  This means that I get the other kind of dirty men coming in, usually later at night, giving me a hard time.  I'm used to working off shifts, and did a lot of factory work to pay for college, so I'm used to being the lone chic in a crowd of good old boys.  I can take it, take a joke, and dish it right back... with coworkers that know me and even then there are limits.  What I don't like is customers coming in and assuming that I'm cheap, easy, stupid, and/or desperate just because I'm there.  It's a hardware store, not a street corner.

Then you get the men in business suits chatting their way along on their cell phones while asking me questions.  Then they get mad at me for not being able to tell when they're talking to me or the person on the phone.

These are just petty annoyances, however.  I can live with them.  What I do NOT want to live with are the outright nasty people who really deserve to burn here.

That would be YOU, the "gentleman" who called me up at my branch to literally scream at me for something bad someone at another store across town did.  Admittedly, that other person was in the wrong.  Go, call corporate on him.  But do NOT call each and every branch of the store to scream at them as well. 

That would also be guy that came in to pay for a tank of propane using a credit card.  I flipped it over to see if it's signed, just like I always do.  So I flip it back to look at the name on the front while asking him for his ID.  The name on the front is "Jennifer Doe".... definitely not the guy in front of me, but it could be his wife's card.  I've seen it before and, though maybe not strictly kosher, I'll take the card if the last name matches.  His ID says "John Buck"... not the same last name.  I tell him quite politely that I cannot take the card and does he have another form of payment?  He hollers at me, tells me it's his wife's card but that they just got married, and that we took it that weekend so what was the problem today.  I told him that I wasn't here over the weekend so I couldn't have known that, but policy was not to take the card. 

 I called my Manager.  She said the exact same thing, but asked him WHO took his card.  He said it didn't matter.  She said that it did matter because then she could make sure everyone was doing things correctly and consistently, and that we couldn't take the card because, without the cardholder here, we couldn't be sure it wasn't stolen.  He did NOT like that, even though she kept a very courteous tone of voice, and paid me in cash.  Well, since I was at the customer service desk, answering the phone was my #1 priority.  I'd answered a call in the meantime and was ringing out the man.  When we take large bills ($50 or $100) we have to either hold them up to see the security strip or use the pen; I generally just hold them up because it takes less time.  He saw me do it with a previous customer.  Well, since I'm talking to a customer on the phone while ringing out this guy, and glanced at the bill in my hand again to see what it was ($20) by holding it up.  He very loudly states, "You did NOT just check that!" and proceeds to demand his money back because he's going elsewhere.  Whatever.  We're busy and he's been hollering and swearing at me so I'm NOT sorry to see him go.  But he doesn't go.  He goes up to the one employee of obviously the same ethnic background (also a supervisor) and starts in on the "us against them" argument.  I don't see how that goes because I'm busy, but that supervisor comes up later to me absolutely furious that this guy would think he'd take his side just because of race, when the entire reason he was standing there was to keep an eye on him to make sure I was okay.



I was working a second job on weekends as a cashier in a small local store... a far cry from my day job in an office.  One quiet Sunday, I was alone in the store, when the door burst open and a woman rushed in yelling "What's the score?" (I should mention this is a town with an NFL team).  Not being a football fan, I was at first confused by her request, so I politely asked "pardon me?".  This woman was INSANE.  "The SCORE!  What's the SCORE?!?"  I, again politely, informed her that I hadn't been listening to the game and didn't know the score.  She went ballistic.  How can I not have the game on - why wasn't I listening to the game? etc.  I explained that I wasn't much of a sports fan and she grew even more livid.  "How dare you not have the game on!  What if a customer wants to know the score?" (at this point, it was on the tip of my tongue to remind her that, as she hadn't bought a darn thing, she could hardly be considered a "customer").  I said that no one had ever asked me for the score before and most people don't shop in the middle of a game if they're really into it, so it's never been an issue. 

Cut to next day.  I'd stopped in on my way home from work to say hello to one of the other second-job cashiers, who told me that I was to call the store owner immediately, someone had called and complained.  So I did, and was asked what I had said to this woman.  I explained that I had done nothing wrong - she had burst into the store and demanded football stats that I was not required to provide.  Boss proceeded to chew me out (which was a bit odd considering the way his one and only full time employee treated people - she once chucked a pack of cigarettes at a customer because he was a few cents short and never got reprimanded, yet I'm getting yelled at for not listening to a football game?  But that's a story for the bosses from hell section).  I proceeded, very shortly thereafter, to quit. Some people...    



I've worked at a McDonalds for quite a long time, and had quite a few horrible customer experiences. These two are the worst. A gentleman decided to take a call while sitting in front of the drive thru speaker, leaving the three or so cars behind him to wait. Our conversation went thusly, nearly verbatim: 

Me(on the headset)- Hello, may I take your order?

Guy- I want a number four.

Me- With or without cheese?

*Guy's cell phone rings*Guy- Hello?

Me- Uh, sir?

Guy- *talking to person on cell phone*

Me- Sir, was that with or without cheese?

Guy- A number four!

Me- With cheese?

*more talking to person on phone. Then he pulls away from the speaker*This means that when he got up to the window, and put down his cell phone for a moment, he had no order. The buttons are different for the sandwich with and without cheese, so I couldn't press either until he told me, and we never even got to the soda. He was rather annoyed, and mentioned several times that I'd never told him the price.  I managed to hold my tongue and not mention that he'd never told me the ORDER. 

The second was the worst customer ever. She was an older woman, who brought her sandwich in to be replaced, from another McDonalds. I was still newish at this point, and it was quite busy, so I didn't argue and requested the grill to make the sandwich, while the original is thrown out. While she was waiting, another woman came in with a large bag of food, from drive thru. Since I was on front line, I wasn't responsible for this correction (something about chicken nuggets) but took it on anyway, because drive thru was busier than we were. Not sure about the order, I asked to see her receipt. She handed it to me and I went about making it right. Now, to clarify the next part of this story, I am white, the sandwich lady is white, and the last lady, with the large bag and receipt, is black. 

I turn around with sandwich lady's fixed food, only to find a finger in my face. She began to berate me about asking for the black woman's receipt, claiming that I am racist and that her grandfather was black and I was discriminating against black people because I didn't ask for her receipt as well! Remember, she had one sandwich...and just wanted the condiments fixed. Unbelievable. Several times my manager tried to distract her tirade from myself to him (as he knew that when I get upset I burst into tears) but she simply said "No, I'm talking to this young lady..." and continued to scream at me. She finally grabbed her sandwich and left, with a dramatic, "I am never eating here again!" By this time I am in tears, and half-scared I really was being discriminatory...until the black lady quietly said, "I am so sorry for her behavior, miss." She didn't even know this person, and was very upset herself that I'd been screamed at. It took me half an hour to calm back down enough to work, but at least that woman was true to her word, I've never seen her in my restaurant since.



 I used to work in a library. We had a lot of customer problems. People seemed to assume that as they were getting books for free, they were also free to abuse us, swear at us, damage the goods, never pay fines and so-on Unfortunately, our management subscribed to the 'the customer is always right, whatever the situation' style of customer care.   

One evening, ten minutes before we closed (on a day where we worked twelve hours and closed very late at night, so we were all exhausted), I was sitting at my desk, helping a customer. Another customer. lets call him Dave...joined the queue. We had a 'please wait here' sign set a little way back from the actual desk, so that waiting customers didn't hear what the customers at the desk were saying to us. (They usually had to tell us their address, or date of birth for verification, or sometimes had to work out repayment schemes for large fines they had run up. Obviously we treated this information confidentially).   However, Dave didn't wait at the sign. He strolled right up and stood directly behind the customer I was serving, towering over her, and able to overhear every little thing we were saying to each other. He scowled at me as I continue to serve her,  obviously annoyed that I didn't shove her aside and deal with him straight away.   

My heart sank when I saw him, as I recognized him as a customer who was always difficult, and always, always came in ten minutes before we closed to yell at us about problems 'we' had caused (normally fines on his card), knowing we would want to leave on time (no overtime payments), and believing that we'd just wipe away his problems if it was close to closing time.  However, I acknowledged him, to show I was aware he was there, and told him I would be just a moment.   This wasn't good enough for Dave. He tutted loudly, and then called out to a friend of his across the library. (Remember this was a library! Although we don't have a strict silence rule, we do try to keep the noise down.). He called his friend over, and he and his friend proceeded to have a very loud conversation, at the top of their voices, still standing right behind my present customer. She was a little hard of hearing, and couldn't hear what I was saying over his talking. I have excellent hearing, and I couldn't hear myself!   The security guard did ask him to keep the noise down. He scowled (it was his trademark) watched the guard leave, and then continued again.   

The gist of Dave's story (and this is important for later) was his recent holiday to Japan. He exclaimed loudly about how much he had enjoyed every second. He told his friend he had gone to especial pains to learn Japanese, even taking out several books and dictionaries so he could understand the language. Everybody in the library heard how he had come back from Japan only that week.   My customer left, and Dave turned to me. I was exhausted, worn out and apprehensive over what he would say this time (he usually had a very sarcastic, belittling attitude) , but I smiled sweetly, and asked how I could help him. He slapped down an overdue notice on the table   "You've sent me this stupid letter saying I've got this book and I don't have it. You're trying to cheat me into paying for this book."   "Which book is it?" I asked.   "Japanese dictionary!." he shouted. "Why would I have a Japanese dictionary? I've never even been to Japan!"   

I was so stunned I couldn't speak. The entire library had heard him say he'd been to Japan. They'd all heard him say he'd taken out Japanese dictionaries! And he knew I heard it too!!   Not only was he blatantly telling me a bare-faced lie, but he was either assuming I was too stupid to realize he was lying or too spineless to point out I knew.   I tried to speak, my customer services training battling with my desire to kick this annoying prig up the backside once and for all, when he said "I'm not talking to you about this. You're obviously useless. Get me the manager."   

And this was what made it worse. The manager (who knew me fairly well, having worked with me for ten years) listened to me (in private) explain the situation. She'd even heard him talking about Japan. She knew I was right. Yet she went out there, sat down in front of the customer from hell, apologized for my behavior, told him she believed him, and took the book off his account!   I think managers should realize that there are times when the customer is wrong..especially when the customer from Hell treats staff with such contempt. And that situation finally prompted me into resigning, and working in a totally customer-free environment!   



 I work at my local Wal-Mart as a cashier.  Well, I expected my rude customers when I was hired but this one takes the cake.  I was working on a fairly busy register one day although it was relatively quiet.  (Basically I only had 1 or two guest in my line at a time) Well I was just finishing up checking out one lady when this other lady (lady 2) came up to my line with her friend.  I hadn't even told the lady 1 her total yet when this woman starts yelling at me telling me how she doesn't like me and starts calling me all manners of things.  Well, I ignore her because I am still helping lady 1 giving her change making sure she has all her bags.  After I finish helping lady 1, I say hi welcome to Wal-mart did you find everything you need today (very politely like I would with all other customers as I work for Wal-Mart and am trying to purvey a good image).  She starts yelling at me and telling me to ring up her stuff so she can get out of my line as I am rude and prejudice. 

I ignore it and say I'm sorry if I came off rude I am not trying to be rude (again trying to make sure she leaves the sorry happy) So, she starts yelling at me again so I just shut up and start scanning and bagging her stuff.  Well, I happen to look over and see her placing an item I already scanned in a bag and say I'm sorry did I miss the bag with that item. She just starts yelling at me again and telling me to hurry up and finish her stuff so I just decided to shut up after that point so while I am finishing checking her out she is just sitting there complaining to her friend about me.  Well, I finish checking her out and tell her the total she pays and I hand her the change and her receipt and say thank you have a nice day like I would to any other guest she just snatches the receipt and leaves leaving her friend there.  Well, her friend says to me that I just handled that very well and apologizes profusely for her friend.  She was very polite and thanked me for helping her and left.  I thought all the while helping lady 2 out that if you decided you didn't like me before your stuff was even on the conveyer belt why didn't you just go to another line.  There were 10 other lines open with no waiting and I wasn't the first register before the others.   



I used to work at a major fast food chain and during that time I met my share of belligerent customers. I worked in the back but would also help customers as well sometimes. One day we were extremely busy and there was a huge lineup at the front. I saw an elderly man standing off to the side of the line so I went up to him and politely asked, "Can I help you sir?" The man snapped "Ketchup! You know what that is right? You stupid woman!" Stunned, I just handed him his ketchup and watched him shuffle off, muttering under his breath.



 I was working as phone tech support for a small software company that produced software for commercial real estate. One day I got a call from what sounded like an elderly man. This man wanted to return a sweater. Well since we did not sell sweaters I told him that he must have gotten a wrong number by mistake as this was a software company. This confused the man as he said that the sweater was soft but the wrong color. I tried to politely explain to him as he got more and more irate that we did not sell clothing of any kind and that software referred to computer programs which we ship on CD. This went on for about 7 to 10 minutes as he was very persistent that we needed to refund him for his sweater and wanted to know our address so he could ship it back. I told him that the address of the store that actually sold and shipped him the sweater would most likely be on the box it was shipped in. He just got flustered and made some rude comments about us trying to conceal our address and our return policies and said he said he was going to file a complaint with the BBB and hung up.      



In the mid-80s, I was working at K-Mart in the Deli section.  Food service is arguably one of the worst places to work, because since you have the ability to wait on more than one customer at once, plenty of yahoos EXPECT you to wait on all of them at once.  I collected plenty of "stories of incivility" during my 2 years there, from the abusive old man who screamed at me for being unable to accept a roll of dimes (I would have had to unwrap it and count each dime, and there was a long line behind him), to the (regrettably) repeat customer family that "spoke" through their 4 year old kid (the only one who spoke English, and as a small child, changed his mind every few minutes).  But the topper is the story of a young mother (19 to 24-ish) and her infant. 

The kid might have been a year old, and he was sitting in the "seat" part of the cart.  While young mom was looking over what she wanted from the hot snack section, the kid grabbed one of the unwrapped straws from the small barrel of them we had in front.  He played with it, did the usual "oral investigation" that babies do, AND THEN PROCEEDED TO DROP IT BACK IN THE BARREL!!  I was extremely fast on the draw here and silently intercepted it before it touched anything, and the look I had was one of relief rather than anger.  But instead of being apologetic the lady gave me the *nastiest* damn look, as if I'd just gratuitously screamed obscenities at the both of them.  So I should have just allowed a saliva-dripping straw back in with the rest??  Now you know why everyone and their brother switched to pre-wrapped straws....



I work in the Occupational Health and Safety department of a large corporation. This means that we maintain medical files on all of our employees, which are obviously kept confidential. They are stored in a room which also has the fax machine, and has two doors: one to our office, and one to the reception desk and Human Resources next door. Employees of our department use it as a shortcut to get from one side of the office to the other. However, only employees of HR and OH&S are allowed in that room.

Unfortunately, it is easy to see what is on the other side, and whenever an employee of the company, rather than our office, needs to pass from one side to they other, they try to pass through the room. My desk is situated right outside the entrance, and I inform them (politely, of course), that due to the nature of the room, they need to go back out into the hall and re-enter through a different door. Please note, this would add roughly 10 seconds onto their day. Because we do see many sick people, or who are limited in their mobility, I will escort through anyone on crutches or using a cane, or in any other obvious distress. The receptionist on the other side also enforces this rule. However, we are not perfect, and sometimes people go through.

One day, the receptionist on the other side was occupied so a lady walked through the room to get to us. She was rude to our receptionist, and then decided to walk back.

"I'm sorry, but you aren't allowed to walk through that room," I said.

"I'm sorry too, because I'm going to anyway!" she replied. As my jaw dropped, she marched herself right through. The gall!



It's rather more of a collection of stories than just a single one.

For about a year, I worked for a major coffee chain within a major grocery chain store. The neighborhood that this store was centered in is packed with rich, snooty, entitlement-filled people, some of which included the chain store's regional boss, who would randomly drop in, "off duty," so to speak, and appraise all of us. Still, it was a good job, save for some of the most freakishly rude and strange requests.

One customer I had came in and ordered her standard drink, plus whipped cream. I remember putting whipped cream on her drink because I had just poured the cream into the canister and "charged" it, which means frothing the cream up using a little canister of Co2. She took her drink, tried it, thanked me, and then left. Five hours later, she comes back with her cup in hand, demanding a refund. I politely ask her why, and she replies that I "forgot the whipped cream, and when you make a drink wrong, I'm entitled to a new one." After resisting the urge to pick my jaw up off the floor at her insolence, I politely questioned her. "Well, if you bring the whole drink back, I'm sure I can make you a new one." "Oh no," she replies. "I drank it. But I still want a new one! You forgot the whipped cream!" I tried to explain that, firstly, whipped cream isn't standard on the type of drink she purchased, and secondly, I put whipped cream on there already, because you could see the foamy residue (yes, all those hours watching CSI really come in handy!) around the edge of the cup. Finally, if she drunk it, I can't give her a refund! That just doesn't make sense. "Well, I want a new one. It just wasn't safe to drive around with coffee in my car, and I want you to make me a new one, *with* whipped cream." So, realizing that this is a loosing battle, I re-made her drink, made her watch me put whipped cream on it, and left.

Another customer problem I had was in regards to how we ring up drinks. The store I worked at had a buy one-get one promotion going on, and a businessman came up and ordered two very expensive drinks and one child's drink, which is cheaper. He told me that one should be free, according to his own calculations, but when I rang up the drinks, none of them were. I said, "Well, let's look on your receipt and see where you're at. Sometimes we get problems with the machine not ringing things up right, and in that case, you can call in to the corporate office and they'll fix it." Well, lo and behold he decides to add a third expensive drink to his order, and when I ring that up, one of them comes up free. Of course, because of the policy of the buy one-get one, it's the cheapest of the four drinks; The one dollar child's drink. This is not something I did on purpose! It is simply the till's way of counting and it makes no sense at all. The customer proceeds to go into a big old hissy fit, demanding that I fix this heinous crime against hot chocolate immediately! I take one look at his expensive suit and resist the urge to tell him that a free drink is a free drink, and it's not my fault the machine does what it does. After trying to reason with him, even giving him a coupon for another free drink, he demands to see my manager, yelling and getting red in the face about how disrespectful I am and how much I've insulted him. I go and find the manager and let him handle the guy. The manager comes over and gets *another* free drink coupon for this customer after a few heated minutes of insulting me, the company, the store, and just about everything else in earshot of the long line of customers I have, most of which are staring at him, incredulous. At the end of the day, he made off with three free drinks, and, of course, its all my fault.

I had so many customers who were polite, friendly, and patient, but sadly, the ones who are rude and frustrating always stand out more in my mind. I even had a customer get mad at me because her straw was too long! Another lady got mad because I didn't carry the special brand of organic milk in a box that her precious spawn simply *had* to drink. Ack!



Ok, so working retail is not the most glamorous job in the world, but it is no reason to treat the employees that work there like crap.  I have been in retail now for 14 years, and I could tell you so many etiquette-hell stories, but there is one that really sticks in my head.    After offering my assistance to a woman who was looking for something very specific, she decided she to purchase the item.  Our registers were set up in a side by side manner.  She set her items down on the counter of the register that was closed (And clearly marked so with a sign that said "This register is closed, please step to the next register for assistance" )  So I walked over to that register and collected her item, and asked her to step to the next register, (which was LITERALLY 3 steps to her right) and that this one was closed.  I rang her item up, but she stayed at the other register, so I again politely asked her to step over to my register thinking maybe she didn't hear me.  All of the sudden I had NO idea what hit me at the time, but this woman just went off on me, telling me that she heard me the first time, and that my customer assistance was very poor and that she shouldn't be forced to walk to a different register, and that she was never going to shop there again. She demanded corporate's phone number, to tell them how bad my service was.  I - confused at this point - gave her the number, still smiling, finished her sale, and thanked her for shopping there, and I told her to have a nice day.  She turned red in anger and told me "Will I never!  And I hope you, have a sh*%y day".  At the time I remember thinking, what did I do....but looking back, I guess you just can't please people, no matter how much you bend over backwards for them.  

I feel EVERYONE should be forced to work retail at one point in their lives, then they would treat the retail clerks with more respect.   One last thing...for all of you out there with cell phones...If you have your cell on when shopping...FINE, talk to your heart's content, but once you get up to the counter to check out...HANG IT UP, or DON'T ANSWER IT!   It's not that difficult to call the person back after you are done.  It is SOOOOOO rude to the cashier.  Those of us who have manners don't like to interrupt phone conversations to tell you your total, or count back your change.   



I worked an arts and crafts supply store in high school.  It seemed that a lot of rude customers passed through there, but this one stood out because she went off on me personally.

In the store, the cash registers are in groups of two: one faces right and one left in each row.  I was on the second register in the row, facing left.  There were a few customers in each line.  I got through checking out all of the people in my line, so I looked over at the other register and saw that the customer who was checking out was signing a credit card receipt and the customer after her would be up to be checked out within the next 20 seconds or so.  I called out, "I can help the next person over here," and though I assumed the second lady would come, I did not specify which customer should step over.  

Well the third lady in the first line saw that the woman in front of her was about to be checked out (lady #2 had her things on the counter), so she stepped over.  I didn't notice, but lady #2 stepped out of line, picked up her things, and walked over to my line as well.  The first lady in my line had a large order, and it took about ten minutes to get her checked out and out the door.  The lady who had picked up her things and come over to my line then plops her things on the counter and looks at me and screams "You are rude!"  "Excuse me?" I said.  "I was next, not her!" she said.  "I simply took the person who stepped over first," I said.  "Well I just want to tell you that you are a rude young lady," she scowled.  

Sooo let me get this straight.  The cashier in the first line was just about to pick up her things to scan them and she GETS OUT OF LINE and waits about 10 minutes longer to tell me that I was rude for wasting her time by not taking her first?   She proceeded to argue and cause a scene for about 15 minutes and refused to move.  I asked her if she wanted me to get a manager , to which she replied, "No, as long as you know you are rude!"  Don't you just love retail? 



 I recently graduated from university and I spent the summer working as a cashier at a rather large national "family clothing" chain in order to pay the bills. The pay wasn't anything to write home about and the hours were inconvenient, so there were times when I was on the verge of a "I have a degree and I'm too good for this" fit. But I was raised better than that. I could fill a book with the rude and inconsiderate customers I endured with a smile, but this one would be the grand finale.

This woman came in with two children, a boy of about seven and a girl who was probably eleven or twelve. Both of them were fairly big kids. As soon as they walked in the door, the daughter sat down in the stroller provided for customers with small children and demanded that her brother push her around the store. And he did. I was scared the stroller was going to break, but my manager never said anything, so neither did I or, most importantly, mom.

After they were done shopping (and presumably driving the floor associates insane) mom brought up at least twenty items to my register and asked that I price check them all. This was fine, I got that all the time. Fine, until she starts throwing these items at me. They're already laying on my counter, I'm perfectly capable of picking them up and scanning each one. But, she sifts through them and practically hurls them at me, giving me the yay or nay as I check each price.

Now, this is forgivable. She's a little uncouth, but it's nothing I can't handle. Her kids, on the other hand... are trying my patience. The little boy is sitting in the shelf that holds my plastic bags when he discovers the little electric screen that people use to sign for credit card purchases. (You know the ones, with the little pen and the touch sensitive screen.) He pokes at it a while before picking up the pen and HAMMERING the screen with it. I look over, hoping mom will say something before her kid breaks what is probably a very expensive piece of equipment. Nothing. So I say (very calmly and politely), "Please don't do that." And mom casually looks over and says, "Yeah. Don't do that."

Then, I notice his sister playing with the phone at the register next to me. Mom tells her to leave it alone... but just once. The kid doesn't listen and goes around to every register playing with the phones. I can't do much about it, I'm still checking prices. Finally I hear the intercom beep and I turn around and there's the girl giggling. How she figured out how to get to the intercom line, I don't know. But, once again I ask her, "Please don't do that." And mom casually looks over and says, "Yeah. Don't do that."

The daughter, rather sassily, replies "Why'd YOU tell me not to do it when SHE already told me not to?" And I thought to myself... "Good point. Shouldn't mom be reigning in the kids before I have to?" I finished the woman's transaction and bid her a very pleasant good evening.

Anyway... that was rather long winded and possibly not very interesting, but consider it a plea from customer service workers everywhere. Control your children. Please. My dad always said he thinks everyone should have to work in retail or food service once in their life just to learn how to treat people in those positions. He's right. I'll be doing my darndest to be an Etiquette Angel, especially when dealing with tired, underpaid customer service representatives.

P.S. Just as a public warning, if your pair of jeans rings up for 17.99 instead of 14.99, it is not your cashier's fault. She is not personally out to get you, she isn't trying to cheat you, and believe me, she isn't going to pocket that extra three dollars. Just let her do her job and clear up the problem. Thanks.



There are plenty rude customers in this world, but after working at a toy store for almost a year, there are two experiences that I'll never forget.

We host birthday parties. The store where we work is very busy, as this product is in demand and it's the only store of its kind in our city. A mother brought 15 children in for her daughter's birthday party, and I was assigned to be the party host. Several of the parents came with the children. The mothers didn't pay any attention to any of the children, who were all being very loud and misbehaving, and the birthday girl constantly rolled her eyes at my instructions and told me to 'hurry up' with preparing the toys for the children. The mothers were growing highly impatient with the last leg of the party, as the store was very very busy, and talked loudly about me being 'slow', and the meaning wasn't just about physical speed. I apologized for the crowd, and explained that the store was always packed Thursday through Sunday.

The birthday girl got upset at me because she couldn't stand in the back row of the picture. She's the birthday girl--she is supposed to be in the front. Her friends were rolling their eyes, making faces, and making fun of one of the girls that came. It was a group of popular girls, and this particular girl wasn't popular, so they preyed on her.

The mother complained to my manager about me, telling her that I was rude to the children, and that I had lied about the existence of a party room in the back. Our company does not have party rooms, nor a food license to host cake and refreshments in the store. We explain this to everyone who calls or comes in with questions about our parties. Then, the icing on the cake, the mother wants a discount because the store is busy. She booked on a Saturday, which is the busiest day of the week. In their conversation my manager got it out of her that she had never been into the store. She booked a party, put down a $100.00 deposit and had never laid eyes on the store. My manager laughed at her, explained that I've done at least a hundred birthday parties, and that she's never heard of these problems, and that if she wanted to dispute it, she could talk to our General Manager.

My next story isn't so much rude as unsanitary. We have a bathroom in the back of the store, and we let customers use them all the time. Sometimes they destroy them, but that is to be expected. This lady was asking for the bathroom to change her baby. I explained that there was someone using it, and that once they were out, she was more than welcome to use the changing station. In a few moments, I walked back into the back room, and nearly got sick.

There is a table in the back where all of the employees take our breaks. This day there were drinks, and food, and two boxes of pizza on the table. There was even open food on the table that someone was eating. This woman was changing her baby's poopy diaper on the table. She was too impatient to wait for the person to leave the restroom, who was doing so as I saw what was going on. They saw it too, looked at me, I looked at them, and we both made a face.

This woman left the table with baby poo all over it, and didn't bother to clean it up.



I worked part-time at a retail store in a small town. Since this was a small town, everyone knew everybody. So I remembered faces and people who come to the store on a regular basis. There was a man who came in almost every day I was working. He never bought anything and if he did it was a bag of those tootsie roll pops. Otherwise he just walked around the store for about a half hour and stared at people. He tended to stare at young women. One time he actually watched me for about five minutes while I was putting freight on the shelves. I went and told my boss and she told him to buy something or leave. He left, thank goodness. He has been told to leave the store many times for loitering and staring at people.

When this guy actually does buy his tootsie pops it is hell checking him out. Some of the employees named this guy “Stinkie” for obvious reasons. He smells like chicken poop all the time. I’m told he works at a chicken butchering place. His clothes look like it. I have almost vomited from the smell. Not only does he smell to high heaven so you try not to breath with your nose, but while you are checking him out he stares at your chest the entire time and tries to make conversation while “teasing” you. His yucky way of flirting. I never reacted to anything he said and just rang him up as quickly as I could. The first few times that I checked him out I was polite to him and he ended up standing and staring at me for about ten minutes after. So I learned not to be very nice to him.

By the time I left the job, I had found out that this man was actually living in his van and that’s why he wandered into the store. Just to do something. And that’s why he smelled so awful. That’s too bad but no excuse for his rude staring problem.



I was working in a downtown shop in Ontario, Canada near the U.S. border.  Even though our store was less than a  mile from the U.S. border, some American visitors couldn't believe we were "just like them".   

My favorite customer story is about a lady who came into the shop to browse.  She didn't say anything to me so I just smiled and said "Hi".  When she finally came up to the cash register, she leaned over the counter and said loudly (with a lot of hand signing), "DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?!!"   I was so surprised that I leaned toward her and loudly said, "THAT'S...ALL...I...SPEAK!" complete with opening and closing my hand for the "talking" sign!   She quickly finished her transaction and I never saw her back in the store again!   

One night I was working at a large pizza chain that required a standard telephone greeting.  A customer called and I automatically answered, "Thank you for calling Father's Pizza on Main Street. May I help you?"   The customer asked, "Is this a recording?"  It had been a very long night.  I answered, "Yes, it is."   There was a short pause and the customer said, "Oh, okay" and hung up.  I imagine that he just looked at his phone after that and immediately called one of our competitors!   

 I worked for a large banquet hall that often did very upscale weddings.  One popular color for weddings was black table linens with white napkins...kind of a "black tie" theme.   One bride and her mother came in to select their linen colors.  The bride really liked the black tablecloths and white napkins so I set a few out on the desk.  After she had looked at them for a few moments, I asked "Is it a black and white wedding?"   The mother-of-the-bride looked horrified and asked, "How do you know?"  Seeing the panic in her face, I asked, "Know what?"   The bride turned very red and her mother continued, "That it is an INTERRACIAL marriage and we DON'T approve!"  Yikes!   I took a deep breath and pointed at the table napkins and calmly said, "I was asking about the dinner napkins.  We don't care who gets married."   The wedding did proceed and I am happy to say that it was my day off on the wedding day!


Page Last Updated May 18, 2007