We recently asked customer service and retail workers in our BuzzFeed Community, "What's your wildest 'Holy heck, this customer is almost hilariously irrational' story?" And WHEW, BUDDY, did they come through with some tales o' terror. So here are just a few of the most irrational stories shared:
1.This failed return:
"I used to work as a manager for a big-box chain. I once had a customer scream at me because they bought a DVD player (when they were still super expensive), and when they got home, there were encyclopedias in the box instead. Many things seemed wrong about this, but I was on the verge of making the return just to make them happy. Then I happened to open the cover of the encyclopedia and saw a 'Belongs to:" inscription on the inside. On a whim, I told the customer that I 'just need an ID to complete the return.' It was the SAME NAME! I just held out the open book in one hand and the ID in the other. The customer left without looking back."
2.This simple favor:
"Not me, but my boss at the time: I work at a property management company that deals with HOAs and CAIs. My boss once got a call from one of the residents in a community that we manage. She asked my boss to LEAVE WORK and DRIVE TO COSTCO to see if it seemed busy and had long lines at the checkout. She then wanted my boss to call her back with this information so that she could decide if it was too busy for her, personally, to go out or not."
3.This actual demon:
"I was working at a well-known grocery store in the Northeast. I had many regular costumers who knew I had a horrendous seafood allergy (I can’t even be around it without a reaction starting), so I would ask either the customer or a nearby coworker to scan any seafood items. It was an efficient system.
"One day, a man came through with a netted bag of oysters. When I apologized for my allergy and explained he would need to scan the bag, his face twisted, and before I could react, he wiped his hands on the oysters, grabbed my arm, and rubbed the oyster juice up and down my arm. He then laid money down and ran out the door. My coworkers shoved some Benadryl down my throat and I was sent home."
4.This not-so-funny stand-up routine:
"As a teen, I worked at a furniture store where customers would come to a speaker and give their order number, and I would direct them to whatever area to pick up their stuff. TOO MANY customers would make a fast-food joke. I would play along for a bit, but some customers would push this stupid joke and then get insulted when I didn't find it absolutely hilarious. I once had someone make an official complaint so that I got written up because I didn't think their freaking 'I'll take a number 3 with a Coke!' joke was funny!"
5.This cash register debacle:
"I worked at Chuck E. Cheese when I was in high school and college. At the time, we had distinct roles and I was not trained to be a cashier. I once had an older woman who wanted to buy stuffed animals from the gift selection. I pulled the prizes out, gave them to the cashier, and kindly told the woman to get in line. She proceeded to demand that I ring her up on the spot. I explained to her that I wasn't trained and thus couldn't do it.
"She threw a tantrum and proceeded to insult my intelligence for about 10 straight minutes, claiming I was too stupid to learn how to work a cash register, and saying how I would never amount to anything because I work at Chuck E. Cheese. Luckily, my manager came up and stood up for me. She went to the back of the line and paid for her stuffed animals while she kept saying horrible things about me and my lack of intellect.
"If anyone's wondering: I graduated from college with a genetics degree, and I currently manage a laboratory and helped set up multiple COVID testing labs — but to be fair, I still don't know how to work a cash register."
6.This returned phone:
"When I worked in CEX (an electronics pawnshop), we had tons of irate customers. My worst was a guy who was screaming at another member of the staff. I offered to see if I could help (I was the oldest member of the staff, so people tended to trust me more — I was 26). He handed over a phone that looked as if it had been marinated in garbage and then set on fire. I politely told him that it was in too rough a condition for us to take. He yelled at me, spat at me, and tried to lunge over the counter to attack me. It was at this point that the police showed up to escort him away, as my manager had called them out of view."
7.This confused shipper:
"I worked customer service for an ocean container-shipping company. We moved containers of goods on boats from one country port to another. I once had a customer call and get upset with me because we couldn't ship his item because our boats didn't go to the destination he wanted. He legitimately couldn't understand why we couldn't just go to a different continent and drop off his shipment before heading to our original destination. I think I eventually ended up hanging up on him after he started screaming and cussing at me. I didn't get paid enough for that job."
8.This odd request:
"A lady once asked me for 'nonstick tape' and was genuinely offended when I told her, 'Ma'am, tape is SUPPOSED to be sticky.'"
9.This shoe coup:
"I worked at a shoe store with a very reasonable return policy, and someone once brought back shoes that had easily been worn daily for three years, if not longer. The soles had deep holes in them, the sides were completely shredded, the canvas was filthy, and the laces were caked in dirt and moments from snapping. Three different family members brought the shoes in, and all tried to tell us that we sold terrible shoes that 'fell apart quickly.' Once, they bought a new pair, shoved the old ones in the new box, and tried to return them, pretending that we were the idiots."
"My brother worked at a grocery store and once had a lady come in and scream at him (the 16-year-old cashier) because the Redbox outside the store didn’t have the movie that she wanted available."
11.This literal bag lady:
"My first-ever time working a retail job was when I was working at Nordstrom Rack several years ago. I was at the register and got a call through my headset from one of my coworkers that she was going to bring up an expensive purse that a customer wanted to purchase. As store policy, any purse that is over a certain amount of money has to be unlocked from the display rack and taken up to the register by the employee who is in that department, and the customer has to wait in line to purchase their item.
"Long story short, the customer who wanted the bag cut in line and proceeded to go to my register. I politely told her she must wait in line first and then we can help her. She was not happy about that and proceeded to curse and yell at me, waving her money in her hand, saying that she should be helped first because she was buying an expensive purse. She left my register, and I thought she was getting back in line, but instead she tried going behind the counter to get the purse herself.
"Thankfully, both my manager (who was also behind the counter) and the security guard (who wasn’t far away) saw what she was doing and stopped her from going any further. She then started yelling and cursing at them as she was being escorted out by security. I don’t know how I stayed so calm, but it was quite the experience."
12.This free weed(?):
"I worked at an ice cream store and once had a customer accuse us of putting pot in the ice cream and drugging her son. She said that after he ate the ice cream, he 'became lethargic.' She then said that she and her best friend tried the ice cream and claimed it tasted like pot. The kid was 4 years old and had been out in the sun all day, so he was probably just tired by the time he had gotten the ice cream. When I 'refused to admit' there was pot in the ice cream (because there wasn’t), she said that she was going to call the main store and complain, but she never did. I still think about that wild accusation to this day."
13.This imaginary item:
"I’ve worked in retail management my entire adult life. So many customers come to mind, but this is my most recent: A gentleman called and was irate that we didn’t have something in stock. He was convinced that we were lying to him so he couldn't buy it. He called weekly to complain. At one point, he started to threaten me and my team. I filed a complaint with the company.
"The best part? The item he was looking for has literally NEVER existed. I've never seen it or heard of it; he just found a picture on Facebook."
14.This diet destroyer:
"I was working at a small coffee shop inside a hospital, and we could only sell diet sodas because of rules the hospital had about sugar content. One time, this lady went off on me about how bad diet sodas are and how they will 'give you cancer' and they are 'way worse than regular sodas'; she eventually decided to get a cranberry juice instead. When she came up to my register to pay, she opened up her purse and I could see three cigarette packs.
"There is literally a label on those that says they will give you cancer, but she was way more concerned about a Diet Coke."
15.This spoon thrower:
"I waited tables all through high school at this tiny diner. One time, an older man ordered the eggs Benedict. For some reason, the kitchen placed his eggs next to, not on top off, the English muffin. This man was so furious, he had to count down from 10 under his breath in an attempt to calm himself down. Not knowing what to do, I offered to bring it back to the kitchen so they could move the eggs onto the bread — he was so angry, he threw a spoon at my head."
16.This policy abuser:
"I worked in a bookshop while I was at university, and a woman tried to return a book that had very clearly been read, probably more than once (broken spine, folded pages, etc.). She told me that it was okay to read something once, then return it if you didn't like it, like 'keeping the tags on a nice dress'! I pointed out to her that you shouldn't do that with a dress, either, and she threw the book on the floor and stormed off — but weirdly paused to check out the new releases before she left."
17.This worst buy:
"I worked at a Best Buy for eight years. My rudest customer story came from a man who thought his TV remote was broken. He came into the store looking to speak to a manager. When he was told that the manager was dealing with another customer and would be with him shortly, he freaked out. This man began screaming at our customer service, flailing his arms and yelling obscenities.
"As the loss-prevention lead, I had to deal with customers who were out of control and try to calm them down. I walked over to see if I could calm him down, something I've done 1,000 times. This man was one of the few ones I couldn't tame. He ultimately ended up throwing the remote at one of our customer service representatives, being removed from the premises, and being issued a criminal trespass."
18.This disgruntled moviegoer:
"I worked at a movie theater for five years. I have some fun stories; one of my favorites is this one: There was a woman who saw Sausage Party (remember that weirdly sexual movie about a grocery store?) right after it came out, and asked for a supervisor halfway through. She then proceeded to scream at me that we were 'heathens' for showing a movie with a 'lesbian taco' in it. There was nothing else wrong with the movie, just the lesbian taco."
19.This long con:
"I work in a gas station, and after I put 95 liters of fuel into a guy's car, he told us we couldn’t have put that much fuel in because his 'tank was 95 liters' and he 'already had a bit of fuel in there.' I explained that the fuel tank size can vary from what is listed, even showing him an official article about it, but he was adamant that we were conning him and he shouldn’t have to pay for the fuel.
"He even refused our offer to pay for 90 liters and have the rest knocked off the total. When we told him we’d get the police involved if he tried to leave without paying, he started kicking off, saying, 'The customers always right!' and he tried to convince our other customers that we were con artists. In the end, we told him to leave and never come back, and reported him to the police as soon as he left."
20.This just plain-awful human:
"I used to work for Walmart as a cashier. I was sitting on a stool (because I have a physical disability that affects my legs), and the very first thing a customer said to me was, 'So why do you get to sit?' in a really accusatory tone. I told her it was for medical reasons. She then went on a curse-filled rant about how 'being fat' wasn’t a disability, that she was going to 'report [me] to welfare' (which I’m not on), and that I should get off my 'lazy ass' and give her my stool because she had been shopping for so long. She shut up when I had to go around the register and she saw my leg braces."
21.And finally — this impossible demand:
"I currently work for a company that supplies and fits windows. We had a customer call us, screaming on the phone, that the sales representative we had sent to her house was 'incompetent' and we needed to send another because he 'wouldn’t comply with [her] simple request.'
"I spoke to him, and he said this woman wanted a new window in her bathroom that overlooked her back garden. This shouldn’t be an issue...until he explained that her bathroom was at the FRONT of the house."
You've read theirs, but now it's your turn! Share your wildest "irrational customer" story in the comments below for a chance to be featured in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post and/or video!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.