Any employee that has to deal with customers on a regular basis has to deal with an endless amount of crap. Most manifest themselves in harmless insults, but every once in a while, someone crosses WAY over the line.We dug through this incredibly revealing Reddit thread to find some of the worst examples of customers going too far with their verbal abuse. Some even went further, prompting actual physical confrontations. These stories are reminders that if you get physically threatened at work (or anywhere, for that matter), always take it seriously.
What should you do if a customers flips out on you, or worse, gets physical? Call for help from your supervisor or co-workers quickly when a customer starts to get loud or rowdy. If things get out of hand, try to stay calm, and call the police immediately.
'I work at Six Flags Over Georgia on one of the roller coasters and I asked a woman if she could place her purse, which was massive by the way, in one of our cubbies or have someone else hold it.
Now she had about 4 of her children standing in the exit, the oldest of which was about 12 which is the one who she handed her purse to, but as soon as she took her seat she says to me 'My damn purse better be here when I get back or im gon' get my man up and here and shoot yo mothafuckin arse dead!'
'I had just started a retail job and was in the back room doing the usual training detail - watching instructional movies, filling things out, etc. Someone working at the register had to take lunch and since it wasn't that busy they threw me up there for an hour. Running a register is fairly intuitive so it shouldn't have been a problem.
A short, 60 year old customer comes up and lays down two items that were about $0.60 each. I ring them and tell him the total and he becomes visibly angry.
He heaves an exasperated sigh and lays into me about how it said they were $0.50 on the shelf.
Being both such a minor difference and having little experience with this kind of thing I just said 'maybe they were in the wrong spot, they should be correct in the computer.'
He starts shouting here and says 'you don't care, you think you're big and tall standing over there?! Well I'll hop over there and beat your arse.'
He then points to a ring on his hand while saying 'see this?! It means I'm a world karate champion. I'd kick your arse in a second.'
Not particularly convinced by his claims and beginning to wish he would indulge his 'fight the lowly retail employee' fantasy I awkwardly shrugged.
After storming out the next guy in line steps up, points to his ring and says 'you see this?! It means I'm married. My wife sent me here.'
'I am a departmental manager at a retail store. Me and another manager were stocking a shelf near the front, when a familiar looking customer comes up and starts complimenting us on how nice the store is and how friendly the staff has become recently. We accept the kind words, and go back to work.
Next, she want's to know if we do background checks on all of our employees. 'Um...yes?' 'So then you make sure you hire only Americans, correct?' 'Ma'am, if someone has a legal right to work in this country and is the right fit for our staff, we hire them.' She then proceeded to go completely ape shit. She absolutely could not believe that we would hire a legal non-american before someone born here.
Detecting the sudden change in conversation topic, the other manager began to tell the woman it was time to leave. I stood there in stunned disbelief. We work in the Northwest. Blatant racism like this is rather abnormal.
'So what your telling me is, if an American and a Mexican both applied, you would hire the MEXICAN??'
'If they have a legal right to work here and are better qualified, absolutely.'
More apeshit. Then came the threats.
'I know your corporate! I'm going to call and tell them you are hiring ILLEGALS. I'm going to call the police and tell them you are hiring ILLEGALS. You have ILLEGALS working in this store. You will LOSE YOUR JOB!'
Now, we do have a few (I hate this word) minorities on our staff, but at that particular moment the 4-5 employees within sight and earshot (including myself) were, like, the whitest people ever. Obvious crackers. So of course we look at her like she's a racist and a complete idiot.'
Anyhow, we tell her its time to take her opinions and leave. She turns around to go, then turns back again. My coworker tells her to leave 2 more times. At this point, she begins bowing repeatedly at him, I guess to send the message that he was better than her or something?
Then she goes: 'You know what you are?' 'What?' 'Well, I'M not a poopie, but you sir, you are a POOPIE. YOU ARE ALL A POOPIE!'
Haven't seen her since.
'I used to work nightshift in a bottleshop in a small country town, and of course we'd get some crazy stuff, and ridiculous threats from customers if we refused to serve them. Everyone knew everyone else in town, so nothing usually came of it. Usually.
One night my boss had just gone for a smoke out the back as it was quiet and we were closing up, and a well known belligerent customer walked in. Customer was almost always drunk, so almost always was refused service, this time he wasn't too bad, but I wasn't taking any chances and booted him out.
Next thing i know he walks back in and tries to pick a fight, usual toughguy bullcrap. I refuse, saying I'm just doing my job and I'm too old for picking fights, I've got kids etc. Drunk responds with 'Well I'm gonna break into your house and slit your kids throats while I fck your missus'. I smacked him in the head and knocked him to the ground. As I'm calling the cops informing them of his name and the threats he made, he gets up and walks away, can't legally stop anyone from leaving so nothing I can do.
Boss walks back in, I explain what happened, and I'm frazzled, so I race home. 5 minutes later I'm almost home and see police cars and their lights flashing, naturally I panic.
Finally get there to see my neighbour standing next to a bunch of cops and belligerent drunk handcuffed with both his legs at strange angles. Turns out drunk had shown up at my house, started screaming threats, and my high as a kite druggie neighbour came out with a bat and beat the shit out of him and broke both his legs, with the cops arriving just before I did. Sometimes they're drunk enough to try and follow through with their threats.'
'I worked windows support at microsoft in the 90's. When I told a guy that his support agreement expired and we would need to charge him, he flipped his shit and said 'that McVeigh, he bombed the wrong building.' He even repeated it so I could emergency record it, oh and I had his name, address & phone number.'
'I was working as an inspector for the gas company. Many people wouldn't let us in because they thought we might be scam artists, at which point we would leave them with a card so they could verify the inspection with the gas company and set up an appointment.
There was one day I knocked on the door of a particularly irate customer who was positive I was a scam artist. I handed him our card and explained what to do and started to walk away. Upon reading the card, he decided I might be legit and yelled 'Fuck it, get back here and do the inspection, but know that I have a fucking gun and I'm not afraid to use it!' I told him I wasn't comfortable coming in and that he would have to schedule the appointment. This really set him off....'This is bullshit', 'You're wasting my fucking time', 'Get the fuck in here now.'
I was absolutely terrified, but for some reason I decided the better option was to do the inspection and get it over with. He was right behind my back the whole time I was in his house and I was shaking with fear, but nothing aside from more shitty comments happened.
When I left, I told him that it was fucked up for him to be afraid to let me in his house, but it wasn't OK for me to be afraid to enter his house. Luckily his neighbour could see that I was upset when I left. He asked what happened, so I told him and he explained to me what a dick that guy is, then he gave me some cake and soda. Not so bad after all.'
'Worked at a computer shop in Georgia as well (Sandy Springs)
Had customer come in saying he couldn't get his USB wireless card he just bought working, and he was upset that the instructions were in engrish. ( What do you expect, its a 5 dollar wifi card).
Well I asked him if I could take a look at it and see if I could get it working, but no, he was having none of that. He wanted a refund. Mind you NO REFUNDS is on the receipt and posted on a BIG RED SIGN at check out.
I insisted on looking at the card to see if it was damaged and or if I could get it working. If it was damaged we could replace under warranty, but he exclaimed, ' I have a friend who works for IBM, and he couldn't get it working, what are you going to do.' (for all you that work at a computer store, you know what I'm talking about here. I have an IT friend this, my nephew who is a hacker said I have a virus that, Kim Kommando from the radio lied about what not, I don't need a life story about your machine just, please for the love of god tell me whats wrong)
Well at this point I'm a little ticked off and I might have mentioned that maybe, quite possibly his friend that works for IBM didn't know what he was doing.
Fucking BOOM, this guy went off like an god damn ATOM bomb, screaming at the top of his lungs at me, at this point I'm yelling back telling him to get the hell out of my shop.
Manager ( fucking Coptic Egyptian, awesome boss) comes out from the back and escorts this man out while pointing a pair of scissors at him.
Right before he leaves, he yells 'IF I EVER SEE YOU ON THE STREET I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU.'
Needless to say I was a little shaken up, But in all seriousness who the hell threatens to kill somebody over a 5 dollar wireless card, after being offered to help fix it.'
'I work at a gas station, and a man in a GIANT Ford Pickup truck pulled up to a pump and began to fill his tank. I noticed by the roar of his engine that he gave no regard to the 'please turn off engine' sign on the pump. When politely asked to shut off his engine, he replied with, 'Mind your own fucking business or I'll snap your neck.' So, on the register I stopped his fuel and asked him to pay. The conversation proceeds as follows:
Customer: 'How often do you read in the news about cars blowing up at gas stations?'
Me: 'Well I don't read much news, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen'
C: 'They just don't make cars that way anymore. They're smarter about it now so mind your own business.'
Me: 'Sir, why don't you just show a bit of respect to your fellow human being and take two seconds to shut off your engine. It won't do any harm to anyone.'
C: 'Are you a doctor?'
Me: WTF?!?! 'No sir, I am not.'
C: 'Well I'm a doctor!'
Me: Thinking what the hell this has to do with the topic at hand, I chuckle and say 'OK.'
He pays for his gas and leaves, getting in his truck in a rage and speeding off. So in short, he threatened to take my life by breaking my neck because I asked him to kill his engine. Lovely day!'
'When I was about 16, working as a shift manager at McDonald's, I was threatened with sodomy by an old man.
Let me elaborate: So as I said, I'm 16 and a shift manager at the local McDonald's, and at around 8pm on a weeknight, an extremely drunk old man wandered into the store, complaining to the assistant manager that his bike had been stolen from our vestibule.
Within about 5 minutes of conversation, it became pretty obvious that there was never any bicycle, and this man was just looking for some kind of confrontation, and, happening upon our store amidst a drunken rage, decided that this was the place to have it out. Now, I'm not the kind of person who normally antagonizes a stranger in order to make a strange conversation worse, however my friend, who was also around 16 at the time, was exactly the kind of person to antagonize a stranger during a tense situation.
So friend enters the grill area from the dishwashing area, spots the old man making a scene, inquires what his problem is, gets told by another employee that he's probably drunk and can't find his bicycle, and friend points to old man and emits a Muntzian 'Ha-Ha' at him.
Old man hears 'Ha-Ha' but is unable to identify the perpetrator, so he turns to the front counter (populated solely by 16 year old girls) and proceeds to grab his crotch and shout 'I got yer Ha-Ha right here!'
At this point I decide to go up front and help my assistant manager ameliorate the situation. As soon as I step up front, the old man spots me and shouts something to the effect of 'Ah, the gear's eye with the tear in his eye.'
'I'm sorry?' I respond, genuinely having no idea what the fuck he was saying.
'Yer sorry? That's the smartest thing you've said since the last time you said it!' He fires back.
'I... wh-' I try to get out.
'Have a good night, sir!' my boss yells, trying to verbally force him out. At this point the man decides he's completed what he came to do, and starts walking out of the store. A collective sigh of relief is issued, as the entire staff realises that the fellow might finally be leaving, but as soon as he gets his hand on the door handle, he turns, and in my direction he shouts 'Fucking PUNK! I used to FUCK punks like you in the arse!' spitting and slobbering and using the door for support.
And then he left, we assumed to antagonize others with similar threats.'
'While working in a call centre doing tech support for Optus (Australia) mobile phones, I had to tell a guy that the only way to get his phone to send a MMS picture message was for him to post it to the repair centre.
He lived in the centre of Australia, and the repair centre was in Sydney, 3000km (1800 miles) away.
He said 'You watch your fuckin back at night son, dingo gonna stab you'.
There was something about the tone of his voice. I was in Sydney at the time, but I still didn't sleep well for a few days.'
'working as a bouncer, throwing out an unruly patron. He says, 'I heard this place is for sale. Tomorrow I'm going to come back and buy this place, send you on a business trip to Peru, and fire your arse while you're there.' Turns out he had the money to do it but, unfortunately, never followed through.'
'Didn't happen to me, but as I was walking from the back room to help at the front desk of my hotel, I heard a guest threaten my supervisor with a decorative lamp. actual quote 'I am going to hit you with this lamp.'
To be fair, I had often thought of hitting said supervisor with said lamp....'
'Best threat made against me in this position was by an M.D. who said, 'ZhuangZi, I wish I could crawl through this telephone..reach out with my hands, and murder you. But, I can't. Did you know that I have perfect pitch, ZhuangZi? And I can tell from your voice exactly just how you look, you skinny little fuck. I'm going to come to your city, ZhuangZi, and walk around until I see you, and then kill you, ZhuangZi. But, since I know exactly where your shitty little job's building is in **** city, I'm going to start looking there.'
hahaha. Whole call was recorded and postal inspectors personally called to let me know this guy was fucked.'
'The most uncomfortable moment was when a very calm and well-spoken gentleman with a thick Russian accent called to let us know someone had stolen his card and about 45,000 had been spent already.
I let him know I would be transferring him to our fraud department to sort it out and he told me 'No. You and I are the only two people who know of this man's actions. It embarrasses me that I have let this happen. You and I... we are brothers in this. We will find him. We will kill him. And it will be over.'
And sometimes things escalate beyond words -- an angry customer soaked a gas station employee in gasoline
'Worked at a variety store/gas station when I was 18. A man pulled up in an old beater pickup. Can't remember what colour it was because it was mostly primer.
He leaves his engine running and hits the button to activate the pump. Rather than get on the intercom, which dehumanizes my voice, I go outside to tell the man to shut his engine off. He says 'if I turn her off, she won't start again.' Not my problem, I thought. 'If you don't turn it off, you won't get gas.'
We argue this back and forth for a while and evidently the MEEP MEEP MEEP MEEP! MEEP MEEP MEEP MEEP! of the computer demanding my colleague inside authorise the pump was driving her insane. Or she figures I've made the guy see reason. Whatever, she authorizes.
The pump goes live. The man grabs the nozzle, brandishes it, then proceeds to soak me in gasoline from head to waist. OH FUCK HE'S GONNA STRIKE A MATCH went through my mind so fast it might have been on wheels. I ran backwards as fast as I could. Disgusted, he hung the pump up, got in his truck, and roared off.
I've never been so frightened at work in my life.'
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