Sneaky Customer Ploys

March 23, 2023 | Laura Bergen

Sneaky Customer Ploys

People come up with all kinds of weird ways to get free or discounted stuff. Sometimes these methods involve sneaky tricks played by the customer. From confusing cash transactions to ricocheting oyster shells, these Redditors have seen it all. Have you ever tried pulling off any of these sneaky ploys?

1. The Callback

During my shift today, a client rang our store inquiring if we stocked a specific item. I then confirmed its availability and cost. When he asked about our price matching policy, I explained, "Yes, we do price match, but validation is required from the concerned store, either via a phone conversation or an internet inventory check." 

He then inquired about my working hours saying he preferred "consistent interactions with the same person" and I let him know what they were. Fast forward to two hours post-shift, a text dropped from my boss asking to chat about the confusion regarding price matching. 

When I called her back, her revelations were maddening. She detailed how the client alleged that we didn't have to verify anything and how I supposedly presented him with numerous choices. According to him, I agreed to a reduced price, contrary to our prior conversation, and that I had already confirmed it. 

This crafty fellow attempted to trick her with his lies, potentially putting my job at risk, all for a mere 10 dollars.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

2. Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Back in high school, I had a job manning the customer service desk at a grocery store. Part of my duties included checking inside the packaging of returned small appliances to confirm all the components were inside. 

One memorable day, a man came in to return an air conditioner. I did my routine check by slicing open the carton, and to my surprise, I found only a large stone inside. The man dashed out of the store so fast it was all a bit of a blur!

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Forrest Wheatey

3. Money Talks

A few years ago, I was working at a supermarket. I recall this elderly lady who came to my checkout lane one day. Her purchase was a single packet of Reese's peanut butter cups and she gave me a $100 note to pay for it. As I was about to give her change, she swiftly grabbed it from my hand and exited the store.

Quicker than I'd thought possible, she was back, alleging that I had underpaid her change by a whopping $80. I wasn't exactly sure about the exact figure she claimed, but I knew it was absurd.

Given the fact that many of the cashiers during the night shift, myself included, were just teenagers, she possibly thought that we'd be easy targets for her scam. But I was not falling for it.

I swiftly called over my boss and requested him to count the cash in my register. Predictably, the woman requested if she could step outside for a smoke while we sorted it out, and predictably, she never returned. 

Funnily enough, she did try the scam later on a different day. Then, I was prepared—I withheld her change from her swift grasp and counted it aloud slowly. She didn't revisit our store after that.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

4. Gaming The System

A few years back, I was an employee at GameStop. One day, an elderly woman came in with her grandchildren and directed them to pick whatever they wanted from the section selling used PS2 games, which occupied a significant portion of the store at the time. 

She requested a used PS2 console and some additional controllers. The kids ended up selecting around 20 games, which the woman happily purchased. As she was about to leave, we reiterated our store policy—a customer could return any used item within a week, no questions asked. 

Her response left us speechless. "Oh, I'm aware. My grandkids are only visiting me for five days. On day six, I'll return everything. It's a less expensive way compared to renting!” Much to our surprise, we were left with no possible counteraction to her plan.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFreepik, asier_relampagoest

5. The Nibbler

There was this woman who always popped into my workplace and asked for the exact same huge breakfast. Every. Single. Time. 

However, she would only manage to eat about a third of her food before making a fuss that something was just not right with the meal and it was unfit to eat, so she shouldn't have to pay. Of course, we gave her pass after another because we gave her the benefit of the doubt.

But after observing this situation repeatedly, I began questioning how could she always end up with a bad breakfast? Also, how come she kept coming back to order if she was constantly having so many issues?

Turns out there was a strange fact about her. One of our regulars happened to know her and spilled the beans. He revealed that she had gone through gastric bypass surgery and as a result, she simply couldn't eat a lot anymore. She would come in, munch until she was full (which didn't take much), and then start complaining about the food.

 And since she barely touched it, we took her word and never charged her. But then the next time she showed up, I put my foot down and denied her service. Needless to say, she was livid. 

I confronted her and asked why she kept coming back despite always finding fault with her meal, and her comeback was, "I'm hoping to one day get a good meal".

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

6. I’m Not Lovin’ It

Once upon a time, I worked the drive-thru at McDonald's. One evening, I served a woman at the second window. She had ordered several value meals and a happy meal. We assembled the happy meal first, which I passed through the window to her. 

She peeped into the bag, then gave me a sweet smile and said, "I hate to be a bother, but it seems there are fries in this bag whereas I asked for apple dippers".

I was quick to apologize, retrieve the bag, and make the requested substitution. The supervisor on duty spotted this incident and informed me that the original order actually included fries. I told her, "I understand, but she insisted on having apple dippers". An hour rolled on and the restaurant phone rings. 

Our supervisor picked it up. When she returned, she mentioned, "You remember the order you swapped for apple dippers? Turns out, she called to complain that she received apple dippers instead of fries, which the receipt indeed confirmed. She now wants a few free value meals to compensate for this 'mix-up'".

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was only 17 then and wasn't quite hardened to just how manipulative folks could be yet. I firmly told my supervisor, "I can assure you, she explicitly asked me to switch the fries for apple dippers. I would not have made the alteration otherwise". 

Thankfully, my supervisor stood by me, but I was irate. I couldn't believe this seemingly pleasant person was the same one who phoned later, irate, attempting to smear my name to get about $10-$15 worth of grub for free.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

7. Networking

I used to work at a university's tech support hub. One day, someone was peeved with me because I wouldn't bend the rules and let them reconnect to the network. 

They'd been blocked for a month due to several instances of copyright infringement, which had led to us receiving formal complaints from the DMCA. They decided to take an issue with this to my boss, so I directed them to her office while I kept working.

Just five minutes later, he emerged from the office sporting a bizarre grin. My boss trailed behind him, struggling to keep a straight face. She sauntered over and told me, "Apparently, you were too engrossed in a computer game to pay attention to him, and then you treated him harshly." 

He stood there, looking triumphant, convinced I was on the verge of losing my job. He really didn't know who he was dealing with. Switching gears, my boss then added, "But, I know you're one of our best team members. So, I'm inclined to believe either he's embellishing the story, or he deserved the harsh treatment. Which is it?" 

I've never seen anyone's smile turn into a panicked expression so quickly. I clarified why he was upset, and she then decided to lock his account for the rest of the month on their end to prevent him from hoodwinking any other tech support staff into letting him back on.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, University Libraries

8. Pet Games

Goodness, I'm employed at a pet grooming salon, where it's our policy to confirm payment from the clients before handing over their pets. It might sound tough, but some of our grooming services can reach beyond $100 and the business doesn't want to miss out on that. Also, my commission is at stake!

So, here's the story: a woman claimed to have settled her bill and presented me with a receipt. It was a bit worn out, but didn't raise any alarms for me. So, I handed her dog to her...Biggest mistake ever.

It later turned out the receipt was from an earlier grooming session for the same pet. I had failed to validate the dates. The following day, admitting my mistake to my supervisor was a very humbling experience, to say the least.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

9. Billing Department

I'm employed at a cinema that's part of a shopping mall. Ever used those special pens that verify if money is genuine? I used one on a $100 note and it appeared to be legitimate. The ink was the correct shade, although a bit darker than usual. 

I figured the pen was just old and dried out. I was starting a new shift and the register didn't have much change, so I asked my boss to break this bill. I passed it to the general manager, who usually oversees other stores.

He was on his way to the back office, holding up the $100 bill to the light when suddenly he stopped. He returned to me, claiming, "We can't take this, it's actually a $5 note”. I just stood there, appearing calm but panicking inwardly. 

The customer claimed to have obtained it from a check-cashing store in the mall. My manager then informed him, "We need to alert the authorities, kindly wait here”.

However, the customer left. We called in the authorities, and a sharply dressed man arrived. This official scrutinized the bill thoroughly with the help of a comprehensive guidebook he carried and the situation was resolved. The cinema emerged unscathed while the customer possibly lost $5. 

Consequently, I now thoroughly inspect EVERY $100 bill for the security strip and watermark. Prior to this incident, I was unaware that fake notes could still pass the pen test if they were simply reprinted on a different bill. 

Therefore, regardless of whether you rely on a pen to check for counterfeit money, ALWAYS ensure you confirm the security strip and watermark. I count myself fortunate to have retained my job despite this happening.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Ivan Radic

10. Marked

While I was studying in Hamburg, Germany, I was working at Burger King. It was a lunch rush and the line was stretching out the door. A customer handed me a 20-mark note to pay for his meal. After waiting for about 20 minutes, he came back in, insisting that he had given me a 50-mark note and was shortchanged by 30 marks. 

Without any way to substantiate my word against his to both the customer and my supervisor, I was forced to hand him 30 marks from my cash drawer. By the end of my shift, I realized I was short by 30 marks. That same supervisor ended up deducting 30 marks from my earnings. Just to make up for that, I had to work for an extra six hours.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

11. Jean Jeanie

I used to work at Old Navy when we received our shipment of 'Rockstar Skinny' jeans, available in all kinds of unusual colors. A lady approached my counter carrying a vibrant blue pair. 

These jeans were clearly the ones prominently showcased in the front of our store, but she had a strange scheme up her sleeve. As I rung her up telling her, "That'll be $34.94," she quickly responded, "No, they're on sale".

Looking at the tag I had just scanned, there was a hastily placed clearance sticker stating the improbably low price of $2.95.

I tried to explain to her that the sticker must have been added incorrectly, given that these jeans were newly arrived. If they were actually on sale, my system would have recognized this. She insisted on speaking to a manager, and when my supervisor backed me up, she stormed out, muttering about how "lame" Old Navy was.

We might have been flexible about a misplaced sale sticker, even though it was clear she was behind it—if only she'd put a more believable price. Did she genuinely believe she could get a pair of jeans for just three dollars?

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFreepik, peoplecreations

12. Dinner To Go

I'm part of a team at an upscale restaurant where we host an annual truffle feast. The affair is truly incredible. We lay out a banquet of 13 courses, each uniquely infused with various truffles. We also serve paired wines and an array of truffle-inspired cocktails and desserts. 

Unsurprisingly, attending this magical feast is quite costly, often exceeding $200 a person. Given we primarily serve a crowd comprising loyal patrons and friends of the owners and chefs, our guests usually settle the bill after the meal.

However, during our latest event, one couple's behavior took us by surprise. They went outside presumably for a cigarette break but never returned. Realizing what happened, we tried contacting them via the phone numbers they'd provided during their reservation. 

We were thinking they might've had a bit too much to drink and left by mistake. Unfortunately, both numbers turned out to be fake. It was clear that they had premeditated the dine and dash, leaving us in a bind.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

13. Phony Phone

A couple of years back, when I used to work at a mobile phone store, I sold a smartphone to a customer. I spent about an hour transferring all his data and setting up his new gadget. But the very next day, he came back with the phone's screen all smashed up. 

Interestingly, he seemed to have forgotten that I was the same salesperson who helped him out yesterday, and he went ahead and told me that's how the phone was when he purchased it from the store. As you can probably guess, we did not replace the phone.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Jay Tamboli

14. Playing Telephone

I'm part of the customer service team at a big mobile phone company. We often hear, "I didn't get the phone I bought." It's quite funny, because then I get to say: "Oh no, Mr. Derp, I'm really sorry to hear you didn't get your phone. 

According to the tracking number, it was dropped off at your address three days ago. Any chance a neighbor picked it up for you?" Mr. Derp: "Nope, nobody has my phone. It probably got stolen. I'll need another one."

This is when I can't help but smile a bit: "Well, Mr. Derp... The reason I'm asking is because I'm a bit worried. The phone's serial number we shipped to you shows that it has been active for three days on the same network you're calling me from." Usually, that's when they hang up the phone.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

15. Fruit Folly

In the past, I had a job as a supervisor at a shop that served chocolate fondue. Our customers loved dipping fruits, including bananas, into the melted chocolate. Unfortunately, we once received a batch of bananas that went bad quickly, forcing us to throw them away.

So we explained to customers that we were fresh out of bananas, but we'd be happy to offer more of the other fruits. This seemed to be okay with everyone. However, trouble came in the shape of a customer who, after hearing our "out-of-bananas" explanation, still ordered the fondue.

Surprisingly, as soon as we served her order, she suddenly kicked up a fuss about the absence of bananas! Her son, trying to reason with her, reminded her, "Didn't they inform you they're out of bananas?", only to be silenced by her continual ranting.

Suddenly, I found myself saying, "Ma'am, as I mentioned earlier, we've run out of bananas. But if you're really craving them, we've got a few spoiled ones in the dumpster out back. You're more than welcome to them." 

My colleagues couldn't help but laugh at my response, though the lady wasn't amused. She complained to our oft-too-accommodating manager and ended up with a free fondue, simply because we were out of bananas!

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Sofitel So Bangkok

16. Ticket Taker Trouble

A while back, I used to work at a modest old cinema in my hometown; it was the very first job I ever had. It was pretty easygoing, despite the occasional disgruntled customer. In particular, one man, probably in his mid-50s, would show up for the first show on every single weekday. I happened to be the one who usually opened the box office each day.

This man regularly left around 30 minutes to an hour into most films, then he'd approach me and insist on a refund, claiming that "his movie was awful". Each time, I'd bring in my manager, Corey, who would patiently chat with him, adhere to our return policy and give him his money back. One day, blessingly, he didn't turn up.

Around 1:00 pm that same day, the theater starts getting a little busy. I'm alone in the box office, doing my best to get everyone’s tickets when guess who shows up! But this time, things are a bit different. He had a ticket from a completely different theater, not even one in our chain, just some other local place. 

Then he embarks on a tirade about his dreadful experience at the other theater—lamenting over the poor service and awful movie. He ends his rant by sliding his ticket across to me and demanding a refund.

I'm stunned and try to explain to him that I can only process refunds for tickets from our theater, even if it's another branch in our chain. But he keeps interrupting me, while I'm attempting to explain this. 

And all the while, we have a growing line of customers. His voice starts rising, and I start sweating. He then goes on a rant about how ridiculous this policy is since he's "been a regular for years”.

So, I call Corey, my manager. As he arrives, he already knows what he is in for. I start serving other customers as Corey stands his ground with the troublesome guy. About 20 minutes later, the man is still arguing his case, now insisting that he should at least be allowed to watch a movie for free because he already paid for the ticket to the other theater. 

Corey finally informs him that won't be happening. He then adds, diplomatically, that he doesn't mind if he decides to never watch another movie here. Enraged, the man throws his ticket at Corey, tells him off, and thankfully, never returns.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

17. Getting Carded

When I was little, I held a job at a family-operated delicatessen and convenience store in our small town. Pretty much every face that entered was familiar to me. One busy day, a queue of customers formed, a rarity for our little shop that was more bodega in style, with a front-of-store cash register rather than the typical supermarket checkout.

While serving the lineup of six or seven townsfolk, a teen girl I'd never seen before came in. She was quite attractive, always smiling. She casually picked up a pack of cigarettes and placed it on the counter as I was trying to manage the crowd. 

As I'm calling out everyone's totals:"Bill, that's $4.75, Chris, yours is $5… You (indicating the girl with the cigarettes), I need to see your ID". "But, I don't have it with me. Can I just get these this once without showing my ID?"

My response was straightforward. "No, you can't." I confidently take the cigarettes off the counter and tell her to bring her ID next time. Three days later my boss thanked me, and the reason left me flabbergasted.

She had received a letter from the state's licensing board. It revealed that the teen was a plant in an operation designed to catch stores breaking the law by selling tobacco to minors. Had I sold her the cigarettes, it could've cost the store a hefty fine and potentially the loss of their tobacco license. Instead, I received a raise.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

18. Take A Seat

I was overseeing an afternoon tea service at a lovely local hotel. At one of the tables, there were two women, one of whom worked as a nail technician at the hotel's spa, as well as a roughly five-year-old kid engrossed in a handheld gaming device. 

They pleasantly nibbled on their mini desserts and when it came time to settle the bill, they claimed that their gaming device had gone missing while they were away in the restroom. I informed them that none of my team had seen or taken it.

Fast forward half an hour and they're insisting we should cover their bill (averaging $30 per head) and replace the mysteriously vanished game. All this while, the little girl appeared quite restless, as if she wanted to share something. Out of the blue, she tells the woman raising a ruckus that she's actually sitting on the gaming device. 

Sure enough, when everyone falls silent, the woman checks and looks utterly beaten. She had been sitting on the gaming device case all along and was cognizant that it was underneath her. To put it mildly, it was pretty absurd.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

19. Did You Turn It Off And On Again?

I'm employed as a Tech Support Representative for a cable company. My daily tasks involve handling phone calls and fixing issues related to internet breakdowns and cable malfunctions. It's a rather straightforward role with a decent salary and promising bonuses. 

Moreover, it offers ample on-the-job training, which is excellent since I'm working to put myself through school. Nevertheless, one night, around 10:00 pm, well past the customer service department’s closing time (which is at 8:00 pm), I received a phone call.

A customer phoned in, even though his internet service was now working correctly, he wanted to complain about its disconnection the previous day. 

When I informed him about the working hours and suggested he call back in the morning, unless there's a current issue needing immediate attention, his response was exasperating. He sarcastically replied, "Well, then ALL of my stuff is off. How about that?"

Adding insult to injury, he laughed mockingly at me. I then asked him, in mild disbelief, "Sir, didn't you just confirm that everything was functioning correctly? Are you just trying to hold me up on this call?" His response was to lash out with inappropriate language, at which point I decided to hand him off to a supervisor.

He later claimed to the supervisor that I was uncooperative and even refused to connect him to a supervisor, intentionally ignoring his complaints. To clear up the situation, I suggested simply reviewing the recorded call. They did, and the hilarity of the customer's baseless accusations wasn't lost on them.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

20. Which Watch

My father has been a watchmaker since his early childhood, following in the footsteps of my grandpa. In fact, he's probably one of the finest watchmakers in the entire state of California now. 

Traditionally, watchmakers leave their unique signature with a date inside the back case when they repair a watch. This acts as a warranty, in case anything goes wrong with the watch later on.

There was this one customer of my dad, a jeweler, who consistently returned with watches for repairs. On inspecting the watch's internal mechanism, my dad observed that it looked as if the watch hadn't been serviced for quite some time. 

You could tell by the dried oil and accumulated dust. But, strangely, on the inside of the case back, my dad found a peculiar thing—his own signature with a recent date.

This puzzling situation kept recurring, so my dad started noting down the serial numbers of these watches. It turned out that the jeweler would swap out the watch backs after each service he paid for and replaced them on a different watch. 

To make things worse, this duplicitous jeweler was a millionaire, yet he was cheating my dad, a hardworking craftsman, of his valuable time. I say, shame on him!

Nowadays, I work alongside my dad and we've introduced a computer system to track all these details. Though some people still try to pull off similar tricks, we catch on quickly and they usually stop their nonsense quickly.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

21. Spreading Yourself Thin

Back when my Dad was around 17, he worked for a restaurant supply store. Now, this place had all the necessary equipment and food supplies a restaurant would need, even providing bulk-sized food packets. 

One day, this guy walks in and buys a massive jar of mayonnaise from my Dad. Not much later, the same guy returns, claiming his boss said it was the wrong brand and apologizing for opening it before confirming this.

Remaining easy-going, my Dad opts to just trash the open jar and gets the guy the brand he needs, free of charge. However, my Dad – having handled many large jars of mayonnaise in his time—immediately senses something isn't quite right. 

He decides to open the jar right there and, after a few scoops, surfaced a mound of sand the guy had filled hoping to scam in some extra cash. Considering it was 1964, my Dad simply tells the guy to get lost and never return. The owner, nearby, echoes the same sentiment.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

22. Locked Up

Back in high school, I had a job at this cozy little bike shop. One day, a customer came in attempting to 'return' about five U-Locks, but he didn't have a receipt. Coincidentally, that's exactly how many U-Locks we typically had on hand. 

Given that the shop was quite compact, I easily noticed our inventory rack was empty of U-Locks. I informed him I couldn't accept the return without a receipt.

He said he'd go fetch the receipt from his vehicle, leaving the locks behind on the counter. But then, he never returned. So it's practically obvious that he must have snagged the locks off the rack just as I walked out from the store's back room, attempting to 'return' them. 

I feel stumped, even now, thinking about how I would react if he had tried to walk out the store with the locks..

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, nikki

23. Dollars For Dumplings

A couple of weeks ago, I was delivering Chinese food on an order that cost around $62. At that time, I had about $40 on hand for change. Upon arriving to the customer's residence, they handed me a hundred dollar bill and inquired if I could provide change. I responded positively, as I thought I had the adequate amount.

While I was still handing over food bags to another person in the household (could be the customer's brother or husband), I was trying to give the customer their change. However, she decided to take matters into her own hands, saying, "Oh, I'll handle that", which was a bit insensitive but came off as a pleasant gesture since I was tied up.

Disappointingly, the next turn of events left me upset. The customer quickly said, "Oh, this is fine" and shut the door on me. It dawned on me that I had a few dollars more than necessary for her change, meaning she not only refrained from tipping me, but also shortchanged me. 

Considering the considerable distance I travelled for this delivery job, it only added to my frustration. Regardless, I chose not to make a fuss over such a few dollars, but it was undoubtedly annoying.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

24. Box It Up

A guy tried to return an Xbox 360—the original model—packaged in a new Slim box, swearing it was how he bought it. We pointed out numerous reasons why this return wasn't eligible: it was past the return period, evidence suggested the console was years old, and the serial number on the box didn't match the receipt—but he was not having it, not one bit.

This latter point implied that the packaging wasn't even the same as when it was purchased. After a bit of a shouting match, a higher-ranking staff member from another department stopped by, curious about all the noise. This person had the authority to approve the refund and did so. 

It didn't faze them that they had just handed over $300 in cash for a product we don't even sell. So, in the end, the situation was messed up on all sides. Well, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, N0fX

25. Macy’s Sale

I had a job at Macy's where I noticed this woman who regularly popped in and snapped up our just-released items. However, the price tags on these items appeared mislabeled and heavily discounted. 

We decided to oblige her with the marked-down price initially, but she kept repeating it, despite our refusal. Therefore, one day, I decided to keep an eye on her—and what I discovered was astonishing.

It turns out she was bringing along a machine used for re-labeling, swapping the tags of our fresh stock with those from clearance items. As a result, the woman was escorted out of the store.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

26. Drive On

As a car service advisor, I once faced a tough situation with a client who refused to pay once his car repairs were done. After informing me he needed to make an outside call, to my surprise, he hopped into his car, fired it up using a spare key, and attempted to drive off without settling his bill.

In a bid to stop him, I positioned myself in front of the car and signalled to him that he couldn't just drive off without payment. Ignoring my signal, he tried to hit me with his car. I dodged to the side, and in the process, I ended up shattering his windshield with my fist.

I immediately contacted law enforcement, and he was arrested. When he was brought back, I agreed not to press charges on the condition that he sorts his outstanding bill and ensures his car never returned to my shop. He complied and left, leaving me feeling on top of the world.

Everything took a dramatic turn five months later when I received a subpoena. He was suing me for $4,500 and filing a lawsuit against the shop for an additional $7,000. However, the case was dismissed in our favor due to the irrationality of his demands.

That's when I discovered what I did – preventing someone from driving away without paying – was actually illegal. On the bright side, my saga earned me an invitation to Judge Mathis’ courtroom. But I decided against it as I didn't want to take time off from work. What an ordeal!

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

27. Regifted

Five years back, I was handling guest services in a mall. A young gentleman, probably in his mid-20s, walked in. He held a $500 mall gift certificate and wanted its cash equivalent. 

But, I told him exchange for cash wasn't possible. When he heard this, he responded with a tale, "My fiancée gifted me this for Christmas and broke up with me a week later. We're not on speaking terms, so I can't return this card and keeping it brings back memories of her". His story set off my alarm bells.

I was quite wary, and I couldn't refund him either way, so my suggestion was, "You could just spend the card instead". He hastily said, "If I buy anything with this, I'd be thinking about her and those objects will remind me of her". 

To this, I asked, "What makes cash different? How can spending cash lead to better results"? He expressed a skittish yet jovial smile, not the kind you'd expect from someone freshly heartbroken, especially right after Christmas.

His happiness didn't add up, so I shot back, "You're not being honest". He laughed nervously, admitting "My dad gifted this for Christmas, I preferred cash though". After confessing, he promptly left without a farewell. In a moment of disbelief, I noticed he'd forgotten his card on my counter. 

Driven by curiosity combined with distrust, I swiped his card to verify the balance—could there really be an untouched $500 in it? I was unsurprised to find it empty. I guess his weepy tale was supposed to convince me to hand over cash without verifying the balance.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

28. Apples To Apples

I used to be a senior advisor for AppleCare at Apple. Once, I had this customer who complained about his Macbook Pro running slow after an OS upgrade. Despite reinstalling the OS and even visiting an Apple Authorized Service Provider, the problem remained unsolved. 

The service provider had no notes on the issue, so I advised the customer to visit a local Apple Store, as he was going back to India in a few days and needed an urgent remedy.

The customer returned furious, claiming the Apple Store merely reinstalled the OS and did nothing else. When I contacted the store, they confirmed they'd found no specific problem, but reinstalled the OS for good measure. With only a few days left on his warranty, I wanted to ensure his issue got resolved—but my nightmare was just beginning.

Therefore, I approved warranty exceptions for the replacement of the main board, HDD, and RAM, and sent him back to the Apple store. Hearing this, the customer postponed his flight to India for this fix.

However, he contacted me the next day, even more upset. He was outside the Apple Store and complained about being charged for services despite the exceptions granted. 

When I conversed with the Apple Store representative, she assured me they were willing to do the repair for free, but the customer left hastily upon hearing it would take a night to complete.

I tried explaining the process to the customer, but he refused to visit that particular Apple store. After a 30-minute argument, I managed to convince him to visit another Apple Store for same-day repair. 

But yet again, he reported that his machine remained unrepaired. As I was contemplating giving him a brand new computer, I decided to call the last visited Apple Store for clarification.

This conversation with them shocked me—they said he never showed up for the appointment noted as 'unattended' in the system! I suspected something fishy—this man seemed to be fabricating the story, knowing Apple's generosity could get him a new computer. I doubled checked with both Apple Stores to confirm his nonappearance.

Out of curiosity, I looked him up on Facebook and saw no mention of his trip to India. When I contacted the original service provider he claimed to have visited, they hadn't even heard of him! But I couldn't directly accuse him of lying, so I simply emailed him that a confirmed fault was prerequisite for a computer replacement. 

Writing a summary in case notes, I decided to stop interacting with him. A couple of days later, I left Apple. I later found out he didn't end up getting a new computer in the end.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

29. Travel Perks

Back in the day, I was a housekeeper at a not-so-fancy hotel, where the room rate was roughly £110 per night. We were used to guests often grumbling about trivial issues. I've seen guests moving from one room to another six or seven times during a three-day stay for reasons like "it's too hot", "it's too cold", "the bathroom's too small", or "the bed's too small".

One time, a guest with his dog stayed in our annex building, which had our three tiniest, chilliest, and least favorite rooms. I cleaned the room as per usual. The next day, I noticed a small dog scampering about in the main building and I asked the receptionist for the reason. Her response enraged me.

The same guest had loudly bemoaned a lack of tea, coffee, spoons, towels, and toiletries in the room. The blame got pinned on me, and he was rewarded with our largest room free of charge for an additional week. He didn't even bother to close his suitcase, so we quickly discovered that he had pocketed all the missing items. Yet, he still got to stay in the room for free.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

30. Free Ride

I work at a funfair which employs a card system, similar to credit cards, which is used for each ride. The customers have a choice to pay per hour or per ride. As long as my scanner flashes green, the customers are free to enjoy their ride.

However, sometimes, customers who have purchased an hour-long pass tend to share it amongst a group of five. This means that all of them can access the rides at the cost of only one person.

They usually pass the card back into the line by slipping it through the bars. Thankfully, our scanner notifies us when it happens—it flashes red if the same card is swiped more than once within a five-minute period. This feature helps us prevent unfair card sharing. 

So when it happens, we have to explain to the customers, who are mostly adults, that it's a violation of the rules, denying them access to the rides. This often sparks arguments and leads to unpleasant name-calling towards me and my colleagues. Just another day in paradise.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Doug Waldron

31. Price Match

One sunny season, a few folks drove into our parking lot. A man approached the counter intending to purchase a pair of patio kits priced at £50 each. I told him the total cost was £100, and he countered that he had bought the identical kit for £50 just the day prior at a different location. 

I tried clarifying that since he was buying twice the amount, the cost would naturally double. Yet, he promptly began contesting that I was cheating him.

For a seemingly endless ten minutes, I painstakingly explained the simple math—two kits equaled double the price of one. That's when I got a glimpse of this fellow's not so brilliant scheme. He planned to create such a fuss, hoping to cause enough delay that I would eventually buckle and give him a discount. 

But his grand plan abruptly collapsed when he noticed the once long line had vanished, owing to the fact it was a large home improvement store with several cash registers available. Realizing his strategy had backfired, he quickly paid the full amount and bowed out, never to return.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

32. Stick To Your Ribs

I had a job at Outback Steakhouse once. On one occasion, a customer requested Prime Rib. Now, the rules at our restaurant required us to clarify that 'Prime Rib' is not a rack of ribs, for the simple reason that some folks misinterpret it. This particular customer, however, got super defensive, assuming we were challenging his savvy, and arrogantly requested "the finest prime ribs you got". Cue the awkward moment.

Following this, a food runner delivered his "prime ribs". Predictably, about a quarter hour later, the man starts loudly protesting that he asked for RIBS, and demands that our kitchen whip up a rib order to meet his sophisticated taste. But here's the kicker: by the time he lodged his complaint, he'd actually polished off around 75% of his "prime ribs".

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

33. Taste Test

A lady was very upset when I insisted she pay for a plush toy that she'd allowed her infant, who was strapped to her chest, to thoroughly slobber on. She'd tried to discreetly return it to the shelf when I caught her and explained she needed to buy it now. Initially, she claimed she believed our toys were free playthings for children in store. That's not the case.

Following this, she argued that the request was absurd, since it was just a baby. I pointed out that's the exact reason why adults should keep an eye on their children. She then called our 'you slobber, you buy' policy absurd and noted the lack of visible signs. I gently explained that there weren't any signs because most customers understand it's not okay.

She then assured me this was a first-time occurrence. To this, I mentioned that she'd likely never been seen doing this in other stores. I questioned if she would let her child put something recently in a stranger's mouth into theirs, explaining that no store would allow this due to health concerns. 

A bit later and five dollars poorer (I made sure she paid), I couldn't help but amusingly imagine tagging along to her next shopping stop and slobbering on every shoe she was interested in. After all, it's nothing serious, just a little spit!

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

34. Wired Up

In the past, I was an employee at a compact hardware store that was continuously losing large rolls of copper wire. One day, a man and his female companion came into the store to return a roll. 

Having been working at the returns desk for a few months, I was assigned to handle this. They didn't have a receipt and when I attempted to scan the item for a return, the scanner only registered the price per foot.

I had trouble finding the SKU or the price for the whole roll. I called my boss for help. He came out and immediately felt something was off. There was no chance that these two had bought and were now returning a roll. 

So, my boss inquired about when they purchased it, and they replied two weeks ago—a standard reply. My manager then disclosed to them, "That's interesting, because we haven't sold a full roll in over three months."

The male customer started to show some attitude and challenged, "So, you're accusing me of stealing?!" My manager confirmed his suspicion. They ended up departing, leaving the roll behind. 

As they were about to exit, the man proclaimed, "I'll be back with the police". My manager coolly replied, "Feel free to do that, and you can also explain to them how you got the roll".

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Theen Moy

35. Free Pass

You know, I once had a job in a parking lot near Disneyland. It was part of a mall mostly for tourists, but lately, it's been crowded with club-goers. Right, so this convertible drives up to my booth one day with a couple of big-headed guys and two girls in the back. 

One of them hands me their ticket—a simple $3 charge—and hands me a twenty. With the cash register open and the gate up, I go to hand them their $17 in change.

But then, he says he's got exact change. I'm thrilled, to be honest, because making change for twenties can be frustrating and drain my till fast, so I give him back his $20. He grabs it, looks at me and just sneers "Suckerrrr," before driving off. I'm left standing there, stunned and pondering, why me?

Without missing a beat, I reach into my own wallet and drop three bucks in the cash drawer. I can't afford to have my till come up short. Working in a parking lot, you're often treated poorly, but that was by far one of my worst days on the job.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

36. BOGO Froyo

I remember when I was working at a frozen yogurt shop, where we charged customers based on the weight of their selection. Many customers have tried a clever trick—it involved raising the scales sneakily while I was weighing their yogurt cups. Even more sly ones attempted to rest their bags near it, hiding their hands in the process.

In general, customers' cups usually rang up between $4 and $6. So, when I spotted a heaping full cup, brimming over with peanut butter cups and it only totaled $2, it was incredibly obvious something was off.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Tom Ellefsen

37. Can’t Compute

It isn't rare in the computer repair business for customers to give us a damaged computer to upgrade and later point fingers at us for the problem. Usually, we're quite adept at identifying such situations. But there was this one incident when I was still relatively new where I slipped up.

A man walked in during the busy evening rush, his entire family in tow, and I totally forgot to turn on the computer before starting the RAM upgrade.

Cutting to the chase, the processor was already damaged and required replacement. After unravelling the situation, I reported it to my managers. They chose to take the high road and not accuse the customer of lying, especially not in front of his family and other customers. 

They were kind enough to not charge me the $100 required to replace the processor in this guy's less-than-stellar computer. I believe this type of situation is not uncommon in virtually all service industries. It was enough to make me reconsider ever working in customer service again.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

38. Book Exchange

Our store used to stock books costing $25 each, they weren't exactly a bargain. One holiday season, unbeknownst to us, the publisher decided to sell them as a gift set at Costco. The audacious publisher displayed a made-up price of $130 on the gift set packaging. 

Then, they slapped on a $30 price tag for the Costco sale. Funny thing is, the so-called $130 "original" price never added up. Suddenly, fraudsters from all over town decided to cash in on this. They'd split the books and try to return them to our store at the individual prices. Their goal? Making a cool $100 at our expense.

Fortunately, we quickly caught on to this scheme. The books from the gift set had a slightly different print, making them easy to spot. We also started asking customers a few questions to differentiate between the con artists and the innocent ones who perhaps just had a crafty mother-in-law.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

39. The Italian Job

In my past life, I worked at this huge global grocery store situated smack in the middle of a popular tourist area, which interestingly was home to many elder Italians. Each day, a particular local woman would show up—often alongside her friends—all smiles.

Their routine was quite peculiar. They'd purchase something, take it home, consume part of it, and then reappear the next day with complaints about the product and want to return it. 

This cycle repeated daily across a variety of items ranging from bread and cereal to cigarettes and seafood. Any nonrefundable items would invite their wrath, but that never deterred them from repeating this ritual the next day.

The curious bit? There was NEVER a problem with any returned product. All items were safely within date and perfectly fine. Slowly, word seemed to spread amongst their peers, more and more of them began mimicking this behavior. 

I remember one man who'd persistently haggle, demanding a price cut, and throw a tantrum and leave when I'd refuse. I managed to hold my peace for a while, until one fateful day when the woman from the original duo tried to trick me. She purchased cigarettes and I broke a $100 bill for her. 

Within a few minutes, she returned, claiming I still owed her $55. Fed up, I asked her to leave for good, which resulted in my rebuke as she lodged a complaint with the store manager. Consequently, I decided to quit a month later.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

40. Language Lesson

I work at a restaurant where our specialty is chicken, turkey, and meatloaf. Customers choose their preferred meat along with two sides and cornbread. They sort things out themselves. So here comes a lady with a slightly complex order, but it's really nothing unmanageable. 

I turn to the chef, who is Mexican and more comfortable with Spanish than English, and give him the order in Spanish. I'm fluent in it, so it makes everything run more smoothly.

After assembling the order and giving it to her, she pays up and leaves. A day or so later, my manager tells me some unwanted news—apparently, head office received a complaint from this lady; they've agreed to give her a free meal next time. When I ask the reason, he replies, "According to her, you spoke another language while preparing her food". 

My thoughts are, if my speaking Spanish was bothering her, why not tell me face-to-face instead of lodging a complaint? Most people I've asked about this believe she simply wanted a free meal, and she succeeded in getting one.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

41. Brown Bananas

So, there was this elderly woman who regularly purchased fruits and vegetables. About a week following her purchase, she'd return to the store and raise complaints about the freshness of the produce, saying it had spoiled. Her specific grievances were usually things like her bananas turning brown. 

What made things more challenging was that the supervisor of the fresh produce department at the supermarket always ended up providing her with replacement groceries.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysFlickr, Joel Kramer

42. It’s In The Mail

Once upon a time, I was employed at Papa John's Pizza. One eventful day, a lady phoned our store demanding an answer for why she was receiving mail addressed incorrectly and if we could correct the recipient's name. I kindly explained to her that we're simply a delivery location and we don't manage any outgoing mail. 

Her surprising response still echoes in my memory. She expressed her deep disappointment, describing how she felt had caused her significant upset due to Papa John's not acknowledging her as a valued patron. As such, she demanded a free pizza as a gesture of consolation for her distress. 

In the end, my supervisor decided to grant her wish—she received the pizza.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

43. The Breakup

When I was in college, I worked as a waiter. One time, a young couple came in, had their meal, and then the man left ostensibly for a smoke break. But twenty minutes later, the woman was still there, all alone. 

Seeing her distressed, I approached her and asked if everything was okay. She became tearful and told me that she'd been trying to reach her partner, but to no avail. She was fearing that he might have abandoned her there and she didn’t have any funds.

My heart went out to her, so I decided to pay for their meal. I shared my intention with my manager, but he insisted I shouldn’t worry about it and that he would comp their meal. Touched by the gesture, the woman was overjoyed and even gave me a warm hug.

But then, when I was out on the patio seating some customers, I saw her getting into the car of the same guy — he was rather nonchalantly waiting for her in the parking area. So, it turned out to be a clever ruse on their part. However, since the meal was on us, she technically didn't steal anything.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

44. Reverse Psychology

I'm a bartender by profession. One evening, a woman took a seat at a stool and unexpectedly, a protruding screw scraped her leg. Though it didn't break the skin or cause bleeding, it left a reddish mark and she wasn't too thrilled about it. 

We quickly apologized, took the faulty stool away, and expressed our regret by gifting her and her friends a complimentary round of beverages. They seemed content with our response initially.

However, when they came to the bar again, switched up instantly. They demanded more drinks on the house, claiming that the manager promised them an open bar for the night. That surely wasn't the case because permitting a group of six to drink freely for four or five hours could cause significant financial loss. 

So, when I clarified they couldn't drink for free, a heated discussion followed, with them threatening legal action.

In order to defuse the situation, I proposed a solution. I offered them a 50% discount on their drinks. Given their intoxicated state, they failed to realize that we charged them £15 for what was supposedly a half-priced £30 round. In reality, it was an original £15 order. Also, I cleverly served them half-measures.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

45. Paper Money

A little over ten years ago, I was working at a video game store. One day, a chicly dressed woman walked in and asked to purchase two PlayStation Portables (PSP), two Xbox 360s, and a couple of games and accessories. Given the usual slow-paced sales at the store, her request was a big deal for the day, and I was pretty thrilled about it.

When it was time to pay, she handed me what appeared to be a homemade credit card — it was unlaminated and looked like it had been printed on a basic printer at home.

When I told her it wouldn't work, she insisted I try scanning it. Against my better judgment, I attempted to scan her makeshift card, but predictably, it failed; it lacked the essential magnetic strip. Undeterred, she then suggested I manually enter the numbers into the computer. 

I refused, leaving her seemingly genuinely puzzled as to why. When I stated I simply couldn't, she assured me she would return with cash and left. I ended up returning all the items to their respective shelves. Unsurprisingly, she didn't come back.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

46. Tools Of The Trade

Here's a story from September 12, 2001, in the USA. A man from Spartanburg, South Carolina reached out to me to say that his gardening tool—a trimmer—was in the Twin Towers in New York City on the previous day. 

When the tragedy struck with the airplane crashing into the building, causing it to fall, his trimmer was ruined. He reached out to me expecting a replacement under the product warranty. Some folks can really surprise you...

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

47. It’s Not Delivery

We only offer takeaway services for the pizzas we bake; we don't deliver. Once, a customer phoned me, not exactly thrilled that we wouldn't deliver to her. 

More than once, she asserted, "You must be new here. I'm good pals with the owner". My response to her was simple, "Actually, I'm the owner's daughter and we firmly stick to our no delivery rule". That's hard to top.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysShutterstock

48. Charity Case

Once upon a time, I worked at Hot Topic which often 'sells' items for charitable causes. Essentially, the deal is: you donate money, and we thank you with a complimentary item. 

The whole of your donation goes directly to the charity involved. However, we had to start processing these through our registers due to a change in Californian 'donation' laws requiring us to charge tax. Fun times!

But here's where the story gets interesting. One day, one customer decided to return 96 charity bracelets. She had initially bought 100 of these to sell them at a music festival, banking on their message of "music = life" to attract buyers. 

What she failed to realize was her potential customers were also Hot Topic patrons fully aware that these were charity giveaways. Upon attempting to return them, I explained to her that she hadn't really bought anything. But, she insisted. I offered my manager’s contact information—and, oh boy, things got really out of hand. 

She got turned down by my manager, prompting her to contact the company’s main office daily for almost a month. In due course, the CEO at the time, who was not one to entertain any foolishness, caught wind of it. Upon finding out about this outrageous situation, the CEO personally contacted the customer, requesting her address. 

She actually sent the customer a personal check accompanied by a note. The note verbalised that Hot Topic would never withhold money intended for a charity and she was willing to deal with the loss herself. However, there was a caveat. If the customer cashed the check, she was to forever refrain from entering any of our stores. 

When I visited the main office later, I saw a copy of the letter posted on an HR person's desk, confirming it all.

Some story, huh?

The Sneakiest Customer PloysWikimedia Commons, Scouts Canada

49. Bad Credit

I’m employed at a prominent electronics store. One day, two builders walk in. They spot our priciest laptop and point at me saying, "Hey there, we'll take two of these". His buddy is frantically trying to stop him with a budding "No, wait". I was sensing something off about the situation, but I fetched the laptops anyway. 

They proceed to checkout and one guy pulls out a prepaid Visa card. Instinctively, I had a feeling it might be a scam, but I swiped the card regardless. It gets declined.

I then dialed the credit card company to check the card owner's name and the available balance. It turned out that the card had $6.78 left on it (this is after them attempting to spend $2,000), and it was registered under a female name. 

I decided to toy with them a bit. I declared, "Apologies for the holdup, I just needed an approval. It's now cleared for $3,000. Can I just confirm that the total balance is $4325.46?" I just randomly generated this figure while my boss dialed law enforcement.

"Oh yes, that's accurate". "Great, before I proceed, could I have your name and number, as we seem to have misplaced the account info. This is your card, right?" "Of course, this is my card, here's my identification". (He passes me his driver's license). 

I could hardly contain my laughter, it was surreal how gullible these guys were. Finally, the police arrived and dam began to burst, tears flowing and pleas of "He's lying, I don’t even own a gift card". I handed over the card to the officers as one guy exclaimed, "That's not mine, it's his!"

Luckily, we captured the entire scene on our CCTV, clearly showing he was the one who handed me the card. I observed as he sobbed while the cop escorted him out of the store. Ah, the memories!

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

50. Seafood Surprise

Working as a clumsy waiter, I once dropped a heap of oyster dishes on my debut day. My customers humorously pointed out that oysters naturally come with their own shells. As we all shared a chuckle about this, we were interrupted by a loud scream coming from a few tables away. 

A lady there was convinced that a stray sharp fragment had bounced towards her and grazed her leg. I noticed her squeezing the tiny injury to get the blood out. Her partner quickly helped her to raise her leg onto an adjacent chair while she began to take deep breaths.

In response to the incident, my boss swiftly presented a complimentary bottle of wine and proceeded to inspect the lady's injury. Even though the lady wasn't seated in my section, I decided to inquire about her well-being. I'll never forget her wide-eyed response: "I FEEL LIKE I'VE BEEN STABBED". 

Having discussed with her further, my boss realized after soothing her for about 20 minutes and voiding her bill, that she was holding up a piece of glass as the offending object. The botched plates, however, were made of ceramic.

The Sneakiest Customer PloysPexels

Sources: Reddit,

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