The stupidity and ignorance of some people can be flat-out flabbergasting. Do they live under a rock? Were they dropped on their head as a child? You’ll be asking these same questions after you read these stories. These are more than simple "push on the pull door" moments, as Redditors in the service industry tell stories of clueless customers who left them puzzled, perplexed and perturbed.
This is a conversation I had with one customer trying to buy something online. "Hello, I made an online order and I see that you've charged me the shipping cost twice". "Hmm, that's weird, let me check. No, I see that it's the right amount, sir". "You’re wrong, I've made two orders and I've already paid the shipping cost for the first one. I shouldn't have to pay twice".
"Oh, I see! You've made two orders, sure, we can make it one package and only charge you once for the shipping, but can you tell me the order numbers for your orders, because the system shows me that you've only placed one today". This is where it unraveled. "Yeah, the second one was not placed today". "When was it placed, sir?"
"I don't know, like three or four months ago, but still, I've paid for the shipping cost before. Why would I have to pay again?"
This is a dialogue I had to have with a grown adult. It was a man who was looking to purchase a shirt in our store. He pointed at the price tag on a shirt and said, "Excuse me, what do these numbers represent? I said, "The numbers right after the dollar sign?" He said, "Yes". "That's the price of the shirt." "Oh, I see! Thank you!" At least he was friendly.
During high school, I worked at a grocery store that also offered home delivery. Several times daily, I would have people calling in to ask for "the usual". It was a fairly small store so we didn't have any systems to keep a history on customers, so we had to ask for their address as well. Half the time they would refuse to give it because "it's in the system."
I worked at a college and had conversations with helicopter parents that went like this: The parent would ask, "Can you look up the transactions on my child’s account and send them to me?" "Nope". "Why not?" "Because your child is an adult and we protect their privacy". Their response was always unsettling. "I’m their parent. They don’t need privacy from me!"
"That’s between you and your child. The laws protect their privacy from everyone, including their parent". "I’m their guardian and entitled to this information!" "Without a court order, 18-year-olds (or 22-year-olds for that matter) do not require guardians". "I’m going to report this to the Dean!" "Please do, as it will let them know I’m doing my job".
I had a woman one time use our computers to place a hold on a book that was on the shelf at another library, then come to the desk five minutes later to ask for it. I had to explain to her that the books don't just magically appear from other libraries, they get driven over after the holds get pulled. She seemed genuinely confused that someone wouldn't drive it over right away.
I worked as a waitress for eight years. I had a patron order a salad with oil and vinegar as the dressing. I brought the salad to the table and asked if anyone needed anything else. Everyone was happy and I went on my way. A couple of minutes later, I got that hand signal "Please get over here" style. I come over and ask how everything is going. That's when I heard the dumbest question of my life.
No joke, my patron asked me why the oil and vinegar weren’t mixing. I did my best to explain the reason why oil and vinegar hate each other. But she wasn’t having it. She told me she’s had oil and vinegar dressing mix before at other restaurants. I explained that there was likely a bonding agent in the dressing and it was not just oil and vinegar at those other restaurants.
She just looked at me. I then asked if she wanted a different mixed dressing. She said she would be happy with the dressing she ordered, she just wanted to know why it wasn’t mixing.
Here are just a few examples I had to deal with while working at a hardware store customer service desk: If you wish to return an item you must present the item and your receipt. I cannot process a refund if you have neither. No, we do not sell asbestos. No, I cannot order some in for you. When water boils, it does indeed produce "bubbles."
So if the water is bubbling once it reaches temperature, your kettle is working properly. Zip ties are not simply "disposable handcuffs." They can be used for other purposes and it should not be concerning nor surprising that a hardware store sells them.
My first job at 16 was at Party City. One day, I'm blowing up balloons at the balloon counter and a lady comes up to buy some latex balloons. I asked if she wants us to fill them and she said no, she'd do it at home. Making small talk, I remarked that she must have one of the Party Time helium tanks at home. Her reply made my jaw drop to the floor.
She said, "No, I blow them up with my mouth. You just put the string on them and they float!" I do the multiple blinks, trying to work out in my head what she's just said. She fully believed she could blow up the balloons with her mouth and the magic was...attaching a string. I tried to give this woman an impromptu chemistry lesson. She insisted. I still think about that magic woman to this day.
Here are a few favorites as a bartender: A drink is a liquid, and it’s a bad idea to shake it around. Yes, the "This is a smoke-free area" sign also applies to people who are addicted. Yes, the people on the tables around you are inebriated. No, I'm not going to kick them out. Seriously, what were they expecting when entering a bar at 2:00 am?
You still have to pay for the entire meal even though you only ate half of it, especially if you asked us to pack the other half to take home. No, you're not allowed to test our beverage menu by taking a shot...unless you buy a shot. Exposure doesn’t pay my bills. Your kid is not going to get adult beverages from me, I don't care that it's his birthday.
No, we're not running a smuggling business in the back, you just watch too many movies. Also, did you believe that I'd tell you if it were the case? No, you can't pay in some weird cryptocurrency here. I don't know you are a "regular." You've been here twice, and one of those times I wasn't even working.
I worked at the airport and someone wanted to go through TSA with a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. I calmly explained that liquids weren’t allowed through security. The man gave the most genuine chuckle I’ve ever heard, and revealed the bizarre truth. He said, "This isn’t Coca-Cola! It’s gasoline!" My coworker beat me to a reaction when he very loudly exclaimed, "What the HECK?"
I’ve had to tell a restaurant customer that you can’t change your baby on an unoccupied table. Would you take a dump on a restaurant's table? No, so why should it be any different for your baby? Poop is poop and that is a health code violation to be around food, not to mention people eating in a restaurant don't want to smell poop while they're eating.
Lady, that's what the bathroom is for! Why are some parents so disgusting and inconsiderate?
I used to work at Aaron Brothers, and they had a famous buy a frame, get another for a penny sale. People would try to return one frame, which isn’t allowed because then you’re getting one frame for a penny. You have to return both frames. Seeing the blank stare of confusion as I explained that to people was always entertaining.
I had to explain that if you order ice cream for four people on a hot summer day, but the four people are still like 30 minutes away, said ice cream is going to melt before the four people get there. And no, that is not my fault.
Years ago, I worked in student housing at a university and had to explain to a father, for well over an hour, that I could not make sure that his daughter was in her room by 8:00 pm and ensure that she never spoke to boys.
I worked at a CVS in high school. Many weirdos shop at CVS, but the weirdest among them were the ones who bought diapers and then asked me if I knew how to put them on a baby. Maybe it’s just my personal opinion, but if you’re at the point in your life where you have to buy diapers and put them on a baby, you should’ve figured this out from someone other than the teenager at the cash register.
I worked at a coffee shop and a woman came in saying that the mug she bought is defective. I ask what is wrong and she goes, "It says it's microwave and dishwasher safe. I put it in the microwave to heat it and it got hot!" I explained that the text on the mug means it can be used in a microwave without breaking...but that anything placed in a microwave will still get hot.
She maintained, "Well, then it's not safe".
As a pharmacist, this is a conversation I’ve had with a customer: "I’d like some OxyContin". "Okay, sure. Who’s your prescribing physician?" "My what?" "Sorry, who’s the doctor that told you needed OxyContin?" "Oh, there wasn’t one". "Uh. Okay. Do...do you have a prescription?" "No". "So. You just want some OxyContin?" "Duh. Is there someone smarter than you working?" "Next!"
A client bought a car from our dealership and called two days later to say that the back doors were not opening from the inside. I knew exactly what the problem was. I asked him specifically if the child lock was on, but he denied it. He brought the vehicle back to us and one of our salespeople opened the door and deactivated the child lock while getting in.
He opened the door and the client’s mind was blown that the door was suddenly opening.
We sell organic skincare where I work. A client called saying the seal on her moisturizer she just bought came off too easily and she wanted to return it. I asked her to bring it in so we could exchange it for her. When I checked her product, there was a straight-up finger-shaped hole in the foam seal. When I asked her about it, she said it happened after the fact.
Sure. I told her I would happily exchange it. She didn't seem thrilled but didn't say anything. At this point, I figured it was a case of buyer's remorse and she wanted a refund but was blaming the seal. So I hand her a fresh product. She takes it out of the box in front of me, saying she just wants to check the seal. She proceeds to pull up on the edges of the seal hard enough until it pops off.
She stares at me, I stare at her. She tells me, "See, this one is unsealed too." I told her, "Nope, that one was sealed. That’s an acceptable seal so the product should be just fine for you. Enjoy your day!" She didn't come back, but I put notes on her account in case she called the head company to complain about the so-called "seal" problem.
As an IT guy, I once spent 56 minutes on a password reset call with a dude who just could not get it. The new password requirements were simply beyond the limits of his comprehension. Over and over, around and around, we went through the process. I must have reset him half a dozen times. I didn't think it could get worse, but it did.
Finally, after I had long since made peace with the idea of getting fired for simply hanging up on this dude, he exclaims, "Wait a minute! Is that number supposed to be a lowercase or an uppercase one?"
I worked as a server at a higher-end steakhouse that had a beautiful patio. I was working a lunch shift on a day that was completely overcast, and it looked like it could start pouring rain any minute. Because of this, we didn’t "open up" the patio. The patio always had tables and chairs, but we didn’t open any umbrellas or set any tables.
A lady came in and asked for a seat on the patio, weird due to the weather but whatever. I walked her out to the patio and set up a table for her, and as I was walking away she asked if she could sit in a sunnier spot. None of the umbrellas were open, and there were no sunny spots because the sun was not out. I just looked at her and told her she could have her pick of any of the tables.
She looked around and it finally dawned on her that this was not patio weather. Years later, and I’m still not sure if she thought I had some magical weather powers or if she thought if she just wanted it to be sunny strongly enough, it would be.
My co-worker and I work at a deli. One day, a customer came up to them asking why their meat smelled weird. My co-worker asked, "How long have you had it?" and then the customer said, "A few months, why?" The dude never even knew that expiration dates existed. He said that his ex-wife always prepared food for him and he has never cooked for himself.
He pointed at various other foods and asked if they had expiration dates too, so my co-worker had to explain that each food had a different lifespan.
A customer in our store cut up a shirt because she couldn’t get it off. She pulled scissors out of her bag and cut up the sleeve and down the side, handed it back to me, and walked off. I called after her and said, "Ma’am, you have to pay for this". What she said next blew my mind. She said she didn't want it because it was damaged.
I then explained to her that as she was the one who damaged it, and that we can’t sell it, that she has to pay. She just looked at me and said "Well, can’t you just sew it back up?" No, that’s not how it works, lady. In the end, I contacted security and a store manager and she ended up paying for the shirt, which was $160 (it was a rather pricey brand).
So many times I'll be at work preparing to open before we open, and a customer will walk up and yank on the door without even looking and then stand back in confusion. Then I watch them read the sign that says we're closed and then inspect the sign with our hours that clearly says we don't open for another half hour, and then they start rattling the door and waving at me.
If I have to open the door and tell them to their faces that we aren't open yet, they usually just say "Oh." What is the thought process? What is going on?
Back in the late 90s, I was working retail at a dollar store. One fellow came up to me and asked, and I kid you not, "Do you have the thing with the thing that comes out?" I gave him a second to see if he would realize what he had said and provide some detail. After a beat or two, I said, "I'm sorry, sir, you will have to be a bit more specific. What thing are you looking for?"
He made hand gestures, almost as if he were pulling open a door or something, and said, "You know...one of those things with the thing that comes out." Managing not to lose my temper, I said, "Sir...What does the thing do?" He said, "It makes coffee." I said, "Are you asking if we have coffee makers that have filter baskets that can be pulled completely out?"
"Yes," he said. I replied, "No, sir, we don't have the thing with the thing that comes out, we only have the thing with the thing that swivels out. Sorry." Later, he came up to me. He held up a box of 35-gallon trash bags. He asked me, "Will these fit in that?" and he pointed at a trash can that was marked, "50 Gallons." I said, "No, sir."
He asked, "Why not?" I said, "Because that is a fifty-gallon trash can, and those are thirty-five-gallon bags." He looked at me blankly for a moment. I added, "Thirty-five is less than fifty." "Ah," he said, nodding sagely.
I have had to explain to a shocking number of people that cellular signals can be blocked by structures and garages and that large buildings are well known for blocking cellular signals. I have also had to explain to a shocking number of people that battery life will vary based on usage. It will drain faster while you use it and slower while it's doing nothing.
And even more surprising is that I have to explain signal performance to people who lived through having to step outside to make a call because there was no signal inside.
I used to work in a pancake restaurant. One day I was serving a customer, and he didn't even bother to read the menu. He asked for pancakes with some specific jam. I told him that we do not have that jam on the menu. His answer was eyebrow-raising. He said that I should go to the nearby shop and get some for him because he doesn't want to eat pancakes with anything else.
Yes, I needed to explain to an adult man that that's not how restaurants work.
I worked in a coffee-shop/bookstore. We specialized in manga and comic books, and you could either buy them or take a drink and read for as long as you wanted. Like, we didn't have any restrictions; you could read for eight hours by buying a coffee. However, I still had to explain multiple times a day that yes, you must order and pay for a drink if you want to sit and read.
There was a good library where you could go to read for free, but we were a business and needed to make money. I've had people insulting me because of this.
I worked at an electronics store, and some lady came in to buy a charging case for her iPhone. The case has a battery that can charge your phone a couple of times. Well, she was asking what the cable inside the box was for, which was a micro USB cable. I explained that it's to charge the battery in the case. She didn't understand.
I explained that the case has a battery in it and that you need to charge up that battery. Then, your phone goes in the case and if your phone battery is low and you are out and about, you can turn on the case and it'll recharge your phone. It has enough battery capacity to charge your phone usually once. There was a long pause as I anticipated what she would say next.
She goes, "Wait so you have to charge up the case?" I say, "Yeah." She responds "Oh well, that's stupid". So I ask, "What's stupid about that?" She says, "Well that's stupid that you have to charge it, you shouldn't need to do that." So I say: "Ma'am, if the manufacturer figured out the global solution for unlimited electricity I don't think they'd be selling phone cases."
She gave me a super-angry expression, you know the one where she thinks she's still right and stormed off.
I’ll always regret that I made my manager do this because I honestly didn’t know what to do. An old woman came in, she didn’t look too old, probably in her early 70s, and she comes in with her daughter and grandkids. I seat them at the only open section with the only waitress who is on at the moment. That waitress happens to be Black.
After I seat them with her a few minutes later, the old lady comes up to me and asks for a non-Black waitress. As a teen, I had no clue what to do and just got my manager. Now I wish I told her how awful she was.
I had to explain to a customer that toilet paper rolls shouldn't be returned to a store because it was not a decent thing to do. Oh, but it got grosser. She had used them all. I also had to explain to this same woman that the disabled staff member who couldn't talk didn't intend to scare or offend her by making noises at her and smiling.
I live in France. Here we use AZERTY keyboards instead of QWERTY. That's just how it is and it's been like that for decades. I had to explain to some foreign dude that no, unfortunately, we did not have any QWERTY keyboards in stock, but he could order one online and that no, it wasn't a conspiracy. He started shouting in the store that this was an attack on human rights and brainwashing.
I had to explain to an adult woman that the rubber bands that were accidentally left on her lobster's claws were indeed not edible. I had assured her that they were safe for the food, you just couldn’t eat them. Not a minute later, I was called back after she attempted to eat said bands. Her teenage child just stared at her like she had three heads.
I worked furniture retail over 20 years ago before we had a name for "Karen," but they certainly existed. I had to explain, slowly like I was talking to a child, to a grown woman that she could not return her glass-top patio table that she left out all winter. The glass top was smashed, swept up, and put into a box that was now in front of me.
She couldn't fathom why I was saying no. She had kids with her watching this behavior. Future Karens.
I teach kids to ice skate. Parents are asked out of the rink once the kids are ready. A parent of a two-year-old insists that they cannot leave their child alone. I explained that the coaches are here to help and look after the child, but the parent just kept repeating, "I will not be leaving him, he is unable to walk".
Come on! Why do you sign up your two-year-old for skating if your child is unable to walk on normal land, let alone with skates on? I didn’t think I’d have to have this conversation with an adult. Multiple times.
That this is Canada and we do not take US cash in exchange for goods at our store, despite being a US-based multinational brand. I never thought someone would scream so hard and so close to my face that my hair blew back. It was a surprising exchange that I still think about 15 years later. Ma'am, we are a different country entirely.
That when I tell you we are out of stock, it means there is zero inventory. There isn’t some magical special inventory we keep for special customers who complain and dance around the subject. No matter how much you try to weasel it out of me, we don’t have it! So tired of having to explain to adults, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
While I worked at Wal-Mart, a middle-aged couple danced around me in the aisle I was stocking for a good five minutes before the guy just straight-up asked me where he could find the batteries for his intimate toy. His wife was hiding around the corner. I calmly asked, well what kind of batteries does it take? He looked at me with shame and told me he didn't know.
I then asked if they had brought the toy with them so we could take the batteries out to see. For my sake, they hadn't brought it in with them. I suggested they go home and open it and find out what kind it needed. I also suggested maybe a hearing aid battery or watch battery because I had never used a toy before and didn't know what they needed.
They went away yelling at each other for not opening it up to see what it needed.
Too many times I need to explain the basics of business to grown adults. For example, to process a return, you need either the receipt or the physical product with you. Realistically, you should have both. If it’s just the receipt, you could have just kept the "defective" item. If it’s just the item, you could have stolen it or bought an identical thing at a cheaper retailer.
Most stores are fairly lenient with this because they don’t want trouble, and most customers are at least 60% honest. You can’t just go up to a register and say, "I bought some produce here and they went bad too fast. I don’t know what they’re called or how much I paid, I want a refund". Beyond that, people think that the absolute basics of a business are a "scam" when they first start figuring out that what we charge for items is more than what we pay the farmer or factory or artist.
When customers at stores or restaurants "do the math" themselves, they are constantly thinking things like, "I can make this dish for $5 at home if I also use my existing pantry staples, why is it $22 at the fancy gastropub?" or "I can get yarn at JoAnn’s for $7, why does this sweater cost $40?" They usually come to the extremely wrong conclusion "You just want to make money!"
Yeah, we do. In addition to the 900 other things that create higher costs for consumer goods other than raw materials, yes, businesses want to make a profit. And it’s impossible to explain that to an infuriated customer in a polite way. Once a customer starts saying that "big businesses only want to make money," the only way to answer their questions is both involved and extremely condescending. Turns out the response is not to answer their concerns at all.
I never thought anybody would need to be told "Yes, the ice cream cake, made only of ice cream, has to be kept in the freezer. No, the refrigerator won’t suffice. It will melt". This has happened many times over the years.
No madam, the buffalo wings are not real buffalo.
A customer once stood in a puddle that was outside our store and asked me what I was going to do about it. I had to explain to him that I do not control the weather and I can’t make it stop raining or get rid of the puddle.
Here are my top three retail experiences: 1) Yes, the can of Crisco has a picture of crispy fried chicken on it. No, the can does not contain crispy fried chicken. 2) No, birth control pills are not 100% effective. This was explained to a woman quite near her delivery. And 3) No, we don't have fans that only give cold air. I'm sure I could come up with lots more, but these are the first three that come to mind.
In a couple of different lines of business, I've had women start to give me the "I'm a single mom" sad story. I have the perfect response. I say enthusiastically "I am, too!" and you can see the wind go right out of their sails. Yeah, I'm not going to cut them a deal out of pity.
I once picked up my prescription for an anti-emetic and the pharmacist gave me suppositories. My prescription was for pills. The pharmacist insisted that's what my doctor ordered. I pointed to the label that specified to take one by mouth every four hours as needed. She still insisted she was correct and my doctor intended for me to swallow a suppository every four hours.
Customer: "The package carrier says they delayed my package due to a hurricane! I paid for overnight shipping! Your company is trash." Me: "Sir, we didn't delay your package. The carrier is a different company. And there is a literal hurricane over the distribution center".
As a pharmacist, I had to explain to a man that you need to take the suppositories out of their foil packaging before you use them. He complained that they didn't work and were uncomfortable. I bet they were.
No, the library does not stock every book in existence.
A very grumpy high-society woman came to the store saying her brand new 3,000-dollar Microsoft surface bought by her husband was defective because she could not get internet when she was on the move. I quickly realized she was talking about Wi-Fi, so I tried explaining to her how Wi-Fi actually works. Boy, was that a mistake!
I told her that she could not use her Wi-Fi outside her house, but that she could share her smartphone internet connection. She would have none of it. She said I was lying to her and making fun of her. She even asked to speak to my manager, who then proceeded to tell her the exact same thing, almost to the word. She left screaming.
This conversation ended with a customer throwing a large bag of Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion potato chips at my head. It was a woman who came into the store looking to buy a box of chocolates. But there was one huge problem. She didn’t have any money. So this customer proposed that she take the chocolates now and come back later to pay when she had money.
"Do you expect me to go all the way home and bring back the money?" she asked. I said, "Yes, because other than that it’s called shoplifting and we will call security". "But I need these," she pleaded. I just said no. That’s when the chips started flying.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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