The Customer’s Always Wrong: People Share Their Nightmare Workplace Stories

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When you work with customers, you learn one fact fairly quickly: Customers can be absolutely terrible. Don’t tell that to a manager, however, or they’ll reply with every customer service worker’s least-favorite sentence.

“The customer is always right.”

It doesn’t matter, apparently, if the customer is screaming obscenities—they’re right because they have money and have somehow managed to walk into the establishment without falling over.

In a recent Reddit thread, the site’s users shared some of their best stories of customer malfeasance. We collected a few of the best, then edited them slightly for grammar and readability.

You can always count on some customers to complain, whether there’s anything wrong or not.

“I once worked at Kinko’s, long ago,” wrote InfiniteChicken. “One dude was so angry, even as I started helping him. He asked for a bunch of copies. I made them and set them down in front of him.”

“‘How’s that look?’ I asked. ‘Well, you printed them upside down!’ Guy was edgy. So I turned the stack of pages 180 degrees. The guy says: ‘…I don’t like your attitude.’ Some people are determined to be displeased.”

InfiniteChicken’s anecdote sparked a memory in another Reddit user. Apparently, these complaint-happy customers are everywhere, in all sorts of industries.


“A similar thing happened to me when working at Starbucks,” wrote MotherOfDragonflies. “This lady ordered an iced mocha, and I stupidly forgot to add the mocha syrup.”

“This was obviously my mistake, so I fixed it for her. She came back with it a little while later and said, ‘I’m sorry, this just doesn’t taste right. I want a new one.’”

“I said okay and started making her a new one while she went to the bathroom. I hadn’t picked up her old one off the bar yet, though, so she gets out of the bathroom, walks up to the bar and sees her old drink.”

“She says, ‘Ah, that one looks better already.’ She takes a big drink and says, ‘Now see, this is perfect.’ And walks away—while I’m left standing there with her half-made drink in my hand. She left before I could even say anything.”

Actually, MotherOfDragonflies may have stumbled onto a pretty decent strategy for dealing with picky customers. A one-time furniture deliverer explains:

“I was a furniture delivery guy in college,” wrote wynia. “A woman ordered this high back red leather chair.”

“We delivered it, and she complained about the grain in the leather. We explained that leather is a natural product and bears irregularities. If she wanted uniformity, she should buy vinyl. She got insulted and informed us in no uncertain terms that she was well-off and would only buy genuine leather.”


“We took the chair back to the store and exchanged it for the other one we had: a floor model. We brought that one out and she did the same thing, pointing out things in the grain that she disliked.”

“We took it back to the store and asked the owner what to do. By then the chair was actually no longer made, so he told us to bring the first chair again.”

“We delivered those same two chairs seven times. She never caught on and eventually decided she really liked the ‘seventh’ chair. Which was, of course, the one she originally hated.”

Selling cakes is no piece of…ah, skip it.

“I worked in a store that sells ice cream cakes,” wrote Romiress. “A woman came in with half a cake. We thought it’d be melted. Nope, much more concerning: Her son had a piece yesterday and got ill.”

“They didn’t make the connection until the daughter ate a piece that morning and also became ill. To say the least, my manager was freaking out. If there’s some kind of food poisoning going on, the whole store could be shut down, and it would be a huge mess.”

If you’ve ever worked in food service, this story probably has your heart rate up already. Food safety is serious business; one slip can sink a whole operation. In this case, though, there turned out to be a bit of user error at play.

“She passes me the cake and tells me to check who made it so we can call it in,” continued Romiress. “I open up the case, look at it, and it took every bit of control I could muster to not laugh in front of the customer.”


“The cake was a Valentine’s Day cake, and it was September. My manager had to explain to the woman that half-eaten ice cream cakes don’t hold for a half a year, and the woman kept insisting we test it.”

You’d think cake shops would be pretty chill places, but apparently not.

“I’m a cake decorator,” wrote missingno__. “We recently had a customer pick up her cake which had a printed picture of a high heel shoe that she sent us on top. She goes, “What the f*** is this?” and starts flipping out—banging on tables, screaming at the top of her lungs in front of other customers, trying to fight the owner, threatening to come back with a [weapon].”

Something had this customer hot. It took a while, but this Reddit user finally figured out why she was so angry.

“We had to call the cops. Turns out, she had wanted a life-like edible version of the shoe, not a printed picture. So all this because when she ordered the cake, she did not know the difference between 2D and 3D.”

Sometimes, your best bet is to let the customer believe they actually are right.

“I was working at a concession at a race track at the time, running the register,” wrote patientish. “This one particular night it was super busy. It was the last race weekend of the season, we ran out of Coke, and the deep fryer caught fire. I was at the burger stand, and the line was crazy.”


“This one lady came and ordered a burger with cheese. Trying to be quick, I yelled back to the cooks, ‘One cheeseburger.’ She looks at me and huffs, ‘No, I said a burger with cheese, not a cheeseburger!’ So I had to yell back, ‘Sorry, a burger with cheese! Cancel the cheeseburger!’

“It’s just one of the many moments in my customer service/retail career that made me question my sanity just a little.”

Hazards of food-service apparently include projectile comestibles.

“I used to work in a patisserie (we specialized in wedding cakes), and this guy ordered a Noah’s Ark cake,” wrote UndeadYakuza. “My boss made these cute little fondant animals going into an ark on the sides of the baby blue cake. The customer came to pick it up, and as soon as he looked at the cake, his nose scrunched up and he frowned. He said, ‘This cake looks absolutely horrible. I demand a refund!’”

“I called my boss several times, but no answer, and I told him I could hold onto the cake until my boss was free and could call him back personally. He starts yelling at me (a minimum wage cashier) and demanding his refund. I told him I wasn’t able to because of my position and tried calling my boss again.”

“[The customer] continued yelling. I asked him to calm down or I would have to ask him to leave. He yelled back at me one more time, ‘I want my f***ing refund!’”

“Which I told him again I couldn’t do. So his response was to open the cake box, remove the cake, and throw it at me. I ducked, it hit the wall, and I told him in no small way that he wouldn’t get his refund back, and if he didn’t leave, I would call the cops.”

“The next day, he called the patisserie and demanded to talk to my boss. She told him that since he threw the cake at her employee and … wouldn’t just relax and let her call him back, he wouldn’t get his cake and was permanently banned from the establishment.”

Cakes aren’t the only things angry customers throw. Here’s the sad tale of a pizza pie that didn’t end up where it should, i.e., in someone’s tummy.

“I want to thank you because your story reminded me of something that happened 10 years ago,” replied THE_IRISHMAN_35. “I worked in a pizzeria. Well, one night a woman called in an order for a large pizza.”

“The woman shows up about 20 minutes later to pick it up. This woman had to have been about seven or eight months pregnant. The pizza had just come out of the oven. It was cut and boxed, and the cashier opened the box to show the woman it was her pizza and that it wasn’t messed up.”

“The woman took two of her fingers, stuck them straight down in the middle, and pulled them out. She looked the cashier (who also happened to be the manager) straight in the eye and says, ‘It’s cold. I want a new one.’”


“You can see steam coming off this pizza. It was not cold in any way. It had just come out of a 550-degree oven. The manager explained that the pizza is not cold, that she can see the steam, and that it had just come out of the oven. The woman was so angry she picked up the pizza and threw it into the cashier’s face. She then ran full-speed out the door.”

“The reason I mentioned that she was seven or eight months pregnant is so you can visualize a small pregnant woman running full speed, which was, in fact, a giant waddle out the door. One of the drivers got the license plate, and she was arrested.”

“She gave the cashier second-degree burns from the scalding-hot cheese. Seeing her run is one of the funniest things I’ve seen, and I had to hold back my laughter because the cashier was hurt. I picked up the cashier and tossed her over my shoulder and ran her into the back where we clean the dishes and sprayed her face off with water to get the cheese and sauce off as quick as possible.”

When a deal seems too good to be true, it pays to read the fine print.

“In college, I worked for a kitchen/bath/bedding superstore,” wrote Benders_Are_Good. “There was a special on high-end pots and pans sets. Essentially, if you bought a particular set ($250ish), you got an accompanying pan for one cent.”

“The signage was very clear that the bonus pan was only a penny if you bought the full set. It was in large print. I was a cashier, and I rang up the pan for the regular price ($75) because she didn’t have the set. She immediately exploded and said the pan was on sale for one penny.”

“I didn’t work in that department, but knew that was bulls***. I called the manager up, who calmly explained what the special was. She said we were trying to scam her and manipulate customers, and actually made us call the corporate office because we were too ‘stupid to understand the sale.’”


“After she and my manager spoke to someone, corporate said to give her the pan for a penny and tell her we appreciated her business. I, to this day, remain angry that the woman was rewarded for throwing a hissy fit.”

At least she was only arguing for herself—and not trying to ruin another customer’s day.

“As the cashier behind me finishes ringing up the customer’s order for groceries (well over $100), the man yells at the cashier that the total is wrong,” wrote BaconGenerator. “[He thinks] the register added incorrectly.”

“The cashier and the customer went over every item to make sure nothing was the wrong price or double-scanned. Everything scanned was correct; the machine just added incorrectly, according to [the customer]. This poor lady had to clear out the order (which is a very difficult process), take everything out of the bags, and ring it up again. Same total.”  

This was the only story we found from a ferry worker.

It sounds like an awesome job—until you realize that most of the work involves taking care of irate customers.

“I worked on a ferry dock that sent cars over,” wrote CaptainCJ. “On a fairly busy day, a woman came and parked her car in the ferry line and then left. When the ferry came, we had to load the cars on the ferry. Well, this woman wasn’t back yet, so we caused huge confusion on the dock trying to fish out the cars and trucks behind her.”

“We finally got everything loaded and sent the boat off (only five or 10 minutes late on a tight schedule). The woman comes back and sees that we skipped her and starts b****ing at me, an 18-year old lowly dockhand. She starts b****ing hardcore about how we ‘weren’t allowed to skip her’ and ‘should have gone looking for her.’”

image Odareeva

“I told her that we’ve never done that and how she caused us to be late. She then asked for my superior, who luckily backed me up. She was still not convinced; she called the owner of the ferry because of course she knew him.”

“That’s when I thought I was f***ed, because even though I knew I was right, I thought the owner would take the side of his friend. However, he stayed on my side and defended me, much to the anger of this woman. We got her on the next ferry, and I told the captain to put her car on the side that would get the most water from the waves and he smiled and did so. A few hours later, the owner of the ferry came over and bought me an ice cream, telling me he was sorry I had to deal with his friend.”

When kids are your customers, you quickly learn to be wary.

“I was working at a pawn shop when a kid and his parents come in,” wrote mrchief177. “The kid wants to sell his original Xbox and wants an outrageous amount, claiming he had modded it and installed a large HDD. The parents were backing him up during the whole thing, saying how he was so good with computers and technology.”


“At the time I was modding plenty of Xboxes for friends, so right off the bat, I could tell the kid was full of s***. The Xbox still had the stock crappy dashboard and the warranty sticker had not been broken yet.”

“I still couldn’t convince the kid’s parents otherwise. Finally, I cracked the case open on the counter and showed the parents the stock 8-gigabyte drive. Needless to say, they were mad at their son and left with him in tow, and the Xbox. I felt pretty good after that.”

The right customer can really have an impact on a store.

Usually, though, they don’t literally have an impact.

“Back in the day, when I worked at a crappy drive-through, I had a guy in a new car come through and proceed to hit a pole or wall on his way up,” wrote degausser_. “He began to yell at me about how this car just cost him $40,000, and he is expecting compensation for the damage we did to his car, and how it’s all our fault.”


“I told him that if he is going to buy a car that expensive he should be able to drive it properly (which I know was rather rude, but 15-year-old me had no patience for anyone like that) and then rang up his order.”

“He then went off again about how we should be compensating him for his car and he couldn’t believe I was going to (gasp!) still charge him for his meal. Sorry, buddy, I am not responsible for your inability to drive.”

When someone corrects you on your name, you know you’re in for a ride.

“I had a customer read my name tag when I worked at a local coffee shop,” wrote jbone17. “He then looked at me and said, ‘That is a very peculiar name.’ I mentioned to him I was named after an automobile.”

“He then proceeded to tell me that I could not be named after an automobile because that is illegal. Being polite, I just went along with him—until he told me that I should change my name because it was copyright infringement and that he will report me to the right authorities. I really hated that job.”


In a later edit, jbone18 refused to give his actual name (which is pretty understandable).

“Everyone has been asking me my name, and I am not completely comfortable handing my full name over to the internet. I am named after a British car manufacturer, and my first and last name are the brand of car.”

We’re just guessing here, but we think his name is Jaguar Land Rover.

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