Retail workers have to deal with all sorts of people on a daily basis. For the most part, every shift goes by in a pretty typical fashion. But sometimes there is a customer who they just can't believe. Where do people come up with these insanely dumb questions?
Here are retail workers' best stories about the dumbest customer they ever met. Content has been edited for clarity.
Change Is Confusing
“A woman came through the checkout line at my department store with her daughter. The woman was probably in her mid-30s, the daughter was in her early teens. They were buying a bunch of clothes, a few grandma-y home decor pieces, the usual. We were busy and they had ‘the look,’ so I was trying to get them out of here as quickly as possible. That seemed fine to them, as they had ignored me thus far and were too busy looking bored on their phones to acknowledge my existence.
I can’t remember her exact total, but it was something like $61.78. I saw her going into her wallet and knew she was going to pay in cash. What’s more, she’s decided that she was going to give me exact change. On a busy day. This never turns out well.
So she handed me three 20s and a dollar. Ok, cool. Next, she was digging through her coin pouch. She turned to her daughter to solicit coins from her because she didn’t think she had enough, but she was now determined to give me exact change. So the mom scrounged money from daughter and handed it to me in a big pile. It’s not three quarters and three pennies. No, that would be too easy. So I sifted through the pile of a couple quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies, and discovered that she handed me 93 cents.
She handed me the wrong amount of money. I knew this was going to get ugly, but I had no choice but to plow forward. ‘Are you sure you want to give me this much?’ I asked, quite politely. ‘You only need to give me 78 cents.’
‘Yes,’ she snapped. ‘I need to get rid of the change.’
Ok, fine. Have it your way, lady. So I punched in the amount into the register and, of course, it spat back to hand her some money back. So I popped open my drawer and started to sift out 15 cents to hand back to her. Now, of course, she’s confused. ‘Why are you handing me money?’ She said. ‘Didn’t I give you exact change?’
‘No, ma’am, you gave me 15 cents extra.’
‘Oh for goodness sake,’ she snapped again. She reached over the counter, pried the money out of my hand, then reached into her wallet for another dollar. She then hands me another dollar and three quarters. ‘There, you do that and give me 42.’
What? She is making zero sense to me. ‘Excuse me?’
‘You take that, and give me 42 back.’ She finally huffed a sigh, reached forward, grabbed the three quarters, again, pried them right out of my hand. ‘Ok,’ she said, ‘Clearly this is too much for you, so I’m not going to bother. Nobody knows how to do change anymore. No wonder you’re working here instead of in school. They don’t take the mentally disabled at college. Just forget it. Keep the change. Jesus Christ. Unbelievable.’
With that, she left me with $62, grabbed her bags, and stormed out. Her absorbed-in-her-iPhone daughter trailed after her, glancing at me in confusion but saying nothing. The next customer who walked up looked after her as they left and then looked at me. She couldn’t believe it either.”
Never Heard Of That
“I work at a pretty large DIY store chain in Ireland/UK. We have hundreds of shopping carts of different types outside. One day, I was busy stocking some shelves when a man started storming towards me telling me to get him a cart.
I advised him if he walked straight out the door, he could get one himself. He furiously told me there were none out there and demanded I get one for him.
Usually, I wouldn’t humor someone so rude, but I was curious about how we could ever run out, so I went out to have a look.
Lo and behold, there were hundreds of shopping carts.
I pointed at them, and said to the man, ‘There are loads there, just take one.’
To which he angrily replied, ‘Those?! I thought they were just display shopping carts; you should mark them more clearly!’
I may not be the most well-traveled person, but I am almost sure that in the history of retail, there has never been ‘display shopping carts.'”
Have You Ever Returned Something Before?
“A lady comes into my store to do a return. I give her my usual, ‘I can hold this up here if you want to look around some.’ She waves her hand at me and tells me no just the return today. So everything is fine, she has the item, she has the receipt.
The following convo went something like this:
Me: ‘So we will put $5 back on your card today.’
Lady: ‘That’s not right. It should be $8.’
Me: ‘Well, the item is $5 on the receipt.’
Lady: ‘Yes, that’s why it should be $8.’
I am confused at this point and said, ‘But the item is $5 so you’ll be getting $5 back.’
Lady: ‘No, $5 plus $3 equals $8.’
Me: ‘Ummm the item is $5 and it’s just the one item so I can only give you what you paid for it which is $5.’
She is starting to get irritated, ‘Yes, this item is $5. This other item is $3 that’s why I should get $8 back.’
Me: ‘I didn’t realize you were returning the other item. Let me just scan it so I can add it to the return.’
Lady: ‘I left it at home, I didn’t think you’d need it.’
Me: ‘In order to refund it, I need it in store. Do you want to come back later with both items to do the return or do you want to do this return now and bring the other item later?’
The lady is annoyed, ‘Let’s just do this and I’ll bring it later.’
Me: ‘Okay, so I’ll have you swipe to put $5 back on your card.’
Lady: ‘No, it should be $8’
Me: ‘I can’t do a return without the item here to be returned. I can only return the first item because it’s here, you can bring the other item in later and return it but until it is here, I can’t return it.’
Lady: ‘But I want it refunded, why can’t you refund?’
My coworker sees there is a problem and steps in, ‘What’s the problem, ma’am?’
Lady: ‘I’m trying to return first item and second item but she won’t let me.’
Me: ‘She left the second item at home…’
Coworker: ‘Oh, well we need the product here in order to do a refund.’
Lady: ‘Oh okay, I’ll bring it in later.’
Me: ‘So, if you’ll swipe your card I can put the $5 back on it.’
The lady swipes her card and then leaves. She never did come back in to return the other item.”
We Need A Translator In Aisle 12
“I work at a retail pharmacy chain. This one guy comes in and continually butchers the name of a product on a level that doesn’t even make sense. He gets annoyed that no one knows what he’s talking about.
Once, I was stocking product on the shelf when the guy walked up to me and asks: ‘Where’s the cheese-nez?’
I said, ‘Cheeze-nez? Do you mean Cheez-Its? They are in aisle…’
He cut me off, ‘NO. C H E E S E – N E Z’ He said it slower as if that would make me understand what he was looking for.
I responded, ‘Okay, sir, I’ve never heard of cheese-nez. What is it used for?’
He sighed loudly and started outlining the shape of a box with his hands and said, ‘You know, cheese-nez!’
All I could say was, ‘I’m sorry, sir, but I still don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you know what it’s used for?’
He said, ‘Someone else might know.’ He started looking around.
I told him, ‘Well, I’m the manager and if anyone would know, it would be me.’ I know our entire stock enough to know when we don’t carry a particular product.
The guy shook his head and walked off. About five minutes later, the guy walked back up to me with A BOX OF KLEENEX in his hand. He waved it at me with a dumb look on his face to show that I am the one who should have known what he was looking for. Then he had the audacity to say Kleenex correctly and ignore the fact that HE was pronouncing it completely wrong.
Now my co-workers and I use the word ‘cheez-nez’ when talking about Kleenex.”
“I Don’t Do Inches!”
“I was working at a home improvement store. I was a manager in the millwork department at the time, where primarily we sold doors, windows, and the like. I would usually try to go out of my way to help people if they asked me a question in a department I didn’t work in because, hey, it wasn’t that hard of a job. But don’t, for the love of whatever god you believe in, snap your fingers at me and yell to get my attention. Enter the Crazy Old Lady.
The crazy old snapped her fingers from about 100 feet and said, ‘HEY! HEY YOU!’
Now, at this point, I had already determined I had no cares to give this lady. So, I made eye contact and stood, waiting for her to turn back into a functional human and address me politely.
She just said again, ‘HEY! I NEED HELP OVER HERE!’
I raised my eyebrows and furrowed. She was beginning to understand, ‘Could you help me, please?’
I walked over and said, ‘Sure, what can I do for you today?’
She said, ‘Well, I’m looking at these shelves here, and I need to know if this shelf will fit in a three-foot space.’
Now, this is a prepackaged shelf-in-a-box. I did what any good retail employee does when someone asks a question. I read the words on the package. I politely took the package from her and start flipping the box over. Ah, there it was!
I said, ‘Well, as you can see, this is a thirty-six-inch shelving unit. So…’ I trailed off, hoping she’d put two and two together. She was rude, but at this point, I didn’t want to embarrass her).
‘SO WHAT?!’ she demanded.
Ah, so she was an idiot. A mean idiot. Game on.
I told her, ‘Well, it just so happens that thirty-six inches is exactly three feet. So if you’re looking for a shelving unit that will fit in a three-foot space, this is perfect.’
She replied, ‘WELL HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT? I DON’T DO INCHES!’
She then proceeded to grab the shelf-in-a-box out of my hands angrily and stormed off towards the registers. Holy. Cow.”
When A Customer Is This Wrong, It’s Best To Just Leave Them Be
“I used to work at a skating rink. Part of my job was renting skates. One day, a customer came up to me holding his skates. He said they were too small and he needed to exchange them. No big deal, common problem. I took the skates from him and saw they were a size nine, so I went and grabbed tens. ‘Here, try these.’
He glanced at the skates and threw them back down on the counter. ‘What are you, stupid? I said they were too small!’
‘Er, yes, and those are a size up. Do you think you need a size 11? I can get those for you.’
‘What? No, you moron, 10 isn’t bigger than nine.’
I gave him an eight and decided it was a good time to take my break.”
Didn’t Want To Get Out Of The Car
“I was an assistant manager at Walgreens for a few years. The worst was this lady that came through the pharmacy drive-thru. She was mad because we wouldn’t go and retrieve milk and some other items and for her and sell them in the drive-thru. She wasn’t disabled or anything, just lazy. The pharmacy techs called me to handle it. I was calm and respectful, but I told her no at least 10 times. We can’t sell stuff through the pharmacy drive-thru like that. She left in a huge huff.
A few days later, the district manager came by and said this lady complained I ‘cussed her out’ in the drive-thru and said things that I didn’t actually say. She demanded I get fired.
So, I looked her address up on the pharmacy computer and then got about 200 magazine subscription postcards from the magazine racks over the next week or two. I printed up some labels and voila! Enjoy your new magazines.”
It Takes The Cops To Stop This Shopper
“Christmas was on the horizon and the morning started as usual: restocking the Christmas food aisle. I’d only been at work for about an hour when I overheard a woman on her phone say, ‘Yeah, apparently there’s a bomb in McDonald’s.’
I didn’t think anything of it for some reason and carried on. About five minutes later, I heard my coworker on the intercom system: ‘This is a customer announcement. Unfortunately, there is an emergency, and we will have to ask you to quietly evacuate.’
As people started to make their way to the exit, a few police officers stormed down the aisles to reiterate that we had to leave. Most people took a little while to understand, but they all abandoned their baskets and left. I started to power walk around making sure all the customers were leaving. It started to feel real for everyone, except for this one stubborn guy.
Me: ‘Excuse me, sir. We have to evacuate right away.’
Stubborn Guy: ‘I have all I need. You can check me out quickly.’
Me: ‘I can’t do that. This is an emergency situation.’
Stubborn Guy: ‘It’s your job to tend to me!’
Me: ‘I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but right now your safety is my priority.’
At this point, I saw my manager giving me a look of ‘What are you doing?!’ as she stood by the exit, waiting for us to leave.
Stubborn Guy: ‘Well?!’
Me: ‘Look, you’ll have to come back another day. Apparently, there’s a–‘
A police officer came belting up behind me and took over trying to convince him to evacuate.
Cop: ‘Guys, we have a possible bomb in the perimeter of the shop. For your safety, you need to evacuate.’
The stubborn guy finally dropped his basket with a thump, and we all made our way to the exit, but he clearly couldn’t leave without getting in another word: ‘If I knew it was a bomb, I’d have left ages ago!’
I said nothing and met with my coworkers outside as he disappeared down the street. The funny thing is that even if I wanted to assist him, I was a stock assistant and had no idea how to work the tills.”
What Answer Was She Looking For?
“This lady, who was always a colossal pain, came in and wanted to buy her husband some video games. She held up Madden ’07 and MLB 2K7 and asked, ‘What is the difference between these two games?’
My response was, ‘Madden is football and the other one is baseball.’
Her face went sour and her nose scrunched in what I could only describe as a grown woman pooping her pants as she screamed, ‘No, what is the difference between these two!’ I guess my previous answer wasn’t good enough because she stormed out.”
A Stickler For The Rules
“I was a cashier at a well-known grocery franchise. It was kind of a slow day, which was rare at this particular store. I rang up this older lady who had maybe five small items. I finished her transaction and handed her her change. She moved to the end of my register to put her change away and look for her car keys, no big deal. The next women had 13 items, all of which were bags of chips and some soda. I quickly rang her up, handed her her receipt, and sent her on her way. I was happy there was no line behind her for a minute.
The first lady, who was still standing at the end of my register, came up to me as soon as the other woman walked away.
She said, ‘Excuse me, but that women you just rang up had 13 items. This line is 12 items or less!’
I said, ‘That’s okay, it isn’t a big deal. There was no line and she was taken care of.’
She replied, ‘I don’t believe you understand, this is a 12 ITEMS OR LESS LINE, and that women had 13 items! You’re both wrong!’
I told her, ‘I’m sorry? I didn’t keep you or anyone else waiting. Your transaction was complete, so I don’t see the big deal.’
She was angry at me now, ‘Well, you’re wrong! I’m going to the customer service desk about this!’
Then she stormed off, complained that I took someone with 13 items on the 12 items or less line, suggested that management suspend me for not following rules, gave me a dirty look, and left. Both my manager and I laughed. I love retail customers!”
Maybe Try A Rewards Program Next Time
“I’m on the checkout and this lady comes up to my register. I scan and bag her items. She pays and I hand her bags over. Then she says, ‘You know, I’ve been coming here for a long time, and I don’t feel appreciated.’
Me: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, what makes you think that?’
Customer: ‘Well, I’ve shopped here and given you so much money and business, but I don’t get anything in return.’
Me: ‘Do you have a membersh-‘
Customer: ‘You should give me some lottery tickets and scratchers.’
Me: ‘Madam, I can’t do that.’
Customer: ‘Come on. It’s the least you can do for me for not going to the other stores.’
Me: ‘Sorry, we can’t give away free lottery tickets. We don’t own Lotto and it would be breaking our license with them.’
Customer: ‘Not even ONE scratch card?’
Me: ‘No, you’ll need to pay for them.’
Customer: ‘BUT I’VE ALREADY BOUGHT FROM YOU!’
Me: ‘Sorry,’ and I shake my head at her.
Customer: ‘Fine, I’ll do my shopping elsewhere. Thanks for nothing.’
Me: ‘Right, take care then.’
She came back the next day for some milk. I smiled and said, ‘Hello, again,’ to her. She didn’t say anything and walked away.”
Sales Tax Turmoil
“I know in some states there’s no sales tax, but in my state there is. So one day a couple came to my checkout lane and I rung them out. I told them the total was $200.23. The guest showed me his state ID and said, ‘Here you go.’ I informed him that he’d handed me an ID to which he responded, ‘Yes, it is.’
I told him, ‘You can’t pay with an ID.’
He said, ‘I know that, but aren’t I excluded from paying sales tax if I’m from a tax-free state?’
I said, ‘No, you still pay sales tax.’
He told me, ‘That’s absurd, I’m showing you my ID. Other stores do it.’
When I told him again that we won’t do that, he claimed I was infringing on his right. At this point, I’m like ‘uhhhhh wut.’ I don’t know what to do so I just keep talking.
I asked, ‘Just curious, what stores do it?’
‘What does it matter if you’re not gonna do it?’, the customer asked. I told him I was ‘just curious.’ He responded, ‘Are you gonna do it or not?’
For the last time I told him, ‘No I’m not, you have to pay for the sales tax.’
He got angry and said, ‘Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous, is there someone I can talk to?’
‘Yeah, gimme a minute.’
He said, ‘No I want them now!’
I kind of wanted to slap him for this stupidity. This had been going on for about 10 minutes at this point which was a LONG TIME. Finally, the manager came over and this moron explained the situation to her. She had this stunned look on her face as she can’t believe how dumb he was being. Just like I had told him MANY times, she said that he has to pay the sales tax. He responded that this was infringing on his rights and began cursing her out.
Finally, he said, ‘Forget it I ain’t buying anything, I ain’t shopping here no more.’ As he left, he knocked over our gift card display causing there to be like a thousand gift cards all over the floor. Unbelievable.”