Working retail is an often thankless job—working weekends, being on your feet for long hours, and dealing with the worst people humanity has to offer. On the subreddit Tales from Retail, retail workers come together to do something that is usually done the other way around: they complain about their customers, who might be at home complaining about them. The stories range from the infuriating to the absurd to the surprisingly heartwarming.
1. User Veggiematic remembers when someone tried to return a drone that had flown away.
I work at an electronics retail store.
We have a different section specifically for returning and refunding items. Upon receiving the item, we must always as for the reason of return, and we must open the item, even if factory sealed.
I am V, my manager is M, and the customer is C.
C: Hi, I'd like to return this drone.
Our policy for drones is that they were non-refundable, but this policy was changed, as long as all products are in working condition, it can be accepted for return.
V: Okay, just a second sir.
I open the box. The manual, the remote, the batteries, and the package sealing is there. Everything that is there is supposed to be there except the drone itself isn't there. It's basically the entire package without the drone.
V: What's the reason for returning this item?
C: Oh, the drone flew away and it never came back. Can I get a refund for this?
Manager walks over, I'm still new to doing returns. I recently got out of training as a cashier, which means my manager is very closeby whenever I am doing returns because he has to authorize it and make sure I'm doing it right.
M: What's wrong?
C: Oh hi, so my drone flew away and it never came back. Can I get a refund?
M: Fuck no, what's wrong with you? Get out of my store.
Customer walks. I don't think he's even angry because there were no signs showing it. I died laughing because it was the first time I saw the manager swear to a customer.
Sometimes I love retail :)
2. SorryIAmAChampion was told that they should be shot... for greeting a customer in a friendly manner.
After racking up the years in customer service, I have perfected my bubbly, butter wouldn't melt in my mouthcustomer service persona. Retail smile? Check. Feigned empathy and concern towards rude customers? Check. However, I was not prepared for this encounter...
Now, I am naturally a morning person. Thus, my boss usually sticks me on super early opening shifts. I always warmly greet everyone, regardless of the time of day. I clearly was not prepared for the grouch (G).
Grouch walks in at 7 am.
Me: Good morning, ma'am! Retail smile How are--
G: PEOPLE LIKE YOU SHOULD BE SHOT.
Me: I'm sorry?? (Yes, I am Canadian and the word sorry is very near and dear to my heart.)
G: I am not a morning person and I DON'T WANT ANYONE TALKING TO ME BEFORE 12 PM! So, don't speak to me.
Me: Uh, okay... O.o
And off she went! Of course, I apologized profusely to the retail gods. What had I done to receive such hostility at 7 in the morning?! Some customers never fail to amuse me. Hehe.
3. Even honesty can't get you a refund from TravelingToaster.
I was working a solo shift at the convenience store and a regular stopped in. We chatted for a few minutes and she asked for some items (Gatorade, water, sandwich and 2 bananas) to be put in a separate bag, which I soon found out was for one of the homeless people that regularly hung around the store.
After the customer left and gave the guy the bag, he waited until she left and came into the store. This exchange ensued:
Me: May I help you?
Him: In a sincere tone Yes, the woman that just left gave me this bag of items and I would like to return them.
Me: Are there any issues with what you received? I’m thinking along the lines of different flavors of Gatorade or another type of sandwich
Him: Yes, I want to return them for the cash so I can get beer instead.
At this I cocked my head to the side and pretended to think about it
Me: No, I can’t refund the money to you because you didn't originally purchase these items.
Him: I’m being honest, doesn’t that count for something?
Me: Not in this case, because she bought these so you can have them, not for you to turn back in for cash.
He leaves in an angry huff and tosses the bag against the window as he departs
I go outside to retrieve the bag and give it to one of the other homeless regulars that came in later that day that was appreciative for the sustenance
TLDR: Homeless person wants to return food items purchased by another customer so he can have cash for booze.
4. Sometimes customers aren't angry or spiteful, they are just freaking weird. Just ask Wrecklessheart.
So, working yesterday morning at populardrugstorechain.
It's early so I'm the only cashier up front, so I'm at the very first register right near the front doors and the ATM.
A guy who comes in a few times a week to use the ATM, comes in. He's always seemed a bit strange.
Anyway, I'm just doing my thing, he's at the ATM and appears to be on the phone.
"Yeah yeah man, sounds like a good plan. Nah, I'm at populardrugstore right now grabbing some cash. What? Sorry man, I can't hear you, I'm on my banana phone."
This catches my attention and glance over... And do a double take.
He's literally talking... on a damn banana. A LITERAL BANANA. I had to do a double take to see if it was a phone shaped like a banana? No, it was an actual piece of fruit.
He continues to talk while grabbing his cash and walking down an aisle. I'm just flabbergasted.
When he left, he was eating the banana. LMAO.
5. According to captainzomb1e, even if something happens that is not your fault... it is still your fault if you work retail.
Another tale from the cafe/shop combo in my home town. This time I was working in the cafe, as a cashier and provider of sweet treats. Me = Me and IC = Ignorant customer.
Me: Usual retail spiel, how can I help you? Etc. Etc.
IC: A latte and a hot chocolate brownie, thanks
Me: Okay, your total is £x.xx. Also, the brownie is very hot, so give it a minute to cool down
IC: Okay, thanks.
She pays, takes her things and sits down. All is going well, I deliver her hot chocolate brownie, then I hear a shriek.
IC: Owww...breathes in through mouth Fuckin' stifled words I cannot distinguish
A couple of seconds pass
IC: while walking to the counter shouting That brownie was too hot! It scolded the inside of my fuckin' mouth. You didn't tell me they were going to be that hot!!!
Me: I'm sorr... she cuts in
IC: What are you doing to them?! You fuckin' idiot, you didn't tell me!
IC: even louder You haven't heard the last of this kid. What's your name? I'm going to call corporate, give me their number now!
Me: I'm Captain, but we don't have a corporate office, here's my managers number: [Redacted]. However, I did inform you that the hot chocolate brownie would be too hot to eat immediately. I'm sorry you burnt your mouth but I d...cut off again
IC: NO YOU DIDN'T! I'll make sure the likes of you are fired...Your manager will be hearing from my lawyer.
She leaves, while cussing all the way to the door. Fortunately, my manager always believes her employees first. The next day I was asked what happened, I told her what had happened and she believed me. That was all I heard about it, except my awesome manager shutting her down on the phone. I would concede that I forgot to warn her, but I know I did. God I love retail...
6. Grocery store worker optimusprimeminister became a pawn in a scheme for a man to get back at his wife, proving that customers are not just awful to retail workers, but to everyone.
I worked as a bagger at a small, family owned grocery store while I was in high school. One day a man came through the checkout with a full cart of groceries.
Me: "Paper or plastic?"
Customer: “I’d like double bagged paper and I’d like you to make each bag as heavy as you can.”
Me: "Sure thing!"
A bit of a strange request, sure, but anything that broke up the monotony of the day was welcomed. I managed to load his entire cart into three fairly heavy bags and bring them out to his car.
Customer: "In case you're wondering - I just had a fight with the wife and it's my turn to pick up the groceries."
Customer: "It's also her turn to unload the car."
7. Sometimes customers are just not smart. Kappakatiepi had to help a woman who spoke to an automated voice message for 15 minutes.
I work in customer service at a store that has a credit card program. Naturally, when the credit bills aren't paid; corporate will decline the card when a customer tries to use it. This leads me to my story; my front end manager sends me a call on the phone back at the service desk telling me that I am about to have a woman come back to yell at me because her card is declined. My manager also told me that they called corporate's financial department twice and they told the lady the same thing each time: her bill hadn't been paid. So the lady shows up at my counter and demands to use the courtesy corporate phone for customers. I nicely hand her the phone and tell her that it has an automated main menu to guide her to what corporate department representative she'd like to speak with. She ignored me and started yelling into the phone for 15 minutes about how angry she is. Eventually she goes, "YOU. TALK". and hands me the phone. I put the receiver to my ear to talk and I am cut off with "Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, 3 for more options". SHE RANTED TO THE MAIN MENU FOR 15 MINUTES. I page my manager because I had no idea how to handle the lady after I broke the news that she had just talked to a main menu for that whole time. She left angrily and I know have a great story to tell.
8. Weirdly enough, sometimes retail can bring out the best in people. Hail to the king bb did a good deed that was repaid by an even bigger good deed.
I work as a manager at a small chain of C-Stores (30ish locations)
I am putting away my main order of the week when a woman comes in asking for a nutrageous bar, I told her with a smile we had some right in front of the store, as I pointed right to a blank spot on the shelf. Turns out we had sold out over the weekend, and I had just broken this poor woman's heart and shattered her dreams with false hope. She had been searching relentlessly for weeks and couldn't find one anywhere. I apologized for the bad fortune and said I would order more straight away, the woman sighed, bowed her head and walked out of the store like a dejected puppy.
I turned back to the order, opened the tub and right on top was a brand new box of nutrageous bars. I tear open the box and vault over the counter like a bad ass cop sliding over a car hood, sprinting out the door like I had just clocked out. I caught up to her just as she starts to pull away from my store and from happiness, most likely on her way to jump off a bridge, hoping to find a nutrageous bar waiting for her in the next life. She turned and saw me lumbering towards her holding the candy bar like a newborn child I had just delivered into this world, I had never seen someone so happy over a candy, she runs to me like she was a veteran returning home from duty and running towards their children for that first swirling embrace. I tell her to have it on the house, and have a good day.
Then just now I get a call from my district manager demanding to know if I was the one who gave away a candy bar to a customer for free.
"Fuck." I think to myself, I do something nice for someone and this goddamn bitch calls my boss to tell on me.
So I tell my boss yeah it was me. He tells me that she called and was so happy with our company she would be choosing us for the local volunteer fire fighter appreciation gifts this year. $2,000 in gift cards $25 each for the volunteers. My boss says he is giving me a 10% commission for the gift cards. Minus the price of a nutrageous bar.
9. Sometimes diligent retail workers can even use their retail powers for good. Unaumbra recounts how they saved a girl's life by refusing a check.
I was working a late shift, and it was rather quiet. I had only been working at the store for only 5 months or so. A man came through my line, and he was about 6 foot tall covered in Tattoos, and not the nicely made tattoos you see from a good tattoo shop I mean the kind that looks like he had them done in the cellar of a seedy biker bar type. He was heavy built, and wore a leather biker vest. He did not seem the type to feel guilty about shanking you on the street. He bought a few items, but had beer. I of course ID him, and he shows it to me, and I total everything. He pulls out a check book, and writes a check. The check had a basket of kittens on it, and this seemed like one of those facebook posts of bikers look mean, but have a heart of gold type things. Well I look at the check his name is nowhere on the check. It has a girls name on it, and I tell him that I could not accept it because it is not his check, and does not have his name. He claims the girl is with him, and he would go get her real quick. He leaves, and left the check on the counter.
As soon as he is out of sight I call for a manager, and they take the check, and what I did not know was that about half an hour before an amber alert was released, and being the fact this was about 11 years ago very few people had SMS alerts for things like this, and only because our company is a certified safe place we receive faxes which had amber alerts, and such. The manager recognized the name, and contacted police. Minutes later we had a few cops show up, and they asked me what the guy looked like, and everything said. They even finger printed the stuff the guy was buying. Security gave them the footage of the guy, and were lucky to get the guys plate number. A few minutes later all the cops left, and I mean in a hurry.
Apparently the guy was spotted, and pulled over they found the girl tied up in the back of the SUV he was driving, and luckily she was not hurt. She was kidnapped from where she worked after school, and her co-worker called the cops when he got back from his break to find the place a mess, and her missing. The whole thing occured within an hour, and half time. She was taken to a local hospital where she was kept just in case over night. The man was of course arrested.
10. Sometimes working retail has its perks. Discord_dan met Bruce Willis while on the job.
A little backstory first: Back in 2009, I was having a lot of family issues at home, so I went to visit my mother's two sisters in Idaho, for a change of scenery. There's a resort there, owned at the time by a billionaire who also owns a line of gas stations that use a dinosaur for their logo. It's a very high end resort, drawing some of the nation's most rich and famous. Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Clint Eastwood, and many other people of that caliber visited and/or owned vacation homes there. I liked it so much, i decided to make the move long term, and found an apartment and a job as a baristo in a coffee shop (not S-Bucks). That's where the story starts...
It was about 8pm, and I remember it being either November or December, mostly because of all the snow. The shop closed at 9, and I was doing some cleaning ahead of time so I could get out of work at a decent hour. A man walked in, the ball cap on his head pulled down to cover his eyes, and his head down against the biting wind blowing in from the mountains. I greeted him, and when he looked up, I recognized him. I was told to act normal when a celebrity walks in, as they justifiably don't like being mobbed by fans out here.
I took his order, which I remember as 2 small lattes. He was alone, so I assumed he was in town with his wife and she was either at their vacation home or shopping at one of the many expensive shops there. The total came to $6.47 (It's funny: I can't remember what I had for breakfast, but I remember the total of Bruce Willis' coffee order from 6 years ago). Growing up the son of an accountant with a strong desire (borderline obsessive sometimes) to gain my father's approval, I learned to do change in my head at lightning speed. Less than 2 seconds after seeing the $50 he was about to hand me, I told him his change would be $43.53. He paused, a little smirk on his face.
BW: Did you do that in your head? Me: Yes sir.
Bruce then puts the $50 back in his wallet and pulls out a $20 bill, two $1 bills, and three quarters, totaling $22.75 and asks me what the change is. I tell him $16.47. He proceeds to repeat this a few more times with different combinations of cash he has on him. I don't know if some combination of fatigue and jet lag put him in a condition where he found my petty math amusing, but he was having fun. I finally had to end it, since I still had stuff that needed to be done (cleaning the soft serve machine takes no less than 45 minutes).
Me: I have to get back to work, so I'll do one more. If I get it right, you have to tip me!
That last part was a joke obviously. He agrees and pulls out $72.45. Before he can move his eyes from the money to mine, I say it's $65.98.
BW: That's pretty cool
When you're 19 and Bruce Willis tells you something that you take for granted is cool, it tends to leave you speechless. I made his coffee, gave it to him, and wished him a good night. Before he left, he dropped $20 in the tip jar and told me I earned it. He was such a cool guy, lots of respect for him.
11. One thing's for sure—once you've lived that retail life, it's hard to get it out of your system. Dougtehgreat even helped a customer off the clock... in a different store.
I went shopping at a nearby competitor on my off-day. We have basically the same product, and I don't get a discount on the products that I needed because they're price-protected by the vendor.
While I was there, I thought I'd walk around their [certain] department. While I was looking at something, I hear an angry customer say, "God, you can never find anyone to help you here" and general grunting about needing help.
I turn around, apologize, and say I just got to work and hadn't put on my name badge yet.
I didn't realize that I didn't work there for the first 10 minutes helping him, and then felt too awkward to stop helping him. All told, I was with him for about 30 minutes and made an 800 dollar sale.
Who knows, maybe some of these heroes will get discovered at their retail jobs and finally make it out of the store.