Retail Horror Stories – When Customers Go Bad

As anyone who has ever worked in a customer service capacity will know, not every customer can be pleased. Regardless of who is to blame in these situations, when the wrong person gets in the wrong mood things tend to get ugly – fast.

It’s unfortunate, perhaps, that usually it is the brand failures that gain the most attention in the mainstream media, and we’ve seen plenty of examples of ‘the sales assistant from hell‘ and various social media gaffes. It’s almost as if none of the blame is ever placed squarely on the behaviour of certain customers.

But we know this isn’t an accurate reflection of reality.

Having worked in multiple showrooms over the years, I’ve seen my fair share of the wrong kind of customer. From con artists to angry mothers – it doesn’t take long to realise that sometimes people just aren’t interested in anything more than ruining a staff member’s day.

The worst example of this I ever encountered was a young man that started raving death threats after being told he would not receive a refund on the laptop he had purchased earlier – because he’d punched it hard enough to leave an imprint of his fist nearly one centimetre deep.

Whether these cases get very much attention or not, there are plenty of similar examples to be found throughout the internet. Today, we look at a few highlights in our search for the Ultimate in Customer Service Gone Bad.

The Genius Bar Breakdown

While Apple Stores are often held up as the golden child of brick and mortar retail practices, I’m sure this lady isn’t alone in reaching the end of her tether after being told she needs to make an appointment before she can have her iPhone looked at by a ‘Genius’. Blasted bureaucracy!

Of course, these scenes probably reoccur in Apple stores on a daily basis – just substitute the complaint with any of: “Why are these Apple earphones so bloody expensive?”, “You’re telling me I have to pay $200 to get my iPod’s screen replaced?” or “This brand is going to the dogs without Steve Jobs around”.

Road Rage: When Filing a Complaint Isn’t Enough

Tesco supermarket car attack
This Tesco store copped the brunt of a UK shopper’s customer service outrage.

According to Car Dealer Reviews, a Tesco store in the UK became the subject of one angry customer’s drunken rage when he ploughed through its front window in his 1983 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit.

The male customer was angry after the bedroom set he ordered via telephone arrived without a mattress. Upon raising the issue with his local store, the man became irate when staff told him they would not be able to assist because the order had been made through their online/phone service division.

I guess some guys really don’t like shopping after all.

The Wrath of the Entitled

This young woman is styling herself as some kind of fast food vigilante as she interviews, films and attempts to shame the staff at her local Dunkin’ Donuts outlet.

Her complaint? The cashier had forgotten to offer her a receipt for her purchase the night before.

Personally, I’d be more ashamed about my apparent need to maintain paper records of all my fatty, fried confectionary intake. Or the fact that I’m so keen to get my racist rant published on the internet.

“Well, guess what? This s–t’s about to go live, b—h. Right on Facebook,” she says after recognising the employee that served her previously. “‘Cause I already posted what your dumb ass did last night. So I hope you’re happy with your little f—-g sand n—-r self. Cause I’m about to nuke your whole f—-g planet from Mars. You think ya’ll are tough big fat Arabs bombin’ the Trade Center? I’ll show you tough.”

In this case, the customer had apparently been enraged not just by the fact the cashier forgot her receipt, but that she then offered to provide her next meal free of charge by way of recompense for the honest mistake.

How dare she?

The Anti-Bag Lady

Not Always Right retail story
This shop assistant catches a troublesome customer in the act, exacting his own subtle revenge.

This story comes from Not Always Right – a website where employees share their tales of badly behaved customers getting up to no good. In this example, the employee in question apparently dealt with the situation with marked aplomb. Well played, sir.

There are many and myriad different ways for dealing with each one of these customers correctly, but usually a retailer must rely on the experience of its staff to make the right decision on a case-by-case basis.

The examples presented are all brick and mortar horrors, but surely there are plenty of bad customers that online retailers have had to put up with. Do you have a nightmare to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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