As anyone who's worked a customer-facing job will tell you, dealing with the public can be brutal. Consumers have internalized the idea that the customer is always right, so when they don't get exactly what they want, they're often quick to escalate matters.
Because of this behavior, every server, cashier, retail worker, and customer service associate harbors a deep well of "can I speak to the manager" stories. Thankfully, when the higher-ups actually get involved, they have the authority to tell rude customers off.
Some managers have taken to Reddit to share their best problem customer clapback stories. These tales illustrate the stresses customer service professionals face, and give the rest of us an inside look at the astounding rudeness, dumb questions, and appalling sense of entitlement many customers possess.
Yes, Bookstores Actually Want To Sell Customers Books
From Redditor /u/Viktionary:
I was a manager at a mall bookstore in Canada when Princess Diana died. Before the store opened the next morning, we had many phone calls to ask if we had any biographies of Princess Diana, so the few we had had were put on hold for various people for 48 hours. This left a space on the shelf where the books had been.
I had a crazy lady come in and accuse us of moving the Princess Diana books into the back room so we could hold them there and jack up the prices. I was pretty much flabbergasted by that logic. Lady, I sell books, and if I had a book to sell to you, I'd sell it. I don't make money on mythical future transactions that may or may not occur. And no, you are not going into my backroom to have a look around yourself to make sure I am not lying.
It took over 20 minutes to get her out of my store, without a Princess Diana biography. Within a week we had hundreds of copies of every imaginable Princess Diana biography that existed at that time.
A Drunk Customer Didn’t Recognize The "Manager"
From Redditor /u/Norman1515:
I used to work in the box office for an MLB team. The actual manager was usually extremely busy and couldn't easily respond to issues at 15 different windows, so we frequently pretended to be each other's managers. It was the easiest way to get back up when an annoying customer would not accept one of our policies.
One night, I was helping a very drunk customer who refused to accept a policy (I don't remember exactly what it was). He asked to speak to the manager, but [the manager] and everyone else around me were crazy busy. So, I turned my back on the customer, turned back around, pretended to be a different person, and backed myself up. He accepted this without issue and went on his way.
This Customer Lacked Holiday Cheer
From Redditor /u/Chinchill-allfather:
I was working at a very large retailer around Christmas. I was helping this older lady who was wearing a giant button on her shirt that said, "It's MERRY CHRISTMAS not HAPPY HOLIDAYS" — so, obviously, I said happy holidays when all was said and done.
She gets furious because it's... WAR ON CHRISTMAS, and she just tears my *ss apart. She asks for my manager, and I just grin like I've got the best hand in poker. I turn my head to call my manager.
"Hey, Ahmad! She wants to talk to a manager!"
Please Don't Try To Return Merchandise Six Years Later
From Redditor /u/docholoday:
I was the manager at an EB Games back in the day. This was probably about 2000-2001… We had an older lady come in one day and wanted to "return" a system she had bought for her son. She claimed he had gotten bad grades in school and was returning it as a punishment. She handed me this ridiculously old and beat up cardboard box. I opened it to find a dirty, dusty, Cheeto-fingerprint-covered PS1.
I knew that the original PlayStation launched in 1994... so what I was looking at in the box was at least 6 years old. I paused, looked back at her, and for whatever reason asked if she had the receipt. She actually did. Sure enough, it had the date printed on it, and it was from some time in '94.
I still hadn't said anything more, I was just looking at the mess in front of me when she spoke up and said something along the lines of, "and I'll just take the cash back, that will be fine." I laughed, which was probably my first mistake, and said, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I'll be able to return this, this is six years old, and clearly used."
She tried to argue that she had bought it here at this store, and the manager at the time told her she could return it for "any" reason and went on this crazy diatribe about her kid being bad, etc., etc. It went on for a good 5-10 minutes. When she was done, I just flipped the receipt over and read her the EB return policy. "30 days from date of purchase for unopened merchandise…."
She completely lost it. It escalated so quickly I contemplated calling mall security (ha!) and the police. She wasn't having it. Then I told her she could "sell" the system back to us (it was worth about $40 at the time), which would have given her something, but she wasn't biting on that one.
She asked for the manager, demanded to see the manager, wouldn't rest until she told the manager how rude I had been (I was pretty much a saint for most of this) and was going to get me fired. I just pointed to my name tag, and in the most satisfied tone humanly possible said, "Lady, I AM the manager, and there's no way on God's green earth that I'm returning an opened, 6-year-old, clearly used, dirty PlayStation."
She stormed out, never to be seen again. It was glorious.