Anyone who has ever worked with the public in any capacity has had to deal with at least one shady or impossible customer. Heaven forbid you've worked the first shift during Black Friday, or been on call at a convenience store during a crime. But it's mind-boggling to consider some of the craziest stunts customers pull, all for the sake of a freebie. The lengths people will go, the fantastical lies they will spin, and the elaborate ruses they will try to stage all play into the stories retail workers have to share about people trying get something for nothing.
Furthermore, in many cases, these antics often revolve around mere small-ticket items: a meal, a pair of jeans, a can of paint. These customers' shadiness is a testament to the fact that free stuff is the strongest leverage on a human mind. Customers gripped by the free-stuff phenomenon will do just about anything to have an excuse to scream and belittle innocent customer service workers, and there might be no more triggering phrase for a retail worker to hear than "Can I speak to your manager?"
There is a huge collection of Reddit stories from real-life retail employees about the shady customers they've encountered, and some of the more devious culprits are simply appalling.
From Redditor /u/jreckers:
In high school, I worked a service desk at a supermarket. Whenever somebody returned a small appliance, we always cut open the box to make sure all the parts were with it. One day, a guy showed up looking to return an air conditioner. [I] cut open the box, and there was nothing but a rock inside. He ran out of the store pretty quick.
From Redditor /u/FerociousPenguin:
I work for a grooming salon, and we are supposed to verify that the customer has paid for the services before we give them the dog. Harsh, I know, but some of these grooms run upwards of $100, and the store doesn't want to lose that (plus I don't want to lose my commission!).
Anyway, a lady comes back from supposedly paying, shows me a receipt; it's a little crinkled but nothing I believe is out of the ordinary. I give [her the] dog. Turns out she had shown me the receipt from the previous time the dog had gotten groomed. I didn't check the dates or anything.
I felt like a total dumbass while explaining it to my manager the next day.
From Redditor /u/TheKloKloYo:
I work in customer service for a major cell phone company. "I never received the phone I purchased" happens all the time. It's actually very amusing, because then I can do this:
"Oh, gosh Mr. Derp, I'm so sorry that you didn't receive your phone. The tracking number indicates that it was delivered to the address you requested about three days ago. Have you possibly checked with a neighbor who may have retrieved it for you?"
Mr. Derp: "Nope, no one has the phone. It must have been stolen. I'm going to need a new one."
Cue troll face from me: "Hmmm, okay then, Mr. Derp, the reason I'm asking is because I'm pretty concerned. The serial number of the phone we sent you is actually showing as being in use for 3 days on the same line you're calling me from right now."
Mr. Derp: CLICK
From Redditor /u/blue_zoidberg:
I was working at Macy's, and this lady would come in all the time and buy brand new merchandise that we had just put out of the floor, but the ticket would be wrong and marked down to almost nothing. We honored the price the first time, but she kept doing it over and over, even after we told her no. So, one day I followed her, and she had actually brought a reticketing gun and was switching the tags of the brand-new merchandise with clearance tags. She was escorted from the store.