Coffee Shop

Denver, CO

(I work at a place where it’s common for customers to pay for the person behind them in the drive-through. I help a customer who intended to pay only for her 4$ drink, but upon hearing that the customer in front of her had paid it, insisted on paying for the 11$ total behind her. The customers with that total pull up, and I notice they are all teenage girls.)

Me: Actually guys, the lady in front of you paid for your order!

Driver: What? Why?

Me: It’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing, it happens pretty often here.

Driver (to her friends): Sweet guys! Free drinks!

(I hand them their four drinks, and ask if they’d like to pay it forward.)

Driver: Why would I? I just saved 11 bucks!

Me: Well have a good day!

Coworker: I get it when someone intends to pay for one drink, and cant afford a huge total of the person behind them. But when that happens it just makes me want to throw things.

Grocery Store

Chicago, IL

(I was working at a customer service desk at a grocery store, this customer wanted to return some vitamins)

Customer: “I would like to return these vitamins please.”

Me: Okay, was there anything wrong with them?

Customer:  Well, you might have a lawsuit on your hands.  These were the hardest, largest pills to swallow.  I got such a sore throat trying to get these down.

Me: Well ma’am the label says these are chewable.

Customer: Well, they’re still pretty hard to chew!!

Me: Would you still like to return the vitamins?

Customer storms out, never saw her again. 

Department Store

South Australia, Australia

Customer: Yeah hi, I’m looking for the best saucepans you sell.

Me: OK great. This is our top brand here that [famous chef] endorses… (I point out a name brand with a 50-year guarantee and explain some of the features). The 5 piece set is on special for $499.95 today because of our big sale. I really like this set, I bought it myself because it was such a good price and with such a long warranty I’ll probably never have to buy another one.

Customer: Hmm, that’s nice. But it’s a little expensive. Do you have something that’s still very good, but cheaper?

[I take the customer to our next best brand, with similar features but $100 cheaper. Again he seems interested but says it’s too expensive. I show him a couple more that are cheaper again with the same result.]

Customer: Basically I’m looking for your best, cheapest set.

Me: [laughs] Well unfortunately here it’s kind of one or the other.

(The customer gives me a blank look.)

Me: The general rule I tell customers here is ‘you get what you pay for’. The more expensive it is, the higher the quality and the longer the warranty. So the best sets are the most expensive.

Customer: Yeah, but I want a good, cheap one.

(I give in and show him some of our mid-range sets which are good value for money. 20 minutes later…)

Customer: No, no, these are all much too expensive. Who would ever pay $150 for a set of saucepans and frypans?

(As he’s walking out he goes past our home-brand range of cookware on the clearance table. All the pieces were marked down to $5 each because they were such terrible quality that no-one was buying them - a baked beans tin would have more metal in it than these things. He suddenly gets excited and buys one of everything - I guess I should be happy that *someone* wanted them!)

Travel Stop


(There has been a bad wreck on the interstate. Traffic is being detoured onto the state highway and many are stopping for gas, snacks, etc. I am the only cashier working and there’s a line to the door. Most truck drivers are understanding and are just getting in line with everyone else instead of making me run between registers, except for one.)

Driver: (has been standing at other register for several minutes) Hello?

Me: Sir, I need you to get in line with everyone else. It’s very busy and I can’t run back and forth right now.

Driver: But I have already been waiting for five minutes!

Me: I know, and I’m sorry sir, but you can see the line I have and you have also seen me helping other drivers at this register.

Driver: But I just need my receipt!

Me: There’s only one of me, and I’m working at this register. I’ll need you to step over here and get in line with everybody else.

Driver: This is ridiculous! You have seen me standing here, why won’t you help me?! (he complains for a few more minutes, but eventually gets in line)

Next customer: Does that happen a lot?

Me: You have no idea.

Travel Stop


(A customer comes in with a gift card he won at a convention. While it is a card we take, it is generally used for diesel purchases and he has already pumped his gasoline. This conversation happens after I’ve tried running it several different ways and calling the card company.)

Me: I’m sorry sir, it looks like this card won’t run. Do you have another way to pay?

Customer: This is bull****! Run it again!

Me: Sir, I’ve already tried every way I know to run it. I’ve called the issuing company and they couldn’t do anything either. Are you sure it had money on it?

Customer: Of course it did! I just won it in a drawing! How long have you even worked here?!

(Note: This question happens a lot when customers get mad and try and bully any of the girls working. I’m generally pretty easy going and soft-spoken, but this always gets me riled up.)

Me: (smiling) Five years.

Customer: Oh- well, fine, here’s the cash! (throws money on the counter).

(Unfortunately he came back the next night. A truck driver stepped in and bought the card off of him before he could get too mad. I always wondered if he got ripped off!)