life as a barista Archives - I Hate Working In Retail


Retail and Service Workers Share Their Crazy Customer Stories

Sure, we’ve all had our fair share of bad (or even horrible) customer service experiences. There’s even an annual list of the top 10 consumer complaints that ranks which areas of the marketplace we find most frazzling in any given year.

But what about tales from the other side of the counter? We asked our readers who work in the restaurant, retail or service industry to share their worst “crazy customer” stories. We chuckled, guffawed and sat with our mouths wide open as we read through your submissions, then we picked our 12 favorites.

Poke and Sniff
Reader remotecandy says: “I was shopping in the meat department … when I noticed a woman picking up various packages of meat, poking holes in the wraps and sniffing each package before she put the package back where she got it. I was not only appalled, but was disgusted … I notified the meat department manager and he talked to this woman … She lost it, calling the meat manager every name in the book, and proceeded to randomly poke holes in meat packages that she had no intention of buying. Because the store security people couldn’t handle this woman, they called the police, but the woman made it out of the store just in the nick of time.”

Fishy Business
Reader Bballxlovex25 says: “A customer ordered anchovies on a pizza from our pizza place. She called back after receiving her delivery order to complain. She stated that she ordered anchovies on her pizza and received fish. We told her that anchovies were indeed fish and that was what she ordered. She proceeded to yell that she, “Did not want these f***ing fish!” on her pizza. Her son proceeded to tell her that she ordered anchovies and that they were fish. She threatened the manager by saying she was going to beat up the manager’s mother and husband.”

No, It’s Your Fault!
Reader AJH89 says:
“I work at a restaurant and this lady and a little boy, about four or five, came in to eat. The little boy sat down with his mom and peed in his pants. The lady told me it was my fault because I did not tell her that the little boy looked liked he needed to go to the bathroom. She wanted us to give her dinner [for] free. I could not believe it.”

(Chicken) Bills
Reader Gerrydee1 says: “As a young girl right out of school, I worked in the Customer Relations Department of Sears-Roebuck in Philadelphia. This was the mail order division. My job was to handle complaints via letter from customers and route them to the correct place for their problems to be solved. I received a note from a farmer that said his latest sale from the catalog of poultry … included some dead on arrival. My supervisor told me to write him back and asked him to send the bills from the sale indicating how many, and we would gladly replace them … A package arrived with my name on it soon. It smelled funny even before I opened it. When I did, the dope sent me the actual bills (beaks) from the poor little chickens. It smelled to high heaven and freaked me out.”

She’s “Wheely” Crazy

Reader JCDIFFEY says: “[This] lady came into our station for full service lube and oil change and wanted her tires rotated. She returned about two hours later, went to her car and came inside the shop, really mad. She wanted all the wheels with the design on them to all FACE UP. [We] tried to explain, the first time you drive the car [they] will change and [will] not be the same. She refused to pay the bill unless we corrected the problem. We pulled the car on the rack and made all the wheels look the same. She paid bill and departed a happy customer. We let her drive it off the rack.”

What a Gas
Reader TLWidner32824 says: “I had a customer (guest) come into one of my stores at MGM Studios, Orlando with armfuls of merchandise to purchase. She laid her stuff on my counter and whipped out a Mobil gas card to pay for her purchases. I kindly told her that Mobil cards are good for Mobil gas stations to buy gas and products. She could not understand why she could not use her gas card. Even after explaining and re-explaining, she still did not get it. She left, as that was her only ‘form of payment.'”

Too Much “O” in the H2O
Reader PANJO says: “While running my family’s restaurant in NYC, I had a customer call me over one time to her table … She holds a glass of water that the busboy had brought over when she sat down, and asks in very grave tone, ‘Do you see what I see?’ Being in the restaurant business, I figured maybe there was lipstick on the glass [or] something had fallen in it, but … I couldn’t see anything … She said, ‘I can’t believe you can’t see, but there is way too much oxygen in the water!'”

Guess That’s Not What He Wanted to Hear
Reader Chrisandkim04 says: “I had an older gentleman who had purchased his glasses from one of our companies eight years ago. He came in all upset, because his glasses had broken … He proceeded to tell me his story [about] how he bought the glasses several years ago and how he had never had a problem with them until now … His dog got a hold of his glasses and chewed them up beyond recognition … I explained that the frame was no longer being made and in order to get him a new pair he would have to see the doctor … He flipped out. He threw the remaining fragments of his glasses at me and kicked his chair at my other associate.”

Not Worth the Argument
Reader Bgk9876 says: “A customer wanted to return a canteen which she had recently purchased. When I asked her why she wanted to to return it she said it leaked. After inspecting the canteen, [I] noticed [it had] a hole in the center big enough to put your index finger in. When this was pointed out to the customer, she responded by saying, ‘Well, that’s not where it leaks.’ She got a full refund.”

She Did What??
Reader WAYDOWNTOWN2 says: “A woman came into the restaurant drunk, and when asked to leave she hiked her skirt up, squatted down and proceeded to pee in the middle of the dining room. “Oh yeah, she was arrested.”

The Wrong End of Things
Reader Marcanewman1 says: “I spent many years in drug stores and had many ‘confused customers.’ A few — ‘Why didn’t the direction label say take the foil off the suppository first, it really hurt?’ ‘I choked, why didn’t the instructions say take the pill with water?’ ‘Why didn’t the label say Insert in rectum, I swallowed it ?’ [This] customer orally took a suppository with the foil on it!”

Pizza Pain
Reader Bnchudson says:
“I work for a restaurant that has a website for people to place online orders. I had a customer who placed their order online for one size then yelled at us because she had [accidentally] ordered a bigger size and thought we had purposely changed her ticket. When we showed her the original copy she still didn’t believe it. We then even offered to remake it for her at no additional cost, and she flipped out saying she had already paid for the larger size (which she was shown she had not) and deserved a refund of her money as well. Needless to say she left with no refund and the smaller size.”

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Woman Drinks Blood Filled Coffee at Costa Coffee

Woman drinks Costa coffee with blood in it after being served at Swansea drive-thru by staff member with cut hand

Janine Hughes with the letter of apology from Costa  after being served coffee with blood in it.

A COSTA drive through customer has vowed to drive past in future after being served coffee with blood in it.

The incident came at the UK coffee shop chain’s Llansamlet outlet and customer Janine Hughes has hit out at what she regards as the company’s inadequate response to her complaint.

Tomorrow she is due to get the result of blood tests.

Miss Hughes, from SA1 in Swansea, went to the outlet with her partner and her father and ordered two lattes, one of which had blood on the lid. She said the employee who served her had a cut hand and went to wash it while another staff member changed the lid.

“He should have changed the coffee,” she said. “My partner had that coffee. I drove off and took two sips of mine, and it tasted irony, I realised something was wrong, but did not know what at the time. Then I saw blood on the inside of the lid and realised there was blood in the coffee. My partner had not tried his as it was very hot, and he didn’t then.

“I drove back and asked to see the manager. The person who served me was mortified. I felt sorry for him. He should have gone off to wash his hands and we should have had two new coffees. I was offered new drinks and was given two lattes but I said I had to report it. It was too serious to ignore.”

 The duty manager said the area manager would contact her, which only happened two days later. Miss Hughes emailed head office in Dunstable the day after the incident, but said she had not received a reply.

“The area manager was horrified and said something should have been done,” said the 30-year-old IT worker. “She was very apologetic.”

 A follow-up letter of apology was sent, in which the area manager admitted that standards had fallen well short of what they should have been.

And she added: “I will ensure that my entire team will revisit all necessary training as an absolute minimum.”

 A head office statement said: “Our area manager has spoken to Ms Hughes and apologised for the distress this obviously caused her. This was an isolated incident and does not reflect our high standards of safety and hygiene.”

Miss Hughes said: “I don’t think it should have been the area manager to apologise. It should have been head office. Not once have they contacted me. They have hidden behind the brand. That is terrible.

 “I have had the worry of the blood tests. I don’t think I will ever go to Costa again. I will support my local coffee shops.”

Chris Peregrine /

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13 ways to camp at a coffee shop without pissing off your barista


Campers are the bedbugs of the coffee shop world. It’s unclear where they came from, you can’t get rid of them, and they make baristas want to scratch out their eyeballs. But a coffee shop lives and dies by regulars, even if they’re glued to MacBooks for eight hours at a time and subsist mainly on house-coffee refills.

Students, freelancers, and hipsters simply need places to hang out, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. What CAN change is the etiquette you practice when turning a public place into your private office. Here’s how to do just that.


Goes without saying, but if you’re going to make yourself at home, you’ve gotta pay rent.

Leave a tab open

It lets the barista know that you’ll be there for a while, but that you’re not planning on nursing that cortado for four hours. Also it keeps them from having to repeatedly run your credit card for $2.50.

Don’t ask the baristas to watch your computer

First, it makes them realize that you’ve been there long enough to load your bladder with free water. Second, it makes them feel responsible for you. Third, it makes you look like a paranoid nerd.

Keep an eye on occupancy

If customers are entering the shop, looking around for a seat like lost puppies, then walking out, you’re doing the shop a disservice by clinging to that four-top real estate like it’s Boardwalk for the same amount of time it takes to finish a game of Monopoly.

Be friendly with the baristas, but not too friendly

Your goal is to walk the line between anonymous and obnoxious. You want the baristas to be able to forget about you, but in a good way.

Don’t throw your stuff everywhere

Push the chairs in around you, but don’t throw your bag on the ground. If you must spread out papers, don’t make it look like an IRS cubicle.

Go outside for phone calls

No one wants to listen to your conversation, and since you have one finger in your other ear to drown out the background noise, you’re probably talking REALLY LOUD.

Don’t abuse refill policies

The barista doesn’t care that you’re squeezing a few quarters out of the shop with every refill, but they definitely hate that the policy is enabling your camping.

Wear real clothes

Slippers and sweatpants disrespect the idea that you’re in a public place. If you want to lounge around all day in a Snuggie, do it at home.

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