Customers from Hell: Business Meltdowns

  • The Worst Customers Ever

    A bad customer can be a good opportunity to hone your customer service skills, but what about extreme cases where the customer is out to argue or maybe worse? Small business experts are a bit conflicted, but most question whether it’s a good idea to oblige your worst customers and thereby encourage them to come back. argues that bad customer retention may actually deplete your company’s resources. Similarly, Forbes suggests that you target and weed out your bad customers, then focus on building relationships with your good customers instead, so you get a real payoff. Still, it can be difficult to spot a bad customer until they are in your face. Luckily for business owners, several new Web sites have popped up to help track notorious customers. Companies that join are notified when a registered scammer tries to make a purchase at their store.  As the Web site states, theirs is the one list you don’t want to be on. But you can add this list to that category, too. Here is our list of 8 of the worst customers, along with some tips for how to deal with them. Photo Credit: Daquella manera
    Tech Support
  • Tech Support

    We’ve all been frustrated with a product we purchased, but Donald Goodrich took his frustration too far. The 39-year old Cincinnati native stormed into a local Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) store with his iPhone in hand, and told an employee, “I’m so mad I could pop a 9mm at it. I could do it right now, look!” He then flashed his gun. Now, at this moment, customer service might not be the first thing on your mind. But the employee nonetheless managed to diffuse the situation with her excellent customer service skills. She reportedly told the deranged customer that they’d get his phone fixed soon and walked him over to the nearest Apple technician. The customer was later arrested. Photo Credit: cogdogblog
    Restaurants Should Know Best
  • Restaurants Should Know Best

    One Denny’s waitress wrote up a long rant of the 10 worst customers she ever had to serve. We warn you in advance that there is a lot of profanity in her post, but if you had to deal with these customers, you’d probably be cursing a lot, too. There was the large party that came in at 3am, who talked loud, ate lots and tipped nothing. And the homeless guy who smelled foul and recounted how he lost his entire life. But our personal favorite is the creepy old guys.  She writes, “Yeah you two. You're pushing 60, do not act like you are 20. I am not on the menu, please stop asking, when I ask you if there is anything else I can get you don't say  ‘I'd like you on a plate.’ After 60 years I'd think you guys could come up with something better. I am a waitress, not a Hooker.” Perhaps the lesson here is that she manages to show excellent restraint in the workplace to keep her job and keep the customers happy, and releases her frustration in a constructive way later. Our only worry is that her post could somehow leak back to her employers. Photo Credit:
  • Starbucks

    Starbucks attracts a fair share of fanatical customers, each hopped up on caffeine, eager for their next fix, repeating their detailed drink specifications in a nervous mantra. So when one of these customers snaps, it should be no surprise that sparks will fly. According to one anecdote by a business owner in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “a stylishly coiffed 30-something woman with coffee stains all over her summer khakis stormed into the middle of the store, threw up her hands and staccato screeched at the baristas, ‘How ... about ... making sure ... the lid is on?!’ “She then stomped outside, steered her car onto the front sidewalk, jumped out with the remaining coffee and hurled the entire cup at the Starbucks front door. And then she was gone.” The owner then went on to argue that it’s the job of baristas to do everything they can to prevent this kind of incident from happening, but ultimately, “No amount of money, not even a $4 cup of coffee, gives customers the right to treat employees with such disregard.” For more crazy customer blow-ups at Starbucks, check here. Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon
    Customer Stupidity
  • Customer Stupidity

    If you thought customer service representatives eventually forgot your tirades, you were wrong. They just submit them to, a Web site that compiles ridiculous quotes gathered by retail employees. Consider it their revenge. In one post titled “When Age Equals I.Q.,” a car insurance representative recounts a conversation with someone looking asking about the flexibility of his insurance policy. Me: “Good morning, how can I help?”Customer: “Hi, I’ve got a policy with you. Will it let me drive other cars?”Me: “It might. Could I ask your age, please?”Customer: “I’m 23.”Me: “I’m afraid not, you have to be 25 years old or over before we give you that extension.”Customer: “Oh, ok, how do I get that, then?”Me: “…you have to turn 25.”Customer: “Oh! When will that be?” It may seem benign, but stupidity can be more aggravating than anything else on this list. Unfortunately, it’s the job of a good employee to suck it up and be respectful while helping the customer understand the answer to his question. Photo Credit: Thomas Duchnicki
    The Pick-Up Artist
  • The Pick-Up Artist

    The first time he walked into the Corcoran Group’s Real Estate Office, Diana Saatchi approached him like any other customer looking to buy a vacation home in the Hamptons. But when he came in five more times with five different women, Saatchi realized he wasn’t ever going to buy her real estate. “It was clear that he was using house hunting as a way to impress the women,” she told Forbes. The same tactic is undoubtedly used by men shopping at luxury stores like Ferrari. The trick, as a good salesman, is to figure out which customers are serious and which are a waste of time. Photo Credit: kthypryn
    The Repeat Offender
  • The Repeat Offender

    Earlier this year, an 86-year old woman was arrested for shoplifting for the 61st time at a grocery store. That’s nearly one arrest for every year of her long life. This customer would definitely earn a spot on’s list. What does an 86-year old woman steal? Cosmetics, salmon and anti-wrinkle cream. There’s very little you can do to reform a chronic thief, except ban them from your store once they’ve already struck.  People like this should be forced to shop online. Photo Credit: Daquella manera
    Rock Stars and Celebrities
  • Rock Stars and Celebrities

    There are too many examples of rock stars trashing their hotel rooms. Whether it’s Green Day going to the bathroom everywhere in the hotel except the bathroom, or Keith Moon, the Who’s drummer, starting a food fight by hurling his five-tier birthday cake at a crowd gathered in his hotel, then emptying all the fire extinguishers on his floor. And let’s not forget the night police were called to Johnny Depp’s hotel room after hearing “shattering glass, snapping wood, and loud domestic squabbling” only to find Johnny and Kate Moss surrounded by a pile of debris in the room. Depp blamed the mess on an armadillo that was never found. The moral of this story is that rock stars and celebrities make terrible customers, but at least they have enough money to compensate you for your losses. Photo Credit:
    Yard Sale Hooligans
  • Yard Sale Hooligans

    You don’t have to be in a formal storefront to have bad customers. Yard Sales attract some of the strangest. recounts horror stories of customers pissing on their lawns and rummaging through their trash. One story we liked was from a woman who ran a yard sale in Colorado: “I held a garage sale with many baby clothes, household items and the regular miscellaneous stuff. One item was a 3 foot tall Franciscan Nun doll dressed in the complete Nun habit. During a lull in customers, a man came in the garage and I kid you not, he picked up the doll, whistled a tune and waltzed around the garage a couple of times, put her back down and said in a creepy voice, ‘That was very nice,’ then he left.” If you’re going to have a yard sale, maybe it’s best to wait until your neighbor goes out of town for the weekend and then host it on their yard instead. And make sure you have a friend working with you to keep you safe and sane. Photo Credit: Dustin Dekoekkoek
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