Retail "Horror" Stories

  • Tutorialist

    Be it apparel, grocery, electronics, whatever... What are you best/worst stories of working as a cashier, a stocker, or whatever.

    Mine from today is a woman asked me to put her two gallons of milk into a bag. Okay, strange but whatever. I open up the bag and the smell of cat piss just explodes out of it. Like bad. I look down into the bag and the white inside is all discolored and yellow-- and worse has brown and /darker/ yellow spots where it looks like a cat had diarrhea in it. I was like, "You want them in this bag...? Not a different one?"

    "Yeah, that bag is fine."


    I stick the milk in, hand her her bags and she acts like she can't smell it or see it at all. I was practically gagging.

    Aaaand, so this is a story one of my coworkers told me as he was leaving and I was coming back from lunch:

    "I thought I had seen everything but now I know I have! I was unpacking her bags, and I reached inside for a black thing, thinking it was another bag... It was a pair of dirty panties! I couldn't reach for the hand sanitizer fast enough!"

  • I worked at a 7-11 in my college years, before I realized security graveyard shifts were where it's at for study time. My biggest horror story was the cocaine bust.

    There was a private "neighbourhood security" firm that patrolled the neighbourhood next to our store that we liked to refer to as "the demilitarized zone" in Regina, SK. When they weren't patrolling the zone, they were parked in our parking lot. In exchange for a small stream of free coffee we got extra shoplifting control when things got busy. It paid off one day when one of the pair leaned over the counter and murmured to me, "That lady over there just put a tin of stew into her purse." He paired that with a discreet finger pointing at the lady (of the night) in question. So we waited for her to leave, sure enough without coming to the cash, and one of the security dudes stopped her outside and said that we would be detaining her until the cops came.

    She blustered, but I was, at the time, built like a brick shithouse and my work partner was a fat old Irish woman who was a spitfire and a half. We were not intimidated and merely prevented her from leaving until the cops arrived. The cops listened to us, to the security dudes, and then asked the lady if she'd mind opening her purse. She practically threw the purse at them. And from the purse came:

    • the aforementioned tin of stew
    • a bottle of 7-up
    • a box of sugar cubes
    • approximately $50,000 (1980s money!) of cocaine in brick form

    That was exciting enough, but after the cops cleared the place (with two gratis LARGE cups of coffee and two boxes of donuts discreetly placed into their car when they weren't looking) two OTHER regulars came tearing into the place screeching that we had to get the fuck out of Dodge and quick. They were, we suspect, pot dealers. They spent almost every night at the edge of our parking lot coming in every so often to buy our (horrific) sandwiches and assorted munchies like chips or chocolate. And according to their report the "boyfriend" (their words, not ours; I'd have likely called him "pimp"), who'd been patiently sitting on the hood of a car (not his) while this all went down, upon her arrest and being carted out stalked off the parking lot loudly muttering to himself something about "getting a shotgun" and "blowing their fucking heads off".

    We called the cops and within a minute the same cops who'd come before arrived back and concealed themselves in the staff room, pistols out of their holster. Then one of them said, "Wait, that guy. We got his statement, right?" "Yeah." "You don't think..." "Nah, nobody could be that stupid." So on the off chance he was that stupid, they called in to dispatch and checked if his statement had an address. It did. They sent a couple of squad cars to said address ... and caught him in the act of exiting his home with an assembled and loaded shotgun.

    It turns out uttering death threats and then going home to pick up the tools to carry out said threats is a very serious offence.

    Then my crowning glory of achievement as a manly-man. The two of us were on a swing shift, so we ended at 4AM. Our replacement was a (solo) gorgeous chick I'd been eyeing for weeks. She hears about the excitement and practically begs me on her knees not to leave her alone.

    Idiot that I was I left anyway. Because I had a D&D session to write up for noon that day.


  • Pitcrew

    I worked a bit of retail the worst horror story was from one of the holiday seasons I worked at Macy's. Macy's had a lot of sales that ended at 11 am sometimes 10 the whole "doorbuster" thing. Well I was working in housewares the day of one of these sales and it was a good one, so things had been hectic til the sale ended at 11. Then the department got fairly quiet. The one lady walks in goes to one of the items on sale picks it up this is like 11:45 well after the sale is over. she heads to the check out station for the department. Normally two of us there but the other person and gone to lunch after the sale ended.
    She waits behind one person and steps up, i scan it tell her the price expect to get the money and move on with my day. She has a fit that wasn't the sale price she said. I say sale ended at 11 it is now almost 12. She tried the I was in line at 11 I get the price, which is the correct policy at the time the computers were even set to give out the sale price 15 minutes after the official end to cover that. I respond with, no you just got in line behind the person who just left. He harrumphs and says, Well you can change the price. I know I could have but at the time I was annoyed by her tone and body language and she was not gonna get it for the sale price from me. I do the standard retail line of no I can't the computer won't let me. this goes back and forth for a bit. And then she wants to talk to my manager. So I call for manager of that floor, (multi-floor store each floor had and assistant manager and the store had an overall manager) assistant manager comes over talks to the lady then to me. assistant manager looks at the record of sales on the computer sees the gaps in sales after the rush from the sale ends and is like, I am sorry ma'am the sale is over. Lady still won't leave she fumes at bit and then demands to see the store manager. Now mind you this is now well past the point of time when I should be at lunch. We wait about 30 minutes for the store manage to show up, lady pacing around me and the assistant just chatting about random stuff. The other person for the department arrive and start to help the back log of other customers that started to build.
    Store manager arrives. now the lady lies her ass off now she was in the store at 9 blah blah blah, Oh and I and the assistant manager were very rude. I admit I was curt during the whole time but also polite, and the assistant manager was one of the sweetest people ever. The manager then listens to what I and the assistant say and check the log for herself and is like. I ma sorry ma'am the sale appears to have been over. So lady makes a big huff and storms out, I return product to it's place.
    then comes the happy ending, shortly before the end of my shift a couple hours later same lady walks in picks up the same things walks to the counter to buy it sees it is me grumbles a bit but does pay the actual price this time.

  • One of my favorites out of many:

    After moving cross-country, I got a job as a manager at a chain bookstore. This was March. Right around that time, the company was running a brief promotion that sent out coupons for a free ereader if you bought their largest tablet model. Good deal, right?

    Fast forward six months. In September, I had a customer approach me at the info desk and put down her tablet. She tells me she bought this in San Diego and then saw the coupon for the ereader when she got back and she wanted me to give it to her. She had a printout of the email advertising the deal but not even the actual coupon, and because the coupon is what shows the expiration dates, she kept claiming I had to give her this device. I stayed mostly polite throughout, explained repeatedly that this promotion was outdated, I wasn't going to honor it, yes I am the manager so no you can't talk to anyone else, and even if it weren't expired, you don't have the actual coupon code and without that I /still/ couldn't honor it. Finally she got super pissed at me and went to storm out. And me, snide bitch that I am, said very politely after her, "Have a nice day."

    Lady turned around and proceeded to ream me out for the next couple minutes, none of which I heard because she decided to lead with, "You need to go to customer service school!" After she finally did stomp out, I spent the next several minutes sitting in the floor at info giggling to myself and asking my co-workers if they thought this school would be accredited and did they have scholarships because I work retail and I'm poor. :P

  • I work at a bakery in a fairly high end grocery store in town. There are so many horror stories. Many of which end with comments like, "Well I'll just go to WalMart", from the flustered customer. Like Walmart is going to have good cake... ...anyway.

    One of my favorite horror stories was about two years ago around this time. Graduation season is nuts for our store cake decorators, since we're located just outside two of the largest subdivisions in town. This was one of our busiest yet. About 60 cake orders a day all weekend. One of our three decorators broke her foot, and a bunch of other stuff and was in the hospital (still joke she was the lucky one), so the remaining decorator and I were pretty flustered come Saturday.

    Lady comes in to order her cake for Sunday. I explain that that's fine, but earliest we can do is about 2pm, just because we have so many orders. Lady gets all angry, citing how we have to take her order for whatever time she chooses, because that's the policy of our store. It's not. I explain that it's not, and that the policy is that we can't turn down an order, which I didn't, and that normally it wouldn't be an issue at all, bt we just have so many orders and I didn't want to promise anything we might not be able to do.

    Lady calms a little, starts to tell me this order for her daughter's graduation - a complicated as hell three tiered fiasco made entirely of chocolate. Now, I'm dreading this already, she's taking up my time (about thirty mins by now) when I could have been finishing cake orders, so I'm getting a smidge short, but still polite.

    And then this crazy woman pulls out this print out picture of what she wants....white frosted, brightly colored roses with some kind of Eiffel tower design on one side. I ask if she really wants everything chocolate, because then it would look brown and not white. To which she replies:

    "Well you need to dye the chocolate. I want it these colors, but chocolate."

    "White chocolate? We can't do white chocolate" I reply.

    "No! Regular damn chocolate. Jesus." Is how this lady chooses to respond. Me, the calm and collected person I am (not) in these situations blurts out,

    "I'm not a wizard. Neither am I Jesus."

    Long story short, she asked for my manager, who was snickering at my response while packing out the bread for the day, and Lady eventually ended up leaving without a cake order being placed...
    ....while proclaiming that Wal-Mart would do her cake for her.


  • Tutorialist

    My walmart, as far as I know, doesn't do cake orders.

    But this reminds me of my favorite not-quite-retail-but-close story. I used to work in the office a K to 8 character school. The office had three to four people who worked in it. Toward the end of the year we're pretty sick of parents. Like really. Super sick of parents and their shit. Anywise, luckily I wasn't the receptionist.

    But we're all gathered around the reception, when this woman comes in. She needs to pay for aftercare or an afterschool program, or a late fee for something. She has to pay /something/. But she hasn't brought the correct amount.

    "Well you just get me change." She says to the receptionist.

    "I'm sorry but we can't give you change." says the Receptionist.

    "Well why not? Why can't you just give me change." The mother is insisting.

    And by this point the receptionist is already getting aggravated. She's pretty tired of parents coming in and demanding we give them change for the things they need to pay. We're the front desk of a school after all, we don't really deal with money.

    So she isn't budging, "We don't have change."

    "Look, why can't you just break this hundred for me? Just do it." The woman is getting more agitated and rude and angry.

    Finally the receptionist says, "I'm not a bank!"

    And the woman flips her lid and starts saying how /you're so rude/.... not even to the receptionist but to another member of the front office staff who was sitting behind the receptionist, leaning against the desk.

    She then told the story to our aftercare staff, still insisting it was the other woman not our receptionist that was rude to her.

  • Most of my awesome retail comes from years that I was a manager for Toys R Us.

    • Christmas is, as always, hell for any retailer. Double so for the guy that runs the front end. Which was me. So, we had tons of temp help. I was doing a safe drop and getting prepped for an armored car pickup, when I get over the headset 'You need to come up front, somethings' up...' I go up front, and my World Leader (front end CS person under me) tells me that the girl on the end cash register had a ring up for $5 and change, but there's three carts of stuff. So I walk over, walk past her and... lo and behold, catch her in the act of a pass-through. So I confronted her, and the people she was checking out bolted. Long story short, she was doing a pass-through on stuff for her sister and sister's boyfriend; when we tallied it (and oh hell, it took forever) it was almost $3000 worth of stuff. Sucks to be her dumb ass.
    • I was, after that, the manager for the video game department. This was just after the Gamecube had come out. I came back from lunch to one of the other managers who said 'Dude, you have to see this'. Apparently some moron had pulled, in order to try to steal one, an entire case of gamecubes on his moron head...
    • I got to eject a guy who almost body-checked a woman over Hot Wheels (rare Hot Wheels are apparently worth fighting over, who knew!)
    • We sold entire cases of action figures. The amount of people who screamed bloody murder when the policy clearly stated 'case quantities cannot be returned opened'. Because, y'know, that chase figure... gotta have it.

    Less a horror story, but more a fun one...

    • I ran the Yu-Gi-Oh! CCG league forever at that store. Some of it was horror (the high school-age guys I had to eject because of the rampant theft) and the people who treated it as a daycare/babysitting service. But, the good in this outweighed the bad. There was a dad and his two oldest kids that would come in and play, and the kids were just really good kids. They were also some of the most well-behaved and mature kids I ever had the pleasure of interacting with. The oldest kid ended up inviting me to his high school graduation about 4 years later, which was sweet (I couldn't go, but I was touched).

  • Pitcrew

    I have just... so many. I worked a barrel full of awful jobs to pay for university, because, well, university wasn't going to pay for itself, and I refused to get a loan.

    I worked in the lumber yard of the worst local chain hardware store in the country. That had some good ones...

    • A group of people were looking through the lowest quality studs we sold - they weren't suited for building structure, but were fine for supporting walls while you nailed them down, etc etc - and wanted me to open up a brand new lift of them because these were "all warped." Yes, that happens. But since this lift was pretty new, I wasn't going to. They made my life very difficult, and finally demanded to see my manager. He came out (this was one of the Managers I liked) and told them we wouldn't open a new lift for them. He looked at their order and realised they'd bought basically a garage package, but skimped on the 2X4s. He got a smile and then told me to open a new lift. They were pleased, and I was puzzled, until they were gone and he told me his plan. He was going to wait a few days and then call the City's building inspectors and rat them out. Sure enough, he did and they were inspected and - what do you know! - those 2X4s weren't up to code. They had to tear the building down (walls, really). So... then they showed up and wanted a refund from me. I politely informed them that we couldn't accept returns of lumber with holes in it... And then they had to buy all new studs and plywood. Good business decision.

    • To this day I do not know why some children poop in the display toilets. I just don't. I have two. They don't poop in display toilets...

    • A fellow came in and wanted us to load up his truck while he went in to pay. I told him I wouldn't. He called me racist names that didn't even apply to me (I'm pretty white, and my first name isn't one a Jewish person would have, so... piece it together from there) and used his truck to push the little dumpster (it was on wheels) into the racks of lumber before trying to drive off in a huff. Except he tried to leave through the entrance and got stuck there by an incoming customer, who politely left his truck there while we barred the first fellow from the store, including pictures and whatnot.

    I've also worked as a security guard, at 7-11, and was a delivery driver for Office Depot. I seriously could be here all night...

  • @dontpanda said in Retail "Horror" Stories:

    • To this day I do not know why some children poop in the display toilets. I just don't. I have two. They don't poop in display toilets...

    This isn't one of mine (my thankless mall job was as a barista, which I more or less enjoyed), but I had friends who worked in the department stores who told me of multiple occasions of finding people who'd urinated in dressing rooms. Boggled my mind but it happened...I don't want to say 'frequently', but 'more than twice' is 'frequent' to me when it comes to peeing in dressing rooms.

  • Pitcrew

    Every store has its characters, those oddballs that come in and do their thing. When I was a front end supervisor it was "Santa Claus".

    I know what you're thinking, "a guy coming in the store with a Santa Claus suit". No, we called him Santa because he looked like Santa without the suit: white hair and beard, pot belly and a friendly demeanor.....until.....

    You start having a conversation with him. Then you begin to see he's a little off and probably escaped the loonie bin. I used to warn all the new cashiers about him because he had a type: young, pretty "thick" dark-skinned girls. Once he found one he would have a conversation with them for an uncomfortable period of time and I'd have to pull them off the register.

    One time we got a new girl named Brandy. The same day I tell her about Santa and how contractors can be really sleazy, guess who shows up? Yep, Santa's down there with Brandy. The code was to flash the register light and I would go down there and tell them to take a break. Five minutes pass and no flashing light. He should've left by now, so I make my way down there.

    Brandy's looking at me wide eyed when I tell her to take a break. She quickly leaves. Fifteen minutes later he's back looking for Brandy. I tell him Brandy went home. He rings up duct tape, rope, contractor bags and drain opener (I'm not even joking about the items).

    I ask her about what he said to her and she says "he has a room for me in his basement and I should stay with him." I told her, " time you gotta get out of there like I told you. You can't have a conversation with him and hope he goes away." She agrees and life goes on.

    About a week later Brandy comes running into the store terrified and crying. Santa pulled up in a van and tells her he'll give her a ride to work. She refused and he started following her until she ran. I tell her to go in the break room and who shows up five minutes later? Yeah....

    I tell him he's got to leave. He doesn't, I call the police and they show up pretty quick. They too know Santa and ironically they call him Santa. I'm not sure what they charge him with, but they put him in handcuffs and tell me he's a sex offender.

    I think he's worse than that.

  • Okay. Horror Story #1!

    This was... 2-3 weeks ago? Wal-Mart, of course.

    There's an assisted living community nearby that busses in their more 'independent' residents to do their weekly shopping. One such resident, female, comes in, does her shopping, gets into the speedy checkout lane (the one right in front of the tobacco). She proceeds to shit all over the floor during the transaction, saying nothing at all the entire time, thanks the associate (because I get to be the mid-shift CSM for this lovely debacle), then proceeds to leave a literal trail of shit on the floor on her way out. We had to shut down the speedy checkout lane AND the two lanes right next to them for 40 minutes while we hunted down maintenance and got the mess cleaned up. Meanwhile, I have to have the poor associates 'guarding' the 'spill' to ensure that nobody steps in it while I get to wait for the bus to arrive so I can gently point out to the nurses that while we appreciate their communities business, we would appreciate it more if they would more stringently vet who counts as 'independent enough' to get to go to Walmart on their own, then have to relay the incident and point out the poor woman that caused the incident and insist that they provide her with a 'helper' if she's to return to the store.

  • There are people who will buy discounted meat at Walmart and then come over to my roommate's store where it's still full price. And the front desk will return it.

    So last month, because of this his department, had almost $3000 in loss and shrink due to 'returns.' So the department manager said that all wrapped meat returns had to be authorized by the shift manager before the front desk can return it. So what the front desk has started doing was telling people to instead just go ask for the store manager and complain that the meat department won't let them return their no receipt purchase for store credit.

  • @Jaded Those people are idiots. Walmart policy is that without a receipt, food items HAVE to be a direct exchange of item for item since you can't be sure any particular item didn't come from WIC or food stamps. And you are legally required to NOT cash out WIC or food stamps.

  • @Miss-Demeanor

    The returns are being done at a Giant Eagle and not another Walmart. It's really just the front desk people being stupid/not caring because they don't want to deal with pissy customers.

  • @Jaded They... shouldn't even be able to ring that item back into the system, then. Different pricing systems, different barcodes... your roomate needs to find a different store. Those front desk people are going to get that store shut down.

  • Admin

    @WTFE said in Retail "Horror" Stories:

    • approximately $50,000 (1980s money!) of cocaine in brick form

    I'm picturing the cops were wearing light blue double-breasted jackets over white shirts. Don't ruin this for me.

    @thebird said in Retail "Horror" Stories:

    About 60 cake orders a day all weekend. One of our three decorators broke her foot, and a bunch of other stuff and was in the hospital (still joke she was the lucky one)

    TIL that although war is hell, cake decorating involves an attrition rate.

  • So this just happened as I am at work as I type this. It's not really retail but my night job is as a cashier at an airport parking lot. So a lady comes in and she pulls so far away from the booth that I sit in that I /cannot/ reach her parking ticket while leaning out the window because she is using her /right fucking hand/ while driving, and she won't switch the ticket to the left hand so she isn't reaching across her whole body to try and hand me this thing.

    So I ask her to use her left hand and she refuses. I get out of the booth, walk around, go to take the ticket and she refuses to let go. I almost had to rip it out of her hand. I walk back into the booth and run the ticket. She does the SAME FUCKING THING with her credit card. So when she refuses to let go of her credit card I return to my booth and just sit there.

    I've got all night really.

    Finally she asks why I won't take her credit card and I am like: Because you didn't let go of it.

    So she pulls out some cash, finally uses her left hand, and then refuses to let go until after my fingers have slipped off the money and it hits the ground, wind blowing it all over the place.

    So I have to collect the fucking money and by this time there's 7 cars behind her now watching me do this. Finally things get taken care of and the next car comes through with this cute girl driving and she asks:

    Want me to run her off the road for you?

    I so desperately wanted to say yes.

  • Tutorialist

    The old woman again bitching about WIC couple ahead of her, came in again today. She comes in and says, "I called this morning and put something aside. I put something aside!" Another cashier goes to get it. I'm minding my own business and she's like, "Where is Barbara? Where is Barbara?"

    I'm like ... "What?"


    "She isn't here." Me.

    "Well I CALLED her this morning and she SAID she put it aside for me." Her.

    "I'm sure she did." Me.

    "Please wait for assistance." Intones the self check out, which I am attending.

    So I leave to go take care of it and she starts pushing her cart over, almost into the people I am helping, demanding, "Oh you found it?"

    And I'm like, lady ... I know you aren't that fucking daft. Of course I haven't.

    "No." I say, trying to hold onto my patience, "I have to attend the self check out, I can't leave it."


    "I. have. to. stay. here." Patience beginning to run very, very thin.

    "Well where is my stuff? I put it aside this morning." She's still demanding my attention, while I'm trying to help people having trouble with the self check out.

    "My coworker went to go get it."

    "Well where did he go? Where did he go?"

    "He went over to customer service." I tell her. "You can go wait over there for him."

    "WHERE IS CUSTOMER SERVICE?" She demands, like she hasn't been into the store A MILLION GODDAMNED TIMES.

    "Over there-- Oh, there he is." I say, and turn the hell away from her.

    One of my CSM walks by and is like, "Oh my god that woman she's so scary, I'm going to go do gobacks now." And took off into the store.

    And then the woman wheels her cart around self check out for a minute, and then pushes it over toward me and informs me, "I have to use the restroom."

    "Okay, the restrooms are back there." I helpfully point to her.

    "I KNOW where the restrooms are."

    Oh, you do. But you apparently don't know where customer service is. You old cunt.


    This woman puts my teeth on edge just seeing her. She's rude, demanding, and acts like everyone around her is an inconvenience or not as important as she is. If she gets into your line and you have someone ahead of her who has a lot of groceries or takes more than a few minutes to process then she starts freaking out, "Come on, come on! What is taking so long? Oh my god, I'm stuck here."

    I'm just like: Take your fucking shit and go to another line. Or go to self check out.

    ETA: I just know that one day I'm going to get an open-door talking to because I'm going to tell her exactly that: "Ma'am, if this line is too slow for you you're welcome to put your items back in your cart and go to another line, or to self service."


  • Tutorialist

    After said lady from above was gone the AM who had just gotten off shift and I were talking. And I mentioned the "poop in self service" story from @Miss-Demeanor. He said, "Oh we've had that here. Just you wait."

    And then he told me a story were one day he was told there was screaming / shouting coming from the men's rest room. So he thinking, "Well, I'm Mr. Manager and all that. Let me pull up my breeches and go in there." He rounds the corner and there is a man bent over, with hands on both of his ass cheeks -- spreading them and exposing his butt hole.

  • Admin

    This isn't a story from retail but one from (people of) Wal-mart so maybe it belongs here.

    The sister of a friend of mine had broken her leg and was wearing a cast and everything. One day she went to Wal-mart to do some shopping and headed out to take one of those motorised wheelchair thingies so she could move around. As she sits down on the only remaining one there she hears this loud sigh behind her and this obese lady goes over and starts yelling at her because she was a skinny girl, she didn't need a wheelchair, didn't she know those were for people who actually did?

    She then threatened to call a manager. I can only imagine how that conversation would have gone. "This disabled girl is using a disabled people-only wheelchair!"

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