11 Annoying Things Customers Do Which Make Retail Life Suck

11 Annoying Things Customers Do Which Make Retail Life Suck

Annoying things customers do

I worked in retail for 8 years and during that time, I came to realise that there are some very annoying things customers do. While I appreciate they’re paying my wages, I don’t think that’s an acceptable reason to behave in the ways that some of them do. I don’t know what it is about entering a shop that makes them forget about common decency, but that’s the way it goes.

Here are my 11 annoying that customers do. These are things that really get under my skin and make me want to scream.

1. Forget their manners

Listen up, retail workers are human beings. We do have feelings. If you wouldn’t bark orders at somebody in other circumstances, then don’t do it to us. If that happens to be just your general attitude towards other people, then do us all a favour and stay at home.

Yes, it’s our job to help you, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to talk to us like dirt. Here’s a little insider secret: if you are nice to us, we are nice to you. Ground-breaking stuff, right?

Manners cost nothing. It makes a huge difference to our day-to-day lives when you remember to say please and thank you.

2. Speak to you when you are with another customer

This is, in some way, is related to manners. I’m giving it its own space, though, because it’s so infuriating.

We can only help one person at a time. If we’re with somebody already, now is not your time. Whether that’s somewhere in the shop, or at the till, you need to wait your turn. Barging in and interrupting is unacceptable. We’re not going to abandon another customer in your favour, and you shouldn’t expect us to.

3. Whinge about store policies

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not the business owner and, therefore, I didn’t make the rules that you are so enraged by. This is what I have been taught to follow and I do not have the power to bend the rules for you. Before you start having a go at me, can you just take a second to think about that fact?

Saying that, it doesn’t make it much better when you say, “I know it’s not your fault but…” and continue to berate us anyway.

Sure, I’d love to give you your money back, so we didn’t have to have this disagreement, but I can’t. You need to understand that it would make my life much easier if I could give you what you wanted. Sadly, it is beyond my control.

4. Insist on talking to the manager

Think about this. You are asking to speak to the very person who trained me on these policies. Why are they going to tell you anything different?

Admittedly, managers do have a bit more flexibility and, in some circumstances, can find a solution for you. You should probably keep in mind that this is more likely to happen if you’re not behaving like a spoilt brat, though. Try asking calmly and reasonably to speak to the manager, and we might just get somewhere.

5. Treat you like you’re stupid

This is probably the one I found hardest to deal with. I consider myself to be quite an intelligent person, and I absolutely despise it when people talk to me like I’m a five-year-old. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because somebody works in a shop, they don’t have a brain between their ears. There is absolutely no need to be patronising.

Many retail workers are students who are working towards a degree, so they must have some level of intelligence, right? You may be older than us or have a better job than us, but it doesn’t mean you know everything or give you the right to be rude to us.

6. Threaten you with social media

For all that I think social media has done some good in the world, nothing enrages me more than “I’m going to put on Facebook what a horrible company this is.” Well, thanks for the warning and everything, but how about you grow up and accept that, sometimes in life, you don’t get your own way? I’m sure you’ll miss out the part where you didn’t read your receipt properly or, better yet, didn’t bother bringing your receipt with you at all.

If you think a decision is unfair, by all means, go through the correct complaints procedure. Write a letter, send an email or even use private messaging on social media platforms, rather than being petty enough to post it publicly. You need to give companies an opportunity to rectify the situation before launching straight into an attack.

7. Dump things in a random place

I have some leniency on this one. If the shop is large or is particularly busy and you can’t navigate it to put the item back, it’s not so bad. I’m not saying I agree with it but I can understand. However, I am less forgiving when it’s out of pure laziness. I have only worked in smaller shops, which is perhaps why it bugs me so much.

The thing is if you handed the item to me and said something along the lines of “I’m sorry, I forgot where I picked this up from, do you mind putting it back?”, that’s fine! Otherwise, all you’re doing is making our job ten times harder because you didn’t want to take a few steps and put it back. Is that how you would behave anywhere else? If so, I dread to think what your house looks like.

8. Say things like “it’s a lovely day outside, you should be out there enjoying it.”

OH. Really? Do you NOT think I’d love that? Unfortunately, I have bills to pay, and I have been put on the rota to be in on this lovely sunny day, so guess where I should be? Right here. It sucks, and I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t remind me of that.

ALSO: if you are going to say things like “It’s a shame you have to work Boxing Day, Christmas is a time for family” WHEN YOU ARE OUT SHOPPING ON BOXING DAY, don’t. You are the reason we have to work these holidays because there’s a demand for it. How about you go and spend time with your family like we wish we could? If more people did that, there’d be no need for shops to be open and we’d get the day off, too.

9. Expect you to be happy constantly

To reiterate the point in number 1, we are human beings. We have a life beyond work. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I do my very best to leave my problems at the door, but some problems are too big. Don’t get me wrong, I am probably in overdrive to try and keep a smile on my face for your benefit. If you happen to catch me in an off moment, please don’t make a snide remark about it.

You don’t know what we are going through, either in or out of work. We are not going to be happy every single minute of every single day. If anything, just know that we are trying our best to deliver good service to you, even when we’d rather be anywhere else.

10. Announce that they’ve worked in retail/owned a business and “know how this works”

Good for you. If that’s the case, then you know how horrible it is when someone is unpleasant to you, so why do it?

If I can say one thing about working in retail, it’s that it has made me very conscious of how I behave in shops. You’re telling me you’ve had the same experience and still choose to behave like this? Wow.

11. Come in at closing time

I know, I know, this is on every single list like this, but I couldn’t leave it out. We just want to go home!

Take a look around. Is everywhere else shutting up shop? Yes? That’s a pretty good indicator that we are about to, too. Come back another day.

Most Annoying Customers

11 annoying things customers do

That’s my selection of annoying things customers do. If you want to be a good customer, please avoid doing these things, I beg of you.

The most important thing to remember when you are a customer is that retail workers are not robots with no feelings. What you do and say affects us. No matter how much we wish we were immune to it, it’s hard to not get annoyed when people behave in certain ways.

Although it’s not the worst job in the world, retail is not a particularly rewarding job, either. You have to work hard for very little pay. You can do your part to make it that little bit better by doing one simple thing: be kind. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were us, and act accordingly. It’s that simple.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! Alternatively, you can comment with your pet peeves about your own work!

11 annoying things customers do which make retail workers miserable
11 annoying things customers do - are you guilty of any of these shopper sins?


  • Tania 11th May 2018 at 11:33 am

    Amen sister!
    I bartend and wait tables in the USA so it’s for tips and people do all of these things and more. I don’t mind if people come in close to closing, just don’t take 3 hours. And people sneak in through the back door when we aren’t open yet and say “the door was locked!” Yes you moron because we are closed. They then get mad because we won’t serve them yet. Ever try gong to the bank before they open? Sneak through their back door would you? Grrrrrr

    • ruthinrevolt 11th May 2018 at 11:42 am

      It always seemed to be the slow customers who took forever that came in when I was closing, but that’s maybe just bad luck!

      Whattt? That is ridiculous! I can’t imagine behaving like that. People are strange!

  • Kayla 11th May 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Even though I’ve never worked retail, I’ve been in the service industry for almost 9 years, and these annoyances are exactly the same for us too! Oh man, so accurate!!! Why do people think we’re robots? It’s unreal how inhuman people can treat us, over what, too? Something so petty most of the time. In fact I just had a lady come in and tell me I didn’t know how to do my job (I’m a bartender) because her drink was made wrong. Mind you she was 3 DRINKS IN, NO COMPLAINTS. Alcoholic much? Yeah, just no. I’d love to watch these people try and do our jobs for once.

    • ruthinrevolt 11th May 2018 at 7:56 pm

      Ugh, from what I’ve heard about bartending, I think it’s probably even worse than retail! Like you say, people behave in such a ridiculous way over pathetic things. It annoys me so much because I think, you’ve come in, ruined my day and for the sake of absolutely nothing. Honestly, I wish my life was dull enough that I got that upset about something as stupid! Much bigger things to worry about!

  • Marie 11th May 2018 at 8:19 pm

    I hated working in Retail. I used to work at Kmart. Customers are always so rude and try to downgrade ypu just because you’re working a minimum wage job. Like excuse me, I’m human and you’re human. So treat me with respect.

    • ruthinrevolt 11th May 2018 at 8:24 pm

      EXACTLY. It’s really not that hard to be nice to people!

  • Corinne 12th May 2018 at 9:35 am

    When they ask you to smile. Or when they as ‘do you sell salt?’. This is a supermarket.. of course we don’t sell salt! I’m not a fan of them asking for a manager either because the customer service colleagues are better trained than us!

    • ruthinrevolt 12th May 2018 at 9:36 am

      I know, the whole smiling thing is weird because we’re not just going to stand there with a grin on our faces all the time for no reason? That would creep people out.

  • Mary Beth 12th May 2018 at 10:42 am

    Yes to all of this! I didn’t work in retail for that long, but long enough to know that certain customers just don’t know how to be decent human beings. Even before working in retail, I always tried to be considerate while shopping because, of course, those employees are humans too. The only thing I tell myself when dealing with difficult people is that they are miserable people who bring their misery to other people simply because they can. Just be content with what you have and if you can’t, don’t take it out on everyone else!

    • ruthinrevolt 12th May 2018 at 10:52 am

      Absolutely! I hate that retail workers are expected to just put up with it, though. Like, if we say something, we’re in the wrong because “the customer is always right.” Nope. Sometimes the customer is an idiot.

  • Alys 12th May 2018 at 2:12 pm

    I can wholeheartedly relate to all of these. I used to work in an ice cream shop and the things customers shouted at me for (about ice cream?!) is ridiculous. It really gets to you after a while. Great post!

    • ruthinrevolt 12th May 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Jeez. People will find a reason to complain anywhere!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  • Maria 12th May 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Eight years!? You have quite the patience! I couldn’t take it for more than 3 months, I worked in a fast food place.My worst was purposely giving wrong order so they can get something for free. Like how stupid do you think I am?!

    • ruthinrevolt 12th May 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Wow, that’s stupid! The lengths some people will go to. Just pay like everyone else does.

  • Fairy Kissed Daisy 12th May 2018 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve never worked in retail but I was wondering if “coming in at closing time” would make it to the list as thats my friends biggest pet peeve! Alot of what you said sounds like people should just apply some common decency, kindness and manners cost nothing.

    • ruthinrevolt 12th May 2018 at 7:06 pm

      They really should but it’s incredible the number of people who don’t. I’ve witnessed some beasts in my time haha!

  • Menna Rachel 12th May 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I agree with this so much! The dumping thing annoys me so much. I work in a shoe shop and the worst is when someone takes a pair off the shelf then has obviously turned around (maybe to show a friend) and put it down on top of the shoes….on the opposite shelf -_- I’m just like why?? How hard is it to turn back around and find the empty space! Oh, it’s so much fun.
    Great post once again, you’ve caught all of the worst things. Whenever I go into a shop now I’m always conscious of how I behave because I know how it feels.

    • ruthinrevolt 12th May 2018 at 7:59 pm

      Exactly! Or when people put things right next to where they are supposed to be. YOU ARE LOOKING RIGHT AT THE SPACE. WHY?! Haha. Oh, it all winds me up so much.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, glad you enjoyed it, lovely!

  • Lozza 12th May 2018 at 8:41 pm

    7 and 8.. OMG!!! I don’t know how I kept my anger in when I worked in retail. This is so relatable! Xo

    • ruthinrevolt 12th May 2018 at 9:10 pm

      I’ve lost count of how many times I had to bite my tongue! Sometimes, you can just feel it about to boil over.

  • Sarah 13th May 2018 at 12:00 am

    I worked in retail for a year, and now I’ve been working in a deli for four. I can still relate to this list, and I was nodding my head at a few of these (10 and 11 in particular). Great post!

    • ruthinrevolt 13th May 2018 at 12:09 am

      I guess it goes to show these people pop up everywhere! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Katya 17th May 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Being a customer service representative is one of the most difficult things to handle. And honestly, sometimes it get right through you. Many people could relate into these.

    StyleSprinter Blog by Katya Bychkova

  • Suzanne 28th June 2018 at 1:42 pm

    This goes for library customers as well.

    • ruthinrevolt 28th June 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Noooo! I thought libraries were safe places!

  • Molly 28th June 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Great post and reminder to everyone about treating people with respect. I’ve never worked in retail and I don’t plan to either based on the fact that it’s not rewarding at all. I’m sorry that you haven’t been treated with the respect you deserve!

    Lots of love,

    • ruthinrevolt 28th June 2018 at 10:12 pm

      Yeah, I definitely don’t recommend working in retail if you can avoid it! 😐

  • Jay 28th June 2018 at 9:49 pm

    I praise you. I had 9 of these alone today. Brilliant post x

    • ruthinrevolt 28th June 2018 at 10:10 pm

      Eek, that doesn’t sound like a fun day! 🙁

  • Jen 3rd August 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Coming in at closing time is so bad! When I worked at a sub shop we would close at the same time the bar down the street closed. Swarms of drunks would stumble in, take forever to order and then eat in while the cab sat outside running the bill. What a mess to clean up!

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    After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety then receiving treatment, I wanted to turn my situation into something constructive. So, with a lifelong passion for writing and a renewed sense of determination, I took a step out of my comfort zone and began putting all my efforts into creating a positive space online.

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