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How to deal with vile/rude/insulting customers at work?

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    I'm really sick of this. I work in retail in an outdoor shop. I'm 21, female and and Uni student, working 9-5 at the weekends. More often then not I am on the recieving end of sexist comments aimed at me ("Sorry love/darlin', I'd rather speak to a man" is the most common one), but I had one rather vile customer really upset me today. A woman and her daughter marched up to our desk where I was doing some paper work. She shoved a product in front my face and asked how it worked (no 'excuse me'). I took it from her, paused to think for a second, when she snatched it back and said...I quote..."I bloody well knew it. You don't know. Useless girl. But what would I expect from asking a 2 year old". She then stormed off. I was speechless...I didn't say a word to this women, yet she insulted me by calling me a 2 year old and useless?

    Dealing with these type of vile people is really knocking my confidence, which I have very little of anyway (due to being bullied relentlessly for 7 years throughout school and college). Should I continue to ignore customers that personally insult me? part of me wants to turn around and insult them, but I think that might not go down too well if they said that to my manager.
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    I used to go with the method of insulting them back. although i wouldnt take advice from me i got fired.
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    Just ignore it.
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    Congratulate yourself on having been raised better. I sympathise, I've worked in retail for years - there's nothing you can do other than ignore such people; it's not your fault they're impatient, rude and aggressive.
    • Thread Starter
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    (Original post by renlok)
    I used to go with the method of insulting them back. although i wouldnt take advice from me i got fired.
    Every part of me wants to. :mad:

    How dare people personally insult me for doing NOTHING? these are not school children either, but fully "mature" adults, nearly always women in their 40's-70's.
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    You just have to rise above it, be professional and confident in yourself. Its an unfortunate reality of lots of jobs, people believe you suddenly lose your identity as a fellow human being, and become a servant to their needs beacause you are wearing a uniform.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I'm really sick of this. I work in retail in an outdoor shop. I'm 21, female and and Uni student, working 9-5 at the weekends. More often then not I am on the recieving end of sexist comments aimed at me ("Sorry love/darlin', I'd rather speak to a man" is the most common one), but I had one rather vile customer really upset me today. A woman and her daughter marched up to our desk where I was doing some paper work. She shoved a product in front my face and asked how it worked (no 'excuse me'). I took it from her, paused to think for a second, when she snatched it back and said...I quote..."I bloody well knew it. You don't know. Useless girl. But what would I expect from asking a 2 year old". She then stormed off. I was speechless...I didn't say a word to this women, yet she insulted me by calling me a 2 year old and useless?

    Dealing with these type of vile people is really knocking my confidence, which I have very little of anyway (due to being bullied relentlessly for 7 years throughout school and college). Should I continue to ignore customers that personally insult me? part of me wants to turn around and insult them, but I think that might not go down too well if they said that to my manager.
    I used to work on the parts counter at Halfords, selling car batteries and such. 90% of people would ask if I could get someone to help them, and then whatever I said and no matter how much I knew about something, I'd always get 'Oh it's okay sweetheart, I'll go ask this man over here.' It's not just men, women are really bad for doing it too.

    It's hard not to come out with sarcastic remarks in return, but when they realise you were right in the first place they might feel bad about it.

    As for the woman that came in today, she was incredibly rude but you just have to get over it and take it on the chin. You're not useless. If you didn't know how it worked or you just can't be bothered dealing with arsey customers, the easiest thing to do is say it's not a product from your department and show them who to ask. Just keep being polite and professional :yep:
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    I used to get this a lot when I worked at Past Times.

    I'd blind them with knowledge about the product they were inquiring after/arguing about, or in other situations lecture them on their position in law as to why I don't have to sell such a such item for such a such price, all the while with a delightfully infuriating smile.

    I was actually very knowledgeable about the products and history. Not from my own interest, but simply from working with the products.

    It can wind customers prone to arguing right up if you come across as extremely competent, knowledgeable, and assertive.




    And perhaps I might add to extremely angsty old ladies "But I can get someone else to explain it to you, if you don't understand."


    Part of me quite enjoyed watching them get all worked up. :erm:
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    I work in a call center so its abusive calls every day for me. you just need to be a bit assertive, eg. "I am fully qualified and I understand my job role, however I do not deal with stock selection directly. If you want me to help you, you will need to be patient while I assess how the product operates, otherwise, I will need to proceed to the next customer." Takes a while to get that confidence though.
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    You get this all the time in service jobs. I worked as a cashier and the older ones were often the worst. I was watching this thing with Marco Pierre White where he used to throw rude people out of his restaurant but if you work for someone else you just have to put up with it mostly part of the job etc. Although in that situation I would have told them to **** off in ernest and then if they told the manager just lie ha!
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    Unfortunately there are so many rude people around. It's so frustrating when a customer is rude and snappy for absolutely nothing, and unfortunately it happens a lot. All you can really do is ignore it, it's upsetting at times, but ignoring it is all you can do. People seem to forget that you're a person too when they walk in.

    Try as hard as possible not to let it get to you, and remember that you're better than them, despite the fact that they most likely think otherwise. Insulting them back means you're just going down to their level. I know it's hard though, yesterday I had a customer who was so rude and condescending for no reason, really got to me.
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    Be intolerably sweet, pleasant and polite to them (if they give you the chance, of course). Address them as sir/madam. It will make them feel bad for being such bastards to you. I've worked part time in retail for 4 years now, so I guarantee this will work in 90% of cases. Even if they don't apolgise, it tends to make them feel sheepish.

    As for the sexist customers, I suggest a response something along the lines of, 'I can assure you that despite my gender I am completely knowledgeable about the product in question. If however, you prefer the same assistance to be given to you in a male voice, I'll seek out a colleague for you right now'.

    I almost wish I worked somewhere where sexist arses were commonplace, just so I could use that myself.

    And don't let customers wreck your confidence. Remember 99.5% of them are complete retards just looking for some poor sod to vent the frustrations of the meaningless life upon.
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    I'd often get a glimpse of the car the rude customer unloaded their shopping into, given the good view I had from the till. Skip forward to lunch time and if the car was still there, I would fling my unwanted gherkins from my Mcdonalds cheeseburger onto the windscreen. I also did this to my trollop of a managers car a few times.
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    Do what my old boss used to do "Sorry love your opinion is not valid, you've a face like a smacked arse and those trousers don't exactly hide the weight. We don't sell cakes nor slimfast here perhaps Tesco's is what you're looking for?"

    Obviously he wasn't a douche to every customer, just the ones who were particularly rude in the first place thus deserving of being humiliated in front of everyone else. If people were rude to him, he was just as rude back.

    So I guess the point is fight fire with fire?
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    Used to get similar stuff working at Game quite a bit. At first, I'd just smile and enjoy doing nothing while a "clearly more knowledgeable due to gender" member of staff had to do the work... meant I could enjoy a moments break!
    After working there for a while, and having gained more confidence, I wouldn't let them even have a chance to treat me that way. Would use my knowledge to prove I could serve them... and actually started being more successful at hardware sales then some of the boys because I could connect more with the female mothers who surprisingly made up a lot of the customers. Another thing that helped was knowing that my managers would always back me up when policy/the law was followed. Something you can never is stop customers getting arsey when you refuse a refund.... they pretty much always demanded to see the manager... who would then pretty much echo what i'd already said.
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    I work in a newsagents which doesn't always get all the papers we're supposed to. And the amount of people who phone up because their paper wasn't delivered some days really does my head in. Some people get really annoyed about it and have a go at me for it. It gets to the stage where they say "well, I haven't got my paper..." that I just want to cut them off and say "well neither do we. so STFU".

    And the amount of people who complain because sometimes we get short changed on the magazine with the papers really pisses me off. Theres people come in saying that the only buy the Sun and the Mirror on a saturday because of the TV mag just makes me want to tell them how sad they really are.

    And the abuse I get sometimes for ID'ing people for cigarettes is quite funny. Someone once started ranting at me that "I was born and bred in this town... blah blah blah". Yes - because that means you're 18?

    OP, if you get the chance, just retort with some sarcy comment. Like the woman who had a go at you for not knowing how to work something within two seconds. You should have said "you don't know how to use it either". I'm telling you, logic baffles people.
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    Don't see them as people.
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    I do find it amazing how customers manage to treat staff sometimes. I usually struggled because I look young and I worked in a shop selling wedding outfits and the like, so you could get quite a lot of slightly older women who knew how to dress themselves quite well. Some of them spoke to me in ways they wouldn't dream of doing to an older sales assistant.

    Although it's difficult at the time, I think the best long-term approach is to know that you've got your job for a reason: you are quite capable of it. If your boss or manager cares, then you could tell him/her, with no exaggeration or self-pity, how a customer has behaved before they leave the shop.

    Regardless, I think when dealing with horrible customers, the worst thing to do is aggrevate them or let them realise you think they're horrendous, and the best thing is, if possible, to demonstrate that you're capable in your job. If they don't want to hear you, it's their problem, and it's their loss.

    If someone says they'd 'rather speak to a man', you could just ask, 'Oh, why?'. It's a reasonable thing to say if you say it nicely, and it forces them to address and justify their attitude without you doing anything inappropriate.

    The woman who was rude to you today was completely unacceptable <hugs> Don't let customers like her get to you - she was judgemental, irrational, awful, impatient, mannerless and and and and and... you needn't care what someone like that says
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    Create a happy place inside your mind. Your happy place should contain shark tanks, explosives, a wide range of blunt instruments... and anything else you can blissfully fantasize about killing people with.
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    If you know you're right about something but the customer doesn't believe you, offer to call your manager and stand there smugly while they repeat exactly what you've just said

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