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

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    I worked a 14 hour shift at a large retail store over christmas, and was left in charge of operating my department, as managers deal with paperwork, not really day to day staffing. So after working since 8am, it was 21:45 when the phone rang. Big mistake answering it, as the woman on the other end began screaming at me about some ready meal she had bought, and there was no salmon in it. I tried to explain to her that she could have another one if she came in, but she screamed 'Do you think that I can come in, REALLY? I have other things to do' and then flat out told me she wanted someone to drop a new £1.99 meal off at her house.

    I was about to ask whether she wanted a manager, but she hurled a load of abuse at me, which made me burst into tears (I'd already been dealing with rude customers for more than 13 hours, plus it had been a really busy day) and managed to get a manager to deal with it. She never even came in for another meal in the end, but I don't think there was any need for her to scream at me for no reason!
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    Thankfully, when I used to work in a clothes shop, not that many people were out rightly rude to me (I’ve been told that for a short lass I have an intimidating stare). You did get your fair share of colourful characters though...

    Quite a few of the customers would try to barter with you, one Arab gentleman would come in at least once a week and point to each item in the shop and ask “is this at fixed price!?”

    There was also the Nigerian diva who ‘d dramatically storm into the shop, pick something up and ask if I could reserve it for her until she withdrew some cash from the bank across the road. She never came back, and she’d do this at least twice a week with a different item every time!

    Oh and there was the lovely Eastern European pole dancer lady, she was extremely friendly, but she’d always pick out the tackiest items in the shop and say “ooh the men will go woo woo for this tonight.”

    Ugh, not so nice was the shop lifter lady, who’d come in, pick up a pair of jeans to try on, and then would walk out of the shop still wearing them. Thankfully the security guards cottoned on and banned her from ever coming back.

    I suppose I was very lucky compared to some of the experiences here. I do feel sorry for the way people in retail are treated sometimes, especially by the older generations. I always preferred cleaning jobs, you didn't have to interact with people. :p:
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    I hate stalker customers too...

    I once refused a group of drunk people drinks because it's against our policy and my manager backed me up but they were saying stuff like I needed a good shag and did I ever have any fun and stuff... That was horrible. And I couldn't insult them back because I didn't want to lose my job... With that lot though it got to the point that they got thrown out and my manger called one of them a fat f****** b****. =D

    I had to be nice and keep calm even to the ******* because the people at the top of the company cared more about them than about us.

    Edit: Also I think it's unnecessary to touch waitresses!! Or ask for a hug :|
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    To be honest as a ex assistant manager at a little chef and a customer I can see both sides of it. On the one hand I really think some people talk to a shop assistant or someone working in food and drinks a certain way because they feel they can as the 'customer is always right'. Most of them I doubt would say these things to a random person on the street. It's like being a customer means they have superiority over you and makes them think they can patronise, and in some cases shout and swear. In my opinion, anyone who deals with customers, has the right to be treated as a human being and if I owned a shop or a restaurant I seriously would not allow any sexist or abusive comments to my staff. I would refuse their business and tell them to leave my shop. It might not make financial sense but some things are more important than money.
    On the other hand, being a customer I have met some truly horrendous shop assistants. Moody, miserable and in some cases arrogant. In one high street clothing store I had one member of staff get the hump because when he asked why I had taken so long in the fitting room I said it was difficult finding a t-shirt with a good cut on me. He shouldn't have asked should he. It's none of his business. Then when I was in scotland a shop assistant made an anti english remark because I asked a question about how to wear a kilt that I was hiring .and when I said that all scottish blokes are TV's so he would know he swore at me and did a robroy. And then you get all the misrable moody cows on the rag, so really I think it works both ways asin these cases I can see why staff get assaulted and abused,although I don't condone it. I think politeness is a two way street.
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    Face Punch?
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    Never show them that you're irritated, that just encourages them. Hold the anger in, then let it out later if you have to.
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    I don't think ignoring it is the best way. I work in a restaurant and had the rudest customer i have ever experienced a few weeks ago, he was really personally insulting, sarcastic and patronising, i was so shocked at the time I didn't really say anything and tried to ignore it, but afterwards I was so mad at myself for not standing up to him. people should not be allowed to speak to others that way. I think it takes time and confidence to be able to handle these types of people, you never have to be as rude back to them but I think there is a way to handle them and letting them know you wont tolerate being spoken to like that. next time (if there is a next time) i'm going to say i'm not willing to be spoken to like that and will get my supervisor/manager over to deal with any problems they have. to be honest i don't get paid enough to deal with crap from stupid customers.
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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.
    You are taking it too personally. The way these people act is no reflection on you, only on them.

    There's no need to insult them back, just be polite as possible and if people don't accept that then it is their issue, and theirs only. I would probably say something to the sexist stuff but thats the feminist in me. I wouldn't be rude, just explain my male colleague is as qualified as me and I would be happy to help- essentially dismissing their idiotic request and still doing my job.

    I just find rude people funny though, I always see people getting stressed out over the smallest things- I would find it funny if a customer got that wound up over not understanding a product (and remember she asked you how it worked, because she didn't have the capacity to understand)
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    I once insulted a customer back, then they told the manager that they wanted me fired, but it was my word against theirs . In all honesty though, just ignore it and rise above them :yep:.
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    Just try and ignore it, most of these people are rude because they are unhappy, or they are a naturally mean and spiteful person, which would probaly lead to future unhappiness. I live in the U.S. (California) and today two men from the U.K. (not sure which country, I'm not too well learned on regional accents) walked in and ordered a sandwich at the eatery I work at. One was nice enough, but the other was so rude! He was upset because I had to ask repeatedly what order he wanted (he wanted a number fourteen, but to my ears it sounded very similar to forty), despite me asking politely each time, and then he got even more upset when I began to prepare his meal and had to ask him during the process of putting together his sandwich exactly WHAT he'd like on it (this man was very picky about what he wanted). He also asked "what comes with the wholeness?" in regards to the sandwich, which took me a moment to understand because I'd never heard someone ask "tell me about everything that comes on the sandwich?" in that manner before. When he noticed my initial confusion he remarked "well you're a slow young man, are you?", and started saying he didn't want a "cabbage" making his sandwich and that he didn't know American establishments still hired secondary school drop-outs with my country being in a recession and all (I'm actually a university student who graduated 10th in my class of 500 back in high school). The worse part of it was that the whole time he chuckled and smirked like he thought it was humorous to insult me personally. Probaly the worst experience I've had with a customer so far, and it just had to be cultural differences that sparked it.


    Sorry for that rant (: anyways, it's comforting to know that others have had similar experiences with equally rude customers. Just try to ignore them and realize that at the end of the day, if you're at this site, you're most likely a university student, and going somewhere great in life. Somewhere probaly much better than where that rude customer is going
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    I used to work in retail and the amount of infuriating customers around Christmas time was just insane. It seemed they only ever aimed their anger at me too, probably because I was the shortest/youngest looking On more than one occasion I wanted to smack the *******s but have to be professional and all that ...
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    Unfortunately many people do not know how to complain. Many simply lack the communications skills to effectively state their issue, so resort to ad hominem attacks. You may also find that if they lack these interpersonal skills, they also lack many other skills required to form opinions by critical thinking, make effective decisions, operate relatively simple devices and read the instructions. In short thick people buy junk that is not suitable for the job they want it for, they do not have the savvy to realise this, they do not read the instructions and are unable to make it do what they want because the device cannot read their mind (not that there is much to read) and it might well be the wrong tool for the job anyway.

    Deflecting their inadequacies onto someone that they perceive is in a position lower than them, who is not able to defend themselves gives them a feeling of power. They have been bullied so become bullies.

    You have to develop the skills to defeat their simple little ideas.

    Firstly, know everything about your products, try all of them out, know what they can and cannot do, what they should and should not be used for etc. Keep calm and defeat rudeness with, good manners, assertiveness (not anger or aggression, look up assertiveness) and knowledge. Be a figure of authority. It does not come with age, it comes with training (self or trainer sourced) and experience ( a few weeks of that will suffice).

    The first thing you do is listen, then the first thing you say is "I understand how you must feel" even if you don´t know or care. Your complain is a serious matter, please let me deal with it. Take ownership, and control the situation. Please take a seat while I investigate. Then ask whatever questions of them you need to get that job done.

    It is very very simple, once you have learnt to deal with your own emotions. Set them aside and do not take it personally. Be the bigger person. I have been doing this for years, and I never have anyone scream at me after I have spoken for the first time. Why? Because I always say I am sorry to hear that you have had a problem I take you seriously and I WILL deal with this for you. Passive voice always. Never say I am sorry in active voice! Then they see you as their champion, defending them against the faceless machine, not a part of it.

    Always be honest. If it is not a quick fix tell them and keep them updated. Never say Mr so and so is not here or any other BS. Just say this might take a little while to sort out get contact details and offer to call in an hour, next day or by next Thursday, and keep that promise.

    If it turns out (and it usually does ) that they have caused their own misfortune, do not tell them that. Say the product is designed to be used in this way for this purpose, is that what you need? If no sell them something else. If the product is faulty change it. There are a limited number of things that people complain about in any given service arena, learn what they are and have pre-arranged scripts for them all that are second nature and always work.

    Keep It Simple!
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    Try your best to ignore it. I work as a waitress and I've lost count of the amount of times I've been accused of cooking an unsatisfactory meal, when it's the chef's issue and not mine!
    Rude customers are the worst. They are impatient, disrespectful and harmful towards employees, especially those new to customer service. However, some customers seem to get a kick out of being awkward, and the person on the receiving end of it needs to know how to handle it in a mature and decent way. This mature and decent way is to ignore it. As much as you may want to scream in their face, this won't do you any favours and will only make matters worse. If they hurt you personally and attack you personally, then speak to your manager about it, and maybe you'd manager can talk through it with you and give you some better ways of dealing with it. Maybe consult your manager at the height of the problem, for example when you are being targeted, so they can see exactly how you are being treated. You are not alone in this, and try not to let silly people get to you. It's not worth your time, and I'm sure it's lovely when there are those nice customers who treat you with respect


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