If you've ever worked a job where you had to deal with the public — at a restaurant, a retail store, a grocery store — I'm sure you have had your fair share of customers trying to pull a fast one.
CBC / Via giphy.com
Perhaps there's the customer who is trying to return an item they bought months ago and is now claiming it's "defective." Or the person who tries to use an expired coupon and asks to speak to the manager when the coupon is refused. So Reddit user u/Junior_Df asked, "Workers of Reddit, what is a scam that a customer tried to do?" Here are some of the responses.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
1."I was at a sushi dinner for a friend's birthday party, and one of the attendees pulled some of the rind off an orange slice and tried to claim it was a soft fingernail in their food. I already knew where they were trying to go with this. They told the table, 'I'm going to get my meal for free over this,' and demanded to see the manager."
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"The restaurant owner came to our table to discuss the problem, and to my surprise, I knew them! We went to the same culinary school and often teamed up for different classes and lessons. I kind of overshadowed the woman trying to get a free meal by telling the owner it was a mistake by the woman, and just quietly dismissed her bullshit claim while I caught up with my former classmate. First time I ever had the joy of dealing with a scammer inside a restaurant while NOT actually working. It was very satisfying."
2."One of my cashiers called me over to deal with a customer who 'needed to speak with the manager.' The customer smoothly and with complete confidence tried to return a lot of obviously used dinnerware and cutlery. They said the party plans fell through, and even though ours is an exchange-only policy (no cash refunds) they said an exception had been cleared with the manager on the phone before coming in."
"This lying person had no idea that they were speaking to the manager the whole time. I pulled out my phone, asked the customer to please stand still, and took their picture. The customer actually smiled at me! I then directed this person to pick up their stuff and get out of my store with no refund or exchange. They started to argue until I told them I was the top manager in the store and was the only manager on duty all day. As soon as they left I sent the picture to our other locations in the area to be on the watch for this bullshit artist."
3."A customer rented a storage unit with zero down payment, then did not pay anything for four months. Like, they literally never paid a dime. Then came in demanding access to empty their stuff, screaming they wanted my boss's number, and my boss's boss's number, and that they were going to call corporate and have me fired because, 'We had no legal rights to keep them locked out,' and they 'were going to take their stuff and never do business with us again.'"
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"I had the immense pleasure of telling no to the customer's face. I also said, 'To be a customer you have to have PAID ME. Right now you're just trespassing.' She really thought a national chain didn't have its legal ducks in a row for nonpaying customers. I guess she had maybe done it at a mom-and-pop place because I heard her whispering to the guy that she brought in with her that 'last time they just let me take everything.'
4."I worked at Domino's. I had a guy call in and say he ordered three chicken pizzas and got three pepperoni pizzas instead. This was the first red flag because no employee makes three identical pizzas wrong without someone noticing when they are topping pizzas. I asked when this was, and the customer said it was weeks ago. This was a second red flag because if this really happened, they would have come in and gotten them replaced right away. I asked for his phone number, no record of him in our system. This was another potential red flag. He claimed he ordered them in the store for carryout and wasn’t asked for his number. I then asked for his name and put him on hold."
5."I used to work for a major internet service provider that had a 30-day money-back guarantee. The policy was pretty straightforward: You can cancel your service for any reason within 30 days and get your full money back. Some dude — who thought he was pretty smart — came up with the idea of cancelling and restarting his services every 29 days to get his money back. He did this about eight times."
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"There is one caveat to this policy that I should mention: You're only allowed to take advantage of the money-back guarantee ONCE within a 12-month period. Eventually, the company caught on and sent him a letter (which he apparently never read) that told him they were going to back charge him all but five of those months, which still left him with a few hundred dollars to pay off. When he called and demanded to know why we had this rule, I said, 'Because we're not stupid, sir.'"
6."One customer went to the store, would buy an item, then went home to go back to the store a day or two later. They would then browse around, take the SAME ITEM off of the shelf, and went to the counter to 'return it' with the valid receipt from the previous day."
7."Some time ago I was working in a large liquor shop. I had a customer present a bottle of Penfolds Bin 798 Shiraz that scanned for $3.99, and it showed up as a 185 mL cleanskin chardonnay on the screen. Now I rarely ever looked at what people purchased, but $3.99 for a 750 mL Penfolds red is crazy low, and it scanning as a 185 mL Chardy when it was clearly a 750 mL red was weird. The customer had printed another barcode and stuck it over the top of the real one, 'self-discounting' a $185 bottle of wine. When challenged, she just bolted out of the store. The crazy thing is if she had simply used a barcode from a Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz — a $15 low-end Penfolds 750 mL red — I doubt that I would have actually noticed! It made me much more careful going forward."
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8."I installed a piece of glass on a meat case for a customer. Everything went off without a hitch, and I got it done in less than 30 minutes because I disassembled the case and reassembled it in that time. The manager who is supposed to sign me out walked over and without even looking at the glass, claims it was chipped and that she won't sign for it. I asked her where she saw a chip, and she pointed to a spot on the glass. I looked at it, took a picture of it, and saved it on my tablet. I then proceeded to tell her that the glass is not chipped. She said I needed to write in my work order that the glass was chipped during installation. I told her, 'No.'"
"She said she won't sign for it unless I wrote it, so I told her OK, and I call my supervisor. I documented everything that happened. My supervisor contacted the manager's higher-ups and submitted all the info we had. No one, literally no one, not even the manager claiming it, could find any damage to the glass. She kept emailing us and her higher-ups that she wants a new piece of glass, and she wanted it for free but kept forgetting to ask us to remove the old piece of glass because she wants a freebie. And oh yeah, the best part of all this is that it was tempered glass. If it was chipped, it would shatter."
9."Working in IT, you have no idea how many times people will bring in their personal laptops and try to pass them off as work equipment and claim, 'It just stopped working.' Yes, your 8-year-old laptop running Vista with literally hundreds of pirated videos and music with pictures of cats as the desktop, and a taped-up charger. Sure, the company gave it to you considering you only started a year ago."
10."I worked as a cleaner at a mall. A customer claimed she slipped on a damp area of the floor and there was no warning sign to let anyone know that the area had recently been cleaned. Upon watching the CCTV footage, it showed her moving a yellow warning sign away and then laying down on the floor and suddenly acting as if she had just slipped."
11."Any time there's a sale in one department, it's an absolute guarantee that a few people each day will rip the sale stickers off discounted clothes and stick them onto full-priced ones. Then they get upset and angry when we call them out on their bullshit."
12."A fake credit card scam is when young people come in with janky-looking credit cards and always want to buy $400 in gift cards. They got us a couple of times. Then it became easy to spot, and every time they came in I would ask for ID, they would hand it to me, and I would just walk to the back of the restaurant, and they would run."
13."It was at my first job at Harris Teeter grocery. They make roasted chickens that you can buy hot, but they have to sell by the end of the day or they get tossed. So at a certain time, they put a discount sticker on it to help sell (like a dollar off). A dude would come in often late at night right before we tossed them, and take as many stickers off the other chicken containers as he could and put them on one roasted chicken. He would always approach the register with this sly look on his face, seriously the worst poker face ever."
"The first time it happened to me, I knew what he had done and got a manager just because I didn't want to get fired. I could have cared less honestly just covering my own ass. Managers told me, 'Yeah, he does that; we don't really bother with him anymore — we just ring it up.' So I'd scan all his tags, and he'd get the chicken for like a dollar and be all happy and leave. I think he got to pull that little chicken scam for quite a while. Honestly, he probably needed it, so good for him."
14."I had a customer order a couple of hundred dollars worth of Kcups from one of our vendors to get the free Keurig machine. They sent the Kcups back as a return for a refund AFTER USING THEM. Yes, they carefully replaced each Kcup back into the box and glued the boxes shut, then returned them for a full refund. They thought that we'd refund them and they'd keep the free machine. Their refund was denied, and we put a fraud hold on their account. Nothing they ever ordered again could be returned for a refund, and they would have to wait three full days before we ship future orders, for charges to clear. They couldn't participate in those flash sale giveaways either. The system would say they're ineligible. For ALL of our vendors' promotions. It was a not-so-great Keurig machine, the kind you can pick up for $39 at Walmart. My friend had the same model; it died in less than a year."
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15."I worked at Kohl's a while ago, and I had one woman with three kids go into the dressing room for hours on end. When they came out, they came through my line, and I began ringing them up. I quickly noticed everything was cheap. Really cheap. Our clearance items had yellow tags, and this lady had yellow tags on everything. Jeans, sneakers, baby clothes. I realized why they were in the dressing room that long and called a manager. The lady and HER KIDS spent hours removing and switching price tags. They would cut the clearance tags off of clothing items that were actually on clearance and reattach them using a tagging gun they presumably owned. I realized they switched tags when I typed in the UPC code from the inside of the clothing pieces instead of scanning the generic clearance ticket."
16."I used to work in a large grocery store. A lady would look in the outside trash for receipts, get a cart, find all the items and wander around the store until shift change. Then she'd come up to a register and claim she was returning all the products because her mother had gone shopping earlier and gotten the wrong things. First time I just went with it. It was less than $10, just one receipt, and I'd never seen her before. The second time she had multiple receipts with different customer information on all of them, and $50 or so in returns. I feigned a computer error with the register and called up my boss."
"He let her get away with it because he didn't know what she was doing. After the lady left, I told my boss what was going on, and he said to call him up to the register if she tried the same thing again. The third time, I just called up my boss after she got done loading up all the products but before I processed the return, again feigning a computer error. My boss told the lady that he knows what she's doing and that she needed to leave before he called the cops. The best part was when she tried to act offended and said she would never come back to the store again."
17."A lady would damage goods and then ask for discounts. Another would go into the back storage and look for things and steal. I caught her and told her to leave; she said that she had permission from customer service. It was nice to explain to her that no she didn’t have permission from them because I was customer service."
18."I used to work retail in the returns area. We would regularly get people trying to return tile saws after they used them for their one job or contractors bringing in batteries that didn't work only to find out they were over 5 years old. Our store used to allow paint with the customer's color tint to be returned. Quite a few people caught on, and they would buy a bunch of gallons of paint, return them, and buy for half price the following week. It was a huge loss every time that happened."
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"We also had people return lawn mowers and snow blowers claiming they didn't start. And we would take them back within 90 days with receipt. They would get basically a free mower since they got their money back. Then the mower or snow blower would come back 30% to 50% off after it was refurbished."
19."I worked during the Christmas season at Target. On my very last day of work, we had one lone straggler shopper. We had made numerous closing announcements, turned off every light except by the registers, and shut down every register except mine. Finally almost 20 minutes after we closed, she finally came up to the register, oblivious to keeping us late. She had one thing in her cart: a huge Rubbermaid storage container. You know, one of those big green ones. It had its lid on, closed tight. She tilted it a little so I could scan it."
"I asked innocently, 'Do you mind opening the lid, please? We just need to check inside.' Her face turned to a frown, but she lifted the lid. The storage container was packed: boots, a leather jacket, jeans, jewelry, a purse, and makeup. She said, 'How did that stuff get in there?! I didn’t put anything in there!' No problem,” I said. 'We’ll just take it and put it all back.' 'Wait! I do want some of that.' She picked out a couple of makeup items from the huge haul. The manager unlocked the door and let her leave without another word. But security kept an eye out for her from then on. Amazing she thought that would work."
20."Long time ago when EB Games was a thing in my area, I had an ass of a friend (more of a distant associate), so dude would buy a new game the day it released and request a gift receipt. One time I happened to be in the store with him when he requested a gift receipt, so I asked him what the deal was if it was someone's birthday or something. Nope, he told me it was a backup plan in case the game sucked."
"He said if he liked the game and planned to keep it, the gift receipt was tossed in the trash, if he hated the game he would take it back and tell the store it didn't work, he would then request a new copy, and the store would give him a new, unopened copy. He would then take it to the store in the other town with the gift receipt. That store would give him the option of getting store credit or cash back. So about a month after this conversation, our local EB Games and surrounding locations started removing the plastic from replacement games when they got returns of 'broken' copies. Shithead was pissed, and to this day I cannot imagine how they found out; I mean, someone must have told the store."
21."Years back I used to deliver pizza, and there was this one lady who would order a potato skin pie every Friday or whatever. She'd get the same thing every week, and every week she'd call and complain that something was wrong with the pizza. 'Not enough bacon. Too little sauce. Too much cheese.' The first couple of times she got a refund, but she'd call and complain so consistently that it got to the point where the manager started making her pizza when she'd order and then shut her down when she'd call to complain about it. She was a horrible tipper to boot."
22."Working as an internet installer, you'll often have people call in claiming that you stole something of high value (iPhone, jewelry) even if they didn't have that item in their possession. It was just so they can scam the company into 'reimbursing' them for the stolen item."
23."This one customer tried to get more fried chicken for free. What she did: Se was served fried chicken, but she thought it was dry, so she complained and got more fried chicken, but here's the thing — she already ate the 'dry' fried chicken. So she ended up getting charged for the extra fried chicken and was pissed about it."