Why You're an Asshole Customer

I really don’t like customers. At least, some customers. The problem is that people have continuously spouted off the eternal gem “The customer is always right.”


This has come up as some sort of propagandistic clause sited as the reason for what boils down to saying “I should get my way”. It is similar to our craze with diamonds, planted in our societal subconcious by a cynical marketer. But the plain truth is that customers are wrong more often than not. And the thing that makes these people so annoying, so disgusting, so goddamned fucking aggravating, is that they have no idea about how to purport themselves in a civilized manner.

The other day, as I was dining in a BBQ establishment, the service was a bit slow. This was a new business, bugs remained to be worked out. The couple next to me in the place were pissed because their ribs took more than 24 minutes to be prepared and delivered. Yes, I can certainly understand their annoyance at this delay in gustatorial satisfaction. But what I am absolutely incapable of understanding is why they decided that the appropriate censure was not to ask for a refund or even speak to the management, but to stiff the waitress after berating her. Good job, cocksuckers. Why don’t you make sure to club those baby seals on your way to the SUV, which you will use to cut off a schoolbus full of crippled orphans before parking in a handicapped space to buy the latest issue of Cigar magazine? This behavior was seriously out of line, especially considering the waitress stopped by repeatedly to explain the delay and apologize.

Another example was posted right here on this very forum, but a gentleman who shall remain thinly veiled by me not mentioning his name (though one could certainly search and find it easily enough). Demanding a refund for watching a shitty movie is one thing. If the place agrees, you get your money back. If not, you are out of luck. You do not scream and shout and threaten a fucking lawsuit over your 14 bucks because you had the incredibly fucking poor judgement to purchase tickets to “Freddy Got Fingered”. I would run naked through the lobby screaming about the aliens and Martha Stewart fucking me in the ass with a turkey baster before I would even ADMIT to seeing that movie, let alone PAYING for it! I think there were perhaps 3 and a half reviewers who did not call “Freddy Got Fingered” the worst movie of the year.

The final on my trio of stupid ass customer moments is the time when I was asked to phone the police and file a theft report BECAUSE THE ATM DIDN’T DISPENSE ANY MONEY. “I’m sorry, sir/ma’am, the bank is closed, call them on Monday and they will take appropriate action.” The reply to this? Screams and shouts about having me arrested as an accomplice to the theft of her 40 dollars. Brilliant. Simply fucking brilliant.

So let’s look at the moral of the story here. Basically, as a customer, you can get your way by being persistant, polite, and rational. Or, you can attempt to get your way by being a complete fucking jackass. But let’s look a little deeper. Who are you talking to? A flunky. They have no personal investment in you or your problem, and the bigger a jerk you are, the less likely they are to want to help you. That’s right. If you were to call me up and start yelling and screaming, I would probably just quote some policy at you and hang up. If you’re polite, then I will be on your side and help you, unless your request is patently stupid. Secondly, you’re talking to another person. Have you stopped to consider who you are talking to? The waitress does not have any control over the kitchen! The manager does not make the films! The guy on the tech support line didn’t build your fucking computer or wire up your cable modem, and he makes about 6 bucks an hour talking to angry assholes. He doesn’t have the authority or the skills to fix the problem right away. So stop your yelling and be polite. You’ll accomplish more, and furthermore, you won’t be acting like a spoiled child.

So basically, I guess my point is that if you’re the kind of person who feels the need to yell and shout at people over something so small as a movie ticket or a meal, you need to grow the hell up. You’re likely not the person who would come home and kick a dog because your boss gave you trouble, so why is it ok to verbally kick another human? It’s not.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You know what’s worse than dealing with “asshole customers?”

Dealing with the people who work in retail.

Sure, Bitterman, your job is hard and people suck but you know what? Quit. When a customer is pissed off and being a jerk to you, at least you’re getting paid. Right? Right.

You know how many commun^H^H^H^H^H European nations require you to serve in the armed services? I believe every person should be forced to work in a job dealing directly with the at large public. It’s this whole sense of entitlement that permeates customers. The true irony, of course, is that the same jackasses who yell and shout at employees are the same ones who are pissed about Enron and Bush and the environment and whatnot. I guess the real point is that contempt is ok as long as you are the one levelling it… Or is it simply a matter of scale?

EDIT: To address Bub’s edited post:

Andy, the underlying assumption here is that I deal with the public. I don’t. I haven’t in 3 years. I don’t have to work in a place to take note of people acting like assholes.

Hey, mean people suck. True. But if you can’t deal with customers - which is presumably your job - then get a new job. Most customers are a-holes because they feel they’re in a situation where they’re powerless. Most of those customers are right because, seriously, customer service is a thing of the past.

EDIT to Bitterman’s Edited Post which was Edited because I Edited my Post:
Okay. Um. I don’t understand the screed then. Why should all of this bother you? I’m much more concerned about the piss-poor customer service I see, the surley retail clerks, etc., than I am about loudmouth customers.

Surly clerks? I see disinterested and/or dumb ones, but the only people i see doing any berating are angry customers.

Disclaimer:  None of my current jobs are customer service, I have worked at O'Charley's, Babbage's, & Taco Bell

And re: the movie post you referenced. I’m still on the side of the guy who yelled. Why? Because he deserved his money back. Management shouldn’t win that battle. Kinda sad he had to yell and threaten a lawsuit to shame the jerk-off manager into doing the right thing.

It all depends on how you look at it, I guess. But if a guy walks out of a crappy movie (reviews or no) I think he deserves his money back - no questions asked. I don’t agree that he should take the manager’s word for it, accept the policy, and move on. The American consumer puts up with way too much garbage these days.

The bitter truth is that there are assholes on both sides of the retail transaction, often at the same time. The whole world needs to LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP.

All I can say is, don’t force me to buy something to use your restroom. Cause I am an asshole, and my aim is perfect… when I want it to be.

And the best way to deal with this is to do everything you can by looking at the last two words in your post. That starts with “The customer is always right.” Bitterman’s advice works both ways you know, plenty of angry people can be diffused by being polite or concilatory. Trying to help them. Most people go ballistic because they believe they aren’t being helped (or because they’ve been screwed before). Sugar attracts more flies than vinegar and given who is getting the paycheck and who is representing the company - I think the sugar should come from the employee first. Or at least, it’s more reasonable to expect it to come from there first.

Will this satisfy all the crazies who just wanna get mad? No. Those people are bad news. But such is customer service/dealing with the public.

Man, I hate it when I go to Hardees for my Mushroom Swiss Thickburger and the girl at the window gives me the “I should kill you now, fucking white mofo oppressing me…” look. I was very friendly and everything! WTF?

My brother-in-law told me stories of how the bathroom in his retail store would be occasionally violated, like a crapbomb had gone off in it, with sh!t smeared everywhere within arms reach.

And he works at … a retail computer store. Wha? Whats wrong with people.

Well, I work in Customer Service, and I am gonna chime in. I have to say most people are good people, but the ones you remember are the assholes. That’s just human nature. And there are plenty of people out there that know if they act a fool, they will get their way.

And come on, a person doesn’t like a movie so he should get his money back? WTF? The movie theatres don’t make the movies! They only give you a place to come see it. Request your money back from the damn production company, if anyone.

Sheesh. Our society is fucked.

Obligatory somethingawful.com link.

[size=2](This post dedicated to the memory of Tim Elhajj)[/size]

Keep that firmly in mind the next time you try to return a product to a store that had no hand in making it.

This is a great summation of the way I feel every day. I get angry just like the next guy. But I never stiff waitstaff when its not in thier control. I never yell at telemarketers for doing thier job or phone support because I was on hold for a long time.

I WILL tell the resturaunt manager, on my way out, why I will think twice about returning. I will interrupt telemarketers and say no thanks, please remove me, then hang up (having been one, they have to wait for you to hang up, so do them a favor and let them get to the next call; don’t feel bad for mistreating them, though, I got it so much it became amusing at times). I will ask support to pass on that their hold times are frustrating. If you really want them to improve, let them know. They used to say that for every person that complains, 10 just never come back. If you just want to bitch or get something for nothing, save it.

That’s it. You are dealing with another person, just like you, who is just trying to get through thier workday for some cash. They are not diabolical beings whose sole purpose is to piss you off. I have worked jewelry retail/repair in a dang flea market, and that place was full of abusive people. Let me tell you, those people get an extra “love and care” charge. Being that they take more time, drive away other legitimate business, reduce morale, etc., I think this is fitting.

Don’t be an asshole, even when it seems you are the only competent person in the universe. Save it for your last resort. Once you put on the asshole hat, there’s no going back. You will find people much more helpful when you treat them like another person. If they are the belligerent one, try calling back, changing seats, etc. I use that calling Sprint all the time :)

Another example was posted right here on this very forum, but a gentleman who shall remain thinly veiled by me not mentioning his name

I have a response which I’ll share with Bitterman in a PM. If I posted it here, I’d most likely be banned. Suffice to say that I suggested that he take what little sexual prowess to which he can lay claim and apply it to his own personage.

Fortunately, most right-thinkers don’t believe the myth that the customer is always right. I used to have a killer bookmark to a blog entry on this topic. I have since deleted the bookmark, but here’s a Google attempt to find it which came up with approximately one hojillion other anecdotes: Google

I also never had a problem saying to a customer, once they’d finished telling me that the customer is always right, “Not true. In fact, many times the customer is wrong and knows it, and is just trying to raise a loud fuss in front of other customers just to get his own selfish way”. It hasn’t gotten me swung at yet. :P

OHSN–ah, never mind.

They don’t have to be diabolical to be worthy of scorn. For example, although I generally don’t get telemarking calls anymore and just hung up on them when I did, I have no problem with people screaming at or fucking with telemarketers. Telemarketing is crappy and deserves social condemnation. I understand that telemarketers are just trying to earn a living and get through their day. So are panhandlers, telephone “psychics,” cybersquatters, spammers, people who send sweepstakes mailers to the elderly, etc. “I’m just trying to make a living” is no excuse for doing something crappy, but legal, to your fellow humans. And telemarketing is crappy. If people scream at you or mess with you or whatever, you deserve it.

Obviously the customer isn’t literally always right or even necessarily usually right. The point of the phrase is that it’s good business to treat your customers well. If you’re a phone rep or a retail salesperson or any other sort of job like that, part of your damn job is to be nice to people, whether you like it (or them) or not. This is not a “We’re both just people and have the same duties to one another” situation. This is a situation where I am paying you money to provide me with a service, even if that service is just ringing up my groceries. If you’re a manager at a store, there’s an even greater duty to treat your customers well if you want to keep them as customers and stay in business. Some of them will surely be assholes. It’s part of your job to take it.

Jesus Christ, lots of my clients are assholes, and even those that aren’t are under a lot of stress. Part of my job is to maintain my professionalism in the face of their outbursts. If one of my clients blows up at me or is being unreasonable, and I whined at him that I’m a person just like him and I expect him to treat me the way I treat him, I would expect to get canned, and rightfully so.

In short, suck it up. If you don’t want to have to treat assholes nicely, get a job that doesn’t involve customer contact, dumbass.

You know how many commun^H^H^H^H^H European nations require you to serve in the armed services? I believe every person should be forced to work in a job dealing directly with the at large public. It’s this whole sense of entitlement that permeates customers.

I agree. I think everyone should have to work food service and retail once in their life, just so they know what it’s like on the other side. It effects the way you treat people when you’re shopping and eating out. I worked at a Mrs Fields for less than a year when I was a teenager. To this day I actually thank people through the intercom when I go to a drive thru. It’s shit work, it pays crap, you’re on your feet all day and the conglomerate you work for never stops looking for new ways to screw you over. The last thing these people need is to be treated like they’re sub-human.

I think the worst part of working in service is when people treat you like you must be a retard if you’re working that kind of job. I actually scared myself once when a woman didn’t trust I had gotten one of her cookies. She acted like I was some helpless child who needed her to monitor the quality of my work. 'Course I had already put the thing in the bag when she wasn’t paying attention. I’m 16, not a retard and I do my job well. I didn’t say that to her, I just said “I already got it”, but in an intense manner that kinda freaked me out. She got the idea and was on her way.

Truth is people do suck, and the only way the people who serve them make it through the day is talking shit about the customers during break. Most people are cool, most can logically seperate the customer service rep from the company. But then there are people who know they have no right to or expectation of what they’re requesting. People who are demonstrably wrong in there accusations but who think throwing a tantrum will get them what they want. That’s not cool. Don’t be a dick. All you can do is patiently explain why they are wrong and if they persist, ask them to leave, or hang up.

I wasn’t paying attention to the Freddi Got Fingered thing. Did he watch the whole thing, or walk out in the middle? If you stay through the whole thing, well, you’ve bought it. If you walk out in the middle, then you get your money back.

They have?