Working in retail sucks. They don’t pay you enough to survive, the job is mentally unengaging, and you regularly face the wrath of average Joes and Janes who, despite once being in your shoes, treat you like a dirty vending machine. I worked at EB Games here in Canada from 2008 to 2012, spanning most of my time in college... Here’s some of the worst I ever faced.
“I Heard the Title from My 6-Year-Old”
These customers are not bad people, and they’re not mean or otherwise reprehensible. They’re usually parents who mean well, and want to get the right game for their kids... But they have no clue what their kid is trying to say. Some of my favourites included, Call of Duty: Black Cops (Black Ops), Epic Monkey (Epic Mickey), Grand Theft Auto Ivy (the letters I and V) and Dance Inferno (guy was trying to say Dante’s Inferno, but thought the E was silent).
“What’s a Good Game for a 7-Year-Old Boy?”
I have no idea. Ask him! Like, by the time I was 5, I knew what I liked - Sonic, Reboot, Beast Wars, Power Rangers, dinosaurs and space. If you want to know what most kids that age are buying, the answer is Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. But that’s not what you’re after. The thing is though, games for that market are typically based on licensed properties. If you know what your kid likes - if you’d bother to ask him between late shifts and hockey practice - you wouldn’t need to ask me this question.
“Do You Have Any Games for Girls?”
I can tell you what most younger girls buy - Zelda, The Sims, Pokemon, Final Fantasy and Cooking Mama. But you don’t want those. You want something with a pink cover. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, if that’s what your kid likes - but it’s the same problem as above. There is no game that every little girl will like. Some want a game based on their favourite shows, some want to catch Pokemon, some want to be a chibi wizard. Just ask them what they’re into, and they will tell you! And as for teenage girls? It’s not much different - just replace Cooking Mama with Left 4 Dead, Catherine and Call of Duty. All were very popular with girls, in my experience.
“I Understand You’re Busy, But Here’s a Box of PS2 Games”
EB Games, as a company, is not set up very well. The company relies on trades (and ugly toys now, apparently) to make money, but there’s no easy way to balance taking trades with making sales. I don’t hate this customer, he/she just wants to trade old games for new ones. But it slows the day down massively, and if you’re the only one working at that time... One person can create a very long lineup.
“I Know the Door is Locked, But Are You Open?”
THIS FUCKING CUSTOMER. The mall closed 10 minutes ago. The store shutter is down; the doors are locked. The lights are dimmed, and you’re counting tills. All of a sudden, “BANG BANG BANG. Are you open? I just need one thing.” No. Fuck off. These computers literally take 30 minutes to boot up, and we shut them down 5 minutes before you even parked your car. Wal-Mart is open ‘til 11. Amazon is 24/7. We are not preventing you from saving Christmas, so BANGING HARDER WON’T HELP.
The Destructive Child
It’s a slow Sunday morning. You spent 3 hours alphabetizing and counting the entire Wii and DS section. A family walks in. “You were well-behaved at Gramma’s yesterday, so you each pick one game.”
“I’ll Just Be Five Minutes”
When I worked at a store in west Toronto, every Saturday, without fail, a woman would drop her son - maybe 4 years old - off at our store. She wouldn’t come in the store. She’d sort of just... Push him through the doors. Then she’d fuck off to the hair salon around the corner. For four hours. We would call security, because none of us are too fond of child abandonment. They’d take him to the security office until his mom - inevitably - came back screaming at us for not looking after her kid. Eventually, we just straight-up called the police. She never left the kid there again; she started leaving him in the Apple Store instead. Never be this woman.
“I Want to Speak to the Manager”
Shitty return policies aside (I totally understand that ire, EB Games is downright misanthropic in that regard), some customers get so wound up with righteous indignation that they appeal to a higher authority - usually, your boss. Wii Fit is out of stock? “I want to speak to your manager.” Line is too long? “I want to speak to your manager.” I get it, you’re upset that you don’t instantly get your way. Life is hard. But my manager, believe it or not, is not actually a sorcerer that can make your life better if you yell at him/her.
“You’re Not the Manager”
This one happened a lot when I worked at a store with two female managers. They were awesome managers! But you’d always get that customer that refused to acknowledge either of these two women as management, specifically because they were women. I was in my late teens and early 20’s, and I always liked to wear nice dress shirts for my lousy EB job, and these clowns would frequently either assume I was the manager or ask, “Is she actually the manager?” It crossed gender lines too - while most of the customers making this accusation were undeniably middle-aged (the peace and love and credit cards generation), it was equally men and women doing it.
“I Don’t Get What I Want, Therefore Discrimination”
These customers are rare, but they happen. If they don’t get service immediately, it’s because they’re a certain colour, or a certain sex, or a certain orientation. Literally every kind of person does this - yes, even rich white dudes - and it’s sad every time. Yes, legitimate discrimination happens, and it’s an awful thing. But owning a Hoveround does not entitle you to butt in front of the line on Boxing Day (that’s like Black Friday, for my American readers), and using the struggles of your specific demographic only demeans the efforts of those before you.
The Mystery Shopper
These people are just doing their job, and they have a checklist. But the people who sent them? Dickheads. The Mystery Shopper exists for one reason: To try and get you fired. As much as retailers tend to try and circumvent them, labour laws do exist. So how can they attempt to fire an otherwise satisfactory employee? Send someone to see if that employee forgets to mention the anti-consumer DS promotion where you can trade your DS Lite for a different colour DS Lite for a mere $80 difference! If your company uses mystery shoppers, your company has no respect for you or the person running your store.
The District Manager
Your boss’s boss. This guy will show up at your store once a month and, regardless of how busy it is, will stand in the corner like a doofus and stare at the customers. And once the busy period settles down, he’ll take each employee aside and tell them how bad a job they’re doing. If that was all, I wouldn’t mind - what really bothers me is when these assholes call the manager, at home, after work hours, and scream at them for not making impossibly high sales numbers. And that’s no exaggeration - while I never met the DM for my first store, the two others stores I worked at in Toronto were served by these aggressive dipshits who seemed to have no job but to terrorize their store managers. After one visit where the local DM screamed at my manager in the hallway of the mall, my manager spent the rest of her shift crying in the back room. And she was tough as fucking nails - she worked hard, and never got a single thank you. She got screamed at by this loser.
And That’s About It
Got any other horror stories about shitty customers? Feel free to share them below. Christmas - or whatever you choose to celebrate; I don’t celebrate anything myself - is a happy time for many people. But for people working in retail, it can be very trying, with the crowds of busy people. I guarantee, we’ve all encountered at least one of the people above.
Thanks for reading.