Retail Employees Tell Stories About How They Were Scammed by Customers

Shannon Quinn - June 29, 2021

Working on the front lines in retail is difficult enough as it is, especially due to current events. Dealing with customers is hard even on an average day. So when customers are acting like terrible people by trying to pull scams, it only makes the situation worse. People on Reddit have come together to share some of their worst customer scam stories.

This retail employee had a woman try to scam them into getting free tickets. Credit: Shutterstock

50. Sorry, You Can’t Have Free Movie Tickets

In this story from dawrina, the manager of a movie theater was called over to address a customer complaint in her pathetic attempt to get free tickets from the theater. “I work as a manager at a movie theatre. A customer said how she was there the prior day and that we had given them the wrong soda. Her diabetic husband drank it and suddenly had to go to the hospital to get medication to ‘cure him.’ Several things are wrong with that story: That’s not how diabetes works. You don’t die from one sip of soda, and generally if you did, you’d have insulin to take. On top of that, the employee she had complained to in order to call me over had been the only concession stand worker the prior day. Somehow, she failed to identify him when I asked her who it was.”

“I asked her for a ticket stub or proof of purchase. She came up with nothing. I went to the attendance for the prior day and pulled the report for the movie they claimed to have seen. To my delight, the showtime they claimed to have seen had zero tickets sold to it. I printed the report and went back to meet them. ‘Yeah, sorry. Looks like there were zero tickets sold to that showtime,’ And I showed her the report. She then tried to say we sold her tickets to the wrong movie. I told her that was impossible because then she would have been in the wrong auditorium. She had no response to that. Then, she said, ‘I guess I should just go buy tickets’. And I said, ‘Yeah. I guess so.’ She left.

This customer tried to swap a Gamecube for a new Wii. Credit: Shutterstock

49. Not the Right Nintendo

When the Nintendo Wii first came out, it was incredibly difficult to get your hands on one. Stores sold out as soon as the stock came in. Even employees would sneak the Wii off to the side just so they could buy one for their kids. So this next story from a Reddit user called Pineallple_Pistol is about a customer who tries to score a free Wii. It’s all too real. “Years ago, I worked at a Walmart and this guy comes in trying to return his ‘Wii’ that doesn’t work. ‘I just bought this for my kids last week and it’s already broken. But they won’t take it back, because I lost my receipt!'”

“The “Wii” in question was the most beat up and disgusting looking Gamecube I have ever seen. It was like he found it in a landfill or something. It’s important to point out that I wasn’t working the return desk or even a cashier. I was stocking the food department. Turns out he was trying to talk every employee in the store into either giving him a refund or a Wii.”

This woman tried to act like she knew the business better than the owner’s daughter. Credit: Shutterstock

48. Pizza Karen Won’t Take ‘No’ For An Answer

Working at a pizza shop is hard work. And if your family owns the shop, you can’t exactly get out of it very easily. In this story from schweinerneer13. She tells the time when a customer tried to tell her the rules of her own family’s pizza shop.

“We don’t deliver the pizzas we make, it’s carryout only. Had a customer call who had a long and angry conversation with me, because I wouldn’t deliver to her. She proceeds to say a couple times, ‘you must be new here. I know the owner personally’. To which I responded, “Well, I’m the owner’s daughter. We don’t deliver.’

Apparently, jewelry stores get scammers all the time. Credit: Shutterstock

47. Watch Chain Switch

From twistedlittlelady: “I work in a jewelry store that does repair. A lady comes in and drops off an older 80’s style Omega chain for a simple solder and fix. We have our customers sign the envelope where we write a description of the piece. Then they sign the same envelope when they pick up their merchandise and are satisfied with the work. This woman saw what I wrote and then signed the bottom, no problem. When she picked up her chain she was ecstatic and said it was the best work she’s ever seen. She pays for the repair, signs the envelope, and leaves. Ten minutes later, she calls saying we switched her chain. I’m like, ‘Look. Lady. We haven’t carried this type of chain in over 10 years because no one buys them. I wouldn’t even have a chain to give you.'”

“Also, we have cameras in the store, including the jeweler’s room. I asked her to please come in and take a look at the video surveillance. She would not let it go and was insisting that we reimburse her the money for her chain that we switched. That any other store would have done it. I politely let her know that we would be doing no such thing since there is no way we switched her chain. She said she was going to write me the nastiest Yelp review. That was a month ago. I’m still waiting for her to come in and demand her chain. She was clearly scamming since she was expecting us to just pay her out. But as a small privately owned jewelry store, we can’t just accept that the customer is always right like the big corporate stores do.”

Poor retail employees have to deal with so much. Credit: Shutterstock

46. Clearly, She Wanted The Cash

This frustrating story came from 20tyninety. “I work at a supermarket here in Australia. A woman approached the service counter wanting to make a return. She was your typical bogan type, and she wanted to return 3 or 4 ink cartridges. I asked for a receipt. She told me she had phoned earlier and spoke to someone who said she didn’t need one. Of course, she didn’t recall a name. I started the process anyway. But upon scanning all of the ink cartridges, none of them came up in our system. I tried explaining the situation. Then, everything blew up. She accused me of lying. We asked her if she can recall the day she purchased them from our store, because we can then bring the receipt up from the back end. She then ranted about paying in cash and not remembering the day.

“At this point, I had involved the supervisor. He explained the same thing to her, which was that we wouldn’t be able to process a refund in cash because we never stocked them in the first place. After much back and forth of her hurling abuse at us, we offered her store credit. In the beginning, she said all she wanted to do was some food shopping. Then her mind changed to wanting only cash. After explaining 100 more times, she agreed to the store credit. She went into the store. After about 20 minutes, she came back with gift cards. Oh boy. You cannot purchase gift cards with store credit for obvious reasons. That was the end of it for her. She absolutely lost it at us and called us every name under the sun, threatening to call the head office the next day.”

If you work in retail, always be careful when giving people back change. Credit: Shutterstock

45. The Hundred Dollar Scam

Sometimes, math is hard. For young cashiers, they’re still getting used to doing quick arithmetic in their heads. And if they’re distracted, they can fall for a scam like this one from forsaleortrade. “One of my embarrassing memories from working retail is falling for one of these scams. Some guy came in and wanted to pay for a cheap item with a $100 bill. I count out his change and I’m about to hand it over (let’s say 95.15). Then he changes his mind and says, ‘Oh wait, give me that $100 back, I have exact change. I can give you the .85 cents so that you won’t need to give me the coins. You can just give me the $95’.”

“And didn’t I just hand it over. He spaced it out just long enough that I was still holding the $95. Because I had to take time to put the coins away by that point, I completely forgot that I had given him back his $100 bill. I had no idea it had happened until the next day when my manager brought me in to review the video and asked me if I remembered the customer on the screen. Yes, I did remember him, because the guy was friendly and we chatted while I was ringing him up. I even told my manager ‘oh yeah, nice guy’. Then I was informed of what had happened. It’s one of the few times in my life I can remember being honestly startled and blown away that I hadn’t realized what happened.”

A man tried to get two items for the price of one. Credit: Shutterstock

44. Double Trouble

Sometimes, when there is a long line, cashiers feel the pressure to give into the demands of an unruly customer. In this story by Knut_Sunbeams, the man was clearly trying to cause a scene in order to get free stuff: “We had some members of the traveling community pull into our car park one summer. Guy comes to the till to buy two patio kits at £50 each. I tell him the total is £100 and he says he bought one for £50 the day before in another branch…I say, ‘Yes. But you’re buying two, so it’s doubled.'”

“He then starts to argue that I’m over-charging him. This went on for 10 minutes with me explaining that he’s buying two so it’s more expensive than one. His entire plan was to attempt to hold up the queue to a point where I’d give him one for free. Once he realized the queue had disappeared, you know due to it being a huge DIY store with multiple cashiers, he suddenly clicked and paid up, never to be seen again.”

Apparently, people pull these retail scams all the time. Credit: Shutterstock

43. The Oh-So-Common Scams

These next two retail nightmare stories came from a Reddit user called WishMeWells, who explains the common scams he sees every day when working at a roadside convenience store.

“I work at a convenience store, and we sell phone chargers for exorbitant prices because they prey on the desperate who need a charger RIGHT NOW. People steal these chargers all the time and try to bring them back for a refund. We don’t take them back without a receipt with our store address on it anymore because this is such a common occurrence.” They go on to add: “I also had a guy steal a fidget spinner (I watched him do it from the aisle) and try to bring it back for the whole refund of $6.”

Many people try to fool the self checkout machines at grocery stores. Credit: Shutterstock

42. Self Checkout Can’t Be Fooled

“I used to be a cashier at a local grocery store. We had a self-scan check out. At night, very few employees were on. The store stayed open until 12am, and after around 10:30-11 there were just two people working the front end. At around 11 pm one of the self-scan checkouts was blinking. There was a couple standing there waiting for someone to come assist them. So, I go over and ask them what the problem was. They immediately seemed nervous. I look at the items in the belt and compare them with the items on the screen. Something immediately doesn’t add up. Every single item was rung up for $1.20 or so, and was labeled as a marked down general merchandise item. But the things they were buying were all dairy, produce and grocery products.”

“None of these items would ever be labeled as ‘general merchandise’, and I’d be hard pressed to find they all rang up for $1.20. So, I tell them ‘Sorry, I need to void the transaction as there seems to be something wrong! Let’s take your groceries to the next check out so that you can get on your way. I’ll sort the problem out.’ So we brought all their groceries over to another self scan lane and I personally rang out each item. The total came out to like $150 or so dollars! They begrudgingly paid and went on their way. Apparently, they had ripped off a general merchandise tag from one of our discount racks and pasted it to their hand to just swipe it and send an item down. The machine realized something was fishy when each item came up at the same price.”

This barber shop owner refused to be scammed. Credit: Shutterstock

41. Calm, Cool, and Collected

This next story from drsameagle is actually a scam that I’ve fallen for before, too. Someone pretends to be in some sort of distress or emergency situation. Instead of borrowing the business phone to call their family and friends, they beg strangers for money instead. Most of the time, these people are trying to get cash to fuel a drug habit. “I witnessed one. I was waiting to get my haircut at my local barber and this woman hobbles in. She had a bandage on her head, a bandage over her eye, her arm in a sling, and a cane.”

“This woman sat down and launched into this horrible sob story about how she had been in this terrible accident. She said that she spent all her money at the hospital, her car was totaled, and now she had no way to get back home. And of course, she’s asking for money from the patrons of the barber shop. My barber was entirely unperturbed and said, ‘Okay, just let me finish with my customers.’ The lady, thinking she’d hit a score, sat patiently as he did five haircuts. Then he calmly walked over to the phone and called the police. Boss.”

This customer tried returning a box filled with cockroaches. Credit: Shutterstock

40. A Bug Infested Nightmare

There is so much to mentally unpack from this story told by zahliailhaz. “I used to work for a store that did trade-ins for old gaming systems. One day a man comes in trying to trade in his Xbox 360 to get credit for the new Xbox One. We’re pretty lax about the condition of the product. As long as it turns on, we’ll take it. I’m talking to the man as I’m taking the Xbox box out of the bag he brought it in. He’s pleasant. I open the box up and… Cockroaches just come crawling out. I almost dropped it, and I told the guy we can’t accept this. Boy, does he get mad.”

“He has the gall to ask where in our terms does it specifically say they can’t accept this? The manager gets involved and he eventually leaves, only to come back the next day to try it on another employee. I radio the manager when I recognize him. Guy puts up a fuss again and the manager eventually tells him he’ll give him the trade in credit IF he takes his bug ridden machine with him and never brings it back. I still get creepy crawlies thinking about those cockroaches.”

This customer scored free chicken from KFC for a long time before they were stopped. Credit: Shutterstock

39. Hot Chicken Pockets

In this story by ampmetaphene, we see how some people even risk burning themselves in order to get free food. “Back in highschool when I worked part time at a KFC, there was this one fat man who would come in. He always ordered a 2 piece quarter pack, and then claimed we forgot his chicken. Like, when we turned around to fetch his drink at the end of the order, he would open the box, take out the chicken pieces, and hide them in his pockets. Hot chicken. Right in his pockets.”

“I got so fed up with everyone who just kept giving him extra chicken all the time. One day, I demanded he turn out his pockets one day when he tried to pull it. And WOW- LO AND BEHOLD this guy has his pockets full of drum sticks.”

Some retail chains will take returns without a receipt. Credit: Shutterstock

38. Sounds Like a Foolish Retail Policy

Sometimes, a store policy is so relaxed, it’s basically the corporation’s own fault for situations like this happening. This story came from a Reddit user named Bramala. “I worked 12 years in retail before I switched occupations. One retail store I worked at used to have a ‘return it for whatever reason’ policy, and you didn’t even have to have a freaking receipt.”

“A couple tried to return a pot and pan set because the Teflon was coming off. Brand new cookware with the Teflon already coming off after only one single use? How odd. I have to see this. Yeah, about that . . .There was badly burnt food in the bottom of the pans and someone had used something sharp to try to scrape it out hence the ‘Teflon peeling’. The store took it back.”

When this man tries to steal bottles, this retail employee knew what to do. Credit: Shutterstock

37. Instant Karma

You know how they say criminals like to return to the scene of the crime? In this story from AtelesJubatus, this idiot got exactly what he deserved. “Worked in a bottle shop. One afternoon a shady character entered and spent 10 minutes browsing the liquor section. I stayed at the checkout and watched him on the CCTV. He ended up shoving two bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue down his pants and walked out. Store policy is not to confront shoplifters; that’s what insurance is for.”

“I called the police and burnt the footage onto a DVD for them to collect. About an hour later the same guy returns with the bottles demanding a cash refund because he ‘purchased the wrong type’. Just as I was telling him I can’t do a refund without a receipt, the police walked in to collect the footage. He left with them in handcuffs.”

In the UK, there are several retail chains that allow you to bet on sports. Credit: Shutterstock

36. Gambling Doesn’t Pay

“I (Alessandruh) was working in a betting shop during the 2014 Football World Cup. We had this really creepy customer who was always sexually harassing me. The night before the final, he comes in and tells me he wants to bet on Germany to win. I explained to him that it was too late to have a broad bet. Instead, he’d have to choose between a 90 minute win or extra time. He ended up choosing the 90 minute win. So I put the bet through for him. Of course, Germany wins in extra time. The next day Creepy Dude comes in, telling me how he’s a winner. Again, I have to explain to him that he predicted they’d win before 90 minutes, and they hadn’t. Dude flies into a rage. I tell him to leave my store or I’ll call the police.”

“A few days later, I see him ranting at my cashier. I ask what the problem is, and he throws me his bet slip for the World Cup. Now he’s written ‘extra time’ on it in pen. I tell him that we scan bets on the computer, and obviously the handwritten slip counts as fraud. He leaves ranting how women shouldn’t be working anyway because they can’t read. Next week, I’ve had a complaint filed against me. The day of the meeting rolls around. I’m greeted by my area manager, security director and CREEPY DUDE. We bring up the CCTV of the night he placed the bet, complete with audio. Dude starts screaming that we faked the video. Security director escorts him off the premises and he is banned indefinitely. The kicker is, if his bet had won it would have only been £55.”

Confusion over a sale price had this woman enraged. Credit: Shutterstock

35. Arguing For a Discount

This story is from ShadyLady709Q49. “At my old job, they used to have sales pretty often and would also give out coupons for specific dates. For Boxing Day, they had a 30% off sale and we’d also given out coupons that would start the next day. One Lady came in on Boxing Day and we worked out that she’d get more of a deal if she used the coupon instead. So I offered to hold her items for her. I explicitly told her that she wouldn’t be able to get the 30% off and she decided to use the coupon instead. She comes back the next day, goes to cash to purchase her items and gets angry because they wouldn’t give her both the 30% off and let her use the coupon.

“The woman told the cashier that the person she’d spoken to the day before had told her she could. She sees me, and says, ‘it was that girl!’ I went to the cashier to speak to her, and her story changed about three times through the whole thing. First she said that I told her she could combine the discounts, then she said that I never told her she couldn’t combine the discounts. Then finally, it was, ‘Well I don’t understand why I’m not able to do this.’ Another manager came over to help sort it out. As I walked away, I heard her saying that I was a liar. Now, I work at Sephora and we always get people trying to return fake products. My favorite one was when someone returned a face mask but had put a can of tuna in the box.”

Twice a year, Office Depot is open until midnight. Credit: Shutterstock

34. Pajama Drama

This next retail story came from Mr_A. “I was working at Office Depot and the store was open until midnight the two last nights of the financial year. Apparently management thought someone might come in at the last minute to deck out their entire office with new laptops and chairs. After about 9pm the store was pretty much a complete ghost town. By 10pm-11pm, the store was the cleanest it ever was since it was built. The phone rang at about 11:30pm. Some guy wanted to know if we were still open, because he wanted to buy something specific. It turned out we had it in stock. He told me that he was going to get out of his pajamas, get dressed and come down to the store. I was, like, ‘Sure. The item will be at the front counter whenever you’re here to collect it.'”

“So he turns up and tells me again that he had to get out of his pajamas, get dressed and come down to the store to pick up this item. It was about 11:45pm by this point and so I just told him how much it was going to cost. Then he asked for a discount. I said ‘Why?’ He said, ‘For being your last customer of the evening!’ I told him no, there’s no reason for giving out that kind of a discount. And besides, we weren’t closed yet. There might be other customers, you know. Besides, it costs what it costs. He told me again that he had to get out of his pajamas, get dressed and come to the store to buy this item. Still, he paid full price for all his troubles.”

New reclining seats have more space between them. Credit: Shutterstock

33. No Free Tickets For You, Miss

This story comes from a Redditor called ommnommmoe. “I work at a movie theater and we received a call from a guest who had to leave because of a group of guys. They were yelling and hurling insults at her and her friends, throwing popcorn and kicking her seats. She claimed that she just left, didn’t want to cause a scene and wasn’t going to speak to a manager. Well since this has happened to me in the past with scammers, I ask the basic question, which is: ‘Do you have your ticket stubs? I’ll just give you a new pass.’ Of course, she paid only in cash, and didn’t have anything else that showed she was here. She didn’t know where she was sitting and got her movie showtime wrong twice.”

“My scam detector went into overdrive but I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. We still tried to figure anything out that proved she was here. When she just kept on insisting it wasn’t about the money…But that if I gave her a few free tickets, she’d call it even. I had enough, and I told her that since she didn’t have her tickets and that she didn’t talk to anyone after the movie, there wasn’t much I could do. We also have brand new recliners. When she kept insisting they were kicking her seats, I told her that wasn’t possible since there’s about a 2 feet gap from the back of a seat. She got flustered and just said she couldn’t possibly explain how they did it, to just trust her word. Not likely.”

In this retail disaster story, a cashier frequently gets people trying to return cigarettes. Credit: Shutterstock

32. Nice Try, Buddy

Our next retail nightmare story came from CoolWaveDave. “This guy came in and said, ‘I’d like to return this unopened pack of cigarettes I purchased earlier today at your establishment.’ I open the store everyday, and hadn’t seen this dude once that day. Looked at his cigarettes, and it’s a brand we don’t carry. Asked him for a receipt to confirm he purchased them here, but he obviously didn’t have one. ‘That’s fine! If you can just tell me what time you were in here today I can look it up on our cameras to confirm your purchase.’ My God the backpedaling and stuttering. I grabbed his cigarette pack and fake examined them.”

“Then, I said, ‘Wait a moment sir, are you sure you purchased these at this store? I don’t think we carry this brand.’ He took the cigarettes back, came up with something about his brother must have yada yada and then he walked out. A tobacco store in town sells some of the brands we carry at a much cheaper price. So people like to try and do returns at our store to make a quick buck. We generally don’t take any returns on tobacco, but this guy didn’t even scope out his mark.”

Copper wire is something commonly stolen for scrap. Credit: Shutterstock

31. At Least They Got the Roll Back

It’s funny how so many thieves threaten to call the cops on retail employees, when they are the ones who did the crime. This next story by celesticaxxz is yet another example of that. “Years ago I worked at a small hardware store where they were constantly getting huge rolls of copper wire stolen. One day this guy and his girlfriend come in to return a roll. I was a few months in on the returns counter. They had no receipt and when I scanned the item for the return it was only doing the price per foot. I couldn’t figure out how to get the SKU or the price for the whole roll. Called the manager and he came out right away. He knows there’s no way these people bought a roll and returned it.”

“So he asks when they bought it. They say two weeks ago ( the common response ) and my manager tells them, ‘Oh really? Because the last time we sold an entire roll was over 3 months ago’. The guy starts to get brave and tells him, ‘So you’re saying I stole it?!’ And my manager says yes. They end up leaving and left the roll behind. Before they leave the store, the guy says ‘I’m coming back and bringing the cops’. Manager says, “Go ahead. That way you can explain to them how you stole the roll.”

A story from a Kmart employee. Credit: Shutterstock

30. K-Mart Karma

This next collection of retail scam stories is from a Reddit user called Mr. Human Soup. “At the Kmart returns counter, I had a guy try to return a CD with a receipt. The shrink wrap had been sliced and the CD taken out. He claimed it was like that when he bought it. I told him he could swap it for the same thing. He went to get a new CD, and brought a different artist. So I had the electronics employee bring up the correct CD. As I checked that they were the same and told him I would give him a new one, a smile grew on his face… Which quickly melted away when I took out a knife and cut open the plastic on the CD. No, you can’t return that one later.”

Another scammer was this guy who appeared to be paralyzed on the left half of his body. He walked slowly around the store, dropping stuff and drooling. (Just part of the scam). One day I caught him bagging Oxy-Clean in his cart. Notified security, and she watched him. He went through a self checkout and told me he bought the Oxy-Clean in electronics. Security called electronics, no such sale was made. She let him go that time. But the next time he came in to steal, he got a police escort.

Last one was an inside job. This guy who worked in electronics also did layaway. One of the service desk girls would put a giant bag of dog food on layaway. Then the electronics guy would empty the bag and fill it with expensive electronics. Turns out they had been getting away with this for years. Then, security staff changed and the new lady knew how to police the place.

Wonder how that happened? Credit: Shutterstock

29. Priorities…

In this story by Wrashionis, we see how a liar and cheater will continue to lie and cheat in pretty much any situation. “I work at a major cell phone retailer. Once, a man came in with his wife to upgrade to the newest iPhone. While they were working with one of my reps, the wife started getting text messages from someone claiming to be her husband’s mistress. This did not go over well. They took it outside before it got overly nasty. We all assumed they were gone for good. Nope, the husband comes back in. Alone. He finishes upgrading his phone (priorities) and leaves. The very next day, he tried to return the phone claiming that we had sold him one with screen damage. It looks like someone took her diamond wedding ring to the screen and scratched the heck out of it.”

“We have a strict ‘open the box and hand it to the customer before they leave’ policy to avoid these situations. I was able to pull the security tape, and showed the customer where he held the phone for 5 minutes without pointing out any flaws. Then I told him that my company offers no warranty on that brand. I suggested he take it up with the manufacturer if he truly believed the phone was damaged out of the box. He did. Right there in the store, he called them. They also told him to kick rocks. The best part is that I was new to management, so I didn’t have a manager name tag yet. He asked to speak to the manager. I got to give him my best evil grin and say, “I am the manager.” He left after that and we never saw him again.”

This retail employee suspected that a customer wanted an empty box for nefarious reasons. Credit: Shutterstock

28. No Box For the XBox

“At my last job, someone called the store wanting to know if we had spare empty boxes for Xbox consoles, because he ‘wanted to prank his kid and give him an empty box’. I know very well he wanted to try to stuff the box with who knows what, and attempt a return. Of course, the folks at customer service check such boxes for actual products, and match serials to those on the box.”

That story came from a user called Euchre. In that customer’s defense, there are actually are a lot of people who prank their loved ones with empty game boxes. Cruel, I know. But it happens. And people also sell empty boxes on eBay, because they want to buy a used game to give in a real box on Christmas morning.

Someone returned a vacuum cleaner box with cans inside. Credit: Shutterstock

27. A Sneaky Swap

The Reddit account who posted this story has been deleted, but it’s 100% believable that people would return a box with something stuffed inside. Many customer service employees won’t check inside. So as long as it’s roughly the same weight, they’ll get away with it.

“Had a customer returned a vacuum cleaner once, my supervisor did the return thankfully. The box went back on the floor unchecked. So then the next customer who wanted to buy it checked it out before they went to the register. The whole thing had been replaced with a catering size tin of beets.”

At McDonald’s, the ice cream machine is always broken. Credit: Shutterstock

26. The Ice Cream Machine is Broken… AGAIN

There is a running joke about McDonald’s ice cream machine is that it’s always broken. In this next story by BlindSkate101, the broken machine exposed this person’s lies. “I was working at a place that has soft serve ice cream as a part of the menu. One day a lady came up to the counter and said something along the lines of, ‘Hey I’m really sorry, but my daughter dropped her ice cream and she’s really sad about it. Do you think you could give me another?'”

“It was about then that I realized an important fact: the ice cream machine was broken that day and we weren’t selling any. I looked back at her and told her that it must not be from us because of the machine. She turned bright red and mumbled ‘Oh then I guess it must be from a Dairy Queen or something…’ Then she left quickly. Nice try lady.”

A customer attempted to eat as much chicken as she could before cashing it in. Credit: Shutterstock

25. That’s a Lot of Chicken

In this story from Perschnickity, we hear about a woman who was incredibly brave… Stupid, but brave.

“A woman came in, grabbed an herb-roasted rotisserie chicken. She moseyed over to the casual seating, and ate 85% of it with her bare hands. Then brought the carcass to customer service and tried to return it.” Yeah, no. I don’t think you can return partially eaten food, even if you did pay for it.

This customer tried to sue the hardware store. Credit: Shutterstock

24. Sometimes Justice Really Is Served

Our next retail scam story comes from a user called HokeyWB. “I worked at a place that sold timber, roofing, etc. One Saturday morning this guy comes in and wants a couple of bags of cement. So I ring up the sale and then go to load up the order. He tells me not to worry, and that he will do it. So I explain that it is my job to do it. Then when I reached for the first one he stood between me and the bag. Again, I insist that I have to load the concrete. It isn’t an option. At this point he gets quite aggressive with yelling and arm waving. So I went inside to find the boss. Just as we come back out, he reaches down, goes to pick up the bag… And throws his back out.

“He is writhing around on the floor for a while, then demands an ambulance. Then he tells my boss that I refused to help him load the bags. Now he is going to sue us for millions. What he didn’t know is that a lot of people tried to steal the cement. So there were two security cameras pointing right at him the whole time, recording everything he said and did…Including a long discussion with his wife about how we would pay him a stack of cash to keep this out of court and so on. The company didn’t say a word about the tapes until just before we had to be in court…To make sure that he spent as much money on his lawyer as possible.”

This customer returned a fake ring to a jewelry store and got a refund. Credit: Shutterstock

23. Proof That Fake Diamonds Look Real

A jewelry store retail employee called SparkleSparrows tells a story about how a customer fooled her by returning a fake ring. “Customer returned a fake ring for $100. They had a real receipt that physically described the ring they brought in. I didn’t recognize it, even checked for it. But ultimately accepted the return because it seemed legit.”

“What they did was buy a real ring (or obtain a real receipt some other way). Then buy a fake $5 ring that matched the description on the real receipt. Return a fake ring, get cash. Actually pretty smart.”

A woman pretended to work at a small family run deli. Credit: Shutterstock

22. When All Else Fails, Pretend to Work There

This retail story by SirPickell is of a woman who was clearly out of her mind. “I work at an Italian deli and specialty market. It’s family owned and has a super tight knit cast of employees. It’s also in a rougher part of town. One day, a presumably homeless woman came into the store. No big deal, we’re by the shelter and a lot of the homeless folks are friendly and just getting something nice to eat. However, this lady was clearly out of her mind. She was in the store for an hour just harassing employees and customers. Eventually, the owner (the Italian man after which the store is named) had to intervene. He firmly asked the lady to leave, but she had a surprising response: ‘Oh it’s okay, I work here.’

“Imagine the surprise on the owner’s face. HE certainly didn’t remember hiring her. Dumbfounded, he told her that was impossible, since he’s in charge of the hiring, to which she responded: ‘Oh, are you hiring?’ Honestly I’ve got to respect a good gambit. Unfortunately for her, it didn’t seem to pan out. I don’t have any new coworkers yet.”

A sketchy woman repeatedly tried the same retail scam. Credit: Shutterstock

21. Short Term Memory Loss

When you work at the customer service desk like PM_your_PETZ, you get to encounter strange people all the time. Apparently, you can just pretend to be Dori from Finding Nemo.

“When I worked at the service desk of a local grocery store, we had this lady who came in all the time. She was super skinny and wore sunglasses and long sleeves even in the summer. One day she came in with a friend and tried to return beauty items. We didn’t even have a beauty or makeup section. She claimed she had no receipt due to ‘short term memory loss.’ It was so hard not to laugh in her face. She had attempted to return things this way numerous times. We all knew what she was doing.”

People try to use expired digital coupons all the time. Credit: Shutterstock

20. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

This next story comes from a retail employee called PoolAddict41. “I had a customer come to purchase some stuff, and they had found a coupon from 3 years ago on Google Images. This was for 50% off the whole purchase. I told her I can’t do that. The only one we had going at the time was not viable for her purchase. She yelled stupid loud, stormed out cursing, and I felt good. She emailed the corporate office, and I got in trouble for making her upset.”

Someone tried to return bottles of detergent filled with water. Credit: Shutterstock

19. Now It’s Bottled Water

In this story by TailesofMom, they caught a customer trying to scam them out of laundry detergent. This is one of those scams where you would never see it coming. It’s a good thing that they discovered the truth before the next customer got screwed.

“I had someone try to return two bottles of laundry detergent. She dropped them off at the counter and said she didn’t like that brand. Then, she walked off to do her shopping. I wonder how it smells, so I open the detergent and smell it. It’s water. Both of these jugs are filled with warm water. During the exchange, she tries to claim they were like that when she bought them. I explain I can’t return them and she will have to talk to the Day Manager. (Boss Lady who has final say.) She decided not to do that, and left.”

A woman tried to return makeup she had stolen from another store. Credit: Shutterstock

18. A Stupid Mistake

It’s a common scam that people will try to shoplift from one store, and then try to return that item to another place. But when they take forget to the security tags off like this next story from M37h3w3, that’s pretty funny. “I had a customer try to use a coupon on his phone. Several problems with this. It’s against corporate policy to scan coupons off the phone. There’s a sheet of paper taped to the counter with all of the rules and it’s like the sixth one on it. When my stupid manager scanned the stupid thing anyways the system rejected the coupon saying that the coupon wasn’t issued to him. The offer that the coupon was for was different than the offer shown on his phone. There was an Instagram stamp on the coupon on his phone.”

“Also: Customer tries to return some makeup without a receipt. I look it over and tell her I can’t return it. She tries to say that we have to since we sell it here and what not. I tell her I can’t return it because it has a security label from the grocery store that’s five miles down the road. She books it out and leaves said makeup behind.”

This store had a stupid return policy. Credit: Shutterstock

17. The Standards Are Very Low Here

“I worked retail several years ago while in college. The store I worked for had a crazy return policy. We even took back things we didn’t sell. I worked apparel, which included jewelry and some housewares like towels. Our manager would make us find a comparable item and use that UPC to give the refund. It was ridiculous. I remember arguing with a guy who wanted to return a watch. He swore he bought it at our store. I kept explaining that it was impossible. I call the manager who says, ‘Just refund it with a watch that matches the price he says he paid for it.’

But the worst was how many times we took back obviously worn, dirty clothing like lingerie.” Gross! That story was from IWantAnlguana. This almost sounds like the manager was in on the scam, too.

Mobile retailers must deal with a lot of scams. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Everyone Wants a Free iPhone

Just like the other story we mentioned earlier, it seems like a lot of people try to get away with swapping broken phones. Valhallan1984 was not having it.

“Sold a guy a phone years ago when I worked for a wireless carrier. Spent an hour getting all his information transferred and setting up his new phone. He comes in the next day with a shattered screen. Apparently he didn’t remember that I was the rep who helped him. He proceeded to tell me that is how it looked when he left the store. Needless to say the phone was not replaced.”

A story of a man who tried to scam Best Buy into giving him a free laptop. Credit: Shutterstock

15. He Left Behind All of the Evidence

Never try to trick an employee at Best Buy, like vick7171. They actually know how to use technology! “I used to work at Best Buy. This guy came in and returned a laptop saying that the box had some old laptop in it. He was yelling and screaming that we don’t know how to do business. Manager gave him a full refund. We started to check that old laptop he brought in. It won’t turn on. Looks like the motherboard was toast. We pulled the hard drive out and started checking the data. Hard drive was completely fine with everything on it.”

“We started looking for the clues and found the pictures of the guy who returned the laptop. It was his old machine. We had all his info. Manager called him and said he has 15 mins to bring the new laptop back or he is calling the police. That guy came in, dropped the laptop at the front desk. Never saw him again in the store.”

A delivery service employee tells a story of a customer who tried to scam the company. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Delivery Services Get Screwed, Too

A delivery service employee named Jasmminne tells a story of someone who tried to cheat her way out of not paying an invoice.

“Not traditional retail. But I had a client swear she did not receive two packages from me and was refusing to pay the invoice for the second package from more than six months prior. I knew she was lying but she was extremely rude and insistent. So I was able to go back on all records and was able to find both a photo of the first package on her front door step (super lucky as that’s not our normal delivery procedure to have photographed evidence). And a signature of receipt for the second one with her name very clearly signed, dated four days later. I emailed the evidence and never heard back from her again. Not even an apology email or phone call, which just confirms she knew she was lying.”

Stealing credit cards to buy gift cards is a common scam. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Apparently It Doesn’t Pay to Do The Right Thing

A user called anonymous_trash caught someone trying to use a stolen credit card. “I’ve been in and out of retail for 10 years. One time at a part time gig (I have a full time job, too), this couple came in, looking sketchy as anything. Definitely high on something. They were scanning each and every register looking for gift cards, particularly those ones where they were prepaid like Visa or MasterCard. I knew their game; I’ve dealt with this before. The woman came to my register. Originally they wanted to go to self checkout, but I told them they cannot purchase gift cards there. They can, I just wanted to catch them.”

“The woman comes up to me, and purchases $400 worth of gift cards. When it’s time to pay, I ask her for her ID because she wants to use “her” credit card. The ID she had and who she was were two different people. When I looked at the photo of the woman in the driver’s license, she had no tattoos on her face. This woman had stars below her eye. I told her, ‘This is not you. I will not sell these to you, and I will call the police.’ She booked it out of there. Unfortunately the man got away with it, because he had purchased his at another register before the woman came to me. And would you believe, I got in trouble for doing that!”

One super stinky story. Credit: Shutterstock

12. The Worst One Yet

Okay, this story by MateriaBubbles is so many levels of messed up. “A customer brought back a jumpsuit for a refund because it had poop in it. Apparently it had been like that when she bought it. It stank so bad that you could smell it through the taped up plastic bags that she had put it in. The levels of how impossible that would have been to be unnoticed by changing room staff, to then be put on the shop floor, to then be picked up by the customer , to being bought via a cashier still unnoticed.”

“The worst part is some idiot on the refunds counter downstairs actually accepted it and put it on top of the trolley full of other returned items for us to put back upstairs – complete with a note stapled to it that said ‘Warning: Faeces inside.’ One of the bigger ‘what’ moments I’ve had in any job that I’ve worked.”

A story about working at Arby’s in the 1990’s. Credit: Shutterstock

11. That’s Not How Banking Works

HawaiianBrian tells a story of working fast food in the 90’s. “Worked at Arby’s as a teenager (this was around 1990). A guy comes in, orders a sandwich and fries, and wants to pay with a check. This being the olden days, people paid with checks all the time. But this guy tries to tell me it’s ‘easier for the bank’ if he makes it out to himself instead of to Arby’s because… Well, he fired off some convoluted, off-the-cuff rant designed to fool me into buying the story. I was young and naive, but not that naive. He got mad when I denied him, called me stupid. So I asked if he’d like to talk to the manager and he agreed. Three minutes later my manager is giving the guy a stink eye and the dude leaves with no sandwich. Nice try.”

People took advantage of an online coupon from Petsmart. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Give an Inch, They Take a Mile

This Petsmart employee has deleted their Reddit account, but the retail story still remains. “I’m not usually at the register, but when the store I used to work at first opened, they would send out coupons to specific people if they had PetPerks. Well, someone shared their coupon online, which was for a free bag of dog food. What proceeded was a mass of people coming in the next few weeks attempting (and succeeding) to redeem the coupon, as we didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot after newly opening. Anyway, I get put on the register and this woman comes through with 12 bags of dog food and 12 coupons. We can’t actually do that on the same purchase, and usually when someone does that (having two coupons), we just do two different transactions. It’s whatever.”

“But this lady has 12. I’m lazy so I called my manager over to deal with it. The manager tries to explain to the woman that the coupons aren’t technically valid as it’s for a specific person for one bag. Woman keeps pushing on the fact that she physically has the coupons so they must work and acts like she doesn’t understand why they won’t. Eventually the manager says, you know what? We’ll do it but only for 6 bags. Woman throws a fit and leaves the entire cart. Coulda got 6 bags free but nope. Manager said she’d seen the woman doing the exact same thing at Dollar General the day before.”

A man tried to lie in order to get free games at the arcade. Credit: Shutterstock

9. No Free Games For You, Sir

PlutoCouldBeAPlanet tells a retail story about working at a bowling alley. It just goes to show that most people aren’t prepared for management to call their bluff.

“Had a guy come to the bowling alley I worked at wanting to play in our arcade. You have to put money on a card to play the games cause we have card swipers on all our games. Tickets go straight to the card. He walks into the redemption store and goes, ‘Hey man I just put $20 in the teller and it took my money and is saying I didn’t put anything in. Can you give me a card with $20 on it?’ Well that’s weird, let’s check it out. I grab a manager and walk over to the teller where the manager proceeds to open it up and take out the cash box and would you look there, not a single bill, hmm weird. ‘Uhhh, do these other tellers work?’ Yeah bud, all the tellers work just fine.”

In this story, a woman ran out after getting a free facial. Credit: Shutterstock

8. Beauty is Free

Ninjacat01 tells a story of how a woman got away with never paying for a facial. Honestly, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often. “Customer came in for her 1 hour facial appointment to try our skincare brand in a department store. It was $75, or you could purchase products to that value or above. She came out from her facial, pampered, requested the whole range, then exclaimed she had left her credit card in her bag which she had left in the car. Then she quickly said, “I’ll be back in five” – and never returned. We caught on pretty quickly, but she had disappeared, and the phone number she had given us was fake.”

A father stealing his son’s adderrall is probably more common than you think. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Tweaking is a Red Flag

This sad story by Moogula1992 is probably something that happens more often than you think. “A guy comes into my pharmacy to fill his son’s Adderall prescription. Guy is super twitchy and son is chill as could be. For all controls we are supposed to run a report that shows every where in the state they have filled any. Of course the report is a mess. Multiple pharmacys, multiple scripts, multiple doctors. All the red flags. To top it off an Adderall script within that week had been filled so we really couldn’t fill this one.”

“Dad comes back, we tell him that we can’t fill it and dad starts going on about how his wife must have filled it but they need some for today blah blah blah. We decline and his last words to use are ‘My son needs them for a birthday he has to go to today. Can’t you help?’ No dude we can’t help. You’re clearly taking your son’s pills. Get help and stop using your son to get high on prescription medication.”

This story must be old if it involves Sega CD’s. Credit: Shutterstock

6. This Must Be a Rough Neighborhood

KeetoJM tells multiple stories of retail nightmare scenarios. “Had a guy try to return 2 Sega CD games for cash. Problem was they were wrapped in Saran Wrap. And then had the gall to exchange them for properly wrapped games so he could go across the street to Walmart and return them for cash there. Him and his buddy must have really needed beer money.”

“Also have seen people try on new shoes, put the old ones in the box, and walk out with the new ones. Had an old man act like he was pulling a gun out of his waist just to get away from loss prevention. And one of my favorites- Had the two women grab a bag from luggage and put all of the rolls of film in the bag. Then try to ditch the bag because we were following them.”

People lose their phone all the time, so this guy just had to try. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Lost and Found

HermesCat tells a story about how a customer tried to score a free iPhone by pretending about losing one. “I once had a dude try to score a free iPhone. He came into the department I worked in, and started describing this vague iPhone to us, saying he’d lost it in here earlier. No other details were given, like phone case, or specific color, just an iPhone.”

“Further questions were asked about where he thinks he might have left it in here and he just went quiet and said, ‘It’s fine, actually. Maybe somebody else has it.’ And left. Our opinion is he knew that sometimes stores will keep people’s phones that they find until the owners come back and then they hand over the phone. He wanted to score a free iPhone.”

This woman liked the TV so much, she stole it. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Logic

A department store employee called RocketSLC helped to apprehend a woman who was attempting to steal a Smart TV. “When I was working as an electronics cashier, I asked a woman if she needed help buying a TV. She said no thanks, and placed a smart TV into her cart. I asked her if she wanted to make the purchase in electronics, and she said she wanted to pick up a couple more things. I went to help another customer when I realized the woman was rushing towards the front of the store with the TV. Immediately, I radioed loss prevention that someone was trying to run out with a TV. They stopped her at the door.”

“Her immediate defense was ‘I paid for this in electronics, I just left the receipt in my car.’ I have no idea how that made logical sense in her mind, since of course she couldn’t have the receipt in her car if she just bought the TV in electronics.

Large bags of dog food seem to be a common theme in these stories. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Caught Them Red Handed

“When I worked on a grocery checkout, a woman pulled a barcode label from a container of $4 tinned fruit and stuck it over the barcode of a $25 container of medjool dates. She pretended that she didn’t do it. Another time a man carried a $30 bag of dog food to the customer service counter without paying for it and asked for a refund. My manager gave it to him even though we both knew he had stolen it while we watched him.”

“Oh, and another time a group of people were using fake credit cards to steal. Not sure exactly how it worked but they ended up typing in different card numbers into the card terminal while another dude tried to distract you. These guys were super friendly and chatty and probably thought I was young and dumb. But I caught them trying to take off with about $500 worth of groceries. They were all like, ‘Just let us go and get some cash out, we’ll be back soon to pay’. They never returned and my manager gave me a box of chocolates for picking up on it. Proudest moment of my retail career.” Good job, PuddingandP1e.

When you work at a gun shop, stopping someone from buying one can save lives. Credit: Shutterstock

2. A True Hero

Supergazm literally saved two people’s lives in this story. “I ran the gun counter at a store. One day a sketchy guy came in to buy a handgun. I didn’t like the way he was acting, and the way he was answering my questions. So I decided that I was not going to sell him a gun. My store is strict about this. If I didn’t feel comfortable, I could deny the sale and there’s nothing he could do. He could call managers and HQ and complain, but they will always side with me. The man hands me his ID to start the paperwork. I always let them start the process so that I have names and addresses. His name was really familiar. I had sold a gun to someone with the same name the day before. But it wasn’t him.”

“I let him completely fill out the form and compared it to what I had from the day before, and asked him how he liked the gun he purchased yesterday. That took him by surprise, and I knew what was happening. I called the code words to have management call the police without suspicion. The man was using his father’s identification. When the police arrived, fear washed over his face. This guy already had a violent record, and is now in prison for lying on federal documents, violent felon in possession of a handgun, and identity theft. The next day, the police came back and told me that he admitted to trying to buy the gun to kill his wife and son. I had a little bit of a breakdown at work and sat in the breakroom for about an hour just thinking about the incident.”

A common retail scam is claiming they didn’t get enough change. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Stiffing teenagers for spare change

This next story from BakingJingo tells you that if you’re trying to trick a cashier, don’t do it in the early morning when the drawers are perfectly balanced. “I worked at a Jewel many, many years ago. A man comes through with two 24 packs of Pepsi. It’s opening shift, so at that time we count our registers and confirm they’ve got the correct. We didn’t carry too much cash, and we all know how much is in the drawer to start the day. He ends up paying with a $100 bill for these sodas. I counted back his change with mostly 20’s, and I don’t know how he did this, but he shuffled them in his hand, and showed me that I supposedly short changed him. Now, I knew immediately that he was lying.”

“I told him that I would call a manager over and have them double check the register. The manager came, counted down the register and explained that the drawer was balanced, which means I didn’t short change anybody. But, if for whatever reason the drawer turned up $20 over at night, we could give him a call. The manager tries to take his info down and he asks for his name and the guy thinks about it and says ‘Steve… Bush!’ He left. We never called him. Even if we had – Steve Bush doesn’t exist.”