Retail Workers Share The Worst Scams Customers Tried To Pull On Them

Retail Workers Share The Worst Scams Customers Tried To Pull On Them

Working in retail is hard enough already - the last thing you need is someone trying to rip you off during your shift. However, you've got to hand it to these scammers. They're creative, resourceful, and full of bravado. Unfortunately, they weren't smart enough to get away with their grift. We asked retail employees to share their tales of catching scammers in the act.

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50. At least he tried.

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, like he found it in a landfill or something. I should also 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.

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49. Neat and tidy.

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.

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48. On a thin wire.

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 comes out and right away knows there’s no way these people bought a roll and returned it. So he asks when they bought it and 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.”

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47. It's a family affair.

We don’t deliver the pizzas we make, it’s carryout only. Had a customer call and have a long/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 owners daughter and we don’t deliver.”

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46. Less screen time.

Sold a guy a phone years ago when I worked for a wireless carrier. Spent an hour getting all his information transferred and set 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 and proceeded to tell me that is how it looked when he left the store. Needless to say the phone was not replaced.


45. Leave the kid out of it.

A guy comes in to my pharmacy to fill his sons Aderall 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 aderall 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 us 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 sons pills, get help and stop using your son to get high on prescription medication.

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44. The poultry bandit.

A woman came in, grabbed an herb-roasted rotisserie chicken, moseyed over to the casual seating, ate 85% of it with her bare hands, then brought the carcass to customer service and tried to return it.

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43. Retail stinks.

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.

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42. This sale didn't stick.

I worked 12 years 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.

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41. It's a store, not a library.

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 even 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 was impossible. I call the manger 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.



40. A little detective work.

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 police. That guy came in, dropped the laptop at front desk. Never saw him again in the store.

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39. As long as it's the same weight.

Had a customer return a vacuum cleaner once, my supervisor did the return thankfully. The box went back on the floor unchecked. 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.

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38. Thinking inside the box.

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 product, and match serials to those on the box.

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37. Seems unfair.

I had a customer come to purchase some stuff, and they had found a coupon from 3 years ago on Google Images for 50% off whole purchase. I told her I can't do that, and 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 corprate, and I got in trouble for making her upset.


36. Now that's commitment.

Back in highschool when I worked part time at a KFC, there was this one fat man who would come in, order a 2 piece quarter pack, and then claim 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 just giving him extra chicken all the time that I demanded he turned 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.


35. Package delivered.

Not traditional retail, but 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. 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.

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34. That's not from here.

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.

Coupon_Pile_Stock_Photo_10865703765-300x200.jpgCarol Pyles/Wikimedia

33. Gotta love that retail life.

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 wal-mart 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.

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32. Cool customer.

I was working at a place that has soft serve as a part of the menu. I was working one day and a lady came up to the counter and said something along the lines of 'hey I'm really sorry my daughter dropped her ice cream and she's really sad about it, do you think you could give me another?' I was about to then realized an important fact: the ice cream 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 dairy queen or something..." and left quickly. Nice try lady.

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31. Can't remember yesterday.

When I worked at the service desk of a local grocery store we had this lady who was super skinny and wore sunglasses and long sleeves all the time, one day she came in with a friend and tried to return beauty items (we didn’t have a beauty/makeup section) and 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.

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30. Mountain fresh but not quite legal.

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. She walks 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.

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29. Outnumbered by scam artists.

I've been in and out of retail for 10 years, and one time at a part time gig that I had (I have a full time job, too), this couple, a man and a woman, 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, purchases $400 worth of gift cards and when its 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. The woman in the drivers license 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?

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28. Here for the interview.

I work at an Italian deli/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.

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27. You'd think a jeweler could tell the difference.

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 fake ring, get cash. Actually pretty smart.

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26. Bet this works all the time.

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 of 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.


25. Patience is a virtue.

I witnessed one. I was waiting to get my hair cut 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. She sat down and launched into this horrible sob story about how she had been in this terrible accident and had spent all her money at the hospital and her car was totalled and now she had no way to get back home, etc. And of course asked for money. 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.

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24. The scariest scam ever.

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 (at the time) 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 drop it, and I tell 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.

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23. Those are probably worth a lot more now.

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.

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.

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22. Looking good.

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. She quickly said, “I’ll be back in five” - and never returned. We cottoned on pretty quickly, but she had disappeared, and the phone number she had given us was fake.

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21. Two scams are better than one.

We had some members of the traveling community pull into our car park one summer. Guy comes to the till to buy 2 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 2 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 hes buying 2 so its 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.

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20. Calling the electronics department.

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 at electronics, and she said she wanted to pick up a couple more things in electronics. I went to help another customer when I realize the woman was rushing towards the front of the store with the TV. I immediately radioed loss prevention that someone was trying to run out with a TV, and 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.

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19. Check and mate.

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. I asked if he’d like to talk to the manager and he agreed. Three minutes later my manager is giving the guy stink eye and the dude leaves with no sandwich. Nice try.


18. No such thing as a free lunch.

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 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 stole 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 a different card number into the 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.


17. Worth a shot.

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 and tickets go straight to the card. He walks into the redemption store I'm in 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.


16. There's a lot to unpack in here.

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 about what type of firearm he was looking for. He decided to buy a gun. 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.) He 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 real 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. I 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 to purchase his gun. He was a Junior, but I was going to run a check on the Senior. The police arrived and the fear washed over his face. They put him in cuffs before even speaking to me. They knew who he was the second they saw him and knew he was not allowed to touch guns. I showed them the ID and the paperwork. The guy is now in prison for lying on federal documents, violent felon in possession of 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.

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15. A heavy load to carry.

I worked at a place that sold timber, roofing iron etc.

One Sat 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 stands between me and the bag... so 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 etc... so I go inside to find the boss... and 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... and tells my boss that I refused to help him load the bags and 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.

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14. That's expensive puppy chow.

At the Kmart returns counter, had a guy try to return a CD (with 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 I couldn't return it for cash but could swap it for the same thing. He went to get a new CD and brought some other artist. Told him it had to be the exact same thing. I had the electronics employee bring up the right 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 that I actually caught was this guy who was paralysed on the left half of his body. He walked slowly around the store, dropping stuff and drooling. (Never did find out if he was actually paralysed or just part of the scam) One day I caught him bagging Oxy-Clean in his cart. Notified LP and she watched him. He went through self checkout and told me he bought the Oxy-Clean in electronics. LP called electronics, no such sale was made. I think she let him go that time but the next time he came in, he got a police escort.

This one was an insider job. This guy who worked in electronics also did layaway. One of the service desk girls would put a giant bag of dog food in 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 the LP staff changed and the new lady knew how to police the place.

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13. Chain of fools.

I work in a high end jewelry store that does jewelry repair on site. I had a lady come in and drop off an older 80s style Omega chain for a simple solder and fix.

We have our customer sign the envelope that we write a description of the piece and 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 and signs the envelope agreeing that the work was all in order. She leaves.

10 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 jewelers room, please come in and take a look at the video surveillance assuring you that we didn’t switch your chain.

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 did not want to see the video tapes and was expecting us to just pay her out. But as a small privately owned jewelry store, we can’t just accept the customer is always right like the big corporate stores do.


12. Can't fool the machines.

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 check outs 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. Also 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 and 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 gen. merch. 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.

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11. He thought that would work.

I was working at Office Dept and the store was open until midnight the two last nights of the financial year calendar. Apparently management thought someone might come in at 11:59 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.

On this one night the phone rang at about 11:30pm. The guy wanted to know if we were still open because he wanted to buy something specific. It turned out we had it in stock and he told me - several times - that he was going to get out of his pyjamas, 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 pyjamas, 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 and 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. He might not have been the last one that night and besides, it costs what it costs. He told me again that he had to get out of his pyjamas, get dressed and come to the store to buy this item.

He paid full price for all his troubles.

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10. Not even a free popcorn.

I work at a movie theater and we received a call from a guest who had to leave because of a group of guys 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 tickets and I’ll just give you a pass. Of course she paid only in cash, didn’t have any thing 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 and still tried to figure anything out that proved she was here. When she just kept on insisting it wasn’t about the money and that a few free tickets and call it even, I had enough. I told her that since she didn’t have her tickets and the fact that she didn't talk to anyone after the movie there wasn’t too much I can do, sorry. The kicker was we have brand new recliners and 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 and a fully reclined chair. She got flustered and just said she couldn’t possibly explain how they did it, to just trust her word.

Not likely.


9. Never saw it coming.

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 am about to hand it over (let's say 95.15) when 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 and 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 and 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.

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. I did (because the guy was friendly and we had chatted while I started ringing him up.)  I even told my manager 'oh yeah, nice guy' and then 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.

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8. Shouldn't have asked for the manager this time.

I work at a major cell phone retailer. I once had a man come in with his wife to do an upgrade to whatever the new iPhone was at that time. While they were sitting in the store working with one of my reps (I was in management at the time) the wife starts 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, and we all assumed they were gone for good. Not so, the husband comes back in. Alone. He finishes upgrading his phone (priorities) and left. The very next day he tried to return the phone claiming that we had sold him one with screen damage. He brings it in, and it looks like someone took a diamond ring or something to the screen and scratched the heck out of it.

Now 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 tape, show the customer where he held the phone for a good 5 minutes without pointing out any flaws, and tell him that my company offers no warranty on that brand even if it’s bad out of the box, and especially when he didn’t show it to us before leaving the store. 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? I was new to management so I didn’t have a manager name tag yet. He asked to speak to the manager and 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.

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7. Smells a bit fishy.

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. Lady comes 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. She told the cashier that the person she'd spoken to the day before had told her she could do that, sees me, and says "it was that girl who told me!"

I went to cash to speak to her (I was a keyholder at the time) 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, and 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 and 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 favourite one was when someone returned a face mask but had put a can of tuna in the box instead of the actual face mask.

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6. Stiffing teenagers for spare change.

I worked at a Jewel many, many years ago. Opening shift as a cashier, 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 opening cash. We didn’t carry too much cash, and we all know how much is in the drawer to start.

He ends up paying with a $100 bill for these sodas. I counted back his change with mostly 20’s, (all the 20’s I had just counted. There was no more 20’s I could have given him.) 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.


5. The store with perks.

I'm not usually on register but, when the store I used to work (petsmart) at first opened, they would send out coupons to specific people if they had petperks and an email. 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 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 and I'm lazy so I call 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 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.


4. Movie time mixup.

I work at a movie theatre. We have a 5 dollar discount day. A customer comes over and starts telling me how she was there the prior day and that we had given them the wrong soda and her Diabetic husband had drank it and suddenly had to go to the hospital to get medication to "cure him."

Several things 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. The employee she had complained to in order to call me over had been the only concessionists the prior day and somehow she failed to identify him when I asked her who it was.

I asked her for a ticket stubs or proof of purchase, and 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 saw. 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.

"Yea, 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 spluttered that she "guessed she would just go buy tickets" and I said "Yeah, I guess so."

She left.

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3. Making up the difference.

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, hadn't seen this dude once that day. Looked at his cigarettes, 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.

"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.

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2. What a payout.

I was working in a betting shop during the 2014 Football World Cup. We had this one really awful customer, must have been in his 80s and always wildly inappropriate (asking what colour my underwear was, did I need someone to keep me warm tonight etc) but I couldn't do anything as the higher ups wanted to squeeze money from him.

Anyway, the night before the final match he comes in and tells me he wants to bet on Germany to win. I spent about ten minutes explaining to him that as it was the final he could no longer have a broad bet like that, instead he'd have to choose between a 90 minute win or winning in extra time, on penalties etc. I showed him the odds for all of the different bets and he ended up choosing the 90 minute win, I put the bet through for him and off he went into the night to be creepy somewhere else.

The match plays out and of course Germany wins in extra time. The next day Unnamed Creepy Dude comes in grinning from ear to ear and telling me how he's a winner. Oh boy. Again I have to explain to him that his bet isn't valid as he predicted they'd win before 90 minutes, and they hadn't. Dude flies into a rage about how I'm a money grabbing witch who's jealous of his riches and I have to pay him out or he'll call the police. I tell him to leave my store or I'll call them myself, he complies.

A few days later I come back from my lunch break to see him ranting at my cashier, I ask what the problem is and he throws me his bet slip for the world cup, only now he's written 'extra time' on it in pen and is trying to get my less experienced staff member to pay him out. I tell him that when we scan bets the computer takes an image of it, obviously the slip he has given to us has been altered as it doesn't match what's on the screen (I even turned the computer to show him) and that counts as fraud. Again, he leaves spouting nonsense about how women shouldn't be working anyway because they can't count or read.

Next week I get told I have to go to a meeting as I've had a complaint filed against me by a customer. The day of the meeting rolls around and I'm greeted by my area manager, security director and CREEPY DUDE. He had phoned the customer line and said I'd refused to pay his bet and taken the money for myself. We ended up bringing up the CCTV of the night he originally placed the bet, complete with audio, to prove without a shadow of doubt that he was in the wrong. Dude won't accept this and starts screaming that we're all thieves, we faked the video, and threatening to get a lawyer. Security director escorts him off the premises and he is banned from all of our chains indefinitely.

The kicker is, if his bet had won it would have been a whopping £55.

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1. Written in ink.

I worked at a corporate supermarket here in Australia as a front end supervisor a few years ago. This particular night though I was just a pleb working the smoke shop (or service desk) and a woman approached the counter wanting to make a return. It is important to mention that she had seen better days. She was in her early to mid 30's, taut skinny and just your typical Aussie bogan type. The items she wanted to return were ink cartridges, from memory it was about 3 or 4.

I did the usual procedure of asking for a receipt and she told me she had phoned earlier that day and spoke to someone who said she didn't need one. Red flag number 1. She explained her story about how they were the wrong ones and that she just wanted to refund them as she didn't need them anymore. Fair enough, maybe she bought other cartridges from somewhere else.

I asked her if she knew who she spoke with, as I would then be able to confirm with them and get the process started. I wasn't going to discredit her in the beginning and gave her the benefit of the doubt, and there may have been more to the story than I knew (such as a manager pre approving it etc), but we generally left notes about everything and this was not mentioned, so it was already starting to become suspicious.

Of course, she didn't recall the name. Okay fine. I start the process anyway as we did sell this particular brand but upon scanning all of them, none of them came up in our system. Not one. I tried once more before explaining the situation and then everything blew up. She accused me of lying and telling me that we all don't know how to do our jobs because she bought them here no less than a few days prior. Red flag number 2. Something would not be discontinued so quickly, especially something that sells as much as ink cartridges. We asked her if she can recall the day or prove she purchased them from our store from her bank account because we can then bring the receipt up from the back end. She then ranted about paying in cash and not remembering the day exactly.

At this point, I had involved the supervisor because it was escalating to that point anyway who explained the same thing I had to her, which was that we wouldn't be able to process a refund, especially in cash as per her request because she could not prove she purchased them from us and they were not scanning in our system which meant that we never stocked them in the first place.

After much back and forth and her hurling abuse at us, we offered her store credit to the value of the original purchase (which I can't remember how we figured it out, I think it was just to the value of what similar stock we had) because she said all she wanted to do was some food shopping, which is why we offered her store credit.

Then her mind changed from wanting to do shopping to wanting cash, because that is how she paid. After explaining 100 times that we weren't able to offer her cash, she agreed to the store credit. We processed it through for her and she went in store to do her supposed shopping.

After about 20 minutes or so, she came back with gift cards and only gift cards to the value of what was credited. Oh boy. Red flag number 3. 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 as she walked off with the store credit cards and threatening to call head office the next day.

As it turns out, she did talk to another supervisor from day shift who actually told her that she could bring the items in and we would be able to assess the situation, which isn't a common practise but happened nonetheless. I guess she wasn't lying about everything.

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A Pantry Full Of Secrets


Every time my grandparents rolled into my small town, their generosity overflowed, filling my typically empty pantry with canned goods and my vacant freezer with an array of frozen entrees. Despite my reassurances that their efforts were unnecessary, that I was getting by just fine, they would just chuckle, pat me on the back, and continue with their task. They stubbornly insisted that they couldn't bear the thought of me going hungry simply because I was too proud to ask for help. Their stubbornness, however, had nothing on mine.

Unbeknownst to them, I had a routine of my own. As soon as their car would disappear down the road, I'd methodically start packing up everything they'd brought. Boxes of canned goods, bags of frozen meals, all meticulously arranged to be taken to the local food bank. It was a secret operation they knew nothing about, a clandestine act of charity. The reason behind my actions, however, would have knocked the wind out of their pipe: I was the owner of the local food bank, a fact I had kept from them because I wanted them to feel needed, to feel they were helping me. But the constant deception was taking a toll on me, and I knew I had to come clean. The storm that would follow, I was certain, would be nothing short of a hurricane.