I want to complain about an annoying customer who works at the store next to ours

A reader writes:

I’m writing to you about an employee from another company. I work in a mall and our store is located next to a famous electronics chain. In keeping with the tea theme, let’s call them Earl Grey Electronics.

One of EGE’s employees is a regular in our store. Unfortunately, despite working in the retail industry, she’s a terrible customer. She does the usual rude customer things like destroying neatly folded piles of clothes and demanding that we check the back for stock we told her we don’t have. Whatever, she’s not the first customer to act that way and I’m a professional.

The problem is that she thinks that since we’re neighbor stores, she should get special treatment. She’s become extremely angry several times that we don’t have a mall employee discount, and that we won’t put things on hold for her to purchase after her shift ends. It’s nothing personal, but these are nonnegotiable company policies.

But last night she finally went too far. She was shopping on her break (as usual) and unfortunately her shift ended after the mall closed. She asked us to keep the store open another five minutes so that she could finish her shopping after closing their store. Naturally, our manager refused.

Now, EGE has a very famous color scheme and uniform (a name tag, black pants, and a certain jacket with designs). She is *always* wearing this outfit while in the store. Her behavior has become so rude and demanding that not only will we avoid her, several of my coworkers refuse to shop at the other store for fear of running into her.

After the events of last night, I became enraged. By wearing the uniform in our store and trying to use her employer as a connection to special treatment, she is representing EGE in my eyes. As such, to ask us to keep the store open for her sends the message that she believes EGE and its employees’ time is more valuable than ours.

I have come to the decision that her company needs to be contacted and she be professionally repremanded. This is an issue I feel that if left alone will continue to escalate.

Do you think I should contact the company? If so, should I do it at a store or corporate level?

No.

She hasn’t done anything to indicate she’s representing her company, other than wearing its uniform while shopping in your store, which makes sense because she’s on her break.

You’d be overstepping if you contacted her employer to complain about her relatively manageable behavior. And it is manageable: You can continue to deny her unreasonable requests (as your manager did in refusing to keep the store open for her), you can hold firm on not giving her a discount, you can decline to repeatedly check for items you don’t have in stock, and so forth. And it sounds like your manager has your back here, so if things escalate further, presumably your manager might consider setting further boundaries with her.

What you have here is an annoying customer. She’s one of many annoying customers, which is unfortunately part of the territory in retail. The fact that she happens to work next door to you doesn’t warrant calling her employer and making this about her job.

{ 164 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*

    OP – none of these really seem beyond the pale for customer behavior. Aggravating, absolutely. But pretty much completely normal. Unfortunately obnoxious customers are just part of retail life. I hope you can figure out a way to go to your happy place and not let these things bother you too much.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      Agreed, she sounds awful but she hasn’t crossed the line. Perhaps treat her like a vaccination — if you can find a way to stop her from getting to you, you will be immune to all other annoying customers forever.
      She doesn’t seem as if she were born to work in customer service so, who knows, maybe she won’t be around forever.

    2. Amber*

      “Usual rude customer things like destroying neatly folded piles of clothes” As someone who has worked at Macy’s folding clothes I feel for you but this is just part of being a customer. When I’m shopping and have to dig through a neatly folded pile of clothes I’m probably just as annoyed as you are because I’m thinking “Great now I have to destroy this nice pile just to find my size or to see what it looks like and now I’m going to feel guilty because the damn store doesn’t put their clothes on a hanger.” Best thing to do is just let it go and stay professional. You guys won’t be working there forever.

  2. Anna*

    I feel like this response contradicts what you’ve said in the past about how an employee should be act, especially when wearing the uniform of their employer. How is this different than when people have been fired for poor behavior while not exactly representing the company they work for?

      1. fposte*

        Exactly. If I were this customer’s Earl Grey manager, I’d have things to tell her, but if I were her manager and got a complaint about her annoying but legal and common behavior elsewhere, I’d consider it an over-response.

        1. fposte*

          That being said, if the OP’s co-workers are avoiding Electronics because of the employee’s behavior *in the electronics store*–if the employee is saying “You guys treated me like crap in your store and I’m not going to give you any cables” or whatever–that’s something that could be appropriate to report to that employee’s manager. But that would be about her actions at her workplace.

    1. Karowen*

      I think part of it is that, while not particularly pleasant behavior, it’s also not incredibly egregious. The other one we’ve seen on here that springs to mind was an instance where individuals were talking so loudly about so many [confidential] details of a case that a casual observer could learn basically everything about them. If this woman started yelling about all the confidential details of her store, including the number of the combination lock, I think Alison’s answer would be different. As it is, the woman is just annoying, nothing more.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wanted to respond to this a little more now than I’m not in a rush!

      In most cases where people have written in about being disciplined/fired for behavior off the clock, I’ve told them that they can be, but often that they shouldn’t be. In other cases, the off-the-clock behavior impacted work (like the person who told her manager to F-off while they were at a bar). I looked at some others to refresh my memory: With the person who called the employer of the obnoxious, trash-talking jerks on her train, I was torn and ultimately came down on the side of not calling. On this post, about the person who was written up for foul language while wearing her work uniform outside work, I wanted to know more; I said (in the comments, not in the post itself) that that would be ridiculous for simple profanity but if it were racist or homophobic slurs, it might be different. And with the woman who was fired after a stranger took photos of her private text messages, I said her employer was wrong to fire her (but also that her own attitudes kind of sucked, but that was a different thing). If there are others you’re thinking of that do seem inconsistent, I’d love to take a look! It’s certainly possible I’m overlooking something.

      Anyway, in this case, as Karowen says, this person’s behavior isn’t terribly egregious. It’s annoying, yes, but there are lots of annoying customers in retail and that doesn’t justify trying to get them in trouble with their employer. Now, if the customer’s employer had written in and said “one of our employees is constantly being unneighborly in the store next door,” I would have had different advice for them — but the OP is basically a bystander to some annoying but not terrible behavior that doesn’t rise to the level of serious enough to justify talking with their employer.

      1. Anna*

        I do see the difference. And I absolutely do not think Jerk Customer should be fired, but it wouldn’t be totally crazy to me if the OP’s manager put a bug in the ear of the Jerk Customer’s manager just asking people to remember to be neighborly. It’s stupid that anyone would have to be reminded of that, but clearly some people do.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Well. She could be fired as a customer. There’s nothing preventing OP’s manager from 86’ing her from the store, “we’re very sorry our store does not meet your needs, we hope you’ll be able to find a store that works better for you”, whatever.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, that’s a good one to pull out as a contrast. I think they’re very different — in today’s letter, this is pretty low-level annoying customer behavior that isn’t egregious. In the post you linked, the person was tweeting out racist and hateful speech.

      2. Anlyn*

        I suspect a lot of the aggravation too is because the person keeps coming in. Most customers like this aren’t repeat customers, so it’s usually easy to dismiss as part of the job. But this customer has become a thorn and it’s driving the OP nuts.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          That’s how I read it too.

          Everything is more annoying because this woman isn’t picking up on the fact they keep saying no to her and keeps coming in asking for things.

      3. WLE*

        I question if OP would even consider reaching out to the company if the offender did not work next door.

    3. RHo*

      I could swear AAM was not thrilled when a person not in uniform riding a bus and texting to her boyfriend was fired when someone looking over her shoulder read her private text and happened to recognize her as a frontline employee somewhere.

  3. Mike C.*

    OP –

    I understand what you’re going through, and your anger is completely justified. The shit you and your coworkers go through in your industry is absolutely terrible, and others from your industry should know best how bad it is.

    However, take a moment to look around and see how crazy many employers are getting when it comes it “you’re representing the COMPANY” type policies. The intrusion upon our personal lives some employers take for granted simply because “they sign the paycheck”. You don’t want to contribute to and further justify that feeling of entitlement, do you?

    1. Dan*

      I’m with you on this one. My answer to these kinds of questions is “oh hell no you don’t call their management, unless you have a damn good reason” and that damn good reason threshold is much higher for me than it is most people.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, in this case, I don’t think a phone call to her management is warranted, but I certainly might kick her out of the store and tell her she’s not allowed back. If she complains about it at work and it reaches her manager’s ears, and the manager of EGE then calls the store manager, then the OP’s manager can calmly state the reason for the ban. Then it’s up to EGE’s manager to decide what to do.

        1. Mike C.*

          Yeah, this is perfectly reasonable. It’s a matter between the customer and the store, not the customer’s boss and the store.

    2. paul*

      In general I agree about those “always on” policies, but she’s actually in their uniform. To me that kind of matters. I wouldn’t go to a political rally (or a liqour store) wearing an employer branded T shirt.

  4. Kyrielle*

    Yeah, as obnoxious as this is, the usual tools for managing bad/annoying customers apply here. And I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it.

  5. LBK*

    The question here is what the desired response would be. Do you want to get her reprimanded by her employer? I’m not sure they would do that – frankly, they probably don’t really care what she does when she’s not working. At most they might ask her to take off her work jacket so she’s less identifiable when she leaves, but that doesn’t solve your problem. Do you want to get her banned from your store? That’s in your manager’s control, not hers.

    If she’s coming at it from a “we’re retail mall buddies” perspective, have you tried doing the same? It may be too late now that it’s gotten so adversarial but if you commiserate on “you know how annoying those corporate policies are but we’re stuck following them, I can’t even hold products for myself,” etc. that may be more effective than treating her like a normal customer. Cater to the reason she feels entitled in the first place when explaining to her why she isn’t.

    1. A Minion*

      When you said, “have you tried doing the same?” I thought you meant heading over to Earl Grey and being a royal PITA on her shift! Which, of course, made me giggle just a little bit. Even though that would be wrong. So wrong.

      As annoying as this person is, OP, how would you feel if you did complain to her employer and they fired her? Sure, she’s a jackass, but I wouldn’t want to feel that I caused her to lose her job. Also, like you said, other customers do these same (or similar) things. Do you actively try to learn who their employer is so that you can call and complain? If you wouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t bring her employer into it. Just my two cents.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          +1 I probably shouldn’t, but I have a picture in my mind here of Laurel and Hardy in “Tit For Tat”…

    2. BRR*

      I think her desired response is for Earl Gray corporate to ban the employee from coming over (or at least stop being a PITA) but that’s likely not going to happen (and frankly if somebody restricted my breaks that much I’d be pissed).

      And I completely agree with your second paragraph. Approach it from “you get what it’s like.” If she goes “well, we do it anyways” I’d respond “they’re super serious about it here and I can’t risk my job.”

      1. Anna*

        I think it can be addressed, though. It wouldn’t be surprising to me at all if I worked in a store in the mall and my manager let all the employees know that we’re neighbors and should be polite, especially while wearing the uniform. I guess that’s what I don’t agree with Alison about on this. In my mind it wouldn’t be too crazy if a manger mentioned they’d had complaints about an employee’s behavior while shopping in another store and it would be preferable if the employee wasn’t an ass.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think that’s totally reasonable — and that would be my advice if the customer’s employer had written in. But I don’t think the behavior in question justifies the other store making a phone call about it.

          1. Window Seat Anon*

            Eh, I’ve been in a situation pretty similar. Basically what we did was go to our manager. Our manager observed the behavior of the other store’s employee and eventually got with the other store’s manager to say pretty much what Anna said above. It was like, look we don’t want to start a feud between the stores, but if this continues we’re banning said employee from our store + other customers in our store and watching how she’s behaving and watching her go back to work at your store and it’s reflecting poorly. She only came in rarely after that. I assume her manager had a talk with her about it. World didn’t end. No one got fired.

        2. KMS1025*

          Completely agree Anna…this person isn’t totally on her own time…she is still working, just on a break…she absolutely is still representing her company and her rude behavior should be addressed…possibly by retail manager letting her know that further outbursts will be reported to obnoxious shopper’s own boss and may lead to her being barred from entering the store.

          1. Observer*

            On break actually DOES mean she is “on her own time” or it’s not considered a break. Also, this is also happening after work.

        3. Observer*

          That’s reasonable behavior for the boss. But, as we’ve seen way too often, bosses are not all that reasonable. So, the question is whether it’s reasonable for the OP to do something that really has a good chance of getting this person fired. And, on that I have to agree with Allison.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Yes this, and before contacting EGE about it, OP’s own manager could ban the annoying customer from the store (if the annoyance rose to that level in their eyes).

        Mind you, a gentle word to EGE from OP’s manager of “could you remind your employees to be polite to other businesses in the mall” might work, if this isn’t the only one of their employees who ever sets foot in OP’s store. Then again, that might be too vague to get through – and being specific could, again, take this to a level of targeting this person that doesn’t seem warranted for the behavior to date.

      3. LBK*

        That’s what I suspect is the desired outcome, but like I said in my comment, that can be done by her own store’s management (and they should be the ones to do it if anyone’s going to). I don’t even know how EGE would police where an employee goes on her breaks unless they put a tail on her or something.

        There’s such a simple and normal solution on the OP’s side that it almost feels like a solution in search of a problem; it’s perfectly standard to have to ban a bad customer from the store or direct them straight to a manager any time they walk in. Expecting an external party to attempt to manage who comes in and out of your store is such a roundabout method of fixing the problem.

  6. Allison*

    OP, I get it. It’s one thing for people who’ve never worked in retail to act like this, but retail workers (and even former retail workers) should know better. Sometimes I think we have a natural tendency to treat others the way we *are* treated rather than the way we want to be treated, because it feels like a release of all that negative energy. Or she feels that because she works hard, she deserves special privileges. Maybe she has a coworker who keeps telling her to expect these things, saying “I’m sure they do it all the time, and you’re one of them, they’ll understand. There’s no harm in asking!” There’s gotta be some reason why she feels justified in acting this way.

    I’m on the fence about this issue, having never been a manager myself. If I was managing this store, I’d want to know if my employees were being douchebags while in uniform; one incident wouldn’t faze me, we all have bad days, but to know that someone is always acting like this? I wouldn’t fire her, or even threaten to fire her, but I’d want to have a conversation about treating others with respect, at least while in uniform. But you don’t know how her manager would approach it, and it’s not worth getting someone fired over. So just continue denying her the things she’s demanding, and hope that if she’s told “no” enough times she’ll eventually stop. Or hey, with retail turnover being so high, there’s a chance she’ll leave or get fired from the job she has now and end up working at a different mall, far away from you!

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      Sometimes I think we have a natural tendency to treat others the way we *are* treated rather than the way we want to be treated, because it feels like a release of all that negative energy.

      I can believe this. She gets dumped on/treated rudely by customers in her store, so why not treat other workers the same way? Gets the bad vibes off you by laying them on someone else. It’s not the most mature way to handle your emotions but it must work considering how many people are dumpers out there.

      This is probably not feasible but if I were the manager of the OP’s store, I think I would intervene the next time this person came in. While you can’t do much about the rummaging through clothes piles, I’m sure a few pointed words about “we appreciate you as a customer. We know that working retail isn’t fun [gesture at jacket] and we understand that browsing our store on your breaks is a way you take a real break for yourself. However, given the repeated nature of your requests, I think you should know that we never hold the store open for others past closing time. If there are people in here finishing up their purchases, we allow them to finish but we will not allow other customers to enter for any reason, so we will not be holding the store open an extra 5 minutes for you — ever. Number 2: we will not hold items indefinitely…” etc. Whatever the policies are that she keeps requesting special treatment on, said like butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth. She may be trying to buddy-buddy someone she sees as having the same level of job as her (but who has to be nice to her as she is the customer) but coming from a manager/more senior person, if she doesn’t back off, it’s time to put up the poster with her details behind the counter for future training exercises. After all, if dealing with difficult customers is a routine part of retail, then maybe everyone should have a shift where they have to deal with what it’s like to have a demanding, unreasonable customer.

  7. Traveler*

    This is unfortunately, one of the bad angles of working at the mall/in retail. You have to put up with jerks, and some of them will work in stores in the same mall. Nothing this employee has done is really all that shocking. It was pretty typical in my experience. I understand why you’re upset, and sympathize, but I think you’re too deep into this to realize how trivial this individual’s behavior is in the scheme of things. It’s not fair – but it’s not worth fighting the kind of battle you’re suggesting. You have to chalk it up as one of the crappier aspects of the job.

  8. Katie the Fed*

    Also, sometimes it’s really hard to get a folded sweater out of a pile without making a mess :(

    1. Allison*

      Agreed. I always try to be careful not to mess up a stack of clothing while looking for my size, but I know I’m mussing it up at least a little and I don’t know how the store wants things folded, so I know if I try to neaten it back up someone might still have to come along and fix it if the stuff’s not folded right.

      I generally feel like an asshole when I go shopping no matter how hard I try to be polite. Maybe this is why I often shop online instead.

    2. Daisy Steiner*

      Yes! I was worried when I read that bit – I’d hate to think I’m being rude just by getting my size out of a pile. When they’re all ‘interleaved’ that way they do with jeans, it’s so difficult to get a larger size out without messing up the whole stack.

    3. sam*

      You know what would be great? if they organized those piles by size instead of color (or even better, both!). It would probably not eliminate people who destroy the entire pile to get at the sweater they want, but if you’re going to insist on putting the ONE XL sweater at or near the bottom of the pile, most of the time (but not always!), and fold them so that I can’t actually access the size tags without mauling the pile, well, I’m going to maul the pile. To the minimum extent necessary to get at the sweater I want, but still.

      Also, what’s with hanging stuff 8 feet off the ground? no one is 8 feet tall.

      Lastly, don’t be the photographer on the bus. I know we all somewhat rightly lambasted the poster for some of the heinous things she ultimately ended up posting about differently-sized people, and she did not cover herself in glory in that whole commenting interaction, but I think most folks (rightly) distinguished between the fact that the OP turned out to be a jerk with the fact that the photographer was also completely out of bounds in reporting “outside of work behavior” to the OP’s employer.

      1. Allison*

        Not always. I’m a small, and sometimes I have to rummage through the extra smalls (if they’re arranged by size) or the mediums, if they figure most people need medium and thus it makes the most sense to have that on top.

        1. Anx*

          I feel like there’s always a ton of XS, maybe one or two smalls left, a few mediums, some larges, and a bunch of XXLs. But that’s probably because I usually wait until things are onsale.

          I’m lucky to a commonly stocked size and have a body that can wear off the rack fairly easily, but I do hate the sale pile shuffle.

          1. Blurgle*

            Here by the time the sales arrive there’s always a huge, towering pile of XS, a handful of S, one M (maybe), and absolutely nothing larger.

    4. Traveler*

      This. On the day my mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, we went shopping to try and cheer her up and have some quality bonding time. My mother worked retail in her early years and is very careful and conscientious about putting things back as they belong. She was in the middle of trying to refold some shirts after we disrupted a pile, and one of the employees came up and unceremoniously yanked the shirt out of her hand and told her she would do it because “She had just folded them all and didn’t need them all messed up again”. I could have spit fire at that woman, and I will never forget that lesson in not being rude to people about trivial things when you have no idea what’s going on in their life.

      1. RHo*

        OMG, I was going through hell and went to a 1-hour eyeglasses place and, for some reason, while waiting for my new glasses, the salesperson offered to clean my current glasses — and, I swear to God, he ROLLED HIS EYES when I handed them to him. I will never return.

    5. jhhj*

      I don’t go around deliberately making a mess in stores, but I have given up feeling guilty about disrupting piles of clothing to look for my size, even if I hold it up and then change my mind. It’s all but impossible, and if stores didn’t want you to do it (they do — touching clothing makes you more likely to buy it, and I bet the subtle feeling of ‘I caused extra work for the employees, it shouldn’t have been for no reason’ also has an effect) they would hang clothes on hangers or put things in groups only by size/colour or whatever else there is.

      I get that it’s annoying to have to keep folding and refolding sweaters, but it actually is part of your job and the customers aren’t doing anything wrong by looking through the items you have for sale. (I have noticed that stores tend to be more careful about not letting employees show irritation at this than they used to be.)

      1. Allison*

        this is true, they can’t stack folded clothing on tables and expect that it’ll never be disrupted. But there’s corporate and management who think it’s a great idea to display it that way, and hey, we have these cheerful retail elves who can come along and tidy ’em up after someone rummages through the clothes! And then you have the actual employees who absolutely hate re-folding and neatening those piles over and over and over again, and probably wish there was either a better way to organize these tables to avoid a mess, or even better, just put everything on hangers. They’re the ones I feel bad for.

        1. misspiggy*

          Yes, it sucks for the retail elves and for those of us who will always egregiously mess up the pile no matter hard we try not to. I’ve given up looking at clothes in piles, as I can’t bear the stress involved, and assuming I’m not the only one, it’s fairly daft of management to insist on it.

          1. Sketchee*

            Selling those clothes in those piles is actually what puts food on their tables. I know it’s not much pay or the best job, however as a customer I’m not going to accept the guilt that belongs to management or society if I’m legitimately shopping or even browsing which is the whole point of a store. The clothes aren’t behind glass =)

        2. jhhj*

          I agree, it seems like a particularly unpleasant task. But if you really, really hate folding clothes, maybe try a different kind of retail. Corporate/management think it’s a good idea to display it this way because pretty much it is.

          I don’t mind if employees secretly hate tidying clothes. I don’t mind when they ask you to let them put things away. I do mind when they give you nasty looks for looking for your size, because you’re not being an obnoxious customer, you’re just being a customer.

          1. Bagworm*

            I always liked tidying the clothes (because I could avoid initiating sales conversations). I would also try to wait until the customer who was forced to mess up the pile to find the right size had clearly moved away so she wouldn’t feel like I was doing it because of her.

            1. Bagworm*

              Of course, I worked in children’s clothing retail and, somehow, it’s more fun to fold the tiny clothes (when you’re not the one also washing them almost daily and putting them on the little person) and there were always, always much worse messes that would need cleaning up than straightening clothes.

            1. Grapey*

              Same here! I also loved facing stock when I worked in a grocery store. (Facing means making all the product labels face the same direction and not leaving gaps in between things on the shelf.)

              I even did those things in stores when I was a little kid and my mother took too long doing something.

          2. Anx*

            Yes!

            I leave my clothes in the fitting rooms sometimes because I know I can’t get them back on the hanger properly, but I never leave them on the floor. Or sometimes I fold them up and bring them to an attendant and thank them. I’ve been in a rush before and didn’t fold as well I wanted to or spend extra time fiddling, because I had a train/bus to catch or had to get to work myself. I try not to be rude, but I’m not going to feel bad for trying on a bunch of different sizes or not being an expert folder or not buying clothes that didn’t fit me right.

            It’s kind of like waitressing was for me. I didn’t mind if you asked for a drink after I just brought a round, or asked for mustard right after I got back from the stock are to bf you don’t like it. That’s my job. Just also understand that you’re making extra work for me and that it will effect the speed at which I can do other things, like put in your order or grab your check. I remember working with quite a few people who complained whenever a customer seemed to ask for anything at all or had the slightest request.

    6. LBK*

      My trick for this that works reasonably well is to use one hand like a forklift, insert it into the pile and lift everything on top of it, then check the size and extract the item if it’s the right one. If not, put the pile back down and re-insert elsewhere in the pile. That usually works better than trying to leaf through the stack and pull something out while it’s still half-covered by the clothes on top of it.

      1. fposte*

        I find a bit of entertainment in the guessing game (does it look really full or like it’s been picked through? How big is the size range overall?) of where you insinuate yourself into the pile. Get it right the first time out? Score!

      2. Observer*

        That generally works if you don’t have too many pieces to lift. But if you are 5-6 pieces down, it’s quite likely that everything is going to go flying. (And some people manage to have that happen even with 3 pieces or so. It’s being obnoxious. It’s just not being able to lift a stack of folded clothes on one hand.)

      3. Anx*

        I do this too, although when you have a purse on one shoulder (or wallet in hand) and a bunch of other clothes, it can be difficult.

    7. some1*

      It’s also kind of expected in retail clothing that people do this. Electronics stores are not set up to have a bunch of stock sitting out the way clothing stores are, so the annoying neighbor might not get it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Presumably she’s shopped at a clothing store before, though. And anyone with a brain would know that when you mess up stock the person who works there has to set it right. Nah, she’s just a rude little thing.

      2. LBK*

        As a former electronics store employee, I assure you there’s tons of product out on the floor that’s painstakingly reorganized every day. I never want to hear the term “laser lining” again.

    8. Sunflower*

      I used to organize the panty tables at VS. I was so confused why I had to spend SO MUCH TIME organizing something that gets messed up instantly. The truth is the table was just there for show and I think we only placed size mediums on the table unless we ran out. The customer was really supposed to use the drawers under the table since they were separated by size. There were signs all over the table that said ‘Please use drawers below for sizes’ but of course people went through the table because DUH. Death to panty tables is my motto.

      1. Joline*

        Well, admittedly I always read the “Please use drawers below for sizes” sign to mean “if your size isn’t on the table there’s more below” – not that I should go to the drawers first.

        Though I did try to neatly extract things.

    9. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve never been as bored in my whole life as when I worked in the clothing department of a big sports store one Christmas. I was positively delighted when someone messed up a pile of clothes, because it meant I had something to do for a few minutes that wasn’t hanging around and asking anyone who got within six feet if they needed any help with anything! (Corporate policy from US HQ that didn’t take the reluctance of Yorkshire folk to talk to retail employees into consideration).

      This was the job where I once decided to rearrange a display because it was looking pretty tired (we’d sold out of many of the items so there were big gaping holes in the display – I just spaced the remaining stock out better so it looked more even) and because I was SO BORED, and my co-workers simply couldn’t understand why I was doing something I hadn’t been ordered to do. Like, they talked about it for days. Worst job EVER.

      1. strophoria*

        Same. I worked at an outdoor store during their off season, I LOVED it when someone messed up the tables or tried on 9 different jackets. Management wanted you to be busy always, even if it was completely dead, so it was a welcome break from dusting spotless displays.

  9. Brett*

    The only behavior I wonder about is demanding a discount because she is a mall employee. I am coming at this from a public sector perspective, but using your position to demand a discount seems to be a universally bad thing where it is expected for employees to get reported by third parties if they do it. It rarely leads to more than a formal reprimand (though that, in turn, will definitely result in financial losses in reviews and especially promotions), but it is something commonly reported by front line clerks as well as managers. The OP is still going to be way better off letting this get handled manager to manager though, especially since their is zero guarantee of anonymity if they make a complaint in this situation.

    1. PEBCAK*

      Mall employee discounts are really common, though. Typically, they are at the food court, but I know that we offered them at more than one clothing store I worked at.

      1. Brett*

        Yeah, getting discounts because you are a public sector employer is very common too. Lots of different businesses offer them.
        But if you demand one (even at a place that normally offers one), you are going to get in trouble. Generally the practice is that it is “okay” to accept it if offered, but you should never ask for one.

        1. PEBCAK*

          I think the difference is that a public sector employee might be implying that they can somehow influence public policy or something, and that there might be retaliation if no discount is offered. I guess the analogue would be if a mall employee tried to say, “hey, if you give me a discount here, I’ll give you a discount in my store,” outside of the store’s actual policy. But absent something like this, she can keep asking until she’s blue in the face.

        2. sam*

          Back 1000 years ago, I used to work in an science and education-oriented retail store, and we gave discounts and didn’t have to charge tax on certain items to teachers, if they could show evidence of their teacher-dom. It was so rare for this sort of discount to be offered back then, that no one even thought to ask, so all of my teachers were very appreciative of this when I would point it out to them when they would visit the store.

    2. SL #2*

      Mall employee discounts are very common– my old roommate worked retail at the local mall and got an automatic 10% off at the food court and at certain other stores. It wouldn’t be weird to be a mall employee and ask if that store had an employee discount, but that comes with the caveat that the store may not honor employee discounts and that’s totally their right to do so.

      1. neverjaunty*

        They’re very common, but getting angry and repeatedly demanding a discount after being told there isn’t one? This is just someone with entitlement issues.

        1. SL #2*

          Yes, that was my point. It is perfectly normal to offer employee discounts, but it is well within the rights of the store to not offer one, and when you find out that you don’t get a discount for working at the neighboring store, you shouldn’t throw a fit.

        2. Allison*

          Yes, this. Asking is okay, getting angry when the answer isn’t the one you want is not okay. There’s rarely anything a retail worker can do about the situation, except ask a manager.

  10. Court*

    I can definitely see why you’d be annoyed. When you work with these kinds of customers constantly, it’s really easy to start adding up and counting the little things against them. It’s important to keep in mind that that’s all these are, though: little things. They’re annoying but they come with the territory in your line of work. The best thing for you to do is just grin and bear it, I think. That way, if it ever did escalate and her manager wanted to look into it, you come out looking like a model employee for dealing with it without complaining. Trust me, that will get you more (and better) attention than making a fuss about it will.

    Either way, I would just let this one be. You don’t get paid enough to try to change someone’s personality, and you wouldn’t be able to anyway. Let this reflect poorly on her and not on you.

  11. Biff*

    I have to admit to disagreeing. If this were only once in awhile, I’d say it’s worth it to just suck it up, but it sounds like this is almost daily, or at least every time this woman has a shift. I would instead do this:

    1. Tell her that her behavior in your store has caused several people to view Earl Grey Electronics with distaste. Furthermore, as someone who works in retail, she must realize how little stock most stores keep in the back, and also, that her rough treatment of your displays are hard on you as you have limited time to keep the store looking fresh for everyone. That is, you have the same constraints she does and it’s not very kind of her to keep berating you for things you most certainly cannot control and could lose your job over.

    2. If that doesn’t do the trick, I’d follow her around the store and be hyper-solicitous. Also, clean up all her little messes very obviously. Ask if you can help her find her size in EVERYTHING. I think there is a good chance this woman is shoplifting and this behavior will run her straight out of the store.

    3. If she isn’t shoplifting and she continues to trash your store, I think it is acceptable to tell her management that Jane takes sadistic glee in trashing your store on a regular basis. I doubt yours is the only store.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Similarly, I thought why not have Op’s manager give a generic/blanket concern to tea pot’s Managmemt along the lines of “we don’t want to name names, but some of your employees could use a reminder in what’s inappropriate behavior while shopping in a neighboring store to your employer and while in uniform representing tea pots…”

      1. Allison*

        I’d anticipate reading a letter here saying “my manager just posted guidelines of how we’re supposed to act while shopping in the mall, I find this to be an unfair infringement in how I spend my time off the clock, is this legal?”

      2. Dan*

        I hate this passive crap with a passion. When you have a problem child, deal with *the* problem child. Don’t make “rules” or guidelines for everybody. When there’s a general “rules” notice, those who aren’t the problem think they are, and those are think they aren’t.

        1. Allison*

          Truth, I’d see rules like that and be so worried about my behavior while shopping I’d probably stop going to most of the stores for fear of getting in trouble.

            1. Court*

              It’s usually the people who follow the rules who are actually concerned about them being broken, so I get where Allison is coming from. When I see blanket guidelines like this, I’m more likely to analyze my behavior to make sure I didn’t inadvertently cause it than I am to immediately think, “So-and-so is at it again.” It’s not paranoia. It’s wanting to make sure you haven’t accidentally broken any rules.

              That’s why these blanket statements and memos just don’t work. The people they actually apply to will think it’s not directed at them and the people who follow the rules anyway will worry they did something wrong to cause the memo’s disbursement. Just talk to the employee causing the problem and save everyone else the trouble.

              1. Daisy Steiner*

                You’re absolutely right, Court. I am a compulsive rule-follower, and the thought that I have infringed on some rule or guideline sends me into agonies of anxiety. Those blanket reminders just devastate me, as I lose hours re-analysing my behaviour to make sure it isn’t me they’re referring to.

                Perhaps not particularly ‘mature’ (!) but we aren’t all perfect.

            2. Biff*

              I get where you are coming from, but retail jobs are often very ‘overlord-y’ with a dash of big-brother. While this is doubtless no longer the case as much as it was, I recall that several of our middle-managers didn’t really require their income, and they kept people who did require it on pins and needles with little rules and malicious enforcement. It certainly DID drive paranoia and internal discord.

              Honestly, retail doesn’t have to be so bad. I don’t know why companies all let it be.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I’ll admit I have passive aggressive tendencies but my intention was in the right place, to not call out a specific employee.

      3. Observer*

        That’s a terribly unfair thing to do. One person is a jerk, so now everyone at the store needs to be “reminded” to behave? And, that assumes that that’s as far as the manager goes. What makes it worse is that it’s just the most impractical thing to do. If the manager just gives everyone a warning, you can be sure that the ONE person who won’t get it is the person who needs it.

  12. Andrea*

    I worked retail for five years, when I was in high school and undergrad. And I go out of my way to be especially kind and considerate to people in the retail/food service industry, probably as a result of that. (Incidentally, I get excellent service almost everywhere I go and I know the names of the employees at all of my regular spots, funny how treating people well works out that way. I often receive special treatment from these kind folks, for which I am always grateful, and it would never ever occur to me to expect that, much less to demand it.) I find it very sad that the boorish behavior described here isn’t considered outside of the norm or particularly egregious and although I agree on principle with the advice given here…. if I were the OP, I might go ahead and make that complaint, anonymously (or perhaps if possible, encourage my manager to discuss this with the customer’s boss, if she happens to know her). People who act that way should be called on it, and there should be consequences for them. There rarely are.

    It’s not okay to treat working people like that. It’s not okay to go around demanding discounts and special treatment. It’s just not okay. Working retail is hard work, and it’s very offensive to me that this retail worker purposely tries to make things worse for other retail workers. And I think it would be perfectly okay for the manager of the OP’s store to say, “you know what, you aren’t welcome here any more,” (though perhaps there’s a policy against that). I feel for you, OP. Just know that some folks out there really try very hard to be pleasant and considerate customers, even though maybe you have days where none of those people come to your store!

    1. Retail Lifer*

      Trust me, we can usually tell when a customer has worked retail. They’re usually the exact opposite of Earl Grey Electronics Girl because they remember what it’s like.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I sometimes think that everyone should be made to spend some time working in retail and in food service before they’re allowed to buy anything in a store or restaurant! (not really, but isn’t it a nice thought?). I did, and it gave me a true appreciation of how hard those jobs are. Our favourite waitress at the bar near work once even said she could tell that everyone at our table had previously worked in food service, because of the specific ways in which we’re considerate to her :)

        1. Cath in Canada*

          It was one of the times when some of us were ready to order appies but the rest of us weren’t, and we said we would wait 15 minutes or so until we were all ready so that she only had one batch of orders to deal with. But she said “you guys are always doing considerate things like that, I can tell you’ve all had this kind of job before”, so there must be other stuff too – but she didn’t specify! I know we all tip well, but I should ask her what the other things are :)

        2. Brisvegan*

          Me, too! I haven’t ever worked food service, but would like to make life easier for those who do. It seems like a tough gig.

    3. Observer*

      I agree that most of the person’s behavior is unacceptable and should have consequences. I just think that the potential consequences of going to the manager are too high.

      On the other hand, I do think that refusing to give in to unreasonable demands, asking her to leave if she doesn’t behave, and banning her if she doesn’t stop the pattern is very, very appropriate.

    4. JGray*

      I agree with you that I would encourage the manager to talk to the customers boss perhaps if the behavior continues. I am have worked retail and am not so concerned with her unfolding the clothes but if she has been told that they store doesn’t hold items and that it won’t stay open late for her and yet she continues to ask I think there does comes a point where you need to say something. I also had to wonder if she maybe tries to rush over to the store as it is closing to buy items therefore resulting in employees staying later than they would normally have to. When I worked retail we would occasionally have customers that other employees would bring over to me because they closed their register early and now the customer needed to be rung up. This was more about other employees but if someone did it too much than I would mention it to their boss. Its not really fair that they would try to get out of work early and therefore provide bad customer service. I am sure that the customer was just as annoyed as me with having to follow an employee around the store trying to find an open register.

  13. Laurel Gray*

    Is it possible to just ban her from the store? Many years ago when I was a teen working in retail we had a RustyRhodaRegular who would get nasty with employees. Our manager would tell us to “rise above” her verbal insults and provide the excellent customer service we were trained to provide. She would knock stuff over, be abrasive and threatening and it was so bad that sometimes customers would step in and defend us. When a new manager was hired it only took one instance of Rusty and the manager banned her saying if she came back she would call the police. We never saw RustyRhoda again.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      This is what I was wondering. If the EGE employee’s behavior continues to escalate, it would be reasonable to ban her from the store. At this point, she is just a regular annoying, demanding, unreasonable customer. But the first time she makes a scene with other customers in the store, I would ban her.

    2. Not So Sunny*

      I have to agree. “The customer is always right” is just not true when it comes to nasty, threatening behavior by the customer to store personnel. Stores are private property, are they not? What about that “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone acting like a D-bag?”

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, this is an option. People forget that because they don’t like confrontation, though, but firing one bad customer is not likely to damage your business beyond repair. At least not in retail.

      1. Observer*

        And, sometimes it actually helps. Many people will stay away from a place where this kind of behavior is tolerated. And, when they see that it won’t be tolerated, they like to support it. In the meantime, people on the border learn that THIS is not the place to act that way, but it’s not enough to stop them from coming in, as long as prices and / or service is good.

    4. OP*

      Unfortunately it’s against company policy to ban people from the store. We even have to let in people we have caught shoplifting.

  14. Rich*

    Having worked for years in retail, and in shopping centers/malls, I can see why the OP is frustrated. However, like Alison said, this is not an issue to call her company about. If you think about it, people who work for a specific company will do this to their own colleagues, so it’s just that the customer’s personality sucks.

    However, just to touch on something Alison mentioned: OP’s boss is aware of the situation. That said, OP & Co. just need to take it as yet another difficult customer. If the situation gets out of hand, the boss will handle it. (Which will mean either saying something directly at some point, or having a boss-to-boss discussion.)

    1. OhNo*

      That’s really something important to keep in mind. The OP’s boss already knows, and has the employees’ back on this (which is more than we’ve heard from some other people, thank goodness).

      OP, have you stopped to consider the effect on your employment that this could have? Say you call the other store and complain – what’s to stop the awful customer from complaining to your boss that you tried to get her fired? What’s to stop the customer’s manager from reporting you to your own manager for “unneighborly” behavior? This is a street that goes both ways, and honestly I really wouldn’t want to risk opening that door – especially when you already have some pretty solid evidence that this customer is a jerk who might retaliate in kind.

  15. Karma FTW*

    I have to think the annoying customer cannot possibly sunshine and roses at her job at EGE and then a complete PITA at the OP’s store. At some point, she is probably putting unreasonable demands on her managers (or customers) that will get her in trouble. She’ll move on from the job. Problem solved. It could take a while, but if someone has the nerve to ask a store to stay open 5 minutes for her, I have to think she is asking for special shift accommodations and what not at her own job, and will eventually wear out her welcome.

  16. Dan*

    OP writes, “I have come to the decision that her company needs to be contacted and she be professionally repremanded. This is an issue I feel that if left alone will continue to escalate.”

    May I ask why you haven’t come to the decision that *your* manager should be notified, and that she just be banned from the store if she’s a pain in the arse who doesn’t spend that much money?

    1. OP*

      Our manager was the one who dealt with the situation. I have calmed down since the incident and seen reason, so I will not be pressing the issue. As for getting her banned, our company policy forbids us from banning anyone. Even known shoplifters we still have to let enter the store.

  17. JoJo*

    If I were the EGE’s manager I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if she asked the employees at another business for a discount, or asked them to hold a piece of merchandise or to stay open. Why would I? It doesn’t affect me or my company at all.

    As for ‘messing up the piles’, if stores would stop putting every item of clothing in a pile, thus forcing the customers to root through them to find the right size, it wouldn’t be an issue.

    1. Biff*

      She isn’t just “asking.” She’s demanding. She’s behaving very crudely. And she’s behaving crudely while wearing a uniform that tells everyone exactly where she works. If I saw that behavior, I wouldn’t go to that electronics store because I’d assume that she would treat me very poorly.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      I agree with your stance the piles, but the corporate overlords make us do it. THEY aren’t the ones who have to spend two hours after closing time folding stuff so they don’t care. We hate it as much as you do.

  18. OP*

    First of all, I will clear up the notion that I wanted the girl fired or banned from the store. I was more looking for her company to talk to her about how she uses her connection to EGE to represent the company. The most Ii was looking for was them to require her to remove her company jacket while shopping in the mall if she’s going to be a rude customer.
    I will admit when I emailed Alison on this it was in a moment of anger and this more of a knee jerk reaction. I have not contacted her employer, nor after reading the response and comments do I intend to.
    To be honest the biggest reason I had wanted to contact her employer was that her behavior was driving away their potential customers of my coworkers (as well as a few customers as they told me after the fact that the girl was just so horrible to us that they cancelled their plans to visit EGE).
    Honestly my biggest problem was that fact that she brings her company into the picture by wearing her uniform jacket (if she took it off, most of my coworkers would just shake it off as another typical bad customer) and then trying to use her connection to EGE as a bargaining factor to special treatment.
    There’s two pieces of information I forgot to mention in the email that will probably explain why the incident upset me so much. EGE actually usually ends up to *still* be closing when we all get out. So it wasn’t really another 5 minutes she was asking for, but rather another half an hour. But the even bigger issue is that according to mall rules, if we stay open to accept any more customers into the store after 9 (when the mall closes) there are *HUGE* consequences. As in a several thousand dollar fine or even voiding our lease and losing our tenancy (and we’re the highest earning location of our chain in the city).
    Whatever. I’ve cooled down now, and I have no intention of contacting her employer. Tbh, I think at the time I had been reading too many AAM articles about how you represent your company off duty. In fact I had read the bus story on my break (not that I agreed that the employee should have been reported in the first place, but there’s a difference between private texts, and public customer interactions.) If I see the customer again and I can’t find it in me to act professionally, I’ll just politely recluse myself to the other end of the store.
    Thank you so much, Alison for taking the time to respond to my letter. If anyone has any further questions about the situation, I’d be happy to answer them.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      I know my answer below sounded unsympathetic, but I’m totally sympathetic to your situation. Years ago, I was managing a shoe store and one of the employees from another store in the mall was a regular there. She was a huge PITA, incredibly demanding, and always wasted a ton of our time trying on half the store and making a mess. We all dreaded it when she came in. Despite knowing where she worked, we still treated her like any other annoying customer: we avoided her as much as we could and immediately denied any requests she had that were ridiculous. We were also less friendly and helpful to her than other customers, although you can’t make that too obvious.

      She never did get the hint that we couldn’t stand her, but, like most other people in the mall, she eventually left. Retail has a high turnover. I have no doubt in my mind that a person with that personality will not last much longer in a customer-focused job, so cross your fingers that she gets fed up and quits as soon as possible.

      1. Christian Troy*

        I worked in retail through HS, college and a bit after college. The reality was, at least at my store, a good amount of the employees were working the jobs for the discount and nothing more. They didn’t need the money necessarily, but it was nice to have and they liked to shop. I guess to me it makes sense why/how some of these people act because they don’t see it was a real job (doesn’t make it OK mind you, just it doesn’t surprise me.)

    2. Beezus*

      Kudos to you – you’re obviously a very conscientious person and care about your job and weren’t raised by wolves in a barn. That’s a very good thing and will serve you well in life! Not everyone is that way; and while that can be really frustrating, it might help you to remember, in the frustrating moments, that those behaviors ultimately hurt them a lot more than it hurts you. If she’s behaving this way in your store, she’s probably a trainwreck in her store as well.

      I think you’re right, that it will probably escalate, up to the point where you manager bans her from your store, or she no longer works at EGE.

    3. I'm older than I look!*

      I think this could be handled by just having someone in your management tell someone in their management a blanket – “We don’t offer discounts, and please ensure your employees are respectful when in our store” and leave it at that. Don’t have them name names or anything but, just a blanket “be a good neighbor” policy.

    4. some1*

      “To be honest the biggest reason I had wanted to contact her employer was that her behavior was driving away their potential customers of my coworkers (as well as a few customers as they told me after the fact that the girl was just so horrible to us that they cancelled their plans to visit EGE).”

      I get what you are saying, but presumably these people are adults and if they want to contact EGE about that employee and the fact that they decided not shop there after seeing her behavior. It’s going to carry more weight if they do this on their own then if you tell someone.

    5. sam*

      with this context, for something like the post-closing requests to remain open, I’d say at a minimum, just be blunt with her – “As I’m SURE you’re aware, the store is subject to fines for remaining open past closing time, so we simply cannot accommodate that type of request for anyone.”

      If it’s a matter of other customer’s witnessing her behavior and expressing their unwillingness to shop in her store due to her behavior, I’d put the onus on those customers to complain to the EGE manager, not you. That starts getting perilously close to the bus passenger situation, but if she’s wearing company logos while behaving this way, it’s probably going to blow back on her at some point. At a minimum though, it’s a decision being made between potential EGE customer and EGE based on EGE employee’s behavior. While you’re the ostensible target of EGE employee’s behavior, you’re almost an outside party to that specific decision.

      I worked in a mall when I was younger – the absolute worst part about it, aside from all of the “normal” retail job nonsense, was all of the mall-imposed rules/fines/etc. Mall management decides they want to stay open 24 hours a day the week before christmas? guess what! you’re now scheduling your staff 24 hours a day! Nevermind that NO ONE SHOPS AT 3am on a TUESDAY!

      (so glad I was still under 18 when that one happened and I wasn’t legally allowed to work past 11pm).

    6. Mookie*

      It’s very magnanimous of you to worry about the reputation and financial future of the electronics company, but it’s not your problem. Talk to your manager about the things you can control, and don’t pursue vindictive solutions.

  19. Retail Lifer*

    If someone from another store called me to tell me that one of my employees was being annoying while they were off the clock, doing their own thing, I’d have to stifle laughter. I can discipline employees for bad behavior while they’re at work, but I do not and should not care about how they live their life outside of the store. Unless they’re doing something illegal or incredibly racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. off the clock but still in uniform, that’s not my problem. I’m their manager, not their mom.

    1. JoJo*

      That’s exactly how I feel. As long as the employee isn’t doing anything illegal or egregiously nasty, it’s none of my business.

    2. OP*

      First of all, she comes to the store on her break, so I wouldn’t exactly count that as “off the clock”. Second of all, it’s not the being a bad customer that’s the issue, it’s the fact that she asked us to keep the store open so that her company could complete their business. It’s something that would cost our store drastically. In addition to the fact that it would put all the employees into overtime pay, we’d get in trouble with the mall itself. If we stay open to allow any more customers entrance after our leased agreed hours, they would give us a several thousand dollar fine, and risk losing our tenancy.

      That being said, as I’ve stated above I’ve cooled down and decided not to press this issue.

  20. msbadbar*

    This woman sounds annoying, but I’m not sure that “destroying neatly folded piles of clothes” should qualify as one of the annoyances. Doesn’t every retail shopper do that? If I have to pull my size out of a Shirt Mountain, things are going to get messy. I usually re-fold the shirt I extracted and put it on top, but it’s never going to look like I re-folded it, and the entire pile, with a folding board.

    1. BadPlanning*

      I think it’s one of those things that is collectively bad. Sure, this one thing isn’t a big deal on its own, but you add it all up with all the other things and it’s a death of a thousand paper cuts. And/or sometimes things that don’t bug you about people in general, become highly annoying when done by people who are already annoying you.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        That’s exactly it, BadPlanning – I can put up with sooooo many tiny annoyances from people I like, but if I don’t like them, or they have pissed me off royally in some way, my tolerance just goes down to zero. “I can’t believe they coughed just as I was trying to say something – how rude!!!!”

  21. I'm older than I look!*

    Really could consider having your management request of their management (and maybe management at other stores too so it doesn’t seem cherry-picked) a “Be a Good Neighbor” policy.

    Just have your management say that they do not offer discounts to other mall employees, and do not expect other stores to do so. Also, that they have requested that their employees be respectful and courteous while in other stores and that they would hope that their neighbors do the same.

  22. I'm a Little Teapot*

    I’d try to get this jerk banned from the store (+1 to the suggestion above that she might be shoplifting). If my manager didn’t ban her, I would hint to her that I know perfectly well where she works and who her manager is. Hopefully she’d get the implicit threat.

  23. The Nasty Option*

    Discreetly video one of her more outrageous demands, with her company uniform clearly visible. Goad her with politeness if possible. Upload to Youtube and e-mail a link to the corporate head office of her company.

    Job done ;-)

    1. fposte*

      Though “X store videos and shames customers!” would be such bad press it might lead to the person filming getting fired.

  24. Elizabeth West*

    Didn’t read all the way through comments yet, so I apologise if someone has already suggested this, but it’s perfectly okay for your manager to ban her from the store.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      It’s usually hard to get banned (at a corporate chain anyway) but if anyone has a shot at it, it’s this lady.

  25. CMart*

    Would anyone’s opinion change if the behavior the EGE employee was exhibiting was less “regular annoying customer” and more “using industry knowledge to try and game the system”?

    An example of what I mean: Instead of EGE whining about not getting the mall-employee discount, she was saying “Just give me a discount anyway, I know you can give discounts for friends and family. You have the discretion to discount things without approval, I can at EGE, just do it for me.” Or perhaps if she were badgering the OP to mark something as damaged as a favor so that she could get a discount.

    Would *that* behavior warrant a chat with that woman’s manager? It definitely sends up red flags that she likely does those things at EGE, and may be something the managers would want to know.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t know that it would definitely change my mind, but there is a good chance that it might. That’s a different sort of behavior.

  26. Melanie*

    I had a coworker who wore his work uniform to a company that our parent company owns. He ended up swearing and yelling at a worker. The manager called my company and told them that this guy was no longer welcome in their store. The guy got a one day suspension and was told to not go back. Not sure if this is different since it was between sister companies but I think the punishment was worth it. A lot of us frequent this other company and it painted us all in a bad light.

  27. Mickey Q*

    I think a repeat obnoxious customer should be referred to the store manager. As the manager, on the next infraction I would confront her and go over her list of crimes such as “You ask for a discount 3 times a week, have demanded the store stay open 4 times in the past 10 days, and rifled through piles of clothing, causing a huge amount of cleanup at least 17 times this month. If you do not stop this egregious behavior we will have to ask you to quit frequenting the store.”

    I would then follow her around the store every time she’s in there and eyeball her constantly. You can’t let her get so comfortable there that she shoplifts because she feels entitled due to the discount she didn’t receive. And on the next infraction I would escort her from the store and ask her not to return. Of course, I’m not afraid of confrontation.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      See, I don’t think the rifling through piles of clothing is something you can say something to her about. That’s pretty standard customer behavior. I’d be pretty outraged if a store told me to stop doing that.

      1. neverjaunty*

        There’s looking through piles of clothing, and then there’s just dumping stuff in heaps if it happens to be in your way…

  28. BelindaGomez*

    Her boss isn’t an authority figure who can control his employees every second of the day. If the OP and her boss can’t handle one difficult customer without having to drag in another person, I think they might need some assertiveness training.

  29. Penelope Pitstop*

    I’m thinking it’s possible that the EGE employee isn’t so much looking for special treatment (based on my read, anyway), but the SAME treatment that the store would give to a customer period. I mean, the EGE employee is a customer who’s spending money in your store, yes? It’s not quite right to assume she somehow counts less than a mall store customer who isn’t employed elsewhere at the mall.

    The stay open 5 minutes after EGE closes *may* be a special request, but as your mall neighbor, is it possible that she’s seen regular mall customers finishing up their shopping after the gates pulled down and the store is technically closed? Are you proactively offering to call other stores to locate stock you don’t have (as many retail stores do) if it’s your policy to do so for store customers?

    < Malls are dying and customer spending money in your store are keeping you in a job. I don’t mean you personally, OP, I mean mall store employees general. In my line of work, I see a lot of stores focus on process (must fold….must hang) rather than on serving the customers that are walking in. In fact, the last several times I’ve shopped mall stores, I’ve felt like the employees feel like it’s a burden on them to recognize that I’m in their presence, much less offer minimal assistance. I’m not saying this is you OP, not at all, but I’d take a hard look to make sure that your store isn’t clinging to policies that it COULD bend just because it’s an inconvenience to do so. Not only is it an overreach to complain to her to her manager, but it sort of reflects on your store/company that you’d do so. I mean a sale is a sale.

    TL;DR. Clearly, pushed a button. :)

  30. voyager1*

    After reading some of the comments on here, I will say what I have always done. Never wear anything with where you work when out on public.

  31. Liz*

    I *would* contact her manager, but not because she’s a bad customer: I’d contact her manager because she is actively losing EGE sales. OP mentioned that several coworkers refuse to shop at EGE in case they run into the person in question. That *is* something a manager would want to know.

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