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Checkout line horror stories



Updated: August 10, 2012 6:20AM

Dear Readers: The Fixer will never forget the brazen kid who stopped in front of the cash register, brand-new sunglasses on his head with the price tag dangling down the side. He paused a moment to smile before dashing out the front door of the store with his friends.

Way to ruin the cashier’s day.

The year was 1983, and The Fixer was a high school student working the cash register at the local drugstore. That obnoxious shoplifter was one of our most annoying customers, though most of the shoppers were truly delightful people.

In memory of that clown, we continue our “turning the tables” feature today with tales from the other side about customers who aren’t always right. These are the consumers who make life difficult for everyone else.

(If you are a front-line retail worker, restaurant staffer, service person or small business owner who wants to vent, we would love to hear your story at

From Margaret: “I work for a chain store. We offer every customer a basket, but many refuse and then pile their things at the cash register while they shop.

“Recently, a customer was doing this, but after she set her items down one by one, she would stand there and gaze around. At this point, I asked her if she was ready to check out. This happened two or three times.

“I finally laughed and said, ‘I will leave you alone — just tell me when you are ready.’

“When the customer went home, she completed the store survey and said I was rude and not interested in helping her!”

From Mo: “Years ago, I was working at a casual restaurant in the city. There was a customer I fondly refer to as ‘Mrs. Got Rocks.’ Her hands were bedecked in jewels with well-manicured fingernails.

“Earlier in the day, the manager had sent home a server, which left me all by myself with 48 tables. By 12:30 p.m., the place was packed and people were waiting for their drinks, their checks and their food.

“Mrs. Got Rocks ordered a specialty salad and said to me, ‘I want the dressing light.’ I said OK, and she yelled at me, “VERY LIGHT!” Well, when her salad arrived, the dressing was on the side. She said to me, ‘I can’t put dressing on the salad!’ I thought she was joking.

“Well, about 15 minutes later, I came back to see how everything was, and I noticed that her salad was gone and she had an omelet.

“I asked if something was wrong with the salad. She said, ‘I told you I couldn’t put the dressing on.’ I replied that I thought she was joking. She started screaming, ‘YOU’RE A LIAR!’ Well, this was just insane and I started to cry — though you know there’s not supposed to be any crying in waitressing.

“The reason I’ll never forget her is two days prior to this I was at my favorite bar and a young man came in a wheelchair. He had cerebral palsy. He ordered a cheeseburger and fries and he was shaking so bad he couldn’t feed himself. I cut up his burger and fed him myself.

“This woman at the restaurant was perfectly healthy but just wanted to be difficult. She is still my worst horror story.”

From Carla: “Perhaps it’s time for folks who receive good customer service to step up and tell the employee’s bosses how good the employee is. I do this and frankly am shocked at how many bosses don’t expect feedback to be positive.

“Second, my advice to shoppers is don’t do it when you’re tired. You, exiting your busy, busy day, are likely dealing with someone who needs their job and who has been working a LONGER DAY THAN YOU.

“Last, a word about ‘class.’ Poor customers don’t, in my experience, abuse front-line service employees. The worst abusers are the nouveau riche.”

Identity theft hotline

More than 3,200 identity theft complaints were filed with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office last year, including reports of fraudulent charges on existing accounts, thieves opening new accounts, stolen checks and the like. If you’ve been victimized, call the AG’s Identity Theft Hotline at (866) 999-5630 to file a report and get help.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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