Anyone who has worked in retail knows that there are good customers, there are bad ones, and then there are people who have just come out of hell and are on a mission to make everyone's life miserable.
Recently, Twitter user Pigeon Fancier posted a question: "What's the most ridiculous demand a customer has made of you?" and the answers have been flooding in nonstop! From returning a fully consumed rotisserie turkey because it was too dry to demanding a book with real dinosaur photos, here are some of the wildest replies.
Image credits: isabelzawtun
One study found that people treat retail workers worse when they're looking for bargains than if they were less price-conscious. The University of British Columbia (UBC) Sauder School of Business study, which was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2017, looked at several factors to determine how customers treated employees. One variable researchers looked at was the words customers used when speaking to customer service workers.
They found that customers at the cheap airline Ryanair used fewer humanizing trait words than those who were flying Lufthansa. Researchers believe that plays a big part in how customers treat people who are working there to help them.
"When shoppers focus only on paying the lowest price, they become less attuned to understanding the human needs of others, or even recognizing them," Johannes Boegershausen, a UBC Sauder Ph.D. student who co-authored the study, said in a press release.
Researchers also analyzed customers' feelings towards the employees by showing them pictures of a flight attendant in the Ryanair (bargain) uniform, the Lufthansa (luxury) uniform, and a neutral uniform. Customers viewed the Lufthansa and neutral flight attendants as equally human, but they saw the Ryanair flight attendant in a poorer light.
"We simply varied the brand, and found that people ascribed lower capabilities for experiencing emotions and feelings to the Ryanair flight attendant," Boegershausen explained, adding that this subtle dehumanization can take many forms and is not necessarily intentional.
Another experiment had participants communicating in a live chat with a rude customer service representative. They were then offered the chance to punish the employee through a complaint. The researchers found participants were 18 percent more likely to give a rating that would lead to disciplinary actions against the employee when shoppers were adopting a price-conscious mentality than when they were not.
The researchers say the findings could help owners and management of discount stores, as the problem could affect their employee retention—previous research has shown that employees who experience rude and inconsiderate customer behaviors report higher levels of emotional exhaustion, job dissatisfaction, and burnout.