Is the Customer Always Right? What to Do if a Rude Customer Verbally Abuses Your Staff

customer shopping golf clubs

Working in the retail or service industry can be very interesting sometimes. You get to interact with different types of people and learn how to handle difficult requests. But given your position, you probably encounter at least one rude customer each day.

Rude customers aren’t at all uncommon in retail and service establishments. Once they start acting up, you’ll never know what kind of horrors they’ll unleash on you. Some are content with just a scowl or an eye roll, but others are downright bullies, spitting profanities and threats without the slightest hint of remorse.

But since you’re tasked to deliver excellent customer service, you’d have no choice but to stand there and quietly deal with the humiliation thrown upon you. These rude customers, known on the internet as the “Karens”, will then demand the manager and continue shaming you. Now, should your manager take your side, or reprimand you for upsetting Karen?

The Worst Rude Customer Stories

All retail and service employees have their own fair share of experiences with a Karen. And, surprisingly, the reasons these Karens harassed them were so ridiculous. One customer implied disabling a cashier by showing him a ring that supposedly proves that he’s a world karate champion. All because he was charged $0.60 for an item he insisted only cost $0.50.

An employee from Six Flags Over Georgia had a strange but nerve-wracking experience while she operated the amusement park’s roller coaster. A woman lined up with a large purse, which wasn’t allowed in the ride. The employee kindly told the woman to leave her purse in one of the cubbies, to which she obliged. However, as soon as she took her seat on the roller coaster, she threatened to have her husband shoot the employee dead if her purse got lost in the cubbie.

Another rude customer story, this time unrelated to a product or service, occurred in a retail store, perpetrated by a seemingly friendly customer. The Karen started by complimenting the staff for how friendly they have become recently. But later on, she asked the manager if they only hired Americans.

When the manager told her that they hire anyone who’s qualified, regardless of their nationality, the customer apparently lost her cool and started threatening to call the police on them for hiring illegals. Suffice to say, she acted on her discriminatory urges.

Who’s Responsible for Handling Rude Customers?

When Karen starts to demand the manager, things can become tricky. For one thing, it’s a business’s commitment to providing a positive experience for their customers. If they receive a complaint, the rule “the customer is always right” immediately applies.

But employers are also required to provide a safe working environment for their employees. When a customer becomes violent toward an employee, the employer may hold liability if injury or property damage took place as a result. Hence, your employer should implement safety measures in your workplace to protect you from circumstances involving a Karen. If your employer fails to fulfill this responsibility, and you became a victim of a hostile customer, you may demand claims through the help of a lawyer.

According to Aminov Law Group, P.C., a boutique law firm that specializes in personal injury cases, the wrongdoer should compensate a victim for the injuries they caused, and the amount should cover medical bills, recovery expenses, and even the wages they missed because of the injury. So if a rude customer physically hurts you, you have the right to file a complaint, especially if your employer hasn’t done anything to defend you.

cafe customer

Should You Also Sue Your Negligent Employer?

A negligent employer is someone who turns a blind eye to the blatant abuse or misdeed occurring in their workplace. For example, if a loyal customer has been discriminating you ever since their first visit, yet your employer has never done anything about it, you can demand claims from your company. Even if you didn’t raise a complaint to your employer, the discrimination incident is still something that they should have known. They cannot feign ignorance in the court.

The court can also hold an employer liable even if the third-party harassment took place outside the business premises. If the harassment has a connection to the employment, the employer is still responsible for putting the incident under control. Failure to exercise this duty makes them liable for the damages incurred.

An employer can be also held liable for taking a rude customer’s side. If a regular customer with a good relationship with your boss harassed you, and your boss reprimanded you for upsetting the customer, the law is by your side.

The rule that the customer is always right is only true when both parties conduct business amicably. Even if you aren’t perfect in your job, the law forbids customers from hurting discriminating and verbally abusing you. Not even your boss or the richest customers can be above the law.

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