25 Business Owners Who Masterfully Dealt With Rude Clients

Published 1 month ago

Reddit is a platform where people share their personal experiences, often leading to fascinating and inspirational stories. In one such thread, small business owners who look too young to own a business were asked to share their favorite “I AM the boss, lady” moments. The responses were both empowering and entertaining, highlighting the challenges and triumphs of young entrepreneurs.

Here are some standout stories from the thread.

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Image source: DaNerdyDude, Anna Shvets

Similar but different. My mum owns a florist, and hired some new staff so that she wouldn’t be working 10 hours every weekday. Her biggest rule is to NEVER refuse service to a customer, because the shop doesn’t get too much foot traffic and all the stock is unusable after a week and gets thrown out, hence why every customer should be served. One day my Dad (who doesn’t own the shop but has a lot of authority over it) was walking past the shop while a new staff member was on. He was about to ask if he could help (since just by looking at the shop, he could tell not much had been done) before she, without looking up from her phone, said that the shop was closed. The shop definitely was not closed. Dad definitely told the employee who he was, and definitely told mum what happened. The employee was definitely fired shortly afterward. As soon as she was fired, the shop went from potentially going bankrupt to profiting.

TL;DR My Dad had a “I am the boss, lady” moment… to an employee at my Mum’s shop who was shortly after fired.


Image source: BigBodyBuzz07, Ksenia Chernaya

Once when I was working as a restaurant manager, customer gets upset about something I can’t remember which he is yelling at one of the cashiers. I come out and ask if I can help.

Customer: “I need to speak to the manager both of you are just so disrespectful and s****y.”

Me: “Well sir I am sorry I can’t do anything else for you I am the manager.”

Customer: “No you aren’t! Go get me the manager right now!”

Me: *sees one of the food runners go by* “Hey Tim, will you please go get the manager for this gentleman?”

Tim: *confused look* “But….. you are the manager right?”

Me: “Thank you Tim that will be all”.


Image source: deathinactthree, cottonbro studio

I don’t have a particularly great story about it, but I owned a popular neighborhood coffeeshop for several years. I’d occasionally work behind the bar pulling shots and making drinks, and I lost count of the number of people who’d come in demanding free coffee or whatever because they “knew the owner and he always gives me free coffee”.

It always went down the same way: “I know the owner.”

“No, you don’t.”

“How would you know?”

“Because I don’t know you. That’ll be $2.50.”.


Image source: SalemScout, Lukas

I ran and ice cream shop. I must have had to say “Actually, I am the manager” at least once a week.

My favorite was this woman I eventually banned from the shop. She would come in with her husband and s****y kids. Then she would try to order a large (three scoops) and ask me to put it in three single scoop cups, but only charge for the large.

I said no. You either order three single scoops or you order a large. The difference in cost is quite a bit, but it’s fairly standard for companies to do it this way. I wasn’t having it. She got pissy that I wouldn’t do it. First she said “Well the manager let me do it last week.” “No I didn’t,” I told her flatly. “Well than whoever was working let me do it and they said they were the manager.”

“No they didn’t. I believe my workers over you.”

“Well I want to talk to the manager.”

“I am the manager. You are talking to me. I said no.”

“Fine!” And she and her little family stormed out without any ice cream. No skin off my back. She was rude to me and my workers, I wasn’t going to let her treat us that way. Then she proceeds to call the shop the next day, when I am working again (as the manager, I worked a lot.) She said “Hello, I need to speak to the manager.”

“Speaking. How can I help you?” “I was in there yesterday and some little b***h lied and said she was the manager, but she wouldn’t let me get what I wanted…”

“That b***h was me. You’re banned from our location. Don’t come back.”

Bonus justice boner: She tried to call corporate to report me. Corporate outsources complaints to the manager with the highest rating in the area. Which was me. So when she called corporate to complain about me, she also got me. I wrote up the details of the conversation and forwarded all of her messages to the district manager, and he agreed with my decision and allowed me to send her an email officially banning her from the store.


Image source: Norman1515, MART PRODUCTION

I used to work in the box office for an MLB team. The actual manager was usually extremely busy and couldn’t easily respond to issues at 15 different windows, so we frequently pretended to be each other’s managers. It was the easiest way to get back up when an annoying customer would not accept one of our policies.

On one night I was helping a very drunk customer who refused to accept a policy (I don’t remember exactly what it was). He asked to speak to the manager, but he and everyone else around me were crazy busy. So I turned my back on the customer, turned back around, pretended to be a different person, and backed myself up. He accepted this without issue and went on his way.


Image source:  ChanoMeetGW, Anna Shvets

I worked for a landscaping company ran by a man and his brother, Scott. The one brother Jim was the main boss, but his brother ran things when Jim when out of town. Jim was out for a week and his brother gets to one of their houses to cut it, The owner comes out and says, “hHey man, I’m Jim’s cousin. He said you guys could trim the hedges while you were here today?”

Scott says “No sorry man, I don’t have anything in my notes about trimming your hedges today. I’ll talk to Jim tonight and get your hedges sorted out, but it might be a few days.”

The customer doubles down, replying, “I told you, I’m his cousin, I think I would know if my family says he can trim my hedges for me.”

So Scott laughs and asks, “well how come I’ve never seen you at any family reunions?”

“The guy looks confused for a minute and finally Scott says “I’m Jim’s brother, and we’re not trimming your hedges today.”


Image source: draterlatot, Rodolfo Gaion

This kinda fits: moved into a house across the street from a pretty upscale winery. First time I go out to mow the massive front yard with a push mower (all I had at the time as we only lived there a couple days) I notice there’s the old, dirty landscaping guy on a zero turn making the field next to the winery look immaculate. He crosses the street and ends up in my yard and says “lemme have a try at it” and saves me an hour of work with 5 minutes of using that beast of a machine. I go up to start small talk after and ask how long he’s worked for the winery. He says “oh, twenty something years. Since it opened actually. I own it.” My jaw hit the floor. He pointed to the massively expensive home down the street and goes “that’s my house.” He wasn’t lying. Don’t judge a book by its cover.


Image source: awkwardAFlady, Yaroslav Shuraev

This is late so it’ll probably not be seen.

I’m not a business owner but I do basic dog training and walking and general pet sitting as a side hustle. I’m a very small woman (5′ 110 lbs).

I got a call from a dog mom asking if I could leash train her 2 year old Great Dane rescue. She and her husband have just been completely unable to get this boy to walk on a leash. We negotiate a price. I work on the cheap side because I’m not licensed but I want to help people so they don’t rehome their dogs.

I show up with my fiance and the husband and wife take one look at me and they are incredibly uncomfortable and a bit skeptical. I have my own slip lead and use their leash and collar. My fiance accompanies me and they ask their roommate to walk with us as well. Totally understandable.

This boy is about 150 lbs and he is STRONG. He is also insecure and almost impossible to walk on a lead. He doesn’t follow directions well but I’m determined. This boy has been rehomed six times in his two years of living and his parents are considering rehoming him if this doesn’t work. They already have 2 adult female Great Danes and a puppy living with them.

The first walk was horrible but like I said, I’m determined to help this pup and his family. The next day, I show up and he’s excited to see me. He’s a little bit better but not much. His parents are still skeptical. After a week of walks, when I show up, he actually goes and sits by the door to wait for me to leash him! His dad is amazed. Their lead was grossly wanting because they normally don’t have to leash their females. I borrow one from my roommate that can hook around my waist.

After three weeks of leash training, his parents are moving and I will not be able to train him any longer. But this boy has made progress by leaps and bounds! His parents are able to take him for walks around the neighborhood. He follows directions. He doesn’t bolt. He’s not as insecure as he once was. Our last training session, I meet the rest of the household. They call me a miracle worker. We walked for an hour and the only leash I had to use was the one around my waist. We were able to walk hands free. His parents decided to keep him. I’m especially proud of myself for this one.

ETA: Omg thank you for the gold! My first ever!!


Image source: SpawnicusRex, Tima Miroshnichenko

I used to have a window cleaning business. My employee, who is older than me, was standing nearby taking a short break while I continued working.

Typical “Karen” pulls up and starts asking my employee about our prices, how to get an estimate etc, etc. I start answering questions over my shoulder while I’m working (time is money right?). She gets all huffy, and says something sarcastic like “Sir, I was talking to your boss” in her best The Grownups Are Talking voice.

So I turn around, set my window cleaning tools down deliberately and carefully, take one of my cards out of wallet and said “well ok, but I just thought you might like to talk to the owner instead”. So satisfying.


Image source: _invizion_, Jens Behrmann

I’m 21 and started a construction company about 4 months ago. I work in tract housing, and I work alongside other sub contractor for the same builder. I was asked to go into a house to fix another contractors mistake. The electrician, who was in the house when I went in, thought I had made the mistake and basically called me an idiot, saying the house next door was much better built/straighter/cleaner and that my boss shouldn’t accept my work. I gladly told him that I was the boss, and I was the one who built the house next door. We both laughed it off, not trying to make enemies with other trades I have to work alongside of.


Image source: docholoday, Sergiy Galyonkin

I was the manager at an EB Games back in the day. This was probably about 2000-2001. I was there for the launch of the PS2 and Diablo 2 (two biggest events I can remember).

We had an older lady come in one day and wanted to “return” a system she had bought for her son. She claimed he had gotten bad grades in school and was returning it as a punishment. She handed me this ridiculously old and beat up cardboard box. I opened it to find a dirty, dusty, cheeto fingerprint covered PS1. I knew that the original PlayStation launched in 1994 (…and now I feel super old), so what I was looking at in the box was at least 6 years old. I paused, looked back at her, and for whatever reason asked if she had the receipt. She actually did. Sure enough, it had the date printed on it, and it was from some time in ’94.

I still hadn’t said anything more, I was just looking at the mess in front of me when she spoke up and said something along the lines of “and I’ll just take the cash back, that will be fine.” I laughed, which was probably my first mistake, and said “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be able to return this, this is six years old, and clearly used.”

She tried to argue that she had bought it here at this store and the manager at the time told her she could return it for “any” reason and went on this crazy diatribe about her kid being bad, etc, etc. It went on for a good 5-10 minutes. When she was done, I just flipped the receipt over and read her the EB return policy. “30 days from date of purchase for unopened merchandise… etc”.

She completely lost it. It escalated so quickly I contemplated calling mall security (ha!) and the police. She wasn’t having it. Then I told her she could “sell” the system back to us (it was worth about $40 at the time), which would have given her something, but she wasn’t biting on that one.

She asked for the manager, demanded to see the manager, wouldn’t rest until she told the manager how rude I had been (I was pretty much a saint for most of this) and was going to get me fired. I just pointed to my name tag, and in the most satisfied tone humanly possible said “Lady, I AM the manager, and there’s no way on God’s green earth that I’m returning an opened, 6 year old, clearly used, dirty PlayStation.”

She stormed out, never to be seen again. It was glorious.


Image source: Echieo, Yan Krukau

My girlfriend got to turn down an MLM this way. “How would you like to be your own boss?“ “I am…”.


Image source: ohaiwtfbbq, K8

Everytime an older (60+) customer comes into my yarn shop and my mother’s visiting the shop. Apparently, at 35 I’m too young to own a yarn shop. My mom (62) looks the part, so they all sidestep me to ask her.
Even when I’m the one answering they still turn back to her with their questions.


Not really a ‘manager’ but more of a supervisor/lead of a department in a retail store. I’m female and I worked in the tools department so I got looked down at a lot.

The best story I have, is when a guy walked in and tried to return something and I had to tell him no. He got pissed and demanded a manager, the only one available was the one who knew nothing about the area I worked in. She literally came over, listened to him, looked at me and asked “so, what’s the policy?”

The guy then realized that I was not just some employee. When I told her what the policy was, she turned to him, shrugged and said “she knows more than I do back here.” And walked away. He was not too happy with the outcome.

Image source: Sea-Negotiation5448


Image source: LordMcDoofus, Olga Serjantu

I was working in a start-up when I was 20 or something, and at the moment I, so happened was going through medical exams for the army, and one of the doctors asked me where I was working. I told her that I ditched the uni for my business, and she’d told me that I’m probably stupid and my business isn’t successful, as I’m sitting with her, in this c****y cabinet. So, the next thing she sees is an article with my photo, in a very respectable finance journal. This look on her face was priceless.


Image source: Snakebiteloo, Ahsanization ッ

Became a supervisor for a welding contractor when i was 19. Had an engineer ask to talk to my boss out on a job site that i was the only one at (5am was the first one there).

Me: “He’s out at the truck”

*get out to the truck and swap out to my white hard hat*

Also me: “are you the one to blame for these s****y f@#$ing blueprints?”.


Image source: BigYellowMobile, Louis Hansel

I [high schooler, F] am a manager at a local restaurant due to having worked there the longest and being very good at what I do. My coworkers are usually significantly older than me, so it’s hilarious when someone asks for a manger to a 50 y/o and they come and get ME. The most significant memory I have is some lady who laughed in my face and then left, but most of the time people drop the attitude right away.


Image source: snickerkee, Karolina Kaboompics

Growing up my mom owned a business. She did the majority of administrative and behind the scenes work while my father and a family friend worked the front end. Occasionally if my father was off, a customer would come in and ask for the boss only to be surprised/annoyed when she said she was the boss. One time this happened she was just over it and walked back into the office put on a jacket my dad bought her as a joke that said “The boss lady” and went back to the customer to say “now do you believe I’m the boss?”.


Image source: thiccdiccboi, Devin Berko

I run a small woodshop that takes commissions from locals. One guy came in looking to order something as I’m planing a piece of stock. I stop and ask him if he needs anything, the same thing I ask all my customers, and he says, “You can’t help me boy, let me talk to the owner.” Keep in mind, I started this company when I was 17, and that’s probably how old I was at the time. I also had hair down to my shoulder blades and a beard that hadn’t fully developed a mustache yet, so he was quite right in his assumption that I wasn’t an adult yet, but he left soon after I told him that, “Sir, I do indeed own this building along with everything inside it, and if you don’t think i’d be capable in helping you, you are free to leave.” He left.


Image source: chuckitbuckit, Arina Krasnikova

Worked in retail, specifically a specialist bra fitting shop. One day I was working the change room desk upstairs, taking bookings for fittings and helping the 10 or so customers in the rooms for people who didn’t need a fitting but needed me to just quickly check things sometimes and fetch different sizes etc. It was busy, and a woman came in on the lunch rush and demanded a fitting.

I politely told her that I was very sorry but all the fitters were booked and with other customers for the next hour or so, so I could help her a bit but can’t give 1-1 attention as I’m helping all the other rooms too, so if she wants the full thing she would need to pop back tomorrow or later.

She flew off the handle, telling me how busy and important she was, that she made a special trip, she can’t come back tomorrow, I should help her etc. She was really rude, aggressive and mean. I just politely repeated that I was very sorry but I couldn’t help her for the reasons above, we just had no free staff, she ranted a while but then left.

A few minutes after she went downstairs I got a call from one of the till girls saying a customer was complaining about the young girl on the fitting desk who refused to help her even though she could see spaces on the list, and had been rude and had been swearing at her and wanted to see the manager about it. It should be noted I was about 24 at the time, but looked really young – maybe 18. She clearly had no idea I was the manager. I told the desk girl I would be down shortly.

I walked down those steps so slowly with a huge grin to let the horrible woman slowly recognise who I was. When she saw it was me her face was just a picture. I played along asking for a description of the “girl” who was so rude, as that is very much outside our standards I am shocked to hear such a thing happened, I was upstairs at the time and certainly would have intervened if I had heard such a thing etc.

She had caused such a scene that all the people in the shop were staring at us. So she either had to admit she had been lying and trying to get what she though was some poor shop girl fired, or she had to make up a description with me obviously going to be saying things like “hmm, no one here looks anything like that – try again”.

She just was at a loss for words, her mouth agape gasping for air, bright red, not making eye contact. I forget if she said anything at all but she stood there for a long while, and just left.

I have never felt such satisfaction as I did walking down those stairs knowing what was about to happen.


My dad owns a roofing warehouse, i help run it. Well one day a guy comes in looking for something he asks for the price. He doesnt like it and gets a cocky attitude talking about how he knows the boss and how he’ll get me fired. Just an overall karen attitude. I Fire back with ” i dont think he would Fire his own daughter.” His face dropped and he got outta there quickly.

Image source: emil_53


Image source: anon, BERK OZDEMIR

I’m 20 years old and started a small business earlier this year when I was 19 making art from trash I find on the beach. When we sell the art it helps fund an artificial oyster bed sculpture we’re attempting to make and install in the water to help filter pollution from the water. It’s called Cilly Sells Sea Shells after a nickname I got when I was younger.

So about a month ago, I met a guy at an event in a gallery I had pieces hanging in (this place hangs a lot of different artists and host music events pretty often). We started talking and mentioned our majors (I’m environmental science, he’s marine biology) and he goes “oh you’re gonna love this.” He brings me over to MY OWN WORK and starts talking about it. Apparently his friend who worked there had told him about my work.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just didn’t say anything while he talked about it. He said he loved how the pieces looked like glass and that they use stuff from the beach. Dude was clearly super into marine bio and talked about the science behind oyster filtration and all that. He had apparently been super interested in my project for like 2 months before he came to this and really knew his stuff.

He picked up the big UV lamp that was underneath it and proceeds to show me how all of it glows in the dark. I pointed to my SELF PORTRAIT and said I liked how it glowed differently than the others. He looked closer and said nothing. At that point I had to walk away to greet an event organizer.

Ten minutes later, a worker came up to me and said someone would like to meet me. Brought me up to the guy I was talking with earlier. His reaction was priceless.


I’m the assistant manager of a makeup store. on one occasion a lady had came in and wanted to buy the whole store. Our company has policies on purchases over a certain number of items/dollars to resist people reselling. Anyway I explain that we need her to fill out a form to approve the large transaction which required her credit card to match her ID. The name on her credit card was a man’s name and not hers. I refused the sale because it’s money related s**t and I will definitely get fired if I allowed payment on that credit card (even if she knew the pin, which was her argument). Needless to say she left the store screaming every profanity possible at me and said she would report me to head office and make sure I get fired. This is after she demanded to see someone “that has the power to make me happy”. I smiled as hard as I could and said “I am the manager, and there is nothing on my end to make you happy. This is credit card fraud” I happily handed over my business card and said have a nice day! A few weeks later, a man walks in asking for the manager on duty, which happened to be me again. He asks if I knew someone named blahblah come in buying something with a certain bank’s MasterCard. I said yes (because we write reports to flag customers). To my surprise, he says “oh god that’s my soon to be ex-wife. That b***h ran off with my credit card and is trying to make me bankrupt”

Image source: acos24


Image source: FuzzyOverlordsMom, cottonbro studio

Sorry for the long read, tldr at the bottom.
For background, I don’t own the business, but I am the general manager at a pool and spa store. I believe this fits here though. I am also a rather short (5ft tall) woman who, despite being in my 30s, gets mistaken for a high schooler at first glance. Also, I try to get a mix of both male and female employees, but not a lot of women apply for a pool store, so besides myself, the other 4 employees that day are guys, and it being seasonal for all but GM and ASM’s, they are all between 18-20 year old guys in between college semesters.

Customer comes in with a pump with a frayed/broken cord. I greet him, and am promptly ignored. Knowing I’m the only one that has shopwork training (I was put in this location to fix a failing store and had to train a whole new staff to boot) I walk off the sales floor and into the shop area to work on other equipment while I wait for the customer.

So customer walks up to the young guy on register and tells him he needs his pump fixed, is told that shopwork is done by the manager and gestures to the shop window. Customer proceeds to ask 2 other brand new employees, they tell him they are still in training, but I would be able to help him, and point him towards me.

Exasperated, the customer walks up to the shop window, and in spite of me standing there working on a disassembled robotic pool vac , says in a snippy tone, “hey, I need the manager to fix my pump, where is he?”

I put what I was working on down, and with that “customer service smile” on , ask if his pump is 110v or 220v since the plug is missing (I can tell once i open the pump, but I prefer to collect all the parts needed first if I can) and if there were any other issues he can tell me about to ensure I have all the parts or if i need to get some from other locations.

Customer looks at me, looks at the screwdrivers and test leads and says, “Honey, they told me I needed the manager, they said he was the only one who can do this, is he here?” (All in a tone like i was bothering him)

I kept that smile and reached out to shake his hand, saying “hello sir, I’m the manager, fuzzyoverlordsmom. Besides a new cord, is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Unfortunately this guy was a jerk, and instead of brushing it off, apologizing for dismissing me, or just acting like a normal person, he questioned if i knew what i was doing and if ive ever even fixed anything before. I told him it was his choice to leave it w me to fix or not, but he does need to talk to me w the same courtesy and respect that he is being shown in spite of how hes been acting.

He left and I fixed the cord, the pump seal & gaskets. Pump worked great after, and his wife came and picked it up.
He came in a week later and apologized to me, and ended up giving me another tip. Hes been a model customer since.

TLDR: customer comes in w shopwork for repair, doesn’t believe the young looking female employee could be the manager or fix a pool pump, is rude. Ends up apologizing when proven wrong.


Image source: sebrebc, Random Institute

Many years ago I was managing a chain pet store. I was in my early 20s and had long hair. I didn’t “look” like a manager. We offered samples of dog and cat food at the cash register and some woman gave me a real snarky answer when I asked if she wanted some free samples of cat food for the cat she was buying toys for. She said she feeds her cat from her plate and doesn’t give it cat food. She said it like I was an asshole for asking if she wanted free samples. I nicely said that cats have a specific digestive system and cat food is specifically formulated for cats. She angrily said “Garfield eats lasagna, my cat eats what I feed him too.” I just said “Ok, have a nice night.” and walked away.

About an hour later one of my employees tells me there is a woman on the phone who wants to speak to the manager. So I grab the phone and ask how I can help her. She goes on to tell me about the rude “long hair kid” who told her she was a bad owner for feeding her cat human food. That never happened. Then she goes on to tell me that the same “long hair kid” threw one of the ferrets into the ferret bin from 5 feet away and said “I’m playing ferret basketball.” That ABSOLUTELY did not happen.

I let her go on and on, trying not to laugh. I finally said “Ma’am, I am that long hair kid, and none of what she just told me actually happened.” she started to cut me off “….furthermore you are no longer welcome in my store.” She huffed and hung up. Never saw her again.

Saumya Ratan

Saumya is an explorer of all things beautiful, quirky, and heartwarming. With her knack for art, design, photography, fun trivia, and internet humor, she takes you on a journey through the lighter side of pop culture.

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boss moments, business owners, entitled clients, rude clients, savage business owners
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