20 Retail Customers Who Thought They Were Clever Enough To Scam The System

Published 1 year ago

Apparently working in retail is basically agreeing to expose oneself to people desperately trying their level best to make a quick buck off a money-minting corporate giant. It seems this is quite popular amongst the rich and poor alike; where the employees have to bear the brunt of the interactions which can range from silly to hella-agro.

Nevertheless, the attempts people make to either scam or straight up steal from these corporations can be rather entertaining for us. Here’s a narrative of a few first-hand experiences employees have had to deal with relating to this particular scenario.

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Image source: juicyglutess, maxbelchenko

Used to work at Costco, and at the end of December without fail there would be a handful of people who brought in real Christmas trees for a refund. Always wanted to tell them to f-off, but costcos policy allows for this sort of stuff so had to do it with a smile.


Image source: YeeTee55T4R, Rajesh TP

This happened at Popeyes. There 3 people bought EVERY SINGLE CHICKEN SANDWICH IN STOCK. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Then, they tried to sell it to people that were there for a dollar extra. No one bought it.


Image source: anon

When I worked in a convenience store store many years ago, the candy was all in a set of shelves right at the checkout counter. The wife of a well known businessman in town would buy a regular sized 3 musketeers bar, drop it “by mistake” and quickly switch it with the giant sized one as she scurried out the door. She did it several times a week.

It was such a sad behavior that I didn’t bother to call her on it, but I was continually amazed that someone of such stature in town, would take such a chance for such a silly little thing.


Attempting to return an old Casio watch in a brand new Casio watch box. Really nice try, but no. He threw the watch at me and walked out when I denied the return.

Image source: anon


Image source: Notorious03

My first day at Walmart a lady took the price off a cheap canopy and stuck it on an expensive one and then demanded to buy the expensive one at that price. Funny thing is that I saw her do it, and I let the manager know, she never got that canopy at her price.


Image source: Paptreek

I had someone purchase a 55” TV from a different store, go home and put their old (smaller) tv in the box, and try to return it.

The look on his face when he realized I was gonna open it was priceless.


Image source: coydog33, Brett Jordan

Idiot comes in with a coupon for a free iPod. Fine print says “Guaranteed and payable by Bill Gates”. I asked why would Bill Gates guarantee and Apple product. Idiot left.


Customers are always trying to buy coolers they’ve filled with items that they’re trying to steal, and they tend to go to the self-scan so that the cashier won’t check inside it once they pick it up and it’s heavier than it should be. Well, the self-scan belts weigh the item, so when they scan the cooler and put it on the belt, I get a little ping telling me “uhhh this customer’s tryna put 4 lbs of stuff on the belt when the item weighs 1 lb…” And you just know that when you go over and check the inside, they’re going to be like “Oh my gosh!!! How did that get in there!!!! I didn’t even check inside it!!!!” Like b**ch yes you did, I’m not THAT stupid.

Image source: mickier


Image source: kmn19999, Jubéo Hernandez

A lady called and tried to get the earlybird price for a pool pass, but she was a day late. I said sorry I can give you the regular price but you didn’t sign up in time for the early one. She says “But I called yesterday to sign up and the lady told me she couldn’t sign me up for one and to call back today and they’d give me the discount!” I was the lady working yesterday..


Image source: sweetpoison02, deyangeorgiev

“My phone is broken I want to use your 30 day return policy.” Me thinking this is a guys phone who has broken within first 30 days “Of course sir i’m very sorry this happened i’ll do that for you now let me just check the system for your phone” checks system “Sir…according to my information your Phone is 11 years old…?” “Yes and?” “I can’t give you a 30 day return i’m afraid.” “Why not?!”


Image source: MassRedemption, Manki Kim

We once had a couple men come into our small store, the one poured a cup of soapy water on the floor, and about 3 mins later his buddy “slipped” on it. The one man asked for compensation from the owner, but me as a manager, I pointed out that there were several cameras in and out of the building, and we had footage of them both talking outside, and pouring soap into the glass. I told them to have their lawyer contact the owner, and they took off before I could give them a business card.


Image source: garaines, Julia Koblitz

I worked for Montgomery Ward for almost 30 years and I had a customer return a tractor after 20 years because he was no longer satisfied with the power Monkey Ward took it back no wonder they went out of business!


Image source: Union_of_Onion

Its the petty stuff that amazes me.

This guy comes in, first 10 mins we were open that day. I’m putting stock away on the shelf and this guy goes up to the register, ready to pay. So I ring up his loaf of Rainbow bread. I tell him the total and he says it should have been about $0.75 cheaper. I tell him that’s the price for the store brand bread, not the Rainbow. He doesn’t accept this at all saying that the bread was sitting in the space labeled for the cheap bread so ‘that’s false advertisement.’

So I get my manager as I can’t override the price being the lowly associate I am. He gets into it with my manager who don’t take no s**t and they go on a bit, but she does override the price and he pays it. Upon giving him his change, basically the $0.75 he saved, he says to keep it and walks out the store.


Image source: Makeup_momma, alessandrozocc

When I worked at a makeup counter at Nordstrom, a customer brought in a bag of products she wanted to return. I start unpacking them and all of them have “tester” engraved on the bottom. I told her that I was sorry but I couldn’t return them because they were testers. She then gave me a sob story about how her boyfriend gave them to her as a gift, she doesn’t like them, blah blah blah. Eventually she gives up and leaves. It was about $2,000 worth of skincare. I also watched someone steal skincare off the shelf and try to return it. Fun times


Image source: l_eats, Vikram Mudaliar

My friend works at a pet store. They banned quite a few people because they didn’t set up their aquariums correctly (no, you can’t just throw fish in there), killed at least $200+ worth of fish over the course of 3 weeks, and tried to return them all the time. One of those people worked for a vet and the aquarium was set up at the clinic.


Image source: Ashleens, Yeh Xintong

If grocery counts as retail, I worked in a bakery department of a local grocery chain. We often had regular customers get extravagant cakes done by our decorators, also knew that if they complained enough, they could get it for free (if the right pushover managers were present). One night, we had a customer come in very late to pick up her two cakes, one shaped like Pacman, and another half sheet made into a Pacman map with our lovable ghosts on it.




She gushed about it as we packed it up, after showing her how it turned out. And as we handed to her over the counter, she sort of stopped and thought. Opened it up again, and started complaining about how it was all wrong. She just didn’t think any of it was what she ordered. We insisted, and showed her the paperwork for the phone order she placed. It was exact to the t. She still wouldn’t have any of it.

“It’s okay, I’ve done this before. Just call [manager’s on duty name], he knows me, he’ll give it to me for free!” She smiled as we called him.

He was livid. Told her he couldn’t take any discount, but he’ll keep the cake there and she didn’t have to buy it if she didn’t want it.

I left for the end of my shift at that point, and all I remember is her face looking shocked. I’m not sure how the outcome played, but we were told the next morning to not take large orders over the phone any more.


Image source: ShiftyJFox, Ahmed Almakhzanji

Bookstore. A guy comes in with a stack of brand new books he wanted to return for cash, and I couldn’t do it without a receipt. He whined. A manager came up and immediately told him to take his books and get out. He did, without even trying to argue. She explained to me he was a book reviewer for one of the papers in town. She said he was banned from returns at all the bookstores in town because he tried to dump all the review copies he received.


Image source: Salvo1218, Russ Ward

Cashier at Home Depot. guy comes thru the self checkout with a big $550 DeWalt drill combo. Does his checkout business then asks me to remove the alarm tag for him. Notice SCO screen is still up on his transaction and its only $14. Tell him there was a mistake and to go to returns (I know he was bulls**tting us). Comes back and drops the “oh i’m going to check out the other model” line and then leaves. His buddy, also on SCO, ripped a barcode so i had to help him and not pay attention to the other guy trying to steal the combo kit. They both leave, call the cops, cop already has them in cop car for pulling them over for expired plates or some s**t as they left the store parking lot. Turns out the guy had peeled the UPC off a $14 toolbox and put it on his hand. As he covered up the Dewalt UPC, the SCO scanned the toolbox code. Police arrest the guys and I go to court incase i have to testify or something. Guys end up in jail. I get award and $50.


Image source: xubax, Mahrous Houses

I was on the opposite end, a salesperson tried to tell me she’d spoken to my boss the day before and wanted to know when she should deliver a new copier. I said you didn’t talk to my boss yesterday. She said she did.

I told her I know you didn’t, because his wife died suddenly the day before and he wasn’t talking to anyone.


Image source: iloveradish, Mike Petrucci

I am one of the managers at a retailer and we were currently hiring a bunch of new associates for the holiday season and a customer had come in and asked for a shopping bag (gearing towards a new associate who barely knew anything yet). She gave him the shopping bag but immediately called me over because she didn’t feel right about it. The customer ended up filling up the bag with merchandise and tried walking out. Little did he know that there security tags on them so the alarm went off.

I was by the front door and politely walked up to him and said something along the lines of “hey let me just check for security tags so you don’t find them when you get home”… he oddly complied. As I was checking the bag I asked him for his receipt and he said “I don’t have it but I just checked out over there”…pointing at the general cash register area.

I then said “okay let’s see if we can print you a new receipt” and as I was walking over to do so, I heard commotion and it was him tripping over the carts and running out of our store. Haven’t seen him since and we have made it a point to let EVERY associate (old or brand new) know NOT to give our our store bags unless purchasing right then and there.

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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biggest scams, failed scams, retail employees, return-policy scam, scam the system, scammy customers
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