4 unbelievably stupid things no customer should do

When the service is so awful that you feel like taking a swing at an employee, or falling to the ground and wailing, give yourself a little time-out and watch these videos.

These are real clips of customers behaving really badly.

They aren’t just examples of what not to do when you’re a customer. To some extent, they also help you adjust and manage your own expectations, ensuring that you won’t overreact when things don’t go your way.

Don’t hit an employee.
This is Melodi Dushane, who is given some bad news when she arrives at a McDonalds’ drive-through recently: chicken nuggets aren’t served for breakfast. Dushane jumps out of the car, slugs the worker and then smashes a window. She was sentenced to 60 days behind bars.

Obviously, this is not the kind of behavior you ever want to engage in at a store. And if you do, at least make sure the cameras aren’t running. But how many of us have thought of retaliating in a less obvious way because of something an employee couldn’t control, like a menu item or a product that maybe wasn’t in stock? In fact, customers often hold individual employees accountable for items they aren’t responsible for. Maybe they shouldn’t.

Don’t have a cow.
This video shows how not to react when you’ve missed your flight. The woman is inconsolable after not making her flight to San Francisco.

Despite efforts by ticket agents to calm her, she rants and screams, hoping her tirade will persuade the airline employees to make an exception. They don’t buy it. But they allowed her to board the next flight at no extra cost.

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This is the dark side of the “squeaky wheel” strategy, which says if you are loud enough and persistent enough, you’ll get your way. But nowadays, with a high-definition video camera in every phone, you’re just as likely to end up on YouTube with a viral video that lives on long after you’ve calmed down. It’s not an effective technique. At least not like this.

Don’t threaten other customers.
I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this video, although it seems real enough. Here’s a guy in a coffee shop with a presentation to make in 10 minutes, but his PC won’t let him. He freaks out, destroys his laptop, and is arrested – but not before threatening the other customers in the store and chasing them out.

Needless to say, this isn’t a productive way of handling a complaint about a PC. (I list the executive contacts for the PC manufacturers on my customer-service wiki: Wouldn’t a calm phone call or email to someone at the company make infinitely more sense than tossing hardware around?

Don’t argue with inanimate objects.
This unhappy shopper is arguing with a glass door. “Why are you closed? WHY!” he screams repeatedly. But the mall doesn’t open, and so he goes after a bystander who is taping the encounter. (Warning: Salty language. Turn down the audio if you’re watching this at work.)

Everyone needs to vent every now and then, but this kind of an outburst doesn’t make much sense. The door isn’t going to open itself. The “why?” question is rhetorical at best, and it only serves to embarrass the enraged, would-be customer. In a day where everyone has a camera, this is not the kind of behavior that gets you anywhere except in trouble.

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Look, most of us learned that arguing with a door or having a temper tantrum in a coffee shop is unacceptable – and indeed, unproductive – behavior. But it’s easy to forget. Good thing we have YouTube to remind us.

What kind of customer behavior have you witnessed recently? Please share you own stories in the comments or send me an email. I’ll follow up on this story soon.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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