Why Are Customers So Rude? Some Random Thoughts on Keeping It Civil Out There

May 2, 2021
Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

In the last several weeks I have noticed a real uptick in the rude behavior of customers, at almost every establishment that I have been in. People are misbehaving at restaurants, in retail shops and in public buildings, like the post office. What’s going on here people? I know that many of us have been cooped up for way too long. Now vaccinated, many of us are, once again, venturing forth (with more than a little trepidation) into the world. It seems to me, perhaps, that maybe during all that time we were holed-up in our homes we have forgotten some of the important social graces that are expected in a civilized society. I don’t like what I’m seeing… we are surely better than this. So here are a few thoughts…

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The customer is always right… except when they’re not.

I love my customers! I am found of saying, and truly meaning, that I have the best customers in the world. I try to make my customers feel valued and appreciated and I insist on the same from my staff. For me, this means always treating them the best we can, greeting them with a warm “hello'” and being as gracious as possible in our dealings with them. We pride ourselves in treating customers with the utmost honesty and fairness. I would hope this is true for most business owners and public employees.

I love what I do, except when I have nasty customers. Latelly, that’s a little too often. Even though the expression is that “The Customer is Always Right,” I have to say that sometimes this is just not the case. The customer is never right to:

  • Yell at employees – please keep it civil.
  • Cut the line or interrupt the people being waited on – please wait your turn.
  • Belittle or talk down to employees – please, if you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the rest.

I have worked retail since dinosaurs roamed the earth, and sometimes I think I’ve have finally seen it all, and then… I’m in JobLot and someone is losing their mind because the store has run out of beach umbrellas in red – not beach umbrellas in total, just red ones. Seriously?!? This borders on the ridiculous. I am not sure customers realize what this kind of behavior does to the employee – how they take it to heart – how they take it home. Ask Bruce. He will tell you about the tears. I think half of all these incidents would not happen at all if people realized the power that their negativity has on the people who are the subject of their ire. People who work retail have feelings and you’re hurting them if your losing your mind at them. Please think before you act.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

You get more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar.

Everybody likes to be treated nicely. My friend Katie knows this better than anyone. She sprinkles love and small gifts on the people she interacts with at stores and restaurants she frequents. The staff doesn’t expect this, but she does it to say “Thank You” for good service, for treating her kindly. I’m not advocating that you become Katie, as there is only one, and she’s pretty awesome at it, but what I am suggesting is that your words should be kind, even when you find that you are having an issue. Your cocktail tastes like they wrang out the bar rag in it? Tell the waiter or the bartender “there seems to be something amiss with this one.” More than likely, your sweet demeanor will not only get you a new drink, but it will be on the house. A problem with your package at the post office, try asking “Is there any way you can explain to me what’s going on?” The postal worker will usually go out of their way to assist someone asking with kindness. If you yell (besides raising your own blood pressure), you are likely to get defensiveness or little-to-no help at all. If your condescending… more of the same. So try sweet words first… you can always ask for the manager if it gets you nowhere.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Take a breath, walk away. Count to 10.

If you’re angry right at this moment, in a few minutes you may not be. Consider stepping away from whatever situation is irking you, just for a moment or two. You will be surprised at how your perspective changes. The gravity of a situation one minute is so much less than in the next. Do this and everyone in the situation benefits, most especially you.

A Final Thought

We have all just been through a nightmare… and unfortunately, even though it’s getting better, it’s not over yet. I would hope that one of the things that comes out of this whole travesty is that we are kinder, gentler people in the end. I know you can do it! Be safe (and sweet) out there, my friends.


  • Reply
    Carol Brock
    May 2, 2021 at 11:34 am

    That’s an awesome post!

  • Reply
    Pam Collins
    May 2, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Love this ! I am shocked at the way I have heard some customers respond to those who serve them in various retail settings. I think I have stepped up my game when thanking those people. While I have always remembered to show gratitude I find myself now going a bit beyond to kind of “Make up” for those who are rude.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    I have been in line at establishments when this has happened. It’s made me feel very uncomfortable. It not only effects the people at work but the people who are waiting near by and can hear all of this nonsense!
    I don’t know where to put myself. I was a server for many years and then in retail. And I thought I’ve heard it all….until I’m out and witness this carelessness first hand. Come on people the sun doesn’t rise and set for you. We’ve all been through a bad year and maybe people are more cranky than usual. You should be thankful that the store and restaurants that you’re able to visit are still in business…many people have lost everything! So I say CHILL people be thankful you’re still alive !

    • Reply
      May 4, 2021 at 12:46 am

      Thanks so much for your response. It’s hits on a great point: this bad behavior impacts the other customers as well. I’ve had customers come up to me after a bad actor has been in the store just to say that they really liked how we handled it. Such a blessing. I so appreciate your input.

  • Reply
    Nancy Brown
    October 31, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Great article, Marianne. It is perfect. Thank you for sharing it.😊👍

  • Reply
    Elaine Porter
    May 31, 2022 at 10:17 am

    First , I love this Blog. Marianne, you are a gifted writer of interesting, everyday ideas and inspiration.
    I laughed when I read ” I am a retailer since the dinosaurs roamed the earth”! That description describes me as well!
    I agree with and appreciate your comments about customers and the preferred way to behave.
    Some just think that the staff is there to abuse.
    Be humble and kind is a good motto!
    Backyard paradise… YES!
    There are so many ways to create a personal haven on a budget!
    PS I LOVE the Cherry console table I purchased from you a couple of months ago.
    It’s perfect!
    Cheers to summer!

    • Reply
      May 31, 2022 at 8:06 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

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