15 Scams Customers Tried Pulling And Did Not Get Away With At Retail Stores

Working a customer-facing job means you learn a lot about people and their unusual antics. I never clicked on something as quickly as I clicked on this Reddit thread that asked, "Retail workers of Reddit, what is the most desperate scam a customer has tried to pull on you?" You must read some of these responses that almost made me spit out my water. Here is what some of them said:

Note: Some of these responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

1."I used to work at a game store a little more than 10 years ago. I once had a woman come in dressed fairly trendy and asked for two PlayStation Portables (PSP), two Xbox 360s, and a handful of games and accessories. My store was pretty slow, so this would be a pretty big sale for the day, and I was excited about it. She went to pay and handed me a credit card, which was not laminated and appeared to have been printed out on a home color printer. I told her it wouldn’t work, and she said to scan it anyway. So I scanned her fake credit card, which clearly did not have a magnetic strip, and it didn’t work (of course). She told me to just 'put the numbers in' on the computer. I refused, and she asked why, seemingly legitimately confused. I told her I just couldn’t. She told me she would be back with cash. I put everything back on the shelves. She did not return."


2."Years ago, I worked at a small hardware store where they constantly got huge rolls of copper wire stolen. One day, this guy and his girlfriend come in to return a roll. I was a few months in on the returns counter. They had no receipt, and when I scanned the item for the return, it only did the price per foot. I couldn’t figure out how to get the SKU or the price for the whole roll. I called the manager, and he came out. Right away, I knew there was no way these people could buy a roll and return it."

"So he asks when they bought it, and they say two weeks ago ( the common response), and my manager tells them, 'Oh really, because the last time we sold an entire roll was over three months ago.' The guy starts to get brave and tells him, 'So you’re saying I stole it?!' And my manager says yes. They end up leaving and leaving the roll behind. Before they leave the store, the guy says, 'I’m coming back and bringing the cops.' The manager says, 'Go ahead. That way, you can explain to them how you stole the roll.'"


3."I sold a guy a phone years ago when I worked for a wireless carrier. I spent an hour getting all his information transferred and setting up his new phone. He came in the next day with a shattered screen. Apparently he didn’t remember that I was the rep who helped him and proceeded to tell me that is how it looked when he left the store. Needless to say, the phone was not replaced."

A person is holding a smartphone while their finger hovers over the screen. Multiple smartphones are displayed in the background in a store setting
Mihailomilovanovic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4."A woman came in, grabbed an herb-roasted rotisserie chicken, moseyed over to the casual seating, ate 85% of it with her bare hands, then brought the carcass to customer service and tried to return it."


5."Years ago, I worked at a Walmart, and this guy came in trying to return his Wii that didn't work. 'I just bought this for my kids last week, and it's already broken, but they won't take it back because I lost my receipt.' The Wii in question was the most beat-up and disgusting Gamecube I have ever seen as if he had found it in a landfill or something. I should also point out that I wasn't working at the return desk or as a cashier. I was stocking the food department. It turns out he was trying to talk every employee in the store into either giving him a refund or a Wii."

Front entrance of a Walmart store with vending machines and shopping carts visible outside
Wolterk / Getty Images

6."We don’t deliver the pizzas we make, it’s carryout only. I had a customer call and have a long, angry conversation with me because I wouldn’t deliver to her. She proceeds to say (a couple of times), 'You must be new here. I know the owner personally' to which I responded, 'Well, I’m the owner's daughter, and we don’t deliver.'"


7."I used to work at Best Buy. This guy came in and returned a laptop saying that the box had some old laptop in it. He yelled and screamed that we didn't know how to do business. The manager gave him a full refund. We started to check that old laptop he brought in. It wouldn't turn on. Looks like the motherboard was toast. We pulled the hard drive out and started checking the data. The hard drive was completely fine with everything on it. We started looking for the clues and found the pictures of the guy who returned the laptop. It was his old machine. We had all his info. The manager called him and said he had 15 minutes to return the new laptop, or he was calling the police. That guy came in and dropped the laptop at the front desk. I never saw him again in the store."

A man wearing a grey hoodie is looking at laptops displayed in a store. The store has many electronic accessories on the shelves
Igor-kardasov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

8."I had a customer come to purchase some stuff, and they had found a coupon from three years ago on Google Images for 50% off the whole purchase. I told her I couldn't do that, and the only one we had going at the time was not viable for her purchase. She yelled loudly, stormed out, cursing, and I felt good. She emailed corporate, and I got in trouble for making her upset."


9."I work at a major cell phone retailer. I once had a man come in with his wife to upgrade whatever the new iPhone was. While they were sitting in the store working with one of my reps (I was in management at the time), the wife started getting text messages from someone claiming to be her husband’s mistress. This did not go over well. They took it outside before it got overly nasty, and we all assumed they were gone for good. Not so, the husband comes back in. Alone. He finished upgrading his phone (priorities) and left. The next day, he tried to return the phone, claiming we had sold him one with screen damage. He brings it in, and it looks like someone took a diamond ring or something to the screen and scratched the heck out of it."

"Now we have a strict 'open the box and hand it to the customer before they leave' policy to avoid these situations. I was able to pull tape, show the customer where he held the phone for a good five minutes without pointing out any flaws, and tell him that my company offers no warranty on that brand even if it’s bad out of the box, and especially when he didn’t show it to us before leaving the store. I suggested he take it up with the manufacturer if he truly believed the phone was damaged out of the box.

He did, right there in the store he called them. They also told him to kick rocks. The best part? I was new to management, so I didn’t have a manager's name tag yet. He asked to speak to the manager, and I got to give him my best evil grin and say, 'I am the manager.' He left after that, and we never saw him again."


10."This person came in with a coupon for a free iPod. The fine print said, 'Guaranteed and payable by Bill Gates.' I asked why Bill Gates would guarantee an Apple product. The person left."

A person with blonde hair is sitting and smiling, looking down with a hand resting on their chin. They are wearing a sleeveless outfit with a gold trim

11."Not traditional retail, but I had a client swear she did not receive two packages from me and was refusing to pay the invoice for the second package from more than six months prior. I knew she was lying, but she was extremely rude and insistent. I was able to go back on all records. I found a photo of the first package on her front doorstep (super lucky as that’s not our normal delivery procedure to have photographed evidence) and a signature of receipt for the second one with her name very clearly signed, dated four days later. I emailed the evidence and never heard back from her again. There was no apology email or phone call, which confirmed she knew she was lying."


12."When I worked at the service desk of a local grocery store, we had this lady who was super skinny and wore sunglasses and long sleeves all the time. One day, she came in with a friend and tried to return beauty items (we didn’t have a beauty/makeup section) and claimed she had no receipt due to 'short-term memory loss.' It was so hard not to laugh in her face, she had attempted to return things this way numerous times. We all knew what she was doing."

People browse makeup products in a well-lit beauty store. Skincare product advertisements are displayed on the walls
Wdstock / Getty Images

13."I was working at a place that has soft serve as a part of the menu. I was working one day, and a lady came up to the counter and said something along the lines of, 'Hey, I'm really sorry my daughter dropped her ice cream, and she's really sad about it. Do you think you could give me another?' I was about to then, then I realized an important fact: the ice cream was broken that day and we weren't selling any. I looked back at her and told her it must not be from us because of the machine. She turned bright red and mumbled, 'Oh, then I guess it must be from Dairy Queen or something,' and left quickly. Nice try, lady."


14."I had someone try to return two bottles of laundry detergent. She dropped them off at the counter and said she didn't like that brand. She walked off to do her shopping. I wondered how it smelled, so I opened the detergent and smelled it. It was water. Both of these jugs are filled with warm water. During the exchange, she tried to claim they were like that when she bought them. I explained that I couldn't return them and that she would have to talk to the day manager."


15."I had a customer try to pay with a check using an ID that was very obviously made of paper. When I wouldn't accept it, she tried to get her boyfriend to fight me. He laughed and awkwardly walked out of the store. I understand that some states issue temporary paper licenses. Mine does, too. This was not that."


Do you have a story of a customer trying to pull a fast one? If so, share it with me in the comments below!