17 retail horror stories that show working Black Friday is the worst

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17 retail horror stories that show working Black Friday is the worst

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Retail workers put up with long hours, pushy customers and crowded stores during the holiday season.

For many people, working in retail is a rite of passage — often the first job teens work during high school or college. In Ohio, the retail industry supports one in four jobs. We asked our readers to share your good and bad memories and experiences during your time working in malls, shopping centers and stores.

Check out 17 stories our readers told us about working retail during the holidays:

1. “Dealing with Black Friday shoppers feel like a walk through Jurassic Park” 

“Over the course of one black Friday, I was: nearly run over in the parking lot; threatened with bodily harm by people who saw me walking into work and thought I was trying to skip the line; nearly mowed down by a small woman carrying a large leaf blower, trying to be the first across the store to get in line at the newly opened checkout; witnessed someone spit on my manager and attempt to punch him in the face; was called very hurtful things because a certain electronic device had sold out.” - Emily

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2. IRATE CUSTOMERS

“Shoppers get irate and do not hesitate to get in your face and yell and scream because they stand in line so long not realizing what the employees’ day has been like! People need to realize they chose to shop during this crazy time just as some of us chose to work and enjoy being helpful … until you are put into tears by tired, restless, impatient shoppers!” -Jenni

3. KINDNESS FROM CUSTOMERS

“It was pleasant to be busy except one particular year I remember having a very difficult time because I was going through some personal problems and all the merriment of Christmas jingles and bright colors and joy just made me very sad in contrast to what I was feeling. I remember one customer took note of my mood and left me a little gift wrapped by my register for me to find. It was a candle and candle holder. I recall that he, too, was having a difficult time from our small talk. His thoughtfulness and the one was enough to get me through that most difficult of Seasons in 1983 and I still think about that simple act of kindness after all these years.” -Beau

4. RETURN POLICIES

“I worked for a very upscale store and a customer came in to buy a beautiful new boy’s suit. A lot of time and attention went into just the right tailoring for the young man. The next day the suit came back smeared with wedding cake from head to toes. Our no questions ask policy allowed the return. I lost the commission and the suit was thrown in the trash.” - Joyce

5. ADULTS BEHAVING BADLY

“The issues were not with the children but with the adults! Fighting over the last toys on the shelf, the color that they absolutely had to have, etc. I wanted to send them all home to bed without supper!” - Barb

6. BLACK FRIDAY RULES

“If you don’t know how to play the Black Friday Shopping game, STAY HOME. And please don’t do returns until after the peak sales time.” - Robin

7. “MADNESS”

“People getting there early, even before employees, would block our way into store because they thought we were cutting in line.” - Linda

8. RUDE CUSTOMERS 

“(A customer) kept yelling at me about how horrible and disgusting it was at my store, and how much cheaper everything was at Meijer. I finally said, “Ma’am, if you want to go to Meijer so badly, why don’t you go there? Take a left out of here and it’s 2 miles up the road.” Now doing that could have gotten me in a lot of trouble, but every customer within earshot were regular customers who knew me and knew that I’m not that kind of a person. After I said that and she started to leave, they all started applauding and told me that they would defend me if my manager got mad.” -Michelle

9. STEALING CUSTOMERS

“Working retail on Black Friday is like working at a daycare alone with 50+ children and no toys. You will be pushed, spit on, screamed at and they WILL throw things at you. Oh and you’ve been working for 10 hours, haven’t seen your family for the holiday and you don’t get to sleep for another 5 hours. You finally get the opportunity to sit down and eat a granola bar but OH NO! SOMEONE IS STEALING YOU NEED TO GET BACK OUT THERE!” - Kara

10. PUSHY CUSTOMERS

“When I was pregnant and working, we gave out $10 gift cards to the first 200 customers. I was assigned a door and when I opened it people shoved me and I got pushed into the door. I locked it and walked away in disgust. I was visibly pregnant but that $10 meant more to them.” - Jennifer

11. CHAOS 

“The best way to describe it is chaos. Preparation started 2 months in advance.” - Scott

12. MORE STEALING

“(Black Friday is like) running in a track meet for 15 hours — people popping off security tags in the fitting rooms and trying to leave store with 10 layers of clothes on.” - Paul

13. TRAMPLING CUSTOMERS

“I worked in a large department store in the Upper Valley Mall. I actually watched an older woman get trampled when our store opened for Black Friday. No one stopped to help her, they just ran right over her. We weren’t allowed to leave our position and another clerk had to phone a manager for help. She wasn’t injured, but I’m sure she wouldn’t take part in another Black Friday sale after that.” - Tosha

14. HUNGRY CUSTOMERS

“It’s non-stop. You’re constantly busy. I worked alone in a Subway inside of Walmart on Black Friday. I constantly had customers even before I was open! As I was setting up, I had people demanding to come in and leave upset because I wasn’t ready.” - Nina

15. CASHIERS ARE HUMAN

“Just remember that we cashiers are human. We have feelings. And we just work there….we don’t make the rules, we don’t set the prices, we don’t control inventory. We ring up your products and process your payment. Please don’t yell at us.” - Amy

16. TOO MANY HORROR STORIES

“Too many horror stories to really pick out just one — Primarily customers wanting something that was completely against store policy and blaming me for the policy. One said she wanted my name and was going to report me to the store manager. That’s when I threw my name tag at her and told her to have a happy holiday.” - Dave

17. CALL CENTERS

“From a call center perspective, I think the worst is a customer putting their child on the phone so I can tell the child the bad news, that they won’t get that item. Because you know, parents today can’t disappoint their children. Then repeatedly say how I (or we as a company) ruined their Christmas.” - Nikki

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