Retail Return Nightmares: Wacky Things Customers Have Tried To Return To The Store

By Jhoana C

Working at the return desk section of a store means you’re always busy fending off crazy customers returning some of the most bizarre stuff and asking for their money back. You can ask anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of working in retail, and they will tell you that it isn’t a walk in the park. From cut-up fruit, rotting meat, and a coffeemaker that’s full of mold, they’ve seen it all.

Return policies protect customers who get products that are not the same as advertised. However, various loopholes allow customers to make unreasonable and sometimes unhygienic returns. Hello, crabs and syphilis! Now we understand why people loathe working in retail. Not everyone has the patience and the stamina to deal with entitled patrons. Take a look at this list of some of the worst offenders.

#1 We’re not hiring this manager

We would like to know the identity of this manager because we’re not hiring him for any position in our store. A bike that’s been used cross country and is in terrible condition should not be eligible for a refund.

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No brakes? That’s probably because the customer used the bike cycling halfway around the globe on unpaved roads. Where do some customers even get the nerve to return items that have been used and abused? Sometimes people just make us shake our heads in disbelief.

#2 Are charcoal grills supposed to cool your food?

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder what direction the world is going when people complain about cucumbers not having batteries and grills burning food. To be fair to the charcoal grill, it was the person in charge of the grilling that should be blamed.

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What do people expect of charcoal grills nowadays? That it would cool their food? Unless you bought a charcoal grill with AI that will tell you when the food is almost burned and let out a warning sound, you have no one to blame but yourself.

#3 Goodness, gracious

They say that common sense is not so common, and we have enough experiences with people not using their noggin that we have no choice but to believe the saying. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that you need to remove your phone’s old casing to put the new one on.

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This is why we can’t work in retail because we’d be rolling our eyes at this customer, and we wouldn’t even hide it. We can only wonder if she does the same thing with her underwear. Imagine yourself as the phone. Would you put new underwear on top of the old one instead of removing the old one first?

#4 This guy got his money back because he was bad at fishing

We’d like to remind everyone that buying a fishing pole doesn’t guarantee that you’ll catch fish, just like buying ballet shoes doesn’t guarantee entrance to Julliard. Sometimes we don’t get what we want, and we have to live with that.

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This guy’s lack of fishing skills didn’t stop him from returning the fishing pole that he bought. He blamed the rod because he didn’t catch any fish, and because of that, he wanted his money back. Wow, the sheer audacity!

#5 And here we thought realistic is always better!

Let this be a reminder that good quality isn’t always appreciated when it comes to television. Some people want the images on their TVs to look dead and as if the special effects were made with technology from two centuries ago, or at least that’s what this particular customer wanted.

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Of all the reasons he could have given, he had to say that the TV was too realistic. Was he watching knights jostling, and one of them suddenly nicked his arm? Perhaps TV manufacturers should also include the word “realistic” as a disclaimer on their packaging.

#6 People are gross!

Some people don’t have any self-respect or decency. Retail stores should make it a policy to never allow customers to try on underwear or lingerie and to never accept any lingerie returns for whatever reason, especially right after Valentine’s Day.

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No store attendant is getting paid enough to handle smelly, icky, moist, and used underwear returns. Who knows what kind of STD you can catch from this nasty stuff? If we were the attendant, we’d be out of there faster than they could say “herpes.”

#7 Hate the manufacturer for making your life safer

Just when we thought that everyone puts paramount importance on their health and safety, along comes this lady and changes our mind. Why would you not want an appliance to have safety features that protect you from potentially fatal accidents?

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They ought to come up with Razzie awards but for regular people who are not using their brains. Tell us when the nominations are open for such an award because we would love to include this lady; she deserves it.

#8 We can’t work in retail

This is yet another example that we can’t work in retail. We would be losing our minds if somebody returned a used pregnancy test. If the test results were negative, do you think the customer would have returned the pregnancy test?

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Hey lady, returning a positive pregnancy test does not get rid of the pregnancy. Sorry to break it to you. Now the employee has to wait for the customer to come back in 9 months to complain about the baby.

#9 The customer could throw the VCR into the river

We agree that customers should be allowed to take anything back to the store as long as it’s proven that the product is a dud and as long as it is within 30 days. However, to take something back after more than a decade is a little too much, don’t you think?

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Granted, this woman didn’t know that her husband bought a VCR more than a decade ago but that doesn’t give her the right to take it back to the store and ask for a refund. What is the store going to do with it? Some kids nowadays haven’t even heard of VCRs.

#10 Don’t blame the sweater

Countless customers on this list have blamed items and products instead of blaming their stupidity. Perhaps stupidity is contagious. If that’s the case, we need to avoid it as much as we can unless we want to be like this kind of people.

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Why the store attendant gave her, a refund is beyond us. Why not just explain to her that she buttoned it up all wrong? Perhaps the attendant thought that the lady wasn’t worth their time, or she would just continue to complain about it. The best way to get her out of the store is to give her a refund. 

#11 How can anyone be allergic to ham?

Customers all over the world must be racking their brains trying to think of a reason to return items they’ve purchased, items that have nothing wrong with them. You’ll see on this list that people have come up with all sorts of reasons, some of them so crazy they will make you roll your eyes.

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We understand people not wanting to eat ham because they are vegetarian, but to return the ham you bought because you’re allergic? Why buy something you are allergic to in the first place? Unless it had a doctor’s note attesting to the said allergy, we’re not accepting such a return.

#12 It took him two chairs to figure out that the color was wrong

Call us mean, but some customers are just plain dumb. Looking at the display item, you’d expect customers to be able to decide right then and there if it’s something they want or something they’d rather leave at the store.

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This guy is in a different league because it took him a trip to the store, a look at the display, and the assembly of two products exactly the same as what was displayed before he realized that he didn’t like the color.

#13 When your customer is evil incarnate

Some customers are brazen. They commit the most unspeakable acts with the goal of getting away scot-free, and most of the time, they do get the refunds they are not entitled to. They don’t even bat an eyelash when it comes to returning stuff that they didn’t even get from that particular store.

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Customers like this have a special place in hell, and so do the managers who can’t even be bothered to look into the matter and just approve returns just so they can get rid of the customer right away. Huge department stores won’t go bankrupt, but acts like these shouldn’t be encouraged or tolerated.

#14 We’d like to know what Walmart has to say about this

There is one thing worse than customers returning items that have been in their possession for decades, and that is customers that return items that they didn’t even buy at your store. We understand the tough competition in the market, but that’s not reason enough to go to Walmart to return Amazon products.

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This is akin to going to Dunkin Donuts wanting to return Krispy Kreme doughnuts because they are not up to your standards. On second thought, Dunkin Donuts may be pleased with this and might just use it for their advertisement.

#15 The produce must have texted

When buying produce, most people check to make sure that it is just as they want it, not too ripe or unripe. The last thing you want to do is make your way back to the grocery and return something because it’s not what you wanted.

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The produce must have texted this guy to let him know that it was already too ripe because how else would he know that the produce was in such a state when he didn’t even touch it? We look forward to the day when produce starts telling customers like this just how stupid they are.

#16 Why are meat returns even allowed in the first place?

Some returns shouldn’t even be allowed, for example, meat. Meat can easily be contaminated, and we don’t want any type of disease to be passed from one person to another because of the improper handling of meat. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

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Once meat leaves the store, that’s it. There should be no reason for people to return it and get their money back. Once it leaves the premises, whatever happens to the meat is solely the customer’s fault. Can this be implemented?

#17 Somebody is looking for battery-powered cucumbers

The last time we were in the grocery, cucumbers were not mobile, and they didn’t need any source of power. Put them in the fridge, and when you come back after an hour, they will be in the same place unless someone decides to include them in today’s dinner.

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This man might not have gotten the memo that cucumbers do not need any power source. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have returned them to the store. We’d like to know what he was smoking when he decided to contact the returns desk.

#18 The customer is the root of the problem

Leaving your plants in the trunk doesn’t guarantee that they will thrive. Chances are they won’t even survive (hey, that rhymes!). This lady should imagine being left in the trunk of a car for two weeks so she can understand how the plants feel.

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We sincerely hope she didn’t get a single cent back for her negligence, carelessness, and wanton disregard for the plant’s life. Why would you even buy a plant if you don’t even have the time to take them out of the trunk of your car?

#19 So, we’re talking about hauntings now?

We know that real estate agents need to disclose if someone has died in the property they are selling or if it’s haunted, but we what we didn’t know is that there is such a scarcity of properties that ghosts and all sorts of bad spirits have taken to haunting textiles.

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We’re most curious about the logic of putting the alleged haunted textile in a clear storage box and putting it in the freezer. Are ghosts afraid of 0 degrees and below temperatures? We’re pretty sure there are ghosts in Antarctica, so what gives?

#20 Everyone should make reading a habit

Manufacturers must ask themselves what the point of printing manuals and instructions on the packaging is when people don’t even read them anyway? It is evident in the number of people returning perfectly working products that they don’t read what’s on manuals or packaging.

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We’ll bet our bottom dollar that the person who approved the return of this product and subsequently refunded the customer also didn’t read what was on the box because if he did, this customer wouldn’t be getting her money back.

#21 Even free items can’t catch any break

If you think people only return items they paid for, you’re in for a rude awakening because customers will return just about anything, including a free magazine. We would personally not drive back to the store just to get rid of free items.

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If the customer disliked it so much, they could have just chucked it into the recycling bin, but they didn’t even open it. How can you dislike a magazine you haven’t even opened or skimmed through yet? Gosh, people are so difficult to please these days.

#22 When customers have an absence of brain cells

Most people know that they have to take off plastic packaging from electronic devices before setting them up, and we say most because this person clearly missed that important section in the “common sense dictionary.” Hence, their lack of knowledge.

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We can’t even imagine how stupid the customer looked in front of the store attendant when they had to be told that the clock still had film cover on and that’s the reason why no matter what was done, the time on the screen wouldn’t change.

#23 This guy needs to come up with a better excuse

Customers have used up every kind of excuse just so they can return items and get their money back, so if you are planning on returning anything to the store, you better be creative and come up with something new.

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You can forget telling the store attendant that the item was already like that the day you got it because someone has already come up with that excuse. And you’d think nobody would try that when returning a laptop box that contained a phone book? Wonders never cease.

#24 Please implement a 30-day return policy

Other countries in the world only allow returns within seven days. If you try returning something beyond seven days, you’ll be refused, regardless if the item is a dud or it wasn’t as advertised. If this can’t be implemented everywhere else in the world, then there should at least be a strict 30-day-only return policy.

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Because we wouldn’t want customers returning items 20 years from the date they bought them. After 2 decades, you’ll no longer be able to tell if the item was defective when it was bought or if it was the passing of the years that wreaked havoc on it.

#25 This customer belongs on the naughty list

We hope that Santa doesn’t give this person a gift because they are certainly naughty. How else would you describe someone returning candy canes in April? It would have been forgivable if the Easter Bunny required candy canes, but no, the Easter Bunny wants eggs.

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By this point, we just have to be thankful that nobody had taken a bite of the candy canes when they were returned, although they are all probably expired now. Nowadays, you can always look forward to retail getting on your nerves day in and day out.

#26 Something is in the air

Those who say that the customer is always right clearly have not encountered folks who have the audacity to return something they’ve almost completely used up and ask for their money back. If you’ve worked in retail, you know what we’re talking about.

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And this lady wondered why the fragrant smell wasn’t that strong anymore. It’s day 29 of 30, lady! What do you expect, an air freshener with oil that can last up to eternity? We hope she got a sincere telling-off for doing this.

#27 And you’d think that rocks always win

Rock, paper, scissors – rock always wins, but not if you’re trying to pass it off as stereo equipment. Here’s some unsolicited advice for those who want to return something to the store, look decent and look as if you’re not high.

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If you look like you’ve been smoking something and have been up all night because of it, there’s a big chance that the store attendants will call the police and have you arrested. You could end up in jail instead of getting some money.

#28 Today’s youngsters have not even heard of Motorola

There was a time when people couldn’t wait to get their hands on the pink flip phone Paris Hilton was sporting. Hers had diamonds on it, but normal people got either the pink or black Motorola Razr. Released in 2005, they were a status symbol back then.

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Now we feel old because most youngsters today only know about iPhones. They didn’t even get to experience the time when flip phones were must-haves. Old or not, that didn’t stop this customer from trying to return a Motorola phone bought in 2013.

#29 She must be finished frying

We get buyer’s remorse, but we’d like to think that buyer’s remorse doesn’t take decades to sink in and does not necessitate using the purchased item countless times. People like these don’t have buyer’s remorse; they are just plain abusive.

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If someone returned a deep fat fryer to us in this state, we’d tell them to take a hike. She can complain and ask for the manager all she wants, and we’ll let them deal with her. How can you not have the decency to at least clean an item before attempting to return it?

#30 What do people expect from a chocolate cake?

We expect chocolate cakes to be decadent, luxurious, delicious, and to bring us to 7th heaven once we put them in our mouths. We don’t have any other demands besides that, unlike this guy who wants a chocolate cake that “works.”

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How do you gauge if a chocolate cake works? Is it supposed to make humming sounds and have a speed of at least 70 km per hour? The only reason we can think of for this guy returning the cake is that he forgot he was supposed to be on a diet.

#31 We despise this manager

As much as we dislike the customer for returning empty cans of paint, we dislike the manager more for actually agreeing to refund the crazy customer. It is actions like these make other crazy customers even more brazen and demanding.

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Did the customer threaten the manager until he said, “Ok, pal, I’ll refund you for giving us empty paint cans?” Next time, if a lot of refunds are being approved, owners should look at their managers because there’s a high chance they need to be fired.

#32 We’d like to know the name of the store

If a store can’t be bothered to look at the items customers return to them and can’t be bothered to make sure items are clean before displaying them, you can count on us not to be within a 5-mile radius of that store.

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Filth is a deal breaker for us, and we’re asking the universe how this person can continue using the coffeemaker until it reaches that stage. He must be too busy to notice that the coffee started tasting weird and funny.

#33 She nailed it on the head

This return is all levels of gross; if we were standing near that girl, we’d be running out of the store ASAP. We’re curious if the other customers in the store didn’t give her nasty looks for the equally nasty thing she was doing.

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We can’t even wrap our heads around trying to return press-on nails that are literally still pressed on your nails. No wonder the store attendants wanted to get rid of her as soon as possible. Who knows what disease she is carrying on those nails?

#34 A statute of limitations is necessary for returns

There ought to be a law limiting the time from purchase when you are still allowed to return items to the store to get your money back, or else people like these will continue to abuse that privilege. This guy not only returned a lawnmower bought 21 years ago, but he also rode it from Iowa to Wisconsin.

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You can pick your mouth up off the floor now; we’re not telling tall tales here. This really happened! As a matter of fact, this man’s story was even adapted into a movie called The Straight Story. Guess what we’re watching this weekend?

#35 We wonder what this person has been doing with the ink all this time

We don’t even want to think about the many things going on in this man’s house for close to two decades and what he has been doing with the ink cartridge all this time. We refuse to entertain impure thoughts.

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The bigger question is what finally convinced him to go back to the store and return the cartridge after years. The printer could not have survived two decades. Printers are durable and all but they don’t keep working for two decades!

#36 She’s been borrowing trees from the store for years

This lady has earned notoriety for “borrowing” Christmas trees from the local store. She must be so hard up for cash or just a penny-pincher that she doesn’t care what people say about her behind her back, and we bet they talk plenty about her.

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But why fix what’s not broken, right? Her system is brilliant and works perfectly fine. She pays for a tree, uses it for Christmas, and gets all her money back. If that isn’t the work of a genius, we don’t know what is. Perhaps we should ask her for more money-saving tips.

#37 She could have saved on gas if she had kept the candy

With the ever-increasing price of gas nowadays, most people don’t want to travel far. If they have to go somewhere that is close by, they would rather walk, save a few dollars, and exercise at the same time. But this lady is having none of that.

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Spending time, money, and effort just to return a 99-cent box of candy doesn’t make any sense at all. However, common sense is something quite difficult to find nowadays. If we were in her shoes, we’d just sit back at home and eat the candy.

#38 All the marts have this person confused

If one store has customers lining up for hours, you can bet that another store will offer the same products with an almost identical store name. They are banking on customers getting confused and mistaking their store for the original.

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There’s only one caveat here: people returning items and wanting their money back can also easily confuse your store for another, especially if they don’t practice reading. Some employees would just like to save themselves the trouble and accept returns even if they know the product isn’t from their store.

#39 Not everyone speaks Minionese

Most folks recognize the adorable yellow cartoon creatures that will not stop following their great leader Gru around. They may be short, and they may speak nothing but gibberish, but they are fiercely loyal and relentless if they want something.

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These customers, unfortunately, have not been introduced to the Minions and their unique language, Minionese, so they end up returning the movie they bought. Didn’t they even watch a single ad or clip of the movie before purchasing it? Strange.

#40 Ur-ine for a treat!

In another episode of crazy customers returning some of the most bizarre products, a woman wanted her urine refunded. We can’t even fathom why these people do the grossest things and have the gall to ask for a refund for their bodily fluids.

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The manager should be punished for enabling people like this, and heads should roll if incidents such as these grow exponentially in the next few months. We understand that, as much as possible, you don’t want customers to make a scene, but scammers should not get away with their nasty scams.