Customer Service Worker Details The Hilarious Ways She Manipulates Rude Customers Who Won't Take 'No' For An Answer

When customers get out of line, she doesn't mad, she gets even — in the most hilariously passive-aggressive ways possible.

Angry customer and screenshots from TikTok TikTok / Dean Drobot,

All jobs have their pitfalls, but only customer service requires you to regularly deal with other people's entitlement, outrage over corporate bureaucracy you have absolutely no control over, and, at times, outright abuse—all for an hourly rate usually not much higher than minimum wage.

It's truly one of the most frustrating jobs out there, especially since most customer service workers have no recourse when customers take their anger out on them. But one woman on TikTok, Kaelin, has found a hilarious—and, she says, effective—strategy for how to deal with rude customers.


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A retail worker retaliates against rude customers with trolling mind games she says are 'incredibly effective.'

Kaelin says her strategies are for the majority of rude customers who "ride the line between extremely frustrating and abusive, but never teeter quite over to the point where you're able to...kick them out of the store."

She says this can make customer service workers feel powerless in the moment. That's where her strategies come in.

The retail worker's strategy is to 'irritate' rude customers until they relent and leave her alone. 

"It can feel like there's nothing you can really do to make these people respect you," Kaelin says in her video. "I'm here to tell you there is something you can do—you can irritate them."




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Her first strategy on how to deal with rude customers pertains to something every retail employee has dealt with a million times—a customer who insists on returning an item without a receipt and claims "every time I go to the other store, they're more than happy to just give it back to me in cash."

That's when you "become an FBI agent," as Kaelin puts it. "Those are the magic words. They've said them. Now is your chance to perform," she says. She then begins interrogating the customer like—well, like an FBI agent.


"I'm sorry, what location did you say this happened at?," she says to the customer. "What you're describing is avery serious policy violation... I really am going to need you to give a physical description of the person who's been doing this for you so we can bring them justice."

It makes customers so uncomfortable that, Kaelin says, "without fail, every time I've done this, the person goes, oh, I'm not trying to make a big deal about this" and drops the whole thing. Ingenious!

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The retail worker also suggests pretending to be stupid to drive rude customers crazy.

Kaelin called feigning rank incompetence "one of my favorites," and she says it works like a charm if you do it right. "If done correctly, the customer should leave thinking that you're a little bit stupid and that's what you want."


What's the method? Pretend that you don't understand that their demands are serious.

"Laugh out loud," she instructs. "Laugh out loud like they're making a joke." You can probably already guess how this makes someone self-absorbed enough to yell at a retail employee absolutely insane with frustration. But in case you're a retail employee taking notes, Kaelin has a perfect example.

"Someone walks up and they're like, I was here three weeks ago and this was on sale, but it's not on sale anymore. I need this sale price." That is, of course, not how anything works, so Kaelin suggests you give a big hearty laugh and "hit them with the 'oh, my God, imagine if we could do things like that! You would not believe how many people actually ask me that question!"

This masterful manipulation, Kaelin says, "stuns them. Anyone with a modicum of self-reflection capabilities will take a look at themselves for a moment." Can't help but wonder if this works outside of a retail environment... like say, in arguments with your obstinate significant other? Might have to try it!


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The TikToker's 'secret weapon' is to scare 'feral children' who misbehave in retail stores.

"This next one, this one's my favorite," Kaelin says of her method for how to deal with rude customers of the underage variety—"the ones who are absolutely off the wall, their parents don't give a sh-t, they're destroying things in your store."

Kaelin says she goes up to these children and gives them a tall tale that whips them right into shape. "You march up to that child with a serious face on and you say, son, I have something to tell you. A very long time ago, I was behaving just like you are behaving right now in this store. And you know what they did? They locked me in, and I've never left."

Kaelin admits that the story "terrifies them," but it also "stops them from destroying everything in your store," and sometimes, during a truly nightmarish day in retail, that's all that matters.


Of course, there are many other ways to deal with rude customers that don't involve mind games, as the video below details.

But are they as fun as Kaelin's? Probably not. Plus, she says, at least in the case of telling kids a scary story, she's never had a customer get mad about it. "They think it's funny as hell," she says, because "they're also usually not great parents."


And if nothing else, Kaelin posits it just might shape their "worldview." "Maybe...they think that the people that work in stores are trapped there. They start to feel bad. They stop destroying things."

Hey, if it can make the next generation better people than the one before them, maybe it's all worth it!

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.