Is a Disrespectful Customer Always Right?


Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it. -R. G. Risch

Difficult customers. We attempt to prepare for them yet we dread to see them. There are many types of difficult customers that give us with such a negative experience that it calls for discipline of the mouth and the fists, but today we are going to address my favorite difficult customer; the disrespectful customer.

We all have ran across this type of customer. This customer will go to the point of bullying through disrespect and intimidation in order to get what he or she wants. Now I do understand the customs of good customer service and being the light on that customers dark day, but what if the customer starts stepping over the line? How do you handle that? Do you stand up for yourself or do you let them say what they want?

Let me explain…

In previous positions, I have been faced with this dilemma with my managers and both had interesting outcomes.

Case #1 – Dirty Collar

When I was in retail, a customer came in to return a shirt she previously purchased. She wanted to get her money back saying that the shirt didn’t fit. Normally this process would not have been a problem, but there was one thing… the collar of the shirt was very dirty as if it was worn a couple of times and not washed. Upon immediate discovery, the representative and I refused the return. Agitated, she then proceeded to requested the manager to come solve this issue. Upon arrival we explained the issue and showed her the condition of the shirt. At first, she refused as well, but when the customer started to curse and get loud in the store she suddenly gave in and returned the shirt. Dirty collar and all.

Case #2 – The Empty Tank

The second situation took place at a rental car facility, a customer came in upset about his vehicle. He was not happy with the price of gas charged for not filling up and he demanded that we should remove it all together since he was a loyal customer. When the representatives refused, furious at the response, he requested a manager. When the manager arrived he demanded the same solution and he also started be belittling the representatives and saying how stupid they were. In result, the manager, still calm, informed the customer that he still will not honor his request and he does not appreciate and will not tolerate him mistreating his representatives. Once the customer calms down and changes his approach maybe they can discuss some alternatives for his dilemma, but until then no one will assist under the current circumstance.

Each situation is unique and every person is different. There is no wrong choice, it just depends on your preference. Both customers crossed the line, but each manager has his or her way of dealing with it. On one hand, sometimes situations can become so overwhelming to the point that we just give in to avoid additional foolishness. On the other hand, when we find that we are being disrespected and bullied we take a stand.

Let me go on the record to say…there ARE situations where the customer is not always right. When you are dealing with a disrespectful customer remember that you have a right to stop working with that customer. The key is not to lose it because once you do you have allowed yourself to fall to their level of comfort. Hurt people hurt people. No one should allow themselves to be treated in a disrespectful manner. You have a right to stand up for yourself or refuse service in a professional manner. Thanks for reading. Till next time, stay strong, stay humble, and stay blessed.

Let me know!

Do you feel the customer is always right? If you were faced with this situation which approach would you choose? Would you be passive or more assertive?


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