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    Category: Language & Words

    This category features customers whose mishandling of vocabulary and grammar are so bad that we literally have no words to describe them!

    Doesn’t Know When To Finnish

    | Canada | Crazy Requests, Language & Words, Rude & Risque

    (I’m teaching myself Finnish by talking to a friend over texts and by reading the newspaper clippings she sends me every now and then. It takes me a long time to read them, because I’m just beginning, so I do it in a library with a notebook to jot down notes. An elderly woman comes up while I am in the middle of getting my clippings, notebook, and pen out.)

    Woman: “Oh! What are you doing there? Learning Arabic or something?”

    (I look down at the very obviously not-Arabic text.)

    Me: “Nope, actually Finnish.”

    Woman: “What?”

    Me: “Finnish? Suomi?”

    Woman: *annoyed* “Are you telling me you don’t want to talk to me?”

    Me: “No, miss, I’m just saying that I’m teaching myself Finnish, the language from Finland.”

    Woman: *finally clicks* “Oh! I’m so sorry! I keep sticking my foot in it!”

    Me: “Not a problem, ma’am.”

    (I go to start working, and then I see the headline and stop.)

    Woman: “What’s the problem? You can’t do it?”

    Me: “No, ma’am, it’s just I’m not sure this story is quite appropriate.”

    (I go to turn the page, but the woman snatches the clipping away and looks at it, bewildered.)

    Woman: “Don’t be ridiculous; how hard could it be?”

    Me: “Finnish isn’t related to English, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to recognize much.”

    Woman: “You’re just faking; [you're] trying to pick up women by looking clever! I f****** hate you f****** a**-holes who think they can fool people! You’re just a f****** b****** who thinks he’s so smart! D*** f****** kids these days!”

    (The woman flings the clipping back down and storms off. I begin translating, saying it as I write just loud enough for her to hear.)

    Me: “HORNY BEARS TORMENTING PEOPLE…”

    Spelling Bee Bee Cee

    | UK | Extra Stupid, Language & Words, Technology

    (The customer has issues with accessing the internet and getting the standard ‘Internet Explorer cannot display this webpage’ error message. After doing various checks it turns out to just be a simple reset that is needed. We normally check it by asking the customer to try going to various web pages.)

    Me: “So we’ve got Google up on the screen. That’s great. Okay, I want you to try going to BBC’s webpage now.”

    Customer: “What website?”

    Me: “Er, the address is www.bbc.co.uk.”

    Customer: “How do you spell that?”

    Me: “Which part? ‘co?’”

    Customer: “BBC.”

    A Wee Bit Foreign, Part 2

    | Brisbane, QLD, Australia | At The Checkout, Bigotry, Language & Words

    (I am Scottish, and working the registers.)

    Me: “Hi, how are you today, ma’am?”

    Customer: “Pardon?”

    Me: “Uh, was just asking how you were going today.”

    Customer: “Wow, that’s a strong accent you have there. Are you working whilst backpacking or something?”

    Me: “No, ma’am, I have lived here for the last 10 years now. Moved over here with my parents.”

    (I continue scanning and packing the customer’s items, while she just stares at me blankly.)

    Customer: “So, if you’ve been here so long, how come you still can’t talk properly?”

    Me: “Uh… I’m sorry, ma’am?”

    Customer: “Oh, it’s alright. Not your fault you’re a bit slow.”

    (After finishing the transaction in stunned silence, she thanks me and leaves with her items. I look over at my supervisor who heard the exchange.)

    Supervisor: “You always get the interesting ones, don’t you?”

    Related:
    A Wee Bit Foreign

    Extreme Foreign Interests

    | England, UK | At The Checkout, Geography, Language & Words

    (I suffered from a speech disorder as a child, and while I speak perfectly now, I have a slight twang in my voice. I’m on the checkout when a smartly-dressed customer approaches the till.)

    Me: “Hello! How are you today?”

    Customer: “…where are you from?”

    Me: “Excuse me?”

    Customer: “Where. Are. You. From?”

    Me: “Um, I’m local, if that’s what you mean.”

    Customer: “No, where were you born?”

    Me: “In [local hospital].”

    Customer: *sighs* “Where are your parents from?”

    Me: “They’re from [local town] and [local city].”

    Customer: *getting irate* “I just want you to tell me where you’re from! Explain your accent!”

    Me: “Oh! My accent! Yes, there’s an explanation for that; see when I was a kid—”

    Customer: “I don’t want to hear your life story! Why are you ashamed of your heritage? You are probably bringing shame to your family by denying them! I get that there are racists here, but you don’t need to deny who you are! I won’t judge you!”

    Me: “Sir, I don’t know what you want me to say.”

    Customer: “Tell me your parents were born in a different country!”

    Me: “Um… they were born in [other country]?”

    Customer: “Yes! See how easy that is? Why couldn’t you have just said that in the first place?!”

    (He grabs his bags and marches off. I turn to the next customer.)

    Me: “Afternoon!”

    Customer #2: “That was a lie, right?”

    Me: “Yep. How can I help you today?”

    Common Sense Abhors A Vacuum

    | Vancouver, BC, Canada | Bizarre, Language & Words

    Customer: *whispering* “Faaaaaaahkew…”

    (I am slightly ticked off by this. I didn’t say or do anything to the customer for him to say ‘F*** you’ unprovoked.)

    Me: “What!? Say that again?!”

    Customer: *whispering* “Vhaaaaaaaaaakeeew…”

    Me: “Wait, are you asking where the vacuum cleaners are?”

    Customer: *nods*

    Me: “Right this way.”

    (Sometimes, you have to be patient with customers.)

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