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!

Greek Shriek

| USA | Bad Behavior, Bigotry, Food & Drink, Language & Words

(I am 15. Like many Greek Orthodox churches, my church holds an annual Greek Festival where we sell Greek food and display Greek culture. It’s my first year working there, and my older sister has promised to help me. We are the only people working at the the dessert stand. Note: Greek is the language we speak at home, so it’s the language my sister and I communicate in.)

Sister: *in Greek* “Why don’t you take this one?” *points to approaching customer*

Me: *in English* “Hi, I’m [My Name]! How may I help you today?

Customer: “DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?”

Me: “Yes, I do. What can I get for you today?”

Customer: “Good, I heard that other girl talking in that foreign muck and I was afraid you’d be too stupid to speak English too. Give me a dozen baklava.”

Me: *shocked* “Yes, ma’am. That’ll be [Price]. Just pay [Sister] after I load your box.”

(I start to load a styrofoam take-away box with baklava.)

Customer: “NO! I don’t want those. They’re too small. Give me the big pieces!”

(She points to galaktoboureko, a completely different dessert cut into bigger pieces than the baklava.)

Me: “I’m sorry, that’s galaktoboureko, a custard-based dessert, not baklava. If you’d like to try some I’d be happy to give you a sample—”

Customer: “Don’t you dare try to cheat me! I want the big pieces, you little foreign brat!”

Sister: *in Greek* “Just give her the galaktoboureko.”

Customer: “I know you’re insulting me in your language! Speak English like a normal person!”

(I nod and smile as I fill a new box up with galaktoboureko. She pays and walks away with a smug smile on her face.)

Me: *in Greek* “Do you think she’ll notice?”

(One hour later, the customer returns dragging the Festival Director behind her. She looks angry.)

Customer: “There! That’s the girl that cheated me! She gave me this squishy stuff instead of baklava! I demand my baklava and I want a refund!”

Festival Director: “[My Name], is this true? Did you give [Customer] the wrong dessert?”

Me: “Yes, but she asked for it. She said she wanted the big pieces, and I told her it was galaktoboureko and not baklava, but she accused me of cheating her, so I gave her what she wanted. Also, she called me a ‘little foreign brat.’”

Customer: “No! That’s a lie! She purposely tricked me, and the other girl insulted me in your language! You should really hire employees that are smart enough to speak English.”

Festival Director: “[Sister], did you insult her?” *in Greek* “I don’t blame you if you did.”

Customer: “YOU’RE DOING IT AGAIN! STOP INSULTING ME, YOU B*****S! I WANT MY FREE BAKLAVA!”

(She throws her galaktoboureko box to the ground and starts stomping on it, then moves aggressively towards my sister.)

Festival Director: “Ma’am, I’m going to ask you to leave.”

Customer: “FINE! I’LL JUST MAKE MY OWN BAKLAVA AND IT WILL BE BETTER THAN YOUR S***!”

(She storms out and security confirms that she’s left the premises.)

Sister: *in Greek* “I swear to you nothing like that has ever happened before.”

(The next year I worked in the kitchen and I liked it much better. People still talk about “crazy baklava lady.”)

Muggles Can’t See The Baconsaurus-Rex

| Canberra, ACT, Australia | Awesome Customers, Geeks Rule, Language & Words

(I am the customer here. I have moved into a new apartment and am setting up the phone and Internet. It’s also exam period at the university where I work, so I have been up all night marking some truly abysmal papers. I am not operating well at all — which, of course, is the ideal time to deal with phone companies…)

Sales Rep: “…all right, we’re almost finished. I just need you to choose a username for this service.”

Me: *a little stressed* “Uh… I’m so bad at choosing these. And my brain is just not working… Hang on, give me a moment…”

Sales Rep: “Sure, take your time.”

(Sadly, my brain decides now is a good moment to catch up on lost sleep. The moment stretches on for what feels like several minutes, during which I come up with literally no ideas.)

Sales Rep: “Hello? Are you still there?”

Me: “Yeah, I am. Just, uh, having some trouble deciding.”

Sales Rep: “Most people just use theirname@[ISP].com, or some variation.”

Me: “Yes. That would be the sensible thing to do. For normal, sensible humans. OK, let’s go with [unusual nickname]@[ISP].com”

Sales Rep: “Would you be able to spell that, please?”

Me: “T, M -”

Sales Rep: “D, N?”

Me: “No, it’s ‘T’ for…Tyrannosaurus. ‘M’ for…Muggle. ‘B’ for …Bacon.”

(Suddenly, there is muffled giggling from the other end. It starts off quietly, but grows into an impressive crescendo.)

Sales Rep: *after having recovered somewhat* “Sorry about that. That’s just the best thing that’s happened all day. You have no idea how boring ‘Tango,’ ‘Mike,’ and ‘Bravo’ get. You get brownie points for that.”

Me: “Oooh! I think you mean ‘bacon points’!”

(Things went much better after that.)

Google: Old School

| CT, USA | Language & Words

(I’m a pharmacy technician. One day I’m working the phones when I get this interesting call. I pick up and it’s an elderly woman on the other end.)

Me: “[Company], [My Name] speaking. How can I help?”

Customer: “Yes, do you do pneumonia vaccines?”

Me: “Actually we do. Did you want to come in for one?”

Customer: “How many types do you have?”

Me: “There’s two different vaccines, [Vaccine #1], and [Vaccine #2]. They’re good for about five years each.”

Customer: “Okay, and how do you spell that?”

Me: *confused* “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “How do you spell the vaccine names?”

(I spell out the vaccine names for her.)

Customer: “So do I add pneumonia after the name of the vaccine?”

Me: *finally putting together that she’s trying to type in the names for an Internet search* “No, just the names should be fine.”

Customer: “Okay, thank you!”

Me: “No problem. Have a good day now.”

Coworker: “What was that about?”

Me: “I think I just did an over-the-phone Google search.”

Committed To Understanding

| Baltimore, MD, USA | Language & Words, Love/Romance, Non-Dialogue

Today a library customer called and told me she had an unusual question. She was born in another country, and usually drank tea. She knew Americans like coffee, and she wanted to brew coffee for some guests. After helping her with coffee to water ratios and converting ounces to milliliters, she said, since I have you on the phone…

“I am friends with a younger woman who was not born in the US. She has been spending time with a young man from her classes. He recently said he wanted a commitment. We looked this up in the dictionary, but we do not understand exactly what this means. Is it a marriage proposal?”

I asked some questions, and discovered that the young woman and the man had been dating, and assured the caller that a commitment in dating terms meant that the couple would be exclusive, not engaged.

The caller was very sweet and thankful. I hope she calls again!

You’re An A**-Hole In Every Language

| UK | Crazy Requests, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

(I work in a complaints department for an airline based in the UK. We fly to hundreds of airports all over the world. This call comes through from an Italian gentleman who is irate from the beginning.)

Me: “Good morning, [Airline]. How can I help?”

Customer: “I’ve been on hold for twenty f****** minutes! I just need to know why my refund hasn’t gone through!”

Me: “I’m sorry you were kept waiting, sir. We’ve been very busy today. Let me check if the refund has been processed yet. Do you know the amount and what it was for?”

Customer: “You’re not sorry at all; you’re just paid to say that! You English are all the same, thinking you can be polite and it will let you get away with treating your customers terribly!”

Me: *starting to get annoyed after a long morning being shouted at* “I’m sorry you feel that way, sir. I’m trying to help you. Could you tell me what the refund you’re due is for?”

Customer: *grumbling* “I didn’t get the seat I paid for on my flight to Hong Kong last week! You promised it would be in my account by now and it’s not! I had to sit at the back of first class near the business-class people!”

Me: “Okay, let me see what happened.”

(I look through the transaction history for this flight. The total amount he spent on the flight was upwards of £8,000 and the total amount he would be due for a refund is £20. I scroll down and see that the amount was refunded to his credit card three days ago.)

Me: “Sir, I see on my system here that the £20 was refunded to your card ending **** on Thursday.”

Customer: “Are you calling me stupid? Don’t lie to me, you English b****! You’re all the same! I want my money back in the next hour! I’m never flying with you again! Your pilots can’t fly and they should learn to speak Italian!”

Me: “Are you suggesting out pilots learn the language of every country we fly to?”

Customer: “Of course! It’s common courtesy, something you English don’t seem to understand!”

Me: “Sir, we fly to hundreds of airports across the world. Instead of learning to speak languages from across the world, our pilots are making sure our passengers are safe on comfortable on every flight. However, regardless of whether you fly with us again or not, I can assure you that the money you were owed has been returned to you.”

Customer: “Bull-s***! You don’t have nearly the same high standards as [Competitor European Airline] have!”

Me: *impatient now* “You’re telling me that all pilots at [Competitor European Airline] can speak Italian, English, Hungarian, Japanese, Finnish, Spanish, Mandarin, Icelandic, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian—”

Customer: *click*

(I got a warning for that call, but I didn’t care.)

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