Whoever said there are no dumb questions has never worked in retail or the service industry. In these stories, workers share the mind-numbingly stupid questions they've received from supposedly functioning adults. This one goes out to the working folks out there; ya'll are doing the lords work. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I used to work at Enterprise Rent-A-Car (We'll pick you up!). I went to pick up a customer (worth noting she was renting a car for a weekend getaway), called her when I got to her apartment, and she came downstairs and had this conversation:
Lady: 'Ok, I'll follow you back to the office.'
Me (confused): 'I'm here to pick you up and drive you back to the office.'
Lady: 'What am I supposed to do with my car?'
Me: 'Were you planning on leaving your car at our lot over the weekend?'
Me (more confused): 'Why are you going to follow me in your car? I can drive you back to the office, finish the paperwork, and you can take the rental car from there.'
Lady (not grasping the concept): 'Well how are you going to get back?'
Me: 'I'll drive us both, in this rental car, back to the office, where we can do the paperwork and you can take the rental car from there. That way, your personal car is still at your apt. And when you return the car on Monday, you can drive the rental car back to us, we'll close out the paperwork, and we'll give you a ride home. Sound like a plan?'
Lady: 'That doesn't make sense. You're making this way too difficult. I'll just follow you in my car.'
Me (thinking the customer is always right!): 'Ok!'
We get back to the office, I finish the paperwork (still astonished she qualified to rent a car), and hand her the keys to the car.
Lady: 'Ok, how do I get my car back to my apt?'
Lady: 'Can you drive my car back to my apt?'
Me: 'I'm not authorized to drive your car. You're welcome to leave it here on the lot over the weekend if you want.'
Lady: 'Ok, can you drive the rental car and follow me back to my house so I can drop off my car?'
Me: 'This is what I was trying to do when I picked you up! There was no need to take 2 cars.'
Lady: 'I'd like to speak to your manager.'"
"I used to work at the UPS store in high school. Our last pickup was at 7:00 pm and we closed at 8:00 pm. Since we had private information and people’s personal mailboxes in the store, security was a big deal.
It was 8:30 pm. Our tills were counted down, the alarm was set, our copiers, fax machine, and computers were shut down, our lights were off, and we had closed and locked a ginormous red gate that separated the entrance from the rest of the store.
Some woman ran up to the door, and like some demon in a horror movie, she hurled herself against the glass and screeched like a banshee.
Keep in mind, we are very obviously closed with a sign saying we are closed, no lights on, and a giant red gate drawn down over the store.
She began pounding on the glass and frantically yelling at us. My coworker worried something was wrong, like maybe she was being chased and needed help.
He carefully opened the door just a crack to ask what was wrong. She immediately tried to wedge her hands and head in the crack and asked 'Are ya’ll open?' We informed her that we obviously weren’t.
Her logic was 'well you opened the door so now you have to help me.'
She began wailing and crying that she had to mail a package. We explained that even if we were open, our last pick up was an hour and a half ago and we couldn’t even mail it until tomorrow.
She protested and protested and we eventually got the door shut and locked. So we just stood there awkwardly in the dark, hoping she would leave. She kept pounding on the glass and saying 'I know you’re open!'
As we debated what to do and if we should call the cops, this lady pulled out her cell phone and called the cops herself!
The cops arrived, we explained the situation, and the woman accused us of lying, despite the sign on the door saying we closed an hour ago at this point.
Then, in front of the officer and on security camera, the woman launched herself at my coworker and hit him in the face. She immediately jumped back and began fake crying that he had assaulted her.
We were dumbfounded. She ended up getting arrested and my coworker pressed charges.
So the stupidest question I got was 'Are you open?'"
"Not necessarily a dumb question, per se but by far the most memorable dumb customer encounter. Years ago I worked for an Audi dealership as a greeter/shuttle driver and one blissfully quiet afternoon, a middle aged woman in a beige A6 pulled into the drive. Here's how the exchange went down:
Me: 'Good afternoon. How can I help you today?'
Her: 'This light came on!'
She points to the check engine light with concern in her voice.
Me: 'Yes. That's the check engine light...'
Her, interrupting me: 'No! It's this one!'
The check engine light was the only light on at this point in time.
Me: 'Yes. That's the check engine light.'
Her: 'Well, what does it mean?'
Me: 'There are literally thousands of different things that can turn that light on but if you go into the office there, one of our service advisors can plug in a little computer and they'll tell you what's wrong.'
Her, scoffing condescendingly: 'So you don't know what it means...'
Me: 'Ma'am I think they can help you better than I.'"
"I work at a hotel.
This reminds me of a guy who reserved a room for two weeks.
I had the do not disturb sign on the door the whole stay (pretty common for longer stays).
A couple weeks later, I get a call from the guest absolutely furious that we charged him for a two week stay when he only stayed at our hotel for two days.
I ask him who he spoke to at check out, thinking maybe one of our employees made a mistake and just didn't properly check him out of the system for some reason.
Long story short, he didn't notify anyone that he was checking out. He just left.
I had to explain to him that if you have a room reserved for a length of time and leave earlier than you had registered for, then you actually have to let the staff know.
Even if the do not disturb sign hadn't been on the door the whole time, we are still not just going to guess that a guest checked out and rent their room to another person.
He tried filing a chargeback for the remainder if the stay, but did not get his money refunded. As this was midsummer, we were turning people away daily due to being sold out. That room sat empty because he expected us to psychically know that he left."
"I used to work in a phone shop. I had someone come in asking why their phone wasn't working properly. It was visibly scorched and melty. I asked why it looked that way. They said, it came up with an error message saying it had been too cold (not an error message I had heard of before, but I know phones can bring up errors for being too hot, so who knows) and so they had put it under the grill to heat it up.
The grill. Their first point of call was to cook it. I said, that's why their phone wasn't working and no, it was not covered under the guarantee."
"'What brand do you fill your water fountain with?'
When I was working for a big box store, a lady came up to my station at the service desk with her kid and asked the above.
I was a little confused, but told her I wasn't certain what kind of filter the fountains had. However, if there's an issue, I would try to help and could get a manager over or call the service information line on the sticker on the fountain.
Her only issue, which she was eager to loudly and aggressively share, was with my incompetence at not knowing what brand of water we stocked our water fountain with.
Her kid liked the taste of the water. Admittedly, that particular fountain was amazing. The water came out close to freezing cold and it was a newer fountain, so very clean without the build up of probably 40 years worth of diseases, minerals and the souls, tears and will to live of other coworkers flowing down the drain.
The lady was convinced it was stocked with Aquafina or something and wanted to buy that brand of water to have to drink at home.
It was too late in my shift. I just wanted to finish up my day, break down my till, clock out and go the heck home, so I told her it was just the stores own brand available by the gallon or 24 packs of small bottles in aisle X and it taste great because it was kept refrigerated.
I'm sorry, I know it was just as equally a dumb answer but sometimes there's just no point in trying to honestly answer dumb questions.
It would have only made her angrier, embarrassed her kid, and led to a 'We need a manager' showdown if I explained how plumbing, plus water filter and cold water worked."
"A woman came to the check out and handed me a bag of mozzarella. She asked me what the ingredients were and if there were any chemicals in it. I turned the bag around and started to read the ingredients out to her. She grabbed the bag out of my hand, angrily said 'I could have done that myself ' and stormed off."
"I sell stamps from my register at work. This was just a few days ago, actually. I had a lady come up and ask to buy some postal stamps.
I asked her, 'How many stamps would you like? We sell them in books of 2, 10, and 20.'
Her: What? What does that mean?
Me: 'It’s just the number of stamps in the book. Do you want 2, 10, or 20 stamps?'
Her, suddenly getting angry: 'I don’t know what that means. What is a stamp? I don’t know what a stamp is.'
I eventually sold 20 stamps to her while she was vaguely hostile and suspicious about the entire concept of stamps and stamp quantities? I don’t know how to explain this to you, lady, you’re the one who came to me for stamps.
I still don’t understand what happened there. My best guess is that either
A) She wanted to know what the stamps were worth, postage-wise, but couldn’t figure out how to string that sentence together so she got mad instead, or B) she actually had some kind of medical issue that made her confused.
I’ve noticed through many years of customer service, that sometimes people just have a brain fart, panic, and then they cover by getting mad at someone else. Unfortunately I think that’s also a common reaction for people who are struggling because of underlying issues, so when people ask dumb questions, I just try my best to ignore their attitude and walk them through it."
"Many years ago, managing a pet store, a customer came in with an empty bottle of skin and coat supplement. He wanted a refund because it made his dog's coat really greasy. As I start working on his refund, I ask a few questions, trying to find out why the product failed. I ask the standard questions, did you use too much, how often. Stuff like that.
As we are conversing, it started to click that he didn't use this on his dogs food– he used it like a shampoo and rubbed it on his coat. So I nicely explain that it is skin and coat supplement taken by mouth and it's intended to be put on the dog's food.
He was embarrassed and apologized and started to leave refusing the refund. I gave him a new bottle in exchange for the now empty one and told him to give it another shot.
The guy was really nice and understanding about it, but come on. The instructions tell you how much to put ON THE FOOD, and it's called skin and coat and meant to be eaten."
"I sold mattresses and would constantly get asked if mattresses had chemicals in them or I'd say 'this mattress has a chemical in the foam that provides better cooling' and people would say 'I don't want a mattress with chemicals in it.'
I stopped ever using the word 'chemical' and substituted 'material' and it never happened again. People are dumb."
"Years ago, before the internet was a thing, I worked in a small electronics shop. One day I got a phone call and it went like this:
Him: 'Yeah, hi. I was just wondering...how far is it to your shop?'
I took a long pause, calculating how amazingly stupid this question was, whether I was being pranked, and how a professional business person would handle this.
Me: 'Oh, it's just a few miles away. Come on down.'
Him: 'Okay. See you soon.'
I have no ideaa if he ever actually arrived. I got busy and people came and went all day. But it was still the dumbest question I've ever received."
"I used to work in IKEA in the section which sold wardrobes. Big behemoths of things. Normally around 6-feet-long and 60kg in boxes. Customers would regularly ask me would it fit in their car. After being polite the first few times asking them about the size of their car and guessing, I then just started asking them what color their car was. The amount of people who'd answer unfazed was amazing."
"I work in a security monitoring call center. A coworker called a customer to inform them of an AC loss for their security system. We usually just say 'hey your power is out' or something to that effect (but more professional-sounding obviously) because most of our customers don't know what AC means and they get very confused. Well, this coworker said 'AC loss' on the customer's voicemail for some ungodly reason despite knowing better. The customer returned the call a few hours later. I picked up.
Me: 'Can I help you?'
Her, panicking, sounding on the verge of tears: 'Oh I hope so! I got a call that there's an AC loss at my house!'
Me: 'Ok, I can--'
Her:' I'm out of town and I was having trouble with my air conditioner before I left...'
Me, seeing where this is going: 'Well, AC loss just means--'
Her: 'DOES THIS MEAN THERE'S NO AIR IN MY HOUSE?!'"
"Ugh, I used to work at a pizza place and we alwyas got asked, 'How big is your 14 inch pizza?'
'Um 14 inches.'
'Okay and your 16 inch pizza?'
'16 inches, my guy.'
People would constantly ask me how many people a certain size pizza would feed. Honestly, that is so subjective. I know college boys who can eat an entire large pizza in one sitting. I also know people who typically only eat one to two slices. Are you feeding children? Are you feeding adults? Be real with me: how fat are you?
Like I would guess and say something like 'three to four people depending on how many slices each person eats' and then I would get an angry call from some idiot who is ticked off that their friend ate five slices and it wasn’t enough.
I would also get people calling for delivery and when I asked for their address they would say 'um I don’t know' and then act as if it’s my problem to figure out. I had people ask if I could 'trace their call like the police' and find out for them.
My favorite ever was a guy who screamed and cussed at me because we didn’t deliver to a city that was 2 hours away."
"I sell precast concrete structures (manholes, septic tanks, etc) and some times we get calls from folks all over the US looking for stuff while we only deliver in New England; anywhere else and shipping is your problem. Normally when I explain this to those people they accept and look elsewhere.
One time this person wanted me to quote a single catch basin for a job in California. Telling them we're in New England didn't even phase them and they were persistent until I fully laid out the scope of shipping 6,000lbs of concrete across the continental US when they could easily find the same product several towns over."
"I used to work at a movie store in the early 2000s. This dude with a thick accent kept calling in every other few weeks or so asking if we had this movie on DVD called 'Churro Man.'
I mean, this guy called a lot. I told him that no such movie existed in our system but he was adamant he'd seen it on a release schedule.
Finally, a couple of months later, some guy walked up to me and asks me for the movie. I immediately recognize the voice and know who it is, after a few questions in person I realized what the movie was all along. The whole time he'd been looking for True Romance and it had indeed just come out on DVD. The accent threw me off.
Turns out, it wasn't a dumb question and that I in fact was the dumb one."
"Many years ago I worked at Home Depot.
One time I had a customer come up and ask me how to access the parking lot that's on the roof.
I told him that we didn't have a parking lot on the roof.
He didn't believe me, got super ticked off, and stormed out of the store to look for the access to the rooftop parking lot.
Another time, I had a customer looking for a replacement cartridge for a faucet that he didn't have with him. If you don't know, there's literally hundreds of different types of cartridges.
Anyway, I asked him what make and model of faucet he had, and he responded with:
'You're the one that works in the plumbing department. YOU TELL ME.'
I told him that there's absolutely no way I could know what type of faucet he had in his home. The guy labelled me as prejudiced and then stormed off.
Another time I had a customer come up and ask me where the cat food was."
"I work in IT and one day received a ticket from a customer very angry that a link on our website was broken. When I asked what the link was to or where it was trying to go (because our site has thousands of pages), they were incensed that I dared to ask them questions and wouldn't just fix it immediately. Sure, dude, I'll get right on checking the hundreds of thousands of links on our site and hope I find the one you clicked on in the next 3 minutes because you refuse to give me more information.
They complained to my manager."
"I was working at a convenience store/gas station in high school. I guy walks in on a Sunday morning and asks if we sell newspapers.
Me: 'We have a box out front. You walked right past it.'
Customer: 'Are there any in it?'
Me: 'I don't know, you'll have to check.'
Customer, looking at the box: 'I can't tell, there's one in the way.'
Me: 'Then there is at least one in there.'"
"I write literotica for a living. I have, on a number of occasions, received emails from people telling me how much they enjoyed my stories and asking what happened to me afterwards. I usually assume that they're just looking for a little bit of bespoke pro bono material, but some of them seem to genuinely not grasp the fact that they're fictional stories. That I made up. With my brain-meat. For money.
I got into a discussion with one guy early on who wouldn't let the idea that I was just writing up my intimate misadventures drop. I even pointed out that the girl in the story had a different name to me, at which point he replied, 'I just thought you were shy.'
He genuinely seemed to believe that I'd written up something like an eight-person true-to-life steamy, kinky love scene (or whatever it was), but I hadn't put my pen name on it (not even my real name, my pen name) because I'd suddenly come over all bashful."
"One of my very first jobs was a stocking associate for Petsmart. I had a customer one time ask me if we have any Blue Buffalo brand dog food that has no 'pro van' in it, as she doesn’t want to change up her dogs diet because it hurts his stomach. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about so I offered to help her find the proper food, when we get to the aisle she points out Blue Buffalo and says 'it seems like they change the recipe because they all have Provan in it.'
On the bag it actually said, 'proven best recipe.' This idiot actually thought the word proven was an ingredient. I explain that the recipe is the same and they just used new packaging.
It seemed to go in one ear out the other as she said she would go to another store to see if they carry the proper brand."
"I worked for the department of natural resources as a receptionist. Someone called and asked us to move a deer crossing sign because her son hit a deer (he was fine) on a blind turn and it was a terrible place for deer to cross. We tried to explain that it’s a warning, but she was convinced it meant it was a crosswalk for the deer. She also requested that we cut a beautiful tree down that was next to the road because it was a bad distraction. She was a piece of work to say the least."