Verbal Abuse of Retail and Service Workers

March 14, 2024 Cheryl Wozny

Unfortunately, retail and service workers are often the target of verbal abuse. No one deserves to be called names, insulted, or threatened, especially while doing their job. Sadly, verbal abuse in retail and service professions is becoming more frequent in many restaurants and stores.

Have you ever been angry because a fast-food restaurant got your order wrong? Were you frustrated because you couldn't find a sales associate to help you with an item? It's perfectly natural to have these feelings when facing challenging circumstances. However, taking out your anger and frustration on the employee isn't the way to solve the problem. 

People in Retail and Service Professions Don't Deserve Verbal Abuse

Everyone makes mistakes during their lifetime. No one is perfect while performing their job. Sometimes, retail and service workers will get a food order wrong or cannot fulfill a request you need. Although not ideal, these situations don't allow you to resort to verbal abuse. 

More public places display posters stating that verbal abuse towards retail and service workers will not be tolerated. These posters remind people to monitor their reactions when dealing with others. These visual signs also help to reinforce any consequences the business may follow if one of its staff is the target of verbal abuse

When I worked in the food industry, there were no posters to tell our customers to be civil to the employees. I was the target of regular verbal abuse when an order was packaged wrong, the change was incorrect, or something else upset the customer. Some awful statements I've heard through the years included:

  • "How hard is it to get my coffee right? You've gotta be stupid to forget the cream."
  • "I didn't get the right change. Can't you count properly? Did you drop out of school?"
  • "If you can't do your job properly, I need to talk to your manager."

There Is No Reason for Verbal Abuse Towards Retail and Service Professionals

The world has many job types, allowing everyone to explore different skills. One thing I've noticed working in the food service industry is how some customers view the job. I've been talked down to in some situations because the customers felt they were smarter than me. They didn't find it necessary to treat others courteously, regardless of their position. 

Thankfully, I had some terrific bosses who reinforced our value and worth to the business. Without the employees, these companies wouldn't be successful.

I regularly share my experience in the food industry with my family and friends. I want everyone to understand that the people who serve your coffee or work the cash registers at big box stores are human beings deserving of respect. They are not there for you to verbally abuse, even if there's a problem during your visit.

If we all take a moment to take a breath when something upsets us, we can help lessen the effects of verbal abuse on retail and service workers. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2024, March 14). Verbal Abuse of Retail and Service Workers, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

Leave a reply