Retail Horror: Part 1

A good friend of mine (who shall remain anonymous for the time being) is considering starting a blog that contains his daily adventures in working retail. This has inspired me to relay some of my favorite retail horror stories, from my days working at Blockbuster and Toys “R” Us, over the next several days. 

Hey, horror stories are appropriate for October, right? It’s almost Halloween.

Let me first express that I hold no ill will towards Blockbuster or TRU for my experiences. These are the kinds of things can that happen at any retail location, and even though I ended up leaving both jobs (Blockbuster in 2003, and TRU in 2004), it was because I was leaving to do something else, not because of anything at the companies.

(And now that my paranoia of saying anything libel is satisfied…)

I started working at Blockbuster ten years ago, and left in 2003. So it’s been a while since these things happened, but the one that will always stick with me happened on my 2nd or 3rd week. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon (we rarely have any other type of Saturday in the Phoenix area), and this woman came in to drop off her movies. As soon as you walked in the door, there was a drop slot for the tapes to go in, so that we could check them in pretty quickly. But this one woman decided that she was apparently too good to put her movies where they went, and she left them on top of the counter — 

Which, by the way, is an absolutely TERRIBLE idea, because those tapes could get confused with ANYTHING ELSE that we put on the counters – Movies already checked in, movies other customers are renting, movies we’re about to run back on the shelves… Just a bad deal, overall. 

But, myself and a couple of the managers were up front that day, and we saw her put the movies there. Which would have been fine, except for one thing; The movies belonged to Hollywood Video. You could tell, because they were in the black-and-white-and-red cases that Hollywood Video used to rent tapes in, rather than the blue-and-yellow-and-white cases that Blockbuster tapes came in.

So I looked up at the woman, and said, as kindly as I could, “Excuse me, miss, these aren’t our movies.”


I was shocked and stunned; The only time I’d ever been yelled at, previously, was by my parents when I was little, and did something seriously wrong.

I later found out that she had actually called the store that night and complained about the way that I’d treated her. The manager on duty that night couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and the following Saturday it came up at the store meeting. Fortunately, the managers that were there with me stuck up for me, and I wasn’t in trouble for doing nothing wrong. But, still!

All I was trying to do was help this lady get her movies back to the correct store so that she wouldn’t incur any late fees, and I was basically treated like I was the scum of the earth for it.

This was just the beginning.