If you’ve ever worked in retail then you’ll know that what goes on behind the scenes is usually pretty normal.
However, customers are varied and every ex-retail worker has a strange story or two under their belt.
That’s the experience of Anna*, 25, who worked at a Debenhams department store in Yorkshire for a year.
Anna told the Daily Star that most of her bizarre run-ins with customers centred around the fitting rooms.
And some of them are pretty hilarious!
Here are the strangest experiences Anna revealed to us about her time at Debenhams:
Have you ever worked in retail? Let us know your nightmare customer stories in the comments…
The Chinese Takeaway
This story all started on a late Saturday shift when a well-dressed woman in her mid-20s arrived with a dress to try on.
Anna explained: "She also had a number of shopping bags from other stores and I gave her a tag and sent her to the end cubicle.
"In that branch we had lockable solid doors. The woman was in there for a while, but I assumed she was just struggling to change around her bags."
But after sniffing a strong smell of fish after 10 minutes, Anna decided to investigate what was really going on in the changing room.
She added: "She left quickly not long after, and it was when I went in the clean up that I discovered the woman had sat down and eaten an entire Chinese takeaway in the cubicle.
"The trays were strewn across the floor including rice, noodles, sweet and sour and loads of prawn toast.
"The smell was so bad that we had to shut those changing rooms for the whole day."
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The Pants Swapper
Anna described this incident as a "gross one".
It all happened when a woman had visited the fitting room of her store.
The ex-Debenhams staff member revealed: "When a colleague went into the cubicle we discovered that they had opened a pack of knickers from the shop floor and shoplifted them.
"Unfortunately, they’d left their old, dirty pants behind."
She added: "We used a coat hanger to pick them up and dispose of them.
"Weirdly, this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence."
The Mannequin Experience
Anna said: "It’s not something that had happened before or has since, but a woman once asked me to try a coat instead of her. It turns out she was buying it for her daughter who was around my size.
"I agreed thinking I’d help the customer out. But, it then turned out she wanted me to try on a whole outfit too and then multiple dresses – and I did because I wanted to make the sale."
The ex-worker concluded: "Sadly, I think I made a bad model because she didn’t buy any of it and I had to clean it all up."
Size is a State of Mind
Now this story involved a couple who came to the fitting rooms on a Sunday.
Anna recalled: "Despite asking the bloke to stay outside they both pushed into the disabled cubicle.
"Luckily, they weren’t trying to do anything untoward."
Anna added: "The woman asked me to tell her which jeans size fit her the best.
"I advised her that the larger size looked the most comfortable and well fitted.
"Unfortunately, she didn’t like that answer and flew into a rage claiming I was lying to her.
"The woman insisted she was two sizes smaller, and her husband agreed and added that she could use a bobble to close the waist where the button wouldn’t meet the fasten.
"She proceeded to buy four pairs of jeans which wouldn’t close properly and complained about me to my manager."
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The Accident and Emergency Exit
Anna spoke of a time when a lady closed the fitting room door on her hand which ended up with her on the floor.
She continued: "It wasn’t her fault, but it hurt a lot and I screamed.
"She opened the door to let my fingers out and I moved away from the door and fainted."
Anna continued: "The woman apparently continued to try on her clothes and when she game out promptly chucked them on top of me and left.
"Luckily, I was sent home by my manager who arrived a few seconds later – my fingers went a deep purple."
The secret world of retail assistants sounds less glamorous than we imagined.
Debenhams has been contacted by the Daily Star for comment.
*Names have been changed.
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