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Customers from Hell

If you've had a yardsale or two, you may have encountered a customer that stood out amongst the rest for various reasons. Perhaps it's the excitement of a good yardsale that can turn otherwise normal people into bargain shopping maniacs. Hopefully these stories that people have shared with me won't scare you out of holding your yardsale, but rather to prepare you......just in case!

Sarah in Florida:
One weekend I had a lengthy yardsale. I stepped around the side of the house to see if anyone was coming down the driveway. I was totally grossed out when my last male customer was urinating on the side of my house!

Betty in Alabama:
I've had several yard sales and no matter what time you advertise the sale to begin, customers are always there at least two hours before you can set up. Once I had a customer get very irate with me because I didn't have handicap access to my yard sale. He informed me that if I was going to have yardsales, it was my responsibility to put in a handicap ramp (!!!)

I've also had my share of shoplifters (where one customer distracts you while another steals jewelry and other smaller items). The time I was the most upset was when my granddaughter (age 9) was selling with me. While she was helping a customer, someone stole her profits from her! How low!!!

Cindy in the Carolinas
We had a yard sale a few months ago. The customers slowed down after a few hours, but at one point we just had a couple of ladies shopping. The older woman was doing a little dance like she had ants in her pants and kept telling the younger woman "I really need to go soon!" We live out in the country and not much is around us. She asked if there was anywhere near us that had a restroom. We said no. She then asked if she could use our facilities. We did not feel comfortable with that so we told her we'd been having some water problems (we actually did have a toilet with water problems - it ran a lot). She then asked if she could go around back and go! OMIGOD! My husband and I stared at each other in disbelief and just kind of nodded our heads. We didn't know what to say! She went around the house, came back, thanked us and went on her merry way. I still cringe thinking about it!!!

At that same yard sale, we had a Little Tikes Table and Slide for sale at $10 each or buy both for $18. A customer (who we've had problems with before) offered us $5 for each. When we declined, he began saying "Well, I just got one down the road, a lot bigger than that for $2!" He continued on, offering us a "deal". Finally, we told him "Boy, you got a great deal, but we can't come down anymore on the price!" He left soon after muttering to himself.

Nick in NY
When I worked at a flea market, a man walked in and asked if we had leather belts for sale . We told him the flea market was closing and there were no more belt vendors still set up. He insisted that we did and that we were lying to him. Finally he went on his way (or so we thought). About 20 minutes later I saw something moving in a pile of trash. I walked over and out pops the man and he said "I'm sure there's a belt in here somewhere." After we threatened to call the Police, he left.

Robin in Florida
During our last annual neighborhood yard sale, a whole family arrived at a very busy time. The Dad was talking to my husband about something, and I was busy with other people. So I didn't see the Mom switch tags and put $ .75 on something I had priced at $2.50. When she handed me the money, it didn't register until she was walking away. I was so shocked that someone would do this when prices are so cheap anyway, I yelled out to her "YOU SHOULDN'T STEAL, ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDREN". Later, a neighbor came by to see how we did and he said she did the same thing to him, but he caught her and told her to get the *#&% out of his yard!"

Amy in Issaquah, WA
At my mom's garage sale, she sold a lawn seed/fertilizer spreader to a guy for $5. It was a great deal since it was in new, perfect condition. A few hours later, the man came back and wanted his money back. She figured he went home and used it, then decided to get a refund. She said no and he got nasty and had to call the police! I couldn't believe how awful this guy was and I am proud of my mom for standing up to the creep.

Jenifer in Missouri
I had heard that having a "freebie" box at a yardsale was a good way to show your generousity with your customers. So at my first yardsale, I had a freebie box with various items in it, including 6 jars of my homemade jam. Not long after the sale started, a foreigner lady came up and pulled out the jars of jam and started yelling: "Me no want stuff in, just jars!" Over and over she yelled this. And then said to me: "fix this!" I was embarrassed and tired of hearing her so I took the lids off and dumped the jam out. She then asked for a paper bag for the jars, then continued to shop putting many items (including a cellphone) in the bag and starts to leave without paying. I said "excuse me ma'am! that will be $15 for those items" She yells: "No charge no charge, see free right there" and she points to the freebie sign. I told her what was in the box was free, but not the other items. Then I pointed to the price tags. She argued with me for about 10 minutes and threatened to call the police on ME! She finally said "No! forget, don't want!" then she took the jars out of the bag and left. I'm not a big hurry to have another sale, but if I do again, no freebie box!

Ren in NYC
Several years ago, in West Hollywood, California, I was working two jobs and was still very broke. I held a couple of yard sales to try to drum up some cash. These were the first of what was to become an occasional source of income. One Saturday I had set up a sale of miscellaneous items priced to sell (which included a stack of 8 x 10 photos of various entertainers) None of my friends were available to help me that day so I foolishly ran the sale by myself. During the sale, an older man asked "How much for the eight by tens." I replied "Twenty-five cents", meaning, of course, for each. I shoulda known better. This creep of all creeps, seeing that I was alone, literally picked up the entire stack of photos, (there were dozens,) threw a quarter at me and took off down the street. There was nothing I could do without leaving all the rest of my stuff sitting unattended.

Lisa in Tennesee
I see the same dealer every weekend yardsaling. I thought her to be a very nice lady since we were always friendly towards each other and often chatted while waiting for a sale to open. I visited her yard sale and bought a lot of stuff. Then I had my yard sale. She was one of the first people there and gathered up a lot of items. Her total was $10 (very good deal since most of it was collecible pottery). She asked me to make her a deal on it all. I said $7.00 because I considered her a friend. She said "that's all?". So when she paid me, I gave her change back so that she only paid a total of $6. As she was leaving, she turned around and asked about the child's shoes she had bought. I told her they were girl's shoes. She said she needed boy's shoes instead and wanted to return them. My yardsale price tag on the shoes was $1. Because of the discount I had given her, I gave her back 50 cents for the shoes. She argued with me until I finally gave her the entire $1 just to get her out of my yard. I don't think she is a very nice lady anymore.

At my yardsale last year, I left my husband to watch the sale for a minute while I made lunch. A young female customer must have thought he was easy "picking" because she stuffed many clothes under her blouse, but left the "evidence" hanging out in one area. My husband stopped her from leaving. She proceeded to take all the items out of her blouse and threw them on the table and left. My husband told her if she was that poor he would have given her the items. None of them cost over .25!

Cindy in Grand Junction, Colorado
I held a garage sale with many baby clothes, household items and the regular miscellaneous stuff. One item was a 3 foot tall Franciscan Nun doll dressed in the complete Nun habit. During a lull in customers, a man came in the garage and I kid you not, he picked up the doll, whistled a tune and waltzed around the garage a couple of times, put her back down and said in a creepy voice "That was very nice," then he left (Thank God).

Carolyn in Anytown USA
During one of my yardsales, an entire family - including Grandma showed up. The Grandma couldn't speak English too well and was abrupt in her mannerisms. She kept picking things up, waving them around and yelling "ten cen!! ten cen!!" (10 cents). When she was told the correct price, she would throw it down in disgust. After a minute the whole table was a mess. Finally she picked a couple of items and we settled a price of 50 cents. Well, Grandma pulls out a ONE HUNDRED dollar bill to pay!!! Personally, I think this was Grandma's little scam - I'm sure that after all that haggling that a lot of people get so disgusted they just tell her to take the stuff to get rid of her!

Kristin Taylor formerly from Des Moines, IA:
At my garage sale I needed a quick break, so my mom said she would watch the sale. She had a customer ask if she would take .50 for a $2 toy. My mom said, "Well I believe that the price marked is fair considering it's nice condition." The customer kept trying to get it cheaper and my mom kept saying no. Then the customer just took the toy without paying for it and blatantly started walking to her car! My mom was too scared to say anything over just $2. I couldn`t believe it when she told me. I can't even imagine someone being so nervy!!(or cheap!)

Selena in Sacramento:
There's a fellow yardsale shopper in Sacramento that qualifies as a customer from hell for his pushy and obnoxious behavior. I've seen him wait for an estate sale to open, and he's literally bouncing around, foot to foot, looking in the windows and asking the people inside how much they want for this, how much for that. HE NEVER STANDS STILL. HE NEVER SHUTS UP. He's like a crack addict who hasn't had a hit in weeks and the estate sale is his drug. When I saw him at one particular sale, he pointed at a cabinet full of glassware, and yelled to everyone "THAT'S SOLD!!", then proceeded to go through the stuff and discard what he didn't want. Meanwhile, I found the McCoy and Franciscan vases hidden in a corner of the room! He brings his kids to act as "guards" for his hoarded teasures. The poor kids, they cringed every time their dad yelled: "THAT'S SOLD! I TOLD YOU TO GUARD THAT STUFF!" as someone would step too near the pile. The best part was when he left a room where two older ladies and I were. One turns to the other and says, "I hate that guy". I said "Me too!", and we all bust out laughing. I mean, how much of a jerk must you be if two little old ladies don't even like you?

Jan in Raleigh, NC:
Our yardsale was advertised: Yardsale 9 am - 3 pm NO EARLY BIRDS. At 7:15 a couple were leaning over the fence. They stood there for 1.5 hours watching our every move. At 8:30 another person came and they seemed to know each other so they chatted till we were ready at 8:50 a.m. All three came in in a big rush. The first couple talked loudly to each other about what stuff might sell for. They quickly found that I knew my prices and there were no "gems" that they could buy dirt cheap and resell for a fortune so they left after 5 minutes! After all that waiting!

Tammy in Georgia:
At my moving sale I sold my perfectly good washing machine for $25 (I just wanted to make a quick sale since I didn't want to store it). Anyway, the customer came back a week later saying he wanted his money back because it was missing some small piece, (that didn't even have to do with it running anyways). I know he lost the piece during unloading because it was there when I sold it. Anyway he threatened to call the Police if I didn't give him his money back -- I told him go ahead, and HE CALLED!!! The Police basically told him to get a life and go home since it was CHRISTMAS EVE!!! I'm glad I moved!

Joan in Anytown, USA:
My brother and I had a yard sale and we were selling assorted furniture and the usual junk. A man in a beat-up old car stopped and asked about an end table I had priced at $10. He asked if I could go lower on the price and I offered $7.00. The man came back with an offer of 5 bucks. My brother, like an idiot, says well, nobody else has asked about it so we might as well take the $5. I thought, ok, well he looks kind of poor anyhow, so we accepted the offer. The man then says he'll have to pick it up later in his other car since his car is already full. About an hour later he comes back IN A PORSCHE to pick up the table. I guess he uses his old car to get sympathy from people so they'll lower their prices! I don't think I'll be having another sale with my brother anytime soon...

Holly from Anytown, USA:
At my garage sale, I had a very nice older gentleman ask about a large stapler I had marked as 50 cents. I told him that the handle was broken, and that it was lacking a pin to hold it on. He asked me if I would hold it for him until his wife got home an hour later. They showed up two hours later and they both looked it over critically.

Again, I repeated what was wrong, and this time she asks if I will take .25. I agreed and she whipped out a $50 bill. This irked me, but I gave the lady her change, they left. Around 11:00 pm, I was woken up by someone pounding on my door. I rushed down, and there was the elderly gentleman. He's got the stapler with him. "This thing is broken," he said. "I want my money back." I smiled sweetly at him, and said, "Do you have change for a hundred?" He left extremely upset, and I went back to bed thinking about what a real loser this guy was. Three days later, while working in the yard, the guy's wife drives up with the stapler and again demands their money back. Just to piss her off I tell her that all sales were final (which is true, there were 2 signs at the sale saying this), and that I had already spent the proceeds from the sale. She got really agitated and swore at me several times, then threatened to get the police involved. She drove away, and I never saw them again.

As one of many dealers in a small town, we always run into each other at the yardsales. We are all civilized - well, most of us. When there are several items we want at a garage sale we all have our own pile and respect each others pile. EXCEPT for one dealer who will go through the piles and carry around what she wants. If you say anything to her, she asks "Have you paid for it yet? It's not yours until you pay for it." No one has ever had the nerve to argue with her, but then she hasn't taken anything out of my pile yet.

About ten years ago my dad had a yard sale and had the garage door held up with piece of wood because it slowly would sag to the ground. This couple asked my dad if the stuff in the garage was for sale. My dad replied no, just the stuff in the yard. As my dad turned to help a different customer he saw the man kick out the piece of wood and then stood there while the door slowly sagged down, barely touching his head. Even with witnesses, the man sued my dad's insurance and won! My dad's insurance ended up paying the man $15,000 because the man said he no longer perform his husbandly duties after the accident he caused!!!!! Go figure!

Amy in Childress, Texas:
My best friend and I have a yardsale every year and have had some real winners for customers:
- like the group of women who ripped every tag off the clothing trying to trick us in letting them pay less, little did they know they were all priced the same

- one woman who became angry when we wouldn't lower the price of an antique bowl and threw it on the concrete

- one woman who stepped into the backyard to try on a blouse she wanted to buy and when she laid her own blouse down, the dog ran away with it

and my least favorite customer of all is a tv and radio repairman who wants to haggle over every electrical appliance until all you want him to do is get out of the yard!

Jim from Somewhere:
My neighbor had a garage sale and some guy offered him .25 for a $5 item. My neighbor offered the guy .25 to leave his yard.

Diane in Los Angeles:
My husband and I had two yard sales. We had a friend helping at the first one, but she was late. While I was setting up, and my husband was still bringing stuff downstairs, I had HORDES of people arriving. Despite my constant "NO EARLYBIRDS! WE OPEN AT 9!!!" These groups of early birds would rummage through my stuff while I was still unboxing it. Despite clearly marked prices, they continued to come up to me and ask "How much?", then when I would repeat the price on the item, then drop it wherever they were! My friend finally arrived and my husband helped us shoo people off - and then we discovered that several higher priced items (crystal candlestick holder, brass frames) had vanished! I was never so enraged in all my life - I wasn't asking much for the stuff to begin with. Five bucks, four bucks. But they stole them!

The next yard sale I had help earlier during the set up. And I took everything out of their boxes so no empties could be put back on the tables. (That's how we discovered we'd been robbed.) My friend had a table-top ironing board she was selling for $3. Two men started haggling with her. She refused to let it go for what they wanted if for - .50. Finally one pushed a dollar into her hand and started walking off with the board. We all started shouting - they insisted they had paid for it - but she waved the buck under his nose and demanded the rest or the board back. Very reluctantly he handed over another dollar.

At that same sale I had a guy look over some stuffed animals I was selling. One was a very nice plush white cat - very pretty, looked new. I was asking $3 for it. He offered me 50 cents. When I said no, he threw it back in the box and left, saying "You must want it more than I do." He said it loud enough for everyone to hear. What a jerk.

My husband was selling a huge lot of movies. One guy went through the boxes and kept grumbling, "I've got friends who get this stuff for free. Why are you charging $3 each? I can get 'em for fifty cents. My friends can get me this stuff for free. I wouldn't pay a dollar for these..." On and on. We finally told him to go shop at his friend's house. He told us we'd never sell them at those prices. We made over $300 on movies alone that day.)

I advertised my sale to start at 8:00 a.m. and sure enough there were people here at 7:00 a.m. I think I met the rudest yardsalers that day!! I had a really nice child's fire truck that we paid $27.00 new and our daughter never played with it so I priced it at $3.00. This lady asked me how much it was and I told her it was $3.00 and she said "that price is too high" I looked her right in the face and said "No it isn't!!!!" She bought it. ha ha. Everything was priced to go. Most items were .10 and .25 and .50 when they asked for a bargain price I told them they were already getting one.

At my garage sale and had a brand new king size handmade quilt I put out for sale. I had a sticker on it that said "make an offer". One lady made an offer of $5. I had already gotten one offer of $40 from my boss and I told her that. She rudely said that she could buy a brand new one for that price and I told her it was new and I have never seen any quilt for that price. She then wanted to know who had made the offer, so I told her. I thought she was checking to see if I was lying. Then she said so you clean house for her? I gave her my job title--Environmental Health and Safety Engineer (I have no idea why she presumed I was a cleaning lady, although I know a lot of people who make a very good living cleaning.) She proceeded to tell me that it was not worth above $5 and I was expecting way too much. I sold it to a very nice lady who offered me $50. Which was my reserve price I would let it go for.

Jeanine in Pawtucket, RI writes:
My son's preschool has an annual yard sale where you can rent a table for $10 and bring your things to sell as part of the huge yard sale. All day long customers commented on how well-kept and beautiful my baby clothes were. Then later in the day, two women came by my table and picked up a pair of practically brand new baby Levis jeans and commented that $2 was far too much for them. They asked me why I was selling clothes for $2 when others had their clothes marked at .50. I told them if it was too expensive to go buy the $.50 clothes!

Anonymous writes:
I am a transplanted southerner living in Maine. I had a nice framed Thomas McNight print which cost me $65 new. However, it just didn't look right in my living room. Later, I decided to sell it at a yard sale and put a price of $25 on it. A lady drove up in a brand new Cadillac, talking on her cellphone. She offered me $15 for it. After haggling, I reluctantly let it go. I guess this is why she drives a Cadillac and I drive a Saturn. Anyway, if I had it to do over again, I would donate the picture to a charity auction. I've had many experiences like this--this one just irked me the most.

Deborah writes:
I have had lots of yard sales, but these things both happened at the same one: two customers complained loudly about all those overpriced 25 cent items I had, then walked outside and began trying to dig up some lily-of-the-valley plants in the yard. I walked over to tell her to stop, and she DEMANDED that I get her something to dig them up! I told her that I sold all the garden stuff for 10 cents apiece. Then the next day when I had no helpers, two women customers came in, looked around, (seemed a bit suspicious to me) and asked to use the bathroom. I said the water was shut off and they left. I heard something running against the side of the house, and there was one of the women, peeing against the house, broad daylight, and lots of traffic going by!

Michael Gagne in Wallingford, CT:
In my hometown, there is an antique dealer well-known for pulling stunts at all area yard sales. When I had mine, scheduled for Saturday, the doorbell rang on Friday. There she was, saying she wanted to preview our stuff. I sternly told her that the sale was tomorrow and sent her away.

The next day, as I was setting up a tent for the yard sale (two hours before the start time), she arrived. She walked past me and into my garage. I told her we weren't open yet and again sent her away. When she came back hours later, she offered me $2 for a chair priced at $10. She then picked up a bowl marked $1, took the price tag off and offered me 25 cents for it. Again I refused her offer and told her I saw her take the tag off. She then asked my wife if she'd take 25 cents for it! Lastly, she offered me 50 cents for a book-end priced at $3.00. Once again I refused her petty amounts. She said that one book-end is worthless. I replied that if I had both, I'd be charging $20.

About a month later, I went to her antique shop. I saw the bookend, marked $10. I asked her if she'd take 50 cents for it. She said it was very valuable. I replied "that's funny, when you tried to buy it from me for 50 cents, you told me it was worthless!!"

Marsha in Williston, North Dakota:
My garage sale was scheduled to start at 8 a.m. At 7 a.m. my husband said there was a lady outside. She was standing between our house and garage. The next thing she did was walk further into the yard and peer into the back window in our garage. I was furious. I stepped into my back yard and announced that the sale was not open until 8 a.m. and that she was trespassing. She promptly left. My theory was - what if I had a dog in the fenced backyard that could have either ran away or was protective enough to bite her.

Also, my girlfriend had a similar thing happen to her at her yard sale. My friend was still in her pajamas when an early bird customer walked right into her home and asked if this was where the rummage sale was! The nerve!

Mark in Lawrence, Kansas:
At our yard sale there was a middle aged couple. While the woman looked around, the man asked if he could use our bathroom. Reluctantly, I agreed. Well, he was gone for quite a while, so I thought I would step inside to make sure he wasn't going through my stuff. All of a sudden, I hear a voice from the bathroom "Hey, you don't have any toilet paper in here!" Embarassingly, I handed him a roll through the door. He finally finished up, and left with his wife. Neither bought anything. I walked back into the bathroom later, and I won't go into details of how awful it was in there, but you get the idea. I just can't believe someone would have the nerve to do that in someone elses house. Next yard sale, no one gets past the front porch.

Paula in Des Moines, Iowa
This customer came to a garage sale right when it opened and walked around pointing to things and expecting the seller to scurry around after him and gather the stuff up, like he was God or something. Another customer picked up something his first customer had pointed to and they began arguing. Sick of both of them, the seller said, "The price just doubled. Now who wants it?"

At one yardsale, a customer wanted an item but lacked the cash. The customer asked to hold it for an hour and the seller agreed. After three hours passed, the seller sold it to another customer paying cash. Just as the buyer was leaving, the original customer arrived. A fight starts, and only the threat of calling the police breaks it up.

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