Anyone who has ever worked in retail would have plenty of stories about strange customers and co-workers and their strange experiences with them.
My time at JB Hi-Fi was certainly no different.
What it’s like to work at JB Hi-Fi: JESSE HYLAND talks about his time at the popular retail chain
From barefoot customers drinking alcohol inside the store, to middle-aged women refusing to open bags that were clearly full of stolen items, to staff chasing thieves into their cars, to young men trying to ram a huge loudspeaker into a security guard and staff member who was caught stealing.
But my most memorable experience was when a middle-aged woman tried to shove her way into a staff room and then threatened to call the police.
I worked at the JB-Hi-Fi Jamisontown store in Western Sydney for about three years starting in 2016.
It was around the time I finished my BA in Communications at Western Sydney University (Western Sydney University at the time) and was looking for a job in my field.
In the meantime, I worked as a ‘media consultant’ in the JB Hi-Fi software department. To put it in simple terms, I worked in the DVD and music section, mainly due to my knowledge of film and television.
I worked in the music and DVD department at JB-Hi-Fi and had a lot of weird interactions with customers.
One day, an elderly lady, possibly in her 50s, came into the store pushing a repackaged television that she had apparently bought from us.
He pushed him over to the counter and demanded that the staff give him a refund because his TV was “broken.”
Expensive products like televisions that are ‘broken’ must be checked before a refund can be issued. But this lady wanted an immediate refund.
When the counter staff tried to explain to him that a manager needed to check if the TV was really broken, he flew into a rage.
She criticized them, claiming that she was ‘late’ for her bus and needed a refund immediately.
A manager took his television to the back storage room to check on it while hurling insults.
I had only briefly seen the commotion in front of me as I passed by.
I was in a staff room researching a title for an order.
Within seconds, the woman unexpectedly ran around the counter and through the door to the staff room.
He started insulting me and my bewildered colleagues.
A co-worker forced the woman out the door before she turned to me and said, ‘Can you make sure she doesn’t come in here?’
I got up from my seat, walked out the staff door and was met by the snarling face of a woman who clearly had something wrong with her.
I put my hands against the staff door frame as the woman started screaming and ordered me to get out of the way.
My strangest interaction came from a woman who returned what she claimed was a ‘broken’ TV. She claimed I assaulted her when she burst through the staff door and yelled at my colleagues.
When I didn’t respond, he charged at me and started pushing me.
When I didn’t move, he tried to get past me, trying to squeeze through the space between my arm and leg.
I corrected my posture again as she forced her body weight against me, causing me to fall backwards.
The woman alleged that I ‘assaulted’ her multiple times before she grabbed her phone and started recording me.
She started talking to herself and then told her ‘bystanders’ that she had been assaulted and that she was going to call the police.
I simply replied: ‘I did not attack you. You fell.
By this time, a manager had poked his head out from behind the staff door and told me to wait inside.
I waited inside the staff room for the next half hour or so while the woman followed the employees around the store, filming them on her phone and abusing them.
The managers had had enough. They returned the woman’s television to her and told her firmly to leave the store.
She continued to argue with them, threatening to call the police for the worker who ‘assaulted’ her.
A colleague approached me and asked if I wanted to speak to her after she demanded to speak to me. I rejected.
She then stormed out of the store, pushing her large TV across the floor once more in front of the onlookers who had gathered to watch the dramatic scene unfold.
The woman told my managers that she would call the police and wait for them to arrive outside the store.
She never called the police.
The whole experience had been quite distressing for some of my colleagues who had been at the center of the abuse of women. A co-worker was left crying.
He was still trying to process what had happened.
The managers reviewed the CCTV footage of the interaction between the woman and myself, but found no instances of assault.
I had many strange encounters with strange clients during the period of time I worked at JB-Hi-Fi. You tend to accept it as an integral part when you work in retail.
But the positive experiences far outweighed the negative ones as most of the people I dealt with were friendly and just looking for help.
It’s also why I’ve always made it a point to be nice to store staff, as you never know what kind of crazed person is going to walk through that front door.