'Sheer Panic': Internet Delights at Plight of Penny-Paying Woman

Members of a popular internet forum were delighted after one small business owner recounted a recent run-in with a disgruntled customer.

In a viral post published on Reddit's r/MaliciousCompliance forum, Redditor u/PracticalDadAdvice (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said he runs a local repair shop and detailed the poetic justice that occurred when one unsatisfied woman attempted to pay a bill using only pennies.

Titled, "Malicious Compliance to Malicious Compliance," the post has received nearly 15,000 votes in the last 11 hours.

Beginning with the explanation that he employs numerous teenagers, and that his shop is intended to help the youths acquire a handful of skills and earn a bit of money in the process, the original poster said the woman came into the shop with a "busted electronic," and was looking for assistance.

However, after receiving her repaired product, the original poster said she was clearly upset with the work, and disputed the heavily-discounted bill she received.

"She demanded to see the manager, so I popped out, listened to her tear into my kids, validated how she was feeling, but pointed out that the work she had asked for was done, done correctly, and her bill was due on pick-up of the piece," he wrote.

After learning that her bill would only be payable with cash or a personal check, the original poster said she angrily wrote a personal check to cover the repair, but when the original poster attempted to deposit the payment, the check bounced.

The original poster said he swiftly informed the customer of the issue with her payment, which set off a chain of unexpected, but hilarious events.

"She rolls up into the office carrying a bag, and I knew exactly what was going on," OP wrote. "She drops - of course - a bag of pennies on the desk."

"The pennies were loose, not in coin-rolls," he added. "She'd done some work to prove her point."

Despite the customer's attempt at burdening the repair shop with thousands of pennies, the original poster said she failed to realize the shop's staff would have to count the coins before she could depart, to ensure her bill was paid in full.

Not wanting to upset the customer any further, the original poster and his staff began counting the pennies—until the customer told them to stop.

"After a while, she said 'Just forget it,' and took out a hundred and twenty-five dollars in bills," OP wrote. "We signed off on her agreement and she started to leave."

"Another one of my kids, bless his heart, asked her if she wanted help carrying the pennies back to her car," he continued. "She looked at all of us with a face of sheer panic, mumbled 'no, thank you, just keep them,' and bolted."

"We loaded the bags into my vehicle...took them to the bank and used the coin machine to deposit them, then wrote out a donation to our local shelter for the amount she'd dropped off," he added.

What's worse? The shop is on the second floor—and when the woman lugged each bag of pennies upstairs, she walked past an elevator.

Upset repair shop customer
Members of Reddit's r/MaliciousCompliance forum enjoyed a laugh after one man explained how his young employees handled an upset customer. AaronAmat/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Angry customers, for better or for worse, are a constant presence in both the business and online landscape.

In the last few months, Newsweek has reported on numerous instances of customers at fast-food restaurants throwing entire orders on the floor in anger, screaming at employees through drive-thru windows and in one case, a customer jumped over the counter of a McDonald's and assaulted an employee after a dispute about a food order turned sour.

For employees at large, chain establishments like many fast-food restaurants, as well as employees at smaller, local establishments like the repair shop described in the viral Reddit post, Forbes recommends following a seven-step process to appease upset customers and diffuse any heated interactions.

Included within the seven steps are many boilerplate items, like remaining calm and listening. But two steps—not taking it personally and working to find a solution—can sometimes be lost within a traditional, "the customer is always right" approach.

However, in the case of the viral Reddit post, and many other posts within the Malicious Compliance subreddit, the original poster and his staff members remained cordial with a furious customer and, in the end, were paid twice for their repair services.

Throughout the viral post's comment section, Redditors were elated by the sweet example of comeuppance and applauded the original poster for the way he handled the situation.

"Yeah, you got quadruple points on this one," Redditor u/CaptainKangaroo33 wrote.

"For helping out local youths, for being patient [with] an [a**hole], for teaching youths how to deal with conflict calmly and for the donation!" they added.

In a separate comment, Redditor u/rockhall73 offered a similar response.

"Bless you for making the donation," they wrote. "This is very wholesome. Love it!"

"That response makes all kinds of cents," Redditor u/SCVannevar jokingly added.