Grumble Alert Firing a customer


Grumbler in Training
Has anyone ever asked a customer not to return? Have any tips or horror stories to share?

I'm "firing" a customer when he picks up his most recent order. I've mostly worked with him for the past four years because no one on my staff wants to work with him. He's rude and abusive. This isn't a "he doesn't smile and say please and thank you" complaint. Last time he was in the shop, after he jerked my computer monitor around to see my screen and threw his credit card at me (it hit my chest), I told him I was cancelling his order and for him to take his art and find another shop. He came back that day and apologized, and I made the mistake of taking the order. He's back, and after yelling at one of my employees over the phone about his two frames, he came into the shop to yell at her in person. While doing so, he stood in a doorway with his arms against the door frame, effectively blocking her from leaving that area of the workshop. I want to defend my shop by explaining all the ways we've done beautiful (and fast!) work for him. But I"ll just say that and leave it alone. His years of bad behavior isn't acceptable, and he's crossed a line.

I've arranged a time for him to pick up his work while I'm at the shop, and I'm going to tell him to take future work elsewhere. I won't name a shop for him (I couldn't have that on my conscious), but I'm going to call both and warn them.

TL;DR: Abusive customer got to go. Tips?
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Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Perhaps you need to familiarize yourself with the "Aggravation Surcharge." This fee is calculated based on the amount of exceptional grief, multiplied by the amount of additional profit required to neutralize said grief. I consider it a win-win for all. :)


Forum Support Team
Staff member
I have never actively fired a customer. However, I have jacked up my prices for customers and orders I really don’t want. That usually takes care of it.

I would have told him ages ago that his behavior is not acceptable. I have my ways of being subtle but intimidating as well.

Just triple, make that quadruple, the price on the next order and see what happens.


True Grumbler
I did have a customer that wanted her metal frames cut down. We spent close to an hour choosing matting for the three pictures. This wasn't a big dollar job! Two days later she complained about the fact I could only get two frames cut from her old frames instead of three, and she complained about the mat width.

I found myself actually gripping the edge of the table while talking to her to try and contain myself.

I accepted fault and let her choose a new metal frame, told her I would re-cut all the matting, and have everything ready for Saturday noon (when I opened).

When I had all the materials ready the day before, it seemed likely she would arrive at exactly noon, so I stayed in the shop Friday till everything was finished.

Sure enough she came in at noon. I showed her all the pieces, but she didn't even acknowledge them. When she asked the price I said free!

I figured she would probably tell her friends what a bad framer I was, but she would have to admit I made it up to her too!

But to get the point across that I didn't want her back in my store, after telling her everything was free, I walked away,and turned my back on her. Never said a word. I never even got a thank you.


WOW Framer
If it weren't for the yelling, I'd wonder if he has challenges with understanding social boundaries. I've had a few such customers who stood too close or were too pushy, with no ill intent. But the yelling makes him sound like your garden variety bully. I suppose at this point, you could say what's expected in the future. No yelling, politeness, and respect of employees' space and work areas. It's very likely that he's used to acting this way everywhere, but you're right to set a standard.

It sounds, though, like you're all just done. In which case, I'd suggest polite, very clear words. Passive aggressive hints don't work with such people.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I probably have been lucky as I have not had any really abusive customers. I have had rude customers,
like two ladies who came in and looked around and stood whispering to one another while looking at paintings
on the wall. Never once did they acknowledge my presense and walked out the door after I had stood in attendance
for about five minutes without so much as a bye-your-leave or kiss my astrakhan hat. 🙄

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Frances M., I'm inclined to agree with you. Imposing a surcharge or otherwise raising the price masks the real issue. If he has been banned by all of your competitors, maybe he would pay your higher prices and become even more abusive. At some point, you have to tell him the truth.

If you really, really do not want this customer to darken your door again, my suggestion would be to tell him so, and tell him why.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I told a professional photographer a long time ago (25-30 years ago) the take his work elsewhere. He only bought basic mats. It took about an hour for each order because he couldn't deside what shade of white to use. :nuts::nuts:


PFG, Picture Framing God
With the few that i "fired", i also called all of my competitors.. 2 close to me and 3 up to 40 miles away...and gave them the name of said customer and explained the situation and to be on the lookout.

They were quite happy to get the heads up.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I've only had this happen a few times in my long career. I've called them on it each time and they tend to cower and apologize saying they had no idea how rude they were being. They become like little kittens.

Sometimes people will be abusive and just need to be put in their place.


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
There are problem customers, and it is best to recognize and confront these people right away. Give them a refund, or tell them we cannot do business together, in the least confrontational manner. An angry customer may try to get revenge by smearing your name over the internet with bad reviews. We cant win them all, but we can choose who want as customers.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I don't know how I'd handle a direct firing. I like the idea of raising the price to a price in which you would accept their work. Worst case scenario, you earn much more money from them (and tip your employee "if they're yelled at again" to make them look forward to being yelled at).

Larry Peterson

PFG, Picture Framing God
I'm not firing anyone but I'm not encouraging some.

I'll be 73 next month and want to start slowing my roll a bit. On thePaperFramer.Com I had a section where I would frame multi-page newspaper articles. Without a CMC it is a bit of a pain but a job is a job, until you don't want it anymore so that page is gone. Some other lessor things have been deleted as well.

On my Etsy shop where everyone is price sensitive, I am not. In every listing there is a paragraph that reads "Order the same size frame as your art. If your print or photo is 8x10, then order an 8x10 frame. " Of course no one reads it. The most common question I get asked is "What size frame should I choose for my 8x10 photo", etc. I take my time answering them.

And I get the subtle ones asking for a discount without asking for a discount. I got one yesterday where they asked for the total price for 4 standard sized frames that they could have ordered without asking about price. I wrote back the price for all 4 without discount.

Not being a total curmudgeon but I'm OK with the business I have and am not going out of my way to encourage more. No discounts and recently raised prices. At some point I will start reducing the number of mouldings I offer as stock gets depleted. And eventually, I too, will be deleted and go to that great frame shop/poker room in the sky.


True Grumbler
Just one more story cause it was soooo funny!

Back in the early 90's I had a young guy and his girlfriend come into the store with a rolled poster. He wanted a price on framing, but as I had started to take the poster out of the plastic cover he told me not to! He wanted me to quote a price without being able to measure it!

Having done thousands of posters I played the probability card. I measured one side and concluded the other measurement (from past experience) was a certain length. I gave him a price of $160.00 and handed the poster back to him.

Since there were only two framing stores in the vicinity, I knew exactly where he was going next, and because of their quality of work, I knew for certain their quote (if they even gave him one) would be higher.

Sure enough, ten minutes later they return and want me to frame the poster. I unroll the poster and measure it. Turns out I was was off by the price equivalent of $5.00, so I told him the price wouldn't be $160.00 (unmeasured) but would be $165.00.

He demands that I do the job for the unmeasured price of $160.00. Remember this is a young man, showing off in front of his girlfriend.

So I rolled the poster back up, put it back in the sleeve and walked away. My staff were litterally falling on the floor laughing!


Forum Support Team
Staff member
I agree about getting rid of this customer.
I don't like the idea of using economic penalties to force them out.
If they really are that much of a pain, just cut them loose.
"It doesn't look like I'm going to be able to satisfy your demands, so I will no longer offer my services to you. Take your business elsewhere." and walk to the door and open it for them.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Just triple, make that quadruple, the price on the next order and see what happens
semi-tongue in cheek but i think back to Michael's numerous threads on pricing; especially the posts on ethics

Bottom line:Wally and Jim have it correct. At the instant of extreme rude behavior, i would intervene with a 'you wouldn't accept that behavior and appreciate the same consideration'. If continued, i would hand art back and suggest they might be happier elsewhere. Most would get it and become reasonable. I would have a hard remembering but very few that did not

Easier to manage the situation than find a new customer


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
FYI: if you happen to have any police force friends...have them there when he picks up....just in case.

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
This is a tough question. I've never had to face a customer quite as bad as this one. My being 6' 3" and 220 pounds may have something to do with it. Customers (or sometimes non-customers) being able to leave on line reviews really messes things up.

One of my friends worked in a pet store years ago. They had a customer giving one of the sales people a really hard time at the front counter. The owner of the store happened to walk in mid-rant. He stood there calmly for a few seconds and then yelled "Hey! Get the he-- out of my store!" I'd like to think I'd do the same, but I don't know.

We get more condescending behavior than actual abusiveness.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I often wonder while watching Pawn Stars and the like what a 'reality' show set in a frame shop would be like. 😂

Methinks people would consider it was too far-fetched. 😕


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I have a question for all the male framers, especially the male business owners:

How many things do you do over the course of a single day to protect yourself from potentially getting sexually harassed or raped, whether from randomly encountered creeps or people you are familiar with?

Now ask this same question of all the women in your life and see how long it takes you to stop writing down all of their answers. The difference in answers will be dramatic.

My point is that most women will perceive an angry, vocal, aggressive, abusive man, especially one who is blocking her escape, to be threatening on a whole different level than most men will, and she will be drawing on a lifetime of negative experiences when doing so. It may also be a trigger of a past abuse (or several) that you won't even know about. So while many of the men reading the original poster's question might be laughing or sharing stories about how to just get more money out of ill-behaved customers, I would bet most women were cringing or instantly getting tense.

For customer's that are merely picky, rude, indecisive, or otherwise time-consuming out trying, then sure, just charge them enough to make doing business with them tolerable and profitable. But I believe abusive and aggressive customers are a completely different kind of creature. I think they should be told that if they want to keep doing business with your company that they are not allowed to interact with your staff (or if they do so then they had better be the textbook definition of polite and well mannered), they owe your staff (especially the person they were abusive to) a heartfelt apology, they are only allowed to work directly with the owner/manager from now on and strictly by appointment, and just one more abusive incident and it will be their last at your shop.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
i guess we were incredibly fortunate but we just never saw the extreme behavior mentioned.


PFG, Picture Framing God
I had a guy come in last year and he asked if he could use the phone.
He wasn't a customer.
He said that his car broke down and that he wanted to call for a taxi...

Our shop is in Central Phoenix and the neighborhood can be "interesting" sometimes.
I grew up in Chicago and I've lived in the Central Phoenix area for over 20 years.
I can be very nice, but..
I am not a "Newbie" and believe me, I don't take cr#p from anyone.:cool:

So I told the guy that I would dial the number for him and then hand him the phone.
I was alone in the front shop at the time.
I handed him the phone and he then started yelling into it "Why the F#ck did you call the cops on me.." :shutup: (I think that I know why..):icon11:
He was yelling at his mother..:icon9:
I reached and grabbed the phone from him and I told him he was done and to "Get the H#ll Out"..
I shoved him and then my boss came out from the back and we both escorted him out of the shop.:thumbsup:
Gee, I hope he didn't give us a bad review...:popc: