Nasty, Nasty Clients!
“The customer is always right angry”

This article is part four in a four part series of stories from piercers about all-too-common customers from hell. Click here to jump back to the main page of the article series, or continue on reading for this part.

One time I had someone — not a client, but a thief, who was escaping from the police — enter the studio to hide himself.... then the police arrived and kicked his ass...

I had a lady come in with her son, and she was screaming and punching him, because he lost the jewelry that he had bought thirty minutes before.

I had a fool come in brandishing a 15 pound sledge hammer with the intent to smash my premises, until he realized he was in the wrong shop — he was looking for my so called ‘opposition’ in the neighboring borough.

I had one mother nearly hit me because I refused to tattoo her 13 year old daughter. I personally don’t need that weighing on my conscience. The girl was practically a baby, and threw a temper tantrum when I denied her. I was like “throwing a temper tantrum isn’t a good way to prove to me that you are mature enough to handle this decision”. The mom was clearly just a pushover parent, giving in to her demanding child’s every whim — including her kid wanting “Britney Spears’ tattoo”. The mom was irate because no shop in town would tattoo her child... for good reason. The calmer I got, the angrier the mom got until I was worried she would hit me. Nice parenting techniques. At that point I had one of our large tattooers escort her and her whiny child to the door.

Male clients have gotten hostile when I have told them I don’t in fact want to go out with them, and am only touching them because I perform a service. Mostly jocks. I’ve been grabbed and cussed at when I have turned down classy invitations to fuck them, usually involving a slap on the ass. I was even shaken once by the shoulders by a fellow who insisted he take me home at the end of my shift. You know, because physical force is really going to make me want to go out with a total stranger.

A big bully once came in my old shop and wasn’t satisfied with one of the tattoo artists’ jobs. He began yelling at everybody and wanted to kick the guy’s ass... It took three guys to kick his ass out of the shop. After a few months, the artist and the customer talked together and came to an arrangement.

We have been threatened to have the studio burnt down before... oddly by someone who is now in jail for arson.

I got challenged to an arm wrestling match by a pretty big drunk guy because I wouldn’t pierce his partner’s nipple — she was also drunk. I’m not a huge guy... it wasn’t so much threatening, but he did seem pretty pissed off!

We had someone walk in, slap a $20 bill on the counter and ask for a rum and coke. He was so drunk that he thought we were a bar. We thought he was kidding, until he got belligerent that we wouldn’t serve him. We did throw a bum out once and she reached into her pants and pulled out a handful of shit and smeared it on our front windows.

A guy came in ready to kill us for piercing his underage daughter. We tried to find out who it was — he even said she would have used a fake ID, but we didn’t even the name of the fake ID on record so we told him we didn’t do it. This just made him even more upset. He was like well she told me she got it at blah blah blah shop, and we where like “uhh... sir, this isn’t even that shop!” He looked at us all dumbfounded and turned and walked away... he later came back to get a tattoo.

A gentlemen came in wanting a tongue piercing, good, great. Well, the needle traveled through his tongue, I cork it and the second I start the jewelry insertion, bang, out like a light. Quickest “passer-outer” I have ever had. Bad thing is, he passed out so quick and without warning that when passed out he “lock-jawed” with my fingers in his mouth along with the corked “thank god” needle, and the jewelry mid transfer in his mouth. My fingers were trapped and I was not about to yank them out, ripping my gloves, and potentially scraping my skin, in turn opening me up to whatever diseases this guy may have so I just stood there waiting him out. To make a good situation great, when he comes to, not knowing where he is and what is going on, he starts swinging. I’ll tell you what, trying to fend off punches with one arm and the other close to being a mid day snack was no picnic! I view this as one of my best piercing success stories in my career due to the fact that I never lost the transfer the whole time and everything worked out perfect.

We had a customer come into the shop with her child. Normally not a major issue to have your child with you while you look around. We just insist that the child behave. This woman was letting her child run loose. We told her that she had to control him and make him sit and behave. She told us that we couldn’t tell her how to take care of her child. We promptly told her that is fine, but that she had to leaver our shop. She argued and threatened to call the police — we offered her the phone and the number — and then called us all kinds of names while she was leaving. About fifteen minutes later her boyfriend calls to threaten our lives. We read off his girlfriend’s license plate number and her car type and let him know that the police would be involved. That ended that one.

I had one girl who didn’t believe that a navel piercing was relatively painless. She had made a fist and had her arm pulled back during the piercing. It didn’t hurt her in the slightest. She ended up leaving a $20 tip.

Sometimes clients think you are their own personal doormat because they are paying you to perform a service for them. A lady was literally yelling at me over a $10 piece of jewelry. I tried to explain to her that it was the shop’s jewelry and I needed an okay before I could just give her a new one, but she didn’t let me get that far. The more I tried to help her get what she wanted the more she berated me. Finally I said “I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone under any circumstances and right now I’m reserving that right to refuse service to you until you can treat me like a human being.” I walked away from the register and left her standing there. She followed me through the shop telling me how I was not allowed to talk to her like that. Then in a very threatening tone she said “You do not know me, I’ll have my father shut this place down tonight.” The outcome isn’t settled on this scenario but I assume her father must be someone important because the owner wants me to write a letter of apology.

I had a guy that brought his thirteen year old daughter to get a tongue piercing. I was explaining to him she was too young and he was going on and on about how he’s the parent and can authorize it, but said he wouldn’t sign anything and if anything went wrong with the aftercare he was holding us responsible. I kept telling him there’s no way I’m piercing her. He steps up to me and gets in my face. That’s when I smelled the booze on his breath and told him he needed to leave. He starts yelling and says he’s not leaving. and asks why I won’t pierce her... So I told him he’s being an unreasonable asshole and has obviously been drinking. He finally left yelling the whole way out how he’s writing a letter to the editor and shutting us down. And then he drove away drunk.

I had one guy that came in smoking and when informed he couldn’t smoke in the shop, he butted his cigarette on the display case. I told him that that was a rude thing to do and he tried to take a swing at me. I asked him to leave and nothing ever came of it. I think he was drunk...

Back in 1998 in Wisconsin I had a client’s husband come in and throw a bottle of water at me and then came running at me yelling that I was a asshole because I told his wife that she was not able to get a navel piercing and that it would not heal very well. He ended up falling on the floor... He was drunk, and by the time he was starting to stand up, he was back on the ground with his face smashed in the carpet with my knee on top of it.

My shop got picketed outside by a bunch of nutty Christians, claiming that we sold “sin” — after having been pierced the week before!

I had a client pass out during a nostril piercing, and when she woke up she accused me of “touching her” while she was unconscious for a whole three seconds. Her boyfriend was in the lobby waiting because her friend wanted to go in with her and I had limited room at that studio — he was totally opposed to the piercing anyway. So she gets up screaming and throwing punches, and her boyfriend comes in and tries to hit me... luckily one of the tattoo artists came into the room to see what the commotion was about and he has training in several forms of martial arts. The whole ordeal ended up with police being called, the boyfriend going to jail for disorderly conduct, and the girl went to jail as well for possession — she had a gram of cocaine in her purse that fell out when she went to show the officers her drivers license — and assault. I drove her friend home because the boyfriend’s truck keys went with him to jail, and she was left at the shop with no one to get her. She is still to this day a good friend of mine, and I dropped the charges to keep the shop’s “so far, so good” reputation, and there are no hard feelings.

I saw a “rival” tattoo artist come in the shop, go back to the owner’s station where he was tattooing, and proceed to beat the fuck out of my boss with the machine still in the client! He did deserve it though.

We had a guy started clearing off the shelves when we told him we don’t pierce or tattoo anyone under the influence of any drugs. He then pulled a knife on our apprentice tattooist, and then someone else took him down.

While working in Providence, we had a drunk homeless man come in begging for change. When my counterperson refused and asked him to leave, he leaned over the counter and punched him in the face! The guy ended up leaving with a stun-gun to the neck.

We had a guy come in to fight a tattooist for working on his girlfriend. He was arrested and came back two more times to fight the artist before he dumped his woman and then came in for a tattoo for himself.

I had a woman get mad and threaten me because I wouldn’t pierce her thirteen year old daughter’s hood... sad...

We use give our scared female clients teddy bears to cuddle while we were piercing them, until we had a lady rip one arm and the head off one of our teddies!

It was closing time at work when a guy came in and said “I know you guys are closed but I want you to pierce my dick.” I told him that I wouldn’t have near enough time in three minutes to ’clave my tools and get my procedures room set up again for just one piercing.
Well sir, it means exactly that, I’m not going to go back and set up all my stuff again to do a single piercing when we are about to close.
At that point it was overly apparent that he was not happy but I figured he would just stomp out of the shop yelling about never getting anything pierced here again like most of the underage kids did when I was working the lobby. Now I am not a small guy, nor am I what you might call a “wuss” — I can dish out punches like there’s no tomorrow, but this guy was pissed and caught me off guard, because when I turned around he said “HEY!” and I did exactly what I always tell myself not to do, I turned around. A good square punch to the face and I was floored for about two minutes as he ran out of the shop, knocking down two rotating display cases and the five foot standing case we had by the door. He was later prosecuted for assault and destruction of private property... I heard he moved away because he was afraid that I would “come after him with my needles”. Fucking drug heads.

I had a dad trying to force his fourteen year old son to get a tongue piercing because it is ‘cool’ while the son didn’t want one... and I mean forcing. We told him no, a piercing is a free choice, not a something you can force, and he wanted to beat us up. He was kind of trailer trash looking, with a big mouth, and he said to my boyfriend, ‘do you think you are a macho with your big ears?’ That comment made us laugh when we talked about it a few days later...

We had a mother making her daughter get her nostril done. The girl, who had just turned seventeen, didn’t want to get pierced, and after twenty or so minutes of refusing to do the piercing I was told by management to do the piercing. They wanted her mother out of the shop, because she was making such a fuss... It was either pierce her or have the drunk friend of the boss throw her out. I figured that I would take the safe “non-violent” route, seeing as the drunk wanted to take care of her in a horrible way. Guess who picked wrong. When I pierced her, the girl grabbed my ear lobe and pulled. Before she could rip my ear lobe off, I sank down on her arm, pinned it to the table and got away from her. Needless to say I never finished the piercing, but it was pretty awful, and of course there were phone calls the next day from the mother and the father wanting me fired for piercing the girl and not putting jewelry in after she grabbed my ear. Keep in mind that I was wearing 30mm flesh tunnels at the time. Such is the life of a piercer at a street shop in the “ghetto”, right?

I had a rather well built man come in for a nipple piercing and as usual he was trying to be the tough guy, and in typical fashion he was overcome by his adrenaline and passed out. When he came to, he was disoriented and nervous. I was leaning over him when he panicked and swung at me, knocking me to the ground. He figured out where he was and soon apologized. I’ve also had a woman throw her purse at me for refusing to pierce her underage daughter. Then there was a guy who owned another local shop that came in and threatened me with a beating... I still don’t know what that was all about. People are very strange.

I was throwing this guy out of a shop that I was working at. He was harassing other customers and being very disruptive. I’m pretty sure that he was intoxicated. When I came out from behind the counter, after the verbal altercation that he and I had, I started moving towards him. He pulled out a knife. I went back behind the counter and got the bat that we kept back there and he left.

I was reading a book on Buddhism while a client was waiting for another client who was being tattooed. The lady, after already being contrary to me about having piercings (keep in mind she was in a piercing and tattooing shop), looks at the book and says to me “be careful the things you put in there” — pointing to my head — “you you just might not get them out. You should be reading the Bible instead.

We had a person come in who had been asked to leave and never to return a year or so prior to this visit. He looked a little different, and upon handing his ID to our receptionist, Joe, he was recognized and reminded that he wasn’t supposed to be there, and was asked to leave. Apparently he thought that Joe was joking, and laughed a bit. Joe told him that he wasn’t joking and that he needed to go, and of course, he got all pissed off. He started yelling “Fuck you! Fuck your shop! Fuck all of you assholes!” Joe got pretty assertive with him, and pointed to the doors and sternly told him to get the fuck out, which he attempted to do. He ran to the doors still yelling “Fuck you guys, fuck this place, blah blah blah,” but when he was trying to get out, he couldn’t get the doors open. He pushed and pushed, putting his shoulder into it and leaning like he was trying to move a giant boulder or something. He kept yelling, “fuck you, blah blah!!!” and then let me out of this fucking place! Joe finally said “pull on it, ya jackass,” since he couldn’t figure it out for himself. We had a room full of clients, which you never want to have to witness something like that, but it didn’t seem to bother them. Everyone thought it was so funny that he tried so hard to open the door the wrong way, that it just ended up being more entertaining than stressful.

A couple of hoochie women came in and asked if I got discriminated against going to nice restaurants. I said “no, I can eat anywhere I please!” And the two women said, “well, that’s not fair to places trying to uphold a certain reputation.

We had a woman that would call us drunk late at night playing the harmonica and such. Eventually she attacked one of the artists and we had to get a peace bond.

We had a guy start picketing outside the studio, with his three year old daughter, holding a sign saying Do Not Get Tattooed Here, They Will Never Finish It. He was upset because one of the artists couldn’t work on his tattoo right away because he was booked for about two months out. This guy didn’t feel he should have to wait that long to get tattooed so he decided to picket. He then started trying to fight with a friend of mine who told him to leave. He said he was going to put his daughter in his car, then come back and kick my friends ass. He took his daughter to the car, and called the police instead. The police came and they were cops who get tattooed at the shop, so they weren’t too happy with the guy and made him leave and told him if he came back to the shop he would be arrested for trespassing. Needless to say he never got his tattoo finished.

About six months ago I learned that a regular customer of mine had been screwing my husband behind my back for over a year, but I assume that wasn’t because she was unhappy with my level of service as a piercer or anything. Needless to say, she’s not a regular customer of mine anymore.

A few years back, a drunk make came in for a PA. After he filled out the release with just one scribble (I wanted his name in case he caused trouble; I wasn’t going to pierce him), I asked him to leave because he was drunk. He resisted and threatened me. I called in my boss, and he had to force him out of the studio by shoving him... over and over...

I had a guy threaten to sue me because the tattoo artist that was working on his leg left, and he didn’t want to get it finished at the studio he was now working at. He called every day for three weeks harassing everyone that works here.

I had a father threaten to beat me up for piercing his underage daughter, even though she was never pierced at my studio. She told him my studio because she thought once he saw how clean my studio was he would relax. She actually got pierced at the studio around the corner and didn’t want to get them in trouble! I had another piercer threaten to break my hands for stealing his clients. He even had some seventeen year old girl steal my sidewalk sign to try and intimidate me.

I have a lot of bamboo around the studio. I was doing a piercing and heard some noise, so I went out in the waiting room to find two frat boys from Syracuse University sword fighting with bamboo sticks they took off the wall, and they were standing on my furniture. Apparently that’s how frat boys impress sorority girls.

I was working alone on a slow Sunday once and we were robbed at gunpoint. The weird thing was he only stole the jewelry in our display counter, and didn’t ask for money or for us to even open the register. He just took lots of jewelry. He was never caught either.

I unlocked my studio doors one morning to find three candles burnt and left outside the doors, two on either side and one in the middle. I have no idea what that was about!

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