Classes of annoying customers

Joel Anaya, a Hospitality Business Management student from Washington State University, studied entries from Web sites like,, and to identify seven classes of annoying customers. Now, Anaya's data set was certainly limited, but his breakdown seems pretty good to me. I'm not sure though if "loud talkers/laughers" would fit under "Service rule breakers." From Washington State University:

In analyzing the different accounts, Anaya came up with the following categories of customer sabotage.

• "Badmouthers," the most common saboteurs, used profanity and raised their voices.

"It's crazy what a few bad words can do, how uncomfortable they can really make other customers nearby," says Anaya.

• "Paranoid shouters," a close second in Anaya's tabulations, are "really irate customers who don't know how to handle themselves." They are like badmouths but start yelling at the first sign of inadequate service or a perceived injustice.

• Customers with poor hygiene were a close third.
"Quite frankly, they smelled," says Anaya. Or they sweat on to other people, picked their noses, sneezed openly, or all of the above. They are most often found on airplanes.

• Some customers make outlandish requests, like the one who insisted on paying at a grocery store in pennies while others had to wait.

• "Service rule breakers" don't follow social norms, like waiting their turn instead of cutting in line.

• "Bad parents with bad kids" refuse to discipline unruly children whose behavior is bothering others.

This category made Anaya nervous, as if he might be blaming the parent on a flight whose child is crying uncontrollably. But he let the data speak for itself.

"I just made it objective," he says. "'This kind of customer affected this kind of service experience.'"

• Unknowledgeable customers will belabor service workers with endless questions or minor quibbles while others have to wait.

"A new category of heel: The customer service saboteur"