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Restaurant employees cope with rising tide of abusive customers

By Betty Yu

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    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Security video captured a customer behaving badly — mistreating a restaurant worker over an order of French fries at Stonestown Mall in San Francisco.

This new example of hostile customers abusing employees has attracted attention on social media.

Umai Savory Hot Dogs owner Dat Thieu provided video showing a customer demanding to speak to a manager.

Seconds later, she grows inpatient and starts throwing whatever she can grab onto the counter, including hand sanitizer.

Thieu said his employee accidentally rang the customer up for chili cheese fries instead of regular cheese fries — a difference of 25 cents.

After getting a refund for the fries and another item, the customer came back.

This time, she threw her drink at the cashier, cursed at her and yelled “sorry not sorry” on her way out.

“I don’t think people realize how hard it is to do customer service at a restaurant. I’ve had our employees get yelled at, get called names. For whatever reason I noticed that the employees that have English as a second language, they get picked on a lot more,” Thieu said.

“We asked her to put on a mask and she refused,” said Andrew Lam of Umai Savory Hot Dogs.

Thieu says he opened his Stonestown location just six weeks ago.

“It’s hard, it’s hard. I’ve had days where I wake up and some days I don’t even know if we’re going to be able to open some days, because, again, it’s really hard to find workers,” Thieu said. “Most days we’re operating just to break even or just to take a little loss.”

He described this employee as hardworking. She works at night as a DoorDash delivery person.

Thieu is not sure whether she’ll return to work at Umai.

This is not the first time Thieu says his employees have dealt with angry or irrational customers.

And, last year, KPIX reported on a customer who spat at a cashier at the Umai Savory Hot Dogs location in San Jose.

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