There are businesses that engage in shady practices, like intentionally not listing the prices for extras or add-ons or the fact that drink refills aren't complimentary. Nusr-Et, aka "Salt Bae" has received heavy criticism for the way his Miami and New York restaurants are run, and there are tons of reviews from diners who've expressed their discontent at the Instagram famous chef.
And while there are certain instances where the customer is most certainly right, there are others where it's clear that they are not. Like when patrons flip out over something that isn't the business' fault: when someone finishes an entire meal at a restaurant and then decides that they don't want it, or when they try to return a dress or article of clothing that's been clearly worn and soiled and a retailer refuses to take it back.
And some petty customer complaints can simply be chalked up to the fact that they didn't read, like Small Business owner and TikTok-er Austin Scott out of Galena, Ill. who posted a rant about a "Karen" who couldn't believe that her daughter spent a whopping $126 on stickers.
Kitten Gordon, upset over her experience posted a negative Google review about Austin and the store.
I know what you're thinking: "That's a lot of money for stickers." And yes, it is. However, we're not talking about the same stickers you get in a Lisa Frank booklet (although those are freaking awesome), they're created by local Indie artists.
Kitten's gripe centered on the fact that she believed the stickers were discounted at $5 for 20, something that Austin says wasn't the case. She also insinuated to Austin that he was taking advantage of a young purchaser with a parent's credit card.
Austin responded to Kitten's negative review online and expressed his confusion at her ire for the sale. He explained that the stickers weren't on sale nor was there a sign near them stating that they were "5 for 20". He also explained that they were created by local indie artists who couldn't benefit from mass production discounts.
If you've ever been to Galena, Ill. (I visited for Ghost Hunters, it's freaking awesome) then you'll know that it embraces its small-town charm fully. Many of the businesses there are owned and operated by locals who pay homage to its historic nature: Ulysses S. Grant was from there as were a lot of other Union Army Generals/Officers.
And while running your own business is tough enough and probably comes with its fair share of woes, especially from customers and/or tourists who visit the town, oftentimes, staying quiet and just getting back to work is what most people would do.
However, once that gripe was aired in a public platform, Austin felt the need to address the unfair characterization of The Neighborhood Trading company. Which is understandable, when you're working so diligently to have the best business/career you can, it can be frustrating when people call you out when you really didn't do anything wrong.
His TikTok about the "Stickers Karen" went viral. In the clip, he explains that he not only gave the purchasers a buy 3 get one free deal on the items, but also added an additional 10% discount because they were making such a large purchase.
Tons of people hopped on the comments section of his video nodding in agreement. Some wrote, "What stickers are 20 for $5? This isn't Wish."
What's more is that Kitten didn't just leave a negative Google review, but also commented on her Square receipt, writing, "I'm sorry but my husband and I seen the same sign. It said 'stickers $20 for 5," but that's fine. If it weren't there you wouldn't have given them the first 20 for that price."
She also accused Scott of predatory business practices, "You took advantage of an easy situation with two young girls. The word will spread."
Austin said that the woman didn't attempt to reach out to him personally to express her discontent or to try and return some of the stickers that they had purchased. Nothing.
Many of the reviews of The Neighborhood Trading Company are positive, however, there is a Google review from another patron by the name of Kaitlyn Peppmeyer who accused the store's owner of discriminating against people over the age of 50 and making fun of them on TikTok.
The Daily Dot spoke with Austin, who further commented on the situation, saying that he was very happy to see the outpour of support from folks online.
"There is a belief that you’re just supposed to “smile and nod” in retail because it’s ‘the job’ but part of the reason I believe my videos do so well is I break that barrier and let the customers have it. The response from this video [is] shocking because it’s almost fully backing myself and my business."
He went on to divulge that there are tons of retail workers who are treated with disrespect. Much has been written about the negative treatment of retail employees, specifically in America.
"These situations are not new to me or to retail workers. Every day these kind of situations happen and truthfully it has to stop. People need to learn the respect is not just given and messes just don’t clean up themselves. Which is why no matter what side people fall on after watching my videos at least at the end of the day I’ll know I defended myself and my business," Austin said.