Top 10 customer hacks that make workers’ lives difficult

In 2022, cash-strapped and creative customers flocked to TikTok to share their money-saving hacks with fellow viewers looking to save a few bucks on their daily Starbucks orders or post-workout Chipotle bowls.

Although these tricks are a godsend for customers, workers speak out against some viral hacks, saying they make their jobs harder or even risk getting them into trouble.

Here are the top 10 customer hacks to avoid if you want to stay off your local customer service agent list.

1) McDonald’s Land Air & Sea secret menu item

McDonald’s did advertise this limited-time menu hack that combines a Big Mac, Filet-o-Fish, and McChicken, but customers don’t read the site’s fine print: You have to “make it yourself.” Customers can order the burger “by name,” but should expect to receive three separate sandwiches in their takeaway packages. The new menu item has gone viral since its inclusion on McDonald’s menu, with #landairseaburger garnering over 1.7 million views on TikTok this year.

Since it appeared on the McDonald’s menu in late January, customers have blasted workers for not concocting the brew as advertised on the website. In February, the Daily Dot reported on the husband of a TikToker calling the company to complain about the meal’s self-assembly requirements.

On TikTok, the man asks for a “refund,” slams the McDonald’s customer service representative, and says, “If I wanted to make my own sandwich, I would have stayed home and made my own sandwich.”

2) Five Guys Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger

While you can find this cheesier take on a classic at restaurants like Wayback Burgers, TikTokers have popularized a secret menu hack to pair the Five Guys famous cheeseburger with another of their menu offerings: a grilled cheese sandwich. When done right, this creation features a crunchy, grilled cheese sandwich with a patty and cheese inside, making it irresistible to food bloggers.

Since the hack quickly gained popularity in October, #grilledcheesecheeseburger has racked up over 964,000 views on TikTok.

However, Five Guys staff is asking customers to refrain from “annoying” secret menu hacks that make dining boring. In a now-deleted TikTok, a worker says the influx of bespoke burgers is making him “angry” and urges viewers to “put an end to” the viral hack.

3) Money-saving Starbucks Latte

For customers trying to reduce their weekly coffee bill, ordering a barebones drink with a few ingredients is an enticing way to save some money on their Starbucks latte order. A viral hack suggests Starbucks patrons order an “espresso on ice” with milk to reduce the cost of a typical “iced latte” order.

While this money-saving trick was first revealed in January by TikToker @thebrattylibra in a now-deleted video, Starbucks baristas have backed down, saying the hack creates extra work for them and may even put their jobs at risk.

4) Starbucks’ infamous “TikTok drink.”

Can these baristas ever take a break? From the now-popular pink drink craze to creating an entire database of secret Starbucks menu items, this year’s drink of choice to torment baristas is the “TikTok drink.” Named for where it was created, the TikTok drink is “a white chocolate mocha with salted caramel frizz and a drizzle” that some have described as “sickly sweet.” And baristas are fed up too.

The hashtag #tiktokdrinkstarbucks has racked up over 25.5 million views and features popular creators reviewing the secret menu item, but the drink leaves baristas divided.

In the comments of a Starbucks employee on a TikTok drink tutorial with over 933,000 likes, other baristas enraged her for encouraging customers to order the overly personalized drink.

“I work at Starbucks and I hate TikTok for promoting this drink,” one commenter wrote.

“Why would you do that to other baristas,” said another.

@lizziexdye Heaven in a cup 😍 #starbucks #starbucksdrinks #starbucksuk #starbuckssecretmenu #starbucksbaristarecipes #fyp #coldfoam #carameldrizzle #whitemocha ♬ Original sound – avacloupe

5) Mixing ingredients at Chipotle

Nobody likes to bite into a burrito and get a sip of an ingredient — especially when you’ve paid a premium to add all the ingredients to your Chipotle order. One TikToker suggested that customers address this common frustration by asking the Chipotle employee to “mix” the burrito ingredients in a take-out container before adding them to create a more even distribution of the ingredients.

Brilliant? Definitive. But Chipotle workers are frustrated with the extra work.

In the comments of a viral TikTok that rolled out this clever hack in October, Chipotle employees poked fun at customers who feel “entitled” to the additional service. Some even say they say “no” when asked to mix ingredients on the assembly line.

@nomzallday Game Changer tbh #chipotle #chipotlesponsorme #dctok #burrito #arlingtonva #StemDrop001 ♬ Original sound – Jennifer.emily123 • To follow

6) Order sides for a cheaper chipotle bowl

Ordering a taco with additional sides like tomatoes, greens, sour cream, or corn can save customers a few bucks from a burrito bowl, but it doesn’t come without a cost.

A Chipotle employee shares that a customer used this popular hack when ordering online, requiring her to wrap each page individually in small containers so she could save a few bucks. In the TikTok posted Aug. 31, Christinamae tells the customer that she will never do this again and urges other employees to have their say in the comments.

“Do I have to worry about filling all those separate cups with a line out front??” said a worker.

This hack even caught the attention of Chipotle, which led to the restaurant chain beginning to charge for additional sites.

@christinamaeeeee y’all better go through it cuz I don’t have it in dml #chipotletacos #chipotleworker #chipotleworkerproblems #prettygirlsworkinginfastfood ♬ Original sound – Christinamae

7) “Pay it forward” drive-through lines

What starts as a selfless act of kindness to the car behind you can quickly turn into a nightmare for drive-thru workers and customers. “Pay it forward” queues begin when a customer offers to pay for the car behind them to eat and encourages others in line to continue the chain.

But workers say the generosity often doesn’t extend to their tip, and can even become embarrassing when a customer finally expresses that they don’t want to pay for the next vehicle.

For customers who want to tick off their good deed for the day without agreeing to spend an unspecified amount of money on a stranger, one barista suggests giving the customer service representative a small extra tip using the money you spent on your order had.

@tiffanycuh #stitch with @bennettcardoso i do this so often i get free drinks at my store 😁#nourisheveryyou #ReTokforNature #starbucks #starbuckshack #starbucksbarista ♬ Original sound – miserablehotgirl

8) Blank card for free Chick-fil-A

This hack is not only frustrating for the workers during peak hours but also borders on illegal activities. The Daily Dot previously reported on a woman who shared a controversial hack: Using a debit card she knows gets “rejected” during rush hours at Chick-fil-A. The key to this trick, she said, is getting workers to “give up” after they get frustrated with the growing line.

While some customers found the trick handy, workers warned they could be fined by management if caught. The TikTok even includes a warning from the platform that reads, “Participating in this activity could result in you or others being injured.”

“From a Chick-fil-a employee — we literally can’t give you your food for free,” clarified one worker.

@jas.kaoir Thank you later #fyp #viral #chicfila ♬ RealestK Toxic – RealestK

9) Wait before loading before opening

While some customers think it’s a hack to come straight to the store when the doors open to get better customer service and guarantee fully stocked merchandise, staff find it “embarrassing” when potential customers stand in front of the store Stand in line.

A customer service rep says customers give her the “death glare” if she enters the store before opening hours and doesn’t let them in early in a now-viral TikTok. In the comments, other customer service representatives reflect their frustration.

“Then you tell them if you treat me like this I will refuse service and ask you to leave. I won’t let them treat me like that anymore,” one worker suggested.

“In every store I’ve worked in, customers have been annoyed that the opening shift has been let in while they have to wait outside…20 to 30 minutes PRIOR to opening,” added another.


and they never buy anything either, I don’t understand

♬ Original sound – 🌵cactus🌵

10) Extension of return policies

A Target employee’s TikTok with over 464,000 views calls on customers to return “old” or “expired” products and urges other employees to ask others to stop abusing the system. According to the Krazy Coupon Lady, Target’s return policy allows customers to return up to $100 worth of products per year without a receipt.

Returning items that don’t work for you in good faith is not a problem, but staff are frustrated with customers exploiting the system by returning “used” or “expired” goods.

“No I’ll be mad if they return them all unwashed and worn inside out with frigging stains…” wrote one worker in the comments.

“This Manz came into our store, got a coffee maker off the shelf, returned it for money, then grabbed another one and walked out,” said another.

@genesis_gaytan7 Silly Goose #target #fyp #iwasonmybreak ♬ UR A KUNT – Carsin


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Jaclyn Diaz

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