Return Policy Abuse at Costco

September 1st, 2009 · 182 Comments

One of the things everyone really likes about Costco is their very generous return policy: basically, we’ll take back anything from partially eaten food to a year old DVD that you aren’t satisfied with for any reason.  And while they are less generous now on electronics items, just 90 days, that’s still far better (like probably 3x as long) than most retailers.  In any case, I’m sure we’ve all taken advantage of their return policy by taking back things we tried and didn’t like or didn’t actually want when we got home, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  However, I don’t think you should abuse the very nice Costco policies by taking back things in a totally ridiculous and unintended way.

I have a story that will probably make you go ‘what?  that can’t be right!’ because I know both my husband and I did that and we were standing right there witnessing it.  We were taking advantage of the nice return policy at Costco this weekend to return the SDHC cards that I had purchased that were so overpriced, as well as a DVD that we had bought and never opened quite some time ago.  I felt bad about returning the DVD because even though it had never been opened and still had the Costco price tag on it, I think it was probably purchased 6 – 10 months ago.  But you know, the Costco guy just took it back like it was no big deal.  So, I felt a little less shame.

However, the customer standing next to me returning his items should never get over the shame that I hope he felt; though honestly, it didn’t seem like he had an ounce of shame or guilt about him.  He was returning a violin that I’m guessing he had purchased online at (I know that is where I got mine) because they don’t usually have them in the stores.  So far, so good.  But then he said he had purchased it sometime in spring 2008; he didn’t have his receipt.  That’s a long, long time ago, I was thinking, but maybe it had a problem or maybe he had never used it.  But then the story got even more horrible.  He wasn’t returning it because the violin was defective, had a serious issue, the case wasn’t even damaged, or even because his daughter (the violin recipient) had never played it.  Nope, he was returning this year and some months old violin because his daughter was no longer interested in playing the violin in school and wouldn’t be needing this one anymore.  Seriously, I know you’re saying ‘What?’ right now because I am and I was there!  So, let me just spell this out very plainly:  the girl had been playing this violin for over a year, had decided she no longer wanted to play the violin, so this guy wanted Costco to take it back and give him a full refund on it.  And he actually stood there acting like this was the most normal return in the world.  To Costco’s credit, the service representative that was processing his return only asked him once if there was anything wrong with it and didn’t say anything snarky or even get too pushy about his reason for making the return after all this time.  I was thinking, doesn’t he know that you can rent musical instruments.  But hey, why rent and have to actually pay, when you can essentially put a deposit on an instrument with Costco and get a full refund back when your kid doesn’t want to play it anymore; full use for over a year for free!  So, in the end the guy got his full refund on the violin and one would assume, walked away a happy Costco customer.

But isn’t this a really dreadful abuse of the Costco return policy?  I just have to feel that this was never, ever the Costco intent when coming up with their total satisfaction guarantee.  I mean, he was satisfied, or should have been since there was nothing wrong with the violin, the only problem was typical childhood apathy to being in band after a year.  Should Costco have to pay for that?  Personally, I would never take something back in that situation.  I’d sell it, wouldn’t you?  Or more likely, it would sit around my house gathering dust.  But the last thing I would consider, is that Costco should take it back and give me a refund.  I still feel all wound up about this and I’m not even Costco and it happened 3 days ago.

But I can’t let it go.  Luckily, I have this blog where I can rant about this kind of Costco stuff.  I just find this so appalling and I think it is because I worry that ridiculousness like this guy and his old violin, will ruin it for all of us.  I’m sure we all feel that repeated things like this explain what happened with the electronics return policy, since it previously had no time period stipulation either.  I don’t want everyone to get stuck with things that they aren’t satisfied with or bought two of by mistake (yes, I do it all the time with books and movies) because of someone totally taking advantage of the system; it’s not fair to the rest of us.   And it certainly isn’t fair to Costco.


Tags: Household Items · services Share

182 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 brad doxey // 2014.06.14 at 3:32 pm

    I purchased a sofa/sectional set at Costco Home several years ago. The cushions flattened out and the Costco Home closed. Instead of taking them back to the store, we contacted the manufacturer and worked out a deal. They sold us new cushions for a fairly reasonable price. Now those are failing and the sofa is falling apart.

    I know it has been a long time, but I am tempted to take them back. I would have to rent a UHaul and take them to our local warehouse.

    Is that unreasonable? Maybe just wear and tear. I feel guilty doing this…

  2. 2 taylor // 2014.04.08 at 11:33 pm

    Costco doesn’t have a good return policy on electronics? 90 days is extremely fair. And that’s only on TVs, tablets, and computers. Everything else you can return whenever pretty much. Best Buy is not even 30 days. Costco rocks!

    Costco employee

  3. 3 Debbie // 2014.02.11 at 12:54 pm


    I wanted to reach out and let you know I found your articles to be very high quality and incredibly helpful!

    I also wanted to find out if you offer any sort of advertising or link placement on your site? If so, could you send me some sort of pricing information if possible?



  4. 4 Larry King@Photographic Stores // 2014.02.01 at 3:25 pm

    A gentleman returned a Old Traditional CRT “Tube” TV that was atleast 5 years old. Because they stopped selling those TV’s 5 years ago. He said the TV didn’t last as long as his last one and wanted his money back. Are you kidding me?

    A Lady who admitted that she didn’t water her planted Flowers returned 10 dead buckets of flowers and they gave her money back. You don’t care for your stuff and Costco has to take it back? Horrible.

  5. 5 Mike // 2014.01.18 at 2:39 am

    Costco will force it vendor to take back almost everything. Costco is not the one loosing the money, but the vendors of Costco. All profits go to Costco, and all lost goes to its vendors.

    • 6 Shirley // 2014.01.26 at 7:53 pm

      As an employee I can tell you for sure COSTCO eats a lot of returns.Not all of our vendors give Costco credit back.Costco is not a department store so there are no dressing rooms.We are strictly cash and carry.Costco employees are more than happy to help a member but we do not always get the right information from the member to help them make the right choices on purchases such as computers.When a product is returned after years of use it is up to the warehouse manager to make the decision on the return.It all comes down to morals.If I buy shirts and I spill something on it and the stains do not come out,is that really a reason to return?? I would never do that-even before I worked there.Employees are disgusted with some of the returns but we do the returns because that’s what we are paid to do. I find it a moral issue when a member returns a bunch of food because they bought too much or cancelled the party.YES THAT ALL GOES IN THE TRASH!!! No Costco can’t donate any of it because Costco does not know if the food was kept at the right temperature or kept frozen.Costco is a great company to work for and to shop at.They do take good care of the members even if it means losing money which makes me wonder why anyone would ever abuse the policy to start!!

  6. 7 Debbie // 2014.01.16 at 7:34 pm


    I wanted to reach out and let you know I found your articles to be very high quality and incredibly helpful!

    I also wanted to find out if you offer any sort of advertising or link placement on your site? If so, could you send me some sort of pricing information if possible?



  7. 8 Andrew Devlin@Rode Microphones // 2014.01.11 at 1:48 pm

    Like what Mike said “…for Costco its purely statistical analysis…only a very small % of people actually pull this kind of stunt..” Costco does watch it. That’s why they changed there policy on Electronics a few years ago.

    Now back to shirt man, My sister said asked her manager about it. He told her that Costco’s policy is to take it back no questions and corporate watches everything that is returned. If someone greatly abuses the return policy a letter will be sent from corporate to the member letting them no there membership was canceled due to excessive abuse of the return policy. A check will also be included of the value of what membership they had.

  8. 9 Adrian // 2013.11.27 at 8:16 pm

    Hello Everyone,

    Costco does not have a good return policy on electronic items. I bought my wife a Samsung camera wb850 and it broke. I tried to take it back to the store today and they said you have to call their concierge desk after 90 days that they wouldn’t take it back. I then called the desk and they said Samsung offers a 1 year warranty and they only warranty televisions, projectors and computers for the second year not any other electronics. I posted down below their policy. Next time, I will buy from a company who will sell that extended 2 year warranty plan who you don’t have to deal with the manfactuerue.
    “Costco extends the manufacturer’s warranty on Televisions, Projectors & Computers* to 2 years from the date of purchase. See the manufacturer’s warranty for specific coverage terms. For warranty service, contact Costco Concierge Services at 1-866-861-0450. Available 5 a.m. -10 p.m. (PST), 7 days a week, excluding holidays.”

  9. 10 RangeRoving // 2013.11.20 at 1:14 pm

    I published this story about my costco return. I feel bad about it. Don’t hate on me. At least it’s a funny read:

  10. 11 Jon // 2013.09.28 at 6:33 pm

    Yeah…I’ve returned things I probably shouldn’t have. Not to the extent of violin guy. But, they have more than made a profit off of me keeping the 99% of stuff that I buy, stuff that I bought there and not elsewhere, because of the security of the return policy.

    • 12 David // 2014.09.08 at 2:10 pm

      I agree with Jon they purposely want the bussiness because they now they get more money
      From every person than returned items. Personally I buy way more than I ever return
      It’s a fact that I can back up with proof of purchases receipts I’m talking that they make
      Thousands of dollars just off of me so them taking returns is the cost or Costco of doing bussiness with me and I’ll never be ashamed or embarrassed of returning anything except
      For food that one was ridiculous to me but it is what it is an I would shop somewhere else if they changed there policy. I fully intend on benifiting from Costco as they will benifit
      Greater from the bussiness that I give them this goes for the majority of there Clients
      Costco is a wonderful store the guy with the Voilen remember he Probably spends
      Way more than he returns. People saying that there Morley Outraged seems to me thoughs
      People that abuse/I meant to say Costco purposely makes a policey For poeple to return
      Ridiculous returns to gain market share and to make more customers come back again again and again this is there modow remember Costco is a bussiness and yes there in it for the money the difference is there the best better tha. All the rest. Get it NOW. David out

      With Costco my life is GREAT THX Costco I love you guys and your employees

    • 13 Anon // 2014.09.22 at 4:06 pm

      Costco hardly makes a profit on their items, mark up is 15% at most!

  11. 14 LISA WALSH // 2013.09.24 at 8:02 pm

    I just left a Costco who refused to return my item. I do indeed have a unique situation, but I read all about their gracious return policy so I drove an hour to the closest Costco to see if they would grant me a return. The manager of the store told me that “it was not in the spirit of their return policy” to give me a return on an item that was two years old that was not either 1) defective or 2) that I was not satisfied with. I completely understand that. However. What I’ve read in the above posts and namely from James Watson on 8/24/13 is correct: if they promise the sky, then they should be able to deliver. If there are limitations, than don’t promise an open return policy.
    I have a diamond crossover ring that my ex and I purchased from Costco online for Christmas 2011. It has rarely been worn. It is still an item that is for sale on My ex had his mom purchase the ring on her American Express card since he never used credit cards. We would’ve purchased it in the store for cash if it was available, but it wasn’t, and I wanted that particular ring. She ordered it using her membership and gave me the receipt. I just moved from Southern California to Northern California since I was having trouble working two jobs and providing childcare for the daughter that I have with my ex-I needed my families help. I am between jobs since I just relocated and have no money for food. My family can help with childcare, but they are just as broke as I am and struggle to put food on the table. Seeing as they have such an amazing and generous return policy, I asked if they would return the ring which is in excellent condition and if I could have a Costco cash card so that I would be able to feed my daughter and myself…..and with the proceeds from the ring, I would have food for a long time for my 4 year old!!! They said no, that the return would have to go back to my ex’s mothers American Express card since she was the one who purchased it. I understand that she got some sort of “cash back” for using her American Express; however, I do not want cash, I want a Costco gift card, to spend all of the money back at Costco. The manager suggested that I sell it at a pawn shop or at Craigslist. Well, I went to a pawn shop. They offered me $100 plus loan fees for a $1400.00 ring. That’s not going to help me very much. I now live in a rural area, and Craigslist is not a great option since I’m at least an hour outside of the nearest city. I got scammed on Ebay by a woman named Erica Dittman from North Carolina who said the earrings I sold her had one fake diamond (she replaced my real diamond with a fake, opened a claim against me, Paypal honored her claim, and they debited the money she paid out of my Paypal account :) Fun.). Sooooo, the “ideas” from the Costco manager were avenues that I’ve already explored. I guess I should have lied and said that I was not satisfied with my purchase. I don’t know if they would have honored it even then, since they said it was “an audit” issue with my ex’s mother being the purchaser. They said that they were only trying to “protect their members.” Well I’ve been a member for many years. Don’t know if I will be as anxious to shop at Costco again. I am not in contact with my evil ex or his evil family, so I can’t simply ask her to return the item and then give me the cash, not gonna happen!! Anyhow, I feel slightly better that I’ve gotten that out. I’m sure I’m the crazy one for even attempting it. Just trying to be creative and figure out a way to feed my child….her dad is definitely not helping out very much!!

    • 15 Emma // 2013.10.23 at 9:37 am

      Costco is right! The ring linked to your ex MIL’s card, not yours. They do refunded back to the original member who purchase the item & refund in original paying manner.

    • 16 Eric // 2013.11.27 at 11:57 pm

      Costco is correct in not giving you money. You do not deserve the money. It was bought by someone else so that someone else gets the money back when you return an item. You can go to that someone else and ask them for the money that gets returned to them.

      • 17 Chris // 2014.01.26 at 6:35 pm

        They should have allowed you to make the return. I just got back from costco and returned a wedding/engagement ring bought over 4 years ago. My dad bought it for me on his costco account and I was allowed to return it and got a check for the amount.

        • 18 David // 2014.09.08 at 2:24 pm

          You’re absolutely right

      • 19 Chicov1 // 2014.09.14 at 12:03 am

        All the above statement s are correct but is another reason it must be place on the original credit card. It’s an agreement with American Express that all returns paid for by an Amex card be placed back on it. It’s the reason we have no annual fee for Amex. I was told this recently by an assistant GM. I have seen them give gift cards back for items as you speak of.
        My suggestion would be to write corporate or try another Costco. Most of the time it just maybe the clerk at the time who just being picky.

        Good luck

    • 20 Jess // 2014.09.11 at 4:29 pm

      Costco has a contract with AMEX it’s why it is the only credit card they take. Part of the contract states that anything purchased on an amex must go back onto it, does’t matter if it was bought yesterday or 5 years ago. Also costco has no obligation to refund anything to non members (I don’t know if you have a membership or not just throwing this out there).

      • 21 brad // 2014.09.13 at 3:45 pm

        No. Debit card at Costco Home. I don’t have AmEx. Should probably get one.

        I still have the sectional. Haven’t had the nerve to take it to the store. Maybe I will talk to the staff and ask how they feel about it. I would have to rent a truck and some muscle to get it there.

        Thanks for the tip.

    • 22 John // 2014.09.13 at 5:47 pm

      Just a clarification on what I read into Costco’s return policy. It is not an open return policy, nowhere does it say you can return anything at anytime for any reason. What it says is that they guarantee your satisfaction with a full return. You clearly stated that you were satisfied with the item, therefore by their policy, you should not get a return. Essentially you are returning it strickly to gain cash and this is not in the spirit of the return policy. Also I might add, nowhere does it say “until you are no longer satisfied” so those people who abuse the policy by using something satisfactorily for several years then returning it because it has outlived it’s life, these people, in the spirit of the return policy, don’t qualify either for a return in my opinion. I was returning a shirt the other day that my wife purchased the week before as it was too small for me, the person in front of me was returning a $40 blender he had for 8 years. I overheard him saying it was a great machine, used it in his office several times daily to make samples for his clients. He admitted that he got more than his money’s worth on his $40 outlay but now the blender had given in to time and doesn’t work now. When the manager asked why he was returning it since he got his money’s worth, the customer said that he’s returning it because that is Costco’s policy to take items back at anytime they stop working??? I was really disappointed when the manager after explaining what the return policy really is, decided to take the item back anyway.

  12. 23 James Watson // 2013.08.24 at 12:29 am

    The abuse is not from the consumers, but from Costco’s intentional and calculated act of making consumer think that there is no limit on returns. Think about it. I open a restaurant, and I put a big sign on the door – $10, all you can eat. Next door, my competitor serves the same food, but it’s not all you can eat. Consumers will flock to my restaurant at the expense of the other restaurant. But when a consumer eats too much, I breach my advertised promise, by either being rude to them, or outright refuse to serve more food. My restaurant is the one wanting to have the cake and eat it too, not the customer who insists on my abiding by my advertised promise. I promise the sky, and I don’t make good on my promise. If Costco genuinely does not want to do that, they can easily revise their policy and state clearly – e.g. – Return must be made within 6 months for all items, items opened or used cannot be return, etc. All other retailers like Walmart, etc have explicitly written policies. Why does Costco not do that? Because they know if their put explicitly limits on returns, consumers would be more hesitant to make impulse purchases, since things would be returnable only after a certain time frame. Again, it is Costco that is promising the sky, and if Costco refuses to make good on the promise, it is Costco that is putting out false and misleading advertisement. One of these days, Costco could get a class action and FTC sanction if they start giving customers a hard time about return things after they have promised unconditional no time returns.

  13. 24 cindy // 2013.08.21 at 1:40 pm

    Wondering if their return policy is the same on Ecowater water softeners or the Hunter Douglas blinds that are purchased through a rep that they send to your home. If I get an EcoWater softener and it gives me trouble in a couple of years, and Ecowater gives me a hassle about repairs, can I return the unit to Costco? I doubt it but thought I’d see if anyone else had any experiences with similar things..

    • 25 Mikeal // 2013.08.24 at 1:09 am

      Cindy, I am sure they will refund you for this defective item and deal with the Water Purifier company directly.
      I have the Executive Membership. I have recently returned a Several laptops because I was not able to try them out before purchasing and had no issue getting a full refund from Costco within the 90 days. When I installed my game the computer slowed down a lot; so I went from laptop to laptop until I found one I love; a nice HP Beats laptop for 1200.00 with $200 instant refund, so they did get my business at the end. If they had a clerk knowledgeable about computers and help me out with the system requirements then I probably wouldn’t be paying dollars less than Best Buy.
      In fact, the return clerk told me that I can return anything just as long as they can look it up in their system under my membership number and within 90 days for electronics. She had someone take down Xmas lights after the holidays and return them. Now that is Abuse but she said she refunded him.
      She said they love receiving Defected items because they send them back to the manufacturer and receive credit from them. I returned an Air Purifier I purchased 2 years ago because it stopped working. The Air Purifier had a 2 year warranty. She refunded me the money and said Costco would send it back to the manufacturer for a full credit. So I didn’t even have to deal with shipping and handling to the manufacturer.
      Also, I returned my Keurig Coffee maker I bought a year ago because it stopped working & didn’t have my receipt. So they looked up the item in the system & gave me a store credit because I told them I wanted to get another Keurig.
      I love Costco and they gladly have this returned policy because the manufacturers work with them. I don’t abuse it and hope people who do abuse it will STOP because eventually they will ruin it for us honest members.
      Good Luck!

  14. 26 Katherine // 2013.03.07 at 2:56 pm

    Costco is like Nordstrom’s to us… And questioning someone’s ethics in returning a violin and an old movie is subjective.

    If my husband does the shopping for fruit for instance, he does not go through all the flats to find fresh product. He just gets the one on top.. Big waste. No one eats it and it is my loss.

    Same with popped raw chicken sleeves that are unnoticed.

    Where is the blogger who will call out that crazy person who squeezed all the unripe avocado’s! — which will cause the avocado to rot before it ripens..!!

    We too spend thousands. ‘My’ return are based on my total purchase experience.

    Human nature is too judge and not look at oneself.

  15. 27 Wilko // 2013.03.06 at 5:21 pm

    I just took back an 11 year old cartier tank watch that has a defective clasp. Costco did not honor the refund policy. Instead they agreed to have the clasp repaired by Cartier. I feel justified in attempting the return because the watch cost three thousand dollars and should last longer than ten years.

    • 28 Kimberly // 2013.03.06 at 6:29 pm

      @Wilko – Yeah, I think that was a reasonable thing to get Costco help on for sure. I bought my husband an expensive watch from Costco and I remember them having a lifetime warranty card in the box with it.

      • 29 Tim // 2013.06.22 at 2:54 am

        @Kimberly and @Wilko – Warranties are offered by the manufacturer of an item unless otherwise specified (i.e. Kirkland Signature merchandise) and thus should be redeemed by the manufacturer, not the seller. I would imagine that is fairly common knowledge, but apparently “common knowledge” has gone the way of “common sense.”

        @Nick – Costco stores try to always have a minimum staff of one person in the electronics departments. They will even pull from other departments if necessary as usually someone has worked in that department before. Also, the computers in store aren’t hooked up to the internet because invariably someone will try to look up porn on the computers, or leave something indecent left as a wallpaper on them. The few ruin everything for the many. Also, if you don’t know what computer to buy, maybe try researching it instead of depending on someone else to decided what is best for you.

        @Travis – No such agreement exists. Costco negotiates with vendors on some items that if an item is defective and is returned, we’ll send it back to them for credit. Some vendors don’t play that kind of ball such as furniture manufacturers (to an extent) so Costco eats that. Also on items that are over a year old (in some but not all cases), the manufacturer stops offering credit and Costco eats that as well.

        @Cheryl – Costco aims for its warehouses to be at approximately 5% profit annually. Some stores exceed this, some fall short. But however I cheer you on for discouraging poor ethics. Regardless of amount spent, excessive and wasteful returns do cut into a company’s profit and can force changes in policy, pricing, and more.

        @nonename – See my comment to Travis. Costco does take a hit on a significant percentage of returns, either partial or completely. And Costco’s markups are typically below 10% with an absolute maximum of 14%. Example: The giant jar of pickles they sell is usually priced under $4.00 (at my store about $3.69) and in total they make $0.05 per jar in profit. What sort of markup would that be?

        @John – Costco does indeed track members that abuse the return policy, but shirt-guy would not be counted among them for a few dozen shirts a year. They would probably know him on a first name basis and by reputation, but I doubt they’d cancel his membership. Someone that buys $25,000 in electronics each year and returns $24,000 of it would be gone right quick though. However this is not usually on a corporate level but typically on a store level. In most cases however, the warehouse manager is the only one approved at that level to cancel a membership. Rarely will anyone below that be able to for such a reason.

        @Steve – No criticism. Costco considers a lot of things when looking into a return. They probably saw your typical spending, your return history, how long you’ve been a member, and said “Let’s take care of him.” Happens all the time, even if they take a loss on an item.

        @Brian – You’d be a fool if you think the refund clerks didn’t cringe at giving them the money back for those poor plants. It is a shame to see things wasted (for example: Costco cannot restock any perishable item such as frozen or refrigerated foods that are returned, regardless of condition. It all goes in the trash) but it goes with the policy.

        @mike – Those are the sorts of things refund clerks love. They do want to take care of their members and a lot of times things are not completely unreasonable. And you are correct that it is a significantly tiny percentage of the population that abuses Costco’s policy to the extent that they would take action against that member individually. Overall, I can’t imagine the policy changing other than to include new electronics that come out into that 90 day policy (such as tablets being recently added to that list). Though to be honest, I’m surprised that while computers/laptops are under the 90 day policy, the computer monitors themselves (if bought separately) are not and fall under their normal return policy.

        Hope I straightened some things out for people and provided insight. I was going to reply to each individually but felt I didn’t want to spam the thread with all my responses. Not meaning to offend anyone except maybe Kimberly, Wilko and Nick. And even that was only because, well, they deserved to have some knowledge dropped onto their heads.

        • 30 Kimberly // 2013.06.22 at 3:19 am

          @Tim – Don’t insult me on my own blog. I am well aware of how warranties work and am well aware of what is in the box when you buy an expensive watch at Costco. When I bought a Rado there, much as I imagine is provided with a Cartier watch, there is a lifetime COSTCO warranty provided. I guess you didn’t read my comment very carefully before responding. I am positive that all they do in that case is get you expedited care through the original manufacturer and that is fine. However, it is still a Costco warranty and if they can smooth the process a bit, then I think that is great and is an extension of their excellent customer service.

        • 31 Ron // 2013.08.20 at 10:30 am

          Well, I have been a Costco shopper for years now and I am an executive member.

          I also do alot of returns. Especially electronics. Why? Even though Costco does have someone manning the electronics department, the usual response from them when asked a question is to take the item home, try it out, and then return it if it is not what I want.

          This has led to many monitor returns and laptopscomputers. As when I get them home, they are not worth what I paid for what they do. Could I have found this out in the store? Sure, if I was allowed to actually use the laptop/computer in store before purchase.

          Same for clothes, with no dressing rrom, I am left buying an armful of clothes at different sizes to see what fits or looks right. and the rest are returned.

          They know me at the return counter as I am always returning something.

          Do I feel bad? No, as if it were not for the return policy, I would not buy alot of the things I do keep. it is the nature of how Costco operates. They know returns are going to happen, since minimal in store product usage as well as no dressing rooms.

          But, I do the same at Kohl’s, JC Penney, Sams (really bad at here). I only buy if I know I can return it if not what I like or works the way I want.

          Costco employees are famous for saying you have a lifetime guarantee with anything you buy at Costco. Even on washers and dryers!

          Example, asked employee about washer warranty, he states: “2 years manufacturer and lifetime Costco satisfaction return policy”.

          Members cannot be faulted for to many returns.

          One time a Costco returns employee threatened to get a manager as I was returning to many monitors, I took his challenge and he backed down. Since he knew I was in the right and the manager would agree.

      • 32 Nick // 2013.06.25 at 11:48 pm


        Yeah, you’re right Tim. Relying on a decent salesman or decent customer service is absurd. Heck, why would I walk into a store and expect anyone working there to be able to help me with my purchase? Gosh, that is ludicrous, what was I thinking? Oh now wait…that’s what we do in our store every day, for people that spend $5, $10 or $1,000.00. We help them all, it’s called customer service. I don’t know what you do for a living, but I run a successful company with two physical stores and an online store. I’m not Donald Ding-Dang Trump, but I know a thing or two about business.

        And as far as you dropping knowledge…no no no. You made a few remarks, but I don’t feel smarter from reading your post, you didn’t offer much for me to absorb or learn from. Just a perspective that I should be “thankful” there’s a place like Costco where they’ll throw products out on display with low prices and wait for me to come in and buy them. Ever think that’s why they have such an open return policy? They just throw stuff out there…boxes and pallets. One low price and keep it all moving! They know full well, and they expect for all of us to go in there and buy spontaneously (no dressing rooms even…name another substantial clothing retailer without dressing rooms). It’s very effective, and overall I like Costco. I spend thousands and thousands there every year. But sometimes, something doesn’t work out, and I take it back. Usually, it’s a computer although I have purchased plenty of computers there that I have kept, including the one I’m writing this response from.

        And seriously, if you were trying to offend me…brother, you don’t even know me.

  16. 33 Nick // 2013.02.25 at 8:48 pm

    I have to admit, I take advantage of the return policy on computers, but never with a malicious intent. It’s tough because the selection there is limited and there’s basically no staff to ask questions to. Also, they’re not hooked up to Internet, so it’s hard to check out a lot of their features.

    I also buy them for business, so we buy a lot. Some we keep, some we return. Lately I’ve returned a lot for one reason or another. If there’s a reason I don’t want to keep it or if it doesn’t jive with our business somehow, then I return it, plain and simple. But we spend $30k per year or so, plus pretty much all of our company gas, so I know they come out way on top.

    And really, it’s their policy…whatever the spirit of the policy, it’s there for a reason. If Costco wants to change it, or feels the need to change it, they will and we’ll all play by the rules or go elsewhere.

    And somebody on here said we’d buy from them anyway, despite a strict return policy. To that I say BS…I’d shop Best Buy or some other retailer for my computers, where the selection is MUCH better. But most other retailers have super tight return policies, so I don’t shop there. I spend maybe 1/100th annually at a Best Buy compared to Costco, if even that.

    All that being said, I do plan to govern the computer returns much more closely. I certainly don’t want to take advantage of the policy too much and be “that guy”. Right, wrong or indifferent.

  17. 34 Robert // 2013.01.27 at 8:36 am

    Well, I will be returning a broken Keurig coffeemaker that is like 2 yrs and a few months old. If Costco wants to limit their policy to a year , than it should. Unethical abuse of a policy is being nefarious (eg lying) about age or condition of an item. You can’t compare the Costco policy with “the norm” because it is a Red Herring argument. If Costco doesn’t provide limits, then you are justified. The intent of Costco’s policy is “100% Satisfaction” which means different things for different people, just as return policy abuse means different things for different people. So everybody should send petitions to Costco to alter their policies if you think you know that you have figured out the intent of the proper utilization of their policy. I mean, doesn’t it just fire you up when people claim a wreck that was their fault on their insurance? I mean, the shared risk pool has to absorb that cost!!! Side note, insurance exists because it makes profit. So does Costco. I realy like Costco because of its food. But it might more heavily subsidize a different portion of its business (things that I don’t buy there) for whatever reason. Is that “fair” to me? Well, no, not strictly speaking. So I might share an unfair proportion of benefit because of the policies of the Costco corporation? Oh the humanity!

    On another note, I let the “attic insulation” people blow smoke up my butt and they were trying to rape me by charging nearly 8 grand to put in 400 dollars worth of material stapled to my attic trusses. So maybe that is how they offset their return policy?

  18. 35 Travis // 2012.12.28 at 9:27 pm

    Hmmm…I really doubt Costco cares much. The problem, instead, befalls more the merchants whose goods are returned. My understanding is that Costco has an “we have this return policy; if a customer returns an item, you [the merchant] will eat the loss, not us” agreement with its vendors.

  19. 36 Evan Brom // 2012.12.27 at 1:13 pm

    I was at a presentation where Jeffrey H. Brotman spoke, at the end I asked him if he thought if the 100% satisfaction guarantee was an asset or liability. He responded saying it was a great asset, and told a story shortly after opening when his wife worked customer service and someone brought back a container with 8 peanuts left saying they were stale. She asked what should they do, he said keep him happy give him a refund. Happy customers are the reason we go back and there are sites like this. Also Costco uses a 3rd party insurance company to cover the cost of the “non saleable” returns. Abuse will just result in higher rates and higher prices.

  20. 37 Costco abuser // 2012.12.27 at 12:31 pm

    I have been a Costco member for fifteen yearsI use and abuse Costco’s return policy constantly. I returned a mattress after 7 years, a 36″ Tv after 5 years(before they changed policy), then the giant entertainment center the tv was in( because my new widescreen TV wouldnt fit in it). I have also returned hundreds of other items without cause. In defense I do spend $35,000 a year at Costco with my business and personal purchases combined, that probably translates to $8,000 a year in profit. If they lose $2000 a year in returns from me, they are still happy. I buy many items I never would have, only because I know that I can take it back, then I’m too lazy to take it back. They end up wining on their return policy in the end. Call me shameless, if you must. I would say that if Costco would look closely at me as a customer they would say: THANK YOU FOR YOUR BUSINESS, COME AGAIN!

    Oh yeah, I have brought back two bbq’s and a fridge, why would you buy a major appliance anywhere else?? Are you crazy. Can you say “lifetime, no questions asked guarantee”

    • 38 Cheryl // 2013.01.01 at 11:56 am

      Comment to the Costco “abuser” – Costco’s max profit is 14% but average would be 10%. Your $35,000 in purchases translates to a tiny $3,500 profit. Your stupid and unnecessary returns cuts deeply into the profits, reduces the share price for shareholders and could potentially raise the membership fee, which affects the overall business.
      Costco is more than fair – get some ethics going forward.

      • 39 nonename // 2013.06.21 at 10:39 pm

        you should look at costco stock price and read their 10ks etc. you will note that the profits are up up and up. also most items sold have much higher mark up. costco does not take a hit on returned items but the mfg does.

  21. 40 John // 2012.10.31 at 1:17 am

    My sister worked at Costco before she moved away. She told me there was a guy that would return the Kirkland Dress Shirts with pit stains and then go and buy new ones. After a month or so he would be in again doing the same.

    Talking about loss and how Costco deals with it. Everyone’s Membership fees help cover losses. Some manufactures will give Costco some of money back. The manufacture then will refurbish the item.

    Costco has over 55 million members if everyone was just $55.00 gold card members that would be $3.025 Billion.

    Like what Mike said “…for Costco its purely statistical analysis…only a very small % of people actually pull this kind of stunt..” Costco does watch it. That’s why they changed there policy on Electronics a few years ago.

    Now back to shirt man, My sister said asked her manager about it. He told her that Costco’s policy is to take it back no questions and corporate watches everything that is returned. If someone greatly abuses the return policy a letter will be sent from corporate to the member letting them no there membership was canceled due to excessive abuse of the return policy. A check will also be included of the value of what membership they had.

    I’m not sure how true that is. Its just what my sister told me. but it dose make sense.

    I personalty don’t like to return things but I did buy a car seat for my sister in-law and she said it didn’t fit her car and she knew I got it at Costco.
    She didn’t get it on her card so she was unable to return it. She told them I got it and they asked her if she knew the phone number that was linked to my membership she gave it and they returned it. So they are keeping track of things.

  22. 41 Steve // 2012.10.29 at 2:56 pm

    I’ll throw this for people to criticize. I have spent over 70k at Costco in the last 3 years. I have used Costcos return policy to return a few ridiculous things, including an almost 3 year old video game system I never used. I feel like I have given Cisco a lot of business but have obviously taken some advantage of this return policy. Does this not justify my return. If it weren’t for this policy, I would have spent my 70k elsewhere.

    • 42 Lisa // 2012.10.30 at 10:31 pm

      No. You went to Costco for its return policy and GREAT PRICES. Even if Costco had a more strict return policy, I suspect you would still shop there. You’re trying to justify something that you think is wrong.

  23. 43 Brian // 2012.10.25 at 9:39 am

    I worked at a Costco for a Charity Event. I ended up getting to know the Costco employees very well over the time I worked there. They would tell me the most insane stories.

    Just what I had seen in the week that I was there.

    A gentleman returned a Old Traditional CRT “Tube” TV that was atleast 5 years old. Because they stopped selling those TV’s 5 years ago. He said the TV didn’t last as long as his last one and wanted his money back. Are you kidding me?

    A Lady who admitted that she didn’t water her planted Flowers returned 10 dead buckets of flowers and they gave her money back. You don’t care for your stuff and Costco has to take it back? Horrible.

    I saw scrubs and trees coming back that were not watered. I work in the Landscaping Industry and it was just a shame these people were killing these beautiful trees in such a careless manor and Costco was just handing them their money back with not even a hint of bitterness.

  24. 44 mike // 2012.10.16 at 9:17 am

    …for costco its purely statistical analysis…only a very small % of people actually pull this kind of stunt..which in my view is unethical…look if it was defective in some way fine…so as long as its relatively smaller ticket items (non electronics) then costco can live with it…every retailer deals with “shrinkage” and costco actually has less than most since its hard for shoplifters to steal at costco…in my experience i have returned a cordless phone, toaster oven, and coffee maker all due to some kind of issue within 12 months…i always feel somewhat odd about returning items but never given a hard time by the costco employee… and i always purchase a replacement…its a great customer experience…btw i love costco

  25. 45 Will // 2012.10.15 at 12:08 pm

    I get real tired of people abusing the return policy. I see people every January bringing back artificial Christmas trees, every October bringing back barbecues & patio sets.

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