Guest Post: 5 Things I Hate About Costco

October 29th, 2015 · 17 Comments

[This guest post/rant is courtesy of frequent guest writer, Rick Vanover.  He usually writes for IT topics and he also maintains the @Addicted2Costco Twitter feed).  Rick’s tone is a bit of a step away from my usual Costco love-fest here, but there are definitely things that we all find annoying about Costco, even though we love it, so sometimes you just have to rant a bit.]

Don’t get me wrong, I am ADDICTED TO COSTCO. I love Costco, but you can probably agree there are a few things that can get a bit irritating about Costco. Here is my list of 5 things I dislike about Costco:

Too cramped at check-out

Too cramped at check-out

1. Back to back checkout proximity. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of personal space. That’s odd, considering I travel the world over and personal space is very much an American thing. I don’t like it when two back-to-back checkout lanes are open at Costco. Take this view here, if both 13 and 14 are open, I feel cramped with the action in the other lane to my back.  When I checkout, I do my best to pick a lane that does not have the opposite side open; even if there is a longer line there. I’ll wait longer to get my personal space and Costco checkouts are very quick. Lastly, in my market the newer warehouse I believe has reduced the space in between the two checkouts. I may bring my tape measure next time, but you can see in this example that the width is a bit larger than a typical cart.

2. Sometimes things move! I’m all business, I come in and need to get what I need. Sure, I’ll try a new thing at Costco, but I don’t like it when my regular items have moved. If a single item moves, usually I can find it easily in an endcap display; so I am indeed adapting. One of my primary warehouses has moved the bread section three times I think since 2007; I roll my eyes each time they do that! Related to moving items, I also don’t like it when non-seasonal items go away then will return. In my market, Cottonelle toilet paper does that. It only is in stock when it is on the coupon sale!

3. The payment card situation. I’m still not right with the American Express situation. I’m a 20+ year hardcore loyal American Express customer, arguably one of their biggest fans. When I joined Costco, the American Express program was a real plus for me to get started. Oh, and by the way, Sam’s Club now will accept American Express effective October 1, 2015!

I’m not going to switch to Sam’s, but I’m very upset that American Express is off the table at Costco. Sure, I do have a MasterCard and a Visa, but I really don’t use them at all except for some of the international destinations I visit. From January 1, 2015 until September 16, 2015 I’ve spent $8,168.06 at Costco warehouses, Costco fuel and Costco.com (washing machine, window treatments this year).

American Express is my preference

American Express is my preference

I currently use the Costco True Earnings card for my Costco purchases, an American Express Business card for my extensive work travel and a SkyMiles card for my family purchases. I have a good system here, but we’ll likely see the TrueEarnings card go. I’m not sure if I’ll get the new Costco program card. I’ll get over this, but it really still doesn’t sit well with me.

4. The new mobile app sucks. I can only speak for the Android user base, but about a year or so ago the mobile app was significantly changed to basically re-display the mobile website. The old application was a proper mobile application. The new one is horrible, don’t do it.

Great engineering but not for me

Great engineering but not for me

5. The “either side” gas station pumps. I nearly exclusively purchase fuel from Costco and enjoy the value they have, plus it’s a large space, so even if it is crowded, you can still have your personal space (there I go again!!).Did you know that the fuel pumps can pump on either side? The hoses are equipped with a tension release where they’ll provide an extra length segment of hose so you can pump on either side of the vehicle from either pump. I appreciate the engineering, but I don’t like to do it.One time I was waiting for a pump to become open, but “side” gas pump lanes were open and the fuel attendant told me to go over there. I said no, I told him I’m aware that it does that but I don’t like to do it. I said it nicely and I’d rather wait.

That’s my top 5 list of things I hate about Costco, I’ll admit it, this is a softball list. I’m Addicted To Costco, don’t mistake it. However, there will always be some things we don’t quite like. What do you NOT like about Costco? Share below, rants are welcome and encouraged!

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17 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Rick // 2016.04.11 at 6:37 pm

    I buy specific items at Costco and I absolutely hate the way they move stuff around. Also I can’t depend on a product being there when I won’t to buy it again. Very frustrating to shop there for me.

    • 2 Eve // 2016.06.07 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you so much for this artlcie, it saved me time!

  2. 3 Tracy // 2015.11.08 at 10:31 pm

    I’m glad to see that others find it annoying when Costco keeps moving items to different locations. I usually don’t have leisurely time to stroll through and search for the basics. If it’s not where it usually is, I assume they are out of stock and buy it elsewhere. One time I couldn’t locate the butter. I asked at the checkout and was told they moved the butter next to the eggs (but didn’t move the margarine, sour cream, etc). They said a lot of people couldn’t find the butter either. Today after shopping there, I counted three different spaghetti sauces in three different locations. You could tell other shoppers swapped out the item in their carts and didn’t want to go across the store to return their first choice to its spot.

  3. 4 Dr Tasso Pappas // 2015.11.07 at 10:58 pm

    We love Costco, we have spent way to much there over the last 8 years. Carpet, underdecking, etc. LOTS. But we have chosen to slow down. The aisle are to crowded with samples, the checkouts to long. But the only real complaint I have is our Minneapolis/St. Paul Costcos have eliminated the self check out. The reason — the clientele could not figure it out and it was not helping speed up check out. Seriously? The average income is over $100k for Costco members. Sams Club keeps expanding self check out, and no weighing required.

  4. 5 Dr Tasso Pappas // 2015.11.07 at 10:55 pm

    We love Cosco and over the years have spent way too much, LOTS. But over time we have slowed down. The aisles are full of persons blocking the aisles waiting on samples. Checkouts have gotten slower. But probably the only major complaint I have is that our Costco STOPPED the self checkout. Seriously weird. All the Costcos in Minneapolis/St Paul got rid of them, apparently the clientele they stated could not figure it out ( seriously average income of I think a touch over $100k), and it was too slow. That seems weird as Sams Club still has and is expanding self checkout. Disappointing to say the least.

  5. 6 Brian // 2015.11.06 at 1:58 pm

    Re: Fuel hoses, seems your issue is with the attendant and not the hose ability to reach both sides of a vehicle. I like it, it reduces wait time for all of us, including you, since those of us able to fuel either side get out of your way quicker. So even if you don’t use it, its saving time and therefore money.
    Re: Amex, I will be glad to see the new Visa cards. If you travel a lot you must have encountered the many places that bemoan Amex’s high fee structures and look at you as if you passed gas when you tender your card. Or they flat out don’t accept Amex. I have liked the value added services Amex provide, but since the Ameriprise split, I won’t be losing anything by adopting the new card if rebates remain the same. And I might even try Sam’s for a year (in addition) since Amex are offering $25 off a standard membership.
    Re: The mobile app. The old one was slow and clunky depending on connection speed and browsing devices abilities (phone/tablet/phablet) e.g. old single core 512mb wireless g. The new site, browsed with a device with 4 core, 1.5Gb, wireless N etc etc, is slow and clunky. But I do notice some products served on the mobile site don’t appear on the main website, and vice versa. You’d think as big a retailer as Costco would have hired better devs. Then look at BJs or Walmarts. There’s good and bad over there too……
    Re: Checkouts. I want more of the self checkouts. When you have the one or two items you popped in to get, the self checkout lane would be perfect, but I have only seen them in one or two stores and not recently I might add.
    Re: Products Moving. Im sure its called re-merchandising or something punchy like that, but it rarely bothers me. Only once or twice can I ever remember having to ask at the checkout where something moved to or if was still stocked/out of stock. I actually enjoy going to Costco’s out of my area so I can see where the regular products I buy are in a different layout, or even the same store config.
    Ah well, if these are the worst you could come up with at short notice, life is pretty good. Obviously none are dealbreakers for you.

    • 7 Tami // 2016.04.15 at 8:07 pm

      The VISA rebates are going to be MUCH better with the new Costco VISA card 😉

  6. 8 Michelle // 2015.11.02 at 7:25 pm

    I LOVE that you can get gas on either side of the pump. There is no one at my location herding people to other lanes, so the less popular side almost always has shorter lines. I love not having to wait in line because everyone else has to go on their “correct” side of the pump =)

  7. 9 Candace Johannes // 2015.10.30 at 10:31 am

    None of these bother me at all. What does bother me is when something we’ve bought for a long time is no longer available in the store (like my husband’s cereal). And we can go to different Costcos and find items that we can’t find at our “home” store. I could get them onloine I suppose but I keep forgetting that. We aren’t really bothered by the AMEX thing since that’s the only place we use it. We are kinda happy in fact because we will be able to use the cards we do use the rest of the time. Our Costco has their food demonstrations in the same place and yes, it’s sometimes difficult to get around but what the heck – we’re usually in the line to eat! As for things moving – if you’ve been in grocery stores, they’re always moving things too. It’s what they do in any store. If you can’t find something then do what most men won’t – ASK someone. One other thing that does bother me is the lack of more healthy items. Sometimes we would buy items in the store but they have too much sodium, carbs, etc. We would prefer multi-grain or whole wheat pastas, lower sodium canned goods, etc. But really, the stores can’t have everything in the world that everyone wants. If that were the case, it’d be so big you’d have to spend a week in there.

  8. 10 Greg // 2015.10.30 at 9:03 am

    Can’t believe the rude grazers blocking the aisles to get their free processed salty fatty neo-soylent-green rations due to the very annoyingly placed product sample tables is not on the list, but a longer gas pump hose “tension release” is.

    Someone really stressfully obsesses over the fact that a gas pump hose is more convenient? Really?

    As for stuff moving, Costco has often lost sales to me due to that. It’s not that it moved, but given (as mentioned elsewhere here) that a number of products are not consistently stocked when something moves but I still feel I am in the right general area I simply assume Costco has decided not to stock it anymore, and don’t waste my time hunting thru the grazer-blocked aisles to find it. I go into Costco with a list and a mental map designed to get in and out fast so I don’t have to deal with the annoying people – I don’t waste much time browsing, so if they move something expecting me to hobble thru the mess and find it elsewhere they are mistaken.

  9. 11 Jim Clark // 2015.10.30 at 6:48 am

    Amen to the AMEX complaint. AMEX has the best customer service and great cash back. I dislike giving it up. As for the other bothers, they really don’t bother me. But we are all different!

  10. 12 Rick // 2015.10.29 at 5:46 pm

    Sorry folks, but I agree with him on some points.

    I’m on Nutrisystem and the only cheese I can have is laughing cow lite. Sometimes they have it, sometimes they don’t. Now, they’ve switched the lite for regular, no notice, no nothing. Now I can’t have cheese.

    Palermo’s Margarita Pizza, the only pizza I can have. Only available now when it’s on coupon.

    Noni’s Biscotti. It’s been in seven different locations at my Costco in the past year.

    I’ll also add one. On the weekend when Costco is the busiest, they have product demos at the intersection of aisles which makes it very hard to get around the grazers who have to scarf down every sample.

  11. 13 Rusty // 2015.10.29 at 3:00 pm

    As a novice wine drinker I would like a sweetness rating for the wines (1-10).

  12. 14 Jerry // 2015.10.29 at 1:11 pm

    His post is another reason the terrorists hate us. Go ask someone in Syria what are their top 5 complaints. The gas hose is such a HUGE convenience. When they move a product, guess what? It”s still in the same four walls. When is the last time you updated the App? I used it today to make my shopping list, worked great. I suppose you get really confused if the check out lanes don’t have the indication for “cart” and member”?

  13. 15 Katherine // 2015.10.29 at 12:58 pm

    I’m happy to report that none of these items bother me!

  14. 16 michael // 2015.10.29 at 10:00 am

    well, everything except MAYBE the mobile app complaint is just noise, along the “I’m really picky and they don’t kiss my feet”

  15. 17 Sarah // 2015.10.29 at 8:40 am

    So, none of the items on this list really bother me. Amex’s website and features are difficult to navigate for a non-primary cardholder and I like that things move because I feel like it’s a fun brain game to find the new location. I do, however, wish that I could search warehouse items on their web. I understand that product varies from warehouse to warehouse, but I’m able to do searching for other companies that have location varied product and see what is and isn’t available in my stores.

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