Costco’s New Return Policy – Not As Incredible

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You knew it was going to happen, especially if you read about some of the abuses committed by commenters in my post about how incredible the former Costco return policy was. Well, Costco this week announced (Consumerist broke it, at least to me) that they were going to be adjusting the policy to a 90-day electronics returns policy on D24 categories (their categories) televisions, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPod/MP3 players, and cellular phones. This only applies to purchases made after the roll out date (explained below).

Concierge & Warranty Extension
One cool thing out of this is that I didn’t know was that Costco extends a manufacturer’s warranty on televisions and computers to 2 years from date of purchase and that they offer free technical support on their Costco Concierge Technical Support line available at 1-866-861-0450.

Roll Out Date
The policy is being rolled out starting 2/26 and ending 4/2 so if you make a purchase before the official roll out date you are grandfathered into the existing return policy. The dates are:

  • California – 2/26/07
  • Remaining West Coast incl. NW, LA, SD – 3/12/07
  • MW and TX – 3/19/07
  • NE – 3/26/07
  • SE and PR – 4/2/07

I assume that NW means Northwest, MW is Midwest, NE is New England, SE is Southeast, and PR is Puerto Rico.

{ 111 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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111 Responses to “Costco’s New Return Policy – Not As Incredible”

  1. mygarbage says:


    anyone complaining that the offbrands break soon after you can’t return them better recognize that at every other electronics retailer you are stuck from day 1 with a restock fee and SOL by day 15 if it breaks (xcept for warranty, which sucks)

    then don’t buy offbrands, costco has premium brands also…

    I have returned cpu (didn’t like), plasma tv’s (one that was DOA and one that I didn’t like), camera (didn’t like how slow the shutter speed was), lemons (interior ones were spoiled DOA), fish (spoiled when opened the next day)

    I have bought gallons of gas, beer, wine, liquor, beef, fish, lamb, TP, and just about anything else you can think of at Costco and paid for it without returning it.

    When I bought a cpu at a large electronics store that had difficulty with its wireless connection (and it wasn’t me, because i am not an idiot and can use and set up cpus easilY) i was forced to accept a restock fee, which was promptly disputed with AMEX and refunded to me (thanks AMEX).

    So guess where I have spent 1000’s of $? Not at Best Buy, that’s for sure. I have done so AT COSTCO, even if I have utilized their return policy, they have earned interest on the float, and guess what, they just charge it back to their vendors I bet anyway.

  2. Bobby says:

    I am a Costco Manager.

    Tell you what, before you deserve an opinion on our return policy, you should have to work 1DAY behind the returns counter and I guarantee that your opinion will change when you look in their eyes as they blindly lie to you….

    Guy buys a $2700 Island BBQ Grill at 11:00 am, loads it into his pickup and leaves. 12:30 pm he arrives back at Costco with a mangled box and destroyed grill claiming that this is how he purchsed it. Problem was, the box had road tar and concrete chips all over it from when it fell from the back of his truck on the way home…..we did the return.

  3. jim says:

    Bobby – I can’t relate but I empathize, I wish people wouldn’t do that sort of thing and take on some personal accountability. It hurts the rest of us.

  4. Joe says:

    Costco uses deceptive membership renewals. If your membership expires and you renew late, they do NOT prorate the membership (RIP OFF!).

  5. rj says:

    Very Strict Selected Electronics Return Policy – Be careful !

    Bought a Canon digital camera to give as a gift, but intended recipient won one in a contest recently, so I tried to return it [complete and unused] exactly NINETY-ONE days after purchase at Wonderland Rd. Costco store in London, Ontario, Canada and was adamantly refused by Front-End Manager on duty w/o the least bit of remorse.

    NOTE: this same Manager also assured me I had a 2-YEAR WARRANTY [less ninety-one days] on the camera, but I think he was wrong about that [should have got it in writing] – Interesting how he reprimanded me for not being observant of Costco’s 90-Day Electronics Return Policy [a New Policy to Costco Canada as of April 2008, I was told] and yet he [a Costco Store Manager] is unaware that Costco’s 2nd Year Warranty Policy does not apply to Digital Cameras !!??

    [Unless of course, I’m wrong, and there is a 2-Year Warranty on Digital Cameras at Costco – but I can’t find it written anywhere?!]

    I wish someone had fore-warned me that Costco had become so strict. I would have thought they would have been a little lenient until members had become more acclimated to the ‘new’ Costco. After all, for 15 years or more, they’ve practiced a most liberal return policy that most members have now become accustomed to.

    Can’t say I really feel like a ‘member’ anymore. Seems I’m supposed to feel grateful for being given the privilege to pay a membership fee to shop there. Obviously, I am going to be more wary/selective of what I purchase at Costco from now on, esp considering that their prices on many items are not really all that competitive.

    Just joined Sam’s for the first time where they have a 1 year return policy on everything except computers [6 months on those]. Let’s see how that works out.

    Any thoughts/feedback/support appreciated – Just don’t write, ‘90 days means 90 days; not 3 months’.

    Merry Christmas All!

  6. BRH says:


    I understand Costco changing the policy due to abuse. Too many people take advantage, I get it. But I also wish, like others have written, they would’ve found another way to do it. I supposed it would be too complicated, but maybe they could do something like:

    -Allow you 20% returns (or a $$ amount) per year per department. You can only return 20% of your grocery purchases (used or unused), 20% of your electronics purchases (used or unused), etc…

    It’s too bad they can’t stop the abuse without screwing everyone. 90 days is okay. It’s not that great guys. Yeah, it’s better than BB, but that’s not saying much. Hell, Target has 90 days and they don’t charge a membership fee.

    To the Costco employees tired of taking customer crap (and fraudulent returns)…I’m sorry, but that shouldn’t effect every customer. If you get treated like crap by someone, get in their business. Don’t take it out on everyone else. Some guy returns a grill that fell out of his truck, so everyone has to pay?? Just refuse that return. Only allow (whatever) percentage or dollar amount. Target allows a certain # or dollar amount of returns without receipt (based on your driver’s license #), then you’re cut off for a year. Do that.

    I’m currently having trouble trying to return a Panasonic plasma tv that I bought just before the policy changed. I’ve had it about 2 years. $1600 should buy you more than 2 years of a good television. They’re trying to say they’ll give me something of comparable value or that amount, not the amount I paid. That’s insane!! It’s clearly written into the leaked memo that their 90 policy only includes items bought on/after that policy took effect. Yet renegade store managers don’t want the return to dent their sales, so they screw with you.

    I’ve been driving out of my way to shop at Costco and avoid Scum’s Club for the past 7 years.

    2001-2004 Drove to Minneapolis to one of their Costco’s to load up several times per year (800-1000 mile round-trip)
    2004-2008 Drove to Des Moines or Naperville, IL to shop at their Costco’s to load up “””” (500-mile round trip)
    8/2008-present Drive to Madison, WI to shop at their Costco “””” (230-mile round trip)

    I’ve been a loyal member, yet they won’t accept a legitimate return???

  7. shelly says:

    Im glad they changed it. They need to make more changes to it. Too many people abuse Costco’s return policy by returning mattresses that are 6 years old, monitors that are 5 yrs old, furniture sets that they just decide that they dont want after years of having them. I get sick of people abusing a good privledge. Do you realize how many people buy movies, burn them, then return them? or buy a game, burn it or play it awhile then return it? These people are as bad a shoplifters. They are cheaters. But life will catch up on them, because there are people who watch how many returns they make and when it gets to an “excessive amount” where they are “taking advantage” of the return policy, they wont be able to make purchases or will be blocked for any more returns.

  8. costco member says:

    Just because patrons of Costco abuse the return policy, doesn’t excuse Costco for selling shotty products. If their products brake, they should be returnable. Where along the way did we decide that expensive products are disposable? Things should be built to last regardless if they will be outdated in a year or two.

  9. Hugh says:

    For all the people who have written replies as EMPLOYEES OF COSTCO:

    Please explain to me, why the HELL do you care if some Joe Shmoe returns at TV 5 years after he bought it, or a bbq the same day because it fell off his truck?? why do YOU care??
    Is the price of that item coming out of your pocket?? Or you think that Costco will really cry over the $500 they lost on that item??

    They make enough money as is.

    Your job is to honor the return policy, smile, and give the customer his money back.
    Just make sure they have all they crap in the box, and shut up! Take your $8 per hour and go home.

    why do you care??

    I could undertand if the owner of costco was writing pissed off messages about losing millions… but you don’t seem him anywhere on here…

    • nick1126 says:


      You are dumb as a box of rocks. Not worth trying to explain it to you, you are are to stpid to understand business. Go back to you job at McDonalds and keep jerking off in the secret sauce.

  10. james says:

    i was just wondering if the return policy extends to the xbox 360. i have had mine for a little over a year now and i just got a message on it when i turn it on reading, error e74. so no more gaming unless i want to wait for weeks to get it back from microsoft.

  11. bunsterj says:

    I purchased a Vizio 42″ TV from Costco 13 months ago. This AM there was no picture, just audio and a black screen. I called Costco’s Concierge Service to find out how the extended warranty worked. After some on-the-phone trouble shooting it was determined that the back light went out. After the Costco employee had obtained an authorization for a repair, I was connected to a Vizio person. The broken light is considered a non-repairable item. They will be sending someone out to pick up my TV and replace it with the same model refurbished. It will have the remaining portion of my 2 year warranty on it.

    I am posting this, because an earlier poster had stated that one would need to ship the item to Vizio at the owner’s expense. That might be true for smaller models, but in my case it is not.

  12. JohnG says:

    I find it a bit embarrassing when I am returning clothes at Costco, and I see people with about 5 years worth of dust on some products. It sucks that the returned policy changed, but seeing some of the stuff that I have seen come back is crazy. I can’t imagine what the employee see. I have a big item I want to return, but I don’t bc it is a couple of years old. As far as buying crap electronics. It has not happened to me at Costco, but then again I do a lot a research on CE products that I buy. Let’s face it Consumer Electronics aren’t built very great, especially low price point ones

  13. Samantha A says:

    WOW, can’t believe Costco just took back a juicer purchased over a year ago, no box and no reciept. It was barely used and all booklets etc was with it but still! Never heard of any other place with this return policy. VERY IMPRESSED and will shop there more often now!!!

  14. Ashleigh says:

    I’m a new Costco member and didn’t realize they would return things that were literally years old! Wow. I agree that that policy really should be changed. I have returned things to stores that I had bought months ago, but never things that were used… only things that I ended up not using at all so I decided to return.

    As for Costco, I did return a computer I bought there. I returned it right before 30 days. It was bigger than what I wanted. So I bought another but I can’t seem to make up my mind and am going to return this one also. It’s only been about 25 days though. But I still feel embarrassed returning two computers. It feels strange to do that. I am not going to buy another one either until I am sure what I want.

    I’m glad Costco allows computer returns like this but I can also see how very easily it can be to abuse it. I could literally buy a new computer ever 90 days and just return and get my money back, and just keep doing this.

    But inwardly, I’d be really bothered doing this. It seems wrong and I would know that my intent would be wrong. I already dread returning this computer, even though I know it won’t be a good deal. I try to be a person with character, and I don’t want to abuse their policy.

    Anyways, I have no problem with them being “stricter” with their policies and really think they should be!! It’s crazy to allow someone to purchase something and then to return it many, many months, or even years, later!

  15. EC says:

    Costco continues to have an amazing return policy. The lifetime policy had to go because return rates were too high. You can call it “abusive” if you want, but I think “exploitative” is a better description.

    The old policy was simple and clearly stated… you can bring anything back, anytime for any reason. People exploited that overly generous person, and it cost the other members because costco raised prices and changed policies to make up for these losses.

    Still those who took advantage of this policy are not ripping off the store, they are taking advantage of the terms they were offered.

    It says a lot about the company that the employees would take these SHAMELESS returns personally… their employer has clearly done a good job engaging them, and making them really feel a part of the organization. Still, they should remember that their employer made this policy, and earned a lot of loyal customers with it.

    As a member I was very thankful for the liberal policy (and did use it for “upgrades” a few times)… but overall I am glad that the policy has been changed. I won’t be paying for others to return merchandise that works as well as when they brought it because something newer and better is available.

    I purchased a large expensive TV a month before the return policy was changed, knowing it was about to change. I would not have made this purchase were it not for that policy. Now my TV has stopped working I plan on returning it, and taking advantage of terms I was offered when I purchased the set.

    I will feel a bit guilty, because I know my fellow members will be paying for my exploitative return, but it would be irresponsible for me to NOT do this. I have an obligation to my family to be the best provider I can, and for me to not make the most of the deal I was offered would be a failure of that duty. I am glad that this will be my last opportunity to do such a return.

    I look forward to being a continued fan of Costco for many years to come. Their return policy is still the best in the business, and I shop comfortably knowing the products they sell are of top quality, and should rarely NEED to be returned.

  16. harry says:

    Some Costco stores apply the 90 day limit to anything electronic they sell as well as other items. It was never a lifetime warranty and the time limits are getting shorter and shorter. They wouldn’t take back several things that broke past 90 days, including things that sat in the box unopened for most of that time and was likely defective, just discovered later. I had to send back to the manufacturer a vacuum cleaner for warranty repair that I expected to simply exchange at Costco, but couldn’t. I’m never going to buy anything electronic at Costco now.

  17. Manish says:

    I am so impressed with Costco return policy that I was trying some place to post my gratitude. I must have returned at least 25% of the items with no problem. Though these are the 25% items I buy knowing I can return if I don’t like them.

    returned a vaccum cleaner after 2 years when it stopped working after full use

    returned a trade mill after one year use

    returned jewelry after one year

    and list goes on ….I have been a costco member for 10 years and buy most of my stufff from there knowing I can always return it. I buy things to try and experiment to see if I like them, if not I return them, just bought a massage chair knowing if I don’t like it then return is only one phone call away !

    I love costco!

  18. Betty Keller says:

    Costco’s liberal return policy is NO LONGER LIBERAL or FAIR to their customers. I was told Monday night at the Costco store in Tracy, California that they have always had the same return policy and it is to “protect Costco not for the benefit of the customer”. The manager told me they would refund the current price of a camera not the price paid without a receipt. The original purchase price was up on her computer screen, it reflected a $20.00 difference from what she was willing to refund. She had the ability to see the exact amount paid, and was not willing to refund that amount. The purchase was made at Christmas 2009 and today is Feb. 1st 2010, not even exceeding their 90 day policy on cameras. Costco does advertise they will extend the warranty to 2 years for electronics. My major complain is the manager told me that Costco’s policy was to only refund the current sales price to the customer she also told me this has always been their return policy! I personally know that is not true! Costco has always prided themselves in being fair to the cusotmer and this definitely reflects otherwise.

  19. Betty Keller says:

    I should have added the manager did refund the full amount after lying to me about their policy and my insistance that the full amount be refunded.

    • harry says:

      That’s exactly the type of experiences I’ve been dealing with that make me avoid shopping at Costco now. I still value a few of their products and services, so I remain a member, but I’m downgrading and if I can find suitable alternatives, I’ll be dropping my membership completely. I’ve spent thousands of dollars elsewhere instead of Costco because of these new store policies that seem to contradict corporate policy. I would never buy computers or electronics at Costco anymore, not even blenders, vacuums, microwaves, appliances, and the like because I just don’t trust their guarantee anymore. Complaints to store manager and member services have been completely useless. Anyway, I’m not alone on this and many friends and relatives have having similarly poor experiences. I know a few people who have already quit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more do so as well.

  20. aua868s says:

    got this coming with the liberal return policy being abused earlier!

  21. Somebody says:

    Oh my gosh I have a question

    I have this iPod touch I bought two weeks ago do u think costco will accept it back it has a cracked screen cause I accidentally dropped it I want a exchange or the screen fixed


    do they sell the screens so that I can change the screen by myself ??? Thanks in advance

    • JamesRockford says:

      YOU broke it and THEY should give you a new one? GROW THE HELL UP and take responsibility for your own actions, punk.

  22. SeanDad says:


    The broken iPod is your fault BUT there may be alternative help…

    The American Express credit card that you may have used features a (usually) 90-day protection service. Call your card company IMMEDIATELY.

    This usually won’t work with debit cards and cash/checks will never give you anything like that. If you rent and have a renter’s policy (depending on the deductible) you may have an option there.

    As for protecting it in the future, that’s what those silicone cases are supposed to be for.

  23. Attila says:

    Hey dumbo NE means north east.
    Costco RULES!!!

  24. mit says:

    Costco is a great store at least for me, its down the road not even 5 minutes and i buy loads from them. after 1 year and a half of owning a watch it stopped working, i spend 400$ on it, but realized its not their fault went to buy a new one, and the manager was the one who opened the cabinet to show me new watches, i took the moment to explain what happened, no questions asked he told me to pick any watch of similar value, or anything more i could add and did the exchange for me.

    great store! will always shop there

  25. Chris says:

    I have had mixed results returning things at Costco. Many times it’s been no questions asked, except when I tried to return a video camera that was purchased before this policy changed. I had to make a 2nd trip because it was missing the CD that it came with. This was frustrating because everyone there knew that this CD meant nothing to Costco – it was just a way for them to deny the return. Well, I went home and brought the CD back 20 minutes later and completed the return. I promptly downgraded my membership from executive to the regular one.

    I think what the Costco folks need to remember is they have a _posted_ policy. If they don’t honor it, it’s the equivalent of bait and switch. I purchased the video camera that I mentioned above at Costco BECAUSE of their return policy. In fact, one of their own employees persuaded me to buy the camera at Costco because of this policy. You can’t have it both ways – attract customers based on a return policy and then not honor it when it doesn’t work out your way. If the people at the customer service desk can’t stomach all the lies about returns, then maybe it IS time for Costco to change its return policy. But maybe it’s time for me to not be a Costco customer anymore if that’s the case.

    Don’t forget that people are paying $50 to have membership privileges. These privileges include a more liberal return policy. If this return policy is gone, guess what – I won’t buy electronics at Costco anymore.

    Kohl’s has been advertising their liberal return policy a lot lately. They see it as a way to attract customers – which, at some point, must have been the case for Costco.

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