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. Joe says:

    I’ve been a Coscto customer for over 15+ years. Spend quite a few thousand dollars per year at 3 different Costco stores. I also don’t like being sold defective products. I’ve returned 3 air purifiers at one store in Tempe, AZ, all three were defective or made some wier noise. My stupid mistake was to keep buying another, hoping for a good one. Also, purchased an iTOUCH *GB for my kid in which the power button was getting stuck, returned it for another. That second iTOUCH had touch screen issues, returned it again, paid the extra money and got him a 32GB instead. So far so, good. Purchased their crapy Norelco shaver, returned it twice and a Panasonic many months ago, becuase it would not self clean. Now, all this happened within 1 year, so I got flagged when I returned the 3rd crappy Norleco shaver (didn’t last one month). The store manager showed me my purchases vs. my returns. very nice. I responded to him, do think I get FvCk&*^in joy coming here to routinely exchange defective crap? Wise ass. You’re reaming me because I’m returning your defective garbage? As an executive member and a customer for 15 years, he pissed me off tremendously. If I’m an abuser, why do I keeping buying the same item after I return your defective garbage? So, here I am a true shopper that has a history of returning items, and not becuase I had them for 1 or 2 years, most of this stuff was not even in my house for 1 or 2 months before it stopped working. So, now they’re reviewing my account, well, they only thing I can tell that manager in Tempe, go ahead and review, if another item I have in my home goes sour due to this pattern of defective merchandise, here comes another return, As a consumer, i refused to buy and hold defective merchandise, period.

    • Vince says:

      So the obvious question would be…..why do you continue to shop at Costco if they have nothing but “defective crap”?

      Obviously, Costco’s merchandise does not meet your needs so stop your dam whining and join Sam’s Club, I bet Costco would like to see you do that as well.

      Or are you one of these people that just want to continue to do the same thing over and over just to prove some kind of a point? Find other, more productive things to do with your time man.

    • Ruby says:

      Costco reaming customer account purchases vs. returns is humillating & discriminating.

    • CHANDU says:


  2. Ed says:

    It’s “customers” like Joe that require stores to implement a “New Return Policy”.

    • J says:

      Maybe if the crap worked in the first place, he wouldn’t have to return it a hundred times. You’re all missing the point. It’s not how many times he returned it. Its the principal of getting something you paid for that works. It’s customers like joe that try to make places better by having QUALITY items.

      • i says:

        I agree with j. The quality of materials is approaching the gutter, but they aren’t becoming any more affordable. What is with this one time use mindset of an item that approaches tripple digits in price? Did money all of a sudden start growing on trees?

      • CHANDU says:


  3. Hunt says:

    “They say the definition of insanity is to repeat the same action twice or thrice and expect a different result.”

  4. SmallChance says:

    Sorry, I don’t blame Costco at all for reviewing this guy. I wouldn’t believe it either if he kept returning so many items. For one person to buy so many crappy things is statistically impossible and says more about the person.

  5. (Broken) Washer says:

    i got a quick question…
    I purchased a duet sport washer about 5 years ago and its actually been able to handle all the work these past years, but earlier today it went bust.

    im sure its a CCU problem and from a little research it looks like its going to cost around $300 to fix it.

    The question i have is: will costco accept this return? Do i have to disclose that it is broken? If i do disclose that it is indeed broken and not working, will they still accept this item?


    • Michelle says:

      I had a similar problem with a dishwasher that I bought in 2008. If you bought it online, it is easier and less stressful to return. Call them up and let them know you have a broken/defective washer (which should last 10 years at least). They will send the same people who delivered it to pick it up. (They have them call you to schedule a pick up). Getting those things to the store is a pain. If you don’t have a huge amount of returns in the same department (electronics esp.) they will usually do it. Just to make yourself feel better, why not call and explain that you would like to take back a defective washer and how to go about doing it. Then, when you get to the counter, you can say you spoke with manager or supervisor so and so. They are usually helpful. If you feel uncomfortable with that person, they don’t know who you are, so you have nothing to lose. You may also try another store with a more understanding manager.

      Hope that helps. In the future, order big things like that ONLINE. You don’t have to deal with the stores that way. And you have the option of returning it to the store if you want.

  6. kash322 says:

    So I called costco’s concierge service today to get my tv repaired. After jumping through hoops, they told me my I’d have to pay for repairs. I called the warehouse and spoke to a nice guy who told me to bring the tv in and they’d help me. Borrowed someone’s pickup and took the 60″ back. When I got to the store, I was greeted by some over-achiever who scooped up my membership and disappeared for 20 minutes. He returned to tell me there was nothing they could do for me. After calmly explaining the situation, they agreed to give me half of my $2399 back. Half ! To add insult to injury, the guy told me that he sells $300k in TV’s a month and I could cancel my membership at any time so he wasn’t concerned about me. How’s that for customer service?

    • gie says:

      if you went over the 2 year warranty, then you really have to pay for the repairs..period. If you insist to return something after agreeing with the return policy are just being an asshole.

  7. A10hawgwife says:

    I didn’t see any mention of this, but thought it was worth mentioning. We’ve been Costco fans/members for over 15 years and as a military family we’ve moved numerous times. A majority of the moves had a Costco at the new location, unfortunately our last move didn’t have one. I mentioned to a cashier that it was going to be my last Costco purchase for awhile since there wasn’t one where we were going and she said go over to customer service and they will reimburse your membership fee 100%. That’s right. I walked out of there with not only my purchase (using my voucher rewards that they mail once a year)but also $100 cash refund of my membership fee. I have nothing but good things to say about Costco.. I really miss it!

  8. Michelle says:

    I do most of my shopping at Costco and so does my family so we often recieve gifts from Costco. I am extremely picky with quality and don’t always have a reciept when I return. When I went to shop there yesterday I was told my account was blocked because of excessive returns without receipts. What??????? I have been shopping there for about 20 years and one reason has been because of the Customer Satisfaction. Anyone else have this experience?

  9. Julie says:

    Too much customer abuse has prompted this.A local customer by the name of Sarie Barkker returns EVERYTHING she buys except some food. Virtually 100% of her clothes and shoes. She hides old addidas shoes inside a new box People like this are ruining it for the rest of us. She gets away with it by shopping a one warehouse till they get wise to herl, then she goes to another and another. Targets are Aurora, Seattle, Everett, Woodinville, Issaquah and Kirkland.

    • Michelle says:

      Julie, is this really necessary? It is legally libel to write something like this. You are being cruel, to mention her name don’t you think? I would love to hear how this is your concern.

    • Michelle says:

      PS: I am not the same Michelle who wrote the 10/10/2010 post. I work in consumer relations for a large company.

  10. Bobbi Stone says:

    COSTCO started their “piss-off-the-customer” return policy. In their email (see below), it said “We therefore ask that you make your purchases elsewhere.” WOW! After years of shopping at COSTCO, I seriously doubt that I will be renewing my COSTCO membership. Hello SAMS Club.

    This is the email I got from COSTCO.COM’s LOSS PREVENTION department:

    — start of email: is dedicated to offering the best products at the best prices. We also offer an extremely generous return policy. In order to do so, we have to be vigilant in preventing fraud and abuse.

    Millions of Costco members purchase merchandise from us at the lowest possible prices, and they are very satisfied. We recognize in rare instances there are defects in the products that we sell, or a member may decide that they purchased the wrong item for their needs. Our return policy is the most lenient in the marketplace to accommodate our members in these rare instances.

    [Your] returns to purchase in the category of electronics is higher than most members. We stop your purchases in that category for that reason. You are still able to purchase other items online just not in the electronics department.

    In order to maintain the lowest possible prices operates a very low-margin business; that is why most people shop with us. If the number of returns from a single member is excessive, loses money. Your purchase and return history is a substantial money-losing situation for us. We therefore ask that you make your purchases elsewhere. Perhaps you will be more satisfied in the store where you can thoroughly examine products before purchase. If this is not acceptable to you, we will gladly refund your membership fee in full and cancel your membership. Costco expressly reserves the right under its membership agreement to cancel a membership at any time.

    LaRon Lewton | Loss Prevention

    +++ (end of email)

  11. Jeff says:

    You have to have a lot of returns for them to refuse to sell anything from the electronics department. You probably have seriously abused their policies. It couldn’t have been just one or two returns, you probably have dozens of returns over the years. Everytime you return something, they can’t sell it again. I never see “open box” buys like they have at Best Buy. They basically take a hit, they may get to return the item back to the manufacture for another item.

    I admit that I have abused their linient return policy before, but not excessively. There was an instance when I was moving out of state and was selling all my furniture and electronics. Needless ti say, my flat screen sold way too fast. I picked another one at costco knowing that they didn’t charge a restocking fee. I used the tv fir about a month and returned it. No questions asked. That was the first time that I had ever returned anything and they gladly returned my money.

    I love Costco. They do have the best prices. What I did was a little unethical and I worked the system in my favor. But even though they no longer accept any return even years later, it is still the best policy on the market.

  12. Ruben says:

    Dear Ruben,

    Thank you for your e-mail to Costco Wholesale. All orders or items over two years old is up to the discretion of the warehouse or online Returns department. Since these orders are past the 2 year time frame they would be denied.

    Thank you,

    Costco Wholesale Corporation

    Date: 12-29-2010

  13. Sams Club Member for 20 years or so? says:

    Well this is to let you all know that Sams Club is just like Cosco. They have defective laptops that only last 70 or 80 days. Then they get took back for a different style, 9hoping this one will last longer than 80 days) they will flag your membership also for taking back a few defective junk laptops, and this is all happening without your knowledge – they will not tell you, if you buy this one, thats it, no more returns, you are stuck with the junk that will not work.

  14. Sams Club Member for 20 years or so? says:

    Thats why it is always a good idea to purchase the warranty.

  15. costco member says:

    Costco can sell products at a reduced rate because they sell the lower end quality and models. Have you ever looked a the specific model of a tv offered by costco? Do so and then google it. You’d be surprised at the results.

  16. lifetime costco member says:

    Been a member of Costco since I was a kid (okay, member-by-proxy); so far I haven’t had any problems with their return policy or anything else, and I also haven’t abused it. There are some things Costco sells which are obviously lower-end ‘budget’ items that don’t last, but overall, the vast majority of stuff I’ve purchased from them has met expectations.

    Glad to hear that they accept returns without receipts; I lost mine for a router I just bought (unopened) and I’m looking forward to returning it cause it doesn’t suit my needs.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The main thing that gets under my skin is they are now going against what they have been telling me for years. They will not honor returns on purchases made before the new policy and that should be a business violation.

  18. CP says:

    Hmmmmm. I’ve got a printer that was “new in box”, purchased several years ago BUT I just opened it last week for the first time, put new ink cartridges in it and the printer does not work. Message says printing system has failed. I’ve NEVER EVER returned/exchanged any electronis to Costco. I Feel like a total schmuck for feeling like I want to exchange it! Buy a new one or exchange?

  19. Tammy says:

    I’ve got a Frnd who bought a tv from Costco not even a month ago today her daughter dropped the tv the screen shattered can she take it back to Costco or is she screwed?? She’s freaking out

  20. jtq says:

    I’ve been a Costco customer for many many years. Their customer service and helpfulness used to be exceptional. Over the past year however I have noticed a substantial and consistent reduction in their customer service. They no longer seem genuinely interested in retaining their customers. It used to be that when you expressed a concern or requested help for something every employee seemed genuinely concerned with your satisfaction. Now they often exhibit a take it or leave attitude. Even employees who were exceptional are not as consciences. Something has changed in the company’s leadership and it does not bode well for their future. I have rarely returned anything to Costco, but have still noticed this difference. Does anyone know what’s happened there?

  21. Paul says:

    It’s not because of people like Joe above that has legit reasons for returning defective items, it’s people like my co-worker who brags about being able to return anything anytime he wishes just because he can “…ohh, my dad has had a new laptop every year for the past 10 years”. Trust me, there lots of those people who have ruined it for everyone else. Also, just because you like shopping at Costco and you find an item within your budget that you really like, why is it wrong to purchase it again after your first or second was defective? Because of the abuse by those ignorant, selfish scammers, you and I (the good shoppers) will have to pay the consequences. The fact that Costco sells lower end stuff and models that seem the same as in other stores for a lower price had the bonus of the “extended” return policy in case it fails on you. As for the receipt, why would they needed it if they know EXACTLY what and when you bought? It’s not you can keep returning the same item, it’s flag on their system once you returned it.

  22. M says:

    Whoever said that Costco DOES NOT honor purchases made before the new policy is mistaken. I went with someone to return a TV that was about 5 or more years old. So it was large and heavy and I had a car it would fit in. I mean the large tube kind

    THEY TOOK IT BACK NO PROBLEM. The person actually had the original receipt, but they didn’t need it since they have been a member continually since then. They gave us $440 in cash, no questions no hassle nothing. We told them the TV didn’t work anymore.

    If you bought something before the NEW policy technically they have to take it back unless you’ve been “flagged” after.

    I myself have had problems with online costco items. I bought a counter water cooler and the first didn’t work. Returned it to the store and ordered a new one (they didn’t have it in the store) the second one worked fine and continues too years later. I just assume sometimes items get banged around in shipping so they become faulty. I think the reason and time frame matters to whether or not your account gets flagged. I returned it less than a week later stating defective.

    If you continually buy a TV return it after 85 days and repeat, yeah… you should be denied service.

  23. Tony says:

    Americans abuse the system,

  24. Costco does a pretty superior job overall. Statistics shows when someone is a potential abuser of the return policy. Sorry for the man above, he was an outlier, and flagged when he probably should not have been. Still, if I return something once, and get a bad product a second time, I’m not going to get a third product hoping it will be good. Just me…

    Here’s he upside: I bought computer from Costco a few months ago. I just noticed they have a superior computer for less. I’ll return the one I have, and get a better one for less. Where else can that be done? I think Costco is quite generous in their return policy. Go live in Europe for a while, and come back and tell me what their return policies are. You will be shocked.

  25. fay krivonos says:

    I bought an expensive Hoover vacuum cleaner which never worked from day 1! and has now over heated and blown out. (after six months) I think Costco buys seconds from China and fobs this crap onto its customers, it was not a cheap vacuum cleaner.
    Well, I think it is time that you investigated them.
    fay krivonos

    • Chadbag says:

      Costco does not buy seconds from China (unless you consider most everything made in China a “second”). I assume Costco replaced or refunded your money? The problem was buying the Hoover in the first place I think.

    • I want to know how it “never worked from day 1!” yet also “has now over heated and blown out. (after six months)”. What sense does that make?

      And Chadbag is correct – unless you consider all items made in China as “second”, Costco does not do that. If you do consider all China-made items “second”, well, welcome to an entire retail industry of China “second” products at EVERY store.

    • Johnny says:

      My question is if it didn’t work since day 1 why were you still using it and didn’t return it since day 1?

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