It’s no secret that the Costco Return Policy is one of the most generous in the industry. However, there are some things that can’t be returned. Read on to learn what can be returned and how to maximize benefits.
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What Is the Costco Return Policy?
From groceries to jewelry, tires to patio furniture, and pretty much everything in between, you can buy most of life’s needs at Costco. And, you can return it all—no questions asked. The Costco return policy leads the industry by a long shot.
This means you can cancel your Costco membership at any time, and they’ll refund your membership fee. You can also downgrade an Executive Membership to Gold at any time. I did this myself right before my year mark was almost up, and still got $30 back.
This covers grocery items, patio furniture, you name it. There is no time limit on the returns, so your products are technically covered forever.
Just bring the product purchased at a Costco store to the returns counter at any Costco warehouse. For online purchases, you can initiate a return through costco.com or bring the item into your local store.
Exceptions to the Costco Return Policy
Costco does list a few caveats to its Risk-Free Guarantee. Costco tightened down the reigns in the last decade by limiting the terms of their return policy. The following exceptions have a time limit, require additional paperwork, or cannot be returned:
- Electronics: Costco will accept electronic and appliance returns within 90 days of purchase. For online orders, the 90-day return policy starts from when the customer received the product.
- Major appliances: Including freezers, ranges, refrigerators above 10 cu. ft., cooktops, over-the-range microwaves, washers and dryers, and dishwashers.
- Electronics: Computers, touchscreen tablets, smart watches, aerial cameras, cameras, camcorders, MP3 players, tuner free displays, and cellular phones.
- Cell phones: These vary based on the carrier service contract.
- Diamonds 1 ct or larger: You can return them, but you need the original paperwork. Bring in the diamond with all of the details and you will receive a jewelry credit memo.Within two days, a Costco Graduate Gemologist will inspect for authenticity to approve the return for full purchase price.
- Cigarettes/Alcohol: These are not returned where prohibited by law.
- Various other products: Other products with a limited life expectancy are sold with a product-specific limited warranty. Tires and batteries are two examples.
- Custom/Special order items: If something was custom-ordered just for you, you cannot return it. There are exceptions, of course, for warranty repair and replacement needs. An example of a custom product is Costco photo gifts or cards.
If you buy something with an ATM or debit card, you need the same card with you for a cash refund. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for a Costco cash card. To be safe, shop with a credit card if you think you may need to return the item.
Don’t worry, if an item isn’t covered by Costco’s unlimited return policy, they’re covering you anyway. For example, Costco tires come with a 5-year unlimited road hazard warranty.
And Costco offers a 2nd year warranty on televisions, tuner-free displays, projectors, desktops, laptops, and major appliances. This means, Costco offers an additional two-year warranty on top of the manufacturer’s warranty.
Costco Concierge service also offers members free technical support on electronics. This covers televisions, projectors, laptops, appliances, tablets, home theater systems, DVD players, security camera systems, and more.
Call toll free at 1-866-861-0450 to speak with an expert technician. Just have your serial number, Costco Membership number, and purchase date handy when you call.
Just like everything else, products ordered from the Costco Photo Center are subject to the standard return policy. Although somewhat vague, the website states:
Use It, Don’t Abuse It
The satisfaction guarantee is a member privilege, and you should certainly take advantage of it! If your year-old mattress sags, bring it back! Or return food items that your family didn’t like.
Take back produce if it spoils two days after you bring it home. That said, don’t take advantage of of the generous return policy. Costco will record when you return something and will flag members who are abusing it. They can revoke your membership for using it too often.
Don’t ruin it for everyone! The satisfaction guarantee is a perk for Costco members, but if everyone abuses it, Costco and its vendors won’t be able to continue it.
Plenty of people have tried, and succeeded, in returning wildly ridiculous items. Here are some of the craziest return items Costco Employees have shared online, reported by Clark.com:
- Opened packages of underwear
- An empty bottle of wine (“It gave me a headache.”)
- A 13 year old fish kept in the freezer
While I don’t advocate for it, I know people who return fruit when it reaches its expiration date. In fact, the policy is so lax that a California store returned an entire Christmas tree. Yes, this person got their money back.
And keep in mind, Costco can deny your claim. Although the return policy is the most lenient in the marketplace, they do hold the right to make their own judgments.
Since this is based on the wholesaler’s “100% satisfaction guarantee”, customers need to provide a reason for their return. In one instance, Costco denied a return for a two-year-old electric piano because the customer wanted to buy something else instead.
All returns are processed at a manager’s discretion. Bottom line? Use your own good judgement and it’s most likely that Costco will honor it.
So, What Is the Costco Return Policy?
Returning items at Costco is easy. You don’t need a receipt, and Costco’s policy states there is no time limit aside for electronics and a few specific exception. No questions asked!
Just head into your local Costco Wholesale with that item you aren’t happy with, and they’ll take it back. That said, be a good neighbor and don’t abuse the lax return policy. One bad apple can spoil it for the bunch!