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Everything You Need to Know About Costco's Return Policy

Updated March 23, 2020.

It's no surprise that with the rise of coronavirus concerns, people flocked to Costco to panic buy essentials like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Because of this, store shelves are now empty, leaving those who really need it at a loss.

Most panic shoppers have justified their purchases by saying they'll eventually use it and Costco is making sure of it by implementing their new return policy. According to the company, returns will no longer be accepted on toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizing wipes, water, rice, and Lysol. This new policy will hopefully stop panic shopping.

The original article continues below:

T]here are so many things we love about Costco. A shopping trip there is more of an adventure, where you might wander the aisles trying different food samples, get your eyes and ears checked out, and grab a hot dog and a slice at the food court. If you're a Costco fan, you probably know about their generous return policy. It almost sounds too good to be true, so let's take a deeper look at the Costco return policy.

There are stories on Reddit and Facebook (so take them as you will) about people returning a dead Christmas tree in January or an empty bottle of wine, but what does the company actually say customers can and can't bring back?

What is Costco's return policy?

The company's website outlines the specifics, noting a "Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee" return policy. For a Costco membership, they will cancel and refund your membership fee in full at any time. For merchandise, they will give you a full refund of the purchase price when you bring something back, but there are a few exceptions.

You only have 90 days to return electronics, including televisions, tuner-free displays, projectors, computers, tablets, smartwatches, cameras, drones, camcorders, MP3 players, cellular phones, and major appliances like refrigerators, freezers, ranges, cooktops, microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers.

For diamonds over a carat, the Costco member needs to bring all the original paperwork (IGI and/or GIA certificates) with them. You can't return diamonds for cash, though; you get a Jewelry Credit Memo.

Cigarette and alcohol returns depend on what state your Costco Wholesale store is located in. If the state forbids returns, then Costco can't take it regardless of what state the product is in. Check with your local Costco before trying to return cigarette or alcohol purchases.

It's probably a sign of people abusing the return policy that Costco even has to say this, but: "Products with a limited useful life expectancy, such as tires and batteries, may be sold with a product-specific limited warranty." In other words, don't think you can buy a car battery and then bring it back after a few years with the complaint that it died.

A custom product, like something with an engraved name, cannot be returned. The one exception is if the product is wrong (the name was spelled incorrectly, for example), they will fix or replace it.

How to return something to Costco

One of the perks of being a Costco member is that the store tracks everything you buy, so if you need to return a product, you don't need the original receipt, just your membership card. Costco employees can look up all the information they need to process the return, although their website notes that having the original receipt is helpful.

Costco's return policy states that if you bought a Costco product in a store, you can return it to any Costco location. If you bought an item online, you can either return it at a store or by going through

According to the store, it does help if you have the original packaging, but if you don't, you can still check with them about a return.

Is it possible to return too much?

In a word, yes. You can make so many returns that the store notices a pattern. Because Costco tracks everything you buy as part of your membership, they know if you constantly return items, especially big ticket items like TVs. The store may choose to translate a customer that frequently takes advantage of the Costco return policy as a customer who is not happy with Costco products.

A Costco spokesperson told Business Insider: "In the event a member is not satisfied with Costco merchandise, the membership fees may be refunded and the membership canceled. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis and is at the discretion of each location manager. Additionally, memberships may be canceled due to abuse of the Member Privileges and Conditions."

So if you take advantage of the return policy, you might end up with your membership canceled.

This article was originally published on Aug 14, 2019.

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