Costco Return Policy: 12 MUST Knows Before You Shop In The Warehouse

Updated September 16, 2021 by Kyle
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The return policy at Costco is so darn good that it deserves it’s own article. While I’ve talked about some of the better retail return policies in the past, Costco’s policy is arguably the best of them all. Here is exactly how it works and everything you need to know to take full advantage.

Update: I originally wrote this article back in 2016 but recently went through all of the 100+ comments and tried to answer all of your return policy questions. I hope you still find this resource helpful.

The Costco Return Policy: 12 Ways To Make It Work For You

COVID-19 Update:

Costco was limiting the return of items that people tend to hoard, but in recent months their return policy has returned to normal.

Also, for the Costco food court lovers out there, they are limiting their menu and not letting you sit down to eat, you gotta take your chow with you until further notice.

What Exactly is the Costco Return Policy?

Costco calls it their “Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee” and with very few product exceptions, they’ll refund you the purchase price if not completely satisfied.

Pretty much everything in the warehouse is returnable with no time limit. No questions asked.

This guarantee also includes your Costco membership. You have 364 days from the date you sign-up to try out the membership and see if it works for you.

If not completely satisfied, you can get a full refund on your membership cost.

See Also: How to Essentially Get a $60 Costco Membership for Free

 

Can Product Packaging Be Opened or Missing?

Yes. You do NOT need the original packaging or product manual in order to return the product to Costco.

But, you do need all of the parts and accessories that came with the product.

This is a wonderful feature, especially when you’ve had a product for a while and no longer have any of the original packaging.

Can You Return Food to Costco?

Yes, you can return produce, food (opened or unopened), and anything else you’d put in your mouth, to your local Costco.

No questions asked. Makes for a great reason to try new products and see if your family likes them.

Just be aware that Costco is tracking all of your returns and if they think you’re abusing the return policy they might flag your account.

Update: A comment came in saying that a lady was refused her return of unopened buns that she bought the day before. So it seems your mileage may vary when it comes to returning food.

Keep in mind that most food items will be discarded by Costco, even though they’ll get reimbursed. If you’re buying bakery items you can always freeze them for later use if you overbuy.

Bottom line, don’t abuse their return policy as it’ll eventually go away, and hurt all members, if more and more folks abuse it.

90-Day Return Policy on Electronics and Appliances

Due to some abuse from shoppers in recent years, Costco has shortened their return window on electronics from unlimited days to 90 days.

You now have 90 days from date of purchase to return televisions, tuner-free displays, projectors, major appliances, computers, tablets, cameras, camcorders, MP3 players and cell phones.

The 90-day policy is still fairly liberal and simply keeps Costco members from bringing back 5 year-old HDTV’s that now have a yellow picture. (For example)

Do You Need Your Costco Receipt?

No, you don’t need your receipt to return anything to Costco.

Simply take your Costco membership number, and the item you want to return, to the customer service desk.

They’ll be able to look up all of your past purchases and quickly find evidence of your purchase and issue your refund.

See Also: 12 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco

Can You Get Cash When Returning Items Bought with a Debit Card?

Thanks to reader Olivia for this information: If you buy items with your ATM card you might be stuck with a Costco cash card when returning something.

This is especially true if the item is a gift and the person returning it has the original receipt but not the ATM card.

Great information if you regularly buy gifts with your ATM card as you might want to use a credit card or cash to make returns easier.

What Items Can’t You Return to Costco?

Here are the handful of items that you can’t return to Costco for a full refund.

Alcohol – Bottoms up on any wine, beer, or liquor as you can’t return them to most states in the U.S. and thus all sales are final. Opened or unopened, it doesn’t matter.

Cigarettes – Light ’em up, or throw them away, as you can’t return them to any Costco location.

Diamonds – Any diamonds 1 carat or larger must be returned with all original paperwork and has to be verified via the Costco fulfillment center before you get your refund.

A Costco Graduate Gemologist will inspect the diamond and issue a jewelry credit memo that allows you to purchase a different diamond or get your money back. Could take up to 5 business days.

Limited Lifetime Products – Think car tires and batteries. These are sold with a product-specific limited warranty.

Special Order Kiosk – While you can’t return special orders, you can get a warranty repair or replacement due to failure to meet product specs.

Custom Installed Programs – The same as above.

Pretty limited list when you consider the thousands of products Costco stocks on a daily basis.

Can You Return Items Bought Online to Costco?

Yes, just bring in the item and your Costco.com receipt to your local Costco and they’ll process your refund.

Also, Costco now has a handy Online Return Form to make your Costco.com purchases even easier to return.

What About Returning Furniture That I Bought Online?

I started a live chat session with Costco and asked this exact question.

I used a couch as my example and was told the following, “Our returns for couches are quite easy. We do everything for you! The same way the couch gets delivered, would be the same way it would get picked up. Our carrier would call you once a return is requested and they would set up an appointment that works best for you.”

I then asked, “Even like 2 years later when the couch starts sagging?”

I was then told, “Yes, if for any reason you become unsatisfied with this item, you can return it!”

Pretty amazing. Why would you buy furniture anywhere else?

How About Returning Gifts to Costco?

Yes, you can return items to Costco that were given to you as a gift.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a member or not, you can walk in and return stuff.

But keep in mind that if you DON’T have the receipt you’ll need the membership number of the person who purchased the gift for you.

See Also: 5 Brilliant Money-Savings Hacks for Buying Costco Meats

Can Someone Else Make a Return For You?

If they are not listed on your membership then NO they will not be able to make the return on your behalf.

You’ll have to find the time to make the return yourself.

Can You Make a Return Beyond the Manufacturer’s Warranty?

From some recent comments I have received it seems Costco will not take back an item if it has gone beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.

The example in the comments section was HP printer ink that had “expired”.

In this case, Costco would not take it back.

Can You Return Something If Your Membership has Expired?

No, Costco will only let you return items if you have an active (and paid) membership.

Can You Return a Mattress to Costco?

Yes, but if you try and return a mattress that you’ve had over a year you’re going to end up dealing with the store manager.

The manager will take a look at your buying history to decide if you spend enough at Costco to make the return worthwhile.

It’s been suggested that you return it to a Costco out of your hometown as you might make some enemies returning a nasty old mattress.

Can You Return Car Tires?

Yes, Costco basically gives you 30 days to test out your new tires.

If you don’t like them for any reason they will let you return or exchange them for a new set.

See Also: Here’s How Costco Tire Prices Stack Up to the Competition

Strangest Items Ever Returned to Costco…

I loved this article from Clark Howard that breaks down some of the strangest returns that Costco employees have seen over the years.

Some of my favorites include an empty bottle of wine that gave the lady a headache, a package of opened underwear, a used chicken coop, and a broken 15-year old pressure washer.

Also, a woman was able to return a dead Christmas tree in January and get a full refund. Crazy.

Moral of the story? Be smart and don’t abuse Costco’s liberal return policy as it’ll end up costing us all.

Ask the Reader: How often do you use their return policy? Any smart Costco tips I may have neglected to mention?


By Kyle James

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Brelyn Searcy

I ordered a box of diapers from Costco, they got left in the rain upon delivery, can I just take the damaged diapers and exchange them for a new box?

SillyRabbit

Costco does not do exchanges. They will either issue a refund to your original payment or they will give you a gift card to buy another. Remember to keep in mind that if your by chance paid with a card it will take however many business days your bank uses to process the refund so in cases where you can’t afford to buy another while waiting for the refund I would suggest opting for their cash card.

Lynne

My husband bought an office chair in a box but doesn’t like it. Does he have to take it apart and put it back in the box to return it?

Srini

I am also in the similar situation. Did you have to take it apart and put in a box to return the office chair ? Please let me know

Tee

did anyone answer this? I.m in the same situation. I don.t think I can take the chair apart, nor haul it down the stairs and fit it in my car to return it. anybody?

Kyle Stenson

Very helpful; thank you! I have a question regarding furniture returns. If I buy a couch on Costco.com, what does the return look like if—let’s say—it doesn’t fit or is uncomfortable? I’m interested in a couch but am hesitant to buy sight-unseen and be stuck with a couch that isn’t going to work for me.

Jennifer Huff

If there are 2 members in same household. One member paid with their credit card. Other household member returned item. Refund issued as store credit since the member returning item did not use their credit card. Now I could use that card. So how does it help member that paid? I could give the store credit away to charity if decided. Again, how does it help? So 2 household members husband/wife? Mother/daughter? Members can add whomever if they trust. Costco feels the need to “protect” the payor? That is not there job. If members have the same rights as each other then cash should be option in reason. Remember the in store refund card could be issued and used immediately by the other member that returned the item.

Angus

Can you return pots and pans from 4 years ago if they’ve been sticking and teflon is coming off?

Brenda Barnes

I bought towels on line I always wash them first I noticed they were very fuzzy and it doesn’t dry our skin very well can I return them ?

Art

I bought a MSI Gaming Monitor about a year+ and it recently stopped working/ black screen in the middle can I return for the same one or is it passed the policy?

Winter

I bought a set of dining chairs on-line in July 2021 and noticed the fabric has torn where the leg meets the seat. I don’t have the box they came in. Do I need the box to return it?

Angie

I bought my keurig 3 years ago and it’s now leaking from the water source. Would I be able to return that?

Ila

I bought a washer dryer set from Costco. The washer was installed but they sent the wrong dryer so it never made it into my house. That was over a month ago. Nobody knows where the dryer is since the delivery people were responsible for returning it. Costco will not refund my money for the dryer or tell me the cost of the split order until the dryer gets back to the warehouse. How do I get my refund?

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