EXCLUSIVE: Costco To Make Return Policy Stricter?

Costco is making its liberal return policies stricter, according to a little birdy. Previously, you could return anything, except computers, at anytime, with or without a receipt.

Our tipster says Costco will limit returns to 30 days, citing ‘abuse.’ We called Costco and they had no idea what we were talking about, but if they were changing their policy, said Barbara, it wouldn’t be until after Jan 1.

Barbara also said that if they were changing the policy, it would be to restrict certain items, like computers, which currently have a 6-month limit on their return.

If you have any Costco merch lying around the house that you’re not feeling so hot about, Dec 31 might be the last day for you to return it. That is, if they were changing their return policy. — BEN POPKEN

Related: Costco’s Incredible Return Policy [Blueprint for Financial Prosperity]

UPDATE
: More discussion, and people saying new 30 day policy is already in effect, in this Fat Wallet thread.

Comments

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  1. Johnie says:

    I wouldn’t worry about not being able to return an item you’ve already purchased. I would think that there would be a grandfather clause to any changes that they make. If not they would be setting themselves up for a lawsuit since they are changing the policy after you agreed to a prior policy at purchase.

    This is like saying a merchant having a 30 day return policy sign, but when you come in to make a return, they flip the sign and change the policy to “No Returns”.

  2. MoogleLally says:

    Costco’s return policy has always been amazing, but it’s easy to see how it could be abused.

    The smallest “harmless” abuse I’ve seen was from a friend’s dad. He was moving out of town, had his vacuum from Costco (which he’d used while living here) back in the original box. They took it back, even after almost a year.

    However, the most flagrant abuse of the return policy I’ve ever seen was one day when I was waiting in the customer service line.

    There was a man with a very large big screen TV. A very angry man. I suppose I would have been eavesdropping but he had been shouting about his displeasure to the whole world.

    From what I gathered, he was trying to return a TV which he had bought there almost two years ago. There was a concern, however, because in the last year he’d returned over $50,000 in merchandise.

    I also gathered that he owned a ‘rent-to-own’ company. Think about it, sweet deal. Rent out some big TV from Costco, then take it back, and return it to Costco. All profit for you. Or, in this case, ‘it didn’t work anymore’.

    The angry man kept pointing at the return policy and the manager on the floor (who said he’d been working there for some sixteen years) said, repeatedly, “Sir, this wouldn’t be a problem if your return amount was so high. Too high.”

    When I left the line they were arguing over what would happen if he left the TV there, went to get his lawyer, and came back. The manager was saying he couldn’t be responcible for it, he’d be abandoning his property. I left before I heard what happened at the end.

    That manager had more patience than I could ever imagine a person could.

  3. homerjay says:

    Once again a handful of assholes ruin something for the rest of us.

  4. I’m sorry, that photograph has to be fake. I have never seen a Costco that empty.

  5. TedSez says:

    I’ve already had problems with Costco returns… I brought in a chair I had purchased on Costco.com after it broke for the third time. The first two times I had repaired it myself, but the third time it broke in a place that wasn’t fixable. A manager told me I should have returned it the first time it broke (although they no longer had anything similar in stock to replace it with), and she didn’t want to take it back at this point — even though it was still within their official time frame — because I had “used it.” After I argued with her for half an hour in front of a long line of annoyed people, she finally agreed to take it back. But I guess that even though I was fully within my rights under their return policy, this was a situation that they would consider “abuse.”

  6. Ico Jones says:

    Costco addressed this directly on their earnings call yesterday — there will probably be a change in the policy for flat panel televisions, but not general items. AND, all flat panels purchased before the change would be made would be grandfathered. You can pretty much assume any time you hear a rumor that Costco is going to screw their customers, it isnt true. This is a company that wall street analysts hate because they are more concerned about their customers than their shareholders (as opposed to Wal-Mart, who doesnt seem to care about either).

  7. gleam says:

    No follow up to this post? As far as I can tell, Costco has not made this change.

  8. psiworks says:

    Not sure if there’s been an “official” policy change, but this is what I experienced in the last 2 days:

    I tried to return a defective 7 month old TV to my local warehouse yesterday, and I was flat out rejected. The returns manager told me that there’s been a new policy in effect for the last 2 month: they’ll reject all TV returns past 30 days unless I can prove that I’ve exhausted all possible options in repairing the TV. And even then, it’s up to the manager’s discretion. I asked for this policy change in writing; they told me they don’t have it in writing.

    I called their customer center this morning at 800-744-2678 and was told that there’s no such thing as unlimited return period. They’ll accept returns up to 30 days from the date of purchase, then it’s on a case-by-case basis. Basically each store can have its own return policy – there’s absolutely no guarantee that you can return anything after 30 days.

    So the statements from both the warehouse and the customer center are somewhat consistent. This makes me believe that the unlimited return is highly YMMV. It varies greatly from store to store, and there’s nothing the consumer can go by in writing – it’s entirely up to the manager at the returns dept.

  9. psiworks says:

    Now the policy change been confirmed. See http://www.costco.com/Images/Content/Misc/PDF/concierge.PD

    It’s 90 days for TVs.