Travis has a rich tradition of an annual bottle of scotch at Christmas, a tradition that was nearly shattered along with his bottle when it slipped from its box. Luckily Costco has an even longer and richer tradition of being really cool about refunds.
A few years ago, my boss started a yearly tradition of buying his team each a bottle of wine or scotch for Christmas. After he left, I continued the practice for myself, buying a new bottle of a new brand every holiday season. This year, I am out of work as the holidays come, but I decided to go ahead and buy my yearly bottle anyway. Being more frugal under the circumstances, I waited for some coupons to come into effect and bought my bottle at Costco the day they did. When I took it out of my car it slid out of the top of its box and shattered on my front steps. After a string of profanities, I cleaned up the remains of the bottle and posted an open invitation on Facebook to any nearby friends with dogs who appreciate whiskey.
Examining the box afterwards I noticed that it was designed specifically to prevent the kind of accident I had – part of a sleeve inside the the main box has two leaves that angle down and inward to create a collar and lock the bottle in place. It occurred to me that someone may have opened the box to inspect the contents and failed to push these structures back into place, leaving the bottle ready to slide out when the box was tipped at an angle during carry. Armed with this idea (and positive previous experiences), I thought I’d take the broken remains and box back to Costco to see if they would give me a discount on a replacement bottle. I spoke with the woman at returns, showed her what I thought had happened, and she gave me an immediate refund. The only question she asked is if I intended to use the refund to buy another bottle – since I did, she gave me the refund on a cash card. I was back out the door with my replacement in a few minutes.
Since money is tight at the moment, and it was a significant indulgence to buy a gift for myself to begin with, I would not have purchased another one at full price this holiday. With their refund, Costco saved my gift to myself and helped me keep that little bit of normal in an abnormal holiday season. This is precisely the kind of service that keeps me actively trying to convert other shoppers to Costco – so I would say they also made a wise investment.
It never hurts to ask. As the saying goes, squeaky wheel gets the scotch.