6 things to know about Costco’s return policy

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When it comes to being able to take back something you’ve bought, it doesn’t get much better in the world of retail than Costco Wholesale return policy.

The warehouse club has a near-legendary return policy that is so generous it is sometimes abused by customers.

(Ever tried returning a dead Christmas tree in January? Costco will apparently take it.)

But here’s what you need to know about the Costco return policy before you head to the store with your returns…

RELATED: 12 of the weirdest returns Costco employees have ever seen!

Costco returns: Know before you go

The ground rules when it comes to Costco’s refund policy is you can basically return anything, at any time, no questions asked — with some limited exceptions.

That extends to both merchandise and your membership. So, yes, in theory you could cancel your membership and get a full refund on your annual dues if you’re not happy at any time.

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into Costco’s return policy.

What if I don’t have my receipt?

A hand holding Costco receipt
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Costco’s refund policy is very lenient when it comes to this common scenario.

“It helps if you have the receipt or original product packaging, but it may not be necessary to process your return,” the warehouse club says online.

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A special 90-day policy applies to electronics and appliances

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In order to keep offering its great refund policy, Costco has to put some limits in somewhere — and it’s mainly in these two product categories.

Here’s a list of electronics and appliances that you can only return within 90 days after purchasing the item:

  • Televisions
  • Tuner-free displays
  • Projectors
  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Smart watches
  • Cameras
  • Aerial cameras (drones)
  • Camcorders
  • MP3 players
  • Cellular phones
  • Refrigerators above 10 cu. ft.
  • Freezers
  • Ranges
  • Cooktops
  • Over-the-range microwaves
  • Dishwashers
  • Washers and dryers

Returning a diamond? Check the weight first

costco jewelry
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There are some extra hoops to jump through if you’re returning a diamond that is 1.00 carat or larger.

“Members returning a diamond over 1.00ct must also present all original paperwork (IGI and/or GIA certificates),” Costco notes online.

Diamond solitaire rings and jewelry items that weigh more than 1.00 carat have to go through Costco’s fulfillment center for verification before you can get a refund. This process can take up to five business days.

Can’t make it out to the store to return your diamond? No worries. Costco also has a procedure to do it from home via UPS pickup.

Can I return cigarettes and alcohol?

costco alcohol
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The ability to return wine, beer and spirits varies by state law. Ditto for cigarettes. So be sure to check with your local club for specifics.

Special considerations for tires and batteries

costco tire installation storefront
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Some items you buy with the understanding they won’t last forever. Case in point: Tires and batteries.

Items like these “may be sold with a product-specific limited warranty,” according to Costco.

So does that mean you can’t return them? Not necessarily, but things get a little gray here.

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It may depend on how persuasive you are face-to-face. As with all returns, it’s up to the manager to make a final decision about whether or not to accept your return.

This particularly true with tires.

“If you’re not completely satisfied with your order, please speak with the staff at your local Costco Tire Center,” the company says online.

Now let’s be perfectly clear: We’re not advocating that you buy tires from Costco, use them up and then return them to get your money back. Nor should you do that with batteries.

But the nice thing is that Costco has a consumer-friendly safeguard in place so it doesn’t have to come to that. Their five-year Road Hazard Warranty protects your wallet from tread wear damage and tire failure for 60 months after purchase.

Read more about buying tires at Costco here.

Custom products can’t be returned

costco custom cards from photo center
Costco

As a general rule, items purchased through special order kiosks or that are customized in some way can’t be returned.

For example, Costco Photo Center offers a wide range of photo gifts. Beyond just custom cards, there are things like mugs, banners, calendars, throw rugs and more that you can put a picture on to personalize them.

Items like this can’t be returned. The only exception would for warranty repair/replacement due to failure to meet specifications.

You can read more about Costco Photo services here.

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Final thought

Costco has an extremely generous return policy, notwithstanding the exceptions outlined above.

So whatever it is you’ve got — food, clothing, even a mattress — can probably be returned without the receipt or original packaging.

Should a dispute arise when you try to return something, remember that all returns are processed at the manager’s discretion — and returning things too often could lead to your membership being cancelled!

More Costco stories on Clark.com: 

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