Costco has one of the most generous return policies in the retail world. You can basically return anything you’ve purchased at the warehouse club at any time for a full refund — except for electronics and major appliances, which have a 90-day return policy with receipt.
That means, in theory, you can return your bananas if they spoil too early or you can return the Kirkland Signature store-brand trail mix you bought if you don’t like the taste.
On a larger scale, you can even return a mattress you buy at the store with no time limit, or your Kirkland Signature luggage after a lifetime of use.
That “satisfaction guaranteed” exchange policy even extends to the cost of your membership. So if you try Costco out for a year and decide you don’t like it, you can even get your membership fee itself back!
Check Out This Dirty Dozen of Weird Costco Returns
All returns are handled at the returns counter at the warehouse. This applies to items purchased at the physical store as well as merchandise purchased online at Costco.com.
“It helps if you have the receipt or original product packaging, but it may not be necessary to process your return,” Costco notes.
With a return policy this lenient, it’s only natural that a small percent of customers will abuse the store’s generous return policy.
Case in point…
Woman Returns a Dead Christmas Tree — in January
In 2018, one Facebook user took a picture of a woman returning a dead Christmas to a Los Angeles-area Costco during the first week of January.
When asked why she was making the return, the woman reportedly said, “because it is dead.”
The employees may not have been happy with this unidentified woman, but she did get her money back.
If that’s not crazy enough for you, there’s a treasure trove of unusual returns listed on a Reddit thread titled ‘For Costco Employees: What’s the most outrageous item that was returned at Costco? And what was the result?‘
Most of the following responses come from users claiming to be current and former Costco employees:
Opened Underwear Packages
“If they’re still in the package they can go back to the vendors, and if they are used we usually have people that will buy them cheap. Sometimes though they are just discarded because the vendors won’t take them back or the resellers aren’t interested for whatever reason” – hobovalentine
Empty Wine Bottle
“A lady returned an empty bottle of wine cause it gave her a headache.” – jb2255
Used Chicken Coop
“I was on the cart crew for 8 months. The worst I saw was a used chicken coop that had started falling apart. The thing was covered in chicken [feces]. Everyone stared as the guy and his family brought it in. Apparently he had bought it online the year before. Naturally, the front end manager gave him a full refund.” – syst3m1c
An Old Laptop That’s Not What It Seems
“Had an online order come across my desk a few months ago – a guy had a return keyed for a brand new laptop about two weeks after receiving it. That’s cool, no judgment, if you don’t want it after all, you can return it inside that 90-day policy. However, what he returned was not this brand new computer he ordered from Costco. He returned a beat up, ratty old laptop that had to have been at least 8 years old. It wasn’t even from the same manufacturer. The guy had peeled off the serial sticker from his brand new laptop and taped it onto the old laptop.” – bloodsponge
“Usually a few months after the Garden Center closes, people bring back plants that died. Sorry let me rephrase that…plants they couldn’t take care of properly. Also every January, people make the pilgrimage to their local Costco to return their Christmas decorations. Also right around September people love bringing back all their summer stuff, BBQs, bathing suits, pool gear, patio sets, etc. I wanna live that life…where I just don’t feel any shame for the scummy stuff I do to save money.” – ManicHispanic85
“13 year old fish. Lady left it in her freezer and forgot about it. Wanted to return it and when we said no, she threatened calling corporate and all that jazz. If I remember correctly they let her return it.” – Xianricca
$200 Vacuum-Packed Ribeye Steak
“Someone bought a ribeye bone in cryovac [for] around 200 dollars during the holidays and returned a cooked container of bones and fat. Yes, they were completely reimbursed for returning literally .13 cents worth of fat and bones…Major eye roll!” – inglorious
A Safe Smelling of Marijuana
“A huge safe bought online was returned reeking of marijuana. The police were called.” – iheartrms
“The oldest return so far was a 15-year-old pressure washer and the reason for the return was that it had stopped working. But it’s pretty ridiculous since so much time had passed since the original purchase.” – hobovalentine
“Worst I’ve seen is photos. People would return photos that [were] printed that they took and didn’t like them. This is all when they still had the dropbox for film. Some would return hundreds of black, out of focus, red eye. And best yet, [they returned because it] doesn’t fit their frame cause they choose 5×7 instead of the 4×6.” – Gundamk
10-Year-Old Ping Pong Table
“[I tried to return] an outdoor ping-pong table purchased about 10 years ago. It’s outdoor rated, so it’s supposed to be used outdoors, right? Well, the Florida elements have not been kind to it. The metal frame is completely rusted through and several supports have started to collapse.” – Alan, as reported by Consumerist.com.