If you’ve sprung for a Costco membership, there are undoubtedly things you enjoy about your shopping experience. However, not everything is rainbows and unicorns. The fact that Costco is so popular can also be why shopping there is sometimes a pain. Here are four struggles we’re pretty sure every Costco member can relate to.
1. Traffic jams
Depending on the day, getting into the Costco parking lot is like trying to get out of a parking lot after a professional football game. There are cars everywhere. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, but no one is going anywhere. All you want is to pick up a few groceries without draining your checking account.
Finally, you make your way into the store, where you hope to find peace and quiet — but no. If there’s that much traffic outside, there’s even more inside. After all, some of those cars held multiple people, and all those people now appear to be clustered in the same aisle. It’s common to find yourself stuck in a traffic jam of carts with no one sure who’s supposed to move first. Do you use the rules of the road, or is it a survival-of-the-fittest situation?
Insider tip: According to the folks on a Costco subreddit, Sunday morning is the time to shop if you prefer a less crowded experience. Taking it one step further, someone calling themselves lavendermermaid wrote, “I’ve gone to Costco Super Bowl Sunday about the same time kickoff started, and it was the emptiest I’ve ever seen it in my life. Highly recommend.”
2. Disappearing favorites
If you’ve ever fallen deeply in love with a particular food at Costco, you may know the heartbreak of being unable to find it the next time you stop by. Costco is all about rotate, rotate, rotate, and on occasion, that applies to new food items.
Insider tip: If a food, drink, or other item you enjoy disappears, you can request that the store restock it. Requests are made through the Costco app or online by visiting the warehouse feedback page.
3. Missed sales
There are few things more frustrating than pulling out your rewards card to buy a big-ticket item, only to learn it’s on sale a week or two after you make your purchase. However, with so many items in stock and sales going on simultaneously, it’s easy to miss out.
Insider tip: Fortunately, missing a sale is one of the easiest frustrations to fix, as long as your purchase was made within 30 days of the price change. If you made the original purchase online, Costco has a price adjustment page that outlines the details of making this kind of request. If you made the original purchase in a store, bring your receipt to the return counter to request a price adjustment.
Caveat: One thing to remember is that online Costco prices sometimes differ from in-store Costco prices, even for the same product. Costco does not offer a price adjustment if the item went on sale in store but you purchased it online (and vice versa).
4. Scavenger hunts
Costco frequently moves products around so customers will spend more time strolling the aisles. It’s a brilliant marketing technique. And as long as you have time to kill, it might be enjoyable to peruse the aisles, checking out new products.
However, if you’re in a hurry, going on a scavenger hunt is a pain.
Insider tip: If you’re shopping with another person, you can always split up, and the first person to find what you’re looking for is the “winner.” You also have the option of asking the nearest Costco employee you find or visiting the customer service desk.
Although no retailer is perfect, Costco tends to leave its shoppers relatively satisfied despite its quirks. This is evidenced by the fact that 92.5% of Costco members chose to renew their memberships when they came due in the first quarter of fiscal 2023. A retailer only gets that many renewals if it’s doing something right.
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