Here's Why Costco's Return Policy May Surprise You

Forget everything you thought you knew about Costco's return policy.
A view of a Costco storefront

When it comes to shopping, Costco is a true consumer paradise with deep discounts on everything from electronics and furniture to organic food and bulk products. For those holding membership, Costco offers something few major retailers can boast: an experience. From the moment you walk through the door, there's that "thing" you didn't realize you needed or wanted, a new food to sample, and the scents from the famous food court wafting over, a place where whole families can be fed for prices rivaling fast food companies from 20 years ago. With so much in its favor, it's hard to even imagine needing to return something to Costco, but of course, there is always some potential issue to account for, and Costco's risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee aims to nip those issues in the bud.

Costco's history begins with Price Club in 1976, and fortunately, unlike another famous club, customers were allowed to talk about it, or else getting it off the ground would have proven difficult. From the start, its goal was to deliver bulk items to small business owners via no-frills outlets available only to its members. Costco opened its doors in 1983 and offered small business owners a modest discount on its inventory. In 1993, Price Club merged with rival Costco to form PriceCostco, which, as a name, is maybe a step up from FedMart, the place both rival founders worked prior that served government employees and definitely does not sound like a front for something else in an 80s buddy cop movie.

By the late 90s, the Costco we know and love today had taken the retail market by storm and was offering wholesale prices to any consumer with a membership, all without forgetting its mission to deliver quality goods it could stand behind. With this focus on small business owners and the general money-saving public, Costco knew that it would need a return policy that ensured maximum satisfaction to the customer, so whether you're wondering about the Costco return policy time limit or something more specific like Costco's mattress return policy, read on to learn all about how returns work at this beloved retail giant.

Costco is committed to providing quality and value on all of its products and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on not only its merchandise but its membership as well. In general, Costco offers two return options: returns to the warehouse or returns via a mail carrier.

Returning an item to your local warehouse is very simple. Bring your product to any warehouse and an employee from the Member Services Team will take it from there. While it helps to have a receipt and the original packaging, Costco returns without receipt are absolutely possible as purchases are linked to your membership information.

Note that Costco also offers free technical support for items like TVs, computers, cameras, printers, and more across their lifetime, so before you go searching high and low for the Costco TV return policy or Costco computer return policy, check to see if you can receive some other form of assistance first.

For returns via a mail carrier:

  1. Log into your account through the sign in link.
  2. Select "orders and returns".
  3. Locate the matching order number.
  4. Choose "return or replace items".
  5. Follow the instructions when prompted.
  6. Print a return label or schedule a pickup (where eligible). If you are returning a large item, you will receive an email with additional instructions.

Note that even Costco returns have some limits, and select items cannot be returned through Self Service. These items include:

  • Special Order Kiosk items (such as HVAC systems, countertops, custom flooring, generators, solar, water heaters, garage doors, and more)
  • Optical items
  • Tires
  • Tickets and digital goods
  • iTunes and Google Play purchases
  • Jewelry
  • Apple products
  • Perishable goods

To return these items, you will need to either contact Costco online for instructions or visit your local warehouse.

As far as membership goes, Costco will cancel and refund your membership at any time if you are dissatisfied with the service. For merchandise, Costco guarantees satisfaction on every product it sells and will offer a refund with only a few exceptions. In these cases, the Costco return policy time limit varies, but some items may be excluded from returns altogether.

When it comes to Costco's return policy, electronics are probably a top concern for most consumers. Rest assured, Costco will accept returns within 90 days on these items, including:

  • Televisions
  • Projectors
  • Major appliances
  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Smart watches
  • Cameras
  • Drones
  • Camcorders
  • MP3 players
  • Cellular phones

Remember, before trying to hunt down something like Costco's laptop return policy or Costco's TV return policy, many items qualify for troubleshooting assistance. Browse through the topics there or contact Costco for assistance before going through the Costco returns process.

Diamonds of 1-tcw. or larger are a notable exception to Costco's jewelry return policy and require all original paperwork as well as inspection for authenticity before receiving credit. The Costco return policy time limit also applies to items with limited useful life expectancy like tires or batteries; for these items, refer to individual product warranties.

Of course, some items are not eligible for returns at all. These include:

  • Airline and Live Performance Events
  • Gold bullion and gold bars
  • Cigarettes and alcohol
  • Shop Cards
  • Special Order Kiosk and Custom Installed Programs (except for warranty repair/replacement)

Returns are always easier with a receipt, but life happens: It's been weeks, so you toss it away, or you never thought you'd have to bring something back to begin with. Costco returns without receipts are as easy as providing your membership card or number. One of the benefits of having a membership is that your activity is linked to your account, making the process of tracking your purchases a breeze.

Beyond the exceptions outlined above, there seems to be no hard rules when it comes to the Costco return policy time limit. It would be wise to speak to an employee to be certain that you can return your purchase at any time, but outside of select items, there does not appear to be any time limit on merchandise or even membership when it comes to returns.

Probably the main thing shoppers worry about is whether or not they can make a Costco return without a receipt, but as stated above, that isn't an issue. Fortunately, Costco does not require that you go hunting for something specific like a "Costco furniture return policy" as some other retailers might. As long as you don't make too many returns or loan out your membership card, you shouldn't have any trouble with Costco returns.

In general, returning an item to Costco is a simple practice that follows some common-sense rules. You can return an item for any of the following reasons:

  • You aren't satisfied with your purchase.
  • You made your purchase by mistake.
  • Your item was defective or damaged.
  • You received the wrong item.
  • You received duplicate items.
  • You refused delivery owing to damage to the packaging.
  • Your item was missing.
  • Your shipment was lost.

Refunds typically take up to a few business days to return to your bank account. For select items like diamonds over 1-tcw., an inspection will take up to a couple additional days. In general, Costco returns are quick and hassle-free, which could be worth the cost of membership alone these days

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Keira Wagner

Keira is an editor and content jockey in Las Vegas, NV. She handles all the content leftovers like a hungry dog parked under the Thanksgiving table and is the most likely to have someone hold her hostage on a plane.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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