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The 10 Craziest Things Customers Have Returned To Costco

From dead plants to empty alcohol bottles, the Costco returns counter has seen it all.
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If you've ever returned–or attempted to return–an item at a grocery or retail store, you know the process typically ranges from less than ideal to extremely infuriating. The chore usually involves navigating specific return windows, digging up a paper receipt, and presenting the exact same form of payment.

Plus, the item must be in pristine condition (packaging included), and you better have a damn good reason for the return. And, after all that, your return still may be denied, and that item you didn't want becomes a permanent part of your home.

Costco knows how frustrating this can be. Which is why the retailer cut out most of the red tape and offers no-questions-asked returns on nearly any item in the store with no specific time constraints. It's all part of its risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee which keeps members happy and encourages them to try new things throughout the warehouse. There are a few exceptions, of course, for returns of items like electronics, alcohol, or diamonds. But, for the most part, Costco's policy for take backs is one of the most lenient you're likely to find.

RELATED: 7 Reasons to Keep Your Costco Membership

However, with a great returns policy comes great abuse. Many conversations have erupted around the craziest returns seen by both employees and members alike. People have successfully returned items such as stained mattresses and couches and even dead plants.

But, these are mild in comparison to some of the stories listed below. Read on to learn about some of the wildest Costco returns throughout the years and try not to be "that guy" in the future.

One leftover crab leg

Alaskan Golden King Crab Legs and Claws costco

One Reddit user told the tale of a particularly annoying seafood snafu at the Costco returns counter. "I know everyone's got their stories but the one that bugs me the most is a lady I had return a 10lb pack of crab leg, all eaten except one leg because 'it had a spot on it'. Come on man," the poster shares.

We would be a little crabby too if one of our delicious crab legs ended up being inedible–those delicacies aren't cheap! But, to eat the majority of the bag and then return it because of a spot on one leg (and likely on the shell, a.k.a. the part you don't eat anyways) seems a little over the top.

A 14-year-old play set

Boy throwing balls up by using rainbow parachute

This outrageous return didn't end up working out for the consumer, but it wasn't for a lack of trying! On a Reddit thread, a Costco employee recalled a woman attempting to take back a play set she had owned for 14 years. Her reasoning was that her kids no longer used the set, to which the employee replied, "Duh."

And, it sounds like this woman isn't the only one to attempt this stunt. A Costco member witnessed an almost identical scenario mere months ago. "I saw some lady try to return a tree house because her children are too big for it now compared to when she bought it 15 years ago," the Redditor wrote.

The Costco worker offered an explanation as to why the store typically doesn't accept these kinds of returns–beyond the obvious reason that it's just plain wrong. "Our managers will return anything we get credit for but if the system says no credit available (meaning it's over the manufacturer warranty) they won't accept the return or they look at return history to decide if it's acceptable or not."

Used air conditioners…every year

Air conditioner inside the room with woman operating remote controller

Some Costco members are habitual offenders, and have no shame in returning something after they're done using it for a certain season or time period. A prime example of this is members getting their money back for Christmas trees directly following the holidays, or even months down the line.

Another warehouse worker noticed a customer repeatedly abusing the return policy with the purchase of air conditioners. "I deliver and pick up Costco products from customers," the employee explains. "The past couple years this one customer buys 2 air conditioners in the spring then returns them in the fall. Does Costco not look at their return history? People like that should be denied returns at the very least."

The customer's argument for these yearly returns was undoubtedly filled with a lot of hot air, but Costco's lax policies allowed him to get away with it.

An empty case of wine

pouring red wine into glass next to steak

It's not uncommon to get to the bottom of a bottle of wine and then regret it the next day. But, one woman took it to the extreme. She downed an entire case of Costco wine and later returned it empty, stating it had given her a headache.

Reddit users in the comments were appalled someone would even try something like this, and were even more riled up after learning she had received a cash refund of $85. Others noted that a headache was just waiting to happen after drinking wine priced that cheap. But, another added, "Quality has nothing to do with it if you go through the case quickly enough."

"No Salt Added" almonds that "weren't salty"

Handful of almonds

We can likely all agree that this seems to be a mistake on the customer's part, and a simple case of misreading. Most people would probably just suck it up and eat their unsalted almonds, but one woman decided to approach the situation much differently.

"My [mother in law] returned and berated some high school kid because her almonds (clearly labeled "No Salt Added") where not salty," one customer shared on Reddit. "Shes the type of crazy people are scared to say no too in case she burns down the store tho." Seems like a high level of dramatics for a simple bag of nuts…

A very questionable safe


After purchasing a large safe online, one Costco member decided to return it. Sounds like a completely reasonable thing to do right? Well, it turns out the safe was sent back reeking of marijuana, according to a Reddit user. This customer's secret was not kept safe with Costco, and apparently the police ended up being called.

It's unclear if this suspect ever got his money back, or if he's currently facing other charges.

Half-eaten Christmas dinner months later

group of 20- or 30-something friends eating holiday meal together in santa hats
Shutterstock / Milan Ilic Photographer

Apparently, trees aren't the only item people have audaciously returned following Christmas. "Someone tried to return their half eaten Christmas dinner," a Costco employee shared on Reddit. The timing of the returned meal is even more puzzling–nearly two and a half months after the holiday! The user added that they had seen some crazy things since transferring to Costco's returns department, but this was the worst of the worst.

What we're really wanting to know is how exactly the meal was returned. Was it all wrapped up in the tablecloth it had previously been displayed on? Was it dumped back into bags or maybe even stored away in leftover containers? The Redditor doesn't explain.

69 cent fountain drink that wasn't the right temp

costco food court soda fountain
calimedia / Shutterstock

Things have gotten so out of hand at Costco, members have even started returning foods and drinks sold at the famed food court. "Just witnessed a woman demand a refund for her fountain soda for a whopping 69¢ because it wasn't 'the right temperature,'" a Redditor shared.

We may be mistaken, but aren't customers able to regulate the temperature of drinks themselves with ice at the self-serve soda fountain?

The witness to this saga went on to say the woman bounced around between the return desk, the manager, and even back to the food court in order to process her refund. Seems like a lot of trouble to go to for 69 cents, and the Redditor agrees. "Almost handed her a dollar bill out of my pocket and told her to save everyone the time," they said.

A book with a bad ending

woman reading a book on a road trip

You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we're certainly judging the woman who returned a book she had already read to Costco. One Redditor shared that the reason for the return was because she "didn't like the ending", to which someone else in the long return line supposedly retorted, "get a library card, they're free and you can stop wasting other people's time!"

Apparently, this isn't an isolated incident, either. It seems to be an unfortunate trend within the Costco community (and likely at other stores as well) for bold book worms to buy novels just to return them soon after–clearly reading them during that time.

The wrong-sized onions


Let's peel back the layers of this scenario. A man was seen at the Costco returns counter with 12–yes, that's right, a full dozen–cases of whole white onions. You could understand this return if the vegetables were moldy or had somehow gone bad, but this was not the case. "They were purchased earlier today," according to a poster on Reddit. "Only thing wrong with them were they were the 'wrong size'."

It's a little confusing how this could have happened. Because unless the onions magically grew or shrank down within hours, then they were likely the same size as when they were purchased.

Unfortunately, the manager on duty let the man know the onions would have to be destroyed if they were taken back. But, the Redditor has a better idea: chopping them up for use on the food court hot dogs much better.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan