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9 Things Costco Shoppers Dislike Most About Costco

You might love the prices, products, and other perks, but there's a lot to loathe about the warehouse, too.

There are plenty of things to love about being a Costco member. The simple ability to shop in any of Costco's warehouses means free samples, access to bulk-sized pantry staples, and potentially significant savings on everyday goods. You also can buy a new car, book a vacation, and sign up for home and auto insurance—all through the benefits of membership.

If it sounds too good to be true, it kind of isn't. A basic Costco membership costs $60 a year.

For all of its membership perks, however, there are several drawbacks to shopping at Costco that even its most loyal customers can't ignore. Some of the issues have moved to the forefront of shoppers' minds in recent years, while others are practically synonymous with the Costco experience.

Finding a parking spot

Costco parking lot

It can be a hassle just to get in the front door at your local Costco, as parking lots can have their own unique brand of frenzy. Costco shoppers often swap tips on visiting when crowds are at their lowest, and many agree that the parking situation is something they dread every time they need to make a grocery run. In general, there are parking spots to be found, but those premium spots closer to the door are where members will see cars circling around.

One Costco member marvels at the stress others seem to feel in the Costco parking lot, sharing on Reddit, "Why do people have this mentality that they're rushing all the time there? I get these aggressive hand-waving gestures when I'm sitting there waiting to make a turn. If someone has to make the inconceivable action of using their brake, I see them flipping out. It honestly boggles my mind how this happens." It certainly doesn't make for a strong first impression of how a Costco shopping experience will turn out.

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Those giant shopping carts

costco cart
a katz / Shutterstock

Most of Costco's items are sold in bulk, meaning the packaging will be much larger than a typical item at the local grocery store. Larger items mean a larger shopping cart is required, but members quickly point out how cumbersome the carts can be. Despite the extra-wide aisles, carts can still take up all of the available space, and oftentimes they are far too large for the few items members are shopping for.

One Costco member on Reddit wished the warehouses would implement smaller carts as well "for people just getting a few items. There are too many people, and the aisles are just jam-packed with giant, slow-moving, half-empty carts. Impossible to maneuver around."

Items moving around the store

kirkland signature costco bakery
The Image Party / Shutterstock

Frequent Costco shoppers know all too well the frustration of having to locate grocery staples on every trip like it's a scavenger hunt. Costco is known for moving items around its warehouse, in part to entice members into traveling down every aisle in the hopes of selling more items. One Costco member pleaded on Reddit, "Stop moving items around the store. I shouldn't have to look through every aisle to find something I've bought multiple times before."

Aware of the warehouse's scheming, another Costco member chimed in on Reddit, saying they can do without "the hide-and-seek game Costco plays with product placement. It's maddening. I know the alleged rationale is it gets customers to shop the whole store. I already shop the whole dang store."

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The limited food court menu

costco food court
Cassiohabib / Shutterstock

While Costco's food court is a popular destination for members, many have noticed that it has lost some of its luster over the years. Subjective opinions on the quality of its food aside, shoppers can agree on one thing: the menu has shrunk. One Costco shopper pointed out on Reddit that the food court appears to have adopted "Very, VERY degraded ingredients in comparison to pre-pandemic [the pizzas are not the same], brutally reduced menu selections, and very, very, very inconsistent preparation by the Food Court workers." One common gripe is the omission of the Combo Pizza, a beloved food court item that may never return.

As another Costco member simply stated on Reddit, "It's never been quite the same since they reopened after the pandemic shutdown." The food court may have once been a major draw for members, but now it's something shoppers mostly complain about.

Smaller inventory

costco interior

It may feel like shoppers can find everything under the sun at Costco, but that is not necessarily true. In fact, of the three major warehouse chains, Costco members actually have fewer items to choose from, compared to major competitors Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale. BJ's itself claims to have double the inventory as Costco, and according to The Motley Fool, Sam's Club carries more items, too.

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The online experience could be improved

Costco online shopping
rafapress / Shutterstock

Online shopping is the default option for many consumers in this 21st-century world, but it appears Costco prefers to keep things brick-and-mortar. For all of its membership perks, Costco cannot quite figure out its digital shopping experience, whether that's online or through its smartphone app. Members bemoan over the sub-par website experience, with one sharing on Reddit, "Costco's website is completely useless other than ordering appliances. I now order more from Sam's because they have free shipping on every item with the plus membership."

Another Redditor points out that Costco does not offer much in technology aiding in the in-store shopping experience, adding, "Sam's Club Scan & Go feature of scanning and paying for all of the items on your phone so crushes the Costco checkout experience that I used to pass four Costco's to go to Sam's."

No curbside pickup

costco wholesale exterior
Cassiohabib / Shutterstock

Shopping has become more modernized and streamlined over the years to make the process more convenient. Like the advent of self-checkout and online shopping, curbside pickup offers a solution to time-strapped shoppers. Surprisingly, however, Costco does not offer curbside pickup, despite the fact that its chief competitor Sam's Club does.

One Redditor highlighted this difference as one of the reasons having a Costco membership isn't as beneficial as one at Sam's Club, noting, "I have the membership that comes with free shipping and free store pickup, and that has been such a nice convenience! Costco used to have free shipping for online purchases, but now it's an ever-shrinking number of items that qualify for free shipping."

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Restrictions on payment methods

Costco Citi Visa

Few things feel as embarrassing and dreadful as realizing there's no wallet to be found when in the checkout line at the grocery store. Not having a proper payment method can stop any errand dead in its tracks, but these days most retailers accept most, if not all, major forms of payment. Costco, however, is still quite restrictive on what payment methods shoppers can use, particularly when it comes to credit cards. To this day, Visa is the only major credit card accepted in the warehouse. That means MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards are a no-go.

It's a drawback that could turn potential new members away, as one Redditor explains: "One important thing that may turn you off from Costco entirely is in warehouses, Costco only accepts Visa credit cards….If you have a favorite credit card that isn't a Visa, Costco may not be for you unless you plan to do almost all your shopping online and the card isn't American Express. Sam's Club accepts everything."

Long lines at checkout

costco checkout lanes
Tada Images / Shutterstock

Anyone with a super-sized shopping cart filled with groceries will want to sail through the checkout line and return to their cars in a flash, but that is often easier said than done at Costco. Any number of things can cause a holdup in the Costco checkout line, from playing Tetris with bulk items in the shopping cart to a backup of employees verifying receipts on the way out. Many members have noticed, however, that the checkout lanes could be much more efficient if they were only properly staffed. As one Redditor points out, "Our normal checkout lanes rarely have more than 2 open. It's so annoying."

The self-checkout lanes do not seem to help, either, as one member explains on Reddit: "The self-checkout lanes are awful. Our store has eight, with only one employee to cover all of them. It wouldn't be so bad if, say, the bagels and other baked goods had barcodes so you could scan them at the kiosk. But no, you need someone to manually come over and enter them, which is time-consuming and obviously stressful for the employee." If only shoppers felt like they could get in and out of the warehouse in record time, it could alleviate the stress felt from the other dislikes felt from being a Costco member.

Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a freelance writer specializing in all things food, travel, Disney, and theme parks. Read more about Carly