Shopping Discussion

Can you return to Costco as a non-member?

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 28th, 2019 1:54 pm
[OP]
Deal Guru
User avatar
May 6, 2005
10900 posts
1082 upvotes
Squamish

Can you return to Costco as a non-member?

Since you can purchase online without membership, can you return an item without membership? I know they have those people at the front checking that only members enter the store...
36 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
1007 posts
568 upvotes
London, On
I’ve never had to show my card to get to the service desk, which is usually on the exit side of the store anyway.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
28046 posts
8482 upvotes
Yeah you don't need a membership on the customer service desk side--non-members are basically free to go in there for that purpose, as well as for going to the restaurant counter. Before I was a member I'd buy hot dogs/pizza all the time in there lol.
Deal Addict
May 25, 2009
1782 posts
290 upvotes
ES_Revenge wrote: Yeah you don't need a membership on the customer service desk side--non-members are basically free to go in there for that purpose, as well as for going to the restaurant counter. Before I was a member I'd buy hot dogs/pizza all the time in there lol.
I have been asked for my membership card quite a few times when entering through the exit. When the employees are busy with a long line of carts trying to exit they usually don't notice you coming in but when it is slow often times they will ask for a membership. Maybe it is pretty store specific though.

That being said, if you bought online and had to return something they would have to allow you to enter to make the return.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
28046 posts
8482 upvotes
calgaryhhr wrote: I have been asked for my membership card quite a few times when entering through the exit.
Just tell them you're going to the customer service counter in that case (which is where you would be going in this case). Or, just tell them to eff off lol.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
15236 posts
12402 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Heading to Customer Service, one does not need a Membership Card...
Cause, duh... that is where one buys a Membership

Now for the actual question at hand RETURNS & MEMBERSHIP

One does not need a Membership to Return something bought on line at Costco.ca, because the website doesn’t require a membership to make purchases

One MIGHT NEED a Membership to return something that was bought in an actual warehouse store
As purchases are “registered” to the Member who bought it
... one of the actual perks of membership... all your transactions are kept / tracked for your account

If the OP bought the item in the store as a Non Member Visiting with a Gift Card etc
Then they most definitely would need to produce a receipt that proves that

If someone else made the purchase with their Membership, then HE MIGHT not be able to do the return, even if he has the receipt
Deal Fanatic
Jul 30, 2003
5733 posts
520 upvotes
Toronto
PointsHubby wrote: Heading to Customer Service, one does not need a Membership Card...
Cause, duh... that is where one buys a Membership

Now for the actual question at hand RETURNS & MEMBERSHIP

One does not need a Membership to Return something bought on line at Costco.ca, because the website doesn’t require a membership to make purchases

One MIGHT NEED a Membership to return something that was bought in an actual warehouse store
As purchases are “registered” to the Member who bought it
... one of the actual perks of membership... all your transactions are kept / tracked for your account

If the OP bought the item in the store as a Non Member Visiting with a Gift Card etc
Then they most definitely would need to produce a receipt that proves that

If someone else made the purchase with their Membership, then HE MIGHT not be able to do the return, even if he has the receipt
As of this year, they are changing the rules so non-member visiting gift cards can only use it ONCE. They will refund rest of the amount.
(They may be stopping the non-mem gift cards altogether?)
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Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
1007 posts
568 upvotes
London, On
Surely members buy gifts for people at a Costco and the recipient may or may not have a membership but might need to return something. Surely Costco can deal with that like every other store out there where people return gifts.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
15236 posts
12402 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
djeffery wrote: Surely members buy gifts for people at a Costco and the recipient may or may not have a membership but might need to return something. Surely Costco can deal with that like every other store out there where people return gifts.
FACT... Not all stores will do a return on a Gift as a REFUND. AND a lot of stores now only do REFUNDS / RETURNS to the original purchaser and only to the means by which they purchased the item... ie, paid Cash get cash, paid by plastic then the refund goes back to the original Credit Card / Debit Card when it is presented along with the receipt

Which is why more and more stores ask up front... “Will you require a Gift Receipt ?”
A Gift Receipt at least gives a bit more leeway to the person who gets the gift and might need to do an Exchange etc

And for the record...

NO STORE IS OBLIGATED TO DO RETURNS, EXCHANGES OR REFUNDS
(A common misconception)
It is up to the store if they have such a policy... or live by EVERYTHING IS A FINAL / AS IS SALE
However, I do believe that Stores must POST THEIR T&Cs at the Cash... or in the very least on the receipt somewhere

So NO
Costco is not under any obligation to take back an item that comes into their store from a NON MEMBER
Period
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 3, 2014
2762 posts
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Vancouver(ish)
PointsHubby wrote: So NO
Costco is not under any obligation to take back an item that comes into their store from a NON MEMBER
Period
FACT. You're wrong. They have a very clear return policy for their web portal, and since they sell to non-members through that portal, the policy applies to non-members for their purchases through the website. Therefore, subject to the terms of that return policy, they are very much obliged to take back an item from a non-member.

Now, as for non-web purchases (gifts, for example, or when they piggybacked through the till with a member as another example), that is a whole different kettle of fish and there you are correct. They have no obligation to accept returns from non-members for products bought in-store. Quite simply, their contract is with the member who made the purchase, not the third party, and therefore return policies do not apply unless the member is doing the return.
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Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
1007 posts
568 upvotes
London, On
PointsHubby wrote: FACT... Not all stores will do a return on a Gift as a REFUND. AND a lot of stores now only do REFUNDS / RETURNS to the original purchaser and only to the means by which they purchased the item... ie, paid Cash get cash, paid by plastic then the refund goes back to the original Credit Card / Debit Card when it is presented along with the receipt

Which is why more and more stores ask up front... “Will you require a Gift Receipt ?”
A Gift Receipt at least gives a bit more leeway to the person who gets the gift and might need to do an Exchange etc

And for the record...

NO STORE IS OBLIGATED TO DO RETURNS, EXCHANGES OR REFUNDS
(A common misconception)
It is up to the store if they have such a policy... or live by EVERYTHING IS A FINAL / AS IS SALE
However, I do believe that Stores must POST THEIR T&Cs at the Cash... or in the very least on the receipt somewhere

So NO
Costco is not under any obligation to take back an item that comes into their store from a NON MEMBER
Period
Sorry, where did I say that they were legally obliged? FACT is Costco has one of the most generous returns policies in retail, and surely they have a mechanism for dealing with returns at their stores from people who didn’t originally buy it, even as non-members.
Banned
Aug 27, 2017
142 posts
60 upvotes
ES_Revenge wrote: Yeah you don't need a membership on the customer service desk side--non-members are basically free to go in there for that purpose, as well as for going to the restaurant counter. Before I was a member I'd buy hot dogs/pizza all the time in there lol.
Depends, technically the cafe is members only, and I've been stopped MANY times in the past
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
15236 posts
12402 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
ALLCAPS wrote: FACT. You're wrong. They have a very clear return policy for their web portal, and since they sell to non-members through that portal, the policy applies to non-members for their purchases through the website. Therefore, subject to the terms of that return policy, they are very much obliged to take back an item from a non-member.

Now, as for non-web purchases (gifts, for example, or when they piggybacked through the till with a member as another example), that is a whole different kettle of fish and there you are correct. They have no obligation to accept returns from non-members for products bought in-store. Quite simply, their contract is with the member who made the purchase, not the third party, and therefore return policies do not apply unless the member is doing the return.
You are correct... poor wording choice on my part for my last summary statement

They have NO OBLIGATION to take back store merchandise (vs website purchases) from a Non Member. Period.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
15236 posts
12402 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
djeffery wrote: Sorry, where did I say that they were legally obliged? FACT is Costco has one of the most generous returns policies in retail, and surely they have a mechanism for dealing with returns at their stores from people who didn’t originally buy it, even as non-members.
FACT - You are correct. Costco does have one of the most generous return policies in retail.
Above and beyond their legal obligations (which a lot of folks are not aware of)

“Surely they have a mechanism for dealing with returns at their stores .... for non-members”
Is your statement
Not necessarily Costco’s mode of operation... nor their legal obligation.
That’s what I was getting at in my original reply
Their very generous return policy for items bought Instore... is given to their membership.
Who’s Purchases they record / track.
It’s a PERK OF MEMBERSHIP. Period
Last edited by PointsHubby on May 7th, 2018 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jr. Member
Feb 9, 2017
171 posts
77 upvotes
I returned an item that was gifted to me before at Costco. They definitely require that you be a Costco member in order to process the return.
Deal Addict
Aug 2, 2003
2651 posts
400 upvotes
Toronto
PointsHubby wrote: Heading to Customer Service, one does not need a Membership Card...
Cause, duh... that is where one buys a Membership

Now for the actual question at hand RETURNS & MEMBERSHIP

One does not need a Membership to Return something bought on line at Costco.ca, because the website doesn’t require a membership to make purchases

One MIGHT NEED a Membership to return something that was bought in an actual warehouse store
As purchases are “registered” to the Member who bought it
... one of the actual perks of membership... all your transactions are kept / tracked for your account

If the OP bought the item in the store as a Non Member Visiting with a Gift Card etc
Then they most definitely would need to produce a receipt that proves that


If someone else made the purchase with their Membership, then HE MIGHT not be able to do the return, even if he has the receipt
I was told no refund or exchanges on items purchased with a GC unless you have a membership.
Deal Addict
Feb 19, 2017
3820 posts
2378 upvotes
Vancouver
If you are doing a return in store, the first thing a customer service rep ask for is your membership card. If you don't have it... no idea what they'll do next but i'm guessing some of it might vary depending on the managers instruction. Maybe they will enter your invoice number and process it... maybe they won't.

Their website does have policy listed but that really applies for ONLINE returns. If you want to go to the store to return (even if its listed on their website as an option), you are subject to in store return policy as well. The store could easily just point you to the online return form and tell you to use that. After all its possible the stores are designed to only handle member returns. Plus lets be honest, if given the option to do online return vs in store, you might be better off doing online return @ costco because the return lines generally are pretty long unless you go late weekday night.
Member
Dec 25, 2003
461 posts
389 upvotes
Saskatoon
On various websites they mention that costco charges an extra 5% if you are a non member shopping with a cash card / gift card. I also see as someone mentioned, that any extra balance on your cash card gets refunded to you so they are ONE USE ONLY. Free shipping if you order online but you have to phone in to activate it.

If this is all true, this is only a saving if you spend less than $100 monthly at costco. If they add 5% on fuel then it doesnt make sense to buy it with a cash card.
Deal Addict
Jun 21, 2008
2943 posts
384 upvotes
Toronto
If you buy something from their website as a non-member - can you return the item in store?

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