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Customer focused eCommerce: Return Policy

I recently made a return to Costco for a misbehaving GPS unit.  My experience was made easy in large part because of Costco’s friendly return policy.  The store clerk didn’t give me a hard time or ask me any detailed questions.  I didn’t even need to fill out a form.

But the real find in the transaction was a feature of the Costco web site.  It was worthy of putting into the Customer focused eCommerce best practices archive on the Merchant Stand blog.

Provide return/warranty information on the customer receipt and status lookup pages

I had purchased the GPS three months ago on the Costco web site.  I knew I was going to try a return and so I went back to their web site to print a receipt.  I located my previous order history in the order status section.  As I was reviewing the details of the transaction, I noticed that the Costco return policy was printed at the bottom of the status/receipt page.  Brilliant!  Where I was expecting to have to find this information on some FAQ page it was right there.  A two-fer of sorts for me I was able to print the receipt and validate the return policy and instructions in one step.  Bravo Costco!

For those wondering how it read.  Here’s a copy:

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Shop Confidently
Membership: We will refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.

Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell with a full refund.
Exceptions: Televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPod/MP3 players and cellular phones must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund.

How to Return: Simply return your purchase to any one of our Costco warehouses worldwide for a refund (including shipping and handling). If you are unable to return your order at one of our warehouses, please contact customer service or call our customer service center at 1-800-955-2292 for assistance. To expedite the processing of your return, please reference your order number.

  • Returning something at Costco is not always easy. It depends on the individual and warehouse that you come across. Hawthorne, Inglewood, and Torrance, CA are not very customer friendly. St. George Utah personnel are very friendly and go out of their way to help you. Keep in mind that if you buy $50,000 worth of merchandise online and $5,000 worth instore. If you returned $4,000 worth from your combined $55,000, the warehouse personnel may come to the conclusion erroneously that you return 80% of what you buy. Also, if you return merchandise that was never opened or used, make sure that the merchandise returns persons marks the item as saleable. The process for Costco personnel is simpler to some degree for non saleable as compared to the process for processing saleable. Therefore, a lazy individual may want to process saleable items as non saleable. This will reflect on your customer account at Costco, which holds the information for at least 8 years. If Costco believes that you are a “bad” customer, they make revoke your membership, like they did to me. I complained about it to American Express, who forced Costco to reinstate my membership. After all, I spend a lot of money at Costco, making American Expresss a lot of money. COSTCO USED TO BE A GREAT PLACE. NOW, IT IS JUST OK. THEIR RETURN POLICY ON CELL PHONES AND COMPUTERS IS 90 DAYS. YOU ARE BETTER OFF BUYING THROUGH AMAZON OR SOMEBODY ELSE WHO HAS A FAR BETTER SELECTION AND ALLOWS YOU TO BUY AN EXTENDED WARRANTY. TRUST ME, THE MAJORITY OF PHONES AND COMPUTERS EXPERIENCE PROBLEMS AFTER 90 DAYS, NOT BEFORE 90 DAYS.