6 Types Of Costco Shoppers That Apparently Make Life So Much Harder For Employees

Is this you? 😅

person at a costco location holding a memership card and receipt with shoppers checking out in the background
Senior Editor

Person holding a Costco membership card and a receipt at a warehouse location in Canada.

Check yourselves, Costco shoppers! Employees at the wholesale retailer in Canada have revealed the types of customers that make life harder for those who work at warehouses.

Narcity spoke to employees Beth* and Hannah* to get insight into all of the ways shoppers are getting things wrong at the wholesaler.

From the hoarder to the plastic wrap ripper to the serial returner, these bad Costco customers could be causing chaos without even realizing it!

If you have a Costco membership, here's what you need to know about which shoppers are the most difficult so you can avoid becoming enemy number one with workers.

The hoarder

According to Beth and Hannah, it became especially difficult to handle this type of Costco shopper during the pandemic.

Some customers were buying so much that the store actually put limits on items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

In some instances, Hannah said people would take extreme measures to get around the new restrictions.

"There were people [at one location] that had just brought out a fresh pallet of Lysol wipes. These people literally went to their car, changed their wigs, came back in, grabbed another two. They went out, changed their jacket, came back, grabbed another two," Hannah told Narcity.

"Why do you need that many Lysol wipes?" she asked. "And, the size of them, it's not just your standard 100 wipes, it's 250! It's just bizarre."

She reminded customers that cashiers do notice this type of behaviour and they can put a block on your membership if you're caught.

While there are no longer restrictions on these products, another issue has cropped up.

Hannah said the Costco Finds Canada Instagram page can cause issues too as people rush to stores to find the items that are posted there.

"They're usually buying up for their friends and their families. So [products] run out of stock, like immediately."

The serial returner

Costco has a pretty relaxed return policy but some shoppers occasionally take things too far.

When it comes to electronics, customers have 90 days to return items that they don't want anymore. However, for most products, there is no deadline to bring them back.

"One customer returned a pillow after seven years because 'it didn't feel right,'" Hannah revealed. "There was also someone who returned a fake plant because they were watering it and they didn't know it was fake!"

She added that some buyers even return their old groceries.

"They’ll freeze their meat if they don't like it and they'll return it."

According to both Costco employees, the generous return system is sometimes taken advantage of by customers who think there are no consequences.

"We get it, but we track you," she said. "We understand, okay, maybe you didn't like these avocados this time, and maybe the next time. But after that, we're going to have a conversation. 'Maybe we're just not the right fit for your produce,' or something like that."

The rack shopper

If you don't want to be a difficult shopper, these Costco employees recommend sticking to the counters instead of grabbing off the racks.

"What you're doing wrong is you're touching the deli racks, you should be going through the counters," Hannah told Narcity.

"So, we bring out racks of food from the deli, right? To stock the counters. And so people are like, 'Oh, I'm just gonna grab it off the rack so I don't mess up your display.'"

However, this is not the right thing to do, she said. "We could be taking out the product, we could be re-pricing the product."

Beth also added that sometimes products with upcoming expiry dates end up on the rack too, so it's a risky move to just grab from there.

The plastic wrap ripper

Another thing customers often do wrong when shopping at Costco has to do with the plastic-wrapped products on the upper shelves in the warehouse.

"You don't have to rip the saran to try and get that one box of whatever you need — it's on the floor," Hannah said.

Beth also mentioned that you can just find someone who works at the Costco location you're shopping at and they'll help you find where the product you want is on the floor.

Generally, items won't be put up on the higher shelves if they aren't also available on the floor.

"It's bad," Hannah said. "If you were to rip the saran and grab, it could cause a domino effect."

Both employees warned that products could fall off the shelves and hit you.

The cart blocker

If you want to be in the good graces of Costco employees — and other shoppers, too — then you don't want to be a cart blocker.

These are the customers who go into an aisle, leave their carts there and go to another part of the aisle to look at something else as other people, customers and employees, are trying to get by.

"It just causes more traffic and the flow stops in the store. Just the one cart," Hannah revealed.

Beth also noted that it causes a backlog, especially in the bakery, meats, deli and produce departments, because those areas typically don't have a lot of space.

The tip from employees? Shoppers should just push their carts off to the side, simple!

The mess maker

Beth and Hannah revealed that there are Costco shoppers who go to the warehouse to buy just one thing but end up coming to the checkout counter with their arms full of products.

Then, because they didn't get a cart, those items end up on the floor and make a "huge mess."

"If they make a mess, they should automatically find somebody that works there — doesn't matter who it is — in any department and let them know right away that there's a mess," Beth said.

In some cases, other shoppers don't pay attention to what's happening around them and will then slip on the spill or trip over the fallen items.

"I'll give a tip for those people that come in and say, 'I just need that one thing,' and then they remember, 'Oh no, I need four or five things,'" Hannah said. "Go to the produce section, grab a box and then continue your shopping."

Remember, the boxes are free so you don't have to pay to use them.

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality. Narcity has verified their identity.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Helena Hanson
Senior Editor
Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media, leading the Travel and Money teams. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.
Lisa Belmonte
Senior Creator
Lisa Belmonte is a Senior Creator for Narcity Media focused on jobs and careers and is based in Ontario.
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