What Does Costco Do With Returns? [Full Guide] 

With the wide variety of goods that Costco offers and the competitive price tags, the warehouse chain is popular with shoppers!

But with all the purchases that get returned thanks to Costco’s generous return policy, what does Costco do with returns? I did some digging, and here is what I came up with!

What Does Costco Do With Returns?

Costco typically puts returned products that are unused and undamaged, such as home goods and electronics, on the store floor at a discounted price. For used and damaged returns, Costco sends these items to Grade A/B liquidation auctions, and groceries are disposed of.

Read on for more information on Costco’s return policy and what happens to returns! 

What Is Costco’s Return Policy? 

Customers are covered by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and virtually any items purchased either in-store or online can be returned for a full refund.

With few exceptions, you don’t have a time limit for your returns and can bring items back without the original receipt or packaging. Just make sure you have your Costco membership card so the returns desk can look you up. 

What Does Costco Do With Food Returns? 

For health and safety reasons, food of any sort is usually disposed of immediately, unless it is canned or still fully sealed with no signs of tampering.

Additionally, frozen food, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, chicken, eggs, and more are all typically disposed of and not reshelved. Bread is the only exception—it will be picked up by the bread vendor, and Costco is given credit for it. 

What Does Costco Do With Defective Returns? 

Defective items will be tagged as unsuitable for sale and be sent back to the manufacturer or disposed of by Costco. 

Any items that are defective cannot be restocked and will be returned to the vendor for full or partial credit if possible. Otherwise, Costco will trash the item. 

What Does Costco Do With Unused Returns? 

Any unused merchandise has the best chance of being restocked on the warehouse floor, especially if it is for non-perishable products such as outdoor furniture, electronics, and other home goods.

So if a product falls into this category and is not defective or damaged, Costco will typically stock it in a clearance section at a discounted price.

However, if the customer has opened any portion of the packaging, the item cannot go back onto the sales floor. This unused but opened merchandise will be sent to Grade A/B liquidation auctions. 

What Does Costco Do With Used Returns?

What Does Costco Do With Used Returns? 

It’s common for Costco members to return items after light use—including wrong size or color, buyer’s remorse, product unsatisfactory for the customer’s use, item doesn’t fit, wrong item, etc. 

The Costco Returns Depot will assess the item’s condition, and search for missing parts and damage. If it is a perishable or medicinal item, it will be disposed of.

If it is heavily scratched or broken, the item is labeled Grade C/D and stored for liquidation auctions. 

What Are Costco Liquidation Auctions?

Costco works with several companies that will purchase Grade A/B (opened) and Grade C/B (light wear/damaged) items during liquidation auctions, in which companies work to refurbish the merchandise and resell it or will sell it as-is.

A strict vetting process ensures these items are not returned to Costco again, and Costco also holds auctions for other approved buyers. 

Does Costco Keep Track Of Returns? 

Costco doesn’t necessarily follow each individual return (like Walmart which can give return warnings), but the company does watch the number of returns customers make.

As an example, customers who make frequent returns of expensive items or items that are clearly very used might be flagged in the system. Costco remains lenient but does ensure a generous return policy.

What Items Cannot Be Returned To Costco? 

Select electronics and appliances need to be returned within 90 days, and other products with limited life expectancy might have specific exceptions. You cannot return these items to Costco: 

  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Limited lifetime products, such as car batteries and tires
  • Specialkioskorder items

What Items Cannot Be Returned Through Costco.com? 

You cannot return the following items through the self-service portal on Costco.com: 

  • Any Apple products
  • iTunes and Google Play gift cards
  • Jewelry items
  • Optical goods
  • Perishable items
  • Specialkioskorder items
  • Tickets and digital goods
  • Tires

To learn more, don’t forget to see our other related posts on when Costco restocks, if Costco price matches, and when flooring goes on sale at Costco.


Depending on the item, its condition, and perishability, Costco will either restock or dispose of it. Defective goods can be returned to the manufacturing vendor, and damaged or used items will be sold at liquidation auctions.

For health and safety, food items are almost always disposed of, unless canned or still within a safety seal. 

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

1 thought on “What Does Costco Do With Returns? [Full Guide] ”

  1. I have a 10myear old printer bought at Costco that isn’t working any longer. The Costco Rep told me just to return it. This is insanity! Does the Manufacturer have to Credit Costco?

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