Costco employees share 25 things they’d love to tell shoppers but can’t

Don't blame workers for things beyond their control.

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Don’t blame workers for things beyond their control.
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Hallory Sindelar/Flickr

  • Costco membership can go to some people’s heads, according to workers.
  • Business Insider reached out to 42 Costco employees to find out what they wish they could tell shoppers but can’t.
  • Common requests were to control your kids, hang up your phone, and help unload the cart.

Costco membership comes with some obvious perks – namely, access to the retail chain and its food court.

But according to dozens of Costco workers who spoke with Business Insider, being a member doesn’t entitle you to do whatever you want.

While Costco made Glassdoor’s list of best places to work in 2017, employees still had several complaints about shoppers’ rude and inconvenient behavior.

Business Insider spoke to 42 Costco employees about the things they want to tell members but can’t. Some of their responses focused on obvious problems, like members being mean and inconsiderate. But some of the tips were more instructive.

Here’s what they had to say.


Have your membership card ready at the door

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Clotee Pridgen Allochuku/Flickr

“Concentrate on handing me your membership card instead of telling me a story,” a Costco employee in Minnesota told Business Insider. “I can listen to your story as I do whatever you need me to do, but I can’t do that until I have your membership card.”


Don’t trash the warehouse

A Costco employee from Arizona told Business Insider that they wanted to tell members to stop leaving “sample cups all over the floor.” “Don’t be rude,” the employee said. “Clean after yourself.”


Put back items you’ve picked up

“Please put back that item that you just threw there,” a Costco worker from California told Business Insider. “It doesn’t belong there.”

Eight other Costco employees also told Business Insider that they judged members who left products strewn about the store.


That sale price might not be the best price

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“Some sales aren’t sales!” a Costco employee in Illinois told Business Insider.

Want to know you’re getting the best deal possible? Learn to read Costco’s price tags. Asterisks indicate that an item isn’t going to be restocked. Products with a sales price ending in .97 have been marked down.


Produce might not be the best deal for everyone

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Tim Boyle / Staff / Getty Images

A total of six Costco employees told Business Insider that they tend to avoid buying produce at the store.

None of the employees suggested that there was anything wrong with the produce. Instead, they cited the store’s bulk quantities as the reason they tend to get their fruits and vegetables elsewhere.

“While our produce department is one of the best in the business, I personally don’t eat veggies fast enough to buy in bulk, so two thirds of it will spoil before I eat it,” a Minnesota-based Costco worker told Business Insider.


Don’t be gross

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Nine Costco employees told Business Insider that they judge customers who exhibit unhygienic behaviors like putting their membership or credit cards in their mouth or failing to wash their hands in the restroom.

An Illinois-based Costco employee said they hated when a member would “pull their card out of their bra or mouth.”

“It’s gross,” said a Costco employee in Minnesota, while an employee in Idaho added that this especially becomes a problem during flu season.

An employee in Chicago said they judged people who left the store’s restroom without washing their hands, saying, “That’s disgusting.”


Drop your sense of entitlement

“I’m an executive member too. It doesn’t make you more special than me,” a Costco employee from Ohio told Business Insider.

A Costco employee from Nebraska added, “Being a ‘member’ does not make you special, and I don’t care if you never come back.”

“Yes, you pay for a membership, but it doesn’t mean you are entitled to anything or that you are always right,” a Costco employee from Arizona told Business Insider.


Don’t blame employees for things they can’t change

“What you’re complaining about is likely above the pay grade of everyone in this building,” a Costco worker in California told Business Insider.

Another Costco employee from San Francisco told Business Insider that they wished they could tell members “… that they are being very rude when talking about things that are out of my control as a cashier.”


Be patient

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“Please be patient, especially on the weekends!” a Costco employee in Illinois told Business Insider. “We can only move so fast. And there are far more members than employees.”


If you’re not nice, don’t expect stellar service

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“As soon as you’re an a—— to me, I don’t care about actually helping you,” a Costco employee in Canada told Business Insider.


Don’t be selfish

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“The people in line behind you are as important as you are,” a Costco employee from Hawaii told Business Insider.

A Costco employee from Washington added, “Act like adults and not spoiled children. Be considerate of fellow members and the employees.”


Check your coupons before you shop

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“Pay attention to the coupon-book dates,” an employee who said they’d been working at Costco for “too long” told Business Insider.


Educate yourself about the store rules before swinging by

“You cannot lend your membership card to other people,” a Costco employee from Kentucky told Business Insider.

“No, this isn’t a family card,” a Costco employee from Florida told Business Insider. “There is no such thing as a family card.”

Costco membership cards include a photo of the member themselves, which is meant to prevent people from swapping cards.


Control your kids

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Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images

“Please, for the love of God, tell your kid to stop screaming,” a Costco worker in Washington told Business Insider.

A Costco employee from New York said that they wished they could tell members “… that they are responsible for their kids, not us.”

“Quit letting your kids jump around in the basket. It’s dangerous,” Costco employee in Iowa told Business Insider.


Put your phone down while you shop

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“Get off your phone and communicate while checking out,” a Costco employees who has worked in stores several states told Business Insider. “Have your card ready! Members b—- about lines but do nothing to speed up the process.”

“Please help us help you,” a Costco worker based in Illinois told Business Insider. “Please get off your phone and help unload the cart onto the belt.”


When it comes to unloading, teamwork makes the dream work

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“Just because I’m helping you unload your cart doesn’t mean you can stop helping me,” a Costco employee in Oregon told Business Insider.


You should have known it’s not going to fit …

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A Costco employee from Ontario said their “No. 1 cringe” was dealing with members who don’t plan ahead for transporting heavy or large purchases.

“Check the size of your car before coming – and the size of the product,” the employee told Business Insider.

They said employees “get really pissed off” when they have to carry items back to the store because the product doesn’t fit in the member’s car.


And that you’d need help to lift it

“Please bring help with you if you are buying huge items and know that you’re physically limited,” a Costco worker in Florida told Business Insider. “I’ve had members arrive with a U-Haul and purchase multiple pieces of furniture that they cannot help load. We are more than happy to help but prefer you help too and not assume we are going to do the moving for you.”


Don’t make assumptions about employees’ happiness

“I legitimately love my job,” an Arizona-based Costco employee told Business Insider.

“Costco is an ideal kind of job,” a Costco employee from Oregon told Business Insider. “I really enjoy working at Costco. They are a very supportive and try to take care of the employees, as well as the members.”


Give good reviews

“I would love to tell members to write me good reviews about the help I gave them, but I can’t,” a Costco employee from Ontario told Business Insider. “I’d get in trouble if managers found out.”


Know that managers sometimes put the kibosh on cake-decorating

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“A lot of the people in the bakery are trained to write on cakes,” a Costco employee from Washington told Business Insider. “When our manager or supervisor is tired, they make us tell members that we have no cake decorators.”


You’re not as funny as you think you are

A Minnesota-based Costco employee said they often cringe when members joke around about how products that fail to scan “should be free.”

“Stop making the joke ‘it didn’t scan, so it must be free,'” the employee said. “It wasn’t funny the first time we heard it. It isn’t funny after we’ve heard it 62,000 times.”

Three other Costco told Business Insider that they had the same complaint.


Over-the-top returns are not appreciated

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

Costco has a famously generous return party.

According to Costco employees, some people take advantage of that in pretty extreme ways.

Costco employees told Business Insider about a number of bizarre returns they’ve seen members make, including dirty toilets, stained mattresses, and dead plants.

A Costco employee from Iowa told Business Insider that they didn’t appreciate “abuse of Costco’s generous return policy.”


The cheese pizza has a ton of cheese

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There’s a lot of cheese in Costco’s $9.95 cheese pizza pies.

A pound and a half of a mozzarella and parmesan blend, to be exact.

Three Costco employees told Business Insider that a single cheese pie contains 24 ounces of cheese. To be clear, an ounce and a half is a normal serving of firm cheese, according to the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Pepperoni and combo pizza pies include less cheese, to make room for the toppings.

Some things that aren’t included in Costco’s pizzas are lard, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils, according to Costco Connection.


Don’t hog the samples

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A Club Demonstration Services employee from Pennsylvania told Business Insider they wished they could tell members, “One sample per customer, please.”

Are you a Costco employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.