- Insider spoke with Costco employees about things you should never do at the wholesale retailer.
- Trying to move heavy items alone can cause major spills, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Leaving frozen food you no longer want on random shelves around the store can result in spoiled goods.
- Forgetting your membership card can hold up lines and frustrate staff members.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The responsibility for keeping Costco’s massive stores running smoothly falls on its employees, but bad behavior from customers can make the staff’s job a lot harder.
Here are some things you should avoid doing in a Costco store, according to employees.
Not using the “go-back” carts near the registers really annoys employees.
Tess Robison, a Costco employee and outreach specialist at Money Done Right, told Insider that staff members hate when customers leave items on random shelves rather than use the special cart near the cash registers to return unwanted items before checking out.
“Obviously we understand that sometimes you might not want an item anymore – that’s perfectly fine,” Robison said. “But it is way better and easier on us if you put the item in the ‘go-back’ cart at the register or bring the item with you to checkout and just let us know you don’t want it anymore.”
Some staff members particularly hate when customers leave frozen items on unrefrigerated shelves.
Having second thoughts about that pint of ice cream but don’t want to walk all the way back to the frozen section? Don’t just stick it on the nearest shelf.
“It’s especially annoying when members leave cold or frozen items in hidden places and by the time an employee finds it the item has spoiled,” Robison said. “This costs us more money, time, and energy when members do this rather than just bringing the item up with them to checkout.”
If you’re really pressed for time and can’t properly reshelve a frozen item yourself, bring it to the register and ask a staff member to put it away for you.
Forgetting your membership card is a huge headache for staff members.
Fortunately, one of the most common reasons for checkout delays is rather preventable.
Robison said that the biggest issue employees have “is when people don’t have their membership card with them.”
“It can be a very time-consuming problem to fix,” Robison said. “The cashiers don’t actually have the ability to look up member information on the register, so we have to call a supervisor or manager over to get the member’s ID.”
If Costco is especially busy, that can take even longer because supervisors are likely assisting in other areas, Robison said.
It’s much easier for a shopper who forgot their card to stop by the membership area when they arrive to retrieve their member number.
Don’t leave your cart unattended in aisles.
Jacob Bilsner, a Costco employee, told Insider that one of his pet peeves is when customers leave their carts in the middle of an aisle while they browse another area.
“We get it – the carts are huge and can be hard to maneuver,” Bilsner said. “But for the same exact reasons, you shouldn’t leave your cart sitting somewhere other people may be trying to access. It also stops staff from being able to get to shelves to restock them.”
If you’re picking up only a few small items, consider skipping a cart altogether. This can make your trip smoother and help decrease the congestion in aisles.
Don’t try to shop past the store’s closing time.
If you’ve ever strolled into a Costco store a few minutes before the posted closing time, you may have seriously spoiled the staff’s night.
“I wish people would stop coming in right as we are closing and then not leaving when we close,” Robison said. “Even when we let people know that we are closed and ask that they bring their items to the front, we still get people who refuse to listen to us.”
When latecomers enter the store just before closing or don’t finish their shopping when asked, staff members can’t begin their closing routine, Robison said. This causes employees to get out of work later than normal.
Don’t leave unwanted shoes or clothing lying around or messily strewn in a pile.
If you’re thinking of grabbing a new outfit at Costco, take care to return your unwanted garments or accessories to their rightful homes after trying them on.
“The biggest problem area of the store is the shoe and clothing sections,” Robison said. “People will make a huge mess, with no regard to clean up after themselves. They will open so many shoe boxes and leave them all over the floor and destroy the neat displays of clothing.”
Robison added that the clothing and shoe areas could become especially chaotic around the holidays or during sales, so staff members appreciate every little bit of help that customers can give them in keeping the store clean.
Shoppers shouldn’t ask employees to honor expired coupons.
Unsurprisingly, most Costco employees don’t have the power to discount items or reactivate expired coupons.
“This is irritating when it happens,” Bilsner said. “Costco coupons are good until the date indicated on the coupon. After that, there’s really nothing we can do, even if we wanted to.”
Customers should never leave the bathrooms a mess.
- REUTERS/Brian Snyder
When it comes to public restrooms, a good rule of thumb is to leave them as you found them.
“Pick up after yourself in the bathroom,” Bilsner said. “Staff try to make sure they’re in good working order during the day, but no one wants to be called to the bathroom to wipe up a mysterious mess that should have been taken care of by the customer.”
If a bathroom truly needs maintenance, feel free to alert a staff member.
Never try to hide a spill or broken item.
It can be embarrassing to break an item or make a mess in a store, but fleeing the scene will only make things much harder for employees.
Bilsner said customers should not try to hide “the fact that you broke something or spilled a food item.”
“Food messes become more disgusting to clean the longer they’re left, and nine times out of 10 you won’t have to pay for the item,” Bilsner said.
Plus, neglecting to notify staff about a broken item or spilled product may lead to an injury or an unsuspecting shopper buying a damaged item.
Don’t try to carry or move items that you could break.
While Costco stocks plenty of oversized and bulk items, you should never try to load a large item on your cart if you think there’s a chance you might drop or damage it.
“This is, unfortunately, a common problem,” Bilsner said. “When members try to carry a really heavy item or move a large electronic, often what happens is that something breaks. If you need help, please ask.”
Though staff members can’t always help you bring oversized items to your car, they are usually able to help you maneuver bulky goods in your cart.