10 Times Costco Angered Loyal Customers

Costco

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Costco Business Center
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Costco Castastrophes

Running a retail store — let alone an entire national chain — isn’t easy, and it’s impossible to please every customer. But over the years, Costco has made some decisions that upset its loyal customers and resulted in significant pushback and even some unexpected press coverage. 


Related: Is Costco Worth It? Here’s What a First-Time Shopper Learned

Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi
Costco Wholesale

Credit Card Fiasco

When Costco transitioned from American Express and launched its new Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi in 2016, it resulted in countless angry customers. Some customers hadn’t received their new cards by the time the retailer made the switch to Visa and some customers had trouble activating their new cards. Trying to reach customer service at Citi and Costco resulted in long hold times and even more frustration.


Related: 28 Times the Costco Return Policy Beats Other Retailers

Costco Receipt Check
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Receipt Checks

Even after checking out at Costco, customers still have to make their way through one final line: The receipt check. Waiting in that last line can frustrate customers, and the internet is full of complaints about the process. According to Insider, that last receipt check is to not only make sure that customers have the items they paid for but also to confirm that the customer has been charged properly and isn’t being overcharged for items they don’t have.


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Costco Business Center food court
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Cuddle With Me Dolls
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Goodbye “Cuddle With Me” Dolls

In 2009, Costco pulled “Cuddle With Me” dolls from its shelves after customers spoke up, calling the dolls racist. One variation of the doll featured an African-American baby with a plush monkey. The baby’s cap featured the words, “Lil’ monkey.” Customers complained about lack of sensitivity and Costco pulled the dolls, including a Caucasian and Hispanic version which were also packaged with the monkey. 

Senior woman shopping wearing face mask during covid-19 pandemic
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Implementing COVID-19 Protocols

When Costco implemented COVID-19 protocols, including a mask mandate, some customers couldn’t contain their fury. One man in a Fort Myers Costco was caught on video yelling at a fellow shopper who had asked him to put on a mask. In a separate instance, a Florida man lay on a Costco floor for eight minutes to protest being asked to put on a mask.

Costco Smoothie
Costco Smoothie by Paul Quesnell (CC BY-NC)

So Long, Straws

In 2021, Costco did away with straws in its food courts. Customers were frustrated to find that soda cup lids had been replaced with tabs. Plenty of shoppers were confused over how to use the tab lids and compared them to sippy cups.


Check out line Costco
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No More Smiley Face Receipts

It’s tradition for Costco employees who are checking receipts to sometimes draw smiley faces on them, much to the delight of many kids who accompany their parents while shopping. But even that practice angered some customers, who complained that the smiley faces were getting too “artsy.” Those complaints prompted some stores to stop the practice.

Costco cafe hot dog
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Service Desk at Costco
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Customer Service

The internet is full of complaints about Costco customer service problems. Those complaints reference issues getting refunds for products not received, problems with product delivery and installation experiences, and issues with defective products. Customers also describe their dissatisfaction with Costco’s efforts to make the situation right. While such reviews are pretty common for most retail giants, Costco's customer service definitely angers plenty of its customers.

Costco Sandwich
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Controversial Roast Beef Sandwich Pricing

Costco is known for the bargain prices in its food court, but the introduction of a roast beef sandwich angered customers who felt it was overpriced. Costco is known for items like its $1.50 hot dog combo and $4.99 rotisserie chicken, so the $9.99 roast beef sandwich introduced in 2023 naturally stands out. The sandwich features roast beef, onion, relish, lettuce, roasted cherry tomatoes, red onions, mayo, and mustard on an artisan roll. While plenty of customers are upset that it costs so much more than the hot dog combo, it may also deliver more flavor and value.