Woman's Hands Closing Microwave Oven Door And Preparing Food in microwave.


Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.

Before you buy that new coffee machine, toaster oven, or mixer, I have a tip for you: Always buy your small appliances at Costco. I do, and it’s saved me hundreds of dollars over the years. 

I’m currently on my third Panasonic Inverter Countertop Microwave ​​in the last eight years, though I've really only paid for one. This brand is a Costco microwave mainstay. It does all the basic things a budget-friendly microwave should do: It has a large interior capacity to heat up most items, as well as a defrost setting, a popcorn setting, and auto reheat options. I realize that going through so many microwaves in less than a decade doesn't sound great, but microwaves typically last (at most) anywhere from 7 to 10 years. With daily wear and tear, I'm not surprised it's only been a few years, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I had my first Panasonic microwave for nearly four years when it sparked, effectively setting itself on fire and smoking up the kitchen. I marched that baby right back to Costco, getting a full refund thanks to the retailer's famed return policy. If you're not familiar with it, here's the gist: Costco will refund literally anything and everything, short of a few select items.

Of course, I had to get another microwave, so when I returned it to Costco I picked up a similar Panasonic microwave at the wholesaler. Fast forward about another four years and guess what? This microwave suddenly stopped heating things up one day. Back to Costco I went, where I got a full refund and replaced it with — you guessed it — another Panasonic microwave, now increased in price by $50. So effectively, I’ve only paid for one microwave in nearly a decade.

I have no ethical issue with returning something a few years old if it's because the appliance has broken down. But had I bought it at Target instead, I would’ve been “SOL”, as the company's policy states that new, unopened items must be returned within 90 days. 

Gallery: Is Costco Worth It? Here's What a First-Time Shopper Learned

Additionally, if I had bought a similar Panasonic microwave from Best Buy, I would’ve had (at most!) two months to return it. An almost identical product is sold at Home Depot, which has a return policy that states returns can be made up to three months after the purchase date.

So when you can’t be sure of how long any small appliance will last, it makes sense to get it somewhere that allows you to get your money back for it at any time. For me, this is reason enough to buy my small appliances at Costco.

For more helpful Costco tips, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Cheapism in the News