The One Reason Costco Might Revoke Your Membership

There are many reasons shoppers keep coming back to Costco, from the amazing bargains to the mega-popular food court with its oh-so-delicious pizza and everybody's favorite $1.50 hot dog and a soda combo. Another reason Costco shoppers are so loyal to the company is its incredibly generous return policy. Just about any item purchased from Costco can be returned at any time for a full refund, although there are a few exceptions such as cigarettes, alcohol, electronics, and diamonds (not that you should really be buying diamonds anyway, as they're a surprisingly terrible investment).

A return policy like Costco's seems almost too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, yes and no. For the most part, Costco really will honor their commitment to customer satisfaction. They're not in the business of giving away the store, however, and corporate HQ is well aware that there are always certain members who are, shall we say, prone to abuse their generosity. Should a hypothetical customer try to return a well-used item years after purchase, such as a 10-year-old pool table, a 15-year-old pressure washer, or a 13-year-old frozen fish, individual Costco store managers are allowed to use their discretion as to whether they'll allow the return.

It is possible, however, should you attempt to return too many items, that you might find your Costco membership being revoked. A Costco spokesperson confirmed this in an email to Business Insider, writing, "In the event a member is not satisfied with Costco merchandise, the membership fees may be refunded and the membership canceled... Additionally, memberships may be canceled due to abuse of the Member Privileges and Conditions." Although there is no specified maximum number of returns allowed per member, Costco customer service representatives confirmed with that the company does keep data on the number of items each member returns, and frequent high-dollar returns can get you flagged. A customer who returns a large number of high-dollar items may well be seen as being dissatisfied with their Costco membership, in which case the membership will be canceled — with full refund of the membership fee, of course, since Costco remains generous even when administering a wrist-slapping.

So the low-down on Costco's return policy is: use it, don't abuse it. Please refrain from returning your burnt-out Christmas lights in January, your chlorine-bleached bathing suit in September, or your 3/4 eaten sandwich... ever. Yuck. Otherwise, you might find yourself banned from the land of the $5 rotisserie chicken, and that's a fate too terrible to contemplate.