Things You Should Never Do In Costco

Excellent savings. Free samples. Giant containers of cheese balls. What's not to love about Costco? But your next trip to Costco may not be as simple as you think. You, or your fellow shoppers, could actually be precisely what many Costco customers and employees despise.

As it turns out, Costco shoppers can ruin a trip to this store both for other customers and the employees. Bad behavior — that you may or may not be aware of — will create problems for everyone around you. Some behaviors are actually safety risks, and Costco employees won't hesitate to make notes under your member account that you've stirred up trouble. Repeat offenders can have their memberships revoked, too.

So before you battle the traffic in the parking lot and plan out your $5 post-shopping lunch at the food court, come prepared. Plan ahead, be nice, and avoid doing any of the frowned-upon actions on this list of things you should never do in Costco. The Costco employees and your fellow Costco shoppers will thank you, we promise. 

Don't sneak in to Costco with someone else's member card

Costco operates on a paid membership policy, so once you pay your dues, you are then granted access to the warehouse's deals at wholesale prices. They even check member cards at the door. If you thought you'd get by on borrowing someone else's membership card, think again. Costco employees stand at the entrance to check cards, and each membership card has the card owner's name and photo printed on the back. If you do manage to slip inside, your cashier checks your card again before you make your purchase.

One Costco employee gave an alarming interview on Refinery29 regarding a disgruntled customer trying to sneak into the store, saying, "At Costco in particular, employees have to be strict about confirming members' IDs, since their prices are based on a paid membership model. This often led to customers throwing fits, ranting at employees, and abandoning giant carts filled with hundreds of dollars of merchandise. One customer actually slapped me during an argument about the membership she was using."

Don't make the employees' lives more difficult. Even without a membership, you can go to Costco with a friend who does have a card — just don't try to pretend to be said friend!

Don't abuse Costco's refund policy

Costco has a generous, "100% Risk-Free Satisfaction Guarantee." You can get your money back for your membership if you find it unsatisfactory, and you can return most merchandise without issue and for any reason.

In an interview with Mental Floss, a Colorado-based employee named Rachael shares a first-hand account with a regularly returned item: couches.

"Members return couches that are over five years old, and interestingly enough, they still have the receipt," Rachael says. "My guess is that they buy that couch with the intention of returning it someday, so they tape the receipt to the bottom of the couch so they don't lose it. Then, when they've worn it out and want something new, they bring it back and get a full refund."

If this has you scheming up some evil return plans, just know that Costco employees do take note of members who constantly return used items. Repeat offenders are at risk of having their memberships revoked.

Never open pre-packaged produce at Costco

No one wants produce that has been picked through by unknown hands, especially when that produce is in a supposedly sealed bag. Sure, you want the best-looking fruits, but do a quick inspection of the bag or package with your eyes. Choose the pre-packaged option that looks best to you without sharing your germs with others. And remember, should you find a gross piece of fruit, Costco will happily make amends with a refund.

Mental Floss reported that while revoking a membership is reserved for the most serious infractions, pulling out apples, for example, from different resealable packs of fruit to find the best ones is still frowned upon. Costco employees will make comments on your membership card of such behavior. Again, repeat offenders could lose their memberships and the accompanying savings that come with being a Costco member.

In addition to simply not being allowed at Costco, this behavior is rude and unsanitary.

Don't let your kids run wild at Costco

Costco can be pretty hectic, even on a weekday afternoon. The wholesale value makes Costco incredibly popular across the country, so it can get busy and crowded in the warehouse. Add screaming, running children into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Business Insider spoke to several anonymous Costco employees, and many of them could not understate the importance of keeping your kids in control while shopping. Kids are welcome at Costco, but try to keep them in good behavior.

As busy as Costco gets, it takes just one instance of a child turning the corner too quickly to become a safety hazard. They could run into other shoppers, carts, or the shelves. They could damage merchandise, but more importantly, they could hurt themselves or others. Of course, this rule is true at all grocery stores, but Costco can be tempting for even the most well-behaved children — the open pallet setup practically invites kids to climb and hide, which is exactly what employees (and other customers) don't want to happen.

Even if you allow your kid(s) to sit in the cart, keep a watchful eye on them. "Quit letting your kids jump around in the basket. It's dangerous," one Costco employee warned.

Don't forget to plan ahead for large Costco purchases

Costco has impressive deals on large purchases, including appliances and furniture. But before you take advantage of those savings, make sure you have a way to transport your large item home. Bring a measuring tape or check the dimensions of your upcoming purchase online, then check the dimensions of the vehicle you plan to use to pick up the item.

There's nothing worse than making your purchase, having Costco employees carry the item to your car, then finding out it won't fit. The employees then have to take it all the way back to the store — and then someone has to babysit your purchase while you figure out a game plan for getting it home.

One Costco employee in Ontario told Business Insider, "Check the size of your car before coming — and the size of the product." Not planning ahead is a "No.1 cringe" for employees.

Even if you come with a moving truck, be prepared to help the employees move your items, too (or bring friends who can).

"I've had members arrive with a U-Haul and purchase multiple pieces of furniture that they cannot help load," a Florida-based Costco employee said. "We are more than happy to help but prefer you help too and not assume we are going to do the moving for you."

Stop trashing your local Costco store

Just as you wouldn't want others coming to your place of work and leaving a mess in their wake, don't do the same at Costco. If you grab some of those famous Costco samples, toss those cups and napkins into the provided bins. Leaving your trash strewn about the store and in your cart is not just lazy — it's unsanitary.

Although it isn't waste, unwanted items in the wrong places also create unnecessary messes and more work for the already-busy employees. If you decide halfway through the store that you don't really need that 50-pack of granola bars, take a few extra minutes to put it back where it belongs.

Business Insider spoke with eight employees who all mentioned it to be a pet peeve when shoppers don't put unwanted items back where they belong. One employee from Arizona said, "If you are too lazy to walk it back, give it to an employee up front so the food doesn't go to waste."

Never take multiple samples from one vendor at Costco

Can you take several samples of that delicious treat they're handing out for free? Yes. Should you? Probably not. It's rude to take all the samples, as you are leaving less for others.

One sample employee said she doesn't mind if shoppers take more than one sample, as long as it is accompanied with a thank you. But she does have limits. "But do not take more than two if it's a heated sample, more than four if it's cheese and crackers or something," she said in an AMA on Reddit.

It's especially heinous if a customer is mean while trying to take multiple samples. In the same Reddit thread, the sample employee said, "The ones who get angry because we have to wait for them to cook or are temporarily out do sort of act like savages. But for the most part people are okay. All I wanted was a thank you!"

All in all, the guidelines on samples vary store by store. The sample employees aren't employees of Costco. But in general, take one sample and leave more for other shoppers. If you enjoy the sample, buy the product and enjoy more at home.

Don't ask Costco employees to get you a job or a discount

Costco is known to have good pay and benefits. Employees often say the company really cares about its workers. As such, it can be harder to get a job at this store than some others. But asking an employee to help you — who is likely a stranger — is invasive and rude.

That being said, one Costco employee told Business Insider that many stores are understaffed. So feel free to apply, but don't expect to breeze through the interview process with the help of an employee.

Some customers also don't shy away from being forward with employees and asking them for discounts. Sorry, no discounts here. Even employees don't get a discount. Because Costco sells products at wholesale prices and often has sales on top of that, the company doesn't offer discounts.

"Regulars actually cause the most trouble for me," one employee said on Reddit. "Read that as 'entitled'. They think we are friends and that I can score them some sort of discount."

Don't be rude to Costco employees

In general, many Costco employees love their jobs. But one of the worst parts of working at Costco is that many customers can be demanding and rude.

Costco stores are often busy, and employees do a lot of physical labor, from stocking shelves to carrying out items for customers to pushing carts. In addition to being physically demanding, each shift can be mentally draining as well, especially when customers get testy.

One employee in Utah told Business Insider, "It's crazy how rude the American shopper is to people they don't know — who are helping them."

In a Reddit thread, one employee explained that dealing with disgruntled customers is "mentally demanding," especially for those who have to work at the front of the store to check membership IDs.

Even indirect actions, like abandoning a shopping cart in the parking lot, all add up to careless, rude treatment toward Costco employees who are simply there to help you.

Don't ask Costco workers to check the back or grab items on upper shelves

Costco is a warehouse, so what you see is truly what you get. The entire store is what many grocery or other retail stores would consider "the back." That means that sale item you were looking for is probably sold out. Don't ask employees to check the back for more stock — there really is nothing hidden away or stockpiled elsewhere.

But if you happen to see an item you want on the upper shelves closer to the ceiling, employees recommend returning another day when those items have been pulled down during stocking. They can't just get the item down for you that moment.

As Reader's Digest explains, "Every now and then, the items will be out of reach on the high pallets, but most stores won't bring the forklift out for just for one item. Come back tomorrow; it will probably be restocked." It's a safety issue to grab the forklift during busy hours.

Never bring more than two non-member guests to shop at Costco

Have some friends who want in on the value deals at Costco? Or maybe just want to see what all the hype is about? Luckily, this wholesale retailer generously allows members to bring non-members along on their shopping trip. But there is a limit to the number of people one member can bring per trip — and to what they can do once they're there.

Per Costco's Membership Privileges and Conditions, "Members are welcome to bring their children and up to two guests into the warehouse; however members are responsible for their children and guests. Children should not be left unattended. Only Costco members may purchase items."

Feel free to bring two friends to help you carry and load larger items or just to accompany your shopping trip. Just know that if they find some items they'd like to buy, you'll have to foot the bill (and hope they pay you back!).

Don't bring coupons issued by other manufacturers or retailers outside of Costco

Just as Costco doesn't offer discounts to employees and shoppers alike, it also does not accept manufacturer coupons or coupons offered by other retailers. Simply put, the value and savings afforded by buying items at wholesale costs outweighs the need for coupons from manufacturers. You'll still be getting a great deal without those coupons.

Costco does offer its own coupons to members from time to time, which you might get via mail or email. If you do get a hold of a Costco coupon, be sure it's current before making the trip. Expired Costco coupons will just cause frustration at the register.

According to an employee tell-all in Reader's Digest, "We know you'd love to get an even better deal on the items in your cart, but we don't accept manufacturers' coupons, and we won't negotiate for a lower price. If you want to save extra money, check our warehouse savings books."