Costco Has Made Some Pretty Bad Decisions

In an age where stockpiling seems to be the status quo, who doesn't love Costco? It's no shocker that we can't seem to get enough of the big-box retailer that offers astonishingly discounted prices on a plethora of common household goods, groceries, and even big-ticket electronics. If there is anything that this year has taught us, it's the importance of their whopping 30-roll pack of Kirkland Signature's two-ply bath tissue. A weekend isn't complete without wandering aimlessly about their infinite aisles stopping only to grab a rotisserie chicken, the latest must-have skin care item, and maybe a slice on the way out from the holy grail of food courts.

Taking aside the cult-like following of members, this worldwide wholesale giant is no stranger to a scandal or two. Behind the glitz and the glam of rock bottom priced bulk items, Costco has surprisingly made its way to the top of the news, courtesy of some unsavory headlines. We're not just chatting about the occasional removal of popular items (R.I.P. chocolate-dipped ice cream bar), we're talking multi-million dollar lawsuits and some pretty questionable ethical choices. Through it all, their customers have not wavered. According to CNN, Costco is actually thriving in a time where many businesses are facing financial ruin.

Let's take a look at some of the pretty bad decisions that Costco has made over the years.

2020 took Costco's half-sheet cakes from us

Without question, 2020 has certainly had its ups and downs (maybe a few more downs than ups). While the crumbling restaurant industry has caused us to scream into our pillows from time to time, we have resorted to clinging onto the simpler things in life, like comfort food and reality television. If you're all about the sweets, you're certainly familiar with Costco's iconic half-sheet cakes. Available for $20 across Costco's U.S. stores, this people-pleasing and highly customizable rectangular treat made all of our confectionary dreams come true... or at least they used to.

Sadly, as large social gatherings have become a thing of the past, so has Costco's half-sheet cakes. According to CNN, the pinnacle of birthday parties and anniversaries has been removed from their product lineup in an effort to promote social distancing. While they still carry their usual assortment of baked goods and round cakes, this cuts us to the core in a way that even the elimination of free samples could never have. The ultimate fate of the great half-sheet leaves us to wonder just how we will celebrate life's greatest milestones without it. A 10-inch round cake just isn't going to do it for us.

While there have been some reports that the cakes are reappearing on select store shelves, Costco has been pretty mum about the whole situation. We can only hope they take back this truly horrible decision.

Costco taunted us with a limited release donut

You know we're a sucker for limited release anything. If you tell us we can't have something, we want it even more. It's human nature. Be it a seasonal coffee offering or a limited time fast food item (we're looking at you McRib!), do not tempt us with a good time and an even better Instagram post. Costco is attuned to this game and has offered many limited release items over the years, each available only in specific markets across the globe.

Such is the case with the two pounds of fried goodness Costco was hawking in Australia in 2019. According to Fox Business, a massive donut was being sold in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, and Canberra. Slathered in pink frosting, the donut was then covered in chocolate M&Ms and sprinkles. This was basically all of our sweet treat dreams rolled into one. It was being sold for $16 AUD, which converts to about $11 USD. 

While we've yet to say "Good day mate" to this holey piece of heaven, we're still holding out hope for this item to one day make its triumphant debut in U.S. stores. So far, Costco says they have no plans to bring this treat stateside, though, and that's a pretty big mistake because they'd make a killing.

That time Costco sold fake Tiffany & Co. rings

Of course, Costco is known for its sometimes absurdly massive packages of everything from toilet paper and condiments, to giant shrimp cocktail platters. Consumers may be surprised to learn about some lesser known items that also pack a real punch when it comes to savings. As you're picking up that family sized package of toothbrushes, you can also choose from a selection of GIA (The Gemological Institute of America) certified diamond rings at a fraction of the cost of luxury and major chain jewelers.

While the notion of grabbing an engagement ring from Costco may not sound so romantic, shoppers may quickly change their tune when they learn of the price tag attached. After years of success in this area, Costco released a ring design that looked, to their followers, suspiciously familiar in appearance and name. As an attempt to appeal to a specific market, they briefly sold their version of perhaps the most iconic and recognizable ring style of all time, the "Tiffany" engagement ring. Even sans the blue box, this did not fly with the luxury high-end brand Tiffany & Co. Costco was quickly slapped with a lawsuit and they ultimately went on to pay nearly $20 million in damages to the well-known jewelry company. 

I think we'll settle for Breakfast at Tiffany's , and avoid jewelry from Costco.

Costco changed their iconic hot dogs

What's a trip to Costco without a pitstop at the haven that is their food court? There's nothing better than those jumbo slices of pepperoni pizza ready to assist you in carbing up for a marathon shopping session. One of the food courts longstanding items (and one heck of a deal!) are their hot dogs, available in a combo for just $1.50. According to Costco Connection, they sold more than 82 million quarter-pound hot dogs worldwide in 2008.

Even with the price point being a major steal, it didn't stop fans from going up in arms over one major change. In 2009, Costco made the leap from kosher hot dogs to their Kirkland Signature 1/4 Pound Plus all beef hot dogs. Why mess with a good thing? Costco says the change was imminent. Costco Connection explains that the kosher meat industry just wasn't big enough to supply a major retailer like Costco with enough product to satisfy all of their food court customers. They were already planning to test the new hot dogs in 2008, when the situation in the kosher market got even worse. 

Lucky for some, Costco's own Kirkland Signature brand hot dogs are just as good (not to mention a little more hefty). Plus, we can't argue with the fact that co-founder Jim Sinegal promised to never raise the price. But if you eat kosher, Costco's food court is no longer a place for you — which means making the switch may have still been a mistake.

Costco did not #SaveThePolishDog

While we're on the subject of Costco's glorious food playground that is their food court. Few Costco fiascos have conjured up as much attention as this one. In 2018, an effort was made by the company to amp up the ready-to-eat healthy options available for purchase. The fan favorite Polish hot dog was nixed to make way for much healthier options, like acai bowls and plant-based protein salads. This switch up was rather shocking for many, as the Polish dog was a fan favorite — and the Costco food court isn't necessarily where people look for healthy options.

The public outcry was strong, leading to endless reddit threats, petitions, and more, according to the The Washington Post. There was even a petition created to gather signatures for the Polish dog's return. The movement quickly gained momentum, and soon #SaveThePolishDog began trending across social media platforms. Unfortunately, by the end of Summer 2018, the beloved meat was gone ... or was it?

According to People, in a playful retaliation, competing big-box retailer, Sam's Club, quickly added their own version of the Polish hot dog. While the great Polish dog war may be over for now, Costco's most fiercely loyal still fondly remember what once was.

Costco has also discontinued some of its most popular items

It's pretty much guaranteed that the internet goes into full blown meltdown mode when Costco changes up their product line. While they are known to strategically move their items around in an effort to trick us into spending more money, occasionally an item is moved out for good. Be it in the food court or the aisles, fans quickly take notice when any of their precious products fly off the shelves forever. 

Overall sales or even issues with vendors may be the reason for removal, but most of the time, we aren't given an excuse — and that leads fans to believe Costco is simply making the wrong move. That was the case with the removal of the beloved hand-dipped chocolate ice cream bar in 2013. 

You may be shocked to learn that at one time Costco also sold a hearty meat calzone, packed with beef, pork, sauce, and cheese. These babies were just $6.99 for not one, but two of these Italian-inspired pizza pockets. Their deals know no bounds, but for some reason they took it off the shelves. How about a luxurious cheese? Costco used to stock their shelves with Kirkland Signature Comte, a French cheese that was aged for at least eight months featuring a strong, yet not too overwhelming flavor — but now it's gone. The grand daddy of disappointment may just be the removal of the food court's BBQ beef brisket sandwich. We still have the meat sweats from this one. 

Costco sells a potentially artery clogging lobster bisque

Costco prides itself on offering a rather impressive selection of health-forward items, including fresh organic produce and even Keto diet approved products. Amidst the endless sea of protein bars and collagen powders, Costco does carry a rather alarming supply of some potentially artery clogging items, though. At first glance they may seem harmless, but the nutritional label tells quite the different story. When samples are being offered around the warehouse, we are not one to shy away from a pizza bite here, or a dip there.

Has the taste of Kirkland Brand's lobster bisque conjured up images of sunny summers along the coast with family? While delicious, according to Slim Kicker, a single serving of this sinful soup packs a whopping 32 grams of fat, including 20 grams of saturated fat. In basic terms, that's 49 percent of the suggested fat you should consume on a daily basis, and that's 100 percent of the suggested saturated fat you should consume in one day. According to Eat This, Not That!, another crustacean friend, the Inland Market blue crab spread, "boasts a laundry list of ingredients that include multiple sources of added sugars."

Step away from the spoon! Some of the tastier items Costco is pushing may be tasty, but they're bad choices for your health.

There are growing concerns over Costco's chicken plant

As we're pushing our cart through Costco's aisles ambitiously searching to meet the demands of our never-ending shopping list, it is inevitable for us to be summoned by the waft of rotisserie chickens. Priced at just $4.99 a piece, these meaty birds are a major draw for customers and blow the competition away weighing in at least three pounds once cooked. The demand has become so strong that the warehouse giant has ventured into the creation of its first plant where they handle both the raising and processing of the chickens for their domestic stores. 

While this may be good news for the carnivores out there, this ambitious project has been met with its fair share of growing concerns. It's no doubt that the area in which the plant has been built will see economic growth directly related to the monstrous $450 million dollar campus, but there are also many who question whether bringing the giant corporation into an area built by family farms is really such a great idea. According to the Omaha World Herald, there are concerns regarding whether or not the situation will be a win for all growers who sign up to be Costco chicken producer. 

Some are also worried about the environmental impact it will cause, and the health risks associated with chicken barns. The John Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future estimated the chicken barns for Costco's chickens would generate around 3.9 million pounds of manure a day, which is nearly double the amount of solid waste generated by the City of Omaha alone.

Costco sold cigarettes until when?

Let's switch gears from the yum to the positively yuck. We've come a long way from the highly commercialized push of cigarettes in pop culture that was so blatantly apparent up until the 1980s in both movies and television. You may be surprised to learn that many Costco stores sold tobacco products until 2016. — and as of that same year, a small number of them still did. That's right, after years of the Surgeon General beating these major health risk warning into our impressionable brains, the major retailer finally started quietly phasing out tobacco products in the majority of its U.S. stores just within the last decade.

A spokesperson from Costco told The Street, "Tobacco is a very low-margin business, tends to have higher theft and is labor intensive in some cases (due to local municipality regulations); further, we felt we could better use the space to merchandise other items." 

Whether for public safety or the fact that it makes them very little profit, we happily bid farewell to the little cancer sticks. But it took them a long time to send cigarettes out the door, and that was definitely a mistake on Costco's part.

Costco has made some questionable ethical choices

While we certainly wish it was all hot dogs and brisket sandwiches, Costco has found itself in some pretty hot water thanks to serious allegations made against the company. According to Indeed, because of the company's excellent benefits and compensation, Costco is routinely rated one of the best companies to work for. It's well known that they pay one of the highest minimum wages out there affording employees an actual living. 

Unfortunately, the same could not always be said for the employees of some of Costco's vendors. Back in 2015, a lawsuit was filed against Costco Wholesale Corp claiming that they knowingly purchased frozen prawns from a Thailand-based distributor that practiced modern-day slavery, basically forced labor. According to Reuters, the lawsuit goes on to claim that "Costco was aware the prawns it bought from its Southwest Asian producers came from a supply chain dependent on ships involved in human trafficking and labor abuses." Following an extensive investigation, a U.S. federal judge eventually dismissed the lawsuit, saying the plaintiffs "fail to allege [Costco] had a duty to disclose the information about labor abuses in the supply chain ... on its product packaging."

Even though the lawsuit was dismissed, accusations like that aren't easily forgotten by many. The damage has been done.

Costco is far behind in the delivery game

In this day and age, we are all about the convenience factor. You can have Postmates deliver a steak directly to your door in just minutes and even Amazon Prime Now laundry detergent when you're in a pinch. What a glorious time to be alive! While the pioneers in this corner of the industry, like Amazon and Whole Foods, have been dominating the delivery game, Costco has been slow to adapt to the standards set forth by these retailers.

Select markets do offer same-day delivery on a limited selection of items through Google Express, known as Costco Grocery. This service provides the basics, like limited grocery and household supplies, with free delivery on purchases over $75. Instacart also works with Costco in some markets, but nothing is available across the board. It's still a far cry from the big business companies are doing in the sector. 

Why is Costco hesitant to cash in on this potentially lucrative biz? When exploring the reasons for this, the answer may be a lot clearer than we anticipated. Costco's profits are largely from membership and renewals, not groceries. Why deal with this time sensitive and highly competitive service if it's not necessarily a priority for their current business model. Still, since many potential shoppers are hesitant to leave their house these days — especially to shop in a busy warehouse — they may be missing out on a lot of potential revnue.