The Surprising Item You Can Almost Never Return At Costco

Costco is famous when it comes to returning purchased items. In fact, the store's generous return policy espouses a "risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee" by which customers can bring back almost anything for a full refund, with some notable exceptions like electronics after 90 days, diamonds over 1 carat, and "products with a limited useful life expectancy, such as tires and batteries." And shoppers of the warehouse outlet have certainly taken advantage.

People have reportedly returned years-old merchandise. One family even allegedly dragged in a well-used chicken coop that was "covered in chicken s**t" and "falling apart" — and received a full refund, according to a Reddit thread devoted to Costco workers recounting tales of "the most outrageous item" they'd ever seen returned. Other alleged employees chimed in to say they witnessed customers successfully returning stained mattresses, dead plants, and opened underwear packages.

But perhaps the strangest Costco returns are the food items. Costco members have reportedly gotten away with returning roasted chickens that have been picked clean, spoiled fruit, and even a fish that had been in someone's freezer for more than a decade. However, despite all these wild returns, Costco does draw a line with one unexpected item. 

Why can't you return alcohol at Costco?

Another exception to Costco's return policy is for "cigarettes or alcohol where prohibited by law." While it seems pretty weird that Costco won't accept alcohol returns when the store accepts returns of just about everything else, it's that "prohibited by law" part that's important. Most states actually prohibit the return of alcohol, and even within states that allow it, some stores may choose not to allow returns unless the alcohol is "unfit for consumption" (via First Quarter Finance).

Costco stores in a few select states may allow returns of alcohol with a receipt, but you have to consult your local store to find out its policy. In fact, a few of those supposed Costco employees over on Reddit actually reported witnessing some boozy buybacks, including "a bottle of wine with 3 inches left in it," and "an empty bottle of wine cause it gave [the customer] a headache."

A good rule of thumb is to consider all Costco alcohol sales nonrefundable. But there is a bright side here. Costco has a lower mark-up price for alcohol than more other stores, and you don't even need a membership to buy it.