Most customers are resigned to keeping their purchases once the tags have come off. However, a shopper in Seattle recently tested the limits of Costco's return policy for her years-old couch — and got a full refund from the retailer.
Jackie Nguyen, who frequently posts shopping vlogs on TikTok, went viral for her video about returning a used couch to Costco.
In the video, posted on January 23, Nguyen took viewers through her return process.
“We bought the couch from Costco two and a half years ago,” she says in the video, which has garnered 3.1 million views since it was first posted. “I don't know why I'm so nervous. Maybe because it's been that long, but like, we bought it from Costco.”
Nguyen explains how she managed to return the couch despite having used it for years. Despite not having a receipt, she remembered the date she purchased the couch, and a Costco employee was able to find the sale record online. The store gave Nguyen a full refund for the couch.
“They have an awesome return policy,” she says.
Nguyen decided to return the couch because she no longer liked the color.
“Buy your furniture from Costco, girl!” she says. “You can return it when you don't like it anymore.”
The bold return divided TikTok users
Nguyen has since turned off comments on her original post, however thousands of commenters weighed in under TODAY's TikTok clip covering the controversy.
Some felt that Nguyen was taking advantage of Costco’s policy.
“[People] like this that abuse Costco return policy is why Costco will have stricter return policies,” a TikTok user wrote in the comments.
“This is why everything is so expensive because of people like this,” another user commented.
Other commenters applauded the retail giant's generous return policy.
“I love Costco for this very reason. Big ticket items I always buy at Costco,” one user wrote.
Many commenters shared that they had made similar returns themselves.
“I returned mine after three years, they even picked it up from my home! I was a little embarrassed tbh but not once I got the $1200 back,” a TikTok user commented.
“I returned a mattress after 5 years and got a full refund,” another commenter wrote. “Costco is great!”
What is Costco's return policy?
On its website, Costco advertises a “Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee” for its products, writing: “We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, and will refund your purchase price.”
Of course, the policy includes a few exceptions, including diamonds, cigarettes, alcohol and some electronics.
Return policies like Costco's are becoming increasingly rare. Retail company L.L. Bean canceled its well-known lifetime guarantee policy in 2018. In a letter to customers, Executive Chairman Shawn O. Gorman cited overuse of the policy as a reason for its discontinuation.
“Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.”
Now, the company offers a one-year return policy for its products, though defective items may be returned after the one year limit.
Several other companies have tightened their return windows and now charge a fee to return products.
Will Costco change its return policy?
Costco has not yet commented on the viral story. However, the company has recently made changes to several of its policies and procedures.
In 2023, Costco cracked down on non-members using others' membership cards at self-checkout registers in order to secure members-only discounts. Now, shoppers must present a photo ID along with their membership cards to use self-checkout.
“We don’t feel it’s right that non-members receive the same benefits and pricing as our members,” Costco said in a statement at the time.
More recently, Craig Melvin reported on the Jan. 17 episode of TODAY that Costco is launching a pilot program to discourage membership card sharing.
Under the new program, shoppers will have to scan their Costco membership cards upon entering the store.