7 Reasons Not to Shop at Costco

Costco warehouse club

I really have nothing against Costco. I think that they are a quality company and they treat their employees well, especially when compared to other retailers. I used to be a huge advocate of shopping at Costco and the great deals that one could get when buying in bulk to reduce costs. I know a lot of people still feel that way.

While I was a true fan in the past, I no longer subscribe to this line of thought. In fact, I realized that shopping at Costco actually costs me far more money than it saves. I realize that each of the reasons I no longer shop at Costco may not apply to everyone, but I have a feeling that more than a few are doing the same things I did for years and may not have eve

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37 Responses to 7 Reasons Not to Shop at Costco

  1. Alexandria says:

    So True.

    There is nothing about Costco that makes any financial sense for us. (Though certainly it may be useful if I had to feed more than just 4 people).

    As an aside, several people have told me over the past couple of years that Safeway is the best grocery deal in town, whereas commenting that Bel Air is just “too expensive.” Bel Air used to be more of a high end grocer, but has worked hard to change that image over the last several years. Their prices are unbeatable. Certainly for what we buy. Of course, we have changed our shopping habits considerably over the years. We used to shop primarily at Safeway, and these days we have found it to have gotten it to be very expensive. The cheapest and most convenient combo for us is now Bel Air/Target. (& I can assure you that will change at some point – it is always changing). From talking to other people I see that most people simply form these type opinions based on assumptions. I find it fascinating. That Bel Air still has so much image to overcome in its quest to be a low price leader. I’d literally think maybe we were the crazy ones, since our opinion is so unique, but I have taken relatives over to our corner Bel Air store on occassion, and they absolutely drool on the prices. I always tell them, “No one I know shops here because it is just too pricey and fancy!” ;)

  2. patientsaver says:

    I tend to agree with you, especially if you’re a single person. As you said,many Costco prices, while good, aren’t great enough to justify the membership and extra travel costs.

    I’ve decided not to renew my membership next year (they’re raising prices,anyway) but before I leave, I’ll have a year’s supply of cat litter safely tucked away in the basement. I have already accumulated 12 44-lb boxes of their litter, which at $7.35 each, is a steal compared to any other brand.

    So maybe I’ll be an on again, off again member in alternate years.

  3. Catherine says:

    If you own a business, buying bulk items for cleaning, restrooms, retail sales, events, its worth it. You also get that nice lil’ check back near the year which is always more than $100, so you get your membership for free.

  4. baselle says:

    Costco was the first causality of my price book. Only a couple of things (unit price lower and if you overbuy, it doesn’t go bad) made it worthwhile for me. Again, the most frugal solution is when you don’t buy at all.

  5. Charles Rice says:

    Great article.

    My two cents: A thought experiment I use constantly is “If this were free, would I take it home?” In that context, a #10 can of ravioli, even for $1, is a “No”.

    If you shop around, you can do better than CostCo, but I’m confident that I’m not going to get ripped off.

    They have a fantastic return policy. I’ve never had any trouble returning anything I bought there. Even grapes that I found were soft the day after I bought them. That impressed me.

  6. Northern VA says:

    My wife and I read, very interested, the article so that we could deduce a better shopping method. But we couldn’t. The writer had personal reasons why Costco didn’t add up. But for us (a family of 3), Costco is awesome.
    1. We don’t buy more than we need. For whatever reason, Costco products “stay longer.” We are fresh food fans, and Costco meats last us a long time. Also, the CHICKEN is packed in 1 pound individual pouches! (We’ve gotten food poisoning from meat on “special” at Safeway.)
    2. Well, that’s a personal issue. We cook fabulous meals and have leftovers. Snacking is left for Costco Saturdays when we make an afternoon of wandering around Costco eating free samples.
    3. Another very personal difference. We don’t do much in the way of comparison shopping. We’ve got a lot to do. And we’re a little bait-shy about getting meats on special after seeing what we sometimes would get at the grocery stores.
    4. After a couple years of Costco membership, we are subject to EXACTLY the same level impulse buying as at the grocery stores.
    5. We have the option of driving 5 miles to the Pentagon City Costco, but traffic is bad. We drive to Springfield instead. We also drive all over NoVa and Maryland to find specialty items that we cannot buy in regular grocery stores (or Costco). To us, that’s a wash. Besides, driving around here is “entertaining.”
    6. Shopping at Costco takes a lot of time. Shopping at Shoppers Food Warehouse takes a lot of time. Shopping at TJ Maxx takes a lot of time. Shopping at Macy’s takes a lot of time. Shopping at Trader Joe’s takes a little less than a lot of time. 7-Eleven doesn’t take much time.
    7. When we factor the cost savings of BABY FORMULA into the equation, the membership is very cost effective. SECRET SECRET SECRET!!! If you pay the now $110 for Executive Membership and you cannot get that back at the end of the year, go to the Service Desk and they’ll cut you a check for the difference of the $110 minus the check you got minus the $55 of the standard membership.

    In summary, Costco makes lots and lots of sense to our family.

    Cheers!

  7. Olivia says:

    I shopped at Costco on the weekend and it will definitely be the last time. We bought a useless cookbook for $20 just because we were at “Costco” and normally a book like that would retail for $5 – $10. The “savings” were just not worth the negatives – you don’t get all the brands you normally like, its a long way from where I live, and I don’t get to enjoy the shopping experience (not enough parking, and too many other people roaming around with massive shopping trolleys).

  8. value shopper says:

    Lots of great comments, but I think a lot of people totally miss the big problem with Costco. It’s not a question of buying too much or the inconvenience of having to buy in bulk. It’s simply that things at costco are not a better deal (by the oz., gram, or however you add it up). They, like other club stores deliberately deceive you with carefully sized products that are hard to compare, but if you really do the math, you’ll find that Wal-Mart is consistently a better deal regardless of the size. Also a quick comment on Costco’s “AWESOME” return policy: I’ve returned everything at Walmart including food and stuff that I didn’t even have bar code on it. They have never given me any troble. I’d argue that Wal-Mart’s return policy is better and less of a hassle.

  9. Mike says:

    I work at a Costco. We laugh at the idiots who shop at our store. We charge more than Walmart and then charge the morons a membership fee! When I started work at Costco I was told our slogan should be “never give a sucker an even brake”

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  11. Costco shopper says:

    To “Value Shopper” Costco actually puts a price per ounce or price per pound etc. On the majority of their signs proving your getting a better deal then you do at Costco then at Walmart but if your not smart enough to read the whole sign that seems like a bigger problem then saving money

  12. MB says:

    I have a hard time reading the replies. They are loaded with lack of self control and over spending habits. Practical spending is personal, should never be the control of a wholesaler/retailer. When you shop where people are underpaid/underemployeed offering merchandise coming from sweat shops in other counties you continue to keep our job market in the toilet through that choice. When little money goes back into the local tax base, no money for police/roads, new jobs. When taxes go to a corporation that supports sustainability in its practices and foster decent paying jobs in its community there is gain for the culture as a whole. Much of what I hear is the overconsumption, lacking self control, entitlement, blame game thinking. Understanding and researching the backbones of the companies we support is a step in understanding how to best self sustain our communities. My reply is not directed at every post. Costco is a pretty amazing company with values. Walmart pays employees $8.90 per hour, lacking accessibility to medical insurance people largely underemployeed often struggling and on food stamps………………….way to shift the needs of culture onto the Physical Cliff while they rake in money hand over fist, and one of the largest supporters of GMO’d foods. Costco pays their employees fair living wage. When feeding working fair wage is FAIR.

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  14. Tara says:

    Some of the idiots that shop there do so because they respect the way Costco treats their employees more than how Walmart does.
    I won’t set foot in a Walmart.

  15. Tara says:

    Well Said. I agree completely. We ( a family of 6 ) shop at Costco, Aldi, ShopRite and our local grocer simply because of the way their employees are treated. I refuse to support Walmart and other companies that don’t give full time in order to save offering health insurance.

  16. Louise says:

    Shopped at Costco for 20 years. Have a list. Stick to it. Great Meat…coffee….prices.
    Don’t ever go into a regular grocery. Save a bundle. Love the store. Drive 1 1/2 hours to get there. Go once a month. Family of 2.

    Buy glasses and get presciptions there. Can’t go wrong. Don’t go into other stores except for clothing.

    Use common sense

  17. Steve says:

    Costco is a worth only if you have a family (4+) else it is complete waste. There are tons of stores out there that have way cheaper deals than Costco anyday. Aldi, Food for Less, Kroger, Meijer,Pete’s fresh farms.. the list is endless. Many a times things in Costco is way expensive.Milk is way cheaper (and way better)in Trader Joe than Costco.Fruit juice bottles in Costco are monster size , once you open them, unless you finish in 72 hrs, they gonna rot.. and their odd size is impossible to fit in a family refrigerator.There are small family sized bottles in Aldi, Walmart almost any other place.Meat in Costco in never cheap and nost of their sea food, Salmon is from China(its upto you if you can risk your physiology to try Chinese imported stuff).Cut veggies are no cheaper in Costco so do their electronic items, garments(Costco garments are expensive than Kohls, Macy and Target with same of lesser quality material). People always end up purchasing way more than they ever need when they visit Costco(suddenly they start feeling as if the worls is gonna end tomorrow and they need to eat everything today).50% of the stuff either dumped in freezer for next several months or are just thrown away. The concept of paid Membership to shop is just sounds insane to me! Why ??What the heck you giving me that no one gives that I pay 110 dollars for Costco membership?Just try to live without Costco for 1 yr and I bet you won’t ever need Costco (unless you plan to open a grocery store at your backward someday)

  18. Steve says:

    how that matter you ? tara? Are you a social activist? How on earth you know how Costco treats their staff ? better than Kohls? Target?? all is your imagination and made up story Tara, am sorry to say there is hardly any matter in this.

  19. Mark says:

    1) I treat Costco like any other store. I never buy more than I need. For instance, I can get organic carrots and apples in bulk at a cheaper cost than anywhere else. I use these for juicing, therefore, I use a lot. Anywhere else, this would be too expensive for me to do. As a result, I would be less healthy because of it. Not to mention organic meat is affordable too. If I had to spend the same amount of food for my dog at the regular store, I would have to buy cheap food rather than the grain free salmon and sweet potato that I get from Costco. Not to mention the gas savings. I save from 15-60 cents per gallon. And cheese – I couldn’t afford the high quality, locally made cheese that I get from Costco if I bought it at the regular store. I would have to resort to crappy cheese. What Costco does is give you better quality for cheaper.

    2) Only people who have a love affair with consumption consume more than one needs. I don’t and I shop here for certain things. For other things, I go to the regular grocery store. It makes no sense to have an all or nothing approach to shopping. Where I would naturally consume the most, I buy at Costco. Where I don’t, I buy at the regular store.

    3) Costco is not for people who don’t understand quality and price. Some things are a great deal because Costco worke in added features, added things that increase the cost of a purchase. For instance, Costco extends a warranty by one year for free. With electronics, this is a huge plus. Anywhere else, you might pay up to 50 bucks to warranty it for any amount of years. I remember buying a printer there. The cost was exactly the same as another store. What made it better? Costco gave me free printer ink (an added cost that would have set me back 60 bucks) and an additional year of warranty for free. They have a 90 return policy as well which I liken to Nordstrom no questions asked type of policy. It really is for people who do their research first.

    4) Only if you are not self aware is impulse buying a problem. If you go tot he store for your specific items, you only buy what is a good deal to you. Sometimes there is a deal you can’t pass up – something that you have been looking for but has been too expensive. When those deal happen, you buy. However, if someone were to look at my shopping record, those days are extremely rare. I get the same things every time – because they are simply better deals than anywhere else.

    5) One assumes that you have to travel far – mine is about the same distance as the regular store.

    6) Who in their right mind shops at Costco on the weekends? The best time to go is on hour before they close. Weekday is best. You get close parking, you know what you are after, and IF you are an impulse shopper, you have just self limited yourself to one hour max.

    7)I more than make up for the 50 buck fee in gas savings alone. If you get an executive membership, you can earn all your money back if you shop there enough. I don’t have one, but I clearly know I make every dome back and save.

    The point is that Costco can work for people who understand the value you of what they are getting. I could go to the store and spend the same amount, but I wouldn’t get as high quality of product. The key you Costco is to get the things you know you will use and get out. I think there is a lot of people that get drunk on consumerism and for those people ANY store is an issue.

    If I were to have any issue with Costco, it would be the blind eye to labor laws in other countries. However, ALL stores turn a blind eye to this. At least Costco employees can actually afford to buy s house. Not many other discount stores can say that.

  20. Marimar801 says:

    That’s the problem. I do check the price per unit on the sign and it’s simply just not a better deal than walmart. I went with my mother in law to buy a big bag of shrimp and uncooked chicken wings for my super bowl party. The cheapest price per pound was over $9. At walmart it costs under $6. Needless to say the price on the chicken wings were even worse. I walked around the store and I didn’t see the great prices at least not worth paying a membership for.

  21. SilasB says:

    I’ve taken most of your points in stride but your #1 response irks me! “for whatever reason”? It’s chemicals and chemicals and chemicals and mutated foods. Secondly, how can you claim to be fresh food fans in the same sentence as a statement regarding the longevity of meat? And then in the next, talk about individually packaged meats? Plastic packaging is the antithesis of fresh!

  22. SilasB says:

    So a little post rant research reveals to me that some Costcos have a wide array of organics, my apologies if thats the costco products you were referring to about lasting longer. otherwise, i stand behind my statements

  23. Koen says:

    We went to Costco today for the first time, after getting our membership online. We got a cart full (yes, I admit, maybe too much) and there was some stickershock when checking out. But guess what, I could’t use my MasterCard to pay for our groceries, they only accept Amex. We had no other means to pay, so the only thing we could do was to leave the cart and walk away. We felt harassed and not respected. We then went to the customer support who, after trying to get us an Amex card, reluctantly gave us back our $50 membership. We will never go back to a Costco store.

  24. Dk says:

    Agreed ditto. Costco is for quality and value for money. We use costco for certain things and use coupon books as much as we can and plan our spending accordingly. My Dyson vacuum cleaner came with 40% less and with extra several attachments which no one offered in the market back then. Almost everything gets offered at discounted price sooner or later at costco. We wait for it before buying certain desired things unless it is very urgent. We had to return our mattress and costco offered help for free pick-up. Only thing I miss is that costco somehow should offer members to submit their wish list so that they can consider selling some of those items in future.

  25. shoppersdelight says:

    It really depends on what you buy at any bulk items store. I’ve been to Costco and Sam’s Club and you’ve got to pay attention to packaging and/or box size. You may be buying in bulk but the package sizes are sometimes smaller and more expensive than at a conventional grocery store. You can buy 4 boxes of cereal at your local grocery store for a cheaper price than a 4 pack at Costco or Sam’s Club. And the box size may be 12oz per box at the bulk store but 16oz at your local store. So in which case you’re not getting a deal. No matter where you shop….. make a list and check it twice… stick to the list and all will be nice.

  26. xu2mofox says:

    I agree with you completely. CostCo is usually more expensive or same as walmart, Fry’s or other stores. And it’s inconvenient because you have to buy in bulk. I wish more people would wake up to this fact.

  27. xu2mofox says:

    I think CostCo does treat their employees with more respect and higher pay but I agree with Mike completely. CostCo can treat it’s employees better than Walmart because their deals are either more expensive or same as Walmart, Fry’s & other stores. And they sell in bulk so they make even more money at less operating cost. And they also have a few products that are total rip-offs or things that people don’t really need. I wish people would stop thinking CostCo has better prices on all things than elsewhere. Some things are cheaper at CostCo & easier to buy but CostCo does make lots of money off of idiot brain-washed shoppers also.

  28. xu2mofox says:

    CostCo does have better deals on some things. I keep my membership just to be aware of those good deals. Their photo department prices are helpful. I just pity those people who blindly shop at costco thinking they are getting a good deal or those who over-consume on high price items at costco.

  29. Jen says:

    I had this same experience.
    My mother had a membership there and when she got MS and couldn’t move, I went there to shop for her and had a problem checking out because I wasn’t her.
    They said she would have to add me to her membership. Fine. I didn’t go back until recently when I got my own card and the place was a madhouse!
    I got what I needed to get and stood in line. The people in the check out were rude. Apparently there are some items in Costco that you can’t just buy one of, so he asked if I wanted to get another and I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t let me purchase the item because I only had one. That was the one item I went in there for and I didn’t need or want two! So I get rung up and only had the mastercard on me. They don’t take it. Overall, I went in to get one item, had to buy more than one item only to leave with NOTHING! I will never go back!
    The $50 a year is not worth it, I don’t need to belong to their “club” they can stick it! Every day I drive by there and the place is packed. So they aren’t hurting for business but I will NEVER shop there again.

  30. Hannah says:

    Walmart has “better” prices because they don’t pay their employees a living wage. In fact, Walmart employees account for roughly $5 billion in state welfare programs.
    Think about that next time you want value chicken wings.

  31. Cheryl B. says:

    Not everyone has an Aldi’s or even a Walmart nearby. Costco serves a purpose as does every other store or they would not be in business. When I did not have health insurance Costco gave us a huge discount on my prescription medications. My husband’s business is 2 blocks from our local Costco and he routinely buys certain items there. And yes the organic produce does keep well. As with most shopping, YMMV.

  32. ronss says:

    i shop at costco, and from what i see, its cheaper than walmart…i don,t get where people say walmart is cheaper…its not…winco is cheaper than walmart in phoenix, they even have signs in the aisle showing here price compared to walmart…and walmart treat there employees like dirt, and have ran hundreds of thousands of small business,s out the door…walmart sucks

  33. Sweetalk says:

    It’s called MONEY MANAGEMENT people! Regardless of where you shop. Costco isn’t the ONLY store out there that costs you more than it should.(if you feel that way)Costco is great for our family of 5 and it so happens to save us lots of money. Most, normal people buy things they NEED, not just buy cause they can. If you are a costco, or a Sams club membership, you know what you are getting yourself into when you go to shop. If you don’t think you need double or triple of something, it’s called DON’T BUY IT or don’t sign up.

  34. Harry says:

    I had a Costco Membership card 3 years ago and I do not intend to renew it.

    1-Everything they have I can buy cheaper somewhere else

    2-Travelling cost is not worth – even if you buy cheaper gas

    3-Costco and Target are the worst places to shop, but Costco even charge you a “Membership” card

    4-The quality of items are not good. In example, they have too many clothing made fro Polyester. Everything with it (even 33% Polyester and 67% cotton) I donated to Salvation or throw into garbage. Fist started buying only 100% cotton, but later buying cotton with spandex which is elsewhere 2 or 3 times more expensive. They don’t have anything like that and the price for just cotton is like with spandex…

    5-Everything is usually made in sweatshops in Bangladesh or other South-East country. Even at Wal-Mart I buy items made in Canada…Unemployed yet- keep buying import (and at Costco)

  35. David Johnson says:

    You just need to know how to work the system. If you know how, you can get a free membership.

  36. Ted says:

    From my experience, I can say that costco does have some pretty good deals, but most deals are really bad and you have to have patience to check the prices because they will have gems along with a shitload of overpriced crap. The lines are ridiculous and the security guard checking each item on the receipt with the ones on your cart is even more absurd. I won’t be renewing my membership.

  37. Kat says:

    Costco is a WHOLESALE WAREHOUSE. It is not designed for every day consumers. If you do not know how to preserve large amounts of food that your purchase there. Then stop right now. Geesh….

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