30 Secrets Costco Employees Won’t Tell You

By Nick Hadji 2 months ago

1. Check If Product Is Going To Be Reduced

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Pay close attention to the price tag.  The original Costco price will always end in a 9 but if it has already been reduced it will end with a zero or an 8.  There's also a date under the price tag that tells you when it was last discounted.  An asterisk in the right hand corner means it not going to be re-ordered. Bear this in mind when you next visit Costco and you can bag a bargain!

Original content sourced from Femanin.com

2.  You Aren't Going Mad - Items Are Continually Being Moved Around

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If you made a purchase at Costco the other week and want to go back to get a duplicate, say, for another family member, it's highly likely to have gone walkabout.  Products are purposely moved around the store to get you hunting for them and then you'll see other stuff on the way round that might take your eye.

3.  Buy Now Or Wait?

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Unless you are desperate to buy a certain item at that particular time, then hold off for a little while as it will be reduced.  Remember Xmas stuff comes in very early in the season so hang on if you can. If you ask a staff member when they think the price might go down, they will be vague about it as they aren't supposed to give out that information, even if they know.

4.  Everything Is On Show

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Costco is like a warehouse as everything they have is displayed on the shop floor.  There's no point asking staff if another colour is available or a different size is in the back because it won't be.  Anything that can't be put out is stacked higher up on pallets. It will usually be brought down when stock levels are looking a bit sparse.

5.  Staff Feel Bad Pushing Products

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Cosco is well known for supplying free food samples all over the store.  In fact every other aisle is likely to have a table with goodies to tempt you.  However, staff sometimes have to force themselves to encourage a customer a buy, knowing full well that the taste of a particular product is foul, like lactose free milk or weird baby foods!

6. Being Watched

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When Costco colleagues try to encourage customers to taste the samples, the person might not be interested.  Don't be surprised if the staff member appears a bit forceful as there is a reason behind it.  A manager will be watching nearby and will expect them to be pushy.

7.  Staff Can't Switch Off

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Sounds weird but its true!  When Costco employees are away from the workplace and a friend mentions, for example, apple pies, they can't help interrupting and saying that they stock them at work, they're always fresh, so cheap for the size of the pie and they need to check them out.

8. Employees Filling Their Faces


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Whilst they are not permitted to eat even a morsel of the samples on display for customers and would get into deep water if they attempted to ( they are always being watched), staff are allowed to try the food items when they are on their break although they shouldn't guzzle them down.

9. Giving Free Food To Family

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Absolutely not, no free food for family as that would be classed as stealing and you being given your P45.  There are ways and means, though, of feeding a hungry brother who happens to be passing.  He would be allowed to come back half a dozen times for more food samples to save him buying lunch.

10. Employees Don't Earn More If You Sample More

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Even if Costco sold out of a product staff were pushing, they wouldn't earn an extra penny.  They do get a good hourly rate but that doesn't increase with productivity.  It's a different story for the supervisor though who will receive a small bonus for being in charge of the team who sold everything!

11. Employees Get Mad At Customers

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There's nothing worse for an employee who's working on a sample table than customers who listen to the sales pitch, don't say a word and then stuff 10 mini sausage rolls into their mouth and walk off without as much as a thank you.  Staff are human, too and it wouldn't harm to be polite.  It really winds staff up.

12. Selling Out Is Rare

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Costco rarely sell out of a product.  Conscientious staff members have been known to get excited when the display they are responsible for has run out.  They have visions of being thanked a hundred times and given an extra day's holiday.  Unfortunately, that's not the case and a new pallet replaces the empty area and life carries on as usual.

13. Standing Around Is A Killer

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Employees have to stand for 6 hours so that's why you won't see the females in high heels.  They stand on stiff mats which make it worse, especially on the knees which can swell up.  A single 15 minute daily break and a 30 minute lunch is a tough ask for staff who have to fake a smile on their faces for the whole of their shift.

14. Middle-Aged Women Are In

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If you're looking for a job and are a woman of a certain age (an age of hot flushes), Costco will be happy to employ you.  The majority of employees are women aged between 50 and 60 years of age and as long as you can sell a product and pass a drugs test (HRT doesn't count), then you're on the payroll.

15. Saturday Is The Best For Samples

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A Saturday afternoon, between 1pm and 2pm is the best time for samples.  Every team is on duty and there is a massive selection of goodies to try.  Bearing in mind this is lunch time and customers will be feeling a rumbling in their tummies, they are more likely to make a purchase - and staff know this.

16. We Are Costco But We're Not!

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Sample teams don't technically work for Costco although customers wouldn't have an inkling.  They are employed by Warehouse Demo Services (WDS) and stay in the same store all the time.  They do get treated well but don't receive as many perks as actual Costco employees.

17. All Is Not As It Seems

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Handing out samples must seem like the perfect job to an onlooker.  It's sociable, it's giving away freebies to customers and it's nice and warm in the winter and air-con cool in the summer.  Well, you are wrong in your assumption.  Even though its easy to make and give out samples, it's very hard to talk people into actually putting purchases in their shopping trolleys.  Managers are always keeping an eye out on them.

18. Listen For The Bell

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If you hear the bell ringing at the Costco deli, it's not the fire alarm! It means a new batch of freshly cooked rotisserie chicken has been put out.  The chickens are such good value that they go really quickly so listen out for the sound and you won't be disappointed.

19. It's All About The Location

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Here's an inside tip for you.  The best deals are found deeper into the store and that is why it is set out this way.  It is referred to as 'centre court' and all manner of amazing offers can be found in this area, from Jacuzzis to leather jackets and cinema sized tv's to designer handbags!

20. Fizzy Pop

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Costco food and drinks aisles are bulging with bargains but one thing that doesn't match up with competitive pricing is fizzy drinks such as Coke.  The store usually charges a little more than the average supermarket and that's because your local Tesco wants to get you in.  It will offer cheaper carbonated drinks as 'a loss leader' to entice you through the door.  This means they aren't making a profit on fizzy drinks but you'll end up with a basket of stuff so it's worth it for them.

21. Beef By The Chub

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Although most people are unfamiliar with this meat-packing term, a chub is a tube of ground beef that's sealed in plastic. Looking a bit like an over-sized hot dog, chubs contain the same ground beef, but in packaging that’s less expensive than the traditional foam box with clear plastic topper. The Costco deli can package your beef at your request and the chub is usually sold at a discounted price.

22. Retroactive Sales

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Costco is well known for its generous return policy as management believe this will  build a good relationship with their customers.  Bet you didn't know that Costco purchases are protected against future sales for 30 days so if you see the price has reduced, they store will refund you the difference.

23. Refunds On Memberships

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Besides their famous customer friendly returns policy, there is the question about what if you're not happy with Costco itself?  The store doesn't come up to your expectations and you've already paid for your membership.  Turns out that's covered as well and customer services will refund it for you.  Makes you feel like maybe you should have stayed!

24. When To Move And When Not To

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As Costco items are constantly moving, great attention is paid as to how they are selling.  If a product is smashing it in a particular part of the store, it will stay there.  This type of item is usually something they sell that you can't buy anywhere else.  They know what they're doing!

25. Get That Pizza Ordered

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On a busy Friday, you might have to wait up to 25 minutes for a fresh pizza.  They are so popular, taste great and you get a heck of a lot of  pizza for your dough!  Think on your feet and order your Italian treat when you get there, giving you time to mooch round and then pick it up from the counter without queuing.

26. Getting Non-Member Friends In

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It’s no secret that you can bring two guests in with you to shop but you can also set up your friends who refuse to buy a membership with their own access cards. Only members can buy and refill a Costco Cash Card but whoever you give it can visit the the store to spend the store credit whether they have an annual membership or not.

27. Which Credit Cards To Use

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A common criticism of Costco is its policy of only accepting certain forms of payment. Critics say that it can be inconvenient to bring cash and the policy makes it hard to rack up points or rebates with the preferred credit card provider. The good news is that there’s a way round it.  Cosco.com accepts all form of payments and with any card.

28.  Small Mark Up Means Big Profits

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To make a profit, stores mark up their prices from what they pay the supplier. For example, most grocery stores mark up meat prices by at least a third.  At Cosco, they believe in selling loads of meat at only a 10% mark up but the quantity sold means big bucks in profit.

29. Cosco Tyre Rotation

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New tyres are expensive, even with Costco's low prices but what you might not know is that the brand of tyre change every few weeks so don't panic if the one you require isn't available.  It's very likely to be in stock the following month.  Costco members are entitled to free tyre pressure testing and can get their flat tyres repaired.

30. Got A Foodie Question

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If you get to the deli counter, which is pretty much self service, you might need to ask a question about a food product but no one is around.  Simply knock on the door of the department and an employee, who is probably in the preparation section, will be only too pleased to help.

31. An Item Will Stay In The Same Spot If It Sells

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We mentioned items moving around a lot, but there's a system to the movement, too. Employees will keep an eye on whether an item is selling particularly well in one certain spot, and if it is, that item won't move from that spot.

32. Employees Like It When You Order Ahead

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A heads-up is always helpful for employees. There's usually enough stock for certain stuff, but there's nothing lost by knowing ahead of time how much is needed. Costco employees don't like it when they have to tell customers they've sold out because someone else bought more than expected.

33. Pretty Much Everything At Costco Is Bound To Go On Sale At One Point Or Another

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It can be tempting to stock up on items , or wait it out to see if something goes on sale. But you should know that most items will go on sale at one point or another, so it's always worth the wait until they're cheaper - because they will be at some point, most likely.

34. The Rotisserie Chickens Are A Great Deal

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The rotisserie chickens are famous at Costco, and so is their unbelievably bargain price. The fact is, they're just a great deal, it's as simple as that. There isn't any hidden trickery why you're paying such a good price, like they're secretly downsized or filled with something to make them look plumper - they're just a darn good chicken at a darn good price.

35. Look Out For The Asterisk On A Price Tag

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If there's an asterisk on the top right corner of a price tag, it means that that particular item won't be restocked. It might be a seasonal item that will come back later, but if it's something that you particularly like, you're best heeding the asterisk warning and stocking up on it now while it's there.

36. Manufacturer Coupons Can't Be Used

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It's always great to get a better deal, but Costco can't - and won't - accept manufacturers' coupons. Employees won't be willing to negotiate on that, either, so you'll need to use one of the warehouse saving books if you want to save some extra money.

37. Costco Can Help You With Funeral Planning

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Not that it's something you want to think about, but it's always good to know. Costco actually sells steel caskets which cost a bargain price of around $950, which is a very good deal compared to other casket suppliers. They also ship out caskets to 36 states if you need delivery.

38. The Price Tags Carry A Special Code

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Most prices on items will end in a certain code, which is usually '.09', but there's a different code which shows that you're getting a good deal. If there's a price ending in '.97', it means the item is on clearance, so you're getting a cheaper price. Another code is '.00' or '.88', which means the manager decided to reduce the price specifically on that item.

39. The Price You Pay Isn't Much More Than What The Store Pays

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In business, stores always have to mark up prices from what they paid to make a profit, of course. But for Costco, that hiked-up price isn't much more than what they would have paid - usually not more then 15 percent, with prices averaging around 10.6 percent markup.

40. Look Out For The Markdown Date

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You should also keep an eye out for the date that might appear under the final price. The date shows the most recent mark-down price, so you can use this date to decide whether you should buy it now or wait and see if there's another markdown price. This is always a risk, so it depends if you're happy to risk the item selling out after a price drop.

41. Kirkland Isn't Always The Best Choice

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Kirkland is a brand at Costco that most shoppers will know is a great affordable option. But is it the best choice? Not always. Because Kirkland covers so many different products - like footwear to food items - there's bound to be a situation where Kirkland might not be the best for a specific product. This means Kirkland bacon might be the best, but Kirkland coffee granules might not be, for example.

42. Start At The Center And Work Your Way Out

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Understanding locations in a Costco store when shopping can be a great help to your experience. Yuo should always start at the center - known as the 'center court' by employees - and then work your way to the back. The items at the very front of the store will usually have the highest markup prices.

43. Former Employees Are Often Happy To Share Insider Info

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Costco often has loyal employees, or families of employees, which means there's a lot of insider info available. It's worth your time to try and find this out, such as on social sites like Reddit, so that you can find out tips and tricks to get the most out of your Costco experience.

44. Employees Say Working At Costco Is More Than A Gym Workout

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Working at Costco is definitely a workout in itself. Costco employees have revealed they walk up to 8 miles a day on average while walking around the store, and a lot of pallets that are stacked with heavy stuff have to be stacked by hand, so there's your arm workout done, too. It's hard physical work, but worth it if you hate the gym!

45. Costco Employees Are Allowed To Do Their Shopping After Hours

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Costco employees - surprisingly - don't really get discounts, but they are allowed to shop after hours when the store is empty. When they're done with their shop, a register would have been left open for them at the front, so they can still check out even with the other registers closed.

46. The Return Policy Is Great For Customers - Not So Great For Employees

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Costco doesn't have too many restrictions on returns, which means most stuff you buy can easily be returned for a refund. This is great, and a plus for customer service. But it of course means that some people are going to take too much advantage of it. One example from an employee is when one customer tried to return a couch that was 5 years old.

47. Employees Know When You're A Repeat Returner

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Costco purchase records go back a long time - around 10 years, in fact - so if you're constantly buying and returning, they're gonna know. Employees also know by a certain tell when customers come in and say they have an account - if you know your account can be looked up on the computer, it means you've done it enough times to know how it works.

48. A Convenience Store Within Costco

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The foot court in Costco is available to employees, but they may not always want to eat fast food. The employee break room looks like its own convenience store, including vending machines, fresh meals and even a complete kitchen for preparing food. It's been described by an employee as like a 'gas station's convenience store'.

49. Costco Doesn't Have Express Checkout - And There's A Reason

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The checkout system at Costco is very organised - every customer who comes in is headcounted, so the people working the registers know how many need to be open to account for that many people. This means that an express checkout isn't really needed, because the checkout system should always be fast-paced and tailored for the amount of customers there are in store.

50. Costco's Receipt Check Is For A Good Reason

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On exiting the store, customers will usually have their receipt scanned. It can make you feel a bit like you've done something wrong even though you haven't, but the reason receipts are scanned is to prevent theft and help control prices. Huge items like TVs can be a shoplift risk, so it's worth the check for employees.