Costco Wholesale Corporation / brookfield, ct warehouse - returns desk customer service
I have been a Costco member for +13 years. Even after moving from Seattle where I was intimate with the Company's headquarters and management, to New York City, we stayed loyal and also are often telling our city friends with small apartments to give Costco a chance. I'm an executive member and spend quite a lot annual. Our most recent rewards check was $211.
We recently began shopping at the Brookfield, CT store after getting a weekend house in the area. After shopping on our way back to the city, we discovered when we got home that 5 different produce items we bought were covered with mold and inedible. Before throwing them away, I called the warehouse and the woman who answered talked over the situation with me. I explained that because we live in NYC and not near the warehouse, I didn't want to hold on to the moldy produce for 2 weeks until we could get back there. She said it was fine for us to throw it all away and just explain the situation to the returns desk when we returned. She was very friendly and helpful. I took photos to have evidence of the bad produce (dated the same date as the sale) to be sure.
Two weeks later (on Jan 22nd, 2017), I showed up to shop again and started at the returns desk, showing my receipt and explaining the situation with the moldy produce and that I'd agreed with the employee who'd taken my call we could throw it away. The woman at the returns desk (Annette) was immediately suspicious and condescending to me. She said it was against the policy and I needed to come back with at least half the bad product. She put me right on the defensive, even though I felt I'd done only what I'd agreed to on the phone with the employee. She called over her supervisor, who reiterated the same policy and asked to know who I'd spoken to. I didn't get that person's name, and admitted this to them. I was so surprised to be given such a hard time. The supervisor (whose name I did not get, but who was a big guy w facial hair and wearing a Patriots jersey) said he would be willing to make a heavily emphasized "ONE TIME EXCEPTION" for me even though it was contrary to policy but that I really needed to save the bad product in the future. This entire time, they never once apologized for the situation or expressed any disappointment I'd bought bad product and had to spend time returnign it. And, this whole time, my three young children are looking at me with a questioning look wondering why I'm being talked to so rudely.
So, at that point, I said to Annette, I think it would be better if you apologized for selling me bad product rather than giving me such a hard time for having to return it. Annette then smiled with a smirk on her face to give me the impression I was now being unreasonable and so I could not help but to ask her why she was smiling. She responded only by saying "I'm not doing anything but going about to give you the refund YOU requested" - again to imply I was asking for something unreasonable.
I have never once abused the generous Costco returns policy. I know the Company's policies well...including its emphasis on customer service and accepting returns without asking questions. I understand I may have not done the return how you're normal protocol works, but I had cleared it with an employee of that same warehouse before I acted. I could not believe how rudely I was treated. And the supervisor stood there behind Annette the whole time and said not one more word once she began to process the return. Neither of them once apologized for selling me fruit that when opened was covered with mold. Neither of them reviewed my member profile to see how much I spend and how I never request returns. Both gave me the worst impression of customer service than I've had in a very long time.
On the way home, my husband I talked about what to do about this. I did complain in person to another supervisor while on site, and he apologized nicely and said he would speak to Annette. But I still left feeling frustrated and quite honestly SAD. My husband was ready to give up on our regular shopping trips to Costco just because of the bad produce. But, I insisted we give them a chance to smooth it over. And then I was faced with this terrible service.
For the first time, I am contemplating whether it makes sense to continue as a regular shopper. I love the Company, I love its management, its board and what it stands for. But, if the product is not good, and the service is terrible - what is the point of being loyal? At least to the warehouses in this area. I know I would never have faced this service in Issaquah or Seattle where I shopped for 10 years.
Today, there are SO many alternatives to shopping. Amazon is the obvious competitor, but there are others - Boxed Wholesale, Jet, Fresh Direct, Pea Pod, just to name a few! I am tempted to increase my share of wallet to these companies. I've already started to use Fresh Direct because of the convenience of groceries delivered to my door. And, when they've delivered produce that is other than what I'd select myself - they refund me immediately - no questions asked - with a sincere apology.
To continue to hold on to your loyal member base broadly and my own membership, which is up for renewal in February, I hope you will reflect on this feedback and take it seriously. I was so disappointed, rather than write a public review, I am sharing this with you directly.
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