Costco: Love/Hate

I think I’m developing a love/hate relationship with Costco. On the one hand, they have great products: inexpensive wetsuits, highly rated batteries, cheap gas, and let’s not forget great meat.  They also have an unbeatable return policy. But on the other hand, I’m discovering that they have absolutely awful customer service, even at the manager level.

Case in point:

I went to Costco this morning to try and find the High Sierra hydration pack they’ve been carrying for the last few months. I already own one, but the bite valve on mine leaks and has already caused a few “mini floods” in our apartment much to the chagrin of my wife. Little did I know that it’s a seasonal item that’s just gone out of stock for the year…

But I found myself at the Sunnyvale Costco, which is the closest one to our apartment. After wandering around looking for it, I decided to look for someone to ask, which was my first mistake.  Have you ever noticed that it’s nearly impossible to find any Costco employee to ask questions of?  I finally found a manager with a walkie-talkie and a Costco name badge, so I asked him, “Excuse me? Do you have those backpacks with the water pack built-in?”

“You mean the hydration packs from Sierra? Nope, we don’t carry those any more,” he replied as he turned around and walked off.

Uhh…thanks…I guess. Sheesh.

Not willing to take “No” for an answer, I drove a few minutes over to the Santa Clara Costco,  Hoping that I’d have better luck there. As it turns out, I was able to find two managers standing in the middle of the store chatting.  So I asked them the same question as above: “Excuse me? Do you have those backpacks from Sierra with the water pack built-in?”

“You mean the High Sierra Hydration Packs? No, I don’t think we have any of those. They’re out of stock for the season. But they might be coming back soon. If you go to the front and ask, they can look it up on the computer.  They can also tell you if it’s in stock at any of the other Costcos in the area.”

“Oh, cool. Thanks. You mean the membership center?” I asked.

“No, the Merchandise Pickup Area. They can help you over there.”

“Great thanks.”

That’s the spirit! Now we’re talking customer service. I was feeling much better, and quite grateful to Irma and her managerial colleague.

So I walked over to the Merchandise Pickup Area, and waited for a few minutes for someone to help me out. There were plenty of Costco employees standing around doing nothing, but none of them offered to help me. Finally, I approached one gentleman and asked him, “Excuse me, do you have the High Sierra Hydration Packs in stock?”

“No, those are out of stock.”

“Can you check your computer?”

“Well, they’re out of…”

Feeling a sense of impatience with him, I interjected, “Yeah, Irma told me that I could come up here and that you’d be able to look it up in the computer as to when they’ll be back in stock, or if any of the other Costcos in the area have them.”

“Oh…OK,” he replied as he turned and started typing on the computer.

“Yeah, see, we don’t have any,” he explained as he showed me the screen.

“What about the other Costcos in the area?” I insisted.

“It doesn’t look like it,” he said. As he flipped through the screens in rapid succession, I noticed that it said Mountain View had 10.

“What about Mountain View? I think your computer said they had 10.”

“Well, it says they have 10, but with that few, they may already be out of stock as well.”

“OK, thanks,” as I walked out.

So I headed over to the Mountain View Costco still in search of my hydration pack.  Upon arrival, I was grateful that at least this time I knew what it was called, and that I should head directly to the Merchandise Pickup Area.

I found a manager standing around in front of his computer and asked, “Excuse me, do you have the High Sierra Hydration Pack in stock?”

“Nope.” and he turned around and walked off.

Ugh! How dehumanizing!

All that to say, as much as I love Costco for their products and their return policy, their customer service ranks among the lowest.

At least the hot dogs and soda are still $1.50…sigh.

One thought on “Costco: Love/Hate

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