ISSAQUAH, WASHINGTON -- During my divorce, I followed lawyer's advice and called my creditors to get all my account numbers changed. One of these was COSTCO, whom I called in June of last year for this purpose. I was told that they "can't do that," and that I would have to start all over and apply for a new account. This upset me somewhat, since I'd been using this account for over 12 years, and no other creditors had any such problem with my request. So I said that if that's the case, maybe the account should just be closed entirely and I will just stop shopping there. Suddenly, they were much more attentive....
I was then talked into a different action -- having only the account's second (now invalid and missing) card cancelled. I was then assured both by phone, and later by mail, that this had been done. But evidently some step in the procedure was missed by a processing clerk, or someone, and THE CARD WAS NEVER REALLY DEACTIVATED. And apparently there is no Quality Control, or verification process for Costco to ensure that such important procedures are actually completed.
Not only did Costco allow this supposedly cancelled card to be used by someone to max out my account, at four stores over a 3-day period in September-- one or more of their stores actually allowed the card to be charged to $400 PAST THE CREDIT LIMIT for that account! Talk about sloppy policy.
No notice was sent to me regarding the VERY unusual activity in this account. I didn't find out until I got my normal statement, almost a month later. If there is a more obvious indication of possible identity theft or fraud than this sort of huge, fast account-draining, I've never heard of it. In this day and age of rampant identity theft, that lack of communication is inexcusable for a company of this size!
I've already filed BBB and FTC complaints regarding Costco and HSBC (see below), over this issue. Apparently, HSBC (USA branch) handles all account finances, and "dispute" claims for Costco. Since my first phone call (about eight months ago, now), I have been getting correspondence from HSBC regarding this issue. What I have been subjected to is an almost laughable, never-ending campaign of dodging, denying, pretense and just plain annoyance apparently designed to frustrate me to the point that I just give up and pay for Costco's mistakes!
They use a whole "delay and annoy" strategy... such as sending formal letters stating that if there are any "questions" I should call a phone number --the general customer service number for Costco/HSBC-- where I am informed that the "dispute department doesn't accept phone replies," such as repeatedly sending letters pretending that the amount in dispute is either the entire account balance, or a much smaller amount than is in actual dispute.
(I have been informed on several occasions by sympathetic customer service rep's that there are notes and comments all over this file identifying what is actually in dispute-- so either HSBC is not investigating at all, or their job actually entails intentionally attempting to delay, frustrate and aggravate complainants until they simply give up in disgust). And such as continuously and intentionally ignoring the actual facts of the dispute, sending letters saying "all charges seem to be in order," and pretending that this resolves everything... and oh yes by the way, I'm now back to owing the entire amount again, have a nice day.
Whenever I call HSBC, I get the same run-around -- the customer service rep claims that s/he can't do anything except enter data into the case file, and that either the "dispute or fraud departments" are who I need to contact. When I do that, I get another letter, with yet another version of the story.
To date, I have not heard a single HSBC or Costco person acknowledge that Costco screwed up; or anyone from either group willing to accept responsibility for the errors. They obviously intend only to wear me down. It is clear to me that 1--HSBC has NOT really investigated this issue, and is simply following a formula designed to "make it go away," and 2--Neither company intends to ever resolve this issue, fairly.
WHARTON NJ -- My wife was going to work on the interstate last Thursday when a 1 month old Michelin tire blew out. She's a new manager on a tight schedule so, to keep her from having to wait for road service, I went myself to put on the spare for her. I took the damaged tire which had blown out through the sidewall without having hit anything and brought it back to the Wharton NJ Costco tire department where it was purchased. The staff there was surly and distracted, as though a heated disagreement was in progress, and although this was a regular weekday morning, the line for service went all the way out the door.
When my turn finally came up, I calmly explained to Kerrie, the supervisor on duty, what had happened. She turned without a word and went to look at the tire, which I'd left in the service area. She returned, again without saying a word to me, and barked to a subordinate, "Lock that back door. I don't want any more customers coming in that way!" Finally, I asked her if she was going to replace the tire, and she said yes. I asked her if she could have it put it on the wheel and balanced, and my wife would come that evening between 6 and 7 to have it mounted on the car. She said that was OK.
Because the communication seemed so strained, I repeated again, "She'll be here between 6 and 7 to have it mounted on the car, are you sure that's OK?" She answered "Yes" again, and I left. When my wife arrived at 6:30 to have the tire mounted, she was told, "You missed your 6:00 appointment. You'll have to wait until we close at 9:00".
My wife called me at around 6:40 to tell me what had happened, and I called the tire department back and explained to the counter person that there was a misunderstanding. The agreement was that the tire would be mounted when my wife arrived between 6 and 7, and that she had other appointments and couldn't wait until 9. He replied that the note Kerrie left said that the appointment was at 6, she'd missed it, and there was nothing that could be done. My wife put the replacement tire in the trunk and drove the 20 minutes home. Meanwhile, I called the store again and this time spoke to Mike, the assistant store manager on duty, who told me to bring the car back, and offered, "We'll see if we can fit you in."
I replied that a) we'd had an agreement, b) it would have taken only 5 minutes to mount the wheel at the agreed upon time, and c) after all the time we'd wasted, I'd only make the 40 minute r/t again if he assured me that the tire would be mounted promptly. But I got the same "We'll see if we can fit you in." Frankly, buying tires at Costco isn't such a steal. Most of the same tires are available at similar prices at many local dealers.
My wife and I have tight schedules and little free time, and had hoped to at least get civilized, professional service at Costco. But I ended up jacking up the car and remounting the replacement tire myself, in the dark, in my driveway. I don't know what kind of service can be expected at other Costco tire departments, but I would certainly advise Costco members to avoid the tire department at the Wharton NJ store.
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN -- Earlier this year, I bought an HP All-in-One printer from Costco, and it really just did not meet my needs. After more than nine months, I was done messing with it and decided to get a new All-in-One. I checked Costco's Return Policy online, and did not see any restrictions specifically cited for printers. Just in case, I called their Customer Service line, and they assured me I could return the printer, despite how long I had had it in my possession.
I boxed it up (original box), took it in (with my receipt), and, without question, they accepted the return and gave me my money back. I bought a new All-in-One (from Costco) and love it (Cannon). Then I remembered that I had bought a bunch of ink for the original printer -- ink I no longer needed nor could even use. I also had NO receipt for the ink, which cost more than $100 (minus $20 because I had bought it with a coupon).
One day, now it was more than 10 or 11 months since I had bought the ink, but one day when I was at Costco, I stopped by the Customer Service desk and asked if it was possible to return the ink WITHOUT a receipt. They said sure, as long as it was still in the original packaging. A few days later I returned with the ink, they accepted the return and refunded my money (just a bit over $90, as I recall). No questions asked.
They did, of course, pull up my account and confirm the purchase and all before accepting it back, and what I was returning was still in the original packaging, had not expired (I'm pretty sure there was an expiration date on it), and was good to just place back on the shelf. Bravo, Costco! What a great way to treat your customers. I am proud to be a member and encourage others to join as well!
MATTHEWS, NORTH CAROLINA -- I have read several anti-Costco reviews and I think it is time for us satisfied Costco customers to speak up. Costco is simply the best retailer I've ever encountered, regardless of pricing. It offers very good quality and very reasonable prices which adds up to great value. Its customer service is superb. I mean, how can you not like a company with a policy that allows customers to return anything (aside from electronics) at anytime for any reason for a full refund, no questions asked.
What's more, Costco treats its employees well (average pay of about $16 an hour) and it shows when you come in contact with them. Costco employees are almost always well informed and helpful.
Let me give you a few examples of Costco's service: --A friend bought a $400 water slide for his kids and shortly thereafter ran over it with his lawnmower. When he called his local Costco store to find out where he could buy a new one (the store was no longer selling it), a Costco employee told him to bring the slide in for a full refund. The guy carefully explained that it was HIS fault, not Costco's, and the merchandise was not defective. But the Costco employee said that didn't matter. My friend got a full $400 refund.
--I once discovered that a patio furniture set that I had purchased for $1,200 four months earlier had been reduced to $900. I went to Member services and not only got a $300 refund but $600. Seems the merchandise had been marked down again, this time to $600, but the lower price hadn't been posted on the floor. If the Costco manager hadn't told me, I would not have known it.
--Another guy bought three wooden bar stools from Costco and after four years two of them had broken and one was near collapse. He took them back, got a full refund and bought three new bar stools from the same store for the same price. The new ones were metal.
Let me add that I have never, not once, encountered a rude employee at my local Costco store and I have always been greeted pleasantly when I enter or leave that store. Costco is truly a great organization. No wonder it is so successful. My guess is that most of the people who gripe about Costco are chronic complainers. They are the types who display "attitude" at the first sign of a problem. While I am no shrinking violet, I begin any dealings with any store in a reasonable, measured manner.
I rarely have to escalate and I usually get what I want. Then again, I don't make outrageous demands. As the old saying goes, you reap what you sow.
Hubby and I have been Costco Members since 2005. Typically we only buy gas there since it can be up to 10 cents cheaper than anywhere else in the immediate area. About 5 years ago, we decided to try the Executive Member program. For an extra $50 a year, you will receive 3% back on your Costco purchases. Thinking we'd at least get a return on our investment, we signed up. At the end of the year, we got our check--well, it was actually a voucher that could only be used at Costco, and it was only for $3!
What we failed to read in the fine print was that gas doesn't count. So, we went back to the regular membership around the time ** was born because even though we were spending about $120/mo in formula, that was pretty much all we were buying there, and a year's worth of formula purchases still wouldn't even allow us to break even. I was asked once or twice that year if I was interested in the Exec program again, but I always turned it down.
Fast forward to 2012. I am once again buying formula, this time for **. I usually have to go twice a month, end up paying about $40 a box for it. Every single time I go, however, they're asking me about joining the exec membership. I always decline and explain that the formula purchases won't even get us close to our $50 back. They try to argue back that if I'm here, I might pick up other stuff that might bring the total closer to the break even point.
I counter back that because the formula is a straight shot from the entrance, and right next to the cash register, I am a virtual ping pong ball going directly to the formula and then straight to the checkout. I don't pass go, I don't collect $200.
Tonight, I needed to make another formula run. And yet again I'm asked about exec membership. I once again explain my position. I must have looked extremely cheezed because the guy offered to put a notification on my card so I'm not asked again. Seriously? They can do that? I acquiesced immediately and the guy stepped away with my card. He returned a minute later and handed me my card saying I was all set.
On the back of my card was a big, underlined NO written in black marker. Are you serious? That's all it takes? Heck, if I had known that, I would have written that on my card myself years ago! With one of the 500 Sharpies I bought there. :)
CHICAGO -- I recently was thinking of renewing my membership at your Lincoln Park location on Clyborn in Chicago, IL. However, my thoughts were instantly changed by the Customer Service, or should I say lack thereof.
I had heard that Costco offered great pricing on Birthday cakes, so I decided to call and place an order. After calling and trying to explain what I needed to the only Costco representative who answered, I was quickly cut off before finishing my wants and needs to your representative saying "I don't handle this, let me transfer you." I felt completely unacknowledged. Then, after being instantly transferred, all I got was ring tone after ring tone. Imagine my frustration.
I then phoned back and explained to the young lady on the line in the Food Court that I needed assistance and that the extension she transferred me had no employees on the other end. She then transferred me to the photo department who then said they could not help me. By this time I was so appalled by your Customer Service, that I knew I would not renew my membership through Costco.
Trying to keep my word to a friend to help order her a cake, I then phoned one more time to your Administration who seemed to be of cooperation. The woman kindly took my order and said that she would put it in through bakery.
To be assured that my cake order would be ready, I phoned back today, 02/19/2009 and phoned Administration, knowing I would get an actual representative and not ring tone after ring tone, and the woman who answered was so extremely rude right away. From the way she answered her phone representing Costco, to her loud sigh when I asked her to help me, to her slamming the phone and putting me on instant hold when I asked her to reach a bakery attendant for me.
I am completely unsatisfied with Costco Lincoln Park Customer Service. I feel as though Costco could hire more adequate employees willing to offer their customer service skills. Very Unsatisfied Customer!
BELTSVILLE, MARYLAND -- This afternoon my wife and I were at the Costco warehouse in Beltsville, Maryland. There was a young girl about 4 feet tall with shoes on that have the rollers in them. Twice she bumped into my wife who was pushing our cart.
My wife has degenerative arthritis in her knees. My wife is 63. When we got through the checkout line we got a couple of hotdogs and sat down. The other family also got something to eat and the child was still wheeling around on the shoes.
I went to one store employee and told him what had happened and he said he would get someone to talk to them. He did nothing. I then went to another Hispanic female employee and told her of the problem, she had me talk to the supervisor there in the checkout area. Well then the supervisor (a woman of India decent, I think) had the Hispanic employee to go and talk to the people. I went to a store employee because I thought it unwise to say anything directly to the family. Well, as she the store employee was talking to the family she pointed over at us.
Then the woman stood up and said to us "You have a problem with my child?" She called us stupid and a few other things. I told her she was stupid to let her child use the shoes in the store where she has bumped into others. We got up to leave and of course they were still yelling at us. I told them how stupid they were to allow her to use the shoes in the store. I was headed to the door with another store employee when the other woman with them ran up behind me, knocked the store employee down and ran her hands into my back trying to push me down.
The female store employee had NO BUSINESS TELLING THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAD MADE THE COMPLAINT! And pointing to us! Your store employee put my wife and myself in the situation of being verbally and myself physically attacked. Finally the manager of the store was called, but the other family had left. Never have I seen such sloppy handling of a customer complaint.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA -- On Friday 7-11-08, I filled my Dodge Durango at the Tallahassee Costco gas station. I have owned my truck for several years and mainly buy Costco gas. My truck has according to Dodge a 25 gallon tank. The distance to empty (DTE) digital gauge showed 12 miles, and my average MPG is around 14.5. When the truck is this low on gas, I usually put in 22-23 gallons. The most I have ever put into it when the E was on the DTE gauge was 24.5.
The pump at Costco indicated I put 26.5 gallons into my tank. After filling, I showed my receipt and my owner's manual to the employee, who referred me to the store manager. After locating him, I was eventually told they would look into it, and I gave him my member info and phone number.
I received a message from another subject at the store the following day stating they had performed a test on the pump and I could call back to get the results. I'm not sure why he did not just tell me, but at any rate, I returned the call and was never able to speak to this employee on the first couple of tries, and then learned he was on vacation. I asked for whoever was in charge, and was transferred to another employee.
This employee told me they had weights and measures check the pump and they were actually putting out a little more than one gallon per indicated gallon. Perhaps this was a one time thing, but I wanted to post this information in the event anyone else notices a pumping discrepancy.
Since there is no way I put 26.5 gallons into my 25 gallon tank, I figure what happened was that I actually pumped in at most 24 gallons and paid for 26.5, which is about a 10% rate of error in Costco's favor. This bumped the price from 3.93 per gallon to about 4.32 per gallon. This seems like a stealth way to increase the profit per gallon substantially, since most people don't know how much gas their vehicle can hold or usually takes based on gauge position.
ORLAND PARK, ILLINOIS -- Based on a Consumer Reports 'Best Buy' rating we purchased frames and lens. The frame hinge one one side only tore apart making it impossible to connect ear piece to lens portion. We were told there was NO GUARANTEE connected with the purchase of either the frame or the lens. We could not believe it. Costco has an absolutely outstanding customer care policy - we know that over our years of being members. Even the bargain eye glass stores have some measure of protection on the frame and lens. Costco has none on either part! We still cannot believe what we were told. Buyer beware!