Costco’s low prices are one reason we are big fans of the warehouse store. Their generous return policy is another reason why Costco is the first stop for our purchases. Over the years Costco has tightened up their return policy somewhat — now, shoppers have just 90 days to return electronics goods such as televisions, computers and digital cameras but their return policy on other merchandise remains very generous.
Last year, I had purchased a pressure washer at Costco and ended up using it around the house less than a dozen times. Over the weekend, I found that the water inlet into the pressure washer was broken. The manufacturer offers a 1-year limited warranty but I did not keep the original receipt or register the product and in any case “limited” likely means a long list of exclusions buried in the fine print.
I thought it is worth a try to put the washer into the original packaging, take it to my local Costco, explain that it is broken and ask if they’ll provide me with a refund. I wasn’t very hopeful considering that (a) I did not have the receipt and (b) it was almost certainly more than a year since I purchased it. To my enormous surprise, Costco took the washer back and provided a full refund even though it turned out that it was purchased 15 months back.
It is a rare business that tries hard to provide customer satisfaction these days. You can find so many instances of businesses trying to hide behind the fine print on Ellen Roseman’s blog. But, generous return policies may not be just altruism on Costco’s part. After all, a satisfied customer is more likely to stay loyal and put in a good word for you. Being nice to customers is just good business.