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8 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Costco Employees

Former Costco employees explain what you shouldn't buy or do.

Costco offers everything from high-end makeup steals to prescription glasses deals. You can buy a big screen for your living room and snacks to watch while you enjoy the show. But before you put all of these bargains in your cart immediately, heed these former Costco employees' warnings. There are certain items you should avoid buying and activities you shouldn't be doing the next time you venture to the rapidly-expanding big box store. Read on to discover the best advice from former Costco employees.

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Don't buy sale items ending in .00.

Costco member card and receipt

In a now viral TikTok, Mai Zimmy shares Costco pricing secrets from a former employee. If you're looking for the best deal ever, Zimmy warns shoppers not to buy sale items that end in .00 because they can do better. She explains items that end in .00 are a manager markdown, which means they could have been a return or a floor model.

Instead, keep an eye out for products that end in .97, because it's a clearance price and it's the "lowest, bare-bottom price" available. If the price ends in .99, that's the regular retail price. A worker who was with Costco for more than a decade confirmed this deal to Business Insider.

Avoid dining while shopping.

People customers woman walking to exit in Costco discount membership club store during Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak with empty food court

Instead of enjoying your hot dog while lounging on a model couch, consider eating in the cafeteria. On one Reddit thread devoted to activities Costco's staff "judge" customers for doing, one person reflects, "At my local Costco, the food court location is placed in such a way that you can't go back into the shopping side of the store," which "discourages people from shopping while eating." However, you can feel free to enjoy the samples while you grocery shop.

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Stop abandoning cold items in the wrong aisle.

Tigard, Oregon - Oct 25, 2019 : Costco wholesale warehouse shopping aisle with food testing

If you put a frozen item in your cart and decide you don't want it, put it back where it came from. Ex-employees explain they were constantly upset by by people leaving cold or frozen food far from where they found it. And don't put non-freezer items in the freezer, either. They revealed they regularly found eggs, bread, cake and yogurt in the freezer instead of the cold section, and would have to throw these items out. One person who stocked the freezer said they can confirm that the amount of non-freezer items they had to throw is "ridiculous." There's an entire Reddit thread devoted to leaving cold items in the wrong aisles with the strongly worded headline: "If you do this, you shouldn't be allowed to shop anywhere."

Pass on Goodyear products.

A shopping cart sits in the foreground of a Walmart Supercentre store located in Bayers Lake Business Park.

"​​I'd personally recommend avoiding Goodyear altogether," one worker in the Tire Center wrote on Reddit. "People come in all the time with their tires on and have tons of issues… I know some of our stores sell them, but I will never put them on any car of mine. I stick with Bridgestone, Michelin, or BFG." Another commenter says to avoid Goodyear windshield wipers and others agreed, asking, "Why can't Costco just get us a better grade of windshield wiper? Surely they must be aware of this by now."

Don't buy this water brand.

Water bottles in refrigerator

While Costco's in-house Kirkland brand is famous for selling everything from vodka to button downs, one Redditor described the bottled water as "musty," as opposed to name brand bottled water. Costco shoppers took to social media to complain about the smell, saying that there are occasionally bad cases that don't taste right. Luckily, the retail center also offers other brands of water, including Perrier.

Buy books elsewhere.

Woman at a bookstore

Former employees revealed on Reddit that books are not a good buy at Costco. Instead, people can get better prices on Amazon or find cheaper options used. The selection is also much smaller than going to a regular bookstore, whether you shop at a chain like Barnes & Noble or a local spot.

While the Costco website boasts "a large selection of children's books, including charming classics, gorgeous picture books, mystery and adventure series, and much more," in a Reddit thread  commenters lament the small adult selection. One helpful commenter recommends getting books for free from your public library—even bargain prices can't beat books without any charge.

Skip these bulk items.

espresso cup with coffee beans
Deman / Shutterstock

The wholesale chain is great for buying items in bulk, but not when they go bad quickly. Former employees say to skip getting ground coffee, because you won't use it before it goes bad. They say the same thing about spices, which come in enormous amounts.

Instead, they recommend getting freezer items like frozen fruit, which will last for a long time. And of course, it's the best place to stock up on bulk items you'll always need, like toilet paper and paper towels.

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