Am I still in love with Costco? (Part II)

Electronics? Their prices on TVs and computers are quiet competitive. Costco also have competitive prices on printers, tablets and laptops. For the most part, their printer and computer selection is fairly good — it’s not as extensive as Best Buy although if one is a little flexible and isn’t brand or model specific, you can find something that will meet your needs. Having said that, most Costco’s don’t have an extensive selection on iPhone or computer accessories. You’ll have to go to Wal-Mart or Best Buy for that or shop online. It’s typically not difficult to get assistance in the electronics department, there’s always someone available who knows enough about most products to handle most questions.

Electronics

In terms of their return policy, it is 90 days for all TVs, computers and cameras with no questions asked. For more expensive items where you’re not sure if it meets your needs, this policy is nice and enables consumers to “try out” a given product and return it within the 90 days to get a full refund. A fairly liberal return policy. I’m sure a small minority may take advantage of this policy, however, for the most part, because the majority does not, it’s financially successful to Costco.

Employees at Costco? What about the Costco employees? How are they treated by the corporate office? Do they have a typical or atypical business model when it comes to wages? From what I’ve read, it’s expensive to hire and train employees so when they hire, they want it to be longer than the Christmas season or for the Summer season. It’s a longer commitment than that.

automotiveIt’s interesting, if you shop at one Costco location, you begin to get to know some of the employees. Look, it’s retail so you may have a higher turnover rate than corporate America. Having said that, there are many employees who have been at the same store for over 3 years. You get to know some of them or at least recognize them so you don’t appear as a stranger to them. Yes, sometimes the help doesn’t always knowing about certain inventory or shipping dates. However, they are fairly customer centric – even though they are busy, they will assist you once you approach them.

One minor suggestion, it would be useful to have one or two “floaters” from Costco wander around the store for troubleshooting or assistance, but until that happens, members can simply seek out an employee for assistance.

Free Air for Tire Inflation…It’s not necessarily a well-known fact but a Costco mechanic will manually check your tire pressure and add the necessary air pressure without charge. Of course, if there in the midst of their work, you may have to wait a bit. Some are aware of this feature but think they check to ensure you purchased the tires at Costco. No, even if you didn’t purchase your tires there, they will add the necessary tire pressure to all Costco members. A nice touch, indeed.

IMG_3987Gas Station Assistance…For the longest time, I was not aware that Costco gas stations had the option to provide handicap assistance. According to the sign, you tap your horn for assistance. Is this provided at other gas stations? I certainly don’t need this assistance, however, it’s nice a nice feature. Most know too that there is always one Costco employee on duty while customers are pumping gas. Besides tapping your horn, often the employee makes his rounds to ensure no one has any fill-up problems or there is no safety concerns occurring.

Fruit Basket Option as a Gift Item? What about sometimes bypassing the brick and mortar store and ordering online. Do I have a comment or complaint about ordering online? Not really, it really reminds me of Amazon in terms of your profile and it typically contains all the information as a convenience. I’ve send fruit baskets over the last 5 years or so which means that there are many family and friends’ profiles that already exist. Talk about making it simple. You select a basket, answer a few questions, validate your credit card information is correct and Costco takes care of the rest. I know that all people don’t like fruit, therefore, I’ll sometimes order a chocolate basket or a delicious producecheese selection. I’ve done this over 15 times and have yet to not have a satisfied order.

Summary

After reading some of my experiences and insights about this club, it should be quite obvious how I feel about Costco. Yes, it might be disappointing if they only have certain merchandise for a short period of time. Yes, you sometimes have to wait in line longer than expected. But overall, it’s quite the store that many of my family and friends still enjoy visiting. It’s the little things they do — from inexpensive photo department, free tire air, liberal return policy, quality merchandise and Kirkland — their in-store brand. You don’t know what you’ll find when you visit, however, you’re quite likely (for most visits) to find something of interest and enjoy the experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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