Secrets From Costco Employees (Plus What Annoys Them Most)

Costco is known for being a great place to work, but no workplace is perfect. Employees still have complaints, mostly about Costco members. Ahead, discover what Costco employees wish members knew. (Chances are you’ve been fooled by the tactic on page 8.)

Put down your phone

Costco Wholesale warehouse

Costco | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

“Get off your phone and communicate while checking out,” a Costco employee with experience working in several Costco warehouses, told Business Insider. Politely end your phone conversation, and apologize to your cashier.

Hint: Employees had a lot to say about kids.

Control your kids

Girl holding carrots in grocery store

A mom shops with her daughter. | FlairImages/iStock/Getty Images

One Costco employee wished they could tell members shopping with children “that they are responsible for their kids, not us.” Another complained about kids riding in carts. “Quit letting your kids jump around in the basket,” an employee based in Iowa told Business Insider. “It’s dangerous.”

Hint: Know how Costco works before you go.

Know the rules before you shop

a costco loyalty card

Costco membership card | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Customers trying to lend membership cards is a big issue at Costco. “You cannot lend your membership card to other people,” a Costco employee from Kentucky told Business Insider. That’s why there’s a photo on the back of every member card. In addition, an employee from Florida complained about members saying they had a family card. “There is no such thing as a family card,” they said.

Next: No card? No problem. 

No membership? You’ve got options

Costco Wine racks

Costco wine | Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

On the other hand, you don’t need a membership for everything at Costco. A Costco employee in San Francisco explained that you don’t need a membership to buy alcohol at the store, and another in Illinois added that the membership isn’t necessary for gasoline either. You can also hit the pharmacy, eye exams, or the outdoor food court without a membership.

Next: Here’s how to find the best Costco deals.

Where the best deals are

Costco Cashier ringing up order

A customer is ready to ring up. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Costco is huge — make no mistake. When you enter the store, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by what’s on display near the front. However, several Costco employees revealed to Business Insider that the best bargains are in the middle of the store. So it might be best to start your shopping trip in the center.

Hint: Always help your cashier.

Help unload your cart

costco shopper

A Costco shopper pushes a cart. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

“Just because I’m helping you unload your cart doesn’t mean you can stop helping me,” a Costco employee told Business Insider. Another Costco employee put it this way, “Please help us help you.” So next time you visit Costco, help your cashier unload your cart.

Hint: Some Costco employees don’t shop in this department of the store.

You may not want to buy the produce

Costco produce

Costco produce | The Cheat Sheet

Six Costco employees told Business Insider they don’t shop the company’s produce section. But they most certainly shop Costco’s best-selling products. “While our produce department is one of the best in the business, I personally don’t eat veggies fast enough to buy in bulk, so two-thirds of it will spoil before I eat it,” a Costco employee based in Minnesota said. Check out tips on keeping food fresh here.

Hint: Read the signs.

Don’t be fooled by sales

Shopper pushes cart through Costco

A person shops at Costco. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

“Some sales aren’t sales!” a Costco employee told Business Insider. Look for asterisks on the price signs, Business Insider suggested. The symbol means an item won’t be restocked. Also, look for “97” on signs, according to Costco.97. A price ending in those two digits means it’s a limited-time deal, but the price still might go lower.

Hint: Always read this document before shopping.

Check for coupons before shopping

scissors with grocery coupons

Coupons | Kreinick/iStock/Getty Images

Go to Costco prepared with the knowledge of what’s on sale to save money. “Pay attention to the coupon-book dates,” a Costco employee told Business Insider. Set a reminder on your phone a few days before a coupon expires, so you don’t miss out on saving money.

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Read more: The Costco Foods You Should Never Have in Your Kitchen

Additional reporting by John Wolfe