17 things Costco members do that make employees cringe

  • Costco membership gives people access to the popular warehouse chain.
  • But it doesn’t entail members to do whatever they want in the store.
  • At the very least, certain behaviors will prompt eye-rolling and judgment from Costco’s employees.
  • Business Insider talked with 48 Costco employees who shared the things that members do that make them cringe.

Costco employees aren’t going to thank you for leaving frozen foods in the clothing section or talking on the phone during checkout.

Costco employees deal with scores of members all day. As with any job, some interactions are going to be positive, while others veer toward the negative.

To get a better sense of what we all can avoid doing on our next Costco run, Business Insider asked 48 Costco employees what behaviors made them cringe or judge shoppers.

“I don’t judge anybody, but we are all in this together, so be nice, courteous, and patient,” a seasonal Costco employee from New York told Business Insider. “Do not interrupt while we are helping another customer.”

Another Costco employee who has worked at the chain for 23 years told Business Insider that cringing at members comes with the territory.

“Alas, without the member, I have no job,” this person said.

Several employees said that some unhygienic, rude, or just plain irritating behaviors usually made them judge customers. Common pet peeves included people holding their membership cards in their mouths before handing them over, as well as people discarding trash all over the warehouse.

Here are some behaviors that Costco employees find pretty cringeworthy.


Allowing kids to stand in carts or run around

“Quit letting your kids jump around in the basket,” an Iowa-based Costco employee told Business Insider. “It’s dangerous.”

Three other Costco employees added that they’d get nervous when parents allowed their kids to stand or sit in carts.

Another Costco employee from Illinois also said that too many people let their children “run wild” in the store.


Being unhygienic

Business Insider spoke with nine Costco employees who said they cringed when customers exhibited unhygienic behaviors like putting membership or credit cards in their mouth or not washing their hands in the restroom.

An Illinois-based Costco employee said they hated when a member would “pull their card out of their bra or mouth.”

“It’s gross,” said a Costco employee in Minnesota, while an employee in Idaho added that this especially becomes a problem during flu season.

“I hate when they have their membership card in their mouth and then hand it to me,” an Ohio-based Costco employee told Business Insider. “Ew.”

An employee in Chicago said they judged people who left the store’s restroom without washing their hands, saying, “That’s disgusting.”

Two employees in Illinois and Ontario specifically called out people who cough and sneeze all over the warehouse without trying to cover their mouth.


Behaving badly at checkout

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Seven Costco employees told Business Insider that they judged people who hold up the checkout or membership-signup line.

Three employees specifically said that talking on the phone in line slows everything down.

One Ohio-based Costco employee described people who hold extended phone conversations while checking in with the membership desk as “so rude.”

“I’ve gotten to the point where I will tell people I will wait until they are finished because I can tell they are busy,” they said. “Then I take the next member in line.”

Three employees also said they judged members who make no effort to help unload their carts.


Making the same old joke

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A Minnesota-based Costco employee said they would cringe when members joke around about how products that fail to scan “should be free.”


Leaving trash strewn around the store

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Alastair Wallace/Shutterstock

Seven Costco employees told Business Insider that they judged shoppers who leave behind a trail of garbage as they move through the store.

One Idaho-based employee said they didn’t appreciate it when people leave trash in their carts, while an employee in Ohio said people “leave their sample cups everywhere” and “spill their food and don’t clean it up.”

“I work in the produce area, and I can’t tell you how gross and frustrating it is to find cups of soup spilled all over the product,” an Ontario-based employee told Business Insider.


Leaving items in the wrong place

Eight employees from Costcos around the US described having an issue with members picking up items and discarding them around the warehouse – especially cold products that could spoil if left out.

One California-based Costco employee described members leaving “sandwiches under clothing tables.” Another said people sometimes “leave frozen food items they decided they don’t want in sundries.”

A different Costco employee in California told Business Insider it was much better to tell the cashier that “you don’t wish to purchase the item.”

“If you are too lazy to walk it back, give it to an employee up front so the food doesn’t go to waste,” an Arizona-based employee told Business Insider.

An employee in Arizona also said they judged people who “open packages and decide to purchase an unopened one.”

And a Washington-based Costco employee said they got annoyed when people “dismantled produce pallets because they think the freshest product is on the bottom.”


Making ridiculous returns

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A Costco employee based in Illinois said they judged people who “return things that are clearly from 2001.”


Getting physical

A Costco employee in San Diego told Business Insider that they judged members who start physical fights in the store.

An employee from Illinois said they didn’t appreciate it when members “push past you without saying excuse me.”


Bringing pets inside for no reason

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A Costco employee in Hawaii said that while they understood some people rely on service animals, they resented members who bring in pets without cause.

“Allergies are real, and those of us who have them are adult enough to understand the need for service dogs,” the employee said, but employees and members shouldn’t have “to put up with your pet.”


Relying on Mom and Dad to pay for everything

A Costco employee in Nebraska said they cringed “when grown adults come in with their parents and make Mom and Dad pay for the shopping.”


Leaving carts all over

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John Gress/Reuters

“Members leave their carts on the islands and curbs instead of walking them to a corral,” a Florida-based Costco employee told Business Insider. “I don’t understand how they can walk around the whole store – which is pretty big – but suddenly be too exhausted to have manners and just return the cart. It’s empty, so it’s easier to push now.”

An Arizona-based employee also said they judged people for “leaving carts in random places in the parking lot.”


Misbehaving while getting a free sample

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Tim Boyle / Getty Images

An employee in Arizona said they disapproved of people “blocking and grabbing the sample food like they have never eaten before.”


Driving recklessly in the parking lot

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A Costco employee from Ontario said they hated how members drive.

“Our parking lots are maybe the most chaotic in the country,” the employee said. “I see at least three fender benders a month in our parking lots.”


Touching people without their permission

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

One Costco employee from Oregon said they didn’t appreciate it when members “seem to think they can touch you or hug you.”

“I don’t mind the hugs,” they said, “but at least ask.”


Failing to strategize when it comes to filling carts

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A Costco employee in San Francisco said they judged members who “throw their eggs in the bottom of their cart and pile everything on top of them.”


Being rude to other members

A Pennsylvania Costco employee said they judged customers who “are rude to other customers.”


Forgetting to think through larger purchases

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A Costco employee from Ontario said their “No. 1 cringe” was dealing with members who don’t plan ahead for transporting heavy or large purchases.

“Check the size of your car before coming – and the size of the product,” the employee told Business Insider.

They said employees “get really pissed off” when they have to carry items back to the store because the product doesn’t fit in the member’s car.

Are you an employee at Costco, Walmart, Target, or another retail chain? Business Insider wants to hear from you. Email acain@businessinsider.com.