Costco employees reveal the 19 worst, grossest, and most bizarre things they’ve seen on the job

Some people take their free samples very seriously.

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Some people take their free samples very seriously.
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Broadbandito/Flickr

Costco workers shared their stories about the weirdest and worst things they’ve seen on the job with Business Insider.

• Some Costco workers reported that colleagues and members can occasionally make life a bit difficult.

• Many Costco employees cited the chain’s generous return policy as a source of unexpected situations.

Costco jobs aren’t always easy. The retail chain isn’t just known for selling some rather unexpected products.

Sometimes, surprising situations crop up as well. The retail chain did make Glassdoor’s list of best places to work in 2017, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to odd and frustrating scenarios.

Business Insider reached out to Costco employees to find out what strange or bizarre situations they’ve witnessed on the job.

Many of the stories centered in around what one Iowa-based Costco worker called “abuse of Costco’s generous return policy.”

“Oh, the stories we could tell,” said one Costco employee from San Diego. “Smelly socks, 20-year-old refrigerators, stained mattresses, we’ve seen it all.”

Other anecdotes focused more on bad behavior from members and Costco colleagues. And some stories are just about bad luck or unusual circumstances. A total of 49 employees shared their stories with us.

Here’s what Costco workers had to say about the most bizarre things they’ve seen happen in the store:


Dairy-related violence

A worker at a Costco in Ontario once witnessed a “fist fight over a cheese sample.”


Bowel movements

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This is not a Costco toilet.
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dirtyboxface/flickr

“Someone pooped on the floor in the clothing department and tracked it all the way to the bathroom,” said one Costco employee based in Chicago.


A shocking fall

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Cassiohabib / Shutterstock.com

“A guy fell through our roof,” a Costco employee from Oregon told Business Insider. “He was working on the roof, sat down on the edge and somehow fell backwards. That’s why now Costco requires bars on the sun roofs.”


People who won’t take no for an answer

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This is not a Costco mattress.
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spDuchamp/Flickr

A Costco employee who’s worked at the chain for eight years once encountered “a 60-year old woman who threw an actual tantrum because we refused to return her stained, eight-year-old mattress.”


A refund for long-dead plants

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Flickr/Clara S.

A Costco employee from Illinois reported witnessing members successfully return dead trees and plants to the store.


Parental neglect

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Costco worker from Arizona once saw “a lady leave her baby inside her car on a hot summer day.”


Members who really hate taxes

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Helen89/Shutterstock

“An older gentleman cancelled his membership because state law requires that we tax an item based on the pre-coupon price,” a Costco employee from Minnesota said. “When we didn’t ‘fix’ it to save him about a dollar, he decided he never wanted to shop at Costco again.”


Misbehaving animals

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HackBitz/Flickr

A Costco employee in Washington reported witnessing “people sneaking their animals in.” In some instances, the worker added that the pets have proceeded to “defecate on the floor.”

“Sometimes, customers bring pets in with them – my favorite example was the time someone carried a baby goat in their arms around the store,” a different employee told Business Insider.


A disgusting return

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This is not a Costco toilet.
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Flickr/dirtyboxface

“A woman came in and returned two dirty toilets that she had purchased online over five years ago,” a Costco worker who’s been with the chain for three years told Business Insider. “She ‘didn’t need them anymore.’ She didn’t even clean them! I’m embarrassed that we ended up taking them back, but we did make her take them outside and clean them before we did.”


Out of control kids

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Spencer Platt / Getty Images

A Costco worker in Nebraska said they had seen members’ children running around the store and parking lot in the dead of winter “with summer clothes or no shoes on.”


Members returning food for no reason

“The worst is people returning perishable food because they ‘bought the wrong thing,’ ‘overbought for our party,’ ‘bought on impulse” and other reasons that have nothing to do with dissatisfaction with a product,” a Kentucky-based employee told Business Insider. “We end up having to throw the food away because it can’t be resold if it left the building.”


Shoplifters getting busted

A Costco employee in San Francisco said they had witnessed a lot of members getting chased down for shoplifting, saying, “A lot of people try to come in and steal and get caught for it.”

“Customers attempt to lift items and pass them by the cashiers thinking they don’t see it,” a former seasonal worker from New York told Business Insider. “They do.”


A very old vacuum getting successfully returned

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Mike Mozart/Flickr

A Ohio-based Costco worker said they once saw a member “trying to return a 10-year-old vacuum.”

An employee who has worked at the warehouse for 12 years said they once saw customers “Bringing back a load of flooring – and I mean a load – in pieces. Not even in the boxes.”


Death threats over parking spots

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Mr Thinktank/Flickr

“I’ve seen a member pull out a gun and threaten to shoot another member,” a Florida-based Costco worker told Business Insider. “This was a disagreement over who was going to park in a handicap spot.”


A warehouse romance

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edwardgazel/Flickr

“The craziest thing I’ve seen working at Costco is a part-time member service employee enter the food court and make out with the food court manager after the warehouse was open,” a Costco employee of seven years told Business Insider.


Unwanted underwear

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This is not underwear from Costco.
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bibiphoto/Shutterstock

A Nebraska-based Costco employee reported seeing “people stealing underwear and leaving the old ones behind.”


Eaten pies getting returned

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kimubert/Flickr

A Costco employee from Illinois described seeing members attempting to return “all eaten pies or baked goods” and claiming they hadn’t liked them.


A major power outage

One Costco employee of two years told Business Insider about a time when their warehouse lost power.

“All the of the people just left their carts and went home,” the employee told Business Insider. “We had to run and collect all the refrigerated and frozen items from every cart and try to store it all in our cooler.”


Some employees have just seen it all

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Getty Images/Spencer Platt

“I’ve seen people arrested, convulsing, hemorrhaging, screaming,” an Arizona-based Costco worker told Business Insider. “And a few loose animals running through the store.”

Are you a Costco employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.