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Dec 4, 2006 04:31 PM

Fresh Returned Food Thrown Out?

My wife had a very nasty experience over the weekend at Costco. We overpurchased food items two days earlier for a party, so went to return some items - containers of Hummus, Tapenade, salsa, etc.

The woman who accepted the items essentially sneered at my wife, saying, "You realize we have to throw all this out, don't you?"
No, we didn't realize that. Why dispose of perfectly sealed goods - is it because if they were purchased cold we might have left them out to spoil? Is this a common practice? We felt bad and I suppose we could have donated the food to a shelter, but isn't it sad that a shelter would take our word and a company won't?

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  1. Well if *you* bought food from Costco that had been returned by somebody, would *you* want to take that stranger's word that it had been properly cared for while they had it? I think Costco is right; it's their reputation (and more) on the line if someone gets sick from something they sell.

    1. Frankly, I am shocked that they took the stuff back.AS far as I know, food is not a returnable item, unless there is something wrong with it. There is no way they can put it back.Even if they "believe" you. If I overpurchased items for a party it would never even occur to me to try to return these things. Your mistake, your loss. They were not nasty but were very nice to take this stuff back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: emilief

        I'm very surprised that Costco took the food back also. Your overestimate is now their loss. That's wrong. That expense is now passed on to the customers, and possibly to employees (in the form of low wages). Who knows.

        Someone I know recently purchased a new mattress from a highly reputable mattress company. After sleeping on it for two weeks, she decided to exchange it for another mattress because it wasn't firm enough. (You have 21 days in which to do this from the date of purchase, and there is a $99 re-stocking fee). Supposedly, that "expensive" mattress isn't put back into the warehouse to be resold, it is destroyed because someone slept on it [for 2 weeks]. It is, for all intents and purposes, a used mattress that looks brand spanking new. Back to the Costco story. We really don't know what happens to returned items. What a company claims to do with returned merchandise, and what *really* happens with returned merchandise, might come as a shock to most of us . Some of us might be sleeping on used mattresses and some of us are sold returned foods. We don't know.

      2. How do they know you didn't leave it out to fester all weekend?

        They pitch it. So does the grocery store. If it was a box of toilet paper that's still all wrapped, that's one thing, but returned food nearly always goes in the trash.

        1. Did you tell them you simply wanted to return it because you overbought? If so, you should consider yourself lucky they took it back. There was certainly no obligation on their end. Next time make the donation to the shelter.

          1. Yes, I've had the same thing happen, and they're right. They can't afford to take your word when the health of the next customer - who might be me - could be imperiled.

            BJ's Warehouse has the same policy, but they're tougher. They ask you if there is anything wrong with the food item you're trying to return, and if you say, "No, I never even opened it," they tell you that it cannot be returned.

            It's made a much more cautious and thoughtful shopper of me, I must admit. I agree with their policy.