Is This Store's Return Policy Even Better Than Costco's?
According to Reddit, it actually works in the store's favor to encourage returns.
Costco's return policy is the stuff of legend—the store will take back any product, any time for a full refund, with just a few exceptions. A core value of the big box store is customer satisfaction, especially if they're paying an ever-rising membership fee. But you don't have to pay membership fees to get membership-level service; One grocery store is committed to its return policy, and even claims it helps the business grow.
That store is none other than Trader Joe's. Its little-known return policy is just as forgiving and generous as Costco's, but without the membership buy-in. Some Trader Joe's locations will have a sign that reads something along the lines of, "We tried it and we liked it. If you don’t, bring it back for a refund,” but even without signage, know that it exists.
What To Know About Trader Joe’s’ Return Policy
You can return any product and get a full refund. Ate one bite and didn't like it? Return it. Discovered it's not up to your standards? Return it. Just have buyer's remorse? Bring it back. In some cases, you don't even need to bring the product back, just your receipt.
Why the lenient policy? Trader Joe's entire ethos as a grocery store revolves around new and exciting products arriving on shelves every week. Part of the new products' success lies in actually trying them, and that can only happen if customers aren't afraid to try new things.
Trader Joe's return policy actually incentivizes trying new products by removing the barrier to entry. If you don't like it, you can bring it back for a full refund, so you're not afraid to try the next product at a loss. According to a thread on the Trader Joe's fan Reddit page, some employees will even go so far as to suggest other products you may like upon a return.
One TJ's employee commented on the thread, "We truly want customers to go home with products they enjoy and are excited about so it's more than worth it to us to offer a refund if someone is disappointed. It also helps people be less wary about trying something new."
To that point, customers can actually try those new products in store before they even buy. Of course, Trader Joe's has sample stations—which recently returned after a pandemic hiatus—but you can actually bring any product in the store up to the sample station or customer service and ask a crew member to try it. They're happy to oblige because many times those open packages end up in the break room for employees to enjoy after you have a taste.
And those policies pay off. Not only is the store expanding, and its popularity on social media soaring, but year after year, Trader Joe's takes top spot in customer satisfaction surveys. Just this month, TJ's was voted #1 Supermarket in America in terms of customer satisfaction for the third year in a row in one consumer study.
Of course, there are exceptions to the policy. Higher-price items like protein powder, supplements, and alcohol cannot be returned. Raw proteins like packages of poultry or meat can also likely not be returned, but it varies by store and manager. In general, be reasonable and don't take advantage of Trader Joe's' good faith policy, or you might just end up blacklisted like at Costco.