Costco's members are extremely loyal. This is likely because Costco is known for selling high-quality items at affordable prices, which customers love. It also doesn’t hurt that shoppers who know a few ingenious Costco hacks can save even more when shopping there.
However, the big-box retailer has occasionally done things to upset even its most diehard supporters. So, what happens when Costco yanks a beloved staple off the menu or hikes a price too high?
Following are some instances where Costco's customer loyalty has flared into anger.
Discontinuing the combo pizza
The first of several food court items on this list is the end of Costco’s once-beloved combination pizza. This popular pie was topped with pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, sauce, and cheese — a delicious combination.
That explains why Costco customers were up in arms when the retailer took the combination pizza off the menu in June. In fact, people were so upset, that someone started a petition to bring it back on Change.org. It has around 12,000 signatures and counting.
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Taking the Polish dog off the menu
Discontinuing its combination pizza was not the first time Costco sowed discontent among its food-loving customers: Back in 2018, the retailer pulled its Polish dog out of food courts and replaced it with items such as acai bowls.
Costco says it did so in order to offer more healthful options and cited the all-beef hot dog as the superior sausage.
Nevertheless, customers were irate at the move, contending that the Polish dog was a staple of their shopping trips. Not to be outdone, Sam’s Club put a Polish dog on their menu in the wake of the removal.
Switching the credit card issuer
This one was a doozy: Back in 2016, Costco changed the brand of the one credit card it accepted. At the time, American Express was the only game in town at Costco, but the retailer then suddenly switched to Visa.
As if that jarring switch wasn’t enough, the rollout of the new card wasn’t exactly smooth for members, as some didn’t get their Costco Anywhere Visa Card replacement cards right away. Others were stuck on hold while they tried to process the transition.
While the dust seems to have settled now, customers were certainly up in arms at the time.
Changing the house hot dog
The Kirkland brand of hot dog you can purchase at the food court today wasn’t always the house sausage. In fact, back in the day when Costco was just getting started, the hot dog it sold was manufactured by the widely-adored Hebrew National company.
However, back in 2009 Costco switched from peddling Hebrew National in their food courts to an in-house manufactured all-beef hot dog that was 10% bigger than its predecessor but still more cost-effective for the store. While not everyone was distraught at the news, Hebrew National fans were saddened by it.
Phasing out plastic straws
In 2021, Costco customers were ticked off because they began noticing a lack of plastic straws in the food courts.
Depending on where folks shopped, some customers said straws disappeared in favor of lids you can sip out of. Shoppers in other locations said plastic straws made way for paper straws.
Sadly, these replacements didn’t please everyone.
Swapping out the soda provider
Remember the cola wars of the 1980s? OK, there’s a good chance you weren’t alive to witness the battle between Pepsi and Coke, which had everyone taking the Pepsi Challenge and pledging their loyalty to one brand or the other.
In 2013, Costco gave Coke the boot and made Pepsi the house soda brand. Naturally, Coke lovers were devastated by the move, but the deed is done.
Charging too much for a holiday item
You don’t expect a Costco shopper to complain that items at the retailer are a waste of cash, but it does happen from time to time.
Case in point: Costco’s giant stocking full of candy in 2021. The sweet holiday treat retailed for almost $35. Many shoppers used social media to complain about sticker shock.
Changing the churro recipe
In 2021, Costco allegedly mucked around with the recipe for its churro, with dismal results.
Over the years, Costco customers have complained about supposed changes in these treats from time to time. The churros have been criticized for becoming too doughy or thick, too dry, or not crispy enough. Some have lamented that the churros have lost their flavor and are missing notes of cinnamon.
Others complained when twisted churros popped up at some locations.
Making a sugar-free mistake
One particular Costco deal caught the ire of members who buy Vitaminwater.
When Costco unveiled a sale on bulk packages of Vitaminwater, people were stoked — until they realized the deal only applied to Vitaminwater Zero, the sugar-free option.
The regular stuff didn’t have the $4 off coupon, much to the chagrin of those leery of sugar substitutes. The angry customers shared their disappointment all over social media.
Instituting COVID-19 protocols
Finally, while it isn’t related to anything Costco sells, you would be hard-pressed to find anything Costco has done that got customers more up in arms than this.
In fact, Costco’s decision to require masks in warehouses during the COVID-19 pandemic made some members so angry that they threatened employees who were trying to enforce the requirement.
Then, when Costco ended the special shopping hours for folks vulnerable to COVID-19, the retailer got a whole new set of angry comments on social media.
Costco members love the retailer, enjoying the big-box juggernaut’s price points and diverse offerings.
However, sometimes even the most popular stores can make unpopular moves. And when that happens at Costco, it leaves customers wondering if shopping there is just one more way to throw away money.
Fortunately, these disappointments are few and far between for Costco. Most of the time, the retailer’s millions of customers remain very happy that there is a Costco near them where they can pull out one of the top credit cards for Costco shoppers and enjoy a one-of-a-kind retail experience.
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