"We've seen it all."

By Meghan Overdeep
April 20, 2019
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Along with great deals on bulk goods and killer free samples, Costco is also known for its liberal return policy. Some might even call it the most generous policy in the world. The fact that you can return basically anything at any time for a full refund (except for electronics and major appliances) is one of the many reasons people adore the retail chain.

And, for the most part, Costco members play by the rules. The store's return policy "is not taken advantage of as much as you might think," a former manager told Business Insider.

"Being a membership club, the members have a vested interest through their membership fees to follow the rules," the person continued. "Sales and returns are tracked and fraud is easy to spot. In these cases, memberships are canceled. Many times, members would have rather me call the police than cancel their membership when caught shoplifting or committing return fraud."

But that doesn't mean Costco doesn't see some truly bizarre returns. As another employee told Business Insider: "We've seen it all."

Costco's lenient return policy means that shoppers often bring back half- or fully-eaten food and saying that it was bad. One employee of 12 years recalled seeing members return bones that had been picked clean, with the explanation that the "meat was no good" but that "they had to feed their family something."

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Another employee detailed accepting "smelly socks" and other used clothing items. Customers have also returned 10-year-old mattresses and 20-year-old refrigerators. Even dead flowers and trees have made their way back. But the most outrageous story has to be from the Costco employee who described to Business Insider how a woman returned two dirty, five-year-old toilets.

"She said she didn't need them anymore," the employee said. "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."