Costco iPod TouchI have to admit, I love Costco. I know they fall under the category of Big Box stores so many people love to hate. However, the difference between Costco and most Big Boxes is Costco knows how to deliver a customer experience. Their friendly staff, ever-changing product selection, consistent quality, regular coupon mailers, lenient return policies, and competitive pricing, combine to create the perfect storm of customer delight.

I got my first iPod four or five years ago as a Chistmas gift from a non-Costco source. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after, maybe a year and a half, when the hard drive failed. By that time, the slimmer, sexier, video iPods had come out. So, rather than paying $150, or whatever it was, to have my original iPod repaired, I headed down to Costco to get a brand new replacement. While waiting to pick up my purchase at the cage in the front of the store, I struck up a conversation with a sales associate. I told him about my disappointment with the failure of my original iPod. He explained to me that even though the iPod was almost two years old, if I had purchased it from Costco, he could have refunded my entire purchase price.

…I was blown away!

Fast forward two and a half years: the headphone jack in my now not-so-new iPod (purchased from Costco) started to go bad. Having never forgotten the conversation I had with the Costco sales associate. I gathered up all the components I could find, placed them in an old iPod box, along with the heavily scratched iPod. I searched for the receipt, which I was certain I had kept, but was unable to unearth. So, with little hope, I headed down to the nearest Costco.

I set the old box of parts and the scratched up iPod sans receipt on the return desk. They asked me what the problem was. After explaining the headphone jack had gone bad, they looked up the original transaction and immediately refunded the entire purchase price to my credit card, no questions asked. …WOW!

Why shop anywhere else?

Now, my only dilemma is whether to purchase a higher capacity iPod Classic for $100 less or upgrade to a fancy new iPod Touch.

How are you creating a perfect storm of customer delight?

Update: Costco has amended their return policy on electronics.

I decided... rather... my family decided on an iPod Touch.  When I retuned to Costco, I noticed these little 90 day return policy stickers. Upon doing a little research, it seems I am really behind the curve on this one. Apparently Costco changed their return policy on electronics last year as a result of excessive abuses. I can only assume they honored the old policy for my iPod since it was purchased before the policy change. While disappointed, knowing that people were using the policy to obtain free paid upgrades for their high definition televisions and MP3 players, the change is certainly understandable. The 90 day return policy on electronics remains one of the best in retail.

Update: Disappointment #2

After getting my our new iPod Touch home, I quickly realized Costco is not yet carrying the second generation devices that came out earlier this month. Since the 2G's Nike+ compatibility and external volume control/speaker were high on the list of features I desired, it looks like I will be utilizing the 90 day policy.  

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