The Items In Costco's Home Section With The Worst Reviews

While a trip to Costco typically promises exciting deals, cool products, and tasty treats, there are some home products you should avoid. You learn two things pretty quickly when diving into reviews of Costco products. First, the company seems to have a solid reputation for selling quality products. Second, there are exceptions to the first. You can see this in a single statement: "This product doesn't meet Costco's usual quality standards."

Of course, this sentiment could be dismay from devoted Costco fans. It's also possible that they are attempting to convince Costco to lose the offending product, which is fair enough. However, vendor Bazaarvoice may curate reviews to maximize the positive and soften the negative ones. BazaarVoice syndicates reviews that appear in front of 1.3 billion shoppers each month. While it has processes to eliminate reviews from questionable sources, some of its products skew clients' reviews toward five stars. Costco has entire categories with no low-rated products. In particular, Fire Safety is full of products with spectacular ratings ... just as you'd hope.

Costco says all reviews must be from verified Costco customers (online or in-store) and asks that reviewers avoid discussing the shipping or delivery part, which would seem to suppress feedback on a purchase. However, the company doesn't appear to prohibit such reviews, which are visible on the Costco site. With this in mind, we're taking a closer look at the Costco home products with the worst reviews to help guide your next shopping trip.

How we identified the products with the worst reviews

It would be straightforward enough to find the lowest-rated products at Costco. It would also be meaningless or, worse, misleading. Finding the right mix is somewhat subjective, but it's essential to eliminate products with a single bad review or with only ratings and no explanations. An example of a product with real problems that didn't make the cut is the Greenworks Optimow 50 High Cut robotic lawnmower. It doesn't seem to work for front and back lawns, and the website description doesn't clarify this point. However, only one reviewer mentioned it, and there's no indication the mowers don't work as advertised. So that boils down to one review (however valid) that takes the manufacturer to task for features the reviewer doesn't like.

There are so few items on the Costco website with negative reviews that we've included things we might avoid, like items with a single review or out-of-stock items. But don't worry: we'll be fair when we think the reviewer is going overboard, and you can't buy the out-of-stock stuff anyway. We've also considered reviews as high as three stars when it seems warranted. We passed on service-based offerings like installation services (such as HVAC and generators) and items like custom shades for which there are no reviews. We also did not check Urban Woodcraft products since few, if any, have reviews. It's not immediately clear which are available at a discount to Costco members. The same is true of Bower & Branch, another Costco Next partner.

Frigidaire Retro Compact Refrigerator with Side Bottle Opener

This boxy, kitschy little refrigerator is a beer fridge possibly designed for a garage where the automotive tinkerer specializes in '50s classics. The style is almost there, but the build quality apparently isn't ... at least for Costco customers. Yet Home Depot reviewers rated the fridge 4.3 stars on the strength of 484 reviews. This trend shows that Costco customers expect better from Costco, and clearly, they do since they're harder on many products than reviewers on other websites.

Most negative reviews focused on the fact that the fridge arrived dented, and several mentioned that it was cheap and, in some cases, mechanically failed very quickly. The Home Depot reviews mirrored these complaints, but with more customers describing a unit that didn't work correctly (or at all) right out of the box. 80 percent of Home Depot customers recommend this refrigerator, and the ratio of five-star to one-star reviews is about 8:1, so you might have about a 10 to 20 percent chance of having trouble with this item.

Frigidaire Upright Freezer Stainless Platinum Design Series

Sometimes it's challenging to figure out where exactly the problem lies. None of the negative reviews for this 2.2-star freezer criticized its performance, but almost all mention dents. One reviewer ordered a replacement, and it also arrived dented. So, it's the delivery company's fault, right? Maybe. A couple of reviewers did mention that the product had dents, but the packaging was not damaged, fueling speculation that returned or damaged products are being shipped to customers. The product description mysteriously claims that the unit is interchangeable, which might be an awkward way of saying you can put stuff on any shelf. Or, it might be a confession that you can exchange damaged freezers for (possibly) less damaged ones.

Amazon sells a similar or identical model with similar complaints but an overall rating of 4.1 stars with 1585 reviews, continuing our trend of picky Costco customers. Nothing wrong with that!

Marchesa Leather Power Reclining Sofa with Power Headrests

Even if the idea of power reclining sofas with power headrests threatens to power up your snarkiness, it's hard to fault the consumer when things don't work. This two-seat sofa (also available in combination with a matching chair) has earned multiple reports of hammering noises and the footrest getting stuck against the floor. But that's just where the fun begins. Apparently, the solution to the footrest scraping the floor (which can damage both the sofa and the ground) is to adjust the legs higher. However, one reviewer observes that this makes the furniture unstable. Another says Costco has sent teams to remove the faulty sofa three times, but all were unable to disassemble it enough so that they could remove it from the house. In the process, they managed to break the headrest so that it's stuck in a position incompatible for use.

With an average of 35 people marking the one-star reviews as helpful, it's safe to assume at least some of these reviewers are driving potential buyers to other products or sellers. Perhaps they may consider the $2,500 Tamara Leather Power Reclining Sectional with Power Headrests. However, it also has some pretty substantial issues that seem to stem from an inaccurate product description on the Costco site. One reviewer adds that the chaise portion is so overstuffed it is impossible to sit on without sliding off. Needless to say, that is no way to recline in comfort.

Kinzly 3-piece Full Bed Set

If you went to college when dorm room decor consisted of a futon and a mini-fridge just good enough to keep your beer lukewarm, you might be surprised at the idea of buying the $2,600 Kinzly Bed Set for a college student. However, that's just what our reviewer did. Unfortunately, her daughter didn't end up sleeping on the bed because she couldn't assemble it and put the set together properly. Plus, the screw holes were stripped out upon delivery.

While typically a minor repair, this bed set is made of "sandblasted Pine solids and veneers." It's hard to say how one might repair it. We have so many questions. What, exactly, was sandblasted, and when? Does other furniture use pine liquids? And how many veneers can you possibly need for one bed set? Due to the challenging assembly and material makeup, leave this bed set off your dorm room checklist.

Mighty Mule Heavy Duty Smart Single Gate Opener

This gate-opener designed for DIY installation calls to mind a particular sort of gate on a farm with goats, emus, or alpacas. So it's tempting to roll your eyes at a purchaser who can't swap out a simple electrical connector or gets stuck at home for 45 minutes because the gate won't open. However, when digging into this gate's issues, one begins to think maybe it's not so smart. Reviewers lament that the opener came with missing pieces, and it often fails. One user complains that the gate doesn't work with the Google Home or Amazon Alexa ecosystems, only with Apple. To say it even works with Apple products might be a stretch.

The reviews on Apple's App Store echo the Costco customer complaints. The app garners a 1.6-star rating for behavior like opening the gate in the middle of the night when the app is not in use. As if to offset this behavior, sometimes the app stops working. Perhaps it all averages out. The app is also prone to misreporting the status of the gate, so apparently, it can't keep up either. One common complaint is that setup is nearly impossible since the servers are often unavailable, which raises the question: Why should you depend on cloud servers to open a gate right in front of you? What on earth kind of farm is this?

Bellingham and Braxton Shed Kits

Based on the reviews, it might be a stretch to think of building the Bellingham 12x16 Shed as a DIY project. It might also be a stretch to consider hiring a professional since even a professional can't conjure up a missing floor kit. The kit receives five times as many one-star as five-star reviews, which is always a red flag. Shoppers should be nervous about the many negative reviews, which is a 20:1 positive-to-negative ratio.

Owners consistently mention missing or broken components and less-than-clear information in the product description and specs. A few complain that the shed doesn't come painted and doesn't include paint. While the description indicates this is the case, nearly all the photos show a painted building. Still, one must read carefully or at least read.

The Braxton 12' x 24' Garage Shed (also manufactured by Yardline) sports multiple complaints about shipping and material quality, including the masterfully concise and understated review by Unhappy Customer who wrote: "Never showed up and no one knows where it is." While Yardline employees placate and challenge the Bellingham reviews, they have apparently decided to forgo responses for the Braxton.

Kombi Multi Purpose Raised Bed & Cold Frame

The slightly strange Kombi Raised Bed & Cold Frame (2.7 stars on 30 reviews) has the shining review: "unless you are looking for something awful." The combination raised bed and cold frame is supposed to keep extra warmth around to sustain plant growth from late winter to the end of fall. 

However, the product seems to suffer from poor instructions, in addition to a handful of comments about the product arriving damaged and being generally flimsy. The assembly manual on the Costco website appears to be clear. However, it's in English, and several reviewers complained that the instructions were only available in German or Dutch, so we're not sure the revised instructions we saw are the ones purchasers received. Interestingly, this item received 4.6 stars on Amazon for 169 ratings. This example again shows that Costco customers have higher expectations than other customers.

Hubble Connected Nursery Twin Baby Monitor

Owners of this baby monitor complain that it doesn't work well, it's challenging to set up, and is prone to wildly inaccurate temperature reporting. Reviews on other sites don't help to clarify much. The monitor only gets 3.6 stars at Best Buy, with similar complaints, but it gets 4.2 stars at Walmart and 4.8 stars at Target.

Responses to reviews are a delicate business, and it doesn't seem like Hubble has quite nailed down the right recipe. At first glance, Hubble seems to have done a good job with the first response to a negative review. The trouble is that it contains factual errors and dicey logic. This is a shame because it appears possible that the product is better than its 2.7-star Costco rating. The reply suggests, for example, that the temperature inaccuracies might be from "ceiling fans, direct sunlight on the device, floor and/or wall that blows on or near the device." Aside from the physics issue of sunlight blowing on anything, it seems unlikely that a fan or a sunny spot would cause the reported temperature to go from 93 to 32 degrees in 15 minutes. (Surely owners would notice the frozen cats.) The response also says that the annoying click sound indicates when the device switches to and from night vision. It doesn't seem practical to produce a sound like that in a potentially sleeping baby's room when you have to be in the room to hear the sound, and thus are unlikely to need the baby monitor or its night vision capabilities.

Sojag 230G XL Deck Box

The Sojag XL Deck Box looks like a great idea, but its 2.1-star rating (2.5 stars on the U.S. Sojag site and 1.2 stars on the Canadian site) raises some issues. Most reviews point to the item's poor condition upon delivery or the pieces not fitting together correctly. The result is a deck box that cannot be fully closed (to keep out rain and rodents, for example) and has unattractive dings (the area around the locking mechanism is notably dented even in product photos).

Sojag is a reputable manufacturer of gazebos and sunrooms, so the negative reviews are somewhat surprising. There is no mention of this model, SJDBAN230, on either the U.S. or Canadian websites, perhaps meaning that Sojag has disavowed it or that it was made for a limited number of distribution channels and not widely available. Note that Sojag does offer a new, smaller (134.5 gallons versus 230 gallons) deck box with a notably less industrial design and a stamped pattern that looks like it might be less prone to warping.

But, here's one thing about reviews

Ratings are never the whole story. In the era of fake reviews and companies that aim to make products look good, ratings are probably worth a little less every day. This reality puts everyone in the unfortunate position of focusing on negative reviews for more reliable information. You have to consider the number of negative reviews, their content, their consistency, and the nature of the audience given the particular retailer. In that spirit, we took a hard look at the Vita Urbana Deck Box. With 249 one- and two-star reviews, it's hard to give much weight to its three-star rating. When you compare it with Sojag's 11 negative reviews and 2.5-star U.S. rating, you might wonder which is worse.

There's remarkable consistency among Vita Urbana's reviews. The item arrives damaged, is difficult to assemble for various reasons, and shows a complete lack of durability. It got 2.9 stars at Home Depot with the same complaints. It got four stars on Wayfair, but it's worth noting that 29 of the 53 reviewers are members of Wayfair's Neighbors Program, in which reviewers "received a free product or an incentive for reviewing their purchase."

And here's another thing about Costco reviews

During the week spent researching these Costco reviews, two products were removed from the website. The products include the Utica Essentials Towel Set and iDESIGN's Eco Stacking Storage Bins with Lids. The Utica Essentials Towel Set got 24 one-star reviews, 19 of which used the word "thin." The Eco Stacking Storage Bins statement storage containers often break or warp, and the Paulownia lids seem to have trouble fitting correctly.

The disappearance of these products could be from Costco's efforts to keep positive reviews on the site, or they could be part of an honest effort to remove unavailable items. While it might be a hindrance to product owners (looking, for example, for a product manual), there's nothing inherently wrong with removing an unavailable product, except that perhaps they should have considered removing them before they ever went on sale. Next time you visit Costco, enjoy the free samples and avoid these poorly reviewed products.