What Costco’s Free Sample Employees Want You to Know

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Who doesn’t love free samples? They’re definitely a Costco staple and a fan favorite. However, the coronavirus pandemic has put a stop on offering free samples for now. Sad, I know…
Costco had to pull free samples from their stores across America in March, as part of safety regulations. But they will soon be back, according to the Dallas Morning News.


They know you always come for more…

“I’ll have customers come up six times and ask me each time if I think [my sample] tastes good. Usually, around five or six, I’ll say, ‘You tell me!’” —a former a Costco sample employee.


But it’s ok, we don’t mind

“Feel free to take more than one sample, especially if you take the time to talk with us. As long as you don’t take an entire tray or take three when there’s a crowd, you’re more than welcome to take multiple samples. Our job is to give them out, so don’t feel bad for taking them.” —Reddit user rivanio, a former Costco free sample employee

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Please don’t ask us where you can find a certain product

“Costco rearranges its products almost daily. And the actual reason is that they want to provide a ‘treasure hunt atmosphere’ to their members. This leaves them wandering around aimlessly, and before they know it, their cart is full and they don’t know how it got that way. This is an actual Costco marketing scheme. We’ve all fallen victim to it.”

“Because of this, we do know where the basic things are (milk, deli, chips, etc.), but they move everything else around as much as they can. This is why we’re usually clueless. Most actual Costco employees are clueless as well. They just send you in a direction with confidence. Whereas we’re honest with our cluelessness.” —Reddit user Number1dad, a former Costco free sample employee.


I loved working with elderly people

“I was one of the first younger people to get hired on at my store, so… I did [feel young] with all the elderly workers, but most of them were super cool! It was like I had 15 grandmas looking after me. I still go back and visit them regularly.” —Reddit user ROBaddict, who worked as a Costco free sample employee for two years

“I’m 20. The majority of my coworkers are 60-plus-year-old women. And they’re all golden girls. Love ’em.” —Number1dad


We sometimes offer gross samples

“I had Lactose Free milk, which was awful, and no one tried it. Also, Purple Carrot baby food… no one will try either of them.” —former free sample employee.


We don’t like to pressure you to buy stuff

“We have to [do that]. And if we seem forceful, a manager is nearby and watching us. We hate that part of the job.” —Number1dad


Once a salesperson, always a salesperson…

“I’ve had a friend mention cinnamon bread… that I’ve sampled, and it sort of triggered something in my head and I accidentally starting talking to them as if they [were] a customer.” —former Reddit user


No, we don’t earn more if you sample more

“We could literally sell every unit Costco has of a product and we wouldn’t see a dime more. We get a pretty good hourly wage though… If we personally sell over the warehouse goal on average throughout a pay period (two weeks), we get scheduled more. If our warehouse (the sample team) collectively is above the warehouse goal, our supervisor gets a bonus. We do not get any monetary commission for doing well.” —rivanio.

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We eat samples too, you know?

“Oh of course [I eat them], but only when I’m on my break. At my store, you can be fired for eating a sample while you’re working.” —former Reddit user


Yes, we also sneak samples home

“Could I [take home leftovers]? Not technically. Could I give my brother that was walking by a large portion of my extra product? Yes.” —ROBaddict.


We love kind people

“We are obligated to try to sell our samples to you, not just give them out for free. If you’re going to take a sample, and especially if you take two, just humor us and listen to our little speech. [And] there’s nothing nicer you can do than say ‘thank you.’ You’d be surprised how many people just waddle over to us, shove things in their mouth, and stumble away. We thrive on the rare times people treat us like human beings and not human vending machines.” —rivanio


We almost never sell out of product

“Selling out means that there are zero left in the store. Sometimes the display next to me would run out and I’d get super excited but then a worker comes with a whole new pallet of product. I’d only seen two people completely sell out by the time I left.” —Reddit user CostcoSampleGirl, who spent eight months as a Costco free sample employee.


It’s not an easy task standing up for hours

“[We have to stand for] six hours. We get a fifteen-minute break and a half-hour [lunch]. It’s uncomfortable. Your knees sometimes swell. We get stiff mats to stand on. We can’t walk anywhere out of our twelve-foot space. I appreciate sitting.” —Number1dad.


It’s a good opportunity to earn some extra cash

“If you need extra money, it’s a good place to work on the side if you can manage it.” —ROBaddict


Take this piece of advice

“My advice to someone applying for the job? Know how to sell. You’re not going to have much competition; 90 percent of my coworkers were women in their 50s-70s. They’re going to ask you how you will sell a product. Give a good example and you’re in. Also, you have a required drug test, so if you do drugs, do not apply.” —CostcoSampleGirl.

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Go to Costco on the weekend

“Saturdays and Sundays will always have the most samples. If you want unlimited amounts of samples and no lines, go on a Monday or Tuesday, but there are fewer to choose from. On the weekends, go right around 1:00 or 2:00 because all shifts are out at that time.” —former Reddit user

“Try to avoid coming on Sunday. Everyone and their dog comes into Costco on Sunday, usually after church. Unless you enjoy waiting for ten minutes in a crowd of people, of course.” —rivanio.


No, we’re not actually Costco employees

“We don’t technically work for Costco, believe it or not. We work for a contracted company called WDS (Warehouse Demo Services).”

“WDS treats us fairly well. Costco employees get treated MUCH better. We don’t get any benefits and get $11 an hour with only a $.25 raise every year. Costco employees get full benefits and frequent raises. I’ve applied at Costco many times to no avail.” —Number1dad


People take way more than they should…

“Once I was giving out Ferrero Rocher [chocolates] and this 15-year-old took nine trays’ worth. That was 63 candies and about 50 bucks’ worth of product, right into his pockets…He kept asking if he could have more. We’re told not to say no, and he figured that out. He stopped because I was scowling at him. [This] story is unique because it’s extreme, but people taking loads of samples is not really unique, and I’m not really fazed anymore.” —rivanio


We love Costco

“I’ve always been a fan of Costco samples. I still enjoy them. And bulk goods. But I am kind of jaded at this point.” —Number1dad.


It’s definitely not an easy job

“On the surface, it sounds great. Stand in one place giving people free food. If that was the job, it probably would be good. However, our job is to sell the food to you. So, while we’re either making or giving samples out, we have to convince you to put the package in your cart.

“Combine that with people who don’t say thank you, having samples spit onto the tray or the table or (maybe) the garbage, people demanding to know where things are and scowling when we say we don’t know, being called horrible things on an occasional basis, and no benefits, I’m pretty sure there are better jobs in the world.” —rivanio


Cheese and chocolates are the most wanted by our costumers

“I’d say that anytime we bake brownies, it’s like we’re giving out [drugs]. In terms of how many people actually buy though, [the most popular product] would probably be the multigrain tortilla chips. We also sell a lot of steak strips.” —rivanio

“Most popular is probably anything cheese-related. Who doesn’t want to try free cheese? That and anything cooked hot—cookies, hot pockets, pot stickers. We demonstrated each of those at least once a week; they smell SO good cooking.” —ROBaddict.

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