What You Might Miss on Your Next Costco Trip

No more smiley faces on Costco receipts


It’s a tradition at many Costco Warehouses across the country that lights up the faces of little ones, making all that time spent in the giant store worth it. Before the cart can leave the store, a Costco employee checks the receipt, and if there’s a child present, they’ll likely draw a smiley face on it. For years this practice has faded in and out. So what’s the current status?

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So how important is that smiley face? Here’s an example. In 2012, an angry customer wrote on Chicagonow.com:

“We finished checking out and stood in line once again to be counted. Even though my son was just about as crabby as I was, you could tell that he was looking forward to the smiley.

When we finally made it to the front of the line, he proudly handed over the receipt—the hurried employee drew the highlighted line and just handed it back to my dejected offspring. I could literally see his face drop. I leaned over and kind of whispered, ‘can you just put a little smiley on the back? It really means a lot to him.’ The aggravated women grabbed the receipt. Not mine, but the man behind me and muttered, ‘sorry, too long of a line and everyone behind you is waiting.'”

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Then in 2014, WBTV news reported that customer Blake Hartwick went to the Tyvola Road store in Charlotte, North Carolina with his 3-year-old daughter and the smiley face she was used to receiving was not on the receipt. When the girl asked the Costco employee at the door to draw one, “He looked at us and said I’m sorry I can’t draw a smiley face on the back of your receipt.” The employees informed Hartwick it was part of a new corporate policy that banned the practice.

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So it seemed the days of smileys were over, except if you get on Google, you’ll see plenty of rants since 2014 from angry parents who wish the smiley face tradition would end, proving it’s very much alive and well at some locations. And as recent as 2017, a woman posted on Yelp that she received the smiley face on her receipt despite having no children present with her.

A customer on KDHLradio.com recently reported that the smileys were being taken away once again. Referring to a Costco employee who let his children down, he said, “She told us that someone had filed a complaint and they are no longer allowed to draw smiley faces on receipts. I know it’s not the end of the world, but WHAT?!? Seriously, what kind of person complains about smiley faces?!?!?”

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But the controversy continues! On y105fm.com, it was revealed that a Costco customer had recently received a smiley face on their receipt. There was even photographic evidence! “Now I’m confused. Are the smiles gone or are they back?” questioned Jessica Williams for Y105FM. “I went to Costco’s website and asked them and their response was:

‘Hello Jessica, the smiles that are put on the receipts are a courtesy done by the warehouses. It would be up to the warehouse’s discretion whether they decide to put the smiles on the receipts.'”

Perhaps your best bet is to go to your local Costco and talk to an employee to see what the current status is for the receipt smileys at that location.

Have a nice day!

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Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer, currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty and scientific news. Follow her traveling adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected] and check out her website: livingbylex.com