Treadmills at Costco are much different than everywhere else. You may find brands that you never knew about, prices that feel like you’re robbing the place, and a level of quality that’s been known to be questionable at times.
So what’s the deal with Costco, and should you spin the roulette wheel and buy a treadmill from them, or go somewhere else? That’s what we want to figure out right now.
We’ll cover the pros and cons of what Costco has to offer, breaking down prices, efficiency, durability, and everything else imaginable to help you make the best decision possible.
First, let’s figure out how they stand against the mega-giant, Amazon.
Costco Reputation vs. Amazon Reputation
Amazon controls most of the e-commerce in the world, but they’re also known for mishandling packages due to the crazy volume that they have to keep up with. Where do they stand? Let’s take a look.
- Delivery Quality: You don’t have to go far to find a lot of horror stories of Amazon package delivery looking like a mess. Sometimes it’s USPS handling the packages, but sometimes they just show up that way because of how fast-paced their processing centers are. Your packages aren’t handled with care, and when it’s something big like a treadmill, you’d better believe the box will be tattered and torn up. Amazon is notorious for mishandling packages, Costco a little less so. Because Costco isn’t shipping at the same volume, their boxes usually show up in much better condition, lowering your chance of running into a problem with your purchase.
- Prices: Costco’s entire reputation is centered around providing the best possible prices to its members. Amazon is known to seriously hike up prices because they’re the biggest game in town (reportedly, they control 70% of e-commerce). They charge more because they can, but Costco charges less because they value your business and understand the value of a lifelong customer. This will be completely case-by-case, especially since Amazon has so many resellers on the platform, but you’ll typically find better prices on Costco.
- Customer Service: This one is hard to beat. Even if you hate the enormous business that they’ve become, Amazon puts emphasis on its customer service and it shows. If you run into a problem, nine times out of ten Amazon will fix it before even getting you to a live agent. That’s pretty impressive. Costco still has great customer service, but they’re not able to keep up with Amazon’s attention to detail. Nobody is.
So who has the better reputation? Costco is definitely a better company with stronger values, and they’ll extend those values to you through customer service and providing the best experience possible.
Amazon is enormous and there’s plenty of room for oversight, especially with package delivery promises. If we had to declare a winner here, Costco wins, but marginally.
Pros of Buying Treadmills at Costco
There are more pros than cons (for the most part), so let’s start by shining a light on what Costco is already doing right, and give credit where credit’s due.
- Cheaper Than Average: Costco is known as the discount empire (our words, not theirs) in the wholesale world. They’ll normally outprice other big box stores like Walmart or Target when they can. Their entire series of buyer personas are individuals who need to budget and pinch a penny, so they give them options for inexpensive treadmills to keep their options open. While cheap normally equates to bad, Costco does a good job curating its selection. After all, having a ton of products for sale doesn’t really matter if your reputation is in the toilet, does it? You’ll save money, and that’s always a plus.
- Costco Reward Dollars: Costco Rewards is a program that pays you back, so to speak. It’s another incentivization to shop at Costco instead of other stores, and it works. You can actually do a lot with Costco Reward dollars, and the limit is usually in the realm of $7,000 of earned Costco Rewards dollars before it maxes out (annually). They do this to get you to shop at Costco more than other stores, so the more you spend with them, the more you save.
- Excellent Customer Service and Return Window: Costco is known for being amazing with its customers and customer service. They’ll do just about anything they can to right a wrong, sometimes even at their expense. They understand how important service is because after all, people will up and leave a brand they’ve been using for years or decades just because of one bad incident. You have to double-check with each individual treadmill or piece of exercise equipment that you buy, but for the most part, you’ll have a pretty good window of return.
- Free Shipping: Buying your treadmill online? You don’t have to pay for shipping, so why not save yourself the hassle? The shipping times may vary—this is no Amazon Prime promise, here—but it shows up as expected. Everyone will have their own shipping experiences whenever you buy from, well, anywhere. Be sure to inspect your package when it shows up because free shipping doesn’t equate to great shipping.
Cons of Buying Treadmills at Costco
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are always going to be war stories from customers, bad experiences, and mistakes that happen. If you’re on the fence about ordering a treadmill from Costco, read this first.
- No Financing: Expensive equipment, such as NordicTrack treadmills, usually come with financing options when you buy direct or through Amazon. That’s just not an option when you buy from Costco. They have tight expenses, so they don’t offer financing or other services that would get in the way of them focusing on keeping costs low. You either have to buy it in one lump sum or save up (and hope that the same one you want is still there later).
- Inventory Instability: As we said, you have to hope that the one you want is still there later. Inventory has an instability issue, but such is the fate of a wholesale company like Costco. They buy what they can from vendors who need to offsell their stock fast, and then it’s on the Costco shelves for members to buy up. You’re not guaranteed to get the same inventory this week that they had last week; it’s first-come, first-serve for whatever shows up.
- Warranty Problems: These are sold at a discount, so they’re also going to come with a few proverbial dents and scrapes. Most commonly, this translates to warranties for replacement parts and labor being spotty, short, or entirely absent. You have to check the conditions of the purchase each time because this month’s stock could be different from last month’s depending on how Costco bought the treadmills. Even if it’s the same brand that they had before.
Costco often has treadmills and other exercise equipment available despite selling a lot of them. However, you’ll notice that not all brands are available.
That’s because some brands have high demand, regardless of how big or important the name of the store that sells their equipment. Sometimes there just isn’t enough to go around.
Costco likely buys for cheaper than other stores (many membership wholesale clubs like these tend to buy overflow), so that can impact availability.
Costco and other wholesale clubs know what their customers go in for—they’re running on a ton of data. In order to meet demand, they will pay more, but sometimes at a profit loss.
They don’t want the shelves to just be empty and dissuade shoppers from returning in the future. They want to be sure customers will return, and empty shelves don’t look good for business anyway, hence the lesser-known brands lining the shelves from time to time.
So, What’s the Verdict?
Costco often has treadmills in stock at a nearby location. Since they’re not using resellers, they can guarantee availability better than Amazon Marketplace can.
Costco is a good choice, although some brands on the shelves will be ones that you haven’t heard of before and may not be keen on trusting. It’s understandable.
They want to keep availability open so that they can compete with Amazon and Walmart, so it makes sense that they’ll put up some lesser-known brands. However, we find that even with those brands, Costco isn’t putting junk up on their display shelves.
You can find great deals, save money compared to Amazon (depending on the brand, of course), and Costco doesn’t only put out unknown brands. You can find NordicTrack treadmills and still save money, which is what’s so great about Costco.
It’s worth it, you just have to be careful and understand the age-old rule: you get what you pay for. Saving a bit of money is great, but if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.