The One Kirkland Item I’ll Never Buy Again

Costco has built its reputation on the strength of its Kirkland brand. Learn how product changes have made one item hard to use. Read More...

If you aren’t a Costco member, you might look at items from the Kirkland Signature brand and think, “What’s the big deal?” After all, it’s just a store brand, right?

Not exactly. While it’s true that the term “store brand” has become pretty synonymous with “cheap knockoffs,” Costco has managed to be one of the few exceptions to the rule. On the whole, Kirkland Signature products are considered to be great quality — often because they are made by the same factories as name-brand items.

However, it’s definitely not safe to assume that every single Kirkland product will be a winner. Sometimes, you wind up with something that simply isn’t up to standard. That’s what happened to me when I tried the Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue.

Hard pass on the Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue

I’m not sure if it’s an aging thing, but somewhere over the last decade I’ve come to realize I have strong opinions about the toilet paper I use. And, as it turns out, so do my family members.

And we have collectively agreed that the regular Kirkland Signature bath tissue (that comes in a blue package) is utter junk.

To really put this opinion in perspective, let me put it this way: Last summer I spent a solid week on the highways moving multiple households across the country. I have visited nearly every rest stop in 13 states. And at least two of those states offered better quality toilet paper than this stuff from Costco.

What kind of adds insult to injury is that I know Costco can do better. That’s because I’ve also used the Kirkland Signature Ultra Soft Bath Tissue (in a purple package). That stuff is thick, soft, and much more pleasant to use (if a little prone to tearing). While it’s still no Member’s Mark, it’s at least comparable.

But the regular stuff in the blue package? Hard pass from our household.

What to do with 28 rolls of TP?

Other than the bad experience, there’s another major drawback to getting a Kirkland product that is below standard: You now have a ton of it. In the case of the toilet paper, it only took us two rolls to realize we absolutely didn’t want to keep using this stuff. So, what do we do with 28 rolls of terrible TP?

If I lived closer to a Costco warehouse, I would happily just go return it. Costco has an excellent return policy, and I know customer service would refund my money without issue.

Alternatively — and what we’ll probably do — I could pay it forward somewhere. Our hineys may be too posh for it, but it’s at least as good as the thin commercial stuff in most public restrooms. So, the local shelter, senior center, or even a daycare would probably be happy to receive a donation of (sealed) toilet paper.

How to avoid another major fail

Whenever I face such a disappointing purchase, I always try to ask myself how I could have avoided it. Sure, I know they can’t all be winners, but you can definitely lower your risk.

Here are a few ways I could have avoided buying low-quality TP.

Shopped in person

The nearest Costco is far away, so I tend to shop online when I can. Had I waited to check out this item in person, instead, I may have noticed the lower quality before going home with 30 rolls.

Read online reviews

While I nearly always try to read reviews before buying something, I didn’t this time, mostly because Costco.com doesn’t actually have any reviews on its site — at least, not for toilet paper. (Some items will have ratings, but I’ve never been able to figure out the rhyme or reason behind which have reviews and which don’t.)

If you do a general search for the Kirkland toilet paper, you do find a bunch of third-party Amazon listings with reviews. However, many of the reviews are old, the results are inconsistent across listings, and, well, it’s Amazon. You can never really trust Amazon reviews not to be fake or paid.

What I could have (and probably should have) done was a bit of social media recon, such as browsing Reddit forums, to see what people are saying about the product. And, doing that now, I quickly find a post talking about how the product has changed recently and the quality went down (though this may depend on location?).

You win some, you flush some

It’s impossible for any store or brand to offer nothing but amazing products. We all have different likes and standards, so what is great for one shopper may be terrible for another. (I’m positive there will be folks who read this and think, “I love that TP, what is this person on about?!”)

In general, I’ve had far more wins with Kirkland products than losses. And Costco’s return policy is so good that even the losses aren’t actually hits to my budget most of the time. With its current record of mostly hits, I’m still perfectly happy to take my chances on new Kirkland products — and I’ll be sure to let you know if I find any more duds!

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