Costco Traegers – My Traeger Story

10 Mar

There was a post on the Weber Virtual Bullet forums (a fantastic resource for all grilling and smoking interests, not just the ubiquitous yet wonderful Weber Smokey Mountain Smokier) about the sale of Traeger pellet cookers at Costco stores. I have a Traeger, which I was able to purchase at a substantial discount, although not from Costco, and the local Traeger dealer is my friend. I posted on the forum about the interplay between dealers and big box stores and considerations when deciding between a discount store purchase and a dealer purchase. I thought somebody might enjoy reading it here, so here is my response:

I have a Traeger BBQ 075 “Texas Grill” smoker/grill that I’ve cooked on for about 10 months. I bought mine from an employee of a Traeger supplier who gets to buy a couple a year at a steeply discounted price, so I didn’t pay retail.

I use mine regularly and have had no problems thus far, despite the flurry of comments that the quality went south after the company began production in China. I had clearly rather have a product Made in the USA, but these days, who knows what that really is or if it truly exists.

I can put 8 butts on my Traeger or a bunch of chickens or, with the rib rack, a bunch of ribs. etc. The level of “smokiness” in the meat depends more on the temperature at which the meat is cooked. Because less smokey flavor is much less pronounced when I cook at 325+ than when I cook at 275 or below. Max temp on my Traeger runs between 450 and 500.

I prefer to use BBQer’s Delight pellets. They are oak blended with the flavor wood of choice and burn particularly clean and give excellent flavor to the meat when smoking. They also produce some charcoal pellets if you don’t want any more smoke flavor than you would get with a bag of Kingsford or Royal Oak.

All of that being said, I would be a bit skeptical of the Costco Models. I would compare the models offered at Costco to the models on display at a local dealer’s shop and ask questions of the dealer – nobody will know at Costco. Also, when you buy it at Costco, it’s yours – for better or worse – there isn’t going to be any dealer support there. On the other hand, you’re going to pay more at the dealer but you’re going to be getting the dealer service, including warranty service, that is going to be vapor at Costco. (And I’m not picking on Costco – I’m a member at the one nearby, but don’t go there very often – Sam’s is closer to my house but the same analysis going for name brand items purchased at Sam’s). Despite what the manufacturer might say or imply, I am not convinced that the goods sold through the dealer network and the goods sold under the same brand at the big box discounters are, indeed, the same product.

Finally, consider where you want your dollars going: to the big box retailer or a local dealer who probably lives and supports your local community. Price is always a consideration, but my time is valuable, so service after the sale and customer support also is important to me. If I can get a great deal on what I know is an equivalent product, I go to my local dealer and ask him about the price and the product I’m considering. My local dealer and his staff will be honest with me. If I decide to buy the “deal” I then ask them if they will give me support on the product if I buy my fuel and accessories from them and pay them for service at a fair rate. The folks I work with (Mike and Winfred at Alabama Gas Light & Grill for my Traeger, Primo and Kamado Joe products) are wonderful folks who work with me on whatever I need. In return, I am a loyal customer for fuel and accessories and I never try to take advantage of them or their time. I think it is a good arrangement for us.

Rambling post to say: Look before you leap, decide what is truly important to your cooking experience, and get to know your local dealer.

Pat

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7 Responses to “Costco Traegers – My Traeger Story”

  1. Phellepa March 10, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    You are so right Carl; (or Pat); and you get free delivery of yours!!! Bet Costco will not deliver and those mothers are HEAVY!!! Right on!!

    • Bob August 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

      One important detail left out. Costco’s 100% satisfaction garuntee and with the exception of a few electronic items its covers the life of the product. Good luck getting that kind if warranty from a dealer.

      • bbqesq1 September 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

        My original post was based on a conversation with my local grilling retailer – a prince of a gentleman – who was describing why he gave up selling Traeger products. I agree that he should not be expected to provide free technical support for products purchased from a big-box competitor if the manufacturer didn’t have an arrangement for him to do so. Other readers may have had wonderful experiences with Costco or other big-box discounters and if that is your story, then I am pleased for you. I think I will, however, keep my dollars local.

  2. BWex June 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Uh, you’re crazy. If you have any issues with anything at Costco you can return it for a full refund. Even after 3 yrs when the warranty is up. Try that with the dealer.

    • bbqesq1 September 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

      My original post was based on a conversation with my local grilling retailer – a prince of a gentleman – who was describing why he gave up selling Traeger products. I agree that he should not be expected to provide free technical support for products purchased from a big-box competitor if the manufacturer didn’t have an arrangement for him to do so. Other readers may have had wonderful experiences with Costco or other big-box discounters and if that is your story, then I am pleased for you. I think I will, however, keep my dollars local.

  3. Malrix September 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I would disagree with the point this blog makes. Maybe 2 years ago it was true, but no longer. Costco will deliver it for free, it offers the same 3 year warranty (done by your local dealer) and a lifetime money back guarantee. That’s right, if something goes wrong with your grill, you can bring it back for a full refund. Sounds like a better deal to me.

    • bbqesq1 September 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

      My original post was based on a conversation with my local grilling retailer – a prince of a gentleman – who was describing why he gave up selling Traeger products. I agree that he should not be expected to provide free technical support for products purchased from a big-box competitor if the manufacturer didn’t have an arrangement for him to do so. Other readers may have had wonderful experiences with Costco or other big-box discounters and if that is your story, then I am pleased for you. I think I will, however, keep my dollars local.

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