Costco Setting Up To End Membership Sharing

Andy.LIU /
Andy.LIU /

Costco has been a beacon of trust for decades now. Their legendary $1.50 hotdog and a drink combo have made them the hero of hungry shoppers, and the bulk purchase deals are hard to beat. Their store brand, Kirkland, is always held to the highest standards, often beating out traditional options in blind comparisons.

For many, their membership was something they would share openly as door clerks rarely, if ever, scrutinize the photo on their cards. The way they look at it, Costco should be a beacon of freedom and savings for all. Now, board members are cracking down on the practice. At a Washington store near corporate HQ, a scanner is being used for all IDs, with an employee comparing the photo and person. Either match at a glance or get prepared to answer some questions.

While the official policy is that a cardholder can bring up to two guests per visit, their introduction of self-serve cashing has people sharing more than intended. With memberships available for $60 or $120 a year, this revenue helps them keep costs down, something they don’t get with this blatant abuse of the system.

In a statement, CFO Richard Galanti said, “Since expanding our self-service checkout, we’ve noticed that nonmember shoppers have been using membership cards that do not belong to them. We don’t feel it’s right that nonmembers receive the same benefits and pricing as our members.” Later speaking with Wall Street Journal, he added, “It’s a really small percent of members who are doing it. But when you’re dealing with millions of transactions, even a very small percentage is something you would want to correct.”