4.06.2008

Costco is Brainwashing You


Have you ever spent any time thinking about Costco and the rituals we go through when shopping there? Specifically, the idea of stopping as you exit and showing your receipt to a Costco employee so they can put a pink mark on it?

Why do we stop at the door and get our receipt checked? Do you do that at a department store or the grocery store? Does the local mini-mart check your pockets when you leave? So why do we do it at Costco?

We do it because that is how it's always been done. We do it because Costco puts employees at the exit and tells them to do it.

So do you have to stop? Does Costco have the legal right to make you stop? What would happen if you just kept on walking? Why do we sometimes wait in a long line of other exiting shoppers just to be checked for stolen goods? I'm not a criminal, are you?

Today I was leaving Costco after purchasing a bouquet of flowers for my wife. I don't really mind stopping as long as there is no line and the employees are ready for me at the door. Today the two employees at the exit were busy talking to each other and after extending out my receipt to them with no response back, I kept on walking out. My feet didn't skip a step...just kept on walking.

What happened next surprised me. One of the employees followed me out, yelling "excuse me sir, excuse me! Did you get your receipt marked?" I turned around and said "nope, you weren't paying attention" and kept on walking to my car. I looked back a few steps later and she was standing there almost in shock that I didn't let her mark my receipt.

Costco is not only brainwashing their employees, they are brainwashing us. I'd love to see a national "Don't stop for the receipt markers at Costco" day. Anyone with me?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

you are an idiot. Costco checks receipts and merchandise to insure that you get what you paid/charged for and yes sometimes people do repackage items so this also helps.

p.s. the membership application you filled out states that they can and will check your receipt. If you dont like it they will more than gladly refund your membership fees !

Jmartens said...

Thanks for the kind greeting, Mr/Mrs Anonymous. Funny how the ones that start with "you are an idiot" tend to come from faceless commenters.

So if they check to make sure we get what we pay for, can you site how often Costco employees identify items that are on the receipt but not in the cart and then make sure the customer gets that item?

My guess is that Costco does this for 2 reasons. First, it is a visual way to deter shoplifting. Second, it is probably a way for Costco to battle internal fraud and/or mistakes where a checker missed an item and didn't charge the customer.

I looked up the membership policies online and there is a paragraph that says they will inspect stuff as I leave, so I'll give you that one and forgive you for the ignorant 'idiot' comment. (However, I'd love to get a lawyers take on this)

My point here was not to fight Costco but to pose the question of why is it okay at one retailer but it likely wouldn't be at another.

Jack Bog said...

At least they stop everyone. Those nice little old ladies at the door at Fred Meyer let us clean-cut middle-aged white guys in baseball hats go by, but I suspect they have a profile to stop people with a certain other, ahem, "look."

pril said...

I'm the only person in the state, apparently, who has never been to costco. Even when i lived elsewhere with costco, i just never had any reason to go to one.

ThePortlander said...

Jeff actually brings up an interesting point. Frys electronics also checks your bag on the way out . Both costco and Frys are Super Mega Stores I wonder if there is a deeper issue of there being more potential theft at a store like this. All around it is very interesting would it be acceptable if say Fred Meyer started implementing a policy of checking peoples bags on the way out of the store. I have a strong feeling people would cry Foul and say that they are being treated like criminals. Someone who is starving doesn't understand the concept of being full because they have never been there before.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry if I hurt your feelings but the reason why the first post was started like that was because you immediatly got all agressive about your position. Know your facts first !
All the other stores, beside those with paid membership, have no right or "reason" to inspect your purchase unless they suspect a problem exists with you SPECIFICALLY. But as sheep people will still allow anyone to seize and inspect what is really, after purchase, their private property. I would not, and do not, shop at stores that do those things. The only way to prevent unlawful search and seisure is to not frequent those places of business.

Jess said...

I think it is a physiological trick. People don't feel bad about stealing from a large corporation, but do feel bad if they feel they are stealing from someone and have to lie to someone's face.
Also, it is part of the "social contract" of Costco. Because you have a membership there is a different relationship with the Costco than Fred Meyers.

Jmartens said...

@anonymous actually, no I didnt get "all aggressive" about my position. I just simply asked a question.

Another great example is Fry's electronics down in Wilsonville. They check your receipt but have no membership agreement with customers. Is it okay for them to do this? Why is it okay at Fry's but not at Fred Meyer?

Finally, I think Jess (just above this comment) hit the nail on the head...it is more social engineering than anything.

Thanks to all for your comments and for keeping the conversation going!

Anonymous said...

"Costco is Brainwashing You"

i dont know that sounds pretty agressive at the very least it sounds accusatory !

jaacob said...

The way I understand it, because you had to apply for membership with Costco, that gives them additional rights over their relationship with you, such as checking your receipt.

Fry's, CompUSA, etc just do it mostly as a theft deterrent. They're allowed to ask, but they're not allowed to stop/detain you without accusing you of theft and immediately escalating the situation to a "get the police involved" scene.

(I'm not a lawyer, YMMV, disclaimer, etc.)

vman said...

I don't know you personally but I can tell that you're a fine citizen of the United States. You know your rights. Those of you who agree with people checking your bags before you exit a store forgot the 4th Amendment.

Brian said...

Jeff, I regularly don't stop regardless of a line or not. The last time I did this the guy threatened to revoke my buying privileges! I told him if he wanted to check the items on the way to the car he was welcome but he declined. He also got upset that I would not give him my receipt, the receipt is my property after I pay so why would I give my property away! I'm holding to the 4th amendment and if push comes to shove a will pay a lawyer to fight it, I can't stand to be a sheep like so many Americans have become!

fandelau said...

I regularly shop at Frys Electronics (not to be confused with Frys the grocery store...) and when they ask for the receipt I politely refuse, and keep on walking. Usually, they don't say nothing, but one time, a few years back, at the Frys in San Jose, after I politely declined, this employee chased me out of the store, held me by the shoulder and rather aggressively asked me for my receipt, to which I replied "if you don't let me go I'll assume this is a false citizen arrest, and I'll fight you to the full extent of the law". He let go of my shoulder, with a huge question mark on his face, saying "I need to see your receipt" to which I replied "I won't allow you to violate my 4th amendment" and walked off.
BTW, that's why I don't shop at Costco...

Coren said...

Brian, he wanted to revoke your buying privileges because you agreed they could when you signed their agreement - either he gets to check the receipt or you aren't welcome to come back. That simple.

Michael Agee said...

I never stop. Today I bought a bottle of Tide from the Costco in Chantilly Virginia. There was a line of 10 people with full carts. Hell no I'm not waiting in line for that. I paid, I got my receipt... see ya. They guy yelled at me and I just held my receipt up over my head and did not look back. He ran out the store and I told him, "your not supposed to stop me, you know that". And I let him put his little mark in it. OH and the guy who started out with "your an idiot". Look up the word "projection".

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