Shoppers Are Ditching Costco for Sam's Club Over New Membership Rules

Consumers say Costco's ever-changing membership policy is getting out of hand.

It looks like Costco's new membership check-in system—in which members must scan their Costco cards at a kiosk for entry—is here to stay. The scanning machine first appeared at a warehouse in Issaquah, Washington, which many noted was located across the street from Costco's corporate headquarters. Now, the new security kiosks are popping up at more Costco locations.

RELATED: Costco Rolling Out Controversial New Shopping Carts: "I Loathe These."

While the new check-in process seems to be going over relatively well with many shoppers, others are saying it's a time-waster and an unnecessary extra step, with some even threatening to boycott Costco in favor of its rival, the Walmart-owned Sam's Club.

Shoppers at large first learned about Costco's new membership policy on Jan. 7, when a picture of the kiosk surfaced on Reddit. In the snap, customers can be seen waiting in line to be allowed into the store. The post's author explained that once you scan your membership card, a Costco employee verifies your identity on the tablet, at which point you're allowed in.

In the weeks since then, the security machines have been added to the entrance of a Texas warehouse. The Texas-based creator behind TikTok's famous Costco TV account recently documented her first time using the membership scanner, and spoke with an employee about the new rollout.

The employee confirmed that only members will have access to the food court, but non-members will still be able to use the pharmacy—they just have to tell a worker manning the entrance the reason for their visit. In terms of showing your membership card again at checkout, the Costco employee explained that the machine "takes the place of that."

More than 3,500 people have weighed in on the video, many of whom are fine with the new policy. "Still love Costco though! I don't mind these extra measures, and will still continue to shop their warehouse," one person commented.

Others, however, are fed up with Costco's ever-changing membership rules, and are saying the shopping experience is much smoother at Sam's Club.

"Costco is going backwards with convenience. [Sam's Club] is working on AI exit so no more receipt checks & has scan & go," a person replied in the comments.

Another chimed in, "Costco is such a Karen, I'd cancel solely on this. They're doing tooo much. I'll just go to [Sam's Club] where I'm not harassed if I pay with my [husband's] card."

Someone else agreed, noting that Sam's Club is "light years ahead of costco."

Compared to Costco's $60 annual membership fee, Sam's Club charges its members $50 per year. The company website says that members have the option of upgrading their membership to the "Plus" tier, which features free curbside pick-up, free shipping, and more. That level has a $110 annual fee.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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