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January 1, Costco Tests New Policy — and Some Shoppers Aren’t Happy

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Costco appears to be testing a digital ID scanning station at the front door of at least one of its stores, as shoppers spotted the tech at the store near Costco’s corporate headquarters in Issaquah, Washington.

Shoppers on Reddit said rather than flashing their ID as they normally would to the employee staffing the entrance, they were instructed to scan their card at the station, displaying a large version of their member photo on the tablet.

Business Insider confirmed the location with the Reddit user who took a photo of the setup. Costco employees in California and Texas told Business Insider their locations did not have the tech in place, but the Issaquah location is generally known to be where the company tests out new concepts before rolling them out more broadly.

Business Insider noted that the scanners appeared to be the same in use at a UK warehouse last year.

On Reddit, several international customers said they were surprised that US locations do not typically scan member IDs at the entrance. The company did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Last June, Costco began assigning employees to manually check member IDs in the self-checkout lanes after it said it noticed an increase in shoppers using cards that don’t belong to them. Tightening the enforcement of its membership policy likely helped the company increase revenue without having to hike the annual fee, which has held steady at $60 for a basic membership since 2017.

CFO Richard Galanti told the Wall Street Journal last year that only “a really small percent of members” improperly share their ID cards with non-members, “but when you’re dealing with millions of transactions, even a very small percentage is something you would want to correct.”

Small tweaks — like more thorough ID checks at the front door — can have a large impact.

Costco added 2.1 million paid memberships last year, ending with 72 million at the end of the most recent quarter, and the company pulled in nearly $4.6 billion in 2023 membership fees.

Membership fees are increasingly important to Costco’s bottom line, with fee revenue representing nearly three-quarters of Costco’s net income of $6.3 billion last fiscal year.

Why It Matters (op-ed)

Costco’s potential implementation of digital ID scanning stations in their US warehouses is a clear example of the ever-growing surveillance state. The obsession with tracking and monitoring citizens is creeping into every aspect of our lives.

While Costco claims this move is to prevent non-members from taking advantage of their services, it only serves to further erode our privacy and freedom. Companies like Costco should be focusing on providing quality products and services instead of policing their customers. This invasive practice will only drive away loyal customers who value their privacy.

As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. CharlieSeattle

    January 11, 2024 at 9:41 pm

    Do ANTIFA mob shoplifters have to comply?

  2. jo wal

    January 13, 2024 at 7:06 pm

    RIGHT demand ID to shop and NOT TO VOTE!!!!! GOODBYE COSTCO

  3. Patricia Loreti Henrich

    January 13, 2024 at 7:09 pm

    I’m glad they check

  4. Elizabeth Davis

    January 13, 2024 at 7:17 pm

    I do not like this. Big brother is fast creeping up on us.

  5. Lonnie Gray

    January 13, 2024 at 7:21 pm

    Guilty until proven innocent. I see.

    • Deanna Cooper

      January 13, 2024 at 11:00 pm

      Let them try to scan my picture ID. I will turn around go home and cancel my membership and throw my card in the trash . I’ll shop somewhere else. Just another way to invade our privacy and Identity.

  6. Mystic Wolf

    January 13, 2024 at 7:27 pm

    Another point where they are trying to control what we do! What we have! And what we are allowed to purchase. All too soon this tech will go so far beyond what they are doing now, soon they will be wanting a thumb scan just to buy some meat or other items of need. Keep your eyes open for the next few steps and what’s to come after, remember we are coming into the end times, .

  7. Maria Weintraub

    January 13, 2024 at 7:43 pm

    Moving toward complete erosion of our privacy. I value what little privacy I have left in this technological world. Sad.

  8. Robert

    January 13, 2024 at 7:44 pm

    The day I have to use my id digitally will be the day after the last time I shop at Costco!

  9. Diane Oliver

    January 13, 2024 at 7:46 pm

    With the invasion of our southern border of 10 million people I think its a good idea to ID people entering Costco for our own protection. Who knows wants to come in for what reason.

  10. Carlos

    January 13, 2024 at 7:51 pm

    I think it is a good idea. Costco is a great bargain compared to all other vendors on average and we have been loyal members for over 20 years-paying dues etc. why should freeloaders get the same bargains we get? Since these membership fees are the bulk of their entire corporate profits I would far prefer them enforcing that area rather than raising the prices for loyal members.

  11. Willy

    January 13, 2024 at 7:53 pm

    Dishonest politicians, government trying to monitor what we do, government trying to control everything in our lives and now this. What is happening to our country? We are becoming another country that is ruled like North Korea, China, and several other countries. Now we are having to deal with shopping like we’re criminals and they want to monitor us to be sure that we don’t use our membership to purchase something for someone else. Glad we dropped our membership.

  12. Paul L Lapidus

    January 13, 2024 at 8:21 pm

    If this move keeps customers from cheating and keeps the membership fee from having to rise, I’m all for it. P L

  13. Paul

    January 13, 2024 at 8:38 pm

    It is their store, and have the choice to make the rules, play by their rules or be free to go to Sams or Wallys. No invasion of privacy to verify identies

  14. Sean A Smith

    January 13, 2024 at 9:00 pm

    I’m a Costco member and I support verification of one’s paid membership. It keeps the cost down if everyone is using Costco is paying for a membership just like the rest of us!

  15. Alma Mowday

    January 13, 2024 at 9:10 pm

    In all the years I have enjoyed my membership, I have not shared my membership card with anyone, all the people I know have one. Thank You.

  16. Anne P. Prantl

    January 13, 2024 at 9:37 pm

    I agree with Costco. This is an important way to help keep prices down for those customers who pay for the privilege of purchasing larger quantity products at lower prices. Surprisingly it helps cut down on theft because loyal True Costco customers tend to be more honest.

  17. Halley Vick

    January 13, 2024 at 9:37 pm

    As we do see privacy eroded, it creates one to consider what am I willing to allow eroded. This is unique to each of us, but a very important determination to make before you allow ‘them’ to erode it all. For me, it might just be the thing that stops me from shopping at Costco. I will need to ‘rumenate’ on this before it affects me.

  18. Pat Fuhrman

    January 13, 2024 at 10:18 pm

    Thank you Costco for making this move to help keep our cost down. Yes if people want to take advantage of all the bargains, they sure should be willing to pay for this service and ID ing may help to ensure fairness to all.

  19. dev

    January 14, 2024 at 12:04 am

    I do want my privacy, but I also do not want my membership fees to rise because of illegal ID users. Just hope the scanner only verifies ID user recognition and nothing else; that includes our corrupt government.

  20. Bob Ginther

    January 14, 2024 at 12:11 am

    Halley Vick, I’ll go along with you if you pay my $120 gold executive membership that is going to increase because people are lending their cards to non members, who are shopping at Coscto without paying the member fee. Why accuse Costco of doing something wrong to protect your investment in their business & give you the benefit of lower pricing. Those who screw the system are stealing from you & I. They are not taking anything from you. You took a picture for your card, right? That’s what they check when you come in. “Mary Smith” entered the store. Mary smith bought $200 worth of goods. Her check out & check in matched via picture. That’s all. Your Government screws you every day via income tax & you do nothing. Fix that before you condemn my Costco. They do more for me than I do for them. Leave us be.

  21. Marlene M

    January 14, 2024 at 8:06 am

    I don’t like computers running yet even more of my life, BUT in this situation, I think it’s necessary. I know this article was slanted beyond ridiculous but I don’t agree with the author. I PAY for the privilege of shopping at Costco. Why should others be allowed to scam the system? I can take people in with me and they are allowed to shop. I would just have to pay and they can pay me back when we leave the store. I don’t see an issue. Costco is gracious enough to allow you to break up your order so you do have separate bills. Giving somebody a card and the owner isn’t present – no that’s not fair to the rest of the millions of people who have paid and followed the rules. I would rather see a computer system scanning when I walk in, then having my membership fees go up.

  22. FLAGRANTE DELICTO

    January 14, 2024 at 8:52 am

    DIGITAL CUSTOMERS SPENDING DIHITAL DOOLLARS AND THRE CYCLE TOWARDS COMMUNISM IS COMPLETE/

    • Sheree

      January 16, 2024 at 10:32 am

      Yep I agree!

  23. Don

    January 14, 2024 at 9:20 am

    It has to be to eliminate jobs and increase the bottom line.

  24. Kajun Klown

    January 14, 2024 at 11:21 am

    Nothing Costco does has any effect on the privacy or freedoms of anyone. If you don’t like what this particular retailer does on their property, shop elsewhere.

  25. Donald Smith

    January 14, 2024 at 1:17 pm

    Not necessary;They should be happy that members can let non members can use the card. It means they will loose sales money if they stop none members to spend their money at Costco.

  26. Gail A Daley

    January 14, 2024 at 2:34 pm

    This is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. To me it is an invasion of privacy, will create a line just going into a
    Costco facility. Why not just fine the people who are violating your policy by charging them for an additional card, instead of
    punishing the majority who are innocent. If you are verifying cards on checkout it should be rather easy to do.

  27. Edward Shavelson

    January 14, 2024 at 4:39 pm

    But you don’t need an ID to vote what’s next a picture to use the bathroom ?

  28. Thomas

    January 14, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    I would have made a 180, walked out, never to return, and would have canceled my membership forth with.

  29. Helene Brewer

    January 14, 2024 at 5:29 pm

    Loyal customers have their own membership card and expect to show it when asked for it.

  30. Colleen

    January 14, 2024 at 8:16 pm

    Just more intrusion into your life by overlords who want to know everything but your bra a size, oops, if you bought a bra, they got that too!

  31. CharlieSeattle

    January 14, 2024 at 11:01 pm

    No way in hell!

  32. Ron Vaughan

    January 15, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    I can shop at their competitors without having to pay for a membership fee!!! Costco could get more customers without requiring a membership and save money on IDs and scanners!

  33. Sheree Shawgo

    January 16, 2024 at 9:33 am

    Absolutely no way! Good reason to give up my membership. Yet we have millions coming into our country and we have no clue who they are. AND NO ONE HAS TO SHOW AN I.D. To VOTE. THIS IS CALLED COMMUNISM!!! PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!!!

    • Colleen

      January 18, 2024 at 11:46 am

      Sheree, I agree completely. Because of technology communism is slowly creeping in and the democrats are actually giddy over it!

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