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Costco Is Testing a Major Change To Its Membership Checking Policy

The retailer has reportedly added an extra member verification step at its flagship warehouse.
FACT CHECKED BY Chris Shott

Costco shoppers have long been required to flash their membership cards at warehouse entrances to prove that they pay to shop there. But the retailer is now taking that longstanding policy to a whole new level at one of its most important locations.

This week, several Costco shoppers took to Reddit to report that the warehouse in Issaquah, Wash., had started scanning membership cards before allowing members to enter. A photo posted on the social forum showed a Costco employee taking a members' card next to a sign that read: "You will be asked to scan your membership card before entering the warehouse."

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The Redditor who posted the photo explained in the comments section under the post that there were two scanning devices at the warehouse's entrance, with an employee stationed at each one. The devices would display a member's picture for the employee to check upon scanning their card, the Redditor said.

This new membership checking requirement has only been implemented at the Issaquah warehouse so far, according to customers. That makes sense considering that the Issaquah location, which is very close to Costco's Issaquah headquarters, frequently tests out new products and services before warehouses in other parts of the country receive them.

While only Costco knows the true reason behind the extra membership verification step in Issaquah, Redditors speculated that the move was meant to prevent non-members from entering the warehouse. Unsurprisingly, customers had no shortage of opinions on the change.

On one hand, some were aggravated that the Issaquah location is now scanning cards at the entrance since Costco already scans cards at its checkout registers as well.

"Honestly that's annoying. Why do they need to check your ID twice," one Redditor commented.

"On top of people waiting until the entrance to dig out their card, now there is another chokepoint for people to jockey into position to scan their cards. What a nightmare," another said.

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However, others defended the move and said it wouldn't really affect their shopping experiences. Some also hoped that scanning cards will weed out any non-members right at the entrance so employees won't have to deal with them inside the warehouses.

"I get it. There are people out there that try to work the system and enter without a membership. I'd rather have them turned away at the entry as opposed to [at] checkout," a shopper said.

"Better than getting stuck behind someone at the register who acts all surprised that you need a membership to shop there. Had that happen a couple times now," another said.

Costco did not immediately respond to our queries for comment on the change and whether additional warehouses will implement this step.

This isn't the only major change to Costco's membership-checking processes in the last year. Back in June, Costco confirmed to Eat This, Not That! that it had started asking to see members' cards at self-checkout lines before allowing them to make their purchases. The retailer implemented the change after noticing that "non-member shoppers have been using membership cards that do not belong to them."

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe
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