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Suddenly, You Can't Get A Mobile Phone at Costco Anymore—Here's Why

The breakup between Costco and its cellular partner caught many off-guard, sending shoppers and employees scrambling for answers.

Costco members are accustomed to finding virtually everything they need at the wholesale big-box chain, from grocery items and home electronics to car insurance and even vacation packages. Up until very recently, this one-stop-shopping experience also included mobile phone services.

The convenient cellular signups are suddenly gone now.

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According to T-Mo Report, Costco's mobile service kiosks have all shut down, quite literally overnight. Wireless Advocates LLC, the company responsible for selling services from major cell providers like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon in retail stores nationwide, abruptly ceased operations this week and will no longer provide its services to its partners, including Costco.

Wireless Advocates employees received notices (obtained by T-Mo Report) from the company informing them that their employment had ended, effective Dec. 5, 2022, without any warning or advance notice that the shut down was to take place.

Costco was reportedly blindsided by the closure as well, learning of the news alongside the rest of Wireless Advocates' employees earlier this week.

The exact nature of the breakup and how Costco will now handle mobile services at its locations is the subject of much online speculation.

According to one poster on Reddit, Costco was already in the process of phasing out its partnership with Wireless Advocates in recent months, seeking to install kiosks directly from the mobile service providers instead. In the meantime, however, Costco had intended on continuing its partnership with Wireless Advocates through the end of its contract.

In an audio recording shared by T-Mo Report, Wireless Advocates CEO Dan Brettler disclosed on Dec. 6 the various reasons for the shut down. These included supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wireless Advocates cutting its business ties to the U.S. military and, perhaps most tellingly, Costco declining to renew its contract with the company.

While Costco itself is notorious for discontinuing some of its fan-favorite items overnight, in this instance, it appears that its now-former partner Wireless Advocates is responsible for the sudden change in mobile phone operations. As far as what happens next, one Redditor hypothesized that individual representatives from cell providers like AT&T and T-Mobile will begin to appear at Costco locations, rather than another third-party intermediary.

If you are a Costco member who is looking for a new mobile phone service provider, be on the lookout for these changes in the coming weeks.

Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a freelance writer specializing in all things food, travel, Disney, and theme parks. Read more about Carly
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