Costco is cracking down on sharing membership cards

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NEW YORK — Some shoppers are buying Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chickens and paying at self-checkout. Problem: Not all of them are members.

Since Costco expanded self-checkout, the company has noticed non-members sneaking in to use membership cards they don’t own. The Warehouse Club retailer will now use self-checkout registers with shoppers’ membership cards with photo ID — the same principle as regular checkout lanes.

“We do not believe it is fair for non-members to receive the same benefits and prices as our members,” Costco said in a statement.

Costco has about 120 million members, making it one of the largest membership clubs in the world. Costco members pay $60 each year for regular members or $120 for an executive card to shop at the clubs.

This membership model is critical to Costco’s business, as fees help the company increase profits and cover costs. The company hasn’t raised its membership price since 2017, despite competitors like Amazon and Sam’s Club raising their membership fees.

Any changes in membership development may affect Costco.

“The extent to which we achieve growth in our membership base, increase penetration of executive members and sustain high renewal rates affects our profitability,” Costco routinely says in its annual filings.

Netflix has recently cracked down on members who share passwords.

The streaming giant has previously been blindsided by password sharing because it fueled growth, but all non-paying members hurt Netflix’s bottom line. It previously estimated that more than 100 million households worldwide share an account.

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Early results indicate that Netflix’s new policy is paying off. Since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the streaming service has seen a huge jump in new subscriber sign-ups as people stuck to the platform bingeing content at home.

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