Let's talk about Costco, shall we? Against my better judgment and after having resisted the overtures of Costco salespeople trying to sign up my company for a corporate account for years, I finally succumbed to the ministrations of a Costco representative and signed up. I can only say that it must have been the donuts that she brought. I become weak and malleable when presented with sugary baked goods. Had she brought me coffee as well, I might have made an offer to buy the entire Costco chain. Of course, I would have looked the fool while trying to pay for all the tendered shares out of my son's piggy bank, but I have looked the fool before. I'm an expert. I'm used to it.
Now that my company is a full-fledged member of Costco, my having paid for the privilege and honour and having posed for a mug shot and signed my life away on some sort of secret oath, I regret it.
Well, let's see: Who in his right mind would pay, via a membership fee, for the privilege of shopping at one particular store, when other competing stores, with more selection and more convenient locations, are free. The free stores have foodstuffs in convenient size. At Costco, many of the things that I might actually buy come in quantities so large that I would have to bring a company fork-lift and a cube van transport them. And that's just for the cereal! And the selection isn't all that great at Costco either.
Security staff guards the entrance to the store, checking Costco credentials. Don't have a Costco card? Go to the customer service desk, pay your membership fee and sign up. Otherwise, get out. Security staff is also at the exit, checking that you actually paid for what is in your cart.
Is it normal to willingly flash identification to gain entry to a store? To root through lots of stuff you would otherwise never purchase, just to get that one bargain that you can't live without? Some people must think so, because in the four times I have been at Costco the place has always been busy. Very busy.
I don't get it. I won't be renewing my membership. I have no need to 'belong.' Just sell me good stuff at a fair price and I'll come to your store. Don't make me pay for the dubious privilege of shopping there. There is no special cachet that comes with Costco membership, something special that makes me a better or more responsible person.
I don't care how many donuts the salesperson brings next time, I'm standing firm. No membership!
Why doesn't Costco (and Sam's Club, for that matter) simply charge a few pennies more for the goods they sell and do away with the membership cards and fees? They could then fire all of the annoying people who stand at the doors checking credentials. That would save five salaries (based on the store I went to today) times however many shifts there are at that store. They could then hire me or anyone else who has ever shopped anywhere, to redesign the checkout area, so that customers could pack their own goods instead of having an extra packer at every register to perform the function. And where, by the way, is the wisdom of spending all this extra money on personnel and not offering bags to the customers to put their purchases in? Maybe they have bags for sale under the counter or somewhere. I don't know. I don't care. I doubt that I will be inside a Costco store again.
Oh. One more thing. We did buy something at Costco today. It was wireless telephone set, made by a well-known company and offered at a good price. We weren't going to buy it at first. But then my wife pointed out to me that our other alternative was to get a similar set at Canadian Tire. We looked at each other in mock horror and I picked up the set and put it in our cart. Canadian Tire is even worse than Costco, if for somewhat different reasons.
On the way out, we ran the security gauntlet again. My hand still hurts from pulling out my wallet with the membership card so many times. My dignity is hurt too. Poor me.
Costco doesn't care about me. It cares about those people who need to belong, to feel like they are a part of something special. Look at me, I'm cool, I have Costco card.