Why One Kitchn Reader Bought and Canceled Her Costco Membership in the Same Day

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: a katz)

You don’t have to be a frequent reader (although we wish you would be!) to know that we write about Costco a lot. Between the $1.50 hot dogs at the food court, the great private-label brand, and the super-discounted bulk pricing, we have a lot to say (and love!) about the warehouse store.

The truth is, though, Costco isn’t for everyone. The biggest complaint we hear is that shoppers just can’t store or use up the mass quantities of food before it goes bad. (A totally fair and valid point!) And we once got a letter from a reader who told us that she got and canceled her Costco membership during the same trip! We had to know more.

(Image credit: Costco/Instagram)

Here’s What A Reader Had to Say About Her Costco Experience

I am and have been a BJ’s member for more than seven years and never thought of trying out Costco, even though Costco is half the distance from my home. As a long-time Kitchn reader, I’d noticed lots of articles on the wonderfulness of Costco, and since my BJ’s membership needed to be renewed, I thought I’d give Costco a try.

What’s BJ’s? Read more about it here: This Cult Favorite Store Is Even Better than Costco

So this past weekend my husband and I went to our nearby Costco to purchase a membership. Our first twinge of regret came when we went to pay with our Discover card. The customer service woman said, “I’m sorry, we only accept Visa or debit cards for purchases.” (No, I didn’t know that!) This was an immediate problem for my husband, as he likes to purchase everything with his Discover card, and wants me to do the same so we can rack up points. Already I was thinking, Maybe I should keep my BJ’s membership as well.

While she was registering our purchase, I asked her if they had trial memberships. We were informed they did not, but we could receive a full refund of our purchase price at any time during our membership year. She said this was their standard policy and that they rarely had to refund a membership. Sounded like a good deal to me!

While we were there, we decided to do some shopping and stock up on the things I’d usually buy in bulk amounts — things like boneless chicken thighs and baking products. (I am a prolific baker and just love to make cakes, bread, pies, you name it!)

First, we went to the meat department. Surprisingly, there were no boneless chicken thighs! I couldn’t believe it and kept going around and around the case, thinking I must have missed them. Nope! There just weren’t any.

Then I went to see if the bakery had ciabatta rolls (which I could always get at BJ’s). I struck out there too. Ciabatta rolls are one of my regular purchases at BJ’s; I make a point to get to BJ’s early, before they run out, which is typical by midday. But it was early in the morning at Costco and there were no ciabatta rolls in sight. Costco had torta rolls by La Brea Bakery, but they weren’t as crusty as my beloved BJ’s ciabatta rolls.

The next nearby department was the “deli.” I’m always pleased with the deli meats and cheeses I get at BJ’s. I love their honey baked ham and horseradish cheddar cheese. But at Costco I was met with disappointment again! The only deli this Costco has is a section of prepackaged sliced meats and cheeses — all in at least one-pound increments. It’s just me and my husband, so that is way too much meat! I would rather purchase my deli meats in smaller increments on a more frequent basis so they are always fresh.

At this point, my husband and I looked at each other and agreed Costco was not for us. While he went to retrieve our car in the busy, packed, and rather chaotic parking lot, I returned to the customer service desk and saw the same woman who had, moments ago, sold us our membership. I told her I wanted a refund. Although she did look a bit startled, she proceeded to issue the refund without comment.

My husband and I drove home and felt we made the right decision. Although I didn’t do a full comparison of all the products I usually buy at BJ’s, the negatives mentioned above were enough to seal the deal.

I know Costco stores can vary by location, but we live in a very cosmopolitan, densely populated area (northern Raleigh, NC) where incomes are high and property values reflect this. I assumed we would have a Costco that offered more choices of services and products.

I just cannot wait to go to BJ’s tomorrow!

Have you ever tried Costco and decided it wasn’t for you? Tell us about it in the comments below!