Costco Is Cracking Down on Membership Sharing

published Jun 29, 2023
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AUSTIN, TEXAS - AUGUST 29 2017: the front of a Costco store just a minute after opening
Credit: Philip Arno Photography/Shutterstock

Netflix isn’t the only membership service tightening its sharing policy. Just a couple of weeks after the news from the streaming service sent people into a tailspin, another popular business joined the party: Costco. The bulk retailer is instating new policies that will make it more difficult to shop at the store without paying for your own annual membership.

The company recently shared with Business Insider that they will be asking for photo IDs in addition to membership cards more frequently at the self-checkout lanes. This isn’t exactly a new policy, but Costco will be enforcing it — especially with the rise of self-checkout, where customers can be a little more stealth about whether the card they’re carrying is actually their own.

Costco — the third largest retailer in the world! — racks up most of their profits from membership fees, which totaled a whopping $4.4 billion in the past 12 months. “We don’t feel it’s right that non-members receive the same benefits and pricing as our members,” the company said in a statement to Insider. “As we already ask for the membership card at checkout, we are now asking to see their membership card with their photo at our self-service checkout registers.”

Our Staff Writer and resident Costco Queen, Patty Catalano, witnessed the newly strict practice at the Perimeter warehouse location just outside of Atlanta. “There’s always a bit of organized chaos around Costco’s checkout lanes,” Patty said. “Last weekend, a new sign and an associate were present as I approached the registers. The associate asked to see my membership card to verify that I was indeed the person pictured on the card before I could begin scanning.”

The measure aims to preserve profits, maintain lower costs for paying members, and cut back on a more recent uptick in shoplifting that the company is facing.