Costco is testing membership card scanners at entrances. What to know – NBC New York


Wholesale retail giant Costco appears to be cracking down even further on non-members and testing out new ways to verify memberships.

A photo posted by Costco Insider on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows a Costco employee scanning a shopper’s membership card before entering the whole warehouse in Issaquah, Washington. The account, which shares tips from readers, wrote that the employee was also checking the photo to make sure they matched.

In statement to NBC, a spokesperson for Costco acknowledged launching the pilot program at “a few” locations. “This test is to match members to their cards at the door prior to shopping for an improved member experience,” the company added.

Checking a member’s card has always been the store’s policy, but most customers entering the store were often only required to flash their ID to a store attendant. Shoppers continue to be required to scan their member card at the register when checking out their purchases.

The company said it began seeing an abuse of card-sharing after it began adding self-service checkout registers. Last summer, Costco began cracking down on people sneaking into its clubs and trying to shop with other people’s membership cards by requiring shoppers provide a photo ID along with their membership cards at the registers.

According to the store’s membership privileges and conditions, the primary cardholder cannot transfer their membership, but can have children and up to two guests in the warehouse. The cardholder can give one additional card to one designated member of their household that is over 16 years of age.

The additional cardholder must show proof that they live at the same address as the primary cardholder and their photo must be added to the ID card. Despite the store’s effort to offer flexibility, some customers have opposing views on the stepped-up enforcement, and comments on the Costco Insider post are divided.

“Nothing says we don’t trust you as a valued customer more than a scanner at the start of your shopping trip,” one user commented on Jan. 14.

“Well, this is problematic. I have executive membership, but my picture is not on my card. How’s that work?” another user said under the post.

A bulk of Costco’s earnings come from membership fees, which brought in $4.6 billion alone for the retailer last fiscal year, according to their annual report. An executive membership at Costco costs $120 annually and the standard “gold star” membership is $60.

The move comes as more companies crack down on membership and subscription sharing.

In the streaming world, Disney+ and Netflix made it harder to share passwords recently. In May 2022, Netflix told users they would need to pay an additional monthly fee if they chose to share their account without someone outside their household, or purchase an additional subscription.

In November, Disney+ announced similar restrictions to sharing accounts or login credentials outside of the user’s home.


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