If you let your Costco membership lapse, then 2 months later renew it, Costco will backdate it to day it lapsed instead of the day you renew. The result: your 12 month membership suddenly shrinks to 10 months for the same price. Consumer Reports notes that Costco used to backdate renewals by as much as 5 months before a recent class-action settlement.
Under the terms of the settlement, Costco will continue to backdate renewals but only by 2 months or less. In addition, if you were on the receiving end of a truncated renewal period between March 2001 and March 2009, Costco will automatically credit your membership by extending it from 1 to 3 months, depending on how badly you were screwed.
But Jeff Blyskal at Consumer Reports points out that the best way to protect yourself from any truncated renewal is to ask the Costco clerk to date it correctly when you renew:
[Costco] told me that customers renewing expired memberships can ask that the back-dating policy be waived. “Because of the membership-based nature of the Company, our local warehouse managers are vested with substantial discretion to accommodate member requests in a wide variety of contexts, based on the facts and circumstances. Our policies help guide the exercise of that discretion but do not strictly dictate all outcomes,” said John Sullivan, Costco’s associate general counsel, in an e-mail.
Blyskal did just that, even without the Costco lawyer’s recent approval: “When I renewed [last] November I asked that my renewal be dated as of the actual date of renewal. The counter clerk at Costco customer service was happy to accommodate me.”