More Obnoxious: Agreeing to Membership Rules You Have No Intention of Following, Or Having Your Receipt Checked?

At most stores, it’s reasonable for customers to walk in without being aware of that retailer’s particular policies. But when you sign up for a members-only warehouse store like Costco, it’s made pretty clear from the get-go that you’re agreeing to abide by the store’s rules. Isn’t that the trade-off for being able to buy Snickers by the carton?

But in a column for the Orange County register, a California man stands by his belief that he can disregard Costco’s rules simply because he disagrees with them.

“Specifically, I do not appreciate being asked to show my card on entry and then my receipt upon exiting,” he writes. “In fact, I ignore these requests every time. Anyone who has been with me on a Costco run is either entirely amused or very embarrassed by my behavior.”

The author then goes into detail about how his refusal to show his membership card at the entry to the store inevitably results in a tail of employees and other members pleading for him to just show his card.

But the kicker of the story isn’t just the fact that the author merely refuses to have his receipt checked on the way out. He actually makes it impossible for the receipt to be reviewed:

After checking out, I deliberately leave the receipt at the register. Sometimes the assistant to the checker will hurriedly bring it to me. I refuse it. This is an important step in the process of keeping the honor of free people everywhere.

It’s also a huge pain in the butt if you ever need to return anything. And it’s generally an ill-advised practice, not to mention kind of rude, to leave your receipts around for other people to clean up.

“Costco’s policy of checking your receipt before you leave is, to me, unacceptable,” he writes. “And therefore I will not adhere to it.”

While we applaud the author for being fully aware of his rights, we can’t help but wonder — and maybe this is just the tone of the piece — whether he’s ignoring Costco rules to, as he claims, “start a movement” or if he is just amusing himself at the expense of Costco staff.

One could argue that Costco, where items are usually packed loosely in carts — as opposed to being put into bags or being stickered as “paid” at the register — is more susceptible to customers trying to walk out with an entire cart full of purchases.

Furthermore, even though he’s correct that there are laws, which vary from municipality to municipality, regarding what stores can do to restrain possible shoplifters, we’re pretty sure Costco — as a members’ only business — is within its rights to ask you to show your membership card to enter.

Just like membership to any club, people pay for the access to Costco. What makes Costco so different than a swim club or a country club? Should he also be allowed to walk into a concert or a baseball game without showing his ticket?

I don’t like that I can only use American Express at Costco, but I knew that when I joined and I’m not going to just write down my MasterCard number and tell Costco to figure it out.

Because we agree with the author that receipt-checking is often a pointless endeavor, but disagree entirely with his attitude toward, and treatment of, the Costco staff, we’re feeling conflicted about this story. So we leave it to you to decide: