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Costco trying out new system for shoppers entering its stores

The new approach is an effort to crack down on nonmembers sneaking in with cards that don't belong to them.
Shoppers approach the entrance of a Costco
Posted at 2:55 PM, Jan 17, 2024

Costco is testing a new approach to cracking down on nonmembers entering its stores. 

This comes after the retail giant noticed an increase in nonmembers sneaking in with cards that don't belong to them following its expansion of self-checkout.

As part of its new system, Costco is testing out card scanners at its store entrances, instead of just having shoppers flash cards at employees upon walking in. The company will also ask for photo identification along with the membership cards at self-checkout stations, just as they do at regular checkout lines.

"We don't feel it's right that nonmembers receive the same benefits and pricing as our members," Costco said in a statement obtained by CNN.

Costco cards are nontransferable, though the company allows members to give a second card to a member of their household.

An image of the new scanners was posted on Reddit, where it garnered thousands of reactions. One commenter who saw the scanners in action explained that upon scanning, a photo of the card owner shows up, so staff members can verify that the card belongs to the person entering. 

Some commenters worried that the scanners would cause a holdup at stores.

"I can only imagine the lines on a busy day," said a Reddit user.

But other commenters felt the scanners will help avoid issues at checkout when nonmembers argue with employees forcing them to abandon their carts.

"Better than getting stuck behind someone at the register who acts all surprised that you need a membership to shop there. Had that happen a couple times now," said a commenter.

The membership model is a crucial component to Costco's business, which is one of the largest membership clubs in the world.

While others like Sam's Club have raised prices, Costco hasn't raised its costs for membership since 2017, according to CNN. Cardholders pay $60 a year for a regular membership, or $120 for an executive membership, which comes with annual rewards and service discounts. The company has alluded to possibly raising prices in the future. 

The membership crackdown falls in line with other companies, like Netflix, trying to prevent nonsubscribers from using their services.

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