An Open Letter to Costco

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

Costco was sent the following letter and informed up front that it would be posted publicly.

Dear Costco,

Most of the time, I love you, I really do. You help me stay on budget, you help provide my toddler with healthy snack options and warm socks. (Her favourite article of clothing is her blue owl house-coat. She knows the word for housecoat and most of her vocabulary is dedicated to food and ponies… that’s a lot!)

My parents had a membership and when I finally had the opportunity to purchase my own, I jumped at the chance. You’ve sincerely helped my family grow in the short months since we signed up.


…are you familiar with the saying “You’re only as good as your last success”? With a corporate goal to “exceed member expectations” I would think so. Sadly, you have not exceeded my expectations today, in point of fact, I feel like you’ve forgotten that I had any expectations to begin with.

Here’s why…

After spending $502, I needed an extra few seconds of time from your checkout staff to get my things in my cart.


  • …I was asked if I’d mind pushing two carts to my car (I was alone and politely said as much).

  • …I was told “no, that won’t fit there” when items were unnecessarily moved from one cart (all tightly nestled with bar-codes exposed) to another smaller/deformed cart – where they, of course “wouldn’t fit”.

  • …I was checked out around so that the next customer had to excuse his way past me while I struggled to jam packages into some semblance of how they had been in my previous cart.

Now, I’m no Costco newbie. I know to:

  • …put the light stuff on the conveyor.

  • …leave the bulky/heavy stuff in the cart – bar-codes visible and accessible by the hand-scanner.

  • …pack the conveyor neatly but compactly so your staff can get all their items per minute (or whatever the metric-de-jour might be).

  • …have my card ready for the cashier so he/she can start scanning quickly.

  • …smile warmly and make polite conversation so your busy cashier knows he/she doesn’t have to worry about me, the customer, being impatient.

And yet, your staff – I assume in an effort to be more efficient (it wasn’t, by the way) – made me feel like my purchase ($502, remember) was an inconvenience rather than providing income for Costco (and, by extension, for themselves as Costco employees).

I have some suggestions: next time, help your customer unload the cart onto the conveyor instead of starting a new cart where moving heavy/bulky things is needed; Wait until your customer is at least somewhat close to being settled away before scanning the next person’s items through; Above all, have a little empathy for the lone customer with a full cart and a single pair of hands.

I’m not calling for action against the employees involved. Neither of them were rude or abrasive; they were simply rushed. And frankly, they must be receiving direction from above that this sort of “rush ’em through” behaviour is deemed okay. But rest assured, my experience today makes it clear that sometimes speed is not the same as efficiency.

I do my Costco shopping on Frantic-Fridays and Squashed-like-Sardines-Saturdays because of the value your products add to my life and the life of my family. Kirkland No-Salt-Added Tomatoes are a mainstay in my kitchen. Kirkland-brand toilet paper never runs out…

…but no “great deal” is worth feeling like a burden over.

Perhaps you could remind your employees (and the management team who drives their behaviour), that when “there are plenty of shopping alternatives”, it’s service that’ll keep your customers walking through your doors.

With Regards,
Costco member since 2015


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