Costco, why art thou a fascist?

OK, skip this post if you don’t like reading rants.

Not only does Costco require me to use my debit card, instead of allowing me to swipe my card as a credit card, but they also love to violate my 4th Amendment rights.

First, the card issue. Costco, like many businesses, chooses not to allow their customers to use their bank card as a credit card. They limit you to using your bank card as a debit card. Let me tell you, if you haven’t heard it before, using your bank card as a debit card, (ie. typing in your pin number), is opening yourself up to more risk of being a victim of identity theft. Using your card as a credit card, allowing you to sign on the line, is a bit safer. In fact, if your card is being illegally copied, they won’t get your pin. This is an import point to understand.

Costco’s refusal to allow me to use my bank card as a credit card, as my bank allows, is increasing my risk of being a victim of identity theft, again.

Second, the violation of my rights. Once I have purchased my goods, and decide to exit the store, they are mine. It is in fact the exchange of currency for goods that allows me to exit the store, without being detained and arrested for theft. I should not be forced to stand in another line, then prove to a tired cashier that I have purchased the goods in my cart by showing proof with my receipt. This angers me in ways I can’t explain. These goods now belong to me! If a store employee, or any official, decides they want to verify (read: search) MY goods, without probable cause to believe that those goods are not mine, they are violating my 4th amendment rights. (The 4th amendment to the United States Constitution allows me the right to NOT be subject to an illegal search and seizure.)

So, from now on, when I choose to exercise my love of capitalism and visit a retail store, I will use the printed currency of my wonderful country, the mighty (but currently weak) dollar. Then, when I am exiting the store, I will simply exit. If I am illegally detained and/or illegally searched, I will deny that violation and verbally demand to be released from the illegal detention. I will verbalize my protest by saying, “I do not authorize you to illegally detain me or search my property!” Of course, I’ll try to draw some attention to myself, and the now startled and slightly embarrassed retail employee.

Yeah! I love my freedom!


Author: TREVOR

Leukemia survivor. Son of The Most High. Father. Man.

14 thoughts on “Costco, why art thou a fascist?”

  1. I’ve been know to blow by the “checker” person at stores like Fry’s electronics. Also domnic is incorrect. By not showing a receipt there is no PC that one did not pay. (Especialy when you’re 30 seconds ago you were just seen going thru a checkout line AND have items in a store bag)

    Mostly this check process is “smoke and mirrors” to help scare potential shoplifters from attempting to do their evil deeds. I’m sure the $8/hr for the checker pays for itself, however it annoys the crap out of decent normal shoppers (95% of the people)

    @costco…. They have the right to ask to see your receipt because it’s in their TOS. By signing the application you are saying that you’ll play by their rules.

    CC / debit. If you want to use CC, get an AmeX. Yes this is a pain if you don’t have an amex and don’t want another card.

    When you look into costco and how they run their company they are a VERY good company. They stand behind the products they sell, their employees and their customers.

    I heard of a photographer who bought a APC UPS to protect his wide format Epson printer (think big canvas prints) They had a power storm, and the UPS failed to protect the equipment. They needed a new board and a tech to instill the printer. APC didn’t want to deliver on their $XXXXX dollar guarantee, so the owner called Costco Corporate where he bought the UPS. Costco made a few calls and put the pressure on APC. They paid all repairs. It’s good to know costco has our backs in this way.



  2. Trevor,

    I applaud anyone who decides not to put up with the decidedly anti-customer, confrontational tactic of post-purchase receipt checking. A clarification:

    The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable search and seizure by government agents, not other private citizens.

    Merchants can detain someone if they have “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion” (depending on the state) to believe they’ve shoplifted. Declining a voluntary receipt check meets neither legal standard, and security experts agree that someone must witness a customer concealing merchandise in order to detain them.

    This halfwitted store policy needs to change. It’s a sluggard’s approach to loss prevention — instead of training employees to observe and report theft, just accost honest customers at the door. It’s ineffective and insulting, and the more of us who refuse, the shorter the lifespan of this security farce.

    Corey Friedman
    Gastonia, N.C.


  3. @David, Yeah. We too are trying to frequent more local businesses, to support our local economy. I’m a big fan of the “small business” and love supporting them when I can. However, I’m torn. There are times when a family of six must choose good stewardship over being a good member of the community. So, in order to steward our limited income appropriately, we need to save money at the larger stores too.


  4. I tend to avoid places like this (ie. Sam’s, Costco, etc.) like the plague, b/c it takes so long to get in/get out. One of those annoying things is the asnine “clearing” at the door-both In and Out. If you just left the register, and 25 yards later you are at the door w/ a gatekeeper? So much has lapsed between! It kind of reminds me of the gatekeeper at dance clubs when I was younger-ridiculous nonsense not needed. I am so glad I wised up to stupid “norms”. Those controls are put in place for those that have no life (and I guess tend to steal)-no wonder it frustrates you and me and many. But it should not be forced on people that do the right thing-loss, on their part should be the cost of doing business, not frisk every person out the door.


  5. Don’t take it too personally. The primary reason for the receipt check is to make sure the cashier rang up your order correctly. With all the large orders and high ticket items, a small percentage of errors can add up to a tidy sum and justify the position. Of course the fact that it dissuades shoplifting is a nice bonus, but if someone really wants to steal something a silly receipt check at the door won’t even slow them down.


  6. After reading through the comments I noticed that one point was not made. Having an employee posted at the door to read your receipt drastically cuts down on the amount of shoplifting that occurs. This in turn keeps the prices of the goods from rising. This benefits us as shoppers.

    I need to address something else. Walking by them without showing your receipt does not constitute “probable cause”. They cannot detain you or search you without your consent. The most they could do is revoke your membership. One of the other commenters was correct, corporations are scared to death of getting sued for unlawful search and seizure.


  7. Stores check your receipt mainly to prevent employee assisted shoplifting. With the amount of stuff purchased at Costco, it would be easily to slip a few high priced items onto a cart during checkout. Costco knows most customers are honest, they just don’t know which of their employees is dishonest.

    Also, Costco has the right to choose which methods of payment the accept in lieu of cash. A credit card transaction costs them more, so they do don’t allow it. We don’t have to like it, but it is well within their rights.

    All that being said, shop at small, locally owned stores. They pay attention when customers are pissed.


  8. Trevor,
    It occurred to me that since Costco is a club, they might have some language in their Terms of Service that permits them to verify your purchases. Otherwise they might cancel your membership. I haven’t checked but you might want to.

    I regularly walk right by the clerks at Best Buy & Fry’s. I ignore their calls and have never had a problem. They call after me but they never pursue me.

    I don’t believe walking out the store without being searched constitutes reasonable cause. Retail stores are mighty weary of getting sued for false arrest and the laws are very clear regarding the requirements they must establish before detaining you. I think they highly suggest that people volunteer for inspection in these lines.


  9. Trevor, the flaw in your logic is as follows:

    If you walk in to Costco (or Fry’s, or any other store that has this policy), and don’t stop to show your receipt, you just gave them probably cause for believing that the goods do not belong to you (i.e. they think you haven’t paid for them).

    At that point, (at least here) they are allowed to detain you while they call the Police to have you arrested for theft, or you show your receipt, thus proving that the items belong to you, and are allowed to leave.

    In either case you (or your “cause”) lost.


  10. First Issue, The reason is the fees that your bank would charge costco to allow you to use bank card as a credit card would force Costco to raise prices. Why should I have to pay higher prices because you dont understand this.
    Second issue, part of the agreement, that you “agreed” to when you signed up, says that that is procedure of the club. You joined a “club” and therefore are required to follow the rules. You signed them when you joined !
    If you dont like it they will refund the money you paid for your membership !


  11. Yea I understand. My husband and I have talked about this before. Even after he read someone else’s rant on a similar subject (I cannot remember who). The guy was bothered that when he went through the snsors and they went off, that he had to stop and prove that he was not stealng something. He made a good point… only the innocent are going to stop. Someone stealing something is not going to stop to be searched. Also they are not qualified to stop you anyways.
    Every time I am about to go through one of those things (with two antsy children under 3 BTW) I just tell my self to keep walking and not to worry about it cause I know that I am innocent and I do not have the time to be questioned.

    Good Rant! I agree with you 100%


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