Is Costco membership worth it?

Is Costco membership worth it?


The regular supermarkets like Safeway here in Silicon Valley are quite expensive but places like Sprouts and independent fruit and vegetable stands have lower prices and better quality produce than Costco and they sell from bins so you can buy as little or as much as you want.


Great lawsplainer on checking receipts at the door.


So our constitutional rights only apply when dealing with the government, and it’s reasonable to suspect all customers are thieves simply because they are in your store and want to leave?

I guess the first may be technically correct, since it is other laws that address things like discrimination in private business. But it is not remotely reasonable to claim they suspect all customers of theft merely because they are walking out the door. The question isnt if a store has the right to detain you, it’s if they can do so as a matter of policy rather than observed suspicion.


TL;DR version (i.e. what I got out of watching this 15 minute video):

  • Membership clubs: You probably agreed in advance when you joined the club that you would show your receipt upon exit. So forget about arguing with this.

  • Non-membership clubs: There is no one right answer to this as it is covered at the state level by various “shopkeeper privilege” laws. What you believe to be the case in your state may or may not be interesting to someone in another state. Generally speaking, subject to the state variations, is that the store may detain you for a reasonable time if they have probable cause that you have stolen something. And, in his opinion, your refusal to show your receipt at the door may be sufficient to establish that probable cause.

He spends a lot of time saying you should just do it since it isn’t a battle worth fighting. That may be solid advice, but doesn’t answer the question that is in the title of the video.


The question should be, if you are bothered by the inconvenience of a store that has a policy of stopping everyone on the way out regardless of if they saw you do anything suspicious, why are you choosing to give that store your business in the first place? His advice of going to the manager and telling him/her that you don’t like being treated like a shoplifter and plan to take your business elsewhere makes sense to me as the best way of dealing with this sort of stuff.

The answer I got from it is, generally, yes they can. Sure you can just keep on walking, but don’t be surprised to get a visit from the police if you do.


But again, it’s a matter of state laws. And he offers one person’s opinion and you can find the opposite point of view from other attorneys (as he notes). Further, even he admits that the basis for it is a little sketchy … the notion that your refusal to volunteer your receipt is probable cause that you committed a theft. That probably holds up in court no more frequently than it doesn’t.

Personally, I don’t mind showing a receipt when asked. I consider it security theatre and I can play my role just for fun. And for the purposes of this thread (Costco), the video makes an excellent point that you’ve almost certainly agreed in advance to the procedure. so there’s nothing to gripe about.


Only if you accept the premise that walking out of the store is “reasonable suspicion”. Unless you’ve actually been targeted as a thief, just walking past them will have absolutely no consequence. Worst case, they keep an eye on you when they see you in the store next time.

They’re only calling the cops when they have someone dead to rights, I can imagine the officer’s reaction to being asked to chase down a customer based solely on the fact they got in their car and drove away. Besides, unless the store has tangible evidence of you taking something, there is absolutely nothing the police would be able to do even if they did show up at your house.


I agree 100%, but security guards are human and make mistakes, so I would NEVER do it because it’s not worth the hassle if you have the bad luck of being dressed the same as the real shoplifter that walked out right before you. I’d rather prove that I’m not doing anything wrong for 5 seconds in the store than later on in court facing a charge because of mistaken identity.

That’s why I would advise anyone that hears “excuse me” or “stop” as they’re walking out of a store to just go along with any reasonable requests from store personnel. It’s amazing how far being polite will get you.


Again, only if you accept the premise that walking out of the store is evidence of guilt.


Walking out of the store is reason for them to go write down your plate and note what you are wearing and then review the tape to see what you did. That’s where they could make a mistake and your behavior is just confirmation that they aren’t mistaken.


As for Costco, I see it as a beneficial security measure to the customer and one I appreciate. All locations I have ever been to (in 3 states) all have food courts near the exit, after you pay. Most people park their carts full of paid items by the tables and wait in line to order food. Without a receipt at the door, anyone could just jack your cart and leave, stealing your items. You could always have someone steal an item or two unawares but they can’t just take your cart and leave without your receipt.

Walmart, etc is a different matter but I get they are only trying to minimize theft. Annoying, yes, but I’ll play along. There are bigger issues in the world than having to provide a receipt. Detaining you though is an entirely different matter and obviously more to the point of this thread.


That’s just a nice coincidence. Every Costco I’ve ever been to (in a few states and even countries) has the food court outside, beyond the receipt checkers.