Friday, July 3, 2009

Costco

For my housewarming/birthday, some friends (thanks!) bought me a membership to Costco.

Thought I'd try it out today.

Holy COW. The world shops at Costco on July 3rd. Seriously. All of America was there. You couldn't even see the checkstands because of all the lines winding from them back into the merchandise.

It was not the smoothest Costco shopping trip ever.

First (after quite some time cruising the parking lot for a spot), I found the membership counter. Presented my Gift Membership Card. Woman at counter says, "Fill out this membership form and give it back to whichever of us is available." I fill out the membership form. The next person available is a guy. I give the guy my Gift Membership Card and the Form the woman had me fill out.

Guy says, "Where's the form that came with the gift membership card?"

There was no form that came with the gift membership card.

I say, "There was no form that came with the gift membership card. That lady over there told me to fill out this membership form." Someone else joins in and says, "You need the membership form that came with the card."

"Nothing came with the card. It was in a box. No form."

"Who gave you the card?"

"Some friends." (Thanks again!)

"Well, you have to contact them and get them to give you the form that came with it. We can't do anything without that form."

I stare and blink, a little confused at how to proceed -- why are they not satisfied with the form I just filled out? The woman who had first told me to fill out the form notices the problem, and explains to these idiots that, "no, those were the old cards; with the new cards, all we need is the card, and we give them this form." I thank her gratefully. Get my shiny new Costco card. Off to shop.

It's big. I figure this will be more of a scouting mission than an actual shopping trip, so I go down each and every aisle. The store is in three sections and the first section is, generally speaking, shit for your home. I fill my cart here, with things like fire extinguishers, Rubbermaid food storage things, stick-on motion-sensitive LED lights, and various other things that I knew I sorta needed but hadn't gotten around to buying. I skip the center section and move on to the other side. This is bulk items for kitchen and bathroom. There were only two things I'd really expected to buy at Costco before I went: a bulk pack of toilet paper and bulk pack of deodorants. I ended up not buying either as they didn't have brands I'd used before, and I don't exactly want to experiment with the 36-pack of toilet paper.

Walking through the Bulk Foodstuffs part of Costco, I felt a little silly as a single person. I sure like that brownie mix, but I do want the one that makes five batches at once? And will I really go through 16 packs of "Easy Mac" before they expire on me? Still, I've done warehouse shopping before (anyone remember Price Club?) so I knew not to be distracted by stuff better suited to families with so many kids they've got their own reality shows. I went straight for the things I would use, like the big-ass bottle of Advil and the 12-pack of my favorite brand of chewing gum.

It was good that I saved the center section for last -- it was clothing and fresh food items. And in between the clothing and fresh food -- furniture! Or, more precisely, "the resting area," where all the zonked shoppers were hanging out, getting their second wind. The whole store was a ZOO -- you couldn't even go up one aisle and down the next because you'd run into long lines of people waiting to check out. After my rest break, I continued shopping (three pound box of cherries!) and hoped the crowds would have died down a bit.

They had. When I went to check out, I could actually see the checkstands, and each one had only three or so carts in line in front of it. My three hours at the store had paid off! So, I went in line, scan my stuff ($281 worth!) and pay....

And ... pay, dammit.

And ... why won't this thing take my credit card?

Eh... one of the things they probably should have mentioned when giving me my membership card is that the only credit card they take is American Express. They take debit cards, but I've refused to have the debit feature on any of my cards. This poses a problem. I've invested a lot of time into this $281 worth of stuff; I would like to buy it.

I ask the nice man at the checkstand if maybe he can hang on to my stuff while I go to the bank and get cash. He says he'll take care of it, no problem.

I hike to my car; ask the GPS where the nearest ATM is (a drive-thru ATM, a few blocks away). I drive thru said ATM, repark the car in my same distant parking spot (even though the shoppers have cleared out, the lot is still jam-packed), hike back to the store, find my stuff...

Where's my stuff?

I ask a nearby employee for assistance. She pulls over my cart and sheepishly asks me to remove what isn't mine. Apparently, nobody told her that I was coming back for my stuff, so she'd started throwing stuff other people didn't buy into the cart to reshelve. I pull out about six items. Good, done.

Um, I think my stuff has to be re-rung-up. I'm now on the other side of the registers (all of which still have three carts in line in front) and the lady who had helped me remove the unwanted stuff has gone back to whatever she was otherwise doing. I ask her who can ring me up. She says, "Go to 51; the guy at the end; he'll help you."

I go to 51, where I meet, the nicest person at Costco. He asks how he can help me. I explain that we need to ring up my stuff again, now that I have cash. He senses that I'm not having the best day ever. Asks if I have coupons. I have no coupons; I explain that I just got my membership card today. No problem; he'll give me the coupon prices anyway. I thank him very much. He rings up the groceries, quickly, with no fuss.

The total is $284 and change. This is odd to me, as it was $281 before. Nicest person is a bit stumped too, as he even went and gave me discounts. I take another look at the cart and see a box of fruit snacks that does not look familiar. Another stowaway item! He de-scans it, my total now drops under $270 (thanks to the coupons!) and I end up paying less than I would have paid if they'd taken my credit card from the start. So, yay. :)

Now, to eat three pounds of cherries.

1 comment:

Elly said...

I miss Costco. Come to Australia!!!!!!!