Costco – the exclusive club

Costco – the ultimate experience in shopping for stuff in bulk.  The average American’s favourite place to buy anything from doilies to cars, bulk toilet paper and  beef ribs by the dozen pound.  The place where low, middle and upper-middle class come together to grab a bargain.

On a whole there’s not much money saved by shopping at Costco. Don’t get me wrong there are lots of savings to be made on certain items,  but all-in-all when checking out,  the same amount of money is handed over. Although the trolley is substantially fuller, what’s making up the difference is more food, and let’s face it, it’s not healthy.  As a nation we’re getting fatter, present company included, and it’s places like Costco that don’t help the cause.

I can understand the temptation facing one on entry into the Costco superstore. There are endless amounts of bulk items at much cheaper prices. After you do the calculation from the bulk prices to the prices asked for from the mainstream stores such as Woolies and Coles it’s certainly appealing.  However, I’ve learnt that while not having kids living at home, having breakfast and lunch at work each day, any food I buy dies a sad, miserable, mouldy death in my cupboards and fridge. So the two kilo apple pie at Costco, which looks yummy by the way, will end in the same fate as most other food I buy on a whim.  So buying of bulk food is not an option for me.

It never ceased to amaze me at the full trolleys queued to the checkout. Surely the people pushing the mammoth trolleys can’t eat all that food? Although half of them look like they do. It’s the breeding ground for the next contestants of the Biggest Losers.

I don’t understand the concept of why you have to join Costco, at a cost of $60 per household, it’s not as if it’s an exclusive club.  But who am I too complain, after all I joined. I have the photo Id card to prove it.

You have to prove your membership before you go inside, you have to prove it when paying for your load and just before you break free you have to show the exit-door people your proof of purchase.  For goodness sake, how the hell can anyone steal from Costco? After all,  everything’s in bulk and they don’t have big mother-fucking trolleys for nothing.  And see what happens if you try to buck the system, as I observed on Sunday……

Man of the house (MOTH) and I were waiting in the long queue to pay and leave.  Our mother-fucking trolly barely had half-a-dozen items ranging from one kilo of salmon steaks, a one kilo pack of frozen berries, and a kilo of prawns. And a trip to Costco always provides me with a pack of my favourite sweets- baklava at a much reduced price.  Even so, our trolley consisted of the healthiest food by far, except the baklava of course.

Anyway, in front of us where three Chinese women:  two middle age and an older woman, probably the mother.  Between them they had two mother-fucking trolleys laden with food.  There were several large tins of cream puffs, packets of almond biscuits, large barrels of chocolate waver biscuits, just to name a few.  There were several dozen cans of drinks, two boxes x 12 serves of Tom Yum soup,  and tucked right down in the bottom of the trolley was four sad little pieces of steak – and not a grain of rice.

These three tiny Chinese women would easily make up one of me and I couldn’t help but think that the food they had spilling over their trolley can’t have been for them and if it was – well life just ain’t fair.  I was putting on weight just looking of the volume of food they had.

Maybe they owned a Chinese restaurant?  But I can’t see cream puffs on the menu. Maybe they have a large family? Maybe they’re stocking up on filler food for the herds of drop-ins over Xmas?  Whatever the excuse, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the situation, their trolley versus our trolley and their size versus ours.

As we made our slow journey to the checkout, it was finally the Chinese women’s turn to unload. The three women worked busily to unload all the food onto the counter and the  check-out chick scanned each item quickly and it wasn’t before long before it was time for payment.  At this stage I was chatting to MOTH and unloading our few items onto the counter.  Then I noticed that the three women were all diving into their wallets. A Chinese man showed up and he too was digging into his wallet.   “Oh great”, I thought. “They haven’t got enought credit on their card and now they’re going to muck us around while they find the hundreds of dollars to pay for their groceries”.  “Just my dumb luck to pick the problem isle”!

To make things worse the check-out chick was calling for Customer Service.  “Oh for fuck sake” I said to MOTH “what’s the problem now?”

No sooner did the Customer Service Manager turned up she was telling the main Chinese woman that the Costco ID card she produced wasn’t her in the photo and she couldn’t exit the store with the food,  as she or any of the other women with her were members.

It was about this time I forgot about my aggravation around the hold-up as I was intrigued as to what was unfolding in front of me.  I couldn’t help but smile with all three women pulling the “I can’t understand” stance.  It’s so cliche. And I laughed when I realised they tried to pull the “we all look alike” trick on the check-out chick by using another Chinese woman’s ID.  “This just gets better”, I thought.

When the women realised they weren’t getting away with the trick they tried to pull they make their way to the Customer Membership counter with the intention of joining Costco and returning to pay for their goods. But the Customer Service Manager wasn’t having any of that – she summoned a grocery packer to take the trolleys away at once. Wow, they’d have to go home empty handed or start all over again. I couldn’t think of anything worse. But you can’t go around tricking the Costco staff, they were clearly on to that scam.

The check-out chick actually told me when it was my turn to pay using my ‘real’ ID that she was sorry for the hold-up but it happens all the time. To which I thought, who’d the fuck be bothered with trying get out of paying $60 joining fee. You save that alone on the bulk loo paper – which I’m a big fan of now. Along with the 7.5 kilos of washing powder, 5 litres of floor cleaner and 5 litres of winder cleaner I have tucked away in my laundry cupboard.

On my next trip, I need to get some bulk paper toweling, dishwashing liquid, toilet cleaner and of course some baklava not to mention the second lot of bulk toilet paper.

Ah – you gotta love Costco really!