Costco Check out

Costco Check out by Michael Lehet (CC BY-ND)

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Have you found yourself getting increasingly annoyed with Costco's self-checkout stations? You're not alone. Some of the warehouse chain's biggest fans on Reddit's r/Costco community — not to mention we here at Cheapism — have found the self-checkout to be infuriating lately thanks to overzealous employees, ridiculous policies, and crappy technology that lags behind competitors.

"Self Checkout has become awful," begins a thread by u/Stranger_Dangus on r/Costco that's turned into a 1,600-post complaint fest. They tell a story about how they've been told to use the hand held scanners in self checkout for weeks, but during their latest visit, an employee monitoring the self checkouts rudely interrupted, telling them they can't use the hand scanner for the last two items in their cart. 

"I scanned one of the packages and she yanked the hand scanner out of my hand and told me I had to use to table scanner," the Redditor explains. "I just stood there not believing what I was seeing but the woman just stammers off without another word. Gotta say I'm on the fence for renewing my membership after 5 years with Costco."

While rude employees are frustrating, we're caught up in the fact that some Costcos have handheld scanners at self-checkout at all. Since we here at Cheapism buy so many products to taste test at Costco (like the latest bakery craze, the 4-pound key lime pie), we love when we can get in and out quickly with the self-checkout line. But when we recently asked an employee helping at the self-checkouts if they were planning to install them, we got a huffy answer that started with a defensive, "Never!" and ended with something about theft. 

We're not the only ones who have never seen a hand scanner at Costco's self checkout, because most Redditors in that thread are aghast as well. "Your costco trusts it's customers to use hand scanner?!?!?!" is the top comment with over 2,600 upvotes. 

Someone who seems to be a Costco employee chimes in. "Certain stores have them," said u/The_4th_Little_Pig. "It’s funny one of my stores actually have employees at the self checkout and they scan everything for you. It’s like why am I even in self checkout? I guess it probably has to do with theft in certain areas."

"At the Costco I work at we hide the hand scanners behind the screen," said another supposed employee. "They are supposed to be for employees only to use. Having said that, our self checkout process is awful."

Considering so many items at Costco are huge, bulky, and heavy, not having the option of a handheld scanner is a real detriment. "At least half of what I buy at Costco is bulky enough that I leave it in the cart no matter which checkout method I use," said u/WonderingOphelia. "Which is half the reason why I don’t use their self checkout."

People are getting used to using handheld scanners at other stores, too, including at rival Sam's Club, which has an infinitely better self-checkout system using both handheld scanners or even just the store's mobile app so you can bypass traditional checkout altogether. "If you’ve ever used Scan N Go from Sam’s Club, you’ll wonder wtf Costco is even doing," said u/Cabbagetoe. "Sam’s is so ahead of Costco with checkout." As big Sam's Club shoppers, we agree.

Adding to shopper's frustration is the recent development that Costco is cracking down on membership sharing. That's led to employees in the self checkout area asking to see everyone's membership card to make sure they're actually authorized to use it. Hello longer lines and more hoops to jump through just for the privilege of giving Costco your money.

The hovering employees and lack of convenience at the self checkouts make a lot of Costco members angry. "They literally check your receipt on the way out, so I don't get the mistrust of Costco," said u/linger4605. "Costco self-checkout makes me feel uncomfortable honestly."

"Every other retailer, Kroger, Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and more trust their shoppers more," said u/tinydonuts. "Their self-check system is crap."

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