Sunday, July 26, 2009

Too Hot For TV: The Costco-Sam's Club Two-Step

In a miniseries I've dubbed "Too Hot for TV," I'll be sharing the tips that my editors didn't allow in the final version of my book. Today's tip is called The Costco-Sam's Clube Two-Step:

Glory be to any business with a no-questions-asked, no time limit, full money back guarantee. Both warehouse wholesaler giants Costco and Sam’s Club will refund your annual membership fee at any time and for any reason. I choose my refund time as the day before my membership is set to expire, and my reason as the sudden urge to join up with its competitor. After nearly a year has passed, I run the same game at the other place and go back to where I started. Think of Costco and Sam’s Club as your own personal Betty and Veronica, then ask yourself the question that always eluded
Archie – why choose when both are equally lovely and willing to take turns?
Annual memberships at both places run more than $50, and grant you access to what seems like square miles of amazing deals. Just don’t fall into the trap of over-buying stuff you don’t need, such as that 10-gallon tub of peanut butter.

What’s great about Club/Costco is that even if you don’t follow my insidious advice, memberships can easily pay for themselves in just a couple months, and even provide you a source of alternate income. Tapping the businesses makes for excellent resale opportunities, whether you’re fundraising for a school, club or yourself. You can find candy bars and sodas for less than 20 cents apiece and sell them for far more than double that amount at yard sales or community sporting events.

Savings on gas is also a hefty bonus, with prices per gallon nearly always running a few cents per gallon cheaper than the lowest-priced outside gas station.

One thing that annoys me is how paranoid both places are, automatically accusing every customer of shoplifting and refusing to let them out of the store unless they submit to a grocery cart eyeballing and receipt scan. What are they thinking? Of all the customer bases most likely to rip a business off, the Costco/Sam’s Clubsters who actually pay for the very privilege of being allowed to step inside the cavernous stores would seem to be the least likely.

One of these trips I’m going to sprint out of Costco after I buy my stuff and see if anyone tries to chase me down. I hope they tackle me, pin me to the ground while they check to see what I stole, then after they discover I’m clean, apologize profusely with free coupons for hundreds of dollars worth of groceries, which I would gladly accept before pursuing a lawsuit against them. And then I’d use false arrest as my reason for asking for a full membership refund before flipping to Sam’s Club and starting the process over again.

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