Monday, April 25, 2005

Shopping at Costco

Anyone who is in business observes other businesses. Sometimes people who are not in the business of business question the reasoning behind someone like me, who if you didn't know is in the business of business.

My lovely wife Jamie, who clearly is in the business of not-being-in-business, questioned my questioning of the Costco employee whose job it is to mark my receipt with a black magic marker.

If you have ever been to a Costco, you know that to enter you must show your little plastic Costco membership card. Although this is a little picky, I understand the concept.

My problem when it comes time to leave the store. As you exit a Costco, there is a line of shoppers waiting patiently to have their receipt marked by an employee. This person uses a black magic marker to put a vertical mark on the receipt, but never takes the time to count items, check prices or add it all up.

This past weekend, Jamie, the boys and I went shopping at Costco. After running around the store in our usual pattern, it was agreed that we had found all the things we couldn't live without for that trip and made our way to the checkout counter. (I found a cool little remote control airplane that John, Adin and I took home and immediately crashed into the house.)

After the usual exchange of credit cards, we headed out of the store only to stand in line at the exit awaiting this little lady and her magic marker. As we stood in line, my brain had nothing else to do, so it pondered what the hell was the point.

Of course, you could say it was for security. They want to make sure I had paid for all the junk I had just paid for. However, the Costco employee didn't even read the receipt. She just marked it with her little black marker and moved on to the next person.

Since my brain has the interesting habit of engaging my mouth pre-emptively, I had to ask her what she was doing. All I got in response was a silent pointing to a sign. So my brain engaged my eyes to read the sign.

According to the sign, she was checking my receipt for my protection. The point was to ensure I had not overpaid for anything. This is completely amazing! To think that this little lady with the magic marker has all the SKUs and prices in her head!

I stood there for a moment and began to engage her in further discussion on the uselessness of her position, but was cut short by my wife, Jamie, telling me to drop it and get moving. This caused further discussion with myself and the shopping cart as I made my way across the parking lot, but none of that conversation is worth repeating.

My big issue with Big Box Stores is they can't be honest. The point of the lady at the door is an anti-theft deterrent. We all know that shoplifting is a huge line item for these retailers. Why won't they just give her a gun and call her a security guard instead of a magic marker (which doesn't have any real magical abilities)?


Anonymous said...

I work for Costco and the reason the people at the door check receipts is not just for theft but errors by the cashiers ESPECIALLY product on the BOTTOM of the buggy that might have been missed while scanning. The people working on the exit door ALSO have to check cards with people that try to enter the exit door with NO card. They also answer questions and help members with any question when entering or leaving the store.

marick said...

I believe that the goal is as described (to find errors by the cashiers), but I doubt it works.

As for answering questions: wouldn't that be the CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK person's job?

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