Costco's members all know that the warehouse chain has a few quirks. But sometimes, confusion around those policies can lead to popular myths. Business Insider reached out to several employees to share myths they've heard about their employer. From overly inflated starting wages to misperceptions around warehouse policies, here are the biggest rumors about Costco that aren't true. Sign up for Business Insider's retail newsletter, The Drive-Thru. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Costco is a chain with plenty of quirks, from its popular food court to its penchant for surprise buys. As a result, the members-only warehouse chain has developed an almost cult-like following. But consumers' fascination with Costco has also led to a number of misconceptions about the chain spreading around. Costco did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on this story. Business Insider asked several current Costco employees to share popular rumors they hear about their employer that simply aren't true. Some center around working at the warehouses, while others are confused interpretations of store policies or even outright myths. Here's what they had to say:SEE ALSO: 50 foods that Costco employees and members love DON'T MISS: Costco employees share the 24 things they wish shoppers would stop doing SEE ALSO: 11 Costco food court menu items workers swear by Employees aren't hiding products to trick customers ...
Costco is famous for its "treasure hunt" layout. But that doesn't mean that workers are running around messing with merchandise to inconvenience members. A Costco employee who's worked at the chain since 2018 said workers are not going around "hiding" products in the backrooms to boost scarcity and send demand spiking. The employee said that they've encountered shoppers who think they manipulate customers into thinking certain items are "out of stock so when we bring it back in a couple of days they will buy it up before it is sold out again." "We just don't have the room to play these kind of games," the employee said. ... and there's a very specific reason why products are moved around
Products do, in fact, get moved about within Costco warehouses. But a worker from Washington said that they have encountered a myth about the motivations behind that strategy. The employee said that their colleagues do not "move everything all the time to force people to spend more time shopping." It's actually a mandate from the vendors themselves. "Vendors pay to have placements changed regularly to generate higher sales," the employee said. The worker added that items that appear in the chain's coupon books are also frequently placed in the front of aisles to make them "easier to find." Costco gas isn't required to be less expensive than competitors — it just often is
Costco is known to offer gas at cheaper rates than many competitors. A 2017 Oil Price Information Service survey found that the Washington-based company offers the cheapest gas among warehouse chains, beating out Sam's Club and BJ's. But one Costco employee from Canada said that this can cause a misperception among members — namely, that the chain's gas stations operate under a mandate of always remaining considerably cheaper than the competition. "A lot of members feel we have to be 10 cents cheaper then the leading competitors with the sale of gas," the employee said. The worker said that their warehouse has occasionally sold gas at a two to five cents per liter loss, as a temporary "tactic to attract non-members." "But if we sold our gas that cheap all the time, we would be bankrupt," the employee said. The chain's target demographic isn't large families
Costco offers its members plenty of bulk-sized options to choose from. But an employee from Minnesota said that consumers shouldn't assume that a membership wouldn't benefit "small families." They said that a core group of members tends to be people in households with two to four members. Wages at Costco don't start at $24 ...
Costco is well-regarded in the retail industry for its high pay and desirable benefits. As of March 2019, the minimum hourly wage at the chain is $15. But that doesn't stop the rumor mill from inflating those numbers. One New Jersey-based employee said they saw a Facebook hoax claiming that the starting hourly wage is $24. "We earn a decent wage, but only truck drivers start at $24 an hour," the employee said. ... and new employees aren't required to start out in the food court
Some Costco workers kick off their career with the mistaken idea that they're going to be assigned to the chain's signature food court. While that may be true for some employees, that's certainly not a universal rule. "When I started, I was told everyone started their Costco career in the food court," one employee from Washington told Business Insider. "Definitely not true." Members should unload their carts once it comes time for checkout
A Costco worker from New Jersey told Business Insider that members seem to have a "common misconception" that they "don't have to put their items on the belt" when it comes time for checkout. "Only large or heavy items should remain in the cart," the employee said. "Some buildings don't enforce the 100% transfer rule and that makes it difficult on the rest of us when a member gets irate about unloading their cart." Employees aren't checking your receipts simply to bust shoplifters
At most retailers, paying for your purchases at the cash register is the final step in your shopping experience. But for Costco members, there's one step after that: showing an employee your receipt before you walk out the door. This might feel like a precaution to stop shoplifters. But employees say that the purpose of the process is more complicated than that. "It's primarily to ensure the member hasn't been over charged," a Costco worker from New Jersey told Business Insider. Another worker previously told Business Insider that Costco employees check for the following things when customers leave the store:
A code on the top and bottom of the receipt that changes daily so employees know the receipt was, indeed, printed that day. The item count on the bottom of the receipt to make sure there were no under or over charges. High-end items such as jewelry, stamps, electronics, or items over $300, which need supervisors' initials on them. Large items like tissue and water, which have various signifiers on the receipt to ensure final checks include a look at the bottom of the basket.
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