Adobe: REUTERS / Rick Wilking

Retailers like Costco and Sam's Club are able to go the extra mile to keep your family safe.

Zee Krstic
September 26, 2018

There's no denying that memberships at wholesale retailers like Costco offer many families a great deal of savings and convenience—there's a reason that, according to data from Forbes, Costco is America's second largest retailer behind Walmart, which owns Sam's Club.

But unlike other supermarkets, the membership-only model gives bulk retailers access to something that other stores don't have—the contact info and purchase history of every single shopper. While some might worry about what's being done with all that data, there's at least one potentially lifesaving perk, when it comes to food recalls.

If a food that either Costco or Sam's Club stocks has been recalled, both retailers reach directly out to all the members who purchased affected products, with a warning to discard the item and get a refund immediately.

Retailers like Costco offer upwards of 4,000 different brand-name items to members at any given time, according to Forbes, which makes keeping tabs on what's being recalled difficult even for an expert. But wholesale retailers will email, call or even mail a letter to let customers know that an item has been recalled.

Amy Wyatt-Moore, a senior communications manager for Sam's Club, explains that it's just part of the benefits of membership: "It's more than what many other retailers would have the opportunity to do, but since we have member's purchase history and dates on file, we're able to know who purchased what and when," says Wyatt-Moore. "We know immediately if you've purchased a potentially affected product in our stores."

More on how to take advantage of your wholesale membership:

At Sam's Club, members will receive automated calls from a corporate safety team to let them know if they've purchased an item that could be potentially harmful, Wyatt-Moore confirmed. If they're unable to reach you on the phone, letters are mailed out, but Wyatt-Moore also says that teams will also work to address the situation the next time you're in their store.

The same is true at Costco, where a customer service representative confirmed that a safety team remains on standby to contact affected members when recalls occur—including any issues with their private-label items. Costco also keeps recall notices up to date on their website, which you can find right here.

While it's unclear just how many shoppers have been saved from eating recalled food, Wyatt-Moore says that many Sam's Club members have taken time to write emails and letters on how the early heads up has made their lives so much easier. The best perk of being part of a membership club may actually be the sense of relief knowing that you'll be the first to know if your safety is at risk.