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Many readers responded to the article we published about membership stores checking receipts—and you didn't seem to think it was about being helpful at all.

Zee Krstic
November 29, 2018

Earlier this month, we encountered a Reddit thread that delved into why employees at membership clubs like Costco and Sam's Club check receipts. Like many shoppers, I had always assumed it was solely a form of loss prevention—but one Redditor who claimed to have worked the job argued that it's actually a way for the stores to catch cashier errors, saying: "Trust me, we're not loss prevention, we have loss prevention in the store and that's not us. We're literally just trying to make sure our cashiers do the job right."

So we reached out to Costco and Sam's Club to get some answers: Why do membership stores ask to peek at receipts? One Sam's Club representative said that their "exit greeters" are actually a form of quality control—and with all skepticism in mind, we wrote an article, explaining the various points of view.

Clearly, our readers have strong opinions about the entire receipt-checking process. There was a deluge of emails, and more comments on our Facebook post than we've seen on any other story this year.

 

Think those Costco greeters are checking for theft? Think again.

Posted by Cooking Light on Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I was happy to hear that some of you actually had experiences where a receipt check led to some good—Philippa Allatt, a Cooking Light reader based in Quebec, Canada, took time to share that a receipt check saved her some money. "Last time I was at Costco the “exit greeter” noticed I had been charged twice for an item!" she commented, and a few more readers shared similar experiences.

But the majority of those who took the time to share stories said they hadn't had positive interactions with employees who ask for receipts at the exit door.

"I have in all my years never had an exit to greeter offer anything, from advice to further discounts to upcoming sales… Nothing. Ever," writes Pennsylvania-native Sheri Gill. Her comment racked up 223 reactions from others, and a string of additional tidbits from readers saying that their experiences with exit greeters were overwhelmingly brief and lackluster.

More tips for shopping at Costco:

Another reader claimed she actually used to work at Costco and disagreed with the Reddit poster.

"Um, no. I worked at Costco. It’s been a while but they are definitely checking for theft. That’s why if you don’t have big ticket items just a bunch of food, they quickly mark your receipt," writes Sarah Sparks, a Cooking Light reader from Ontario, Oregon. "They are not checking every item in your cart. If they see expensive items, they make sure those items are on the receipt."

And that was not the only communication from a possible Costco employee. One reader emailed anonymously to write: "We are absolutely there and only checking to ensure each item was rung up, not to check for overcharges!"

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Michigan-based reader Michael Welsh added that exit greeters have taken time to inspect his cart in addition to his receipt.

"For the past 6 years I have shopped at Sam's—no Costco available where I live," he writes. "The person at the door checking my cart ALWAYS looks in my cart and counts the items and checks to see that number is the same as on my receipt."

But this explanation for why receipt checking is crucial for loss prevention came from another reader, John Mallestone of New Jersey, who pointed out that exit greeters often use sharpies or pens to mark receipts.

"They know nothing about promotions and certainly find more items not paid for than items double charged," he writes. "That's the reason for the receipt checking. Also, so that someone doesn't come back into the store with the receipt and fill a basket with the same items and claims they paid for them with the receipt. That's why they use a marker to mark your receipt at the door."

We have reached out to Sam's Club, Costco, and Walmart for responses. We'll update this post if or when Cooking Light receives a statement.

We do know that many membership stores have agreements in place that mandate customers must agree to stop for a receipt check if asked.

At Sam's Club, membership terms stipulate that they reserve "the right to inspect any container, backpack, briefcase and so forth of any person upon entering or leaving the Club." Similarly, at Costco, membership agreements explain that customers are expected to cooperate with a receipt check.

But maybe the takeaway from all of this is best summed up by reader Erin Giglia:

"Whatever the reason, it’s annoying. Costco on a Sunday is worse than an inner circle of hell and I don’t want to stand in line twice just to get out the door."