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Change in coupon policy at Costco

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Costco no longer is automatically applying the coupon discount to the items you purchase. You need to have the coupon (they mail them out and hand them out at the entrance) and provide it to them to get the discounted price. Another case of skewer the customer fatten the margins. This is evidently a directive out of their corporate office and contrary to what they have done in the past.

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  1. Ok, so it's a change in policy. However, as you noted, you 1) have the coupons mailed to you 2) have a second opportunity to pick up the coupon as you walk in the door. I really don't see how this is "skewering" the customer.

    6 Replies
    1. re: lala

      I spend lots of $ at Costco (I'm sure many members do). I enjoyed the seller-take-care approach to customer service. Now it is a buyer-beware approach to customer service.

      I guess what annoyed the most is that it was an unannounced change. When you spend hundreds at a time, $15 or $20 in discounts not showing up may not catch your eye. That is what Costco is counting on.

      I'm not opposed to change, just announce it. I brought it up in this forum to make others aware so they would not have to endure the coupon refund process that is on the rise at Costco right now.

      1. re: lala

        Costco does not hand out the coupons at the door nor do they hand them out freely at the front desk. I couldn't find the coupons that were mailed to my home, but because I had been told you didn't have to actually have the coupon anymore, I didn't spend too much time looking for them. When I got to the store, I immediately got in line to ask for another coupon booklet so I could carry it around the store as I shopped. The person at the desk asked if I had not received the coupons in the mail. I was honest and told her I had but simply misplaced them (I think if I had said I had not received them, then she would have reluctantly given me another set). She told me they don't hand out additional coupons since the vendors have gone through the expense of mailing them out. I was not satisfied with that since I had been told months ago that you didn't even need the actual coupon anymore. That was when I was told that was no longer the policy. If I had been aware of the change, I would have kept up with my valuable book of coupons. Still, unsatisfied with basically being told I would not get to benefit from the use of this month's coupons, I asked to speak to a manager. Another person came to discuss this matter with me and he gave me the same song and dance. My point was simply that since I had been unaware of the policy change, I felt they should give me a new book of coupons. When he realized I wasn't taking no for an answer, he reluctantly gave me the coupons but told me that he could lose his job for doing so. I really felt both Costco employees have been programmed to say "NO! NO! NO!" to handing out additional coupons to prevent people from using multiple coupons. That was not what I was trying to do so I feel that each request should be handled differently based on the situation.

        1. re: pompeiipurple

          It must be your Costco because mine gives them out whenever you ask...no questions asked.

        2. re: lala

          Books of Coupons are mailed for certain items and coupons for OTHER items, ususally large ticket items are given at the door. NOT the coupon book that is mailed to you. I have not received my book in the past and they gave me a really hard time in getting one from the "Customer Service" counter. Another time I had my infant with me and had left the coupons in my car, it was extremely cold and windy that day so I went to the customer service counter and asked if I could get a book that I had left mine in the car but they DENIED me a coupon book. I was told last week that I spend on average 1,200 per month at Costco. Given that you would think that I would have been spared the hassle of taking my baby back out in the weather when they had STACKS of them right at their finger tips they they will most likely throw away or give to others. So, I agree in them "SKEWERING" the customer!

          1. re: wmilloway

            I have never had a problem asking the checkout person to apply a coupon code - they often volunteer to do it.

            1. re: ferret

              Neither have I at our local Costco, but it seems this practice along with general coupon policies vary quite a bit from store to store (and probably region to region) based on posters' responses.

        3. Does'nt surprise me. I refuse to purchase a membership(as a single) when they charge the same as for a couple.Discrimination seems to be just one of their faults! I agree the coupon change will only benefit the corporation!

          7 Replies
          1. re: marti

            Why not join with another single friend? That's what I did when I was a singleton.

            1. re: ElBee

              Exactly! I joined with a friend - it's even cheaper than the corporate rate I get at work.

              1. re: lala

                My Ex-husband and I use the same account.

                1. re: Janet

                  I used to have an account with an old friend, I had the second card she was the main name on the account. She wanted to cancel the account and I was told I would need to open a new account under my name to stay a member. My BF and I shop all teh time together at Costco so we figured I would just get a second card on his account and was told that I had to live at the same address - grr!! The Customer Service lady said there policy had changed to having to live at the same address, so I put down my $45 because I am addicted. There, I admitted it!

            2. re: marti

              ACtually, Costco allows you to join with an unrelated person. Doesn't even have to live at the same address. THere is no discrimination of that sort.

              1. re: marti

                I suddenly and somewhat conveniently married a friend. They said we didn't have to have the same name,
                (edit - oops, I didn't realise the post was ancient history)

                1. re: Peg

                  Nope, don't have to have the same name. I'm married and a member with my mom, not DH, and mom and I don't have the same name anymore. No one's ever questioned it.

              2. They never gave me a discount unless I had the coupon (Fullerton store). Consider yourself lucky to have gotten the discount previously, without a coupon!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Funwithfood
                  Amin (London Foodie ''OrientRice@aol.com'')

                  yeah. I prefer costco to the other supermarkets
                  for the quality and the price. No complaints here.
                  Costco send out a booklet of coupons to us (and if
                  it is not received in the post for some reason, we
                  have the choice of picking up another book at the
                  store). They also send out a monthly (or quarterley)
                  newsletter which I never bother to read, but its got
                  lovely pictures and all.

                  Have never received a discount from them without the
                  coupons, and dont see how it would work, as the goods
                  show the full price at the register, then the bar code
                  on the coupon reduces the discount amount. makes sense
                  no ?

                  I stock up on toilet rolls (incase of a shortage),
                  cheese, EVOO, bottled water, and a host of other items
                  from costco

                  ps: Will someone do me a favour please ? I have posted
                  a post on the general board yesterday titled ''Winter
                  or Holiday foods/ingredients'' . I hate it when no one
                  responds to my post, as it makes me feel as if no one
                  loves me, so please send in atleast 2 lines
                  -thanks in advance.

                2. I've *never* heard of any store giving a discounted price without a scanned or computer-input coupon price. Guess your Costco is now following the usual coupon protocol as 99.99% of other stores already do. And if they're mailing you the coupon booklet or giving you the coupons when you walk in the door, how hard is it to just hand them over?

                  1. I have been a member for over 10 years at several COstcos in several different states (Florida Texas Cali) and never have they just applied discount without the coupon. sounds like sour grapes to me.

                    1. I always have had to hand over the coupon too. And, as they hand them to me as I'm walking in the door, not to mention people usually leave unused coupon flyers in the carts, I don't really see what the big deal is.

                      1. j
                        JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                        I'm going to have to side with Groucho on this one...

                        "I refuse to belong to any club that would have me as a member."

                        I know they have good stuff, but paying someone to shop at their store is something I've filed for the Department of Redundancies Department.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                          I agree. You aren't shopping locally, ethincally, ethically, or seasonally when you shop at Costco. The arguments about the relatively minor transgressions, well, aren't that earth-shattering. Take the time to explore further.

                        2. I only go to Costco once or twice a year with my parents, but every time I go they seem to impose some new rule that makes it harder and harder to shop there.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: im_nomad

                            Any examples? If you are talking about having to actually physically use the coupons, I forgot to use mine yesterday but the cashier rang the discount without me even asking about it. Their merchandise return policy is still fantastic and has been adjusted only to deal with people who take advantage of them by trying to return five year old computers and televisions. As for complaints about having to have the coupon in hand in order to use it.. duh, why do you think they mail you the coupon?? Complaining about that is like complaining mommy doesn't spoon feed you anymore. (note to im_nomad - I am not directing this at you, only as a general response to people complaining.. my direct response to you is just to ask for some examples of the "new rules" you refer to that make it harder and harder to shop there).

                            1. re: monkuboy

                              i'm not talking about coupons, I don't think i've ever even used a coupon there. I mostly buy books, clothes and stuff there, although I was very happy with the falafels I got there last time.

                              To give an example or two, i'm talking more about the checkout procedures. I used to be able to check out my items with my Mom's card, as long as she was there with me, you were "sponsored" in sort of thing. Then, after that went, at least they'd split the bills (totalling halfway), so that I could easily pay Mom or Dad for my share of the bill. That's gone.

                              The last time I was there, My mother paid for her own items with her card, and I was standing with my Dad using his card. They told us he could let me use his card, so I proceded to check out. When i went to pay (after he'd gone to sit down for a rest), she told me I couldn't pay with my own debit card, and Dad ended up buying my stuff anyway through his bank account, and I later repayed him. The woman who checked us out gave my debit card a very good looking over before refusing it. Given that i've used my parent's debit cards in other stores to check out for them, with no issue, I can't see why the reverse wouldn't have been true. What if I'd simply been buying my Dad a bunch of stuff ? If i'd paid in cash this wouldn't have been an issue, also wouldn't have been an issue if I was allowed to swipe my own card, which is the procedure in an increasing # of stores now anyway (and more secure).

                              1. re: im_nomad

                                Costco is a membership store. Your dad is the member. You aren't. They have your dad's information (address, etc) from when he applied for membership. If there was a problem with his debit/credit card or check, they would have recourse as per the terms of membership.

                                {Also they send out recall notices for items purchased, either by postcard or lately via a phone message. The recall goes to the member who purchased the items per their records. If I let my neighbors use my card, paying cash and then something they bought got recalled, I might think Costco got the wrong number or may forget to notify everyone to whom I Ient my card .}

                                That has always been the policy once they started taking credit and debit cards. (it used to be cash and checks only for years) You never were able to pay with your own cc if you were not a member.

                                I don't know about splitting the bill up, but you can stack your stuff first and then add it up when you get home. It is not difficult.

                                1. re: im_nomad

                                  As far as I can remember, Costco has never accepted payment (except cash) from anyone who wasn't a member. The name on the checking account or credit card has to match the name on the membership account. That goes back to the 90's.

                                  1. re: monkuboy

                                    Not the case in my experience. I am the member, but my girlfriend pays by PIN-based debit all the time. Normally we put everything together, but I recall doing two separate back to back transactions with my card as well, with me paying one then her paying one. I've paid most of them recently, but she has paid many times over the last 4-5 years. Works at the gas pump too. She doesn't have Amex so has to use PIN-based debit, but it's never failed to work.

                                    I've also had coupons deducted without having them and without asking, fairly recently (within the last couple months).

                                    Still working pretty well for us. The store is near our house, and even though we don't go that often there's enough in there that makes it worthwhile to keep up the membership.

                                    1. re: monkuboy

                                      Same here, as w/CrazyOne. I am the member and my DH (who is not) pays w/his debit card. Never any problems.

                                      Same also goes w/the coupon; we receive the coupon discount whether or not we have the coupons....

                                  2. re: monkuboy

                                    My complaint: Don't "secretly" revert back to the former policy about actually having to present a coupon (when for the last two months you did not) and then deny to offer the customer a new set of coupons.

                                    They could easily look up my account to see that I am not getting multiple discounts from the same coupon that has quantity restrictions.

                                    1. re: pompeiipurple

                                      I think it depends on the location. The ones in Northern Virginia scan in a coupon when I ask for it. However, when I visited my parents in DE, they wouldn't do it. I didn't buy that particular item (with the discount).

                                      I used to get the books all the time, but I don't anymore since I moved. I love the new policy. (I look up the coupons online.)

                                      1. re: Unraveled

                                        I've been to Costco's across the country, they are very accommodating about coups, at one place I went up to the front desk and asked for a booklet, showed my card and was given the coups. Also, at my home Costco, all you have to do is scan the first coup and the rest are applied to the order. What more do people want, try getting a coup discount at a regular super market without the coup, it won't happen.

                                        1. re: cstr

                                          Whenever I take a vacation, in addition to scouring for restaurants to try, I also see if there's a Costco in the area (since food/merchandise varies by location). I love Costco....

                                2. Costco is a great place to shop. They take back stuff without a huge hassel, good quality meat and produce and prices are low.

                                  If you look at their financial statements you will see that their net profit is close to what they bring in on membership fees.

                                  1. my local costco has just posted signs on their registers reflecting this change. apparently the policy change was due to vendor complaints. i guess they wanted to reduce the number of coupon redemptions by making the customer physically bring the coupon with them. i remember when they used to have this policy (might have been way back in the price club days!) but then started having the coupon books at the register as a convenience to their customers.
                                    to me, this is really silly. seems to me that the coupons are offered as a convenience and courtesy to their customers, who pay for membership. mailing me the coupons, and then requiring me to fetch them to the store with me is inconvenient. so it's more of an annoyance than a benefit. either just give me the discount, or don't, but this system just slows down the check out process, which is the LAST thing i need at costco.
                                    (grumble, grumble...)

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: chez cherie

                                      My Costco requires you to physically present the coupon in order to obtain the discount. But they also keep the coupon at the register for anybody who wants to use it.

                                      1. re: chez cherie

                                        It all seems rather silly when you look at the backs of all of the coupons and find they all have the same code number! I was wondering how they managed to get all my coupon discounts last month before I got a chance to hand the coupons over--they only had to scan one bar code at the register.

                                        1. re: JKLew

                                          At the Bakersfield store we purchased a bunch of items that were list in the book, when we checked out my wife said to the cashier we had the coupons. He scan something on his register and we got all the discounts for the ones we purchased. Seems to vary from store to store.

                                      2. Aside from all the "it would be nice if" comments, the bottom line is that Costco does print the coupons and they do mail them to their members. If we are too lazy or forgetful to bring them with us, it is a very nice accommodation on their part to still give us the discount but if they don't, then we have only ourselves to blame if we fail to bring the coupons. Perhaps we grew accustomed to getting a "courtesy coupon" but after finding out the physical coupon is needed, then that should settle the matter.

                                        13 Replies
                                          1. re: monkuboy

                                            And bear in mind that Costco's margins are tight. They make 2/3 of their profit from subscriptions and the other third comes after they pay their workers a decent wage including the lion's share of health benefits. If they occasionally slip you can always find a manager.

                                            Like any other store, there are some practices you agree with and others you don't. I'm there nearly every week and always get value for my money.

                                            1. re: monkuboy

                                              Then they should mail the coupons to everyone. Lots of people who are members do not receive coupons. There's no rhyme or reason why they do not.

                                              1. re: Unraveled

                                                Maybe it depends on the level of membership. I'm an Executive Member and I get the coupons all the time.

                                                1. re: Unraveled

                                                  I've never heard of "lots" of people not receiving their coupons. Maybe people on the board can chime in about that, but that's the first I've heard. I thought all members got the coupon books.

                                                  1. re: monkuboy

                                                    You have to give them an address to be a member and they mail out the coupon booklets to that address. I signed up online and get reminders of which coupons I got and that they are about to expire. Lots of online-only items also (which are mentioned in the coupons and you don't put in a code, only your Costco membership number). Had a memory foam mattress delivered last year. The FedEx guy said "queen size?" and mentioned that lots of people were getting those delivered.

                                                    1. re: monkuboy

                                                      I frequent another site (fatwallet if you care), and some people do not receive coupons by mail. They've confirmed the address; some are executive; some are not. There seems to be no reason.

                                                      Prior to the address change (I checked with the associate afterwards), I had a regular membership. I just upgraded a few months ago to Executive. I haven't gotten a coupon book since I moved about a year ago.

                                                      1. re: Unraveled

                                                        you have to officially sign up for the coupon books, there used to be a place to do it online, but i cant find it now

                                                        1. re: shoelace

                                                          I never signed up for any of the books, they just began sending them to me. In fact, the latest one came just a few days ago.

                                                          1. re: monkuboy

                                                            I agree, I never signed up for them and get them on a regular basis.

                                                    2. re: Unraveled

                                                      I've been told that if you are the "partner" of the primary member, you *won't* get the coupons. For example, I signed up with my mom; she is the primary so she gets coupons mailed to her house. I don't get coupons. Same thing happened for my brother & sister-in-law.

                                                      The implication is (and has been mentioned in this Costco thread earlier) that the "partners" live at the same address and need only one coupon book per address.

                                                      1. re: NativeCalGal

                                                        We got two copies of the current book -- I'll have to look to see who each was addressed to.

                                                        1. re: Bob W

                                                          We only get one between my wife and me. If you are without coupons, just ask another customer if you can have one from their book that they aren't going to use. All the coupons have the same code on them so it doesn't matter which coupon you give the cashier, it will apply a discount to any applicable item you buy.

                                                  2. I'm sure somebody somewhere is working on this but I would love it if we could get/use coupons electronically (no printing).

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: ceekskat

                                                      That's sounds like a slam-dunk for the suggestion box. Email the coupon book to members, let me click on the ones that I want, assemble them on a "Print Coupons" page, print them out, and hand the page(s) to the clerk at the register. They save postage (poor USPS), we have the coupons on email, the world saves trees, and life for all is just a little better.

                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                        You can take it a step further... click on the coupons you want and they are tagged to your account. When you swipe the membership card at checkout the coupons are used electronically. Kroger grocery stores have a system like this with their loyalty cards, so it's definitely possible.

                                                        1. re: mpjmph

                                                          Great idea - I'm definitely filling out a suggestion card the next time I go - I hope others do as well... Thanks!

                                                              1. re: mpjmph

                                                                It's a great idea, but I'd be surprised if Costco actually has the IT to make this happen. Have you sneaked a peek at the computer monitors when you're at the customer service desk?? The hardware itself is of recent vintage, but they're emulating what looks to be a fairly old mainframe application.