If you ever shop at Costco, then you may have noticed that they require you to show your receipt on your way out of the store to an associate who checks it however thoroughly. Often, they don’t even really look at your cart except for a couple of glances, and they seem to only briefly check through your extra long receipt, so what’s the point of them checking these two things at all?
If you’re thinking that these associates are checking your cart and receipt for any instance of possible theft, you’re wrong! But then, what are they looking for? (1, 2)
Why Do Costco Employees Double-Check Your Receipt?
Shopping at Costco is entirely unique from shopping at most other stores. Not only do you need a membership in order to step through its massive doors, but the store is absolutely enormous and requires that you pay with plastic (either a credit or a debit card). The average Costco is about 144,500 square feet, which is roughly the size of a New York City block. They also often offer free samples of foods, as well as huge supplies of groceries, home supplies, furniture, and more.
On top of all these random accessories, Costco also has receipt checkers. Anyone who has ever visited their friendly neighborhood Costco has noticed that there are employees standing guard over the exits, waiting to look over your receipt before you leave the store. They’re actually doing this for two helpful reasons! (1, 2, 3, 4)
On the company website, Costco notes that it is “standard practice” for them to check each and every customer’s receipt before they leave the store. The primary job of these receipt checkers is not to check your cart for stolen items but rather to catch any cashier errors. They’re looking for two things: inventory control (making sure all items in your cart have been correctly scanned) and overcharged items (making sure you weren’t charged an incorrect amount for your items).
Think about it: practically all shoplifters are caught before getting to the exit of the store; however, plenty of cashiers make mistakes and the only person to catch these mistakes is the receipt checker at the door. This is meant to improve the overall Costco experience for customers and also cut down on store error. (1, 2, 5)
Costco Employees Tell All
Receipt checkers are specifically trained to catch any cashier overcharges or double scans that could cost you more money. If any errors are identified, then the information will be carefully stored and that cashier will be spoken to about their error in order to correct it for future purchases. The receipt checkers aren’t looking for theft and haven’t been trained in this way since there are other loss prevention workers throughout the store looking for shoplifters; cashiers are also supposed to keep an eye out for theft and shoplifting as well. (1, 2)
A former Costco employee once explained that it is far more common for a receipt checker to find receipt errors than an attempted shoplift. According to this employee,
“Surprisingly, in my 12 years working at Costco, the receipt checkers prevented theft at the door by checking a receipt a grand total of zero times. They did, however, discover a discrepancy on a receipt about two times an hour. Either an overcharge (customer paid for one item twice) or an undercharge (customer didn’t pay for an item).”
David, a different Costco employee, admitted to having a very similar experience. He noted that the Costco receipt policy is “really not just to stop people from stealing. I hardly ever saw people that had items that had not been paid for. Literally maybe once or twice in a month of working the door. We would catch hundreds of dollars a week in overcharges, though.” (1, 2)
So, next time you’re leaving Costco and the receipt checker wants to see your receipt, don’t be offended when they glance over your cart or make highlighter marks on your receipt. They’re simply ensuring that you have everything you paid for and won’t have an inaccurate, nasty shopping experience.