A personal finance content creator and influencer claims his mother was banned from a Costco Wholesale location due to stores cracking down on non-member shoppers.
Angelo Castillo of San Mateo, California, who is the founder of personal finance coaching service Profit Plug, created a TikTok video about how his mother was allegedly banned.
In the 42-second clip, Castillo explained that his father has the $60 Gold Star membership, which is Costco’s lowest membership tier, and allows for a total of two authorized users per membership card.
“When I went to college, my dad made me a user instead of my mom,” he said in his video, which has been viewed three million times.
Castillo said her mother was able to shop at Costco with no problem for years. But about two months ago, according to Castillo, when she scanned the card at the self-checkout, “employees rushed” to ask for her identification.
“After confirming it wasn’t her card, she was then told she could never go back to that place again,” she said in her TikTok video.
In an emailed statement to FOX Business, a Costco Wholesale spokesperson said, “Costco is able to keep our prices as low as possible because our membership fees help offset our operating expenses, which makes our membership structure and fee important to us.”
“Costco’s membership policy has not changed. We have always requested membership cards in our records at checkout,” the statement continued.
“Our membership policy states that our membership cards are non-transferable, and since we expanded our self-checkout, we’ve noticed that non-member shoppers have been using membership cards that don’t belong to them,” the statement continued.
Costco’s statement says the company doesn’t think it’s fair that non-members receive the same benefits and prices as members who pay an annual fee to receive shopping benefits.
“Since we already requested the membership card at checkout, we are now requesting to see your membership card with your photo in our self-service records,” the Costco spokesperson explained. “If your membership card doesn’t have a photo, then we ask for a photo ID.”
TikTok commenters were split on the issue, with some thinking Costco should make it easy to add authorized users to a card, even for an extra fee, while others said the wholesaler should extend memberships to an entire household.
Some TikTok commenters said they have successfully ordered Costco without a membership via Instacart, albeit with marked-up prices.
Castillo told FOX Business that he and his family aren’t mad at Costco for enforcing its policy, but he thinks the retailer could do more to clarify its membership terms.
He has not revealed the exact location from which his mother was allegedly banned.
“My husband travels frequently for business and we typically only need a Costco run once a month for all of our household essentials, groceries and toiletries,” said Castillo’s mother, who requested that withheld his name, in a statement provided to FOX Business.
“We should be able to share this membership as we both benefit from these products and share bills,” he added. “Sixty dollars a year is not much, but it will last a lifetime.”
Castillo told FOX Business that Costco did not try to contact him after his video went viral, and never expected the wholesaler to.
“I mean, after all, technically we were wrong,” he said. “They always had this policy; they are actually enforcing it now. And it’s not like she was banned on the spot the first time.”
“My mom got a warning earlier, which I guess she forgot about,” Castillo added. “We don’t feel entitled at all or animosity towards Costco, we love Costco.”
On Costco’s FAQ webpage titled “What’s the difference between each membership type?”, it states that every Costco membership “includes a free home card.”
Another FAQ web page specifies that Gold Star (which Castillo’s father allegedly has) and Executive memberships allow a maximum of two users.
It involves gaining access to a Costco store card, which is a members-only item that ostensibly works in the same way as a gift card.
The card reportedly provides input and output at Costco Wholesale locations whether you are a member or not.
Despite the apparent loopholes, Costco policy still states that non-members may not purchase products at any Costco location.