Squeaky clean AmEx card

As happened to Susan, my American Express/Costco card went AWOL. I’ve been through this enough that I have a theory how it happens:

Unlike WalMart, the “greeter” at Costco’s entrance is primarily there to ensure I’m an actual Costco member. Sometimes they’ll hand me coupons valid for the following week. (“Six thousand tooth brushes for $0.75 each, wow!”) If it’s raining, they might use a rag to wipe down the front of my cart. Once in a while, they’ll even acknowledge my existence with eye contact. But for the most part, they’re disinterested. I don’t even bother saying hello, instead flashing the Costco-logoized portion of my card.

So already, my AmEx card is outside of its normal habitat (my wallet). If I stop to put it back, I’ll be rear-ended by the flow of shoppers behind me. Since I’ll need to whip it out later, the card ends up in my front pocket as I shop.

They request the membership card at checkout. After they scan it, they’ll place it right above their keyboard, just out of reach. When they’re done ringing me up, they’ll ask the rhetorical question, “Do you want to put it on The Card?” (Yes, it sounds like they capitalize the spoken words.) More often than not, they’ll not hand it back to me until I’ve already signed the receipt.

Now here’s where the problem comes in: I have a receipt, my Costco/AmEx card, and twelve metric tons of capitalism in my cart. Costco’s door police want to inspect my receipt and cart’s contents. Given their inconsistency, I assume it’s as a visual deterrent to someone who’d want to haul a 52″ plasma screen television out the door without paying. I stuff my card into my pocket.
Once out the door, I face the same problem as when in: I can stop, and risk back injury from the eager consumer behind me while I attempt to put my credit card back into its happy slot in my wallet. Or, I can head to my car. No contest.

The receipt’s easy to remember because it feels crinkly. However, the card’s small. If I don’t pull it out before I start the car, it will most likely end up in the laundry basket, destined for a three-cycle cruise of my washing machine… except for this morning, when I needed it for something and pawed through the laundry basket.

It’s my working theory.

7 thoughts on “Squeaky clean AmEx card”

  1. I’ve solved that problem by reaching around and snatching my card back as soon as it’s placed above the cash register. I then put it safely back in my wallet. Sometimes the cashier notices me take it, other times not. Either way, it doesn’t matter and no one cares. It’s my card and I can take it if I want to.

  2. Now, that’s some power of suggestion! Crap. My new card is due to arrive a week Friday. I hope Costco understands that their process prevents us from shopping there for this nearly two week period. I guess our business isn’t that important to them. Sigh.

  3. I’m glad I haven’t lost anything yet (but does remind me that my Costco card is expired and badly needs to be renewed). If I had lost something in the last 7 days, I’d blame it on switching from working days to nights (a “true” graveyard shift here in the PacNW) and suffering from a lack of sleep (since I currently get 3-5 hours of sleep per weekday – after getting home around 9am).

  4. Brenda Helverson

    Costco is great for many non-prescription drugs. We buy Kirkland “Advil” there for 8/10 cents a tab – the best I can find at Walgreens is 8 cents. Same thing for “Afrin” nose spray and “Zantac” stomach medicine.

    And unlike Sams Club & WalMart, Costco is blue.

  5. The only good thing about losing the Costco Amex card as opposed to other credit cards is that your photo is on the back…which may deter unauthorized use…or maybe not.

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