If you get all hot and bothered at the thought of bulk retail shopping at a location that sells pretty much anything and everything, Costco can seem like a pretty magical place.
Want to buy discounted gift cards to your favorite restaurant or movie theater chain for a value that's greater than the cash you put down? Costco's got your back. Want to check out a beach chair as you debate whether or not you should get a container of massive croissants that pack enough calories to fuel a trek through the Afghan mountains? Costco will be there for you too.
But it's not all free samples, ridiculously low cost food court options, and bottom dollar prices on pharmaceuticals at Costco. The chain has purportedly been implementing stringent membership checking policies, leaving relatives and close friends of paying subscribers to the beloved retail chain in some awkward situations at checkout under the watchful eyes of store associates.
Which is something that TikToker and attempted Costco nepo baby Briann Ellington (@briannellington) learned first hand after
Briann records her video from the interior of a car detailing her experience in trying to use her mother's Costco card to shop at the chain. From the onset, it doesn't sound like she had a good time: "Y'all I did not know Costco was that serious. I really didn't."
She continues, "So my mom's in the hospital, right? She gives me the Costco card. I go to the Costco, I get on my shit and I get to the self-checkout. The lady says can I see your card? I give her the card she flips it around and she sees a picture of my mom."
What Briann is about to experience is the long arm of Costco membership law, a phenomenon that has stymied many a shopper who tried purchasing items at the store with someone else's card. "She's like: is she here with you today?"
"I said no, she's in the hospital. She looks at me, she looks at the stuff in my cart she goes: you can't buy that." The TikToker was taken aback by the employee's blunt thwarting of her attempt to buy items using her hospitalized mother's card.
"I can't buy what? Hunh? She calls the supervisor over so I call my mommy and my mommy's not happy about this, she's not being a Karen but like, it's kind of messed up she's in the hospital," the TikToker laments, calling out the store's employees for their lack of sympathy to her mom's health.
"She's in the hospital who else is gonna go to Costco? She can't add me to the account because my grandma's on the other side. Or like on the other, you get it. You get it. And my grandma also can't, she can't drive right now so I have to go!" Briann explains in the video before exclaiming further while pointing to herself, "a 20 year old girl me!"
The TikToker concluded her rant by stating, "So he comes over he's just like come with me. So I got my croissants and I won't be going back," she says, shaking her head.
While there's seemingly no shortage of Costco guests who have slammed the chain for taking its membership card usage very, very seriously, it hasn't seemed to have impacted the chain's bottom line. In fact, the retailer has seen a tremendous surge in more paid members in just 12 months.
Statista reported that in November of 2022, there were around 65.8 million paying, card carrying Costco members. That number jumped to a whopping 71 million a year later, giving millions more access to its exclusive wares, like its massive, delicious, and relatively inexpensive ($5.99-$6.99 depending on the location) pumpkin pies.
There were a ton of other TikTok users who appeared to share in Briann's outrage, with one commenter likening the store's membership crackdown to Netflix's crusade against password sharing.
Rival bulk retail chain, Sam's Club, took the opportunity to engage in some viral PR in response to the uproar caused over her frustrating Costco experience, writing to the TikToker: "Yikes..sounds like you need a Sam’s Club Membership! Send us a DM"
Doesn't seem like a bad move, considering that some have at least partially attributed the surge in new card carrying Costco members to the slew of TikTok content surrounding the everything, everywhere, all at once store.