I Stole $45 from Costco and I Feel Terrible

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I decided to do something I always thought of as financially irresponsible and sign up for a Costco membership at my local store.  Roughly 10 miles from where I live, I knew that my allegiances to Publix and Winn-Dixie (the two local grocery chains) would prevent me from visiting Costco more than a few times a year and my small apartment would do the same.  As much as I wanted to buy a 600 pack of popsicles during the days of 200% humidity, I just don’t have the room.

After spending about an hour at the membership counter, waiting for my Costco card to be printed so I could visit the warehouse club for the first time, I was asked if I wanted to upgrade my membership to the executive level for just $50 more.  I would receive a 2% cash back check (there’s an oxy-moron for ya) at the end of the year but I politely passed.  I just wanted to get on with the free-samples and aisle browsing as quickly as possible.

So I make my way up and down the aisles with my new Costco card in hand and I’m finding it difficult to pinpoint things I can actually store in my apartment.  I knew I wanted to get a good 10 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast and another 5 or so pounds of extra lean ground beef (you can make thousands of different meals with that stuff) but nothing else really stood out as a bargain.  I’m a buy one get one free nut and these deals were good but not great for me.

After about an hour of browsing, I managed to get 11 items in my cart.  They were:

  • 10 pounds chicken
  • 5 pounds ground beef
  • prepared Caesar salad for lunch
  • 100 oz Lipton tea mix
  • 4 pack Healthy Choice steamers
  • gallon of whole milk
  • gallon of Lactaid free milk (for the Mrs.)
  • 24 pack of Lipton Iced Tea (bottles)
  • 36 pack of pudding cups (none for the Mrs.!)
  • 24 AAA Duracell batteries
  • 25 pack of Philly swirl pops

Now, when I make it to the register, I take pride in knowing to the penny, how much things are going to cost.  With the batteries and salad being my only taxable items (because the salad is prepared), this one was easy.  Rounding up, I’m in for $105.  11 items at this price always seemed ridiculous to me, but considering the size of these items, I’m confident I can make them last the entire month.  I have my proteins, my drinks and desserts and enough vegetables in the salad to last a good 24 hours.  I’m set.

Something I learned right away at Costco is that the cart goes down a different path than you do at the checkout counter.  I guess that’s to make sure you’re not trying to sneak any items?  Not really sure but so be it.  My 11 items are on the belt, slowly making their way to the cashier, who scans them one at a time.  I watched her scan all 11 items and while the Mrs. is getting a box (no more bags for me!) to pack things up, the cashier turns to me and says “$58.92.”

In that split second, I knew something was wrong.  I’ve gotten math problems wrong before but NEVER by this much, and definitely not on something as simple as 11 items.  It was at this very moment I had two choices.  Pay with my debit card as if nothing was wrong, OR alert the cashier that she had made a mistake and she should take a look.  I wasn’t exactly sure which items had been missed but I knew the chicken and beef were prime suspects.  How bout that pun!

Knowing the title of this tale, you know I took the former road and kept my mouth shut.  It was at this very moment that I knew I had done something wrong.  But those that shop at Costco know that my journey to freedom is not over.  You see, warehouse clubs like Costco have someone at the door to check your receipt.  The store is wide open enough were theft is a considerable problem and not only does this Costco have one person at the door but today they had two.

Immediately my mind shifts to strategy mode.  I’ve totally forgotten about the moral dilemma I’ve taken on and am now processing the guarded door I need to pass.  The 30 or so yards I had between us gave me time to watch the employees very closely.  On the right was a young kid, who appeared to be scanning the receipts quickly.  On the left, an elderly woman meticulously taking her time on each and every item in the cart.  Too easy I thought … as my cart slowly drifts to the right.

As I approach the young man, who seems extremely disinterested in his work, I face yet another dilemma, as if my Costco experience isn’t dramatic enough!  The elderly woman is waiving me in because she is free, while I wait for Jeremy (he looked like a Jeremy) to finish up with the person in front of me.  Would it be too suspicious to wait, rather than to casually roll the cart to the left?  I didn’t care.  She would have found the proteins immediately.  I waited and pretended she wasn’t even there.

Thankfully, her persistence wasn’t a strong one and I slickly moved my cart to the front of Jeremy’s line.  I handed over the receipt like I had pulled this scam a 1,000 times.  With his left hand, he grabbed it took a look at it, then looked at my items.  I expected him to go back to the receipt, take his black sharpie, make his mark and watch me as I fly through the Costco parking lot with $45 worth of goods that I knowingly didn’t pay for.  Much to my surprise, his next move was to look me in the eye.  For what reason I do not know but it almost broke me down.  Had he held his eye-to-eye contact a second longer, I would have cracked a guilty smile but he took his marker, drew a line and sent me on my way.  My receipt below shows how a kid that looks like a Jeremy signs his Costco receipts.

I bolted through the parking lot, sat down in the driver side of my car and thought about what I had just done.  I suppose had I not known the cashier made a mistake, this guilt ridden adventure would have never happened.  Damn me for always trying to make mathematics fun.

Some people would never notice this type of mistake and others might figure it out after they arrive home and check their receipt.  In both situations, it’s perfectly reasonable to keep the items and move on with your life.  But what about mine?  The fact that I willingly kept my mouth shut, only to compound the depth of my devious behavior with each passing second leads me to believe that I may as well have taken $45 from the cash register.  Is there really a difference?

So I present this to the readers.  Forgetting it happened to me, would you return to this Costco, go to the customer service counter, inform them you were not charged for $45 worth of items and pay for them right then and there?  Am I crazy to even suggest such a thing?  I mean, people get little breaks in life all of the time and while $45 isn’t a big deal, will my appearance at Costco even be understood?  How many times do you suppose the customer service counter deals with people coming in to pay for stuff from weeks ago?  I probably would spend more than an hour explaining what I’m trying to do.

I’m just looking for a different perspective.

Published or Updated: August 4, 2010

Comments

  1. DR says:

    Follow your heart. And I think it’s leading you back to Costco!

  2. Finance Nerd says:

    Not only would I go back, I have gone back for much less. I can think of one time at Target when we bought 5 things, and we got to the car and realized they only charged us for four. The one they missed was $3.99, as I recall. We walked back in, went to Customer Service, explained what happened and paid the difference.

    They did not act like this was an unusual occurrence in any way.

  3. Ryan says:

    After checking out at Wal-Mart one day I found a small item at that wasn’t rung up. It was a $2 item, and had I not needed it, I would have taken it back, set it on the counter, and went on with my day. Unfortunately, I did need it and had to wait another 20 minutes in line to pay for it. I was grumpy afterward because of the 20 minute wait, but it was the right thing to do. And to think, Wal-Mart probably had a $.15 profit margin on that item.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Yep, you definitely need to go back. I’ve gone back for 39 cents before. I believe that if you keep that $45, you’ll lose a lot more. Karma doesn’t fool around.

  5. Evan says:

    Man, tough one.

    I would have probably brought it up at the register ONLY because I wouldn’t want the cashier to get in trouble. I do the same thing with incorrect change. I give them one chance to get it right and then I am out.

    At this point I wouldn’t go back lol I think it would be weird and I doubt they’d even know how to take your money

  6. Mike says:

    In my opinion it’s not that big a deal. Sometimes life hands you a little break and you shouldn’t feel bad for taking it. It’s not as if you are stealing from the taxpayers by abusing political systems in place. You are obviously hard-working, and when you put it into perspective it’s only pocket change to a huge corporation whom in fact, budgets for this very sort of thing. Enjoy the little breaks when you get them, they are few and far in between.

  7. Michael says:

    Whew

    I was getting nervous that the first four comments suggested I drive back to the store right now. Good to see some different perspectives in here!

  8. Annie Mack says:

    I know it’s easier to take the advice of those who say to keep it, but I’m with the Karma comment. My grown daughter and I have experienced this time and again and we never tempt Karma anymore. I would have brought it up at the register. Karma is 1000% more valuable than cash, either good of bad. The fact that it bothered you enough to write about it should be the answer to your question. It may be a drop in the bucket to a major corporation but it’s a boatload of Karma in your personal account. Good luck if you take the low road.

  9. trevor says:

    Go donate the money you saved to a worthy cause

  10. This is a pretty long article. Motivated by… guilty feelings?

    If you noticed that you have something from the store that you didn’t pay for, I’d say that constitutes theft. The moment you noticed it and didn’t make it right, it becomes theft. You can steal things without the other party noticing, but that doesn’t make it right.

    What if this had happened at your business? I say, pay the difference, and bank the karma. Just my 2c, since you asked.

  11. Andy says:

    Don’t mess with Karma – it’ll bite you back. Give back the $45 dollars (clearly you are feeling guilty and hence this post) and to feel “less” worse about giving up $45 eat more free samples.

    The post was very engrossing! Excellent write up with the facts and emotions mixed in well.

  12. Sarah says:

    I would have spoken up right at the register. Stealing is stealing, whether from a big company like Costco or from your grandma. The cost of your theft gets passed on to all the other Costco members. Of course you don’t think it’s a big deal – just 50 bucks, right? There are thousands of people just like you and it all adds up. I just rss’d your blog a few days ago, but it’s unsubscribed now.

  13. Niki says:

    That happened to me at Costco once, so I went to customer service to pay for the unscanned item. It took 10 min for me to explain the problem so they could get it, and another 20 min for them to figure out how to charge me for the item since it wasn’t on the original receipt. I walked away feeling irritated at the time it took and at the looks I was getting from the reps thinking I was crazy to turn myself in.

  14. carolyn says:

    Think of it this way: if the cashier over-charged you or didn’t give you the correct change, you would go back and attempt to make it right. You should probably do the same in this case, too.

  15. TLi says:

    So sorry: Theft is theft. Costs us all (time AND money AND trust) in the long run.

    My friends who are Nordstrom employees always tell me about the women who return dresses after weddings and proms–use to cost them MILLIONS a year. It’s not renting–it’s theft. Now Nordstrom and other stores don’t let ANYONE (even honest people) return with the tags attached.

  16. PT says:

    Great story, Michael. I never found much use for Costco or Sams before I had an extra mouth to feed. Surprised you went. Although, I do like Sam’s $1.50 hot dog and coke meal. Anyway, I’d say good for you for wanting to do the right thing. Don’t rush back, but put in on your to do list for next month when you return for more pudding.

  17. N says:

    Yup, you stole it.

  18. I’ve been in this spot, and I’ve spoken up because I’ve been afraid of getting caught and embarassed about it.

    That said, I don’t think you did anything wrong, per se, but I’m with everyone else here on the karma bit. I like trevor’s idea to give the money to a non-profit, or PT’s idea to do it but don’t necessarily rush back.

  19. F. D. Bryant III says:

    Yes – you did do something wrong. Simply put you knowingly stole those items. You were in the store, you realized an error had been made and you did nothing to correct it. If this was your child – what would you tell them to do or be doing to them if they knowingly took something from the store without paying.

  20. sarah r says:

    I’d go back. Actually, I would have listened to my gut at that checkout moment and said something. It would eat at me if I didn’t–and from the sound of it, it will eat at you if you don’t return.

  21. Alan says:

    You customer number is on the receipt and Costco will put you on black list ( may be charge you more next time automatically, ha ha ha )

    • Michael says:

      I wish Alan

      But the receipt is missing a few key details of course. With the amount of premeditation this story shows, I would be crazy to post the receipt with full information!

      But perhaps charging me more next time would be the easy way out here.

  22. Mike says:

    Would there be any consequences for the cashier (whose name is on your receipt above) were you to return?

  23. Sam says:

    I am not advocating either way. But here’s how Costco works:

    On merchandise, Costco hardly makes any money. They make very little profit on many of their items. They’ve mitigated this a little bit by selling their Kirkland brand products, but still, overall, they make very little on what they sell.

    Their profits come from membership fees. This is the bulk of what goes to pay for salaries, rents, utilities, benefits, etc. But unlike other big box stores (eg. Target, Walmart), they provide a very decent living wage to their employees along with great benefits despite keeping prices relatively low.

    They also bring added value to your Costco experience to improve your shopping experience, as well as hoping to bring in new customers. This has included the additions of expanded electronics, clothing lines, home/garden sections, Kirkland branded products and probably most popular, Costco Gas.

    Wow, I sound like such a costco homer…. but I love shopping there. I know of small business owners who have “carried off” with hundreds of dollars of stuff, through accidental and purposeful theft. As with most big businesses, Costco is built to absorb this and has posted good profits (with the exception of the hardest points of the recession) over the years. It won’t affect the cashiers, since no transaction crosses the register and there may not be a real impact on bottom line figures since those are perishable items and there is a lot that is thrown out.

    I’m not entirely sure I would do anything different from you. I’ve gone back to pay for 50 cent things and $50 things, but I’ve also knowingly walked away with 20 cent things and $20 things. Does this make me a bad person? I’m no advocate, I’m just saying….

  24. Brad says:

    I can tell your integrity is worth more than $45.

  25. Kristi F says:

    Perhaps you should write a letter or send a link of this blog to your local store to get their input…

  26. sue says:

    My daughter works at a local grocery store and forgot to wring up an item that was .79 cents. The person was honest and went to customer service to let them know about the mistake. My daughter was written up for this and was told that if it happens again she could be fired. So now I think twice about reporting if a cashier overlooked an item. I would not want to be the reason why someone was fired.

  27. Ducheznee says:

    You made the wrong choice. No two ways about it. I have a feeling you already know that. Costco paid for those items, you did not. And now every other Costco customer will have to pay for a tiny portion of your chicken and beef as the company recovers its loss. Now you’ve stolen from me and every other Costco customer. It doesn’t really matter what the amount was, but in this case you have sold your integrity for a paltry $45. That’s not nearly enough to retire with in the Caribbean.

  28. Wil says:

    You’ll never regret going back and making it right. If you went back to Malyery A. at register 4, it may change her attitude toward mankind.

  29. R says:

    I work for Costco as a Supervisor and I do deal with that. Members that come back to let us know that we missed something. If you do come back and pay for let the person at the door know that you have an adjustment and they will send you to the adjustment register where a Supervisor will take care of it. Bring back the stickers with the prices or write down the item number with the money amount since we sell those by weight.

  30. Mark says:

    You will be reminded about it each time you cook up some chicken or beef. And you have 15 lbs total.

  31. Bill McGoey says:

    Oh, Michael. How simple you are. Do you not know that (this is if a manager or supervisor of the store comes across this post) on your receipt, even though you blocked out your membership number, you will still be looked up by the date, time, and transaction I.D. number, which you failed to block out? Sure, like I said, if any store manager or supervisor happens to come across this boasting of theft, Malyery as well as young Jeremy will probably get into trouble with you having gotten away with $45.00 worth of items, but if you are man enough to post what you have, and feel “terrible” about your action, why don’t you man up and do what’s right? It’s only been a few days. Is the economy REALLY this bad, people?

    • Michael says:

      Bill

      The date and time are correct. Transaction and Member ID are not. That said, should someone from Costco at this particular location read this post, then sleuth their way to the bottom of this … well, my guess would be I have a better shot of winning the lottery and being struck by lightning on the same day.

      I’m all for it but I think the best advice offered here is to donate the $45 to a good cause. Perhaps it’s not going where it 100% belongs but I think I’ll consider this moral dilemma closed.

      • Bill McGoey says:

        Wow. That’s some bad luck you just set yourself up with. Gutsy. Anyway, agreed, donating the $45 to a good cause, such as The Children’s Miracle Network, would be something to level out the karma. Good luck.

      • Ducheznee says:

        Coward. I am unsubscribing from your blog because I will not seek financial advice from someone of questionable character. That’s what this is about. Not $45. Not whether or not Costco will miss the money. Not to whom you should donate the money to atone for your misdeed. Not how lucky you are for this “found” money.
        Knowing the truth, you intentionally deceived Costco in order to avoid paying for those goods. That was the point that you crossed the line. You can still make things right, but you are choosing not to do so because you are embarrassed. Your principles are compromised.
        It’s like that old joke…
        Man: “Would you sleep with me for $1 million?”
        Woman: “Yes.”
        Man: “Would you sleep with me for $100?”
        Woman: “What do you think I am?”
        Man: “Madam, we already know what you are. We’re now simply negotiating the price.”
        If the tables were turned, and you went back to Costco seeking $45 that they owed you, how would you feel if they said, “Oh, we donated your money to the Children’s Miracle Network because we couldn’t bear to face you and we couldn’t keep the money in good conscience”?
        If you’re simply trying to generate a healthy debate on your blog, well done. I applaud you. However, if these are your true colors, for shame. May the dishonesty you’ve demonstrated be returned upon you 1,000 times. Coward.

  32. mickey says:

    As a senior manager it is very depressing to see your lack of anonymity towards the cashier and member service employee you embarrassed. I can not immagine how they must feel. The sad part is you knowingly walked out with unpaid merchandise and failed to make it right. To make matters worse we know who you are Every time you shop your card will be flagged (beware of possible theft). At no point will you be approached. Yet, we will be watching you from this point forward no matter which Costco you shop. Thnak you for the heads up XXXXX

  33. Smith says:

    Are you just pissed off that this didn’t happen to you and you didn’t get to save $45?

    In no way shape or form is this theft! THEY are the ones who made a mistake and THEY have to live with it! Once you walk out of that store, no one cares about the items that were missed. And if any of you tell me that you go back to the store if you don’t get charged for $1 items … I call you a big fat liar!!! If I worked at that store and you come back in for something stupid like that… I’d laugh at you.

    You want to tell me that if you find cash on the ground, you start walking around asking people if it belonged to them? There is no such thing is Karma. People like you made it up so that you can feel better about yourself when someone does something bad to you.

    All you people need to calm then because Michael did nothing wrong. He should keep that money and put it into something useful in his life. Cash doesn’t just grow on trees, especially not $50 bills.

  34. anon says:

    I have been in that situation a few times, and I thank them very much when they come back and pay for something that we made the mistake of not charging.
    On a daily basis we receive so many items that members leave out in shopping carts in the parking lot and other members take the time to come back and hand it to us. We keep a log of it, so that when members comeback and ask they can get whatever is they forgot. It can be from school books, wallets, cases of water, paper towel or a bottle of allergy medicine.
    There are good people out there.
    Just imagine if everyone steals something everytime, Costco would have to raise its prices .

  35. Angela says:

    Wow. Being a Costco employee, it pains me to think of the problems that may have caused the cashier. Since they didn’t get you at the door and the cashier missed it as well, he/she probably couldn’t have gotten in trouble for errors…BTW…$45 is substantial. Unfortunately, you left all of the other information. My personal honesty as well as my distaste for your actions may very well lead me to turn in the information and track the sale…hence tracking you in the process. Don’t be surprised if there is a block on your card in the future.
    Oh yeah……
    Nice that you were thoughtful enough for yourself that you whited out your membership number. Too bad you did not have the same decency to white out the cashiers name as well.

  36. sapos says:

    I am surprised that all these coments have so much altruism. Karma, have u ever thought that might be your reward for doing something good in the past dude. Chill out and stop pusshing ur buttons take it walk it off and enjoy it…live for once man…no one gives a hoot if that happened. Honesty is not good as in this case will hurt the store clerk..they might just get fired dude…and the manager just writes it off…someone up the line just made more money from raising the price on ur future products..not because you didnt give the 50 bucks back..cause its other factors..see now that u dwell on it..it will eat u more..it was a gift dude..just dont play that game again cause u can get burned…simple as that…

  37. sapos says:

    lol..that is so funny..i just read what angela had to say…and boy that is so true..see dude now u can be tracked.(now u forced too by ur own weird sense of honesty to fess up and maybe face prosecution by some person that might think ur a thief)…angela u should just do the right thing ur self too…honesty will pay off for you too in this case too u might just get a raise…or promotion…sarcasm..

  38. mrsizer says:

    It blows my mind that anyone would not consider this theft.

    What to do, now, is a legitimate question – especially considering the posts about fired cashiers.

  39. Laura says:

    your cashier and door guy will no doubt lose their job if you go back…I would rather the guilt over the 45 than two people losing thier jobs!

  40. Jesus Cisneros says:

    To me being a Costco member is like being a member of a country club. All the employees know me, and that makes the Costco experience number one. The problem that you will have if you do not do the right thing and return the money, is that you will feel guilt and deceit every time you enter the store. Hope you do the right thing since I have stock in Costco. So I guess you kind of are taking my money. I hope you will reply with your results and let everyone know what you decided to do.

  41. Rhonda says:

    You are all a bunch of tools. Your a tool for stealing the meat, and the rest of you are tools for telling him to return it. Who cares, the government and the banks are stealing tons of money from us everyday. while big shot CEO’s are paying themselves millions and jumping out of the windows in golden parachutes. The mortgage industry stole like sharks in a feeding frenzy from people who were poor and unable to pay loans back. So what, a regular guy at a local Costco seized the opportunity to get a little free meat. Good for you bro, you took one for the team as far as I am concerned. If all of us started acting like our government officials, we would be pushing carts of food and merchandise out of stores and refusing to pay because we DESERVE this food! I stole milk today and I feel GREAT about it.

    • Mark Pennington says:

      Rhonda,
      So I guess you waiting for Utopia before you develop some morals and a conscious? There’s never going to be a perfect just world, so you can justify any action you choose to. Good luck.

  42. Rob says:

    They did this and they did that, so i’m entitled to……We all know what the right thing to do is. Being an adult means having to act like one every now and then. Intergrity is comprimised by the theft of penny, as much as a dollar.

  43. C0WGIRL says:

    You stole product and you knew you were stealing it the minute you realized the cashier forgot to ring up a couple of expensive items. . . Your next admitted actions show your true ‘character’
    (Immediately my mind shifts to strategy mode. I’ve totally forgotten about the moral dilemma I’ve taken on and am now processing the guarded door I need to pass. The 30 or so yards I had between us gave me time to watch the employees very closely. On the right was a young kid, who appeared to be scanning the receipts quickly. On the left, an elderly woman meticulously taking her time on each and every item in the cart. Too easy I thought … as my cart slowly drifts to the right.)

  44. joe says:

    Yes it was theft but you paid $45/year to join so it just negates the membership fee. I’d be OK with it after doing the math that my local costco stores gross one million dollars a day.

  45. Chris says:

    Nope, if you go back, poor Malyery (your cashier) will get a write-up! Costco can afford it, but the cashier can’t! Very well written story though, I’m still laughing!

  46. Tabitha says:

    I do believe in karma but I am not quite sure that karma cares about big business as much as previous posters would like to believe. Cashiers have forgotten to ring up items, and gave me back too much change…sometimes I let them know and some times I have not. I usually do not notice until later though and I would not drive back to the store (after all they are not going to pay me for the $5-$10 I spend on gas to go back to the store nor will they pay me for my time). I find myself in a similar situation right now. My college book store just started something new; students can search for and reserve their text books and pick them up from the school before the semester starts. I went and picked up my books yesterday and the bookstore people let me know that one of my books were sold out and that none of my selections could be purchased used. They handed me three bags (the bags were already bagged…I did not even go in the store, they were located in the front of the school in a bus/van with a school logo) 2 of which had receipts stapled to the bag and all of which had my name written on the bag. I only skimmed through the bags. I did think it was weird that I had 3 bags because I had made 2 seperate orders but I figured they bagged the orders in more bags so the bags wouldn’t break…after all text books are heavy. About 10 hours later I took all of my books out of one bag then after looking at them placed them back in another bag. Then I grabbed the second bag and it was like deja vu…because I was looking at the same three books I had just looked at. I looked in the other bag to make sure I hadn’t picked up the same bag twice, and I had not. They had duplicated my first order. There were only two receipts and my online account only shows two receipts so I am almost certain that I was only charged for one set of the duplicate books. Should I drive back an hour to my school and give these books? I mean they do overcharge for the books. Would I be a bad person if I gave away these books to one of my classmates? I can’t say that I would.

    • Mark Pennington says:

      The next time your at school, return the books. If you don’t, you are stealing. It’s really not that complicated. Keep your life simple…and no, you would not be a bad person, you’d be a thief.

  47. Katie says:

    Costco helped steal the lives of those chickens and cows, so you don’t owe them a dime. Who you owe is those chickens and cows. May God bless the suffering animals, and those who’ve already suffered. That’s my two cents. :)

  48. Ter says:

    i probably would have done the same. but more b/c I have no idea how much I spend until I get the receipt and I would have figured it was my math error. However, i would not have posted the receipt on a website.

  49. You're kidding says:

    Basically, you took something you didn’t pay for…Thanks for letting all of us know that you are selfish

  50. Mark Pennington says:

    Wow, what a joke. Who are you people? This is stealing, end of story, move on.

  51. keepit says:

    Seriously? Dude its costco not some mom and pop shop. Costoc and walmart are killing america. They even sell GMO food there! keep the money and try to get more!

  52. Steve says:

    You should have told the cashier as soon as you realized what was wrong. People like you are what’s wrong with America…everyone out for himself, and screw everyone else as long as you get “yours.” Shame on ya’. At very least, you ought to go back into the store and remedy the mistake by paying what you owe.

    • Michael says:

      Steve

      I am not arguing that I was stupid or that I felt terrible and wrong about the whole situation. The purpose of the post was to take you through my mind a bit and give the readers of this site a little perspective on how everyone makes mistakes, in finance and in life. Please do not misinterpret my actions or my comments, I know the difference between right and wrong, and in this situation, I was WRONG.

      However, let’s not over exaggerate the facts of the case. I made a split second decision initially, and compounded that mistake with another 60 second one. To blanket my poor judgement as “what’s wrong with America” seems ridiculously harsh however. I made a mistake, did my best to rectify the situation, learned from it and moved on.

  53. Steve says:

    And one last thing: it’s not too late to make amends. Make things right. You will feel better for having done so.

  54. costcoemployee09 says:

    Hey Michael, Here’s my perspective of how I see what you’ve done. Your looking for someone just like you to tell you it was okay to keep the $45.00 in food. Shame on you. Okay so the cashier made a mistake. Two wrongs don’t make a right. However, you didn’t make a mistake, you knew exactly what you were doing the second the cashier gave you the total. It’s people like you that disgust me. I am a Costco Cashier and I highly doubt in the warehouse I work in, this would have gone un-noticed…Meat is the first thing we check on the receipt when we see it in the cart. 11 items isn’t going to bury a couple packages of meat of that size. Your not just a thief but stupid. By attaching your receipt gives the date, cashier’s name, your transaction # plus enough info for us to find your sorry little butt. I see you hid most of your membership # but no worries because I’ve printed your receipt and I will take this to management and you will be caught. Costco’s membership prices are increasing effective November 1st of this year because of slime like you. You didn’t just steal from Costco but you stole from ME and that upsets ME. Oh and “Keepit” Dude above…you are slime as well. It’s not Costco or Walmart that is killing America, it’s people like you. I happen to make well over 45K a year just being a FT Costco cashier. I’ve been with Costco for a long time and every 6 months Costco cuts me an extra check (bonus) for $4,000.00 that’s two checks a year. I have excellent benefits and a job I love in addition to 5 weeks paid vacations a year.I also get 4 FREE memberships and 401K that Costco matches at 15% (my choice). Two of those FREE memberships are executive memberships which I receive a 2% check back on everything I spend for the entire year which max’s out at $500.00. I could go on about how fantastic it is to work for Costco but I’m getting a little weepy just bragging about all my great benefits. Michael, please stand by your mailbox or telephone because you will hear from Costco, I’m can guarantee it. Next time you feel the urge to rip off a store, do yourself a favor……don’t attach your receipt~! ta ta for now…….

    • umadbro says:

      lol faggot be trippin’

    • Steven says:

      Fuck your ass stop being a bitch and go suck a dick you pigfucking slut

  55. TheOtherGuy says:

    Don’t listen to the guys that take it too serious. There are few things that are wrong with America, and trust me you are not one of them.
    Sometimes I do bring this to cashiers’ attention, other times I don’t. In both cases I enjoy either good feeling or free money.
    If Costco cares about this kind of mistakes, they should fix their procedures and/or better train their employees.
    However, since this seems to bother you too much, go ahead and return the money.

  56. Me says:

    Don’t listen to the self righteous jerks. You made a mistake as we all have. I’d say return it and tell them you noticed they didn’t charge you. No need to tell them when or make a full confession. But do it especially now cuz that arrogant idiot on here is threatening to turn your receipt over to Costco management.

  57. Franklin says:

    You stole but if you can live with it, then move on with your life. I would have done the same so I can’t judge.

    The carts go down the other side of the aisle for many reasons.
    1. your items should be in the cart by the time you’re done paying.
    2. people usually leave large items that they can’t put on the belt in their cart. It is easier for the cashier to scan.
    3. the line gets backed up prettybad, it helps people move up because when you’re done loading, th ecart goes to the other side of the belt rather than sit by you at the end of the belt.
    4.5..6 a few more reasons.

  58. YourName says:

    Sounds like your conscience is already telling you something. And since when has someone gotten in trouble for doing the right thing.

  59. steve says:

    I think it is a great post and you at least have a lot more insight than most people. Your post is obviously meant to get people to reflect what they would do in the same situation. 90 percent of people would do the same thing but most of those 90 percent would have no conscience about it. How do I know? I work loss prevention at Costco. And btw if I wanted to(and I don’t really want to) I could get your membership number by using the numbers at the bottom of the receipt. I think you have opened up a good dialog.

  60. George says:

    You are what is wrong with people today. It is one thing to make an honest mistake, it is another to take advantage of a situation, where a store generates a loss based on an intentional decision that you made. I have had this happen to me in the past, and when it did, I corrected the situation on the spot. One time when my wife and I were shopping at Lowe’s, I had put 3 small items in the small basket in the cart, then she had put her purse in it as we shopped. When I emptied the basket at the check out, her purse was still there. It was not until we got to the car and she removed her purse that we noticed the items there. We both IMMEDIATELY went back into the store, explained what had happened to the cashier that we had used and paid for the items. She expressed her gratitude, we said for the 3rd or 4th time that we were sorry and all of us learned a lesson that day. If you shop at COSTCO you shop there for the lower prices. Doing what you do just drives the prices up. You are nothing more than a thief. Pure and simple, a thief. You stole items because you knew that you were not being charged for them. You need to fess up, go to the store, pay the difference, then blog about how you made it right. If you are a man, that is. But I doubt that you will do that, it takes integrity and you seem to be seriously lacking in that department.

  61. Danny says:

    I wouldn’t call you the scum of the earth, but what you did was undeniably wrong. Most people (myself unfortunately included) steal quite a bit nowadays, we just don’t think of it that way.

    Downloading music, movies, software and games without paying for them are obvious ways people steal in modern days, but what about goofing off at work when you’re paid by the hour? How is that not stealing your wage, taking money for work you didn’t do?

    Beyond just the morals of thievery, people have far worse moral problems today anyway. Anyone here who calls you “evil” and threatens to turn you in are (I would say) guilty of moral pride. People verbally abuse family members, show no mercy to those less fortunate themselves, and ignore the problems of the world like they aren’t there. If you make more than you need to live a decent lifestyle and don’t give to charity, I consider you immoral you greedy hoarder.

    I’m guilty of all of these (and a lot more), so I try not to judge.

    So go give back the $45 if it’ll make you feel better. Or not, I doubt it will weigh too heavily on your soul in whatever afterlife you do or don’t believe in.

  62. Anferny says:

    You should have deleted your transaction date and time, perhaps even your checkout lane number. As for the thievery, I’m embarrassed for you and your family.

  63. Ryan says:

    You would think with making over 40k a year, not counting bonuses, just to check at a Costco you wouldn’t miss something as large as several pounds of beef and poultry :/

  64. Dave says:

    At an abstract level, since Costco chooses to check receipts, etc, at the door, that tells me they’re assuming the risk of a checkout mistake. Or in other words, if a store wants to base the customer relationship on a theory that the customer is trying to cheat them, then if they make a mistake and give the customer something for free, it’s their problem.

    On a more practical level, if I knew the checker had screwed up in so obvious a way (ie, 9 items instead of 11, as opposed to 49 items instead of 51) I would probably alert them just because I wouldn’t want to deal with the door checker and even the implicit accusation that I was trying to steal. But that’s just me.

    Note that a Costco error it has happened to me – once, that I know of. Back when it was Price Club, before it merged with Costco, almost 20 years ago – I was buying for a large holiday party, and had one of those flatbed carts, and rather than unload the 20 or so bottles of liquor, plus beer and wine, I left them, in their cardboard boxes, on the flatbed. There were two checkers, and they were gabbing with each other, and they scanned all the stuff on the register – food, paper products etc – everything for a party for 60+ people. It came to, oh, something like $400, which I didn’t think much of at the time. But a few days later, when putting the receipt into a Quicken-like program (yes, I’m OCD), I realized they’d forgotten to scan ANY of the alcohol – I guess they were too busy with their conversation.

  65. Steve says:

    Way off topic but, think about how much taxpayer money was stolen with top banker executives pocketing bonuses in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s 10,000,000 or 100,000,000 dollars. I wonder whether these people who are so personally offended and so outraged by this article raised an eyebrow over something unfathomably worse.

  66. Steve says:

    Way off topic but, think about how much taxpayer money was stolen with top banker executives pocketing bonuses in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s 10,000,000 or 100,000,000 dollars. I wonder whether these people who are so personally offended and so outraged by this article raised an eyebrow over something unfathomably worse.

  67. NYC Costco Member says:

    I had one cashier miss a cooked chicken once. $5. They caught it right away even with 20+ items. Another time, this cashier rang up batteries 3 times instead of 1. I was in a hurry, kids crying, hands full and they let me go out the door. I went back later that day by myself, and guess what? Sorry! We won’t check the video. You’re a liar. Can’t wait til BJs opens up. Brooklyn Costco is the most delinquent box store. I’ll take Sam’s Club or BJ’s anyday.

  68. Mia says:

    Interesting story. I think, you took the proper action by going back and correcting the mistake. Why do I say this? In fact that you posted a fully detailed receipt. Which leads me to believe the “blog” was written as a test in order to analyze the kind of responses the blog would generate. Anyway, I do not believe you are the type of individual that would intentionally set out to ruin someone’s employment record by posting a fully detailed receipt.

  69. TC the Great says:

    Well I worked the door at Costco for two years checking receipts and I can tell you
    90% of the people (old/handicapped/injured) don’t check every item in your basket especially if it’s busy and there’s a line backed up to get out.
    Not going to lie sometimes I just pretended to look and blindly checked off the receipt with my sharpie lol Is it right? probably not but it is what it is. I did draw smiley faces for the kiddies though. :)

  70. Kevin A. says:

    Your parents should have explained how to handle these situations when you were about 5. Your actions that day say as much about them as they do about you.

  71. Aaron says:

    I think it shows the kind of person you are with the choice you made

  72. Miss Me says:

    Because of the fact that they separate you from your cart and items the bagger girl failed to place a $17 item in my cart. Once I got home and realized it happened I called only to be put on hold and forgotten about. Once the idiot realized the light on the phone was flashing he answered as he would a new call. I said “I was on hold to see if the item I paid for was turned in.” The guy said “Oh yeah….uh….nobody turned one in.” I didn’t believe he checked so I drove back with my receipt only to have to deal with the same asshole

    • Miss Me says:

      So mad I accidentally hit send. To continue. …The jerk basically said that because it was not turned in that i was out $17! Which means the person behind me got a freebie or the cashier kept it. I hope you kept the money! They have probably cost thousands of people money the same way they just did to me which is probably why karma tipped the scale in your favor due to them ripping off customers who spend $300 a week over a $17 item! They deserve it!

  73. no says:

    It is better to just pay up than living with the guilt all your life.

  74. joe says:

    Funny this is karma works only if you believe in it.

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