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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.

Author Bio

Total Articles: 182
After amassing more than $255,000 in debt on a math degree from the University of Miami, Michael now enjoys spending time at home and writing about personal finance.

Article comments

DR says:

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

Paul says:

Go back to Costco, it is the right thing to do and give yourself closure.

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.

Marie says:

Did you finally make things right? Are you still a member?

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.

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.

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

Connie says:

I definitely would have brought it up at the register because the clerk probably got in trouble. She may even have had to pay the $45 depending on Costco’s policy. Same with Jeremy. Your $45 might even have cost two people their job.

Jesus A Martinez says:

Nah. They didnt get in trouble let alone lose their job.

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.

Marie says:

A small break??? Not when you take advantage of others, whether it’s a big store or a mom-and-pop. I hope you shop where they mark things up a hefty percentage.

jchastn says:

You are stealing from a company that has very small profit margins and is one of the very few companies in retail that pays its employees a living wage. Hope you are proud of that.

Lili says:

“Small profit margin”? I see you fall for the gimmicks like most. Costco has a HUGE profit margin, making some items cheaper and others not, it’s all in the volume and strategic placement of items to get a customer to over spend there over and over again. You really think they place the items by chance? They underhanded take advantage of their “cheaper in bulk” reputation. After overspending for years, I started doing the math and seeing how they took advantage of me…Wake up and wise up! I would not feel a bit guilty at all! I hope you get many more opportunities!

Vvv says:

It’s 2%.

Nate says:

I hope the commenter above me realizes that this 2% figure is likely calculated *after* things like overhead, employee wages, and the “shrink” that this post addresses. Pretty healthy profit if you ask me.

Carrie says:

Because this company tries so hard to do right by both its members and employees, I would hope that approach would also be taken by the members and employees when dealing with the company. It’s also a good way to live your life no matter what the situation. “Ask yourself, what’s the right thing to do?”

Carrie F says:

Because this company tries so hard to do right by both its members and employees, I would hope that approach would also be taken by the members and employees when dealing with the company. It’s also a good way to live your life no matter what the situation. “Ask yourself, what’s the right thing to do?”

Big Lew says:

I hope you are not raising any children! This is one of the greatest stores in this country and they treat their customers with respect, something you know nothing about. Honesty too.

Michael says:


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!

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.

trevor says:

Go donate the money you saved to a worthy cause

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

N says:

Yup, you stole it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mike says:

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

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….

Brad says:

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

Kristi F says:

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mark says:

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

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:


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.

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

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.

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 .

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.

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…

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..

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.

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!

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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!

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.

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. 🙂

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.

You're kidding says:

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

Mark Pennington says:

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

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!

Betsy says:

Costco happens to be a worker owned co-op. It’s not a mom and pop shop or little organic farm stand, by any stretch, but they pay decent wages and provide decent benefits. Yes, it’s a huge chain, but it actually is a fairly decent one, as far as worker rights and corporate policies. We all do business with chains at least sometimes (gas station, lumber store, office supply, computer store, grocery, to name a few . . . ). The ethical choices we make are our own.

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:


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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

YourName says:

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 :/

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 🙂

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.

Aaron says:

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

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!

no says:

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

joe says:

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

Naomi says:

Do the right thing. You know what it is.

eric says:

Don’t worry about taking back the money. It happened to you for a reason. And screw all these goodie too shoes that are telling you to return it. They are probably hi pictures nanny ways.I wish I found their wallets I’d take the money out , take a poop in it and than return it to them. There you all go you damn piers…..

AJ says:

In high school the kids would steal from the corner store near the school. Once I did also. I trembled in my boots for about two weeks afraid that I would get caught. As an adult with five kids I walked into a place and saw about $30 on the the ground. I put my foot on it and slid it out of view just past where people could see me and picked it up. I figured that if I asked who dropped money anyone could say “I did” so I use it for lunch money. I am hardly a thief but I also am not nearly “good” enough to condemn anyone else. The fact that you realized your mistake is commendable and I salute you for whatever you choose to do. Next time you will probably correct the cashier before it goes that far. It’s true that the cashiers are under close scrutiny but that’s also good incentive for getting training and a better job so two sides to every coin.

eh says:

Yea as someone who knows someone who worked at bjs, they WILL fire the involved pastors if it gets found out at any point in the process. My family member was written up for this when a good Samaritan decided to make things right at customer service.

Derek says:

I find the Karma argument completely ridiculous as it depends on your perspective. For example; People can say that it’s bad karma to keep the $45 dollars, but you could also consider it as receiving your own good karma.

SMM says:

I do work for Costco. There’s a lot I’d like to say…

First, your cashier made a mistake. Second, you compounded the mistake not speaking up. You pay a membership to belong to a wholesale club. You have to show the card to enter. The club is yours. You are a member. Its a participatory role.

Second, you should have instantly spoken up. I was at another retailer and questioned when a $27.99 item rang up at $20.99. I questioned the cashier and there was a $7.00 coupon taken automatically at the register. I always ask the cashier and read the receipt.

The reason Costco has auditors at the doors is because in order to keep costs down RFID chips (placed on individual items) in most retail stores signal when they have not been paid for on exiting (the alarms signal). Its not practical in a warehouse operation to have such security devices. So the auditor at the door has a difficult job to perform. 1. They have usually people in a rush to leave. 2. They try to count the number of items in the cart and match them to the number of items on the receipt. If the cashier had mistakenly double scanned an item and you paid for it the auditor hopefully catches the error and sends you back to a special register for a refund. I can’t tell you how many times a day we catch these errors and make sure the member gets their money returned.

But yes, Cashiers, the scanners, even the hand wands sometimes misfire or do not read scans correctly and adjustments should be made. In Costco for HONEST members this is an easy process. That same special register can ring up the item and you can pay quickly. Or, you have the option of leaving the item behind and have it returned to stock.

The problem is that there is deception on the part of some members and they figure ‘your mistake is my gain.’ It is and it isn’t. Generally missed merchandise (and theft) are incorporated into prices of stores. Someone has to pay for it. Stores do not stay in business long if merchandise passes out unpaid.

The Cashier gets a write up. The audit form at the door takes down the date, cashier #, cashier name, register ring # and item missed number. That is the job of the employee at the door. If they miss audits (verified twice a year of inventories) there are consequences for the employees of a store. It affects the bottom line which is razor sharp on many levels.

The most common items missed at the register is BOB, Bottom of the Basket, Paper items (paper towels, toilet paper, Kleenex, and Napkins), Water (Bottled Water) and other heavier items. That is why an auditor may look a the receipt for the BOB or if the cashier does not do so properly the auditor may count and/or link items on the bottom to the receipt. I’ve found Rugs, Electronic Keyboards, and other higher ticketed items sometimes missed in the scan.

But there are several factors that make those jobs impossible: 1. Volume of shoppers. Much more possible to catch an audit in a slower day or night part than busy. Some times management may say “get these lines moving – swipe and move on.” That means not auditing and just getting the lines out. Not a call of the employee but of a manager and senior manager at that.

2. Attitude of the member. Most people are honest, cooperative and appreciate the company. Some are not. Some are trying to get away with something. Others are angry or glued to cell phones. In some cases there is racism while with others they think its an infringement on their civil rights to be audited. Truth is its part of the contract you sign when you become a member. Simple things such as showing your card for admittance and receipt to audit exiting is part of that contract.

Moreover, most Costco shoppers appreciate the system, the rules, and the process. They would not want to be cheated if the cashier made a mistake or to cheat the company if that mistake was in their favor (as per your example). Just the other day an older worker caught 5 meat items that did not ring up. That cost was about $100.00. The member was surprised but assisted personally to ring up the purchase quickly so she could get on her way. Similarly with another customer for whom the bar code triggered twice. $50 for stamps (rung up twice). Clarifying she had one package of stamps she was relieved to have the overpayment credited to her card.

It can work differently. Prices could go up, RFID chips could be in every product and alarms could signal either at the register or the door when an item is not paid. And then lets not forget about the criminals that stake out the stores. Shoplifters come in several categories: The pros, the amateurs and the ‘what the heck were you thinking,’ range where the member has the money, the profession or trade but for fun or whatever steals something – like smoked salmon in a purse. Or hides DVDs or software under their baby in a carrier. Then there are the hard criminals who with a hammer smashes the high end Jewlery case and in 10 second take what they want and run out the doors.

As for as the kids sent to the doors – to cover an employees break, lunch or training – or they themselves are in training, make no mistake: You are stealing if you knowingly have merchandise that is not paid for and you want to take it out. The auditors are not policemen, not mind readers and are not looking into the faces of members. They are paid to audit and verify that what is on the receipt is in the cart and vise-versa. Nobody in our department assumes one is a thief or shoplifter, we assume a cashier or a register has made a mistake. If not bullied, spoken rudely to, harassed, rushed or run over by the person driving the cart, we’ll make the catch, get your ticket adjusted and you on your way. Chances are we are attempting to save you from an over charge. And we try to end your experience on a pleasant conversational tone of appreciation you chose to shop with the store.

Does not always work out that way. And its sometimes an impossible job to do with a flatbed or five full of merchandise, the lines long and the tempers short. But we do the best we can with the members participation. In the long run you cheat not the store but yourself if you are a member by getting away with something you did not pay for. It will cost you at some point just as it costs us.

Neil says:

I don’t know if I am hijacking this old post, this had actually happened to me today. I went to a BP gas station and filled $76 worth of fuel. Gas Station attendant asked me to pay $25. I haven’t said any thing and paid $25 and walked out. I knew at that point she was charging me less, but I kept quiet.

The attendant realized while billing the next customer that she made a mistake. By that time I was in my car. She came running out furiously said I had filled $76 worth of gas.

I said to her I haven’t noticed the bill, I knew I was lying at that point. Went back and paid the bill. If she hadn’t realized that I paid less, I would have driven out without paying the full amount.

Now I feel guilty and feel ashamed of myself why I have like that. Can anyone suggest me what I can do to get rid of this guilt? I know in future I will not do this again.

Betsy says:

It’s healthy to feel ashamed when you violate your own ethics, like by not being fully honest. You have to live with yourself, whether you “get away with” something or not. Our conscience is a great reminder! You learned a lot that day — like, that feeling shame isn’t worth $50, and you won’t do something like that again.

That’s how you’ll stop feeling bad about it: you learned and you won’t do it again. And if you see someone else doing something dishonest, you might feel some compassion for them (“yep, been there, done that!”) and maybe try to kindly nudge them in the right direction.

MIrko_73 says:

You could have cost the cashier her job, depending on what amount lost Costco dictates as cause for immediate termination.

Michelle says:

I, as a retail worker of 6 years, think that is just good karma if you think about it. I go to grocery stores all the time and they overcharge me (those weighted veggies and fruits). I think of going back to reclaim my extra dollar charged, but I just don’t wanna deal with it. So I tell myself all those times I don’t reclaim those extra dollars, those random nice deeds, and the times I deal with a-hole customers.. It’s just my lucky break. [[by the way I did forget to charge a person an item and they came back to inform me. I did think it was weird, but I did tell her she was a good person]]

iris says:

I don’t agree with this. that extra 45 you stole was someone’s overtime pay, or extra hour pay in general. and the fact that you kept your mouth shut, goes to show what kind of person you are for stealing money from the system. And the stupid kid who let the receipt go is another moron, he should have known better instead of letting it go. If I was a manager at that location he would of been terminated. Did your mother teach you to be unethical and a thief? What’s the point of making it public ? attention ? You clearly have learned nothing.

toktomi says:

Dishonesty and Stealing are TWO distinct and different behaviors.

Dishonesty is synonymous with lying which is to misrepresent one’s beliefs. Had you asserted at some point that you were not stealing that would have been dishonest.

Stealing is taking without permission something that is, by some social measure or assertion, the possession of some other person. There is no dishonesty involved unless a lie is told in connection with the theft. Stealing, by most measures, carries some costs or disadvantages for the society, but humanity, by the language and by the cognitive perception that is established through the language, needs the clarity that comes from understanding that dishonesty is simply about expressing beliefs not as they are felt and that stealing is a completely different set of behaviors, just as speeding in a car, spitting in someone’s soup, and mooning the mayor are different and not dishonest behaviors.

Regardless of what the masses may proclaim, there is no inherent wrong in any behavior. Universal, blanket morality or immorality is an illusion perpetuated by those who strive or otherwise have an interest in affecting or controlling the behavior of others. Each person’s internal morality is the sole force that must be confronted in establishing what is right or wrong. Additionally, internally determined notions of right and wrong should not be confused with what has been established by the society at large as legal and illegal.

So, the theft of Costco items was neither dishonest nor intrinsically wrong.
But somewhere, someone or something pays for everything. It is difficult to imagine anything as free.
How does that fit with you?

Of course, these are only my opinions. Let me not be an accessory to the perpetuation of the illusions of truth.

Betsy says:

How will you feel about yourself next time you go to Costco? Ultimately doing the right thing is about how we are able to hold our head high, look people in the eye, and feel okay about ourselves even if we’re lying awake late at night. My guess is the charity idea won’t really quite get you there. Whether Costco is a big box or a small biz isn’t really the issue — it’s how do you feel about yourself, do you feel you are keeping your slate clean?

Chances are, if you took your receipt to the customer service desk and explained what happened — a month or 5 years later — they would thank you for coming clean and tell you not to worry about it. But you can’t do that for them, and nor can anybody replying to your post.

Btw, Costco actually is a large worker-owned co-op. Employees are paid considerably better than Walmart and have decent benefits. It’s far from being a mom-and-pop “local” business, but if you’re shopping at any chains (which most of us do at least now and then), Costco is one of the better ones to do business with.

David Springs says:

GROUCHO (to woman seated next to him at an elegant dinner party): Would you sleep with me for ten million dollars?

WOMAN (giggles and responds): Oh, Groucho, of course I would.

GROUCHO; How about doing it for fifteen dollars?

WOMAN (indignant): Why, what do you think I am?

GROUCHO: That’s already been established. Now we’re just haggling about the price.

I trust that you are not so obtuse as to miss the point.

Trixie says:

I know that this post is several years old, but I see that it struck a nerve with people, and they’re still commenting on it. What you did was completely wrong, and yeah.. it was theft. As soon as you started thinking of a strategy to get away with it, the incident became more than a “mistake.” Some folks are saying “oh, it was a mistake” but it wasn’t. The mistake was made by the cashier, but you have an obligation to make sure that it was right.

I was at Kohl’s the other night and bought a tie for my husband. The $40.00 tie rang up at $4.00. Before I paid, I asked the cashier to check it again, because it was obviously not $4.00. She checked again, and it turns out it was on clearance, but not marked yet. She said it was amazing that I pointed the price difference out, as not everyone would do that. They’d think “ooh, mistake in my favor! and hurry out of the store.” I am one of those people that hands back change if it’s given by mistake.

I’m surprised that you needed to ask others what they thought of what happened. You had to try and decieve employees to get away with it… that tells you everything you need to know. Scares me that people are defending it, though. I’m also pretty disappointed with people now who use the “mistake” excuse for people’s actions, or they attack others by saying “oh, I guess you’re SO perfect that you can judge them.” Neither is right.

Michael Becker says:

I now this writing is years later. My experience with COSTCO on honesty goes quite far. After checking out I parked my cart near the optical department for 30 seconds to get a number for waiting in line. I waited with my cart, went back to the counter for a 1 minute transaction, retrieved my cart and checked out thru the doors. After getting back to my car I started unloading and noticed that two usb memory sticks I had purchased were not there. I went back to the exit, went to customer service, explained what happened, a supervisor called over and within 3 minutes the 2 items were replaced by COSTCO. Thats integrity and superb customer service.

2. Gasoline. When the wholesale price of gas changes so does the price at COSTCO. It drops by 10 cents a gallon, so does it at COSTCO. All the other brands keep them up for up to a month and gradually reduce them. ie in the Los Angeles Area right now, Shell, Chevron, Arco and independents are at $2.89 – $3.09 for regular. COSTCO is at $2.59. Arco eventually drop, but not for a few weeks. That’s COSTCO integrity.

3. You dont have your receipt for an item you purchased at COSTCO and need to return or it broe and need a replacement, they will look it up for you and BAM in your hands the CREDIT or CASH.

the $1.50 cent hot dog and soda.

SO hope it helps.

TC says:

I think you should go back and pay for the items that you took. I have gone to pay for my meal and looked over the receipt and flagged my waiter(ess) down to tell him/her that he/she left a soda off of my check.
On the other hand, I’ve also been to a restaurant and didn’t know that gratuity was included because the waitress/owner didn’t tell us and knowingly let us tip and took the extra tip without telling us that like $8 had been added on to our $20 meal and we tipped an additional $7. That’s just wrong and I think that’s theft.
Just as you knowingly took those items out of the store and didn’t pay for them, you stole.
It’s up to you to do what you think is right, but I think you will be tracked down because all of the other information you left on that receipt and certain portions of your member id # are on there and a simple search will find you.

Rthm says:

Honestly, as a member, you didn’t just steal from Costco, you stole form yourself AND other members. Costco’s profit margin is only up to 14% on most items and 15% on the Kirkland brand. You also stole from the cashier who could be reprimanded and disciplined for the mistake. Your “good fortune” could potentially lead to major problems for all of the staff members that were involved that day. Costco has a motto “ALWAYS do the right thing” perhaps you should…

Ben says:

Would have done the same thing as you and would have been proud of it. Would have also hoped it happened again too:)

Mick G says:

Even though 6 years have passed I wouldn’t worry about it. Costco makes a NET profit of 2.4 BILLION dollars a year. Do you honestly think that anybody at Costco corporate actually cares about $45? Lets put all these people who act like you stole from the church collection plate in order. Costco cares about one thing and one thing only: PROFIT. They have supposedly killed a whole bunch of dogs selling their Kirkland brand of dog food. Did I have a dog die? No. Did I have Vet bills? No. Do I know of people who SWEAR that their dogs died or almost died from Kirkland (Diamond) food? Yes. Did my dog get sick after eating that garbage? Yes. Are there people in line at the CS desk returning dog food all the time? Yes. Does Costco vehemently deny that their food had nothing to do with hundreds (Google it) of sick or dead dogs? Yes. Did Costco shortchange me at the check out and then give me a huge runaround over $30? Yes. Do they constantly change their policies so that you get the runaround? Yes. When they got their Nitrogen tire machine did they insist that it was so much better then plain air and fill all my tires with Nitrogen? Yes. A year later did I get a flat that was fixed elsewhere did they refuse to fill the tire with Nitrogen because it was a Sunday night when it was flat and at 6AM I had the tire place at the end of my block fix the flat? Yes. Did I have to go somewhere else to PAY $15 to have that tire filled with Nitrogen? Yes.
If you still feel guilty after 6 years give the money to charity. That way you can feel that you did “steal” from a corporation that if you died in their parking lot would likely have the people doing carts move your body to the parkway so they wouldn’t have to deal with it.
What’s in that $1.50 hotdog?
I love the people who are like go in there and explain what you did. You know what’s going to happen? Someone at the Costco CS desk is going to pocket that $45.
Welcome to the REAL world people, Karma really?

Jessica says:

Great comment! Everyone needs to give the poor guy a break! Love this!

Nasir says:

Its simply your own personal ethics. No matter who says what, you stand in front of the mirror and look into your eyes and ask yourself if you are honest. Always choose the right path. Not only you will feel proud of yourself, God will reward you in this world and the hereafter not only in terms of finances, but in health and save you from disasters.
Thirty six years ago when I was a bachelor in Montreal, my partying expenses were well above my lowly salary. The bank cashier gave me double the amount of my paycheck. For a split-second, I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend this extra money with friends this Saturday night. But on second thoughts I made her realize what she had done.
Its irrelevant how much Costco makes. If you know there is a mistake, you should try to correct it.

andrew says:

For largeish(~>$20) amounts of money, returning it is a good idea. I would understand if somebody didn’t, however. The comments I’m seeing about waiting in line to return a $2 item however are absurd. One comment about returning $0.39! Fucking cents??? Really? It’s barely even worth the clerk’s time at that point.

I got a check in the mail once for a few cents from a class action suit; I didn’t want that stupid check.

Also, for somebody not ringing up an item I’d be slightly less concerned than if a cashier accidentally gave you too much change. The cashier will probably have to pay the difference out of pocket; probably not the case with the goods.

Readinintoit says:

Hi, I’m beyond late on this post but after all the karma replies, it’s sad to think no one assumed that karma was giving back to you. I would’ve kept it – no regrets. Only because I believe in luck more than karma. Sometimes, you’re lucky to save that extra money you may need for a rough day. Sometimes, you’re unlucky and you drop your ice cream by accident.

Anywho, I actually just wanted to suggest that you attempt writing! A book about your general daily experiences would be fantastic. Your talent is so exceptional that I can’t believe you haven’t noticed it. Your story was so relatable and I felt like I was in the moment myself. Absolutely hilarious too with the signature! I could imagine that whole scenario happening in a movie too. I’ll be looking forward to that if you eventually decide to try it.

Have a wonderful weekend!

alex says:

Absolutely go back. Be the change that you want to see in the world. I was in a different country and got into a conversation with a student, a government worker and an attorney. They happened to be observing a protest against corruption. The student related a story similar to yours. He described handing a cashier a five but getting change back as if he had handed her a fifty. He paused for a split second and then told her that she had made a mistake. The cashier was shocked that he didn’t keep the money, thanked him and told him when these mistakes occur people usually keep the money. The student then said something very interesting. “If we can’t hold ourselves to a higher standard how can we expect more from our leaders.”

Jerry says:

That ship has sailed — the going back to Costco for your confessional and redemption. Chalk it up to a $45 learning moment. Given your apparent guilt, I dare say you’ll not cross that line again. Then again perhaps you’re well on your way to becoming a career criminal. The time to have “come clean” was during checkout.

Melissa says:

Well it’s not like a normal person, you can’t just walk into Costco and say, “I was checked out wrong 2 years ago and want to pay the money I owe.” It won’t work in their till and inventory. They marked your items under theft and profit loss ages ago. But I personally if it’s and $1 item or something and I don’t notice til I get home, I don’t worry about it. And it’s happened a fair few times. I check out myself if I can to avoid that happening. If I haven’t left the store or parking lot and I notice, I go back. I’ve never had it happen with a pricey item so I couldn’t say. Now I’ve definitely had items ring up wrong but under law, I have the right to keep that item at the price they ring or mark it as.

Jax says:

It can be fixed, it will fix inventory, and my till will recognize it. I would also bet that my manager would thank the member, and say no worries, but we appreciate your honesty. I’ve worked in refunds for 13 yrs with Costco, and while we would like our members to be as honest as we are, and take into account that mistakes happens, the right thing to do is to always bring it to our attention as there is a protocol that we follow in instances like this.

Bex says:

I know this is an old post, but I just want to add my two cents. I thought about what I would do and decided that in my situation, it would be karma balancing the scales and just KEEP it. There have been sooo many times when I bought some food item from Costco that turned out to be just gross and inedible. I thought about returning these items, but it seemed like a hassle and embarrassment to return partially eaten food items. So I just eat the cost and remember never to buy that item again. Most of the items are like $10 each, so it’s not just pocket change. Anyway, I’d see it as karma offering my wasted money back.

Malina says:

Here’s a perspective. You have had a long 7hr day so far, nearing you 8th hr of work, and you have see hundreds of members and billions of product come threw your line, counting them and money over and over again, all while keeping it friendly. Even with the help of a box boy behind you. You make a mistake as I’m sure every human including you do, and miss two items. Now your job is riding on the coworkers at the door who have also been counting items so many times today that they count in there sleep, (true story) to see the missing items.
Sounds to me like a honest customer is the break you need, right.
Dishonesty is Dishonesty.
Mistakes are mistakes.
If you felt guilty the whole time, in which you claimed. Sounds like Dishonesty to me. As the cashier that you just humiliated by posting this transaction number and name. She will do better, she will sharpen her skills as to not make the mistake again.
Do the right thing.

Jessica says:

Seriously just stop. This isn’t that deep. The employee would be in more trouble if they came in and drew more attention to the issue after the fact. Just don’t be a jerk.

Sue says:

As a Costco employee, even though you have taken some time to “hide” your membership number. . I know what store you were at, what register you checked out of, which cashier waited on you, the date, the time etc. . So we can find you. But since you did this in 2010. . I’d be curious if your conscience got the best of you.

Diana Severns says:

Yoo funny. #1best comment awarded. They should have removed their personal information. Also, stealing is stealing. What you and everyone else steals effects the prices down the road. Eventually we all pay the price for theft.

Lyu says:

So many OH MY GOSH YOU DID A BAD THING comments… funny… Actually, I could have done the same thing but the main reason for it would be anxiety. Is that excusable in this world? Depends on who you ask, doesn’t it? I did see someone mention that on the note of karma, this could just as easily be seen as you being given something based on your karma. I enjoyed the human nature of the post but I read too many comments from holier-than-thous, I honestly didn’t expect it’d be that much.

Not only would anxiety make it difficult for me to say something the moment I heard the total, but I’ve been to Costco as a…guest… and I felt ESPECIALLY uncomfortable there. From beginning to the end, I had this feeling that I wasn’t being offered samples based on how I look (poor? someone they don’t recognize?), and at checkout it was such a huge mass of people.. I think even if I weren’t anxious in general or people didn’t make it worse, being surrounded by that many people makes it hard to think and hard to make the right decisions.

I’ve been overcharged and not EVER gone to make it right, I’ve bought things that should have been returned and weren’t… getting something for free or less money by mistake just helps towards evening that out. Pretty sure I’m still owed by the cosmic essence of store mistakes. A lot of the posters here could really take a moment to chill out… Feeling guilty sucks, but I don’t think it always means you did a bad thing.

Jessica says:

You are so right. I hope the poster doesn’t feel terrible after all these HTT comments. Poor sweet guy needs a break.

izza bigglye says:

NOPE. Why? Because 1: Costco makes a shit-ton & your measly $45 would not have even trickled down to the smallest shareholder, and 2: that employee prob would have gotten a rash of shit for the mistake.
Before anyone judges me, I’ve experienced both wealth and poverty status, and NEVER (aside from a brief “I need makeup I can’t afford” stint in high school) shoplifted for “sport. I still do not.
And I reject all forms of stealing from, or harming others. Even if someone is morally defunct, that kind of bad kharma will follow your ass into lifetimes to come … don’t EVER steal from other people.
But … is there a difference between a PERSON and CORPORATION?
And if someone is down & out, broke and cannot feed their family, is it wrong to take some back from corporate America, until back on their feet?
YES in my opinion.
Corporate America at this point in time rolls up to several family bloodlines.
Don’t believe me? I don’t care. Look it up but I’m not a monkey here to entertain, nor feel it necessary to prove my point. This is the truth
With that being said, everything in America is corporat-ized, even us, via our social security #s. That’s why we’re req’d to assign to our children at birth.
So we can be scanned as human inventory, which happens everywhere we go in our lives.
And guess what? United States is a CORPORATION. And we’re all OWNED ASSETS. The gobal bankers who own, like pretty much EVERYTHING, well they own our ASSES too.
Don’t believe me? Cool. Look it up then. Do you own research. Lotso of people taking their heads out of their asses (I mean … iPhones) at one might restore my faith in humanity.
In the meantime, until U.S. becomes a full-blown totalitarian society governed by military police (one that everyone admits to, not under the made up concept “democracy” – which never even existed) I say if it’s a corporation, and you can get away with it, STEAL ‘EM BLIND.
Because come next 3-12 months, you’re gonna wish you had. And trust me, corporations don’t care about you, or have a guilty conscious … so get over it & FEEL GOOD about your luck.
You sound like you’re buying that B.S. guilt crap that the Catholic church has been shoving down our throats for century.
You know, the Catholic church whose leaders continue to bend our children over pews & make them take up the ass when entrusted to care for them?
The religion whose top leader Pope Francis’ #1 guy and BFF was just accused of sexually abusing minors?
Yeah, that one.
YOU are not the one who should feel guilty. Trust me on that one.

FairGame says:

If Costco were a family member or close personal friend, then I can completely understand your feeling of guilt, for you didn’t act as “your brother’s keeper” and protect Costco from its mistake. People tend to trust others more when they know that you’re looking after their interests.
But Costco has a business relationship with you. In business transactions, you don’t have an obligation to fix others’ problems for free, to convince a possible customer not to buy one of your own products (because you “know”, deep down, that it’s not in their interest), or to play brother or parent. The expectations are (and should be) minimal: don’t say straight up lies, don’t physically harm, don’t steal, etc. You most definitely did NOT steal: you presented your goods at the check out counter and then again at the exit, in the normal, usual way; you hid nothing physical. Your thoughts are your own, and even if thought reading devices are developed, it would be immoral for Costco to read your thoughts. Two paid employees are tasked with tallying, etc., and made an error. Their error, their problem. You could try to fix their problem by telling customer service, but realize not only are you spending significant time (plus money) doing so (I’ve waited 20 minutes in such lines) — and you would be a fool to expect compensation for that aid, you could possibly provide evidence leading, ultimately, to the termination of two employees. Remember, no good deed goes unpunished.
In short, Costco is a big boy and has to solve its own problems. Costco is not a charity, and not family.

C says:

This comment is the best response in the thread. Great points. Well thought out, and well said.

Carrie Ward says:

I’ve been in your shoes at a different store . I went to the actual person who rang me up and told them to charge me for the items they missed that way nobody gets fired or into trouble and they know to be more careful and my conscience was clear and I slept well.

Jesus says:

Had a home depot worker scan some tools I was buying for work. Computer auto pop up asking for the optional warranty prevented the item from properly scanning the item. Worker put no, and kept scanning. I walked away with a $130 tool. I left it at a job once. Didnt really care since it was free lol.

Jack says:

I know this is really old, but just adding that it sounded like the $45 was hurting the customer far more than it was hurting Costco. Hopefully he went back and cleared his conscience.

Doris Tsai says:

Follow your heart. Go back to Costco and pay back. Honesty is the best policy

Elizabeth says:

Best to give the money if you can or donated it to charity.

Dale says:

After reading what happened to you, I find it relates to my experience shopping at Costco. So I arrived at Costco to get some last few bits for Christmas. I had some bulky items in the trolley I also purchased a bottle of perfume which they took my membership number and gave me a piece of paper to give to cashier with my membership number on. For what ever reason I don’t know. When at the till put all items on the belt except for the foldable folding truck that I kep in the trolley for cashier to scan. Awkward to pick up rather than being heavy. After paying £110 I looked at the receipt as I thought it didn’t make sense. The perfume wasn’t on the receipt and I realised I still had it in the trolley behind the foldable truck I kept in the trolley. I phoned up and explain the situation and was told to come back and pay. The perfume was only 27.99 but they took down my membership number when they handed to me so I knew stock wouldn’t of tallied up right and eventually they probably would have know I don’t know but I didn’t want to risk looking stupid next time I go in. So I returned to Costco and they said thank you for returning to pay etc… I was told to use my card I used contactless pay they gave me a receipt off I went with the bottle of perfume. Couple days later I checked my online bank and seen Costco had put in my bank £27.99 I checked the receipt and found they had refunded me for my item. So I had a call earlier on today telling me what has happened and that next time I come in they will charge me 27.99 twice. Christmas is over with now money is a little tight so I’m not rushing but after this experience I wonder if Costco is worth the hassle.

Pilm says:

Depends. I once checked out of IKEA with some furniture and at my car noticed they failed to charge me for a $59.99 item, so I went back and told them they missed something and paid for it. The lady at customer service was surprised I came back to pay, she said very few people ever return with something that was missed. That said, if it were Costco, and I realized my mistake at the car, I would not return to pay. Why? Because there have been so many times I’ve bought an item (mainly fruit or vegetables) where at home I found the item was bad. As I live far from Costco I do not return the bad item. So I figure they owe me a large credit for the bad items I’ve had but been unable to return to them timely. However if this occurred at the checkout, I doubt I would fail to mention it even though Costco owes me for bad goods.

Alex B C says:

Don’t be an idiot. Keep your money.

John says:

Works both ways. I went through the costco checkout this morning. Was not paying attention as the 5 items I had were not expensive. Because I buy enough yearly to get a big refund, clerk screams out “refund aisle whatever”. Another woman comes over and starts the executive level crap, I tell her once again NO I am not interested. I do not look at the receipt, I just want to flee after getting the next level pitch again. Checker at door does a quick look and puts the line on the receipt. I go home and am looking at receipt and see a $34 item I do not use, cannot use because of heart problems and definitely did not buy nor have in my cart. With sales tax I am out $35 for something that was either in the cart ahead of me and not cleared or in the cart behind me.

I now have no way to prove to costco that they screwed up. But Costco will pay. I will open products and leave them in other parts of the store until I have cost them $35 plus interest. I will also be the customer from hell and refuse to move out of the checkout lane until I compare the receipt to what is in the cart. You cannot count on costco any more than any other error prone store.

Norma says:

I am a real late comer to this post. I saw the title and thought, surely he must be just using that as a hook and it is really about how he let Costco know they made a BIG mistake. I am so disappointed in some of my fellow Americans. Is your integrity really worth ANY of the money you have cheated any store or person out of? WOW. Do you like that being done to you???? I am sure the answer is NO. If a store made a mistake and charged you wrongly-go back in and take care of it, even if you already went home. Most stores are on your side as the customer. If you wronged the store than take care of it!!! You are the kind of people who really cannot be trusted with anything because when no one is watching, you slink away with your free “treasure”. That is the only “treasure” you will get. You won’t have the personal satisfaction and trust in yourself from trying to right the wrong. Also, who pays for your “treasure”? You do, I do, we all do. That is a loss for the store and they have to pass that loss right on to the customer in the form of higher prices to make it up. Sadly, you are not the only one who does this type of thing. I think more of myself than to skulk away with something I “accidentally” did not have to pay for. And to clarify, a “mistake” is something negative that happens when your intentions were good. It does not apply here. What you did was make a bad “decision”.