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Costco’s Customer Relations Nightmare

Recently, I had to renew my Costco membership. I’ve been a member for years and set my membership to “auto-renew,” which did not happen this time.

So instead, I went online and manually entered my credit card details and submitted. It was done. But two days later, I received a notice saying ORDER CHANGED because they were “Unable to obtain a valid authorization on the credit card provided.” Well, that was downright strange, distressing, and wrong.

Immediately, I called my credit card company, and they determined that Costco had never tried to process a payment, and there were no declines or a reason to warrant a decline.

Well, that was good news. So, the next step was to contact Costco.

After a ten-minute or so wait time (not bad considering some on-hold times), a pleasant fellow tried to figure out what went wrong. He could not and ended up processing my membership manually.

I mentioned that the auto-renew option did not work and asked if this could be because I did not “verify” my membership online, and maybe that had put a glitch in their system.

If you shop Costco online, you’ve probably been asked to “Verify Membership,” a one-time verification process. I still don’t understand the purpose of this as you can continue to shop without doing so.

He didn’t think so but couldn’t be sure. I explained that I would never verify my membership online because they asked me to open my banking institution website and login. What are they thinking?

He said they could not see my banking information – it is to verify that it is me. So, I asked him, if he was on another company’s website, say The Bay, for example, and was asked to verify his account, would he open his banking page? He hesitated and mumbled. I asked if he would recommend his kids or his elderly parents do this? And he chuckled and said, “no.” Then he told me they had a LOT of complaints about the process.

This process is stupid! No mincing words here. In an age where we all need to be cyber-secure, alert, and intelligent in our online interactions, asking a customer to open their banking to them is ludicrous!

The friendly customer service rep then said he would send me an email to verify it that way by changing my password. Another pain, but I agreed. But I never received his email.

In your business, do not make your customers jump through hoops or feel at risk to do business with you. You’re smarter than that…and I’m sure Costco will figure it out soon as well.

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Susan Regier, owner of Vantage One Writing, is an in-demand copywriter, marketing strategist, and business breakthrough specialist to ambitious entrepreneurs who want to have a profitable business they are passionate about. She has the uncanny ability to find the hidden gems in a business that can ignite sales and profits for her clients. Claim your free guide: 15 Tips to Increase Your Influence, Attract More Clients & Make More Money at