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Old November 3rd, 2007, 11:14 PM
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Default Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

I've had Costco or Sam's Club membership, on and off for the past ten years. Mostly off. I'm thinking of joining up again and tracking how much money I spend and how much I save, in order to settle once and for all whether or not it's worth it for someone who only shops for one to spend the annual membership rates.

How many of you who are single and live alone have membership at one of these stores? Are you convinced that it's worth it? What particular items are especially money-saving when one makes the purchases at Costco or Sam's?

I'm thinking that any money I save on food will count in the "save" column, whereas an impulse DVD purchase might require consideration: Would I have made the purchase anyway, if I'd been shopping elsewhere? If not, it's not a savings. Certain other things, such as TP and gasoline, I suppose are automatic savings, but how would you suggest I value time spent in line at the pump (milage is not a concern; I live close enough to Alakawa Street that I don't consider it out of my way at all) or the stress of being around so many PEOPLE?

Are there other factors I'm not considering? What about spending a dollar less on three times as much broccoli, only to see half that broccoli get thrown out? Is that a personal savings but a global waste? How the heck do I factor THAT into the whole enchilada?
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 11:28 PM
joshuatree joshuatree is offline
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

That's going to differ for each person but the annual amount I save on fuel makes up for the membership fee so I see the membership as a freebie.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 11:32 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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Originally Posted by joshuatree View Post
That's going to differ for each person but the annual amount I save on fuel makes up for the membership fee so I see the membership as a freebie.
Okay, but does it MORE than make up for the membership fee, or JUST make up for it? I mean, seriously. If it's a break-even, and if you have to wait in long lines, and if you can only get it in one place, is it still a freebie?

Yes, it will differ for each person -- that's what I'm asking for here...each person's experience.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

i'm not single, as you know, but i was for a while before eric and i got together, plus eric's experience re costco in singlehood is similar to mine so i'll venture a reply.

besides the gas savings, other things made the price of membership worth while, but they were generally things that were not perishable or didn't spoil as quickly as fresh broccoli. staples included (and still include, really, even in coupledom) turkey bacon, yoplait yogurt, crystal light, frozen salmon, canned chicken of the sea tuna (i don't like any other brand). i also bought electric fans and metal rubbish cans that would have cost a lot more even if on sale at city mill or home depot. the rotisserie chicken also fed me for several days straight, along with that bin of mixed greens. as much as i'm a foodie, i have no problem eating the same thing several meals in a row. i saved on books, dvds and music there, too--best buy wasn't around back then, tower records wasn't so cheap, and pre-eric, i wasn't as apt to have the patience of buying stuff online.

i didn't buy things like toilet paper or mondo sized boxes of garbage bags, etc. from costco mostly bcs my apt lacked the storage space. now that i live with eric, his house, roomy for one, is a little tight for two so we still buy toilet paper and garbage bags in smaller quantities but on sale at longs.

going to costco is still largely a solo affair for me bcs eric hates shopping. i avoid the place on weekends. i either go after work, or, during that year i took off to go to school full time, i'd go right when they opened or in the early afternoon--there aren't as many people, and for some reason, they're much mellower than the weekend crowd. gas lines are also much shorter during weekdays after work except for monday, thursday and friday.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 11:57 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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Originally Posted by scrivener View Post
Okay, but does it MORE than make up for the membership fee, or JUST make up for it? I mean, seriously. If it's a break-even, and if you have to wait in long lines, and if you can only get it in one place, is it still a freebie?

Yes, it will differ for each person -- that's what I'm asking for here...each person's experience.
It more than makes it up for me since I gave the 2nd card to my rents and they use it for their own gas savings as well. I tend to gas up early in the morning so I mostly avoid the long lines. Every now and then I save on non-perishables. I don't think too many singles benefit from the bulk food purchases, not unless you literally go through pounds and pounds of veggies, etc in a week by yourself. I also like making electronic purchases there because they have double the manufacturer's warranty such as tvs.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 12:10 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

I can be in and out of Safeway in less time than it takes to just find a parking place at Costco.
Time is too valuable to me to waste an hour just to save a buck or two.

I might change my mind, though.
I hear that Costco is going to add an Express Checkout Line.
"100 Items Or Less."

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Old November 4th, 2007, 12:15 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

I don't have the luxury of time getting to Iwilei Costco in the morning beating the crowds to gas-up. That said, there's been times I get off work (after 5), attempt to gas-up there, only to find lines so absurd, I drive right past Alakawa, make a right and hit Tony's Gas Station on Dillingham (just before Jack in the Box), which only charges about 4 cents more per gallon vs. Costco. No lines, I'm in and out. That 20-40 cents (approx.) extra (depending how low my tank was) I spent was worth WAY LESS than the TIME & FRUSTRATION I would have spent sitting in LINE at Costco.

Scriv', if you have a car with a small gas tank (or gas consumption), certainly don't get a Costco membership just for the cheaper gas. NOT WORTH the lines. Unless you can make it there during off-peak hours (someone else maybe can recommend a time for that). `

Whew. At first glance seeing this thread, I thought you were asking which Big Box store had more hotties. lol That would be another fun thread!
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Old November 4th, 2007, 12:24 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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Scriv', if you have a car with a small gas tank (or gas consumption), certainly don't get a Costco membership just for the cheaper gas. NOT WORTH the lines. Unless you can make it there during off-peak hours (someone else maybe can recommend a time for that). `
i disagree with this. i drive a small car which mostly goes only from kaimuki to kalihi and rarely past those boundaries. i filled my tank this past wednesday at about 6:00 pm for about $30. the longest line of cars was four deep before the tanks, but most had only two or three cars waiting. as i said in my earlier post--gas lines are not crowded during the workday eves excluding mon, thurs and friday.

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Whew. At first glance seeing this thread, I thought you were asking which Big Box store had more hotties. lol That would be another fun thread!
i say that costco has more hotties, if only by one...since i'm not the one who owns a sam's club card.
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"when you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people i deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly..."--meditations, marcus aurelius (make sure you read the rest of the passage, ya lazy wankers!)

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Old November 4th, 2007, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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i disagree with this. i drive a small car which mostly goes only from kaimuki to kalihi and rarely past those boundaries. i filled my tank this past wednesday at about 6:00 pm for about $30. the longest line of cars was four deep before the tanks, but most had only two or three cars waiting. as i said in my earlier post--gas lines are not crowded during the workday eves excluding mon, thurs and friday.
Oops, sorry, didn't read that part of your post. Well, considering Scriv' is located in Kapalama, the Iwilei Costco is quite convenient, and he could easily "wait out" any peak times and go then.

Still, let's take the high side of my weekly gas-up price of 40 cents more @ Tony's (up the street) vs. Coscto.

There are 52 weeks in a year. Assuming I fill my tank once per week, this is the savings:

40¢ (savings) x 52 weeks = $20.80 total annual savings in fuel cost (if purchased at Costco)

That still doesn't justify the annual membership fee at Costco. So from there, all the factors in savings (and hotties walking around) withing the store itself come into play.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Costco. Just trying to analyze this properly, price-vs-price, piece-by-piece.
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Last edited by Pomai; November 4th, 2007 at 01:04 AM. Reason: 52, not 56
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Old November 4th, 2007, 12:49 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

Scriv: Could you go in with some of your single friends and split up bulk purchases? That's about the only way you'd end up saving money as a single person (although the savings per gallon on gas might be worth the cost of an annual membership by itself).

You know, buy a 10-pack of tuna and split the cost between 2 or more people and the per person cost really goes down. Nonperishables like TP and paper towels would be a place where you can save money too and that way you could save money and save storage space (why buy generic when you can afford Charmin? LOL). I like the book and CD sections in the Hawaii Costcos because I can find local cookbooks and CDs for cheap.

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Old November 4th, 2007, 12:52 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

I live alone, no car and I have both memberships. Just so happen to be that I live close to Sam's Club and I work next to a Costco. Also my membership cycle on the stores is roughly 6 months apart.

There are times that I don't buy anything from either store. But if I am going to buy food it's from Sam's Club only because I don't have to haul it a long distance.

Batteries usually I get from Costco. DVD's sometimes I get from Costco, or Sam's Club or even Wal-Mart.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 01:02 AM
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Thumbs up Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

Hands down, Costco is worthwhile for our family, but of course, it's a big family. We spend so much at Costco per year that we definitely went for the higher level of membership... that two percent refund is anywhere from $300 to $500 for us. That alone dwarfs the membership fee, outside actual savings.

I never, ever wait in line for Costco gas. Then again, I leave for work at 6 a.m. and drive past the Waipio location, so there's never a crowd and it's off and back onto the H-2 with barely a hiccup. Driving from Mililani to town every weekday and Sunday means that gas savings alone, also, pay for the membership fee.

Come to think of it... savings on diapers alone pay for the membership fee!

Of course, none of this is helpful for scrivener's query, but I thought I'd share, anyway. Every time I have to buy something in a pinch at Star Market or Longs, I cringe. Costco has been a lifesaver.

I know what you mean, by the way, about offsetting savings with impulse purchases like DVDs or fancy dish drainers. It took us a while to develop the discipline not to be wooed by the gadgets and doodads down every aisle.

And yes, the perishability of some products (and the fact that most of it came a long, long way to get to the store, further shortening its lifespan) is an issue. Moldy bread. Spoiled chicken. Rotten spinach. Some things we just avoid outright, now.

But you know what? Stuff like canned tuna, veggies or soups, staples like paper products or toiletries? You'll use it up, eventually, and ultimately save there, to be sure. Frozen goods, too, though of course you'd probably only be able to have one giant bag of frozen green beans in your freezer and nothing else!
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Old November 4th, 2007, 01:18 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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Originally Posted by scrivener View Post
I've had Costco or Sam's Club membership, on and off for the past ten years. Mostly off. I'm thinking of joining up again and tracking how much money I spend and how much I save, in order to settle once and for all whether or not it's worth it for someone who only shops for one to spend the annual membership rates.

How many of you who are single and live alone have membership at one of these stores? Are you convinced that it's worth it? What particular items are especially money-saving when one makes the purchases at Costco or Sam's?

I'm thinking that any money I save on food will count in the "save" column, whereas an impulse DVD purchase might require consideration: Would I have made the purchase anyway, if I'd been shopping elsewhere? If not, it's not a savings. Certain other things, such as TP and gasoline, I suppose are automatic savings, but how would you suggest I value time spent in line at the pump (milage is not a concern; I live close enough to Alakawa Street that I don't consider it out of my way at all) or the stress of being around so many PEOPLE?

Are there other factors I'm not considering? What about spending a dollar less on three times as much broccoli, only to see half that broccoli get thrown out? Is that a personal savings but a global waste? How the heck do I factor THAT into the whole enchilada?

Start cooking for friends! Become known for your broccoli soup or salad! I agree, though. With our family of four, we tend to send some of the dregs of old veggies to the rubbish more than I'd like to admit. I know this isn't just about broccoli, but I like to fill a skillet with it, add about half a cup of water, cover and let steam until the water evaporates, then add olive oil and saute another two minutes or so. Mahvelous!
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Old November 4th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

We have a family of 3 and we end up dumping a lot of uneaten food from Costco. The packages are simply too big for us to consume before they spoil. We no longer buy a lot of food from Costco anymore, including meat. Found one too many spoiled packages of lamb or pork ribs from their chiller. They pile the meats so high, much of it is no longer at the proper cooling temp to keep from spoiling.

They're still good for the occasional package of hotdogs or frozen fajitas, but we limit our buying to bulk paper goods and batteries and sometimes water. Safeway's weekly specials often beat Costco prices so we do much of our food shopping there or at Foodland.

We don't buy Costco gas as they stopped accepting major credit cards except for American Express and they don't do cash sales. We've since cut up all our cards. Has it changed?

IMHO, Scriv, it's not worth it for a single person.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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Found one too many spoiled packages of lamb or pork ribs from their chiller. They pile the meats so high, much of it is no longer at the proper cooling temp to keep from spoiling.
Wow, I thought I was the only one who had this experience. We've had milk that went bad 2 days after we bought it, a couple weeks before the expiration date. Their produce is sometimes pretty poor quality, and 2 months ago we brought home a famous rotisserie chicken that was totally uncooked in the center.

I've found that the grocery prices at Daiei/Don Quijote are often comparable to Costco, without having to commit to the bulk sizes. Don Quijote's wine prices are often cheaper than Costco.

That said, my husband and I do love Costco for nonperishables such as soup, beans, salsa, paper towels, ramen, and over-the-counter medication.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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[...]We don't buy Costco gas as they stopped accepting major credit cards except for American Express and they don't do cash sales. We've since cut up all our cards. Has it changed?[...]
Really? No cash sales? Only AmEx? What about personal checks? I've never purchased gas at Costco 'cuz I'm not willing to wait in those lines PLUS I have this personal goal to try to get thru my lifetime without ever pumping my own gas!!! Silly, I know, but a goal nonetheless! So far, so good thanx to Lex Brodie's!

As a single tutu I love the frozen food section at Costco. I don't think that helps you, Scriv, as I think you love to cook.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 03:21 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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We don't buy Costco gas as they stopped accepting major credit cards except for American Express and they don't do cash sales. We've since cut up all our cards. Has it changed?
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Really? No cash sales? Only AmEx? What about personal checks? I've never purchased gas at Costco 'cuz I'm not willing to wait in those lines PLUS I have this personal goal to try to get thru my lifetime without ever pumping my own gas!!! Silly, I know, but a goal nonetheless! So far, so good thanx to Lex Brodie's!

As a single tutu I love the frozen food section at Costco. I don't think that helps you, Scriv, as I think you love to cook.

my american savings visa debit card is accepted. i think all debit cards are accepted. they just don't take cash and of the credit cards, they only take amex.

you should also know that anytime you use your debit card at the gas station and they ask only that you punch in your zip code, they hold more than the actual value of the gas you buy for several days, as described in this story from a couple years ago where a couple bought $25 worth of gas but the station held $75 for three days, causing the couple's bank account to go in the red. however, if you're using a pump that requires your PIN, as costco gas does, the transaction is processed immediately in the exact amount you spent instead of a larger sum being held for several days.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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We don't buy Costco gas as they stopped accepting major credit cards except for American Express and they don't do cash sales. We've since cut up all our cards. Has it changed?

They still only accept AE but a member can now buy prepaid cash cards to use at the pump.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 03:36 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

First the Costco cons:

Most of the meats can be found on sale at the Supermarket (such as Star, which is close to Scriv's house) at an equal or sometimes cheaper per-pound price. The only thing Costco can't be beat are some of the produce items like the romaine, which is a killer deal. But is a single person going go through FOUR heads of Romaine lettuce before they spoil? I doubt it.

Things like pasta and canned goods can also be found on sale sometimes CHEAPER than Costco. Especially with Walgreens now in town, grocery stores are having to be even more competitive. Same for frozen foods, as well as for toilet paper and paper towels. On sale at the local grocery store is often the same (+ or - just a tad), price-per-unit.

I find Sam's Club is more geared towards businesses, offering more bulk items (like for vending machines), and even less "singles" friendly. Still, both have the same pros and cons for the single person.

Sometimes it's frustrating shopping in there, as you're constantly calculating prices, and to much chagrin, sometimes Costco's price ends up higher than Walmart or Long's (when on sale)!

Another frustration is the temptation of impulse shopping, and Costco has this strategy down to a science. I swear, it never fails I walk out of there having spent $40 more than I expected to, walking out with something(s) I originally hadn't planned on buying. But damned this wrist watch is cool!

If you're a family of 4 or more, these places make shopping easy, but a single person can get frustrated.

Costco Pros:

The quality of their meats are better than most supermarkets, save for Safeway. Foodland's meats are pretty good, but not as good as Costco's. Not sure about Star. Don Quijote's meat department (at least the Kaheka location) is horrible. But here again, you're single, so buying a tray of four rib eye steaks isn't going to be on your shopping list, unless you're hosting a party. Even there, the rib eyes, price-per-pound is the same, if not sometimes HIGHER than the supermarket. But still, it's a better, thicker cut. They also have the cheapest lamb racks in town. WAY WAY cheaper than the supermarkets. Chicken and pork can be a toss-up. Fish prices are pretty good, and there, the portions are reasonable (single-friendly). All the other meats are in bulk.

The things I'll hand Costco with unbeatable prices is their cheeses and their refrigerated deli section (dips, sausages, specialty foods, etc.). Great deals on some great quality stuff. And most of it is in manageable portions (except the sausages, but you can freeze that). That right there might be worth the price of admission.

Also, they rely on "Special Buys" for the most part. So they'll bring in a really nice rocker chair, patio set, tool set, car accessory, toy or other cool household item and sell it at a really low price.

Also, their car battery and tires are one of the cheapest in town (I know, I just bought both recently and shopped around). But how often are you going to change your tire and car battery? Probably once every so many years.

To finish my rant, I will say, especially Costco (you can tell I prefer there more) is a very pleasant place to shop. Well-stocked with very cool stuff, often not found at the supermarkets. And their checkouts, while sometimes can get long, are very fast and efficient. So is their customer service (finding stuff) and great return policy.

Plus, where else can you gawk at Football Field-sized wide screen TVs and a gourmet deli section filled with exotic cheeses and sausages all under one roof at really good prices. THAT to me is worth the membership, whether I'm single (I am) or have a wife and 6 kids in tow.

For me it's kinda' like my cellphone: I don't really NEED it, but I wouldn't wanna' be without it, practicality not withstanding.

And for you Scriv', you live so close to there, so yeah, I say go for it. Unless you're REALLY pinching pennies. What is $45 worth? You probably spend more than that a year on snacks and other consumables non-noteworthy.

Obviously as a single person, you're not gonna' buy perishable stuff there in bulk. We don't. But the other stuff you can and will, and THAT makes it worth it, IMO.

Nowadays, at least on Oahu, if you're not a Costco member (single or whatever), you're not with the "in crowd".
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Last edited by Pomai; November 4th, 2007 at 03:51 PM.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

Oh, one thing I left out of that long rant was the FREE FOOD SAMPLES!

I've walked in there for lunch hungry a few times, and walked out just about full off the samples alone.

For a single guy? Common! That's gotta' be worth it! No need cook!
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Old November 4th, 2007, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

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Originally Posted by ericncyn View Post
my american savings visa debit card is accepted. i think all debit cards are accepted. they just don't take cash and of the credit cards, they only take amex.

you should also know that anytime you use your debit card at the gas station and they ask only that you punch in your zip code, they hold more than the actual value of the gas you buy for several days, as described in this story from a couple years ago where a couple bought $25 worth of gas but the station held $75 for three days, causing the couple's bank account to go in the red. however, if you're using a pump that requires your PIN, as costco gas does, the transaction is processed immediately in the exact amount you spent instead of a larger sum being held for several days.

This has never happened to me. I purchase my gas with my Visa debit card all the time. I sometimes use my AmEx card, and if you have it, you can use a Costco cash card for this, too.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

Maybe off topic, maybe not: When we see soda or beer on sale at Longs, we stear clear. It's usually flat. So, I find it less humbug to buy something like that from a big box than from Long's.

Here's something Costco has over Sam's, hand's down. Make a return at Costco, and they take it back, maybe one questioned asked: What's wrong with it? I've seen partial bottles of wine and plastic containers of bitten apples taken back. It astonishes me one can bite into several apples, put them back in the blister pack, and march into Costco and get a refund. I brought it up following someone who actually did that and the customer service clerk told me, "we want our members happy." Shee-it!

Take something back to Sam's and the cranky ladies size you up like you're a potential felon. Even if you took it out to the parking lot to try it on, brought back the receipt and left on the tags! Take something downstairs to Wal-Mart and it's hard to believe it's the same company. No need for a receipt (get a gift card back for an item not used, price tags attached), and they can even look up your transaction up to 90 days back. How does Sam's Club completely miss the mark on customer service when its sister company Wal-Mart has it perfected?
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Old November 4th, 2007, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

Quote:
Originally Posted by lavagal View Post
This has never happened to me. I purchase my gas with my Visa debit card all the time. I sometimes use my AmEx card, and if you have it, you can use a Costco cash card for this, too.
when you buy gas with your debit card, are you always putting in your PIN or are you putting in your zip code? the next time you have to put in your zip code, check your account afterwards. hopefully, the gas stations have stopped the whole hold thing. i just found a story that appeared in the advertiser where one guy bought $25 worth of gas but $200 was held (didn't happen in hawaii, though--haven't seen any hawaii anecdotes). if i go to a non-costco gas station, i always use my credit card, just to be safe. i'm not so well off that unexpected holds wouldn't bother me or potentially cause financial trauma.

thanks for adding the costco cash card tip--i had forgotten about that.
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Old November 4th, 2007, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

Interesting, yes, Ericncyn! I usually put in my pin. I always keep a loaded cash card around, we mostly use it at what we call FM, the foodmaker, for pizza, hotdoggies, frozen yogurts and, kid's favorite: churos, out front! But that's a worthy gas option if you keep that much money in your balance. Amazing how much gas costs these days. A whole nuther subject!
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Old November 5th, 2007, 04:05 AM
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Default Re: Costco or Sam's for Singles Who Live Alone

for the record, eric and i went to fill up the truck a lil after 7 PM tonight and at each pair of pumps, there were only one or two cars beyond the ones that were already gassing up.

if we had made it to costco when it was open, we would have checked out their mattress pads. we heard the memory foam one (non-tempurpedic brand) was pretty good.
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