Costco customer says interrogation triggered by new ID policy offended her

CENTERVILLE — Longtime Costco customer Leronda Jackson was offended Wednesday when an employee at the retailer’s Centerville store claimed Jackson’s face didn’t match the one on the back of her membership ID card.

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Costco nationwide recently announced a new policy that calls for employees to check store membership ID cards against the person using them, especially at the self-check registers, because nonmembers have been using other people’s cards.

Wednesday evening, Jackson recounted her experience with News Center 7 Investigative Reporter John Bedell. It all began with a random interrogation at the self-scan registers, Jackson said, and tensions rose from there.

“The young lady just said, ‘I’m going to need to check your card. We’re doing facial recognition. It’s our new policy.’ I said, Yeah, I heard about it.”

So, the Englewood woman said she gave the employee her membership card -- complete with the color photo of Jackson on the back.

“She said, ‘Well, this is not you. ' "

“And I said, It says Leronda Jackson. That is me. So she said, ‘No, I’m saying this picture is not the person I’m looking at.’ "

“So I got offended. So I was like, Excuse me?”

“I said, Look, that’s me, That is my card. And then as my voice began to raise, she said, ‘Well, I’m sorry, it’s the lighting in the store and maybe I don’t have good eyes today.’ "

Jackson finished scanning and paying for her items and left. She returned a while later to speak with an assistant manager, who offered an apology. The assistant manager chalked it up to a “training issue,” Jackson said.

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She said she was told someone from the corporate office would be calling her Thursday. News Center 7′s request for comment from corporate officials at Costco so far has gone unanswered.

The employee never asked for a second piece of ID, Jackson said, which would have settled the issue.

The membership model is crucial to Costco’s business, according to CNN. The fees help boost the company’s profit and offset expenses, allowing Costco to keep its prices down. Costco is known for offering some of the lowest prices in the retail industry. Annual membership fees run from $60 to $120. Costco has high customer loyalty, claiming a global membership renewal rate of 90 percent at the end of 2022. Those fees pulled in $4.2 billion of the retailer’s $223 billion in fiscal year 2022.

Costco operates nearly 900 warehouses across the world, more than half in the United States, the Washington Post reports. As of May, Costco listed more than 124 million cardholders.

Jackson said she also has shared her experience on her Facebook page, which is called “Black Women Who Love Costco.”

“You’d be surprised how many people have had this happen,” Jackson said.

What does she want on the other side of what happened?

“I want the policy to change. Figure out another way. Or just ask everybody for their [membership] card and ID. Or shut down self-scan.”

No one checked her when she pumped gas at the Centerville Costco, she said. “Nobody was out there asking is this really her getting this gas,” she noted.

“If the concern is people shopping at Costco who aren’t supposed to be, more than making customers happy, then everybody shows an ID and everybody shows their membership card. Don’t pick and choose [customers to confront] and don’t cherry pick [customers to confront],” Jackson said.

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