- 1 sam's club return policy time limit
- 2 Costco vs. Sam’s Club- Which is Better?
- 3 sam's club return policy time limit
- 4 Best Warehouse Store: BJ’s, Costco or Sam’s Club?
- 5 Costco versus Sam’s Club Comparison
sam's club return policy time limit
company_name = Sam's Club
company_type = Subsidiary of Wal-Mart
industry = Retail (Warehouse Club)
location = Bentonville, Arkansas
slogan = In Business For Your Small Business
products = Produce, meat, seafood, fresh baked goods, flowers, clothing, books, software, home electronics, clothing jewelry, art, optical and furniture
Sam's Club is an American chain of membership-only retail warehouse club s. Founded in 1983, it is owned and operated by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and is named for Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton . As of 2008, the Sam's Club chain operates in 48 of the 50 U.S. States, and serves more than 47 million U.S. members. Sam's Club ranks second in sales volume among warehouse clubs behind Costco Wholesale , despite the fact that Sam's has more retail locations. [ [http://www.hoovers.com/costco-wholesale/--ID__17060--/free-co-factsheet.xhtml Costco Wholesale - Company Overview - Hoover's ] ]
As of January 31, 2008, Sam's Club operated 713 membership warehouse clubs in 48 U.S. states (Oregon and Vermont are the only states without a Sam’s Club presence), as well as four other territories. Locations typically range in size from 70,000 – 190,000 square feet, with an average club size of approximately 132,000 square feet. [http://www.fdreports.com/samsclub.pdf F&D Reports-Customer & Market Insights ] ]
The first Sam's Club opened in April 1983 in Midwest City, Oklahoma in the United States . [ [http://www.walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=306 Wal-Mart Stores—Sam's Club ] ] Sam's Club is named after Sam Walton . To purchase items from Sam's Club, one must purchase a membership. Many Sam's Club customers are small businesses that wish to offer customers a limited selection of food without the expense of having it delivered. In 1993, Wal-Mart acquired PACE Membership Warehouse from Kmart and converted many (but not all) PACE locations into Sam's Clubs.
The latest flagship store opening as of September 13 , 2007 was in Fayetteville, Arkansas . It is the second largest Sam's Club store; its largest is located in Utica, Michigan , with over convert|145000|sqft|m2|abbr=on. of retail space.
After Costco's announcement on its change of return policy for consumer electronics (now within 90 days) beginning on February 26 , 2007 , Sam's Club finds itself now to be tied with Nordstrom for having best, most liberal return/refund policy in the retail business. Fact|date=March 2007
In 2006, Wal-Mart acquired The Central American Retail Holding Company (CARHO), which operates ClubCo stores, similar in concept to Sam's Club, although with a smaller footprint.
In September 24, 2006, Sam's Club received a new logo. The new logo has an updated serif font and features a green and blue diamond inside the big blue diamond, found above the word 'Sam's'.
Sam's Club's previous slogan was "We Are In Business For Small Business" until 2006, Sam's Club had no slogan after the redesign of the new logo. The decision to remove the slogan comes as Sam's Club attempts to remove itself from serving just small businesses and open up to more individual customers. In December, 2007. Sam's Club launched a new slogan, "Enjoy the Possibilities". Since then it became an official advertising slogan, mentioned in TV & Radio Ads, but it is not mentioned on its website. Until early January, 2008 the "Enjoy the Possibilities" slogan was no longer in use.
Starting in April 2007 there was speculation of a possible sale or spinoff of Sam's Club from parent company Wal-Mart. [ [http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/05/07/spinoff-in-bentonville-revisited.aspx Spinoff in Bentonville Revisited ] ] [ [http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/04/17/a-spinoff-in-bentonville.aspx?vstest=search_042607_linkdefault A Spinoff in Bentonville? ] ] At Wal-Mart's 2007 annual shareholder's meeting in June, management said that Sam's Club is not for sale, although they didn't say they are not considering a spinoff. [ [http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/060207dnbuswalmart.36d6e74.html Wal-Mart cuts expansion plans, focuses on existing stores | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Business News ] ]
Like other warehouse clubs, most merchandise sold at Sam's Club is sold in bulk and directly off pallet s. Clubs are arranged much like a warehouse , with merchandise stocked in warehouse-style steel bins. There are currently over 580 Sam's Clubs in the United States . Products sold include jewelry, designer goods, sunglasses, crystal and collectibles, electronics, floral, apparel, food and meats. Most locations have Pharmacy, Tire and Battery, Photo, Bakery, Optical, Café and Floral departments. Sam's Club markets items under the private labels "Member's Mark", "Bakers & Chefs", and "Sam's Club". It does not sell the "Sam's Choice" or "Great Value" brands, which are available in Wal-Mart stores. Another notable feature in most stores is the presence of stands at which "Sam's" employees prepare various food products for customers to sample before purchasing.
Today, Sam’s Club has more than 47 million U.S. Members and operates more than 580 Clubs nationwide, as well as more than 100 international locations in Brazil, Canada, China, and Mexico. There are also stores in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
A typical Sam’s Club stands between 110,000 and convert|130000|sqft|m2. The Sam's Club division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. had total sales revenue of US$37.1 billion for fiscal year ending 31 January 2005 . Sam's primary competitor is Costco Wholesale , and many Sam's warehouses closely emulate the design and product selection found at Costco.
Sam's Club opened their first ever Business Center in Houston, Texas, in August, 2008. Converted from an existing Sam's location, the Business Center is similar in concept to Costco's Business Centers.
There is no food court, pharmacy, optical department and doctor's office, tires & batteries, clothing, jewelry, entertainment, books or seasonal department; and some other consumer-orientated departments have been shrunk. In the new space, there is new and expanded merchandise lines which appeal to business owners and managers. A large walk-in cooler and freezer is located in the back, and Sam's first ever copy, print & ship center has mailbox rentals which are available from the outside 24 hours a day. The Business Center stocks an addtional 2,500 SKU's than a typical Sam's location, focusing on having a deeper selection of specialty items businesses need.
A fleet of private trucks offers delivery service within a 25 mile radius on orders of at least $250. The trucks are capable of storing frozen, refrigerated and dry items.
The Business Center is open from 6AM - 6PM Mon-Sat, and unlike the Costco Business Centers, which are closed on Sundays, the Sam's Business Center is open 8AM - 2PM Sunday. [http://www.retailingtoday.com/uploadedFiles/RetailingTodaycom/Digital_Studio/Special_reports/2008/SpecialReport_SamsHouston.pdf]
Sam's Club stores accept Sam's Club Credit Card, Discover Card , MasterCard , debit cards, Wal-Mart/Sam's Club Shopping Cards, cash or checks [http://www.samsclub.com/shopping/navigate.do?catg=580#q1] . MasterCard is a recent addition - up until 9 November 2006 , it was not an option, because of the high processing fees. Visa Credit Cards are still not accepted, because of the high processing fees, although in the past it was accepted during testing periods. However Visa Debit Cards are accepted in most clubs. American Express is not accepted, likely because rival Costco has an exclusive acceptance agreement.
The online store accepts a Sam's Club Credit Account, Wal-Mart/Sam's Club Shopping Card, Check, Discover, Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Membership is required to purchase at Sam's Club (except for prescription drugs where federal law prohibits sales to members only, as well as liquor and gasoline in some states); however, a one-time day pass may be obtained from many Wal-Mart newspaper ads. A 10% surcharge is added (except where forbidden by local laws) to the prices for non-members, except for optical, pharmacy, cafe, or alcohol items where available. All memberships are 100% refundable at any time for any reason, even on the date that it is to be renewed.
Renewal of memberships can be done via the internet, through the mail, in-club at the Membership Services desk, any cash register, and also at the new ATM/Membership kiosks (the latter only available in select locations).
Sam's Club memberships are divided into two categories: Business, and Advantage. [ [http://www.samsclub.com/shopping/navigate.do?catg=578#q3 Sam's Club - Membership ] ] Business memberships cost $35 per year, but are only available to local businesses and their employees. Advantage memberships cost $40 per year, and are available to everyone. Each paid membership card comes with a second free card for anyone at the same address.
Starting July 21, 2008, Sam's Club also offers college students (with a current student ID and school-issued e-mail address) a one year membership for $40; which comes with a $15 gift card upon signup. As with other memberships, every college membership includes a free add-on card. [http://www.retailingtoday.com/story.aspx?section=General&id=74315]
It is possible to shop for any item at Sam's Club without paying the membership fee. Passes are available for anyone to shop with a 10% surcharge applied to their purchase. Also, giftcards purchased at Wal-Mart may be used to gain entry and purchase any item without a membership, subject to a 10% surcharge on most items in most locations.
The Pharmacy, Optical, and Cafe departments do not require a membership to shop there. Also, alcohol can be purchased surcharge free by non-members.
Costco vs. Sam’s Club- Which is Better?
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Comparing Sam’s Club to Wal-Mart to Target. Often, the choice between the two warehouse clubs comes down to price vs. brand selection (and also location). We examine which one is best.
Sam’s clubs tend to be located in areas where customers have to budget shop, while Costcos tend to be located in wealthier suburbs, where customers have the luxury of choosing to budget shop. One (Costco) offers less selection and better quality, while the other (Sam’s club) offers more selection and a little less quality. One (Costco) is the biggest seller of fine wines and the other (Sam’s Club) is part of the company that is the biggest seller of well, everything.
From a budget fashion perspective, Costco is obviously the better choice for those looking for brand names like Calvin Klein Jeans for $22.99 and the store has a great “no-questions-asked-return-policy“. It’s private label brand, Kirkland, has men’s dress shirts that are comparable in quality to the private label brands of major department store like Nordstrom and cost 50% less. However, what attracts budget shoppers like myself to the store is that Costco caps their markups at 14% over the price they paid for an item—significantly less than department stores (up to 50%) and yep, even less than Sam’s Club/Wal-Mart. Plus, there’s evidence that Costco employees are better compensated than their Sam’s Club counterparts– but as one person pointed out Costco employees often make more money because they live and work in wealthy suburbs where it costs more money to live.
Another “plus” for Costco is the amazing deals on necessities like Gas for your car and eyewear- both of which can be purchased at Costco (and at some Sam’s Clubs, albeit with limited selection on the eyeglasses) at a significant discount from other retail outlets. For example, you can often save up to $.10 per gallon (and more) on gas at Costco stations. You can also purchase wedding rings and designer handbags at both stores (although recent lawsuits suggest that the designer handbags may not be, well, designer).
Now, don’t go and cut up your Sam’s club card. Sam’s club has more locations and I think better deals on bulk items like toilet paper, bottle water, where brand name really doesn’t matter. Plus, Sam’s Club shares exclusive deals, like a limited edition Garth Brooks cd box set, with it’s sister store, Wal-Mart and the membership is about $15 cheaper than Costco.
Despite their great deals and bulk groceries (do you really need a 7 pound chocolate cake?), I still think something is missing from these stores. Fashionistas will not want to head to the local Sam’s club en mass. With the exception of mass market Calvin Klein jeans and nice dress shirts, the rest of the clothing selection leaves much to be desired. One area that they could improve would be the sizing (or lack of) their clothing. I would estimate over 75% of the women I’ve seen shopping at my local Costco would be considered plus size, yet a majority of the clothing are in size 16/XL or below.
The physical design of the stores can be quite confusing. There are little to no signage on the aisles, so you often spend 30 minutes looking for peanut butter. Once you find the peanut butter, there’s a limited selection in terms of brands (buyers for the warehouse buy whatever brand they can get the cheapest for the week). Once you decide on a brand, then you have to wait 30 minutes in a check out line. However, I can see the appeal of the store, especially for families, with large grocery needs. For them, I say score a card, it’s worth it.
The Verdict: Sam’s Club is a great for staples like toilet paper, while Costco is better for the “extras” like eye glasses, smoked salmon etc.
sam's club return policy time limit
Welcome to the Ars OpenForum.
Anyone familiar with Sams club return policy for TV's?
I know that everyone is very pleased with Costco's return policy for electronics. I wonder does anyone have familiarity with Sam's club's policies? I ask since I have both of the local to me and was thinking of a TV purchase, but I already have a membership to Sam's and not Costco.
Costco's is three months for televisions.
Ars Tribunus Angusticlavius
Best Warehouse Store: BJ’s, Costco or Sam’s Club?
We compare the big three warehouse clubs and rank them on everything from locations to prices.
Photo (cc) by David McKelvey
According to Consumer Reports, shoppers can save up to 55 percent at warehouse clubs – on everything from bulk packages of toilet paper and frozen pizza to Coach handbags and vacation packages. If you belong to one, you’re probably enjoying the savings and the “treasure hunt” shopping experience – never quite knowing what you’ll find on shelves and pallets.
It’s no surprise that as warehouse clubs open more locations and offer a wider range of items, sales are growing. The $390 billion industry has seen a 137 percent jump in sales from 2001 to 2011, compared to 47 percent for all general merchandise stores, according to First Research.
But which warehouse club is best for you? Sometimes it’s as simple as finding the one closest to home, but if you have choices, you should consider factors, from selection to return policies. We put the big three to the test by comparing 11 factors – from basic membership costs and locations to selection of luxury goods.
Basic membership is $50 a year at BJ’s, $55 at Costco, and $40 at Sam’s Club. If you want to test the waters first, keep an eye out for free trials.
Warehouse clubs offer rewards programs, but they’re not free. Become a BJ’s Rewards member for $100 a year (or upgrade an existing membership for $50), and you’ll get 2 percent back on most in-club and BJs.com purchases. Costco’s Executive Membership is $110 a year and also offers 2 percent rewards – capped at $750 a year. Sam’s Club is experimenting with the idea of a cash rewards program; in a new rollout, Plus members ($100 a year) are now receiving $10 for every $500 spent – which also comes out to 2 percent – capped at $500.
Thinking about shopping at a warehouse club without footing the bill for a membership? Costco is the least expensive: the surcharge to nonmembers is 5 percent. BJ’s is the highest at 15 percent, while Sam’s Club’s surcharge is 10 percent.
Costco and Sam’s Club have more locations than BJ’s. Sam’s Club has 620 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, while Costco has nearly 450. BJ’s has just more than 180.
To see if there’s a warehouse club near you, check out the locators for BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club.
In a Consumer Reports survey, 26,000 shoppers evaluated their experiences at 10 major retailers: Costco, JC Penney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, and Walmart. Costco was the top-rated store in the survey. Sam’s Club got average or slightly above average grades in all categories. BJ’s wasn’t included.
In another survey by Temkin, 6,000 consumers ranked companies based on customer service. Costco ranked third, behind Amazon and Kohl’s, with 79 percent of survey respondents giving it an “excellent9rdquo; or “good9rdquo; rating. Sam’s Club and BJ’s were close, however, at 78 percent.
While this doesn’t point to a clear winner, it’s safe to say the overall shopping experience at any of the big three doesn’t differ much – and doesn’t disappoint.
From Costco’s return policies page: “We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell with a full refund. The following must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund: televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, touch screen tablets, MP3 players and cellular phones.”
From Sam’s Club return policies page: “We offer a 100% guarantee on merchandise and Membership. We will refund purchases in full with a receipt. Click here to view our Return/Refund exceptions. No receipt: We will refund the purchase(s) at the last selling price with a shopping card.”
From BJ’s return policies page: “Items eligible for return must be returned within 30 days from date of shipping. For more information, please see the “Proper Conditions for Return and Credit” section of BJ’s Return Policy.”
So Costco and Sam’s Club have similar return policies, while BJ’s policy is far less liberal.
BJ’s is the only warehouse club that accepts manufacturer’s coupons. BJ’s also has 24-hour flash sales online, promoting deals on items like HDTVs and digital cameras – often with free shipping.
At Sam’s Club, discounts can get even deeper with online auctions. Online members can bid, with all bids starting at $1.
All three warehouse clubs offer similar prices for tech products, including HDTVs, digital cameras, and printers. If you’re an Apple fan, you’ll want to head to Sam’s Club – the only warehouse club to carry iPads and iPhones. All warehouse clubs, however, offer a decent sampling of iPad and iPhone accessories, including cases, stands, and docking stations.
Sam’s Club also excels when it comes to delivery, installation, and technical support – thanks to 24/7 customer service.
According to Family Circle, you can find the best deals on products in warehouse clubs by purchasing house brands. At Sam’s Club, this is Member’s Mark. BJ’s carries house brand Berkley & Jensen, and Costco’s is Kirkland. The pricing on house brands at all three chains is nearly identical, so it comes down to individual preference.
Food prices don’t vary all that much at warehouse clubs. According to a face-off between Costco and Sam’s Club conducted by Cheapism.com, a shopping cart test of 38 typical grocery items was $12 cheaper at Sam’s Club. But because they got a greater quantity of some of the things in the Costco cart, they went back and compared unit costs. Based on that, Costco was 3.6 percent less expensive.
Cheapism.com also noted slightly smaller unit packaging at Sam’s Club, which could be an advantage to avoid waste.
All warehouse clubs sell designer jewelry and offer car deals. Some of the most in-demand items at Sam’s Club are Ray-Ban frames for glasses and sunglasses, Eddie Bauer home décor and apparel, and Children’s Place apparel, according to Carrie Foster, company spokesperson. At Costco, you’ll find Coach handbags, Herman Miller chairs, and Waterford Crystal.
If you’re looking for vacation packages, you’ll want to shop at Costco or BJ’s, since Sam’s Club stepped out of the niche.
When shopping for a warehouse club, it comes down to individual preference. If you’re looking for low membership cost, a generous return policy, and 24/7 customer service, Sam’s Club is the way to go. If you value the added savings from manufacturer’s coupons and don’t mind a subpar return policy, consider BJ’s. If you’re into travel, you’ll find plenty of deals at Costco or BJ’s. And if you want the top-ranked in customer service, Costco is the winner, but only by a narrow margin.
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Costco versus Sam’s Club Comparison
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An in-depth analysis of prices, customer service, and more of these two big box stores — the ultimate Costco versus Sam’s Club Comparison
This post was not endorsed in anyway by either Costco or Sam’s Club. They don’t even know I exist!
UPDATE 9/6/15: I’ve had a few people comment about my comments on the staff at Costco. This was in relation to the Costco that we went to regularly before we moved, and not a statement on all Costcos. We LOVE the staff at the Costco we now go to, and I’ve been very impressed. I know that, in general, Costco encourages helpful, friendly staff, and a lot of that comes from the CEO and management team. The experiences we had at our former Costco were unfortunate, but I do believe were isolated to that Costco store.
Crunchy versus Creamy
Chocolate versus Vanilla
Costco versus Sam’s Club . . . all the greatest battles in life, right?
For a single person, or even two people, shopping at a warehouse store like Costco and Sam’s Club might not save you money. In fact, you’ll probably spend more than you would have at a regular grocery store. I think that it’s definitely worth getting a membership there if you buy a lot of things in bulk. I’ve found it to be a lot more cost effective to shop at Costco for items we buy all the time (like meat, paper towels, snacks, etc.), and the quality is usually great. It does take a little bit of effort to try and determine if you’re getting the best price, but it’s worth it to do.
I’ve been a life-time Costco-er. My parent’s always went there, and when Forrest and I got married, we started shopping there as well. I had been in Sam’s Club once or twice in my life, but I never really had a chance to explore and see the difference between the two stores. So when I randomly received a free Sam’s Club membership in the mail (it wasn’t even sent for blogging purposes), I was interested to check out the store. Sam’s Club is closer to where we live, too!
So, in early December, Forrest and I decided to do store comparison of Costco versus Sam’s Club. We went to both stores, wrote down the prices for commonly bought products, and rated other parts of each store. It was actually kind of fun, and interesting, to see the comparison. Here’s what we found!
note: We visited the Costco in Orem, Utah, and the Sam’s Club in Provo, Utah a few weeks before Christmas. Conditions and prices at stores may be different in other areas. We also just did a sampling of different foods that are commonly bought, and decided against comparing electronics, books, movies, and clothing. All of the prices below have been calculated to show unit price, not actual price. Most items must be bought in more than one unit.
Bananas: 1.39 (6, C) 1.36 (3 lb, SC)
Strawberries: 3.25 (per pound) 2.99 (per pound, SC)
Romaine: 3.29 (6, C) 3.26 (8, SC)
Clementines: .98 (per lb, C), 1.20 (per lb, SC)
Yellow Onions: .40 (per pound, C) .45 (per pound, SC)
Mixed Peppers: 1.08 (per pepper C) 1.08 (per pepper SC)
Seedless Grapes: 1.99 (per pound, C), 1.99 (per pound, SC)
Milk: 1.30 (per gallon, C), 2.24 (1 gallon, SC)
Almond Milk: 2.63 (per container C), 2.63 (per container, SC)
Eggs: .15 (per egg), .15 (per egg, C)
Sliced American Cheese: .09 (per slice, C) .07 (per slice, SC)
Butter: 1.85 (per pound, C) 1.85 (per pound, SC)
Shredded Cheese: .21 (per ounce, Mexican Blend, C) .22 (per ounce Kraft Cheese Mexican Blend, SC)
String Cheese: .18 (per piece, C) .17 (per piece, SC)
Brie: .34 (per ounce oz, C) .30 (per oz, SC)
Feta: .29 (per oz, C) .33 (per oz, SC)
Yoplait Yogurt: .42 (per cup, C) .94 (per cup, SC)
Ground Turkey: 2.79(per lb, C) 2.69 (per pound, SC)
Chicken Breast: 3.19(per lb, C) 1.77 (per lb, SC)
Rotissiere Chicken: 4.99 (per chicken, C) 4.88 (per chicken, SC)
Pork Shoulder: 1.79 (per lb, C) 1.98 (per lb, SC)
Salmon: 7.69 (per lb, C) 7.52 (per lb,SC)
Sausage: 2.26 (per lb, C) 2.49 (per lb, SC)
Bacon: 3.74 (per lb, C) 4.76 (per lb, SC)
Turkey Bacon: .22 (per ounce, C) .19 (per oz, SC)
Bagels: .46 (per bagel, C) .50 (per bagel, SC)
Croissant: .50 (per croissant, C) .27 (per croissant, SC)
Sheet Cakes: 9.00 (per pound, C) 8.8 (per pound, SC)
Muffins: .58 (per muffin, C) .57 (per muffin, SC)
Dinner Rolls: .12 (per roll, C) .12 (per roll, SC)
Peanut Butter: .14 (per oz, C) .10 (per oz, SC)
Coconut Oil: .28 (per ounce, C) .28 (per oz, SC)
Olive Oil: 4.50 (per liter, C) 6.74 (2 liters, SC)
Canola Oil: 1.50 (per quart, C) 1.80 (1 quart, SC)
Vegetable Oil: 1.54 (per quart, C) 1.80 (per quart, SC)
Water Bottles: .10 (per bottle, C) .09 (per bottle, SC)
Chocolate Chips: .12 (per oz, C) .12 (per oz, SC)
Paper Towels: .008 (per sheet, C) .01 (per sheet, SC)
Toilet Paper: .12 (per sheet C) .19 (per roll, 190 sheets)
Diapers: 38.99 (Store brand, C) 39.88 (store brand, SC) (amounts varied)
Wipes: .22 (per wipe, C, Kirkland Brand) .19 (per wipe, SC, SC Brand)
Trash Bags: .19 (per 33 gallon bag, Costco) .06 (per 33 gallon bag, SC)
AA Batteries: .27 (per battery, C) .32 (per battery, SC)
AAA Batteries: .32 (per battery, C) .39 (per battery, SC)
COSTCO TOTAL: 109.97 (426.24)
If you are looking at price per unit, Sam’s Club wins by a few dollars — however, if you look at actual amount (since most products must be bought in bulk), Sam’s club wins by a good amount. So, at face value, Sam’s Club was clearly less. But I think the best way to judge how much a place costs is by their unit price. You have to buy more at Costco, but you typically get it for a cheaper overall price, with the exception of produce and meats, which seems to be cheaper overall at Sam’s Club.
Both food courts have the staples — pizza, hot dogs, and soft drinks. However, we felt like Costco offered more variety — it gets extra points for having a gelato station. Costco also had a larger dining area.
At our Costco, you can order food while you are checking out, which is kind of nice, because it stinks to have to wait in line to get your groceries, and then go wait in a mile long line to order food!
It’s hard to really judge who has the better samples, because, well, it varies from day-to-day. For instance, today there were some great samples at Costco — at least one in every aisle, but other days, there’s hardly any at all. The same goes for Sam’s Club. I think they both consistently put out yummy samples that really draw you in (we are totally suckers for buying things being given out as samples!)
At Sam’s Club, we noticed that they like to put up competing products as samples, which I kind of like. It helps you decide easily between two similar products. For instance, a few weeks ago they had two different brands of baked chicken alfredo out. We tried it, and we actually ended up buying one, and it was the brand that I initially wouldn’t have chosen! Sam’s Club also has these cool little dispensers where, when you swipe your card, you get a free, non-food sample of something (we’ve gotten medicines, detergent, etc.)
And if you want to know the time that has the best samples, we think it’s around 4:00 on weekdays. Though you might walk out of there with your pockets more empty at that time, because you’ll want to buy everything you try (or is that just us?)
It could be just our Costco, but I always feel like the cashiers don’t want to be there. They hardly ever make eye contact, and I feel like they never respond to what I’m saying and are usually just talking to their co-workers. With that said, they usually get us through the line fairly quickly, which is nice, because each line is about a mile long.
One thing I love about the Sam’s Club by our house is that it has self-check out. I know that some Costcos have this (one near my parent’s house does), and I just really like it. There’s never a line, but there are still cashiers standing close by, willing to assist at a moments notice.
When we are comparing just these two individual stores, Sam’s Club employees are far more friendly. As I mentioned above, many of the Costco employees seem kind of standoffish. I will say, that the Costco’s customer service desk is always full of friendly and happy people, but I wish that was extended throughout the store. There’s been a few times when we’ve asked about a product that they used to have, and we were just given weird looks. However, I have to say, this hasn’t been my experience at all Costco stores, just the one in Orem. We go to another one that’s near by occasionally, and our experience has been much better.
At Sam’s Club, all the employees are very helpful, and are always walking around asking if they can help you. Part of me feels like this is because of the store location — there is hardly anyone ever there, as opposed to the Costco in Orem, which is a madhouse pretty much every single day. However, I do appreciate them being helpful. One experience that was kind of funny, was when a customer started insulting a sample (really, who does that?) and saying how it’s so bad for you (it was fruit with whipped cream on top) and the sampler lady just smiled and let it roll of her shoulders.
UPDATE: Since moving to Colorado, I definitely retract all of this. Costco’s employees are 100% more helpful and friendly at all the stores we’ve been to in Colorado, and we have gone to both Sam’s and Costco plenty!
Both companies send out monthly mailers with coupons, some of which you have to have in order to use in store, and others just to inform you of a deal going on. Sam’s Club just recently started doing this, while Costco has for a long time. One thing that’s neat about Sam’s Club is that you can load coupons onto your card, and sometimes, you get free items just because — for instance, we recently got a free rotisserie chicken, just because they wanted to give us one.
With Costco’s coupon, don’t worry about cutting out the coupons you want to use. You can simply hand the book to the cashier after you are ready to pay, and when they scan it, any eligible coupons will be applied.
If you want to use manufacturers or outside coupons, you’re out of luck. Neither Sam’s Club or Costco accept these types of coupons. One thing I learned recently about Costco, though, is when a price ends in 7, you should stock up — it’s been marked down by corporate, and it’s about as low as it will ever be.
This is related just to Sam’s Club — but it’s worth noting! They have a service where, if you order online your groceries the night before by 5 PM, they will pull all the groceries for you and all you have to do is pay for them and pick them up the next day. I think this is awesome, especially for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the store (and increase the likelihood of impulse buying) or perhaps have wild kids who don’t like to go shopping!
Costco has the best return policy of pretty much any store I’ve gone to. There’s been several times that we’ve had to go and return something, and they’ve done it with no question. For instance, a few weeks ago, after we had used two packages of butter, we discovered that the contents of the third package was completely messed up, and when we took it back, they gave us two packages with no further question. With the exception of some electronics (which must be returned within 90 for a full refund), they stand behind their products 100%, and offer a full refund on their products if you aren’t 100% satisfied. I just read about someone who took back a BBQ that was clearly over a year or two old that had started to rust, and they happily gave him a refund. While I certainly don’t advocate taking back every product back to Costco once you’re done with it, you can buy products at Costco knowing that if you aren’t satisfied, you will get your money back, no questions asked. Plus, if you don’t have the receipt, no problem. They can look up information with your ID number, and you can make in store returns with products that were purchased online. And, if at any time you aren’t satisfied with your Costco membership, you can get it fully refunded (more information can be found here and here.)
As for Sam’s Club’s return policy, I’ve found numerous complaints about it. While they state that they have a 100% guarantee on their products and memberships, there are more stipulations than you find at Costco. If you purchase something online, it can be returned for cash if you have the receipt, but only a Sam’s gift card otherwise. And within that policy, certain things are excluded — such as televisions and other electronics — you have to have the original receipt. This person tried to return a TV from SamsClub.com that was sent to them with a cracked screen, and was pretty much told too bad, they had nothing to do with online orders. For in store purchases, you will only receive the last sales price of the product without a receipt (more information can be found here and here.)
- Gold Star Membership: $55, for mainly personal use
- Business Membership: $55, can be used for personal and business use. You can purchase up to five more memberships at $55 on this plan for employees/family members. Honestly, I don’t see that there’s really any difference between this and the Gold Star Membership — enlighten me if you know!
- Executive Membership: $110, and it includes a 2% money back at the end of the year, and apparently other perks.
Sam’s Club has three options as well, and you can see a comparison chart of the three here. The prices for the Sam’s Savings and Business both increased by about $10
- Sam’s Savings: $45
- Sam’s Business: $45
- Sam’s Plus: $100, you get additional discounts on products with this one!
I have seen both of these companies offer Groupon deals lately that make the memberships super cheap, and you get some cool coupons!
Sam’s Club has a one-day pass (free) that you can use if you don’t have a membership and just want to try it out, but you do have to pay an added fee that members don’t have to pay. At Costco, if someone gives you a gift card, you don’t need a membership to use it — plus, anyone can use their pharmacy!
I’m still a big fan of Costco. After researching both companies, I feel like Costco treats their employees the best, and I agree with their business practices more. According to this article, Costco runs the cheapest and happiest company in the world. This article compares wages (granted, it’s a bit dated, having been written in 2006) and showed that Costco’s average wage is $17 an hour, and while Sam’s Club didn’t release the wages of their employees, since it’s run by the same people behind Walmart (so if you don’t support Walmart, know you are supporting the company if you go to Sam’s Club), it’s likely similar to their average wage of 10.11. Other sites I found said that Sam’s Club employees make anywhere from 8-11$ an hour, depending on experience and job. This article said that in 2011, a typical Costco employee made about $45,000 a year, compared to the $17,486 salary a Sam’s Club employee made.
I should also mention, that I love the Costco photo center. The prices are cheap, they have great products, and they stand behind the quality of those as well! I also found that they never question if I have the copyright for something I’m printing (which I always do) which results in less headaches. I haven’t used Sam’s Club’s photo center, so I don’t know how theirs works!
If you are looking for the cheapest membership, I would probably go with Sam’s Club. However, for the best return policies, and for a company that is managed extremely well and treats their employees well, Costco is definitely way to go. For me, paying a little bit extra for the membership is worth it. I would not choose based on price of products alone. And, really, a lot of factors go into choosing! Though I admit, the Costco employees at the one we go to could do to be a little more friendly! While it’s been nice having a membership to both places (and really, Sam’s Club has been a pleasant surprise to how nice it’s been), we will always be Costco-ers for life!