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RHU Advice: Is It Legal For Costco To Search Their Customer's Shopping Bags?



From an RHuer:

I was at Costco shopping with my mother and nephew, checking the store out to see if I might want to get a membership myself. We went up to the checkout and my nephew went over to look at the display of Christmas lights. I had left my purple bag in the cart with the big items and the bag had my name on it. I was keeping an eye on my nephew and when I looked back, the male individual who was boxing the order up had his hands in my bag, digging through it. He pulled out an amiibo character that I had forgotten was in there, something that had been delivered to my parents' address since I am in the process of moving and that my mother had given to me while we were all eating together. When I asked him about it, he said he was just making sure. I have never felt so humiliated and angry in my life and this happened at least a week and a half ago. Needless to say, I will not be getting a membership there.

My question is, do I have any leg to stand on legal wise? Can an employee do something like searching your bag without even asking you? I admit that I shouldn't have left it in my bag, but the store doesn't even carry amiibo characters and I had honestly forgotten.





Even if it was clearly signposted as a condition of entry (isn't it only in the costco membership agreement?), taking your bag without consent or even being aware of it is fucking rude and way out of line. I'd challenge the policy, asking where it says an inspection of a bag includes an invasive search and root about in your personal belongings without reasonable cause - it's one of the reasons why so many other stores don't let employees challenge people suspected of stealing, even if they witnessed the act.

Account Deleted

Pretty sure you have the legal right to throw a shitstorm of complaints at them for that. There was no reason to believe or suspect that you had anything in your bag that wasn't your property, so there was absolutely no reason for him to look. The only time that he may look, is if you went through the sensors and they beeped.

Happened to my mother and me once, we had bought DVDs at the big electronics store across the mall, then went into the mall and were gonna look at shoes, but the damn sensors at the shoe store beeped at us. We immediately left again, but were followed by an employee who asked to look into our big shopping bags. (My mom has a very short temper when angered... I admit, the scene was a bit embarrassing... Yeah, my mom can be a crusty if she wants to be)

Former Grocery Slave

You should blast that story, in very full detail, on Costco's Facebook page. That sounds weird, but putting something like that on a public forum is the best way that something will be done about it. Companies don't like to be embarrassed in public. If you were to contact their customer service, likely they would not act on it, as no one would know about it other than you and them. I find if I have a problem with a company, it is always resolved in my favor very quickly if I put it on their Facebook. Make sure to include approx date, time, store number, location, and be very detailed in their story. They might give you something for free (gift card or something).


While not illegal it's a bit odd considering its Costco and they're not known for doing that. I would inform someone at the corporate level. It might have been a case of a new employee being overzealous, or someone just needs to be fired.


If you are a member (and I assume you are) your membership agreement explicitly states that they have the right to check your bags.

That having been said no one should be groping about in your personal property without asking and explaining first.


To follow-up on my own posting. From:

Down at the bottom under "General Policies":

"Costco reserves the right to inspect any container, backpack, briefcase, etc., upon entering or leaving the warehouse."

Account Deleted

Simeon, it's mentioned that a membership was considered, but after this event, a membership will not be done.


Presumably, to be shopping there, SOMEONE of the three people involved had a membership. The writer was considering getting one of their own in addition.

Account Deleted

Tech, fair enough - but does the membership of a friend/relative extend to you? If it doesn't, still illegal.


"Any container..." By the terms of the agreement signed by the customer, they have the right. Not arguing whether it's legal or not, I have no idea.

Account Deleted

Tech, I checked the conditions - *I* do not have a card with them, so I am not a member of theirs; at most, I'm a visitor. Nothing in the conditions says that any member's visitors' containers will be checked. It even specifically says, only members may purchase items. No right to check the member's visitors' containers/backpack/etc.


It says 'Any container'. Pretty clear. I don't have a costco membership anymore, it was 25 years ago or so, but at that time you had to show a card to get in at all, They may have taken that as consent, there may have been a mind control helmet involved, I doubt it's illegal; a case can be made that the actual member should have told the non member about it. I don't know. I'm neither a lawyer nor part of costco. The wording is clear.

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