Costco – Case Study In How To Lose A Customer

All Costco had to do was keep their mouth shut and stay out of politics.

But they didn’t.

Instead they figuratively “Took a knee” to the Radical Alt-Left of Antifa, BLM, The Woke Mafia, and the Twitter Trolls.

What Had Been & Could Have Been

Now I’m in the market for a My Pillow. Not hard core, but eventually. WHENEVER I see one in some store I’m going to buy one as an “impulse buy”. I’ll not be looking for the best price on line. There’s margin in that kind of sale.

I typically have done an ‘every 2 weeks’ grocery and gas run to COSTCO. A little less often during the “Lockdown” crap as I’d stocked up on about 6 months of excess groceries to work off (so mostly buying perishables now) and not going very far so gasoline is lasting longer in the tank. But still, eventually I’d have been in the store and had a reason to go down the non-grocery isles, seen a My Pillow, and stuffed it in the cart.

Now I won’t. And NOT because they are discontinuing the pillow. Because I’m discontinuing them. (mostly).

Realize I’m not being all hard core political about this. I’m staunchly “middle of the bird” and neither right-wing nor left-wing. Like most folks, I’m a cross section of beliefs. What the Alt-Left folks (socialists / Marxists like BLM, Communists like Antifa, etc.) are doing is polarizing even the MIDDLE GROUND into being only accepted on the right-wing. They are about 15% of the population and driving the other 85% away toward the conservatives. OK, I can do that…

For me it is much more about how I feel when I go to get in the car.

In the past, my dominate feeling was smug pleasure at knowing I was going to be getting a good deal on gasoline and groceries and that, with just a little labor on my part, I’d cut my costs by repackaging enormous sized units sold at COSTCO into normal home sized units. I’d get to use my food storage and prepping skills. I’d get to use my restaurant back room skills learned as a kid. It was a nice mix of nostalgia, my own skills being used, and economy.

What Is Now

Now, I think “Go to Costco” and instead there’s this feeling of DREAD. I now know that they hate me. They despise any conservative value I might hold. It caters to The Alt-Left, and who knows, I might even be funding them via some Corporate blackmail Donation program. I also know that the products they are offering are NOT the best. They have made a political decision on products to carry, so I must assume that’s how they will filter ALL their products. Damaging the free market and aligning with Those Who Hate Me. ONLY offering products with a political spin, not based on best product.

Now, do you think I’m going to be in a hurry to point my car toward COSTCO and feel all that? Do you think I’m going to be happy about my decision to shop there that day? Um, no. In fact: Hell No.

It really is that simple. Customer Perception and Customer Experience. My perception of Costco has now shifted from “Beneficial and positive” to “Evil and hates me”. Good luck ever shifting that back. Customer Experience will now be with angst riding on my shoulder… with annoyance at where MY MONEY might be going to be used against me. Wondering if BLM Banners will be greeting me in a few months. With simmering pissed-ness and with ‘be on alert’ in the wings.

The Consequences

A week or so ago I went to do my usual “fill up the cars”. Normally I’d just combine that with a COSTCO run. Instead, I pulled out Gas Buddy and did a search for something else. Found a station with slightly better prices much closer. Why make a 9 mile run to COSTCO for gas if I can get it closer and as cheap / sometimes cheaper? That was about $120 all told filling the few cars.

It’s been something like a month? Maybe more? Since my last COSTCO grocery run. I get in the car and think “I need eggs, chicken, lamb, bread, …” should I go to COSTCO? And then the feeling starts to creep in… And I also realize my tank is already full, and I’ve gotten used to shopping at the local discount markets that have about the same prices on eggs, chicken, bread, lamb, wine… So just why not go to that place where I feel comfortable and wanted…

That’s another $150 to $200 / month. Maybe more.

Which has me puttering to the store nearby instead. Now they have a marketing shtick where they price very low “on sale” and higher in between, and where very small sizes are very high price / unit; so I do need to be careful to buy any “stocking items” when they are on sale (tuna for example) and to buy the “big size” for economies (flour) and do my usual Costco “decant, repackage, store” process on them. But my costs are about the same and I don’t have to feel bad in the process.

I do need to “spread it around” between a few stores instead of just the one Big Box. The cheap gas is a Mom & Pop. There are 2 “cheap chain” grocers with different name products priced low (about 2 miles from each other so an easy loop). For things like tires, I’ll be doing Tire Rack instead of Costco ( I think I’ve bought 5 or 6 full sets of tires at Costco over the years… never again. About $800 /set.)

Not only that, since I was driven to the My Pillow web site, I see they have about a 1/2 off with promo code option. (IIRC it is more off with the RSBN Promo-code, says 66% with “RSBN”…) So I’m now thinking maybe Costco isn’t all that great a way to buy non-grocery things either…

Now as the number of things where my first thought used to be “Costco Run” drops, the utility of the whole “big run” drops, eventually from a positive economic net gain, to a net loss as the gasoline / transport cost is amortized over ever less “stuff” bought there. It has already dropped below “break even” without even thinking about the membership cost. Next renewal? Maybe not…

In Conclusion

That’s sort of the point. It isn’t a grand political movement ideology driven “I’m Going To BOYCOTT!!!” thing that drives customers away. It is a slow erosion of Brand Image and Customer Experience.

I didn’t decide to boycott Costco (unlike NFL / MLB who shoved it in my face). I just read that they were dumping My Pillow and thought “Oh, darn, I could have just bought one on the next Costco run”. Then when the time to gas up came, just didn’t feel positive about driving all that way for gas and wondered “anything close enough cheap enough?” (so I don’t have to think about Costco…)

Then for groceries, I just decided to check out some more local options (since I didn’t need to gas up on the Costco Runs nearly so much and since Walmart had become “customer hostile” with locking up products and no checkers…) and found I can get all “the usual” just as effectively closer to home and a better customer experience.

In short, I’m just slowly fading away; from the Costco point of view.

We still have an item with an adjustment / maintenance warranty that takes us to the store every so often. That will still happen (in fact, has happened). It isn’t like we’re shunning them entirely. BUT: I found myself walking the isles thinking “Don’t need that, don’t want that, have plenty of this…” as I’d stayed stocked up at the more local smaller stores. So even when I was IN Costco and walking the isles, I wasn’t buying. I’ve “moved on” emotionally and structurally.

That’s just how it is with “Get Woke, Go Broke!”.

I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to NFL / MLB. Plenty of good high school and college stuff if I need a fix. If I want “Hotdogs on the BBQ and Beer” I don’t need to pay someone $60 for the experience, I’ll just go camping or do it on the patio. They must now WORK to get my attention back.

I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to Coke or Pepsi. I’ve “moved on” to iced tea. I do know I’m not going back to StarBucks. Pete’s is just as good (in some ways better) and they don’t have a Track-Me token forced onto your laptop. I’ve also put a DIY Kit in the car and I’m good with making my own coffee at the park, truck stop, rest area, whatever. Plus, I feel good about the world in the rest area – while StarBucks reminds me they hate cops, hate me, hate America…

The list goes on. Products and brands that shout at me “We HATE you and your values too!” just don’t make me feel good about buying them, seeing them, having them in my house or car, or sitting in their shop. So I choose to “distance myself”. That old “I know when I’m not wanted, gotta go” thing.

In some ways it’s very odd. I didn’t set out to boycott things. I set out to get a good deal on decent products and not care at all about politics. But the forced infusion of Political Crap into the corporate cultures has driven me away. I have NO IDEA what the political leaning might be of my current gasoline station and grocery stores – and that’s the whole point…

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Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Human Interest, Political Current Events | 37 Comments

Minimal Pi i2pd Install by Pinroot

Take it away Pinroot!

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Posted in Tech Bits | 17 Comments

Friends Of Australia Friday Lamburger & Gumdale Cab

It’s once again an Australia Time Friday! It’s FRIDAY!!!!

The Tucker

Since we really like the lamburger Steaks, I’m planning on those again. Saute some red onions in the pan, make 1/2 pound steaks about 1/2 inch thick so they cook quickly, lay them in some olive oil in the big cast iron skillet and sprinkle on some dried garlic granules. Salt & Pepper to tasted.

Side vegetables will be an “American” Bag-O-Salad and “California mix” vegetables. This is a frozen mix of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cellery and some other stuff I don’t remember. Dump in a steamer basket, hit the boil and steam for about 8 minutes.

For desert, I picked up some fresh strawberries. Mine will likely get too much sugar and a bit of goat milk. Spouse usually just wants the pure berry but sugars them if a bit tart.

Once again Australian Lamburger can be had for about $7 / lb, so looks like the worst of the price hike / shortage has passed. Either that or it just wasn’t moving at $10 ;-)

The Wine

Tonight is a moderate amount (as I actually have to be at work tomorrow morning… how strange…) of Gumdale Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. Strange to think of 2017 as a 5 year old bottle, but there it is.

Dark inky purple, almost black, in the glass, showing just a hint of red in the meniscus at the glass / wine interface. Made a thinner view, it becomes more deep redish. Nose has a hint of smoke in it, perhaps from the barrels? Nice fruit in the nose, but not excessive. Very smooth on the tongue. Dry but not harsh. Tannins enough for interest, but not so much as to be demanding more time in the bottle. The flavor is VERY interesting, but I don’t know quite how to describe it. Reminds me of some of the blends I’ve experimented with.

This ought to go very well with meats & cheeses. We’ll find out shortly ;-) I’d not marry it with a strong marinara full of fire, but a milder one would work well. Nor would I waste it on a pepperoni pizza. But with a nice prime rib, or chops, or lamb? Oh yeah.

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Posted in cooking, Food | 22 Comments

Whining About Wine In Frozen France

Well that’s not good. Looks like all the “Global Warming” we’ve had has not been enough to prevent a freeze in France threatening the wine production. Good news for California and Australian wines I guess…

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexledsom/2021/04/08/french-vineyards-ablaze-across-france-the-fight-to-save-crops/

Apr 8, 2021,03:29pm EDT|1,183 views
French Vineyards ‘Ablaze’ Across France: The Fight To Save Crops
Alex Ledsom
Alex LedsomSenior Contributor
Travel
I write about travel, culture, food & drink.

France is under a cold spell, with the weather falling to an unexpected -4C across large parts of the country, record lows for April. And that’s causing huge problems for farmers and wine producers, who fear that crops will be damaged. From Chablis to Champagne, as reported by The Local, France has been covered with images of what looks like fields that have been set alight.

Smudge Pots… whole vineyards full of pots of fire. I suppose in a couple of years we will have wine snobs reporting on the “smokey notes of rustic campfires” and “sweetness tinged with the bite of fire”…

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56688031

Save our wine! Big freeze spells disaster for French vineyards

The images are captivating, but across France farmers are counting the cost after three nights of sub-zero temperatures. For many winemakers the 2021 harvest is ruined.

Temperatures have dipped to record lows in some areas, and farmers have used every method they can to save their crops. Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie says he will declare an agricultural disaster.
[…]
“It’s a national phenomenon,” warned Jérôme Despey, head of the FNSEA farmers’ union, who said these frosts were worse than any he could remember.

Winemaker Boris Calmette, 62, spoke of a catastrophe: “We’ve got wine co-operatives affected by as much as 90%, which is extremely rare.”

Yeah, ’cause you know, constantly rising temperatures pushing us to a fiery doom always make for record cold spells… /sarc;

So I’m guessing that when it comes to wine, the French are saying to forget about “Carbon Footprint” and other follies. Spectacular images of acres and acres of hectares of fires in amongst the grapes…

All 65 wine areas of Bordeaux have been hit by temperatures as low as -5C and wine-growers have lit braziers and candles a few feet apart in an attempt to protect their crops. Another tactic is to burn bales of straw.

In the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, some vineyards have reported 90% of the crop destroyed.

Sad to see it. OTOH there are other years and other places, so no wine shortage in our future. OTOH, if this becomes a regular thing, maybe France will realize the folly of the Global Warming Chicken Littles…

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Posted in AGW and Weather News Events, Food, Global Cooling | 53 Comments