Navigating Warehouse Club Membership Fees: Is It Worth Paying?

Warehouse Club Membership People Shopping
Photo Courtesy of Pexels – Eduardo Soares

Warehouse club membership fees—those unavoidable costs that greet you at the entrance of cavernous stores filled with supersized jars of peanut butter and bulk toilet paper. But are they a necessary evil or a smart investment? In this post, we’ll delve into the world of warehouse club memberships, weigh the pros and cons, and explore whether the benefits justify the cost.

Did you know that you don’t actually have to pay for warehouse club membership fees in some cases? For example, you don’t necessarily need one at Sam’s Club or BJ’s since they give you a way to purchase from their stores through their website.

Checking the website or just googling an item you want under google’s shopping tab is a great way to find what you need. Website prices can be different from what is in the store which is another reason to check. I found one item I wanted recently but it was at Sam’s Club.

As you can see on my blog, I bake a lot and use yeast for bread. I would buy Red Star yeast, but I wanted to try Bellarise and Sam’s Club has it in the club for less than $6 for the two 1 lb. package and they had it in stock. But I didn’t want to spend the money for a warehouse club membership fee for this one item. I didn’t see the value in it when the yeast was the only product I intended to buy from a warehouse club instead of buying food and other products by bulk to justify their membership fees.

Therefore, I wanted seeing what would happen if I put the yeast into my cart on the Sam’s Club website to see if it would let me purchase it. Something can up and I put off the purchase and then the item went away on the site. I figured this item was just in short supply. Sam’s Club and Walmart had a lot of issues when I would check about items that were supposed to be in the store per the website.

After I kept checking our local Walmart for this yeast, it still was never on their shelf. Sam’s Club is right next to the Walmart so I stopped in and I saw the yeast on their shelf. Now I thought their inventory was off so I took it up to customer service and told them about it.

The customer service person I spoke to first got rather snippy with me saying I couldn’t even buy the item at all without purchasing Sam’s Club membership. Then, I spoke to a manager named Steve at the West Mifflin, PA Sam’s Club who assured me that his inventory was correct and the website wasn’t his problem. No, it was my problem and hardly his concern I guess. They didn’t care when I told them this.

So after I got home about 30 minutes later, I checked Sam’s Club website again and the item still wasn’t listed. I then put another item into my cart and I saw I could have it delivered to my home or set it up for me to pick it up at the store. They charge you for this. In the case of a pick up the cost was an extra $4 for a “pick up fee.” The extra pick up charge seemed fair. After all, why pay for a warehouse club membership fee that I wouldn’t use? If I was going to buy this product often enough, then a membership would make sense.

Sam’s Club does carry items that would be worth the price such as vitamins that I use. I usually have a coupon and buy a bottle at Walmart, which is about the same price per pill as the larger Sam’s size. This is something you have to compare.

Furthermore, these websites have prices that sometimes differ from the store. I’ll give you an example with a docsis 3.1 cable modem, and the ARRIS Surfboard DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem on Walmart.com is $138.18 and that same item at the Walmart is selling for $169.00. I thought that maybe they didn’t update it at the store. Therefore, I had an employee pull it and check the price and it was $169.00 in the store. He said they would not match the price on Walmart.com. I had this happen to me at Target and they matched their own website price. Walmart and Sam’s Club seem to be a bit more hard nosed when it comes to store vs. website pricing.

Well, for the modem I am still on the fence about that. I should get a new one but I may be switching internet providers soon so I will wait on that. If I need it, I can order this product online.

I was irritated more by Sam’s clubs employees giving me a hard time about buying this off the website as if I was getting away with something by avoiding the membership club fee. That first customer service rep got kind of nasty saying I couldn’t buy it off the website without paying the membership fee. This woman said the website was probably going to tack on a membership fee. But when I did it, the website tacked on a pickup fee.

Sam's Club Warehouse Pickup Item with Non-Member Fee
Photo Courtesy of Sam’s Club Website

If I had it shipped, it would add a “non member fee” which would be ok too. So I wasn’t any sort of free ride. Why was this woman arguing with me? I only went to her counter to tell her this item isn’t showing up on the website. Attitude like this makes you want to shop elsewhere. I was just giving her information. If I were in her shoes, I would have smiled and said I would pass on the information.

Walking around Sam’s briefly I didn’t see much I wanted or needed anyway. Maybe this item will never be back in stock. But their competitor has it for about the same price. Maybe I will find BJ’s to be a warehouse club worth joining. They do the same thing, but they charge a nonmember fee.

But always check the website for both price and availability. Even if I was a Sam’s Club member I wouldn’t be stopping by since it was never on the website. I just happen to stop in because I was going to be right next door. And if you notice a price on the web being lower and the worker denies you the cheaper price, talk to a manager. I could have done that with the modem but I wasn’t sure about needing it now.

Most stores are going to match their own company’s website price. It’s just sometimes you run into those workers who feel a need to ‘defend their company’ in someway. I totally can see a company choosing to not match a competitor’s price since they may be using it as a loss leader to get you into the store. Sort of like the Thanksgiving turkey for 99 cents a pound. In the end they will make up with the other stuff you end up buying. If their competitor is just choosing to sell something under cost so be it. It’s their money to lose!

Sam's Club Warehouse Pickup Cost for Non-Member
Photo Courtesy of Sam’s Club website

And never let a smart aleck store employee intimidate you. Remember they just don’t know what they are talking about. I knew I could buy from Sam’s Club without a club membership. I saw my online cart with my own eyes. Warehouse club membership fees were not required for that particular purchase. The Sam’s employee telling me they wouldn’t give me the product I would have paid for with my credit card was laughably stupid on her part.

In conclusion, warehouse club membership fees can be worth it or not depending on your own needs. It is up to you to decide.

Visit Beauty Cooks Kisses Blog for more helpful posts to better your life!

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