Tuesday, November 20 2012, 10:58 PM MST
Costco Vs. Costco.com; A Personal Lesson In Comparison Shopping
By Matt Gephardt with researched assistance from Cindy St Clair
(KUTV) When it's time to shop, many people turn to Costco thinking their store-membership will buy them a deal. But if you don't know how to shop the wholesale giant, you could be missing out.
It comes down to shopping in the store versus shopping online. If you order an item online, you might expect to pay some shipping and handling fees. But at Costco.com they don't tell you what those fees are so knowing how much you can save by going into the store takes some leg work.
The inspiration for this investigation began with my daughter, Abigail, who is one. Abigail had outgrown her infant car seat and her parents were in the market for a new one. Oh and full disclosure: I am one of her parents. But as Abigail is an only child, her mom and I are always in need of parental advice. Last weekend I turned to my KUTV-Facebook page and asked for car seat recommendations.
One seat that was recommended by several people is the Alpha Omega Elite available at Costco. But I was also warned: don't shop at Costco.com for the seat because it's cheaper in the store. It is advice for which I am grateful. A five minute drive to Costco saved us $20 for two seats. The price on the shelf, $89.99 and the price online is $99.99. Online, the smaller print below the price does clearly say that shipping and handling is included in the price but it does not say how much that is or how much can be saved by driving to the store.
It's not just car seats. With the Salt Lake City Costco store's permission, I compared the price of items on the shelves to prices on Costco.com. I found that there are several items that are only available in the stores and vice versa, there are several items that are only available online. But for the items that are available both in stores and online it is, as you might expect, you are paying for the lack-of-hassle when you order online.
Take for example the Dyson Animal Ball vacuum cleaner. It is lightweight item that can easily fit into most car trunks. The unlisted shipping cost for the Dyson is $10. It's $10 cheaper in the store.
Bulkier items, like a queen-size bed set I found for $600 in the store. The same bed set is a whopping $100 more if purchased online. That is $100 that can easily be saved if, say, you know somebody with a pick-up-truck.
We did call Costco to ask why they don't just break down the price online between the item and the shipping so customers don't have to drive to the store to do a price comparison. We were told that all the Costco executives were in meetings Tuesday and were not available to comment.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)