Goodbye, Sam's

Big sulk about big bulk

I canceled my annual Sam’s Club membership today. This is a Big Event™ warranting a blog post, only because my thoughts on it grew numerous enough to publish wholesale.

Anyway: Today, while enduring the choppy sea-like movement that results from driving The Spaceship[1] down what Corpus Christi Texas calls “roads”, I realized I spend more in time, frustration, and wasted product than I save when I shop at Sam’s. And with that in mind, it doesn’t make sense to keep paying for it when there’s just two people (and six cats) in the house.

I’ve kept renewing my membership for the last five years because, hey, the gas was slightly cheaper, and buying things in bulk sounds great, especially with recent shortages. Buying things in bulk can be a big trap though. You’re spending less per item but more money up front, and there’s a rush to consume before the expiration date. Boredom is quick to set in when you have 25 years’ worth of ramen packets, and the storage requirements for bulk goods is high. You might tend to overstock unhealthier things, like Redbull and Arizona Tea, just because they sell them in 24-packs.

And big bulk stores are affected by the same shortages the regular ones are, sometimes in comical ways. For example, during the April 2020 shortages, bottled water became impossible to get – unless you spent $500 on a pallet conveniently shipped to your door from Sam’s. But hey, free shipping.

The gas isn’t much cheaper now, there’s a difference of 2-5 cents in my area. That adds up over time, but the lines at their gas station are often longer than the lines to the Port-A-Potties at a music festival after the last show.

Their MasterCard gave 5% cash back on gas, so I could fill up anywhere and still save some pennies, but you can no longer apply the rewards to your card balance. Instead, they force you to either spend your “Sam’s Cash™” on future store purchases, or you can make the trek inside the virus vortex store and wait in the long line at Member Services to get physical cash.

As a big fan of curbside pickup, with an allergy to the packed stores filled with screaming children whose ages range from 0 to 45, this simply won’t do.

So it was time to turn off auto-renew and let my membership lapse, which was a hassle:

Screenshot of a message from Sam's Club saying to call or visit in person to cancel auto-renew

Due to my aforementioned allergy that occurs when there are too many centers of the universe in one convenient location, I dialed the number. After fumbling through an automated operator (those things never understand me), my telephone enjoyed a leisurely 15-minute wait for a real human to pick up the line, only to be promptly placed back on hold for the card provider’s specific set of humans.

This second hold was a lot faster, and the person on the other end sounded like they genuinely enjoyed their job, even if it involved manually turning off auto-renew countless times a day. While on the phone, I refreshed the page see that the message had turned into a convenient checkbox to enable auto-renew, confirming that it was turned off for me:

Screenshot of the Sam’s Club website with an empty checkbox to turn on auto-renew above a legal blurb

Amused, I remarked on the difference in effort involved between turning it on or off, while expressing awareness that it was part of their SEP field, and they chuckled. “Actually, I know why,” they said. “It’s only a thing for those who have the MasterCard.”

Wonderful, that makes me even more excited to cancel my membership, I thought to myself. Also, your ship decloaked.

Anyway, if you know anyone who loves Nissin Top Ramen, chicken flavor, please let me know. I have enough here to feed a medium-sized compound of college students for the summer.

  1. Ford Transit Connect, fondly referred to as “The Spaceship” by friends and hitchhikers ↩︎