NY Times on Costco

The NY Times ran a profile on Costco that looked at their knack for being the most successful warehouse retailer while at the same time paying their employees an average of $17/hr. Wall Street thinks Costco pays their employees too much, or as they put it, Costco “could force employees to pick up a little more of the burden.”

They’ve built a $27 billion company, so I think they know a thing or two about running things.

Meet Ms. Scrooge (I mean, Emme Kozloff) who thinks she knows more about Costco than Costco:

How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart – New York Times

Emme Kozloff, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, faulted Mr. Sinegal as being too generous to employees, noting that when analysts complained that Costco’s workers were paying just 4 percent toward their health costs, he raised that percentage only to 8 percent, when the retail average is 25 percent.

“He has been too benevolent,” she said. “He’s right that a happy employee is a productive long-term employee, but he could force employees to pick up a little more of the burden.”

Mr. Sinegal says he pays attention to analysts’ advice because it enforces a healthy discipline, but he has largely shunned Wall Street pressure to be less generous to his workers.

“When Jim talks to us about setting wages and benefits, he doesn’t want us to be better than everyone else, he wants us to be demonstrably better,” said John Matthews, Costco’s senior vice president for human resources.

All I know is they make great pizza slices for the price and you don’t even need to be a member to eat them. Just go it through the out door.

Pharmacy Price Discrepencies

Does anyone know if the costs below are passed on to insurance companies for those of use with insurance. Sure, we may not see the difference first hand since we probably just have a co-pay, but damn, if our company’s insurance plans are paying 10X more than they need to be, I’m all for hopping on the Costco train and lobbying others to do the same.

Freakonomics Blog » If Crack Dealers Took Lessons From Walgreens, They Really Would Be Rich

Here are the prices he found at Houston stores for 90 tablets of generic Prozac:

Walgreens: $117

Eckerd: $115

CVS: $115

Sam’s Club: $15

Costco: $12

Those aren’t typos. Walgreens charges $117 for a bottle of the same pills for which Costco charges $12.

My Fear of Cashier Change Confusion

One of my greatest fears is confusing cashiers when trying to check-out at a store or restaurant. For example, earlier today Ben of Bencredible.com and I went to Costco for some fine dining. I bought, and the total came to $5.42 for our pizza and pop combos.

After giving the cashier a $10 bill, I realized I had two cents in my pocket. However, the cashier had already typed $10.00 into the cash register, thus informing him that the change due was $4.58. Based on previous experiences with this type of situation I knew that bringing my two cents into the equation would bring nothing but confusion, thus stalling the check-out line.

So, rather than giving the cashier my two pennies, bringing the resulting change to $4.00 plus 60 cents in shiny silver, I kept my pennies to myself.

This is the second time just this week where I’ve run into this problem.

I’ve tried to figure out what the basis of my fear is. At this point, I think it’s a combination of two things:

I don’t like making cashiers feel stupid when they can’t figure out how to adjust the change based on the presentation of two cents. Thinking beyond the cash register seems to cause a lot of stress that I can help them avoid.
And I don’t like holding up people behind me in line over my preference for pop machine acceptable coins.

Seriously, I should just go to the drive-thru where I have plenty of time to reach under the seat for correct change before reaching the drive-thru window.