Print can be expensive, so I understand that Costco will no longer send their printed Costco Connection magazine to lower-tier members like me. After all, their stated mission is “to continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices” (my emphasis).
However, I’m less understanding that I had to learn about this decision by reading between the lines of a cheery email promoting the latest online version.
Buried halfway down the email, after sections pointing to the cover story, the Food department and the journey behind Kirkland cashews, was this:
“Want to receive every issue of the Costco Connection magazine in the mail? When you upgrade to Executive, a subscription to the Costco Connection is included with the membership.”
The next section said, “All members can access the Costco Connection online any time.”
Hmm. Not exactly plain language. So UNLESS I upgrade (at twice the cost), the subscription is NOT included, although I can still get it online. They don’t exactly use weasel words, but hiding the facts has a similar effect.
I wanted to confirm this, plus suggest that Costco be more up front in their messages. However, in the fine print at the bottom of the email, it said “Please DO NOT REPLY, as the email will not be read.” So I tweeted:
“Nice attempt to avoid saying you’re taking away something, @costcocanada. Emailing that your latest magazine is out, that all members have online access + the mailed issue is ‘included’ with upgraded Executive membership means I will no longer get said mailed issue, right?”
The Social Media Response Team got back to me quickly and gave me an email address, where I explained my tweet, adding:
“I’m not saying you aren’t justified in keeping the more expensive print publication for Premium members. I’m just pointing out that you aren’t exactly being up front about the fact that members like me won’t be getting the print magazine any more.”
James confirmed the change:
“In regards to The Costco Connection magazine being issued by mail, this was a service we had offered our Business and Executive members in the past, however we are only offering this service for active Executive members at this time….With that being said, should a member wish to obtain a physical edition of The Costco Connection magazine they may inquire at their local Costco Membership Counter (based upon availability).”
Companies want to focus on the positive. I get that. Sure, be happy and positive that everyone can access this new online magazine. No doubt many members don’t care about print anyway. But if you are truly “transparent” (as companies like to say they are), speak plainly. Be clear.
Say something like, “Sorry, Business members, to help keep our legendary low Costco prices, we’ll no longer be sending you the print version. We hope you understand, and we invite you to check out our online version” and “Stop by your Costco Membership Counter next time you’re shopping at Costco and ask if they have any print copies left.”
You know me. I had to pass that suggestion along. Here’s what James replied:
“Thank you for for the additional suggestions, which we have shared with our team to review, as we are constantly finding ways to improve the services we offer our members and to meet or exceed their expectations.”
The funny thing is, Costco had mailed the print magazine out a few weeks before the email message; no mention of the upcoming change. They missed another chance to let non-Executive members this would be our last and point out the online version.
You can probably tell from the post, but weasel words are those used to avoid a direct statement or position. Merriam-Webster uses as an example “reorganization” as “a weasel word that the company is using to say that jobs are being eliminated.”
“Improved experience“? Probably weasel words too