The Serious Downside To Sam's Club Memberships

In addition to being owned by Walmart, the retail giant known for killing small businesses in America (via Bloomberg), accusations of union-busting (via CBS MoneyWatch and The Atlantic) and mistreating their employees (via Time and New York Times), and being sued over their alleged role in the opioid epidemic (per ProPublica), Sam's Club offers memberships that just don't get you that bang for your buck. If Walmart's various controversies don't make you reconsider your handy ticket to bulk-shopping bliss, maybe this will. 

Unlike Costco, which has a somewhat better reputation for treating workers decently and paying them a living wage (via Slate), Sam's Club memberships just don't seem worth it for the value, monetarily speaking — or for their corporate values. Here's why you might want to think twice about signing up.

Sam's Club vs Costco: The bulk buy battle

Sam's Club memberships, which currently cost $45 a pop, are good for you and one other household partner alone (via Sam's Club). Costco, on the other hand, has a basic membership that costs $60, which is obviously $15 more than Sam's Club (via Costco). However, according to Investopedia, the incremental extra cost gets you a much wider range of products to choose from — who doesn't love the Kirkland Signature label?

Additionally, that extra $15 to choose Costco over Sam's Club might buy better worker treatment. Sam's Club was sued for alleged discrimination against employees with disabilities and transgender employees, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Chicago Tribune. They allegedly had people work for free (via New York Times). Costco's not perfect, but no employee makes less than $15 an hour, and everyone can get benefits after 15 months working there: health coverage with dental and vision, a 401-K, seven paid holidays, paid breaks — even paid parental leave (via The Week). There's lower turnover, and, as Costco's CFO said, "better-quality employees" (via Slate). All while maintaining better revenue and earnings growth over the past five years than Walmart itself, according to a Forbes piece by the Trefis Team.