Have you ever been to a warehouse that offers crates of frozen Orange Chicken, barrels of vodka, clothes, teddy bears that rival most skyscrapers, tires, and a hot dog/soda combo for $1.50?
Yes, you have, and it’s called Costco. The modest warehouse chain with the big red logo is becoming (or has become for some people) a one-stop-shop for pretty much everything, including TVs, furniture, appliances, cabinets, water filtration systems, and the list goes on. The only thing missing is a house to put it all in. Oh, wait, nevermind.
Before you realize that cars were missing from that list, the warehouse chain has had its foot through the door to the auto industry since 1989, with its Auto Program.
Through this program, Costco has made a list of approved dealerships, and when you go to pick a car from their website those dealerships are contacted so they can connect with you to sell you the car. In other words, Costco doesn’t directly sell cars to members, but rather they connect members to dealerships that have the cars they’re looking for.
In a nutshell, you go onto the Costco website, choose a vehicle, and then the website will request your personal contact information.
After that, Costco will narrow a list of dealerships and connect you with one. What you don’t know, however, which is also what Costco prides itself on is its process of ensuring each dealership complies with a set of regulations.
The dealership must:
Approved dealerships must also have contacts that are trained in Costco’s auto program process.
So when you go through the website and send your information, Costco will contact their list of dealerships to find your car and connect you to that dealership.
Costco has also decided regulations its website must adhere to:
All of this information can be found in greater detail on their website.
Costco has undoubtedly provided a seamless platform and process, which truly does put the customer (or member) first in terms of convenience. Costco is a trusted brand, and a program like this is hinged on preserving that trust. At the same time, using this program means relinquishing your own decision-making process.
Websites like Autotrader, Cars.com and Instamotor try to empower their own users to make a personal informed decision and provide the information necessary so they have full control of the transaction from start to finish.
It’s a lot more work than simply using Costco’s program, but at least you know what you’re getting and know who you’re dealing with directly.
If you do end up going with this program, which to its credit is highly regarded, keep in mind that the big red logo has a history of very careful marketing. Just be sure to read the fine print.
Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.