Costco Is Mean to the Disabled and Elderly

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I got a Costco membership on Wednesday, May 11, so my mother could get tested by their audiologist and get new hearing aids. As you’ll learn longer-form below, that trip was a bust. Now that Costco has ended its mask requirement, neither she nor I are keen about going there. While Costco was amenable to refunding the membership, the process was hostile to my mother, who was only a secondary user on the account and hence I don’t believe liable even for the annual fee.

And as someone who is now basically crippled due to having two hips badly in need of replacement, I also noticed the shortage of handicapped parking spaces and the dearth of crippled people go carts.1 I’m too proud to use one but now pay attention to their existence, as well as to how hard floors are (Costco has the worst, concrete. Even tarmac is less hard on the joints). There was no cart available, so I had to sit in the front of the store because it would have done me too much damage to hobble to the back, where the audiology department was. So my mother went with the aide and they called me as they encountered obstacles.

This Costco does have a go cart, apparently only one; during a 45 minute wait, I did see one trundle to the checkout. By contrast, the much smaller nearby Publix has two. And the Publix flooring isn’t as hard either. So this is also unfriendly to the elderly and infirm.

Now to the shaggy dog version of this tale. My mother and I went to Costco to attempt to get her hearing aids on Wednesday. Due to the Costco audiologist not having responded to multiple phone calls regarding whether they could/would remove my mother’s existing in-ear hearing aids (we brought the tool and the documentation says you can even remove them with tweezers2), the only thing that we got done was getting a Costco membership and having to get a Visa card because Costco takes only Visa. I wound up being the primary on the account because I had to get the Visa (my mother could not remember her full SSN) and my mother was secondary. We scheduled to come back the week after next, the first slot they had, to get the hearing exam and choose new hearing aids.

Two days after that date, Costco changed its policy to allow customers and employees in its stores not to wear masks. Neither of us are comfortable going back. My mother is not vaccinated yet (J&J just became available again) and even if I got her in early this week, she would not have a full two weeks before the Costco visit.3 Plus we have press and reader reports of “breakthrough” asymptomatic cases among the fully vaccinated. We also know from the UK that asymptomatic cases can infect others. Large scale studies by Imperial College found that elementary-age school kids are 2x as likely as adults to bring Covid into a household, and what we would call middle and high school children, 7x. We do not know yet if breakthrough cases are less infectious than other asymptomatic cases, but this seems like a reckless assumption in the absence of data….which the CDC has chosen not to gather.

The Costco phone rep had no problem with cancelling the membership and refunding the annual fee, but the process was unnecessarily difficult. After they verified me (account number, phone number, address, security word), they then insisted on speaking to my mother and having her read out her account number (the same as mine, so what was the point?) and her driver’s license number. Unlike her bank, Vanguard, and her long-term care insurer, they would not allow her to authorize me to speak on her behalf even after I and then she explained her hearing was poor and she could not read the small print on the card and her driver’s license without a magnifying glass. I even tried invoking the Americans With Disabilities Act, that they were refusing to give her an accommodation. No dice. So her aide had to get a magnifying glass and read the numbers to her that my mother then repeated to the Costco rep. My mother was upset after this exercise for herself and for the aide.

Part of Costo’s marketing strategy is to make middle/upper middle class not have to feel guilty about getting bargains because at Costco, the workers get good pay and benefits. That means the customer deals aren’t coming at the expense of employees. But now Costo has capitulated to the low standards of other wholesale-format stores by not protecting workers and insisting on continued customer masking.4

So much for Costco being the nicer big box store. In our brief dealings with them, we did not find that to be the case.


1 Flying in and out of Birmingham, I have noticed a higher ratio of wheelchair users to passengers than in New York or the West Coast. I wonder if the Southern diet generates more diabetics.

2 The reason I didn’t do it myself is I have terrible manual dexterity, tested at second percentile. And the reason for wanting to change from in-ear hearing aids to more conventional ones was hoping that over-the-ear ones might do a better job…..but the aide and I did some tests with my mother, like having me talk to her from the kitchen, and concluded she hears adequately with her current pair, she just doesn’t pay attention or strategically pretends not to hear. And she is the sort who would complain about any change, even if it were net better, about the negative parts, like not being able to hear when the hearing aids were removed when she went to bed.

3 There are other boundary conditions as to why pushing the appointment back would not work….her current hearing aids are on a “subscription” and we had wanted to assess her options before it expired. The new date, the earliest we could get, was literally late afternoon of the last day of her subscription.

And none of these vaccines have been assessed for efficacy on people over 85. The flu vaccine is a higher dose for patients over 65 because they have weaker immune system responses. Why should Covid vaccines be different, in terms of lower efficacy among the elderly? So while being vaccinated is a good idea, I think one has to still be vigilant re Covid risks for the elderly.

4 I suggest you reconsider the “let them eat vaccines” response. Vaccine uptake among hospital and nursing home workers was lagging as of March relative to what one would expect, particularly their employers. Anecdotally, one holdout group is reproduction-age women. There have been enough reports of women getting heavy and early periods after being vaccinated that there are efforts to study the syndrome. There is no evidence of any fertility impairment, but given a backdrop of declining fertility rates, many are unwilling to take a chance in the absence of better information.

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  1. Larry

    Sorry for the experience Yves. The CDC announcement has lead to a cascade of bad decisions regarding masking guidance at indoor public spaces such as Costco. I’m sure that many of the workers share your concerns as well. I hope you’re able to get your mother’s hearing aids replaced in a more suitable environment.

  2. Shonde

    I have the over the ear hearing aides. Every time I take a mask off, either one or both hearing aides falls off my ear. My sister with the inner ear aides has no such problem.

    Costco has announced masks must be worn by pharmacy or audiology. So, I will do no shopping when I go soon to get more wax guards which they will not send me in the mail. I will simply be at the door when Costco opens, go to audiology and then immediately back to my car. Since I usually buy a good supply of their great mixed nuts and some excellent organic products, they definitely have lost a nice sale with their new mask policy.

  3. Carolinian

    Where I live, a couple of states over, we’ve always had retail mask mandate. But it has also not been enforced although at the very beginning a Walmart employee would stand at the store entrance and give you a mask if you didn’t have one and, in theory, even deny entry. Seems likely that with this new CDC announcement Costco will soon be flooded with the maskless citing the CDC as justification and daring Costco to object. I’d say it’s mostly on the CDC.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, this is not Costco being silent and having poor front line employees left up in the air. Costco has announced, like Walmart, that masks are no longer required (obvious exceptions are jurisdictions where the mandate is still in place).

      Now if Costco offered employees who wanted them free N95-KN95s, I’d feel differently.

      And the other beef is the refusal to let me speak on behalf of my mother even after she authorized me. Banks and financial institutions routinely allow it, and we are talking there about dealing with an active account with sensitive information. Here we are talking about an account cancellation. There’s no possibility of my taking risk on her behalf (particularly since I was the primary account holder!) or exposing confidential information. This is just making the process difficult.

      1. Eric Dynamic

        I will just remark in passing that a hallmark of bureaucrats in smaller institutions is to keep a death grip on their last chance to be a microHitler.

  4. Synoia

    The CDC announcement is ridiculous. We will not know if Covid is contained in the US until the coming December/January. Given India’s and Brazil’s disaster with covid, I hardy see how it is over. As for transmission. I believe both droplet and aerosols transmit the disease.

    On to COSTCO. They foster over consumption. How can one believe they are any more than slightly less evil face on the Evil of large businesses on the US.

    1. Anthony Stegman

      In consumer capitalist societies there is no such concept as “over-consumption”. More is always more desirable than less. Always.

  5. Tomonthebeach

    I think this falls on Yves as much as it does Costco (I am no longer a member – none nearby). I have always wondered why bulk-buy outlets like Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, and Lowes put so many handicapped spaces in front. How many wheelchair bound, oxygen-tank-tethered, etc. people are buying Lysol and Frosted Flakes by the case much less 3 gallons of pain or four 4×8 sheets of plywood for a DIY project?

    Whenever I see people in the electric go-carts, they seem to be wandering aimlessly in the aisles while the one who brought them is actually buying the three 30lb bags of Sakrete they came for. Because bulk-buy retailers like Costco are warehouse outlets, you shop in a warehouse setting where stuff in on big metal shelves that often require tiptoe reaches to get merch off the warehouse shelfs. Piggly-Wiggly Costco is not.

    As for hearing aids. I have been wearing them since Vietnam. Outlets sell cheap in-the-ear amplifiers that can run from $300 each. The last place I would go for hearing aids is a warehouse outlet, or even CVS or Walmart. If you were losing your eyesight, you would not go to LensCrafters but an ophthalmologist. Cheap appliances over-amplify some sounds and under-amplify others. You need computer chips that constantly adjust for the environment. Consequently, cheap hearing aids soon wind up not getting worn. So, maybe Costco did Yves a favor.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is out of line and a reading comprehension fail.

      There are not enough handicapped parking spaces at Costco. Did you manage to miss my footnote about the high level of disability in the South? Or that, at a not-busy time in the store (many empty parking spaces despite handicapped spaces being full), there was no free go cart, and in 45 minutes seated by the checkout-exit, I saw only one trundle back to the front of the store to be returned?

      As for the hearing aids, you apparently didn’t even bother with the very first sentence in the post: “…so my mother could get tested by their audiologist”. Our written Policies require that your read a post in full before commenting. You either didn’t or worse, chose to straw man the post, which is also a violation.

      Not only does Costco has an audiologist (as the post clearly stated), MY MOTHER’S DOCTOR and my dentist both say they are the best in town. They put the customer in a booth and test them for their hearing loss across frequencies, then some typical male and female voices, and then versus background noises. My mother’s current audiologist just sells expensive hearing aids and doesn’t even test her annually.

      She can barely hear even with a supposedly high end hearing aid cranked all the way to maximum volume.

      So don’t presume when you have no idea what you are talking about and didn’t even read the post with any care.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>She can barely hear even with a supposedly high end hearing aid cranked all the way to maximum volume.

        From what I understand and from some limited experience with in-the-ear, over the ear hearing aids are more powerful, less likely to break, and are easier to handle because they are usually larger than the smaller in the ear aids.

        The smaller the aid, (and they have to be to get into the ear canal) the more difficult it is to cram everything including raw power for amplification. My “good” ear could get by with an in the ear, but my other ear needs all the power it can get, so it has always been over the ear. All this has nothing to do with money or technology.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I agree, that was the reason for going to over the ear. But:

          1. No way with no masks. My mother is 93 with COPD

          2. My mother is an emotional gaslighter. She is guaranteed to complain about some aspect of the change even if it’s net better. She’s got poor manual dexterity and would resent and complain about having the aides fool with her hearing aids AM and PM.

  6. Big Tap

    Did you consider paying by check? I’m a Costco member and several years ago their store only accepted American Express (now Visa) which I didn’t want. At that time I purchased new eyeglasses I gave them a check for payment. According to Costco they still will take personal checks. As far as policy change on masks I haven’t been in one since thst occurred.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Too late now, but they did not disclose that when we got the membership (as in they did not offer that as an alternative). And I normally don’t carry checks and I carry more than tip-level cash only when I travel. So I was forced to get a Visa in order to get the membership. I don’t like having more credit cards than I need (one personal, one business, and one backup is more than enough) and none of my or my mother’s current cards were Visa, so I had to get the Visa card to get a membership. I cancelled that too.

      And before readers make noise about evil banks, if you are going to buy anything non-trivial, you should ALWAYS use a credit card. You have much better rights. Among other things, the credit card’s dispute policies trump any the merchant tries to impose (they agreed to cardmember rules, including chargeback provisions, as a condition of getting a merchant account).

  7. PHLDenizen

    Big box stores of the warehouse variety (Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s) have horrid concrete floors that are hell on your musculoskeletal system.

    I spent a summer working at a HD and even in my late teens, I’d return home with sore joints. Choice of footwear mattered not. I was in great shape, worked out at the gym regularly, squatting and deadlifting, walking all the time. The amount of fatigue I’d accumulate just working the floor surprised me. I’d leave a shift feeling beat as sh*t. With bad hips and bad knees, I imagine it’s so much worse. I consider a lack of floor covering with sufficient shock absorption to be a violation of the ADA, but people think I’m nuts. Those poor Amazon warehouse workers.

    My mom is hitting 71 this week and despite her surly, still intact intellect, one knee is completely fscked up. It’s been bugging her for years, but the cartilage breakdown is rapidly getting worse. That said, she loathes the notion of knee surgery or replacement. The outcomes aren’t all that spectacular, she has no desire to deal with the downtime, and the osteoarthritis isn’t so bad she’s completely immobile. And I’ve grown to respect her aversion to rushing into intervention. Knee and hip replacement tend to be overprescribed, but there’s a lot of money in it. Fortunately dad’s a doctor, so the replacement surgeons don’t blow smoke up her ass and she gets to avoid the cowboys. As she says “getting old sucks” and sometimes living with pain is your best option.

    I’m going to continue masking up until at least 2022. I’m a contrarian, think there’s insufficient evidence to drop masking, and the pandemic has made me keenly aware of blind spots in my consideration of how lonely and isolating it is to be housebound by fear of pathogens. Having all your friends die off as you grow old is bad enough. Being deprived of human contact in the public sphere is crueler still. Maybe I need some masks emblazoned with “#IStandWithFogeys”.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hip replacements actually have a high success rate. They want you on your feet the same day as the surgery and walking 2 miles a day in 2 weeks (my other busted hip will not allow that). And they now do them with epidurals and robot hands, so they need only a 5 inch incision. I told my doctor I want to be awake (being worked on while knocked out seems rape-like) and he said fine as long as I don’t talk to him, he has to concentrate. We agreed that he will narrate the surgery to me.

      Knees are totally different. Some people have happy results but they are a minority. And the rehab is apparently painful.

      1. Jen

        I’m on the youngish end of my group of aging athlete friends. Everyone over 60 has had knee and/or hip replacements. Some shoulders too. Interestingly with hip replacements, they all put off the first one for as long as possible, enduring terrible pain. When they needed the second one replaced, the booked the first available appointment.

        Knees are definitely more difficult – regaining range of motion is a long, and yes, painful process, but they’re all happy with the results.

        My dad and aunt both had their knees replaced when they were in their 70s. They aren’t as happy with the results but are in much less pain than they were before surgery.

        1. Dirk77

          I had to quit long distance running a few years after college and have always been a little sad about it. Given what you say, I’m not anymore as probably bc of that, my legs and trunk are fine. Hopefully you and your friends are now able to walk without too much pain.

      2. LAS

        “Walking 2 miles a day in 2 weeks” … I’m not buying that. As one who has seen beloved relatives lured into operations with wishful claims … as one who wishes the best for you in the procedure … I’m just not buying that. Doesn’t the bone have to heal over rods? How can that be rushed? No, it’s going to take a lot more time than 2 weeks. Two to four months more like.

        1. Cat Burglar

          Here’s my experience with healing from a hip replacement.

          There was a feeling of great soreness that endured some weeks after the replacement, primarily a feeling of cramping in the front of the thigh — which I believe was a result of what was necessary to dislocate the original hip before replacing it. Pain from the replacement itself — which was soreness, not a sharp pain — went away fast.

          My first two-mile walk was about a week after the operation; by two weeks I was regularly walking five miles a day, a month out I was walking ten miles a day. I could rock climb again with less pain than before the operation after three months. My only regret about the replacement is that I tried everything else for two years before deciding to do it.

          As far as I can tell, the bone healing is quite swift.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          This is the Hospital for Special Surgery, the top orthopedic hospital in the US.

          And this was not a promise. This is a physical therapy DIRECTIVE.

      3. Jack Parsons

        Lots of people freak out at the “I want to be awake” part, but anesthesiology used to kill more hospital patients than any other aspect of the process. Now sepsis seems to be #1.

    2. Eudora Welty

      I agree that the floors in Costco are difficult. It was tough, right around Christmas 2020, when Costco didn’t have anywhere to sit or lean, apparently due to current CDC requirements. Masks were mandatory, and it’s a huge place, and the mask caused me labored breathing due the fact that my catalytic converter was stolen and I was driving my car for a day or two with exhaust fumes pouring into the cabin. I focused, found my items, rushed outside, and leaned against a concrete abutment near the front entrance to catch my breath. A front-door greeter asked if I was OK, and but main point was to get a wheezing person out of the main entrance (in case I had Covid), and I was not allowed to sit, lean, or take off my mask. I don’t know what I was supposed to do. I had to walk a significant way to my vehicle. And I’m a person of average wellness; it was just the noxious fumes thing. I have not been back to Costco since then.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Maybe those Costco concrete floors are why you see people using those mobility chairs in them in video. It is not laziness or them being fat but a prudent choice to save physical damage to their bodies trying to walk around those stores. I’ve seen some older people using them in my nearby town as well as driving down roads and the bike-track to town and it strikes me as a reasonable option for those who can only walk short distances.

      1. savedbyirony

        I hate concrete floors with a passion. They are painful and dangerous. As an aside to their usage in retail, they are also often found in nursing homes of all places. The facilities will cover them over with the thinnest of carpeting with no underlying padding whatsoever. So many times I have gone to visit people in nursing homes and seen residents with the most horrible of bruises from falls; and i think falls are one of the leading causes of death in these facilities (or they were before Covid). I know tripping hazards as regards flooring in nursing homes are an issue, but that such unforgiving flooring is allowed with the elderly (and the staff) seems so cruel to me.

        1. lyle

          From my experience in nursing homes the rooms typically have tile over concrete as this is about the easiest material to clean if there is a spill, which at a nursing home can be one of a number of bodily fluids that are hard to get out of a rug

    4. Carolinian

      These “warehouse” stores probably have bare concrete because they use forklifts to stock the high shelves and these would tear up linoleum. One can perhaps blame Atlanta’s Home Depot for the store concept which has become so very popular.

    5. Tom Stone

      Here in Sonoma County the Mask requirement is supposed to last another month, I’m seeing a lot more maskless people and more chin diapers as well.
      Locally Costco gas is $.45 a gallon cheaper than the next cheapest alternative, Its why I have a card.
      The floors are horrible, with my sciatica even walkng to and from the back of the store ( Pharmacy, audiologist) increases my discomfort noticeably.

  8. ProNewerDeal

    Yves, are you specifically choosing the J&J vaccine for your mother, & yourself? If you wish to share of course.

    I am considering the same action myself, as J&J is the only non-mRNA of the 3 vaccines currently available. I would like to have the option of considering taking an Inactivated virus type vaccine like our “developing nation” Mexico has with the Chinese CoronaVac or Indian Covaxin, but apparently our Land of Freedom TM is not giving us USians that Personal Liberty TM anytime soon.

    Forgive me if you have covered this elsewhere. I don’t have much time to read/listen to news these days.

    Sorry to read about this Costco story you endured.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I am leery of mRNA vaccines plus can’t risk vaccine reactions 2x. I am too busy. And yes, I would MUCH rather take an inactivated virus vaccine.

      1. Nikkikat

        My husband and I are fully vaccinated as of last week. We got the J and J. I just ordered another box of KN 95 masks. I will not be setting foot in any of those places where there are non mask wearers. I have been positively outraged for the last couple of days over the CDC. I have gone to the grocery at 6AM for over a year. I avoid everything else. I order on line. I had hoped that some time after we vaccinated most people that I could maybe go in to a shoe store or have some normality. The CDC seemed intent on killing us.

      2. Dirk77

        I would expect your dad’s experience to add to your hesitancy. I try to be a last or never adopter in everything given my experiences, especially with pharma. And not knowing much, I was wondering if the mRNA method would be overoptimized for the original variant. That would be a classic new tech result. That said, I was one of the last to be vaccinated in my family and the only one with adverse affects was a sibling with J&J, who felt crappy for a week. Also that wasn’t an option in my state when I got my first shot due to the pause. Second shot soon. Anyways, good luck!

  9. Synoia

    Flying in and out of Birmingham, I have noticed a higher ratio of wheelchair users to passengers than in New York or the West Coast. I wonder if the Southern diet generates more diabetics.

    I suspect the issue is obesity, which causes extra ware on the hips. The obesity is caused by the extensive use if Air-conditioning in the ling hot summer, much deep fried food, and used of a car for all trips instead of walking.

    Count out how many southerns walk past your home walking on the sidewalk in the summer.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, I meant exactly what I wrote. Please use a search engine:

      People with diabetes, neuropathy, and retinopathy have significant physical limitations because of decreased proprioception and vision. Loss of light touch, visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and depth perception may increase both the risk and the recurrence of falls in people with diabetes.

      Most of the wheelchair passengers are normal weight or only fat, not obese, but old enough to have had diabetes long enough for it to impair their ability to walk. In fact, I can’t recall seeing a single obese wheelchair passenger. Plus the hotbed for obesity is the upper Midwest.

      1. R

        Another contributing factor to your observation (rather than to their disability) could be self-selection – that people with serious disabilities (i) move out of NY by choice or force of circumstance and head for cheaper urban areas with large medical facilities like Birmingham and (ii)
        visitors do not attempt to travel to NY with such disabilities.

        Or, a darker hypothesis, they could be wounded veterans – the south lays down its limbs for the north-east. The USA has fought perpetual war so injured veterans must come in all ages….

        1. J7915

          My mother lived in Washington Heights, NYC from 1970 until 2016. Last years she needed a wheelchair. That is when I observed the wheelchair unfriendly design of the pre-war entrances to almost everywhere, in the north end of Manhattan at least. Her building ,the Broadway facing side was a challenge even with a walker, only the Wadsworth Ave side was wheelchair friendly…if you had a helper.
          Here in Tulsa the pre-war houses seem to have 3tofive steps to the front door also.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          People do not move from NYC to Alabama. They move to Florida. The only exceptions are weirdos like me and people recruited by the big teaching hospital here or the NASA types in Huntsville.

  10. Maritimer

    I”ve always wondered about that Costco Membership Fee. It seems an easy way to cherry pick the clientele. In addition, the Costco here is out in a vast automobile wasteland, difficult to access. Seems another way to exclude the unwashed and uncarred and go upscale.

    Another point here is that with an aging population the long predicted Old Folk Expansion is beginning. I can easily see shopping gridlock as folk move around slowly. Besides retail, public transportation could be another choke point. I can see that retailers will want increased control of their clientele. This current situation is perfect to experiment with control methods and begin to condition the customers to such control.

    1. CanCyn

      This is so true! I have always wondered about the growth and development of big box stores (and their huge parking lots) that coincides with our aging population. Sooner or later most folks won’t be able to shop at those places. They are not places for the infirm, that is for sure. I don’t know why the audiologist would be at the back of the store. In the Costco where we shop, the pharmacy, optometrist, etc. are not too far from the door.
      I suppose the point is moot as we’ll all be shopping online for most things soon enough. Speaking of which, in Canada at least, you can order online from Costco without being a member. My husband and I hardly ever go to Costco in person anymore, even for fit and healthy people it is a pain in the ass to maneuver those huge carts through the crowded store.

  11. none

    Yeah the non-masking is disappointing. I haven’t been there since the mask requirement was lifted but I will certainly keep masking despite being vaccinated.

    I think the audiology thing may be luck of the draw. My mom has a Costco hearing aid and has always been well treated with regard to fittings, adjustments, etc. Her audiologist is very competent and friendly. She (my mom) also uses the go carts and at busy times, they do run out of them, but that doesn’t happen that often on our trips (maybe because we try to do them on weekdays when it’s less crowded). Our local store has at least 4 go carts, maybe more. Having just 1 is crazy.

    Costco isn’t perfect but I do for the most part like going there. The most annoying thing is the checkout lines. Well now add the lack of a mask mandate.

    It seems to me that hearing aid electronics have gotten a lot cheaper in the past few years, i.e. you can get good ones in the $500 range instead of $1500+. You’d have to work with your own audiologist though.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I think this all could have been OK had we not run into 3 week plus lead time with scheduling and the failure of the audiologist to respond to repeated calls about removing my mother’s in-ear aids until we were en route.

    2. WhoaMolly

      For me, with serious hearing loss, $1700 is the bottom of the range. The aids in this range are phenomenal technology.

      Best source of affordable high end aids is eBay. Look for used digital aids – not more than 3 years old- and get them reprogrammed by a skilled audiologist.

      Caution on this approach: you have to be very knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with aids and audiologists to get good results.

    3. Jason

      I think the audiology thing may be luck of the draw.

      I can’t speak for Costco, but that’s certainly my experience at other big-box stores. The Wal-Mart vision center that I went to last year for my eye check was run by a woman who has her own private practice in the area as well. The entire experience was excellent. This was not at all the case for my aunt at her local Wal-Mart, whose experience can be summed up with one word: incompetence.

      And I don’t even like writing that, because it speaks directly to the people, who I’m sure mean well and are just trying to make a living. But they obviously don’t have the same level of training and lifetime experience that I was fortunate to run into.

  12. John Beech

    Dealing with hip issues myself, I sympathize.

    Regarding the masking decision, can you imagine the pearl clutching had President Trump been in charge when the CDC’s latest statement came out?

    Anyway, I think it’s a shame the Biden administration isn’t using it’s back channel communication to Hollywood. E.g. to get them onboard for using their soft power (propaganda) to bring more folks onboard with vaccinating.

    Finally, for them not to reach out to Trump – bringing him in for a photo opp to say and do the same to sway his followers – is an especially shameful display of political weakness.

  13. Dr. John Carpenter

    As someone who walks (not well) with a cane due to back and arthritis issues, I can’t do big box stores for exactly the reasons you mention. I worry that so many stores that currently offer curbside pickup are going to stop soon because all the Covid restrictions are being lifted. It’s been nice to get groceries and not be incapacitated for the rest of the day.

  14. WhoaMolly

    Re: Masks and hearing aids

    I had to buy a Velcro fastening mask that fastens behind my neck. The over-ear fastening surgical masks always tangled with my over-ear aids.

    Mask also claims high levels of filtration. Popular with building contractors and athletes.


    1. WhoaMolly

      Prices and brands look good. If they refer buyers to good audiologist it would be a great option.

      Importance of audiologist is often overlooked when people buy aids. It takes me 3-5 visits to audiologist to get good hearing every time I change aids.

      A badly adjusted aid will be frustrating and sometimes even painful. And yes there are some people out there who let clients walk out of the office with inappropriate, poorly adjusted, non-functional aids.

      I have heard only good things about Costco aids and audiologists.

  15. Jason

    Yves, thank you as always for sharing your experience. I’m sorry you and your mother had to go through this ordeal, particularly given that this is clearly something that should be a straightforward, hassle-free process, given all “our” accumulated knowledge on the subject and the extraordinary amount of resources “we” have.

    Instead, you and your mother are subjected to an experience that is akin to reinventing the wheel. All in the interest of profit and control.

    I am sorry. I hope your mother maintains a sense of humor in the face of it all. My Mom does – she gets rightfully mad at this sort of thing, but then she smiles and laughs and just sort of checks out and does her thing. She handles everything better than I do!

  16. Robin Kash

    When you get hip replacements find a surgeon who use the “anterior approach.” I walked to therapy with crutches the next day. Recovery is much faster, pain is reduced, shorter hospital stay. You’ll be a lot happier.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You walk the same day with posterior. That’s standard at the Hospital for Special Surgery. They can do that because they use robots and so make an only 5 inch incision. If you don’t use robots, you need a much bigger incision so the surgeon can get his hands in.

      Some can even walk without crutches or a cane the first day. Anterior v. posterior depends on how degenerated your joint is. It’s not really an elective decision by the surgeon. Surgeons prefer anterior if the joint is not too shot.

  17. Sue inSoCal

    In my experience with Costco in many places, there are several disabled parking spots around the front. The rest are on the side of that big old box and are approximately 150 yards to the front door. Perhaps those spots meet some kind of compliance, I don’t know, but that’s a long way to schlep yourself to the entrance if you have serious mobility issues. (Like Yves, I refuse to use a cart anywhere, and I don’t have a Costco membership anymore. There’s plenty you can order online as a guest. But that doesn’t help if you need their hearing services etc.) I don’t cruise around shopping much anymore at all due to neurological issues. (Too much input.) But if I’ve got to pop in somewhere, I’ll only enter if there’s a mask mandate in place. Also, I have help.
    Yves, you are a treasure to your mom. Your strength is phenomenal in light of your orthopedic issues. I wish you relief.

  18. Tangled up in Texas

    Question: do you even NEED a membership for audiology? The pharmacy and eye glass departments do not require membership…you do pay about 10% more without membership though.

  19. Ken

    I gotta disagree with several points:
    –Concrete isn’t any harder than tiled concrete or asphalt or even solid wood. A wood floor on joists or a sprung dance floor is different. An alternative is to wear shoes with more cushioning in the sole. Also consider cushioned insoles inside shoes–Spenco is my choice.
    –The local Costco stores here have the hearing aid section near the front. Store layouts vary.
    –We’re received excellent audiology exams and service. One specialized test recommended by the ENT doc needed to be done elsewhere.
    –As mentioned above, checks and cash work in Costco. I trust Costco customer service as much as I trust credit card protections.
    –Friends have great results with both hip and knee replacements. Hips go more easily, especially the surgery where the incision is anterior…they filet the hip from the front on the 1/4 million dollar special operating table. Several friends have had one or both hips, or one or both knees replaced and they ski better than they have in years the next winter. My hardware store knee is taking longer than I planned to get up to full speed, but it’s going OK. I need patience RIGHT NOW.
    –Waiting until both hips (or both knees) are in great pain makes recovering from the first one more difficult.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Don’t give other people your medicine.

      You don’t have plantar facsitis or otherwise shot feet or joints. I have been seeing orthopedists since I started I walking. My feet do not absorb shock properly. I can not just feel the difference between concrete, linoleum over concrete, asphalt, and wood in my feet, ankles, and hips, the difference affects how I walk. My limp worsens faster and my steps get smaller and slower on harder surfaces. And I wear heavily cushioned shoes AND a soft 3/4 high arch support.

      As for surgeries, you are Making Shit Up

      The success rates of hip v. knee surgery are very different. That not only can be statistically demonstrated but the population that self-reports as happy with their knee replacement is not terribly high. The rehab is painful and demanding and requires close to 100% compliance with good results. I know plenty of people who say they complied and still have restrictions in the new joint. One case was as nurse who had great results with her first knee replacement and saw NO improvement with the second. Most people say at least the knee replacement left them better than right before, but not as good as when they were younger, while the satisfaction rates and function with hips are way way higher.

      Second, you act as if everyone can do anterior. This is false. If the joint is too shot, posterior is the only option.

      Moreover, with robot surgery, posterior is not bad at all. Only a 5″ incision. The big difference between anterior and posterior with robot surgery is that you cut more muscle with posterior Done with an epidural. I will be awake. You walk the same day. They want you on your feet ASAP.

  20. scott s.

    In Hawaii Costco has been something of a lifesaver. Never dealt with any customer service there, but in the American Express days always paid with check. I’ve used the optometrist in the local Costco and seemed as good as any other I’ve been to.

    The place is always packed so they must be doing something right.

  21. Copeland

    Yves you are a saint! Sorry you and your mother had to endure these events at Costco. Regarding the concrete floors, I have always felt the effects of concrete floors on my ruined hips and back, but for some reason never really connected the dots about Costcos floors. It was always such a relief to walk out into the asphalt parking lot, now I know (one of the reasons) why.

    Regarding old/disabled folks shopping or not shopping at Costco, I recently had an interesting experience there. I’m not an early morning person, but I recently had to shop at Costco right when they opened (I know, Costco doesn’t really open early, but it was early for me;}) and the place was filled with old-timers, several in electric carts, and as far as I could tell and from my perspective (I loath shopping and do my best to get it done quickly despite a host of chronic health issues) they were largely “window shopping”, barely moving, aimlessly wandering, with nearly empty shopping carts. I can relate, if that’s how I wanted to shop I’d do it first thing in the morning too before the place fills up with whippersnappers.

    One more note on Costco, relating to “yeah, big banks suck, but…” Last year my cash bonus for using their Citi Visa card was $334.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No this is not an option. I have a leg length difference that is causing a pronounced limp and that can’t be addressed with a resurfacing. Please don’t act as if I’m getting bad advice.

      I know you mean well, but that site does not inspire confidence. I’ve seen more credible-looking sites from stem cell charlatans.

  22. Carla

    “1 Flying in and out of Birmingham, I have noticed a higher ratio of wheelchair users to passengers than in New York or the West Coast. I wonder if the Southern diet generates more diabetics.”

    Yves, the evidence says “yes,” there are more diabetics in Southern states than in other regions of the country. Here are the results of recent rankings of the prevalence of diabetes, by state:

  23. Sam

    I’ve been wanting to return some items to Costco since May 2020 and still have not been able to because my disability makes it excruciating to go into the store. I called costco inquiring if I someone else (someone that I’d have to pay and hire) can return these items for me. It seems so complicated–more so than I wanted to deal with–I felt they were going to give me a hard time for having bought the items so long ago– I didn’t feel comfortable–continuing the conversation so I hung up. I just felt like they were just gonna come up with any excuse they could to deny me–of course I bet if I was able to go in person I’d be able to do it. The problem with getting rejected here is it hurts 100X more being rejected knowing that if you were able-bodied you’d be able do it. The reason why I hung up and just working on accepting the financial loss since it’s would keep me likely more at peace than being rejected after answering all their questions. They were asking too many specifics about the items–I was embarrassed to mention they were 1-1.5 years old but again if I didn’t have this disability. I would have returned them myself back in May 2020. Back when I was able-bodied I would just walk into the store and return them. I can’t tell you how many times I went to Costco parking lot with intention of going into the store but turned around and went back home of how excruciating it was for me to go into the store. I don’t even try anymore and haven’t for at least 4-6 months. I don’t know what the big deal is having someone else return stuff on your behalf.

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