I’ve always been a “women are equal to men” kind of girl. I’m no Gloria Steinem, but I did play on the boy’s golf team in middle school when there was not a women’s squad available, so there’s that. I don’t know that you would call me a feminist, but I’ve always felt like my husband and I are equals. While I may take on a brunt of the household duties, including the shopping, he does dishes and folds laundry too. He is super supportive and helps out when he can, but there are still some old school gender roles that exist in our household. But it wasn’t until the time came to renew our Costco membership last month, that my inner feminist came out and showed her stripes.
It was a seemingly honest and straightforward request. My husband and I have had a corporate Costco membership, costing $120 dollars a year since before we were married. Full disclosure, the name on my card is still my maiden name as well, but that’s beside the point. At any rate, I took a look at our renewal notice and said, there is no reason for us to be paying that much, we should switch to the basic $60 membership instead. Harmless right? No problem, right? Oh, feminist friend was I wrong.
I made a quick call to Costco, supplied them my membership number and told them what I wanted to do. They said ok, and who am I speaking to? I said this is Lauren Schregardus. “Uhh, miss is James available,” the woman on the other end asked. “No, I’m sorry he is not,” I said honestly. “Well, I’m sorry, since you are not the main account holder, I cannot change your account without his consent,” she reported. I was aghast. I went on to tell her, I am his wife, I do all of the shopping at Costco, which I am sure you can see from the card on our account. Listen, lady, I am not trying to CANCEL this membership, I just no longer need a corporate membership.
Again, she assured me there was nothing she could do until she received James permission to change the status. I was furious. I thought about asking to speak to her superior, but I then remembered the diapers I needed to buy that week. Problem solved. I will go to the store and take care of this in person. That will be just fine.
So the next day I marched into Costco and told them my story. I brought my ID so I could prove I was indeed James’ wife and thought surely, I will have no problem extending my membership and simply changing the status. But alas, I hit a wall once again. “Mrs. Schregardus, without your husband coming in the store with you there is nothing we can do.” At this point, I was fired up. Steaming. My husband travels for his job and going to Costco on the weekends he is home is not high on his list of priorities or mine. Although maybe it should be, have you seen the samples?!
I left the store angry as heck. I DO the shopping. I DO the buying and I DO the bill paying and they won’t even let me renew our account. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That was it. Two can play at this game. I promptly got home, dialed Costco card services and smiled. Watch this, I thought as I slipped my imaginary feminist tee on.
“With whom am I speaking to,” the gal on the other end said. “This is James Schregardus,” I replied in my deepest voice. “Great, thank you, James, how can I help you,” the sales rep responded. I was in. Five minutes later I had downgraded our account, changed the auto draft card on file and almost updated my own name to include my married name rather than my maiden. (They needed that to happen in person.) Nevertheless, I had done it. I am woman, hear me roar. I hung up and laughed in victory.
Look, I get it Costco. You are trying to protect your cardholders. But changing my status is not a matter of national security. Why does there have to be a primary account holder anyway? Couldn’t James and I both hold equal leverage on our Costco membership as we do in the home and our daily lives? Why did it take me having a feminist moment make this all happen?
Following my successful phone call, I quickly dialed my mom to tell her the story as well. I could feel my mom smiling through the phone as I relayed my struggle and then success. These days while you rarely see women burning bras in the streets, I like to think I channeled my own inner feminist on the phone with Costco that day. And while it was minor in the grand scheme of things, I loved every minute of it. Hashtag feminist indeed.