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Costco deal may mean free membership

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Costco, the nation’s largest wholesale club known for its deep discounts on everything from caskets to champagne, soon may be giving away something free – several months of membership.

A U.S. District Court in New York has preliminarily approved a proposed settlement of a class-action suit over Costco’s annual membership renewal practices. The suit claims the company unlawfully shortchanged millions of consumers who renewed after their Costco memberships had expired by not resetting the renewal date.

For example: A Costco customer whose membership expired Jan. 31, 2008, did not renew until March 30, 2008. But his new enrollment period then was from Jan. 31, 2008, to Jan. 1, 2009, meaning he paid for two months of membership during which he had no benefits.

As part of the settlement, Costco would agree to provide between one to three months’ free membership, valued at between $4.17 and $25. The action would apply to present and former members, and to all types of memberships, which cost $50 or $100 annually.

Consumers nationwide who were members between March 1, 2001, and March 31, 2009 – and who renewed more than three weeks late – may qualify and have been notified by Costco. For a copy of the settlement document and more information, visit

Consumers also can request a printed copy by writing: Request for Notice, PO Box 34682, Seattle, WA. 98124. Requests must be received before June 12.

The final-approval hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16.


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