Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Amazon vs Costco: The Impulse Buy Olympics

So here’s a question for you: which retailer represents True Impulse Buy Hell — Amazon or Costco?

One could argue that Costco has to be the winner, because it’s impossible to get out of there without making at least one unplanned purchase, usually of something you don’t need. Costco, beloved Costco: it’s like a Medieval bazaar. No matter where you look — left, right, down, up, in front of you, behind you, above you, below you, in someone else’s shopping cart — there’s some amazing new product to covet.

However, I would reply that Amazon has a single characteristic that allows it to beat out Costco in the Impulse Buy Sweepstakes: you don’t have to go there to instantaneously diddle away cash. Although Costco does offer online shopping and delivery, generally to shop there, you make a drive, get out of your car, hike across a parking lot, and walk around in the place. You have a shopping list (if you possess any sense at all…), and that at least gives you a shot at restraining your impulses.

Consider Amazon:

Here you are sitting around the manse, and an idle thought enters your sweaty little brain:

I haven’t seen [__fill in the blank__]  for quite some time. Gee, I’d like to have a [__fill in the blank__]. Do they even still make [__fill in the blank__]?


I haven’t seen Windsong cologne for quite some time. Gee, I’d like to have some Windsong again. Do they even still make Windsong?
I haven’t seen the original Swiffer dust mop kits for quite some time. Gee, I’d like to have another one of those. Do they even still make those things?
I haven’t seen real nail buffers with real chamois cloth for quite some time. Gee, I’d like to have another real nail buffer. Do they even still make those things?

Now, you know and I know that neither of us needs any of those things. Indeed, if you apply a squirt of Windsong behind your ears, you will smell just like your grandmother. Not that it’s a bad thing…just sayin’.

Out of curiosity, though, you cruise over to Amazon, just to see if any of these fine items is still produced somewhere, by someone. And yea verily!

Who’d’ve thunk it?

Naturally, you would never want to miss your chance to purchase this fine item. Who knows? This could be the last time you’ll ever have such a superb opportunity! Click once, click twice…and it’s winging its way toward your front door!

Canceling the order after you come to your senses is not like simply rolling your cart around the store and placing the useless junk back on the shelf. Canceling an online order requires a hoop-jump. Even if it’s not a very difficult hoop-jump, it still may be aversive enough to make you think…oh WTF. It doesn’t cost that much.

This has happened here at the Funny Farm, of late.

My beloved Le Creuset teakettle quit whistling. Because of my ingrained tendency to carelessness, I must have a whistling kettle, lest I burn the house down. Tolerating no delay (the insurance company that covers the house would be proud of me!), I instantly hopped online and ordered up a new, radically expensive teakettle. Forthwith, Amazon kicked into gear.


Within a day, my beloved Le Creuset changed its mind and decided to start whistling again. What choked it, I do not know. But I do love my little green teakettle and have no great desire to replace it. But, speaking of hassle factor: do I want to return the cute new blue Le Creuset? Hmmm…

  • This entails figuring out how…
  • It may entail a trip to the FedEx office…
  • At the minimum, it will require rewrapping and repackaging the thing…
  • The present kettle is at least 10 or 12 years old (more like 14, if memory serves), and so the minute I ship this new one off, Beloved Green is going to croak over once and for all.

See what I mean? If it had been Costco, the next time I happened to visit a Costco store, any Costco store, I would take the redundant pot back and hand it over the counter, no questions asked. But given the hassle factor of returning an online purchase, I decided to put it in a cupboard to break out whenever the present teakettle dies. Or give it to my son for Christmas… 😉


Be Sociable, Share!

Author: funny

This post may be a paid guest contribution.


  1. Personally, I think that Costco is worse because of the ‘now’ factor. We make an impulse buy because you’re in the store and you have to make a decision right there on the spot. So more often than not, you buy whatever it is you are considering, and go home slightly poorer than planned.

    With Amazon, you have the advantage of sticking it in your cart, closing down your web browser, and thinking about the purchase for some period of time. A lot of times, you end up deciding you don’t need it and away it goes before you hit the Order button.

    On a side note, it’s rather hilarious to leave an item in your cart, because Amazon will start e-mailing you and grow increasingly impatient trying to get you to purchase the item(s) in your cart. They haven’t, at least from what I’ve seen, resorted to offering a deal as a means of enticement, but I know other retailers sometimes do.

    • That is interesting about stashing an item in the virtual “cart”!

      SDXB has a technique to control impulse buys. When he’s in a store like the BX or a Sportsman’s Warehouse, venues awash in the kinds of toys he loves, and some covetable object catches his eye, he will pick it up, handle it, examine it closely, turn it around and around in his hands.

      Then he sets it down on the shelf and walks away. After he’s finished all his planned shopping, he returns to that section of the store and comes back to the Object. If he still wants it, then maybe he’ll buy it. Maybe not: about 3/4 of the time, he doesn’t.

  2. We don’t have Costco in Arkansas and I just don’t do a lot of online shopping. I’m still leery of ordering online and don’t do it unless there’s no better/cheaper way to get the item.
    Windsong cologne? Wasn’t that popular in the 70’s? I used to love colognes and perfumes but the past few years, I can’t tolerate most scents. Not even the ones I really like. *sigh*

  3. Electric Tea Kettle – fast boiling, automatic shut off, attractive styles (mine is glass). Send the new one back. Consider a beautiful tea pot.

    • We used to have those in England! Very handy — the Brits do know how to make an electric kettle that works. Though I’ve never seen a glass one.