Letter to Costco regarding Free Replacement Car Battery Warranty

This is the letter I sent to Costco complaining about the free replacment warranty on their car batteries.

I have been a Costco member for many years. I love Costco and have bought aside from food a lot of things, clothes, furniture, cameras, computers and my husband even bought my engagement ring at Costco. Obviously, I love Costco and have mostly been treated great by the staff. Since I go to the same warehouse I know most of the employees of those that are left from the old days, lots of new staff that are not as service minded as before. Regardless, I never had a warranty issue and rarely return items but the few times I have it was never a problem.

I just have a few comments. I used to buy my car batteries at Advanced Auto Parts and they have the replacement warranty which I used once. The battery was replaced at no cost to me. My last car battery I bought at Costco with a 30 month free replacement warranty. Well, at 26 months my battery went bad. So yesterday, I went with the battery to my local Costco. At the entrance I got two different answers as to what I should do. One employee said; I buy the new battery first then go to tires and return the old one. The other staff member said; No you have to return it at customer service, then buy a new one and then go to tires to get a core refund. Then they started arguing with each other. I ended up at customer service as we were not let in with the old battery to the warehouse. I was refunded the cost of the battery, given a cash card. I bought a new battery, went to the tire service and received a nine dollar refund for the core.

Now, I am writing you because you are not honest in your free replacement warranty. I was refunded $69.99 but the new battery cost me 84.99 plus the core (which I was refunded) plus the $1.50 Florida battery fee. So that is not a free replacement warranty at all. It is a refund at original cost plus pay the current cost. Now, that is very deceiving and makes me wonder if my Costco TV breaks the warranty is probably the same pay the difference? You need to be clearer in your warranty service because obviously your car battery free replacement is not a free replacement at all. I am very disappointed in your so called free replacement warranty.

October 12, 2013

Update: I had to go to customer service/returns yesterday and saw quite a few batteries. I hope they did it right this time.

Car battery returns at Costco

Car battery returns at Costco

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19 thoughts on “Letter to Costco regarding Free Replacement Car Battery Warranty

  1. THIS IS THE MOST USELESS POOR EXCUSE FOR A COMPLAINT. who cares about the deceiving print. this lady sounds like shes on a roll for things to whine about. hiw about drive your car into the ocean and swim with the little mermaid! cheerrs yall!!

  2. Sheesh! So many people who won’t, or can’t, read what’s right in front of them all in one place!

    *LOOK* at the top of any Costco battery for Pete’s sake. The word you will read there is ‘Refund’, not ‘Replacement’. At no time, now or in the past, have the batteries been indicated to have a ‘full replacement’ warrantee. Your ‘memory’ is wrong.

    Between my RV and my cars I have a total of seven starting or deep cycle batteries. Over the years I have ‘returned’ several of them for full or partial refunds. Costco has always honored the warrantee which is written on each battery.
    I returned a bad battery just today. It was 2 years 5 months old. I took it to the return desk because I wanted more than just the core fee for it. Yes, they took the dirty battery there.

    Just to note: They looked up my purchases at the return desk and gave me a store credit for the full amount I paid 2 years ago (plus tax and core fee). The price I paid for the battery was 84.99. I had bought another battery, also group 65, just one year ago for 94.99. Ten bucks more. Today’s price for the group 65 battery was 92.99. So basically I ended up paying 8 bucks for the replacement. If it had been the other battery, I would have walked away with a new battery and two bucks in my pocket.

    Get a grip people! Yes, you’re all getting jerked around, but you’re doing it to yourselves.

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  4. If one returns a defective battery and buys a new one at perhaps a higher price, the warranty restarts again at month zero, whereas if one merely exchanges a defective battery for a new one, the warranty continues from the original purchase date of the defective battery.

  5. Batteries don’t last forever, so all warranties on batteries are going to pay you less as the years go by, eventually paying you zero when the battery reaches the end of its expected life. Basically, you’re expected to pay for the months of use you got out of the battery, and get refunded only for whatever portion of the battery life you didn’t get. Same goes for tires, and anything else you buy that’s expected to wear out within 3-5 years. (You don’t get your purchase price back when you trade in a 2-year-old car, do you?)

  6. Frank, that is great. Happy to hear that your warehouse knew how to handle it the right way! Where did they accept your return? At tires, customer service or the cash register? What was the process you had to go through? I hope it was a breeze. Refreshing to know that in some places they know how to handle a warranty.

  7. I just got a free replacement of my kirkland battery. It was 34 months old. They allow 100% credit under 3 years. Also they sold me the new one at the old price even though the price had gone up 19%. Costco Bloomfield mi is great.

  8. I got so many different answers while returning my battery, basically seems no one knows for sure how it is supposed to work. That is why when I came home I went online but I couldn’t find anything on their website or anywhere else. I wrote the letter because I was upset and I had a hard time even sending it. Finally, I found under some tab on the Costco website; contact customer service in a form. I pasted my letter there.

    My original battery had a sticker that said :

    0-30 100% replacement
    31-43 60%
    44-57 40%
    58-71 30%
    72-85 10%

    I was within the 30 months and I do not think it should matter whether they changed brand or not a warranty is a warranty. Just like I asked them if it is not free replacement then just be clear in your writing but when I have a huge sticker on my battery telling me free replacement then that is exactly what I expect!

  9. Same thing happened to me, although the details vary. I had two batteries go in two vehicles in a matter of months. The first time everything went smoothly so I don’t recall the details, just that I didn’t have to pay anything extra. The second one was a few months later, so I thought I knew the drill. I was in the return line with the dead battery. Was told they now require them to be taken to the tire center, but they had just closed. I asked if they could take it and make a note on my account so I didn’t have to heave they filthy thing back to the car and then out again later. This was my mistake. They agreed, did a credit on my acct, and said to buy the new one from the tire center when they opened. When my partner was at another CostCo a few days later, he was required to pay ~$26 more than the credit. He didn’t protest b/c he didn’t realize that we shouldn’t have had to pay anything with the warranty. While $26 might not seem much, it is close to 50% of the original cost. So how is this a full replacement at no cost?! I just wonder what we would have paid if we were in the prorated period. Seems to me we got the warranty coverage of a battery that was twice the age as the one we were returning.

    I did ask at the return desk on a later visit why we were charge when it should have been fully covered. I was told that it was b/c they had changed brands of batteries and the new ones cost more. It didn’t quite sound right given I had no control over that and was still entitled to what the warranty on the product I had purchased. But I let it go b/c we had already invest enough in the replacement process and I didn’t think I was going to change their minds. I wish I had pursued it, as I am an avid “it is the principle!” believer.

    While I don’t relish reliving all this, I came to the site b/c I was seeking info on the warranty. Wish CostCo had something easily accessed on the website. I did find this on a nonCostCo site.
    36 months = full refund or exchange towards another battery
    37 to 45 months = 60 percent refund
    46 to 55 months = 50 percent refund
    56 to 65 months= 40 percent refund
    66 to 75 months= 30 percent refund
    76 to 86 months = 20 percent refund
    86 to 95 months = 10 percent refund
    96 to 100 months = 5 percent refund

    So my question is what happens with these replacement batteries. Does the clock start at the original purchase or at the replacement date? Fine for the original purchase date on the one that was replaced for free, but for the one I had to partially pay for? Any thoughts on that? And do you think the wording “full refund or exchange towards another battery” (while not from the source) could be a cover for them if the price goes up or they change brands?

  10. Miles, you are so right. I was fortunate to have two cars in my household. For sure it was not by mean intent but as I have been a Costco member for about 19 years or so I have seen changes. It comes with not knowing how do your job and when you do not know, not knowing how to correct it. I know my battery was old but it was still four months from the warranty to expire so the new staff and management should know better. What I find sad though about everything is not even the warranty issue but maybe more that the staff that was so great is slowly being replaced by less trained and not so knowledgeable staff it is just a sad state of what is happening today in Miami. I hope for sure Miami is the only place this is happening at ….

  11. I don’t think it’s deliberately malicious. More of a case of not having a proper system available and not bothering to do anything about it because it doesn’t come up very often. After all, Hanlon’s razor states: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    A price change after you buy something doesn’t usually affect you, after all. And offered the cash card, many people would simply take the money and run. After all, you’re getting a full refund on a (in some cases) 3 year old used battery!

    But, with car batteries, if you’re bringing it back, you need a swap right there and then. Many times the vehicle involved is sitting out in the parking lot without its battery! So it’s not very likely you would bring it back in and buy it elsewhere, especially because the initial intention to warranty the thing, not get a refund!

    Of course, the problem with this approach is that when something does go wrong and you need a warranty, you could be left holding the bag because although the intention with the way our situations were handled, they assume you are made whole again, in reality, we were not… at least not without pulling teeth.

    It’s a system that based on assumptions and poor application and from their point of view, doesn’t appear to happen often enough to require a standardized process. After all, a quick search shows that you and I were not the only ones with such a problem! And to add to that, not very many people buy a car battery in a place without a sales tax then need to have it warrantied in a place with one, further compounding the issue!

    It’s also a shrink issue. Costco is handing out free money to anyone who walks in with a 3 year old battery. That shouldn’t be the case and has the potential to hurt their bottom line if abused. I would hope that for this reason alone, they could be persuaded to correct this process. Maybe there is a standard process for this, but it was easier to toss us a cash card!

    You could call up your local Costco and tell them that this problem is pretty widespread and give them the information of my local Costco in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. The manager there would instantly know as I had just called him and in an ideal world, they would both call their district offices and get some kind of a fix from the guys at the top.

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  13. Hi Miles,

    Wow, I wrote the blog post because I kind of had a feeling that maybe I wasn’t the only one? I did finally go back for the money that they admitted they owed me. The store manager told me to just go to the cashier at the checkout when I shopped next time and they would see a message stating they owed me the difference. I don’t remember the exact amount but it was 15 or 16 dollars. So I went with the family and we did our groceries and at the checkout we told the cashier to deduct what I was owed. Well, she wasn’t able to do that. She had to call a manager. No manager came and the line behind was long and people impatient and the cashier said: Well I can’t help you no manager is coming and you have to go to customer service. My husband was already fuming but I told him it is not the money it is the principle and I went to customer service after standing in line again the customer service representative told me she couldn’t help me either, I had to go to returns and make the line there. By then my husband said forget about this we have food let’s go home. Write another letter or something but I am not standing in line three times.

    While my husband stormed off with the kids to load the car I patiently waited in line again. Apparently returns couldn’t give me the money back either so we had to go to the tire department. The service representative came with me and after what seemed like forever they apparently were not able to give me a refund there either.

    I was told I had to go back to returns by this time I was like: You are seriously kidding me! In the meantime my husband is calling me telling me to leave and forget about it. Back at customer returns the manager showed up and it was the same one that called me over the phone apologizing. She gave an override and I got my money back. But wow, what a horrible experience.

    After this incident we bought an iHome alarm clock with speakers that stopped working after a week or so and I couldn’t get it to work right but since we were not planning to return it I didn’t save the box. I called the concierge service and they couldn’t find the item nor was anyone available to give me assistance. I was told to call back later in the day when they might have someone working that could answer my questions. The alarm clock had a one year warranty so I just wanted to know if I was doing something wrong or if I could just exchange it for a new one. I called the concierge service back later and they attempted to call my local store but no one answered to phone. Then I was told they do not provide service for the iHome alarm clock. I then had to call the manufacturers technical service phone number. They did not have a technician on staff so I was told to call back later. My husband at this point said; well just go and buy a new one and return the old one in the new one’s box since there is no warranty for this alarm clock. I called the manufacturer back a second time and this time I was able to solve the problem but seriously they do not make it easy at all.

    I am glad you solved the situation, but I do think that this is a systemic way of just avoiding warranty returns or making it so hard that most people just forget about it.

  14. Hi there, I had nearly the same problem happen to me when I had to warranty my battery yesterday!

    I had purchased my battery in the province of Alberta which has no sales tax. 5 months later, the battery wouldn’t hold a charge and I found myself in the province of British Columbia needing to warranty the battery. The warranty label on the battery states “free”. So the amount of tax I paid or any price increases shouldn’t apply. I should bring my battery in and walk out with a new one with no additional money out of my pocket.

    Well, what actually happened was I was given a cash card and told to repurchase the battery through the point of sale. It was at this point that I brought up the issue of the sales tax, to which the guy at the front said he had included the B.C. sales tax on the receipt and that I should be free and clear to buy the new battery. He also took the liberty of writing down clear instructions on the receipt for the cashier so that I should encounter no problems. So, I went to the batteries, matched the new battery’s model number to the one on the receipt and brought it up to the cashier. And that’s when it went downhill. An override was required and a manager had to be brought up to do it. The front end supervisor, the one handling the override, said that the usual procedure was to simply give me what I had paid and that I would buy a new battery at full price. Well, many people might be content to take the money and run, but technically speaking, this is a warranty and I shouldn’t have been refunded any sort of money to begin with. After some back and forth where he stated that he didn’t care about the tax in Alberta and that I have to pay it in B.C., he finally approved the transaction purely because the people at the front promised me that would be the case.

    Today, I had a chat with the manager of the store and explained what had happened and he indicated to me that I was 100% correct and that he would need to train his managers to handle this situation properly in the future. I also mentioned your incident and said that I wasn’t the first person to have this problem. Putting aside the tax issue, my situation is virtually identical to yours, except in its resolution.

    I hope this problem gets rectified at all Costco stores because from what I can tell, virtually anything with an in-house warranty seems to be affected by this oversight.

  15. I did not get an email reply, instead I did receive numerous apologetic phone calls. I am apparently due a refund but I have to go back to the warehouse and speak to a manager to get it. I have not had the time yet, so I will update.

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