Costco and Australian Consumer Law

About 4 months ago, I purchased a pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones from Costco. They worked fine until recently but began to develop a buzzing and crackling sound with the noise cancelling turned on.

I took the headphones back and asked if I could get it fixed. The conversation went as follows.

Me: I would like to get these headphones fixed, theyre buzzing in one ear when I use them.
Costco: You could contact Sony and send them off for repair.
M: I would prefer if Costco could sort that out for me.
C: Well we could refund you the cost of the headphones if you like.
M: Sure, ill do that, and just buy another pair off the shelf.

They process the refund without issue. I had also decided to cancel my Costco membership because I dont use it very much. I asked about refunds and warranties if I didnt have a membership.

M: If I cancelled my membership or it lapsed, what would happen if I had another fault with these headphones?
C: You could only get a refund from us if you have an active membership.
M: Oh really? [politely] I think my rights under the Australian Consumer Law mean that I would be entitled to a refund or replacedment.
C: Well our policy is that you need to have an active membership if you want to get a refund under our store policy.
M: [Politely] but what if the law guarantees my right to a refund or replacement if the product has a major failure, like creating noise in my headphone thats designed to be noise cancelling?
C: Well thats just our policy.

The same conversation later occured when I went to cancel the membership.

I'm wondering if anyone has had to refund/replace/repair something through Costco without an active membership?
What was your experience?

TL;DR - Can I get a refund at Costco without a membership on products?

Related Stores

Costco Wholesale
Costco Wholesale


  • sounds dodgy.
    you should be entitled a refund or replacement if it's major fault, regardless of cosco membership.

  • Let me get this straight:

    1. You bought something from Costco that broke.

    2. You got a full refund.

    3. You're now complaining to us and to Costco about a hypothetical situation that hasn't happened yet.

    My advice? Go get a few hobbies…

    Plus, what you were told isn't even wrong. You only have the benefit of their store return policies if you're a member. But in that situation you wouldn't be returning under their store policy, you'd be returning it under the ACL.

    Quit harassing hapless store people…

    • Or next time buy it from HN

    • Teachers have a reputation for overthinking things

    • Let me get this straight:

      1. You read this post.

      2. You decided to be an a*** rather than deciding to answer the question like a normal person or not say anything.

      Dude, chill.

      This is a legit question.

      The product was faulty and a very large corporation is telling me that I can't get a refund unless I pay them $60 a year to be a member.
      No one said to me that I still had rights under ACL if I wasn't a member, it was just a flat no to a refund unless I had membership.

    • Looks mate, you need to think beyond the immediate scene or you'll be screwed over hard when something happens. Let me tell you a story, a place I worked couples year ago the union was pushing to raise the redundancy cap to be equal with other site, management kept reassuring that closure was not going to happen. Negotiations went stalemate and people got scared of company tactics and just agreed to trivia perks to get the EBA went through and didn't care about that hypothetical package. 1 year later guess what, plant got relocated and everyone lost their job.

  • You should be able to get a refund perfectly fine as long as you have the receipt like any other store. Active membership needed if you don't have a receipt as they log all your purchases to your account.

  • You are just talking to staffs who are probably clueless.
    If it really did happen and you have a receipt. There is not way they won't replace or refund for you. They operate in Australia, they have to follow ACL.

  • Read the return policy - the staff member you spoke to may not be fully aware of the policy and is simply just saying what they think should happen.

  • They refunded you under store policy. Not the ACL.

    • store policy cannot be lesser than ACL.

      • Think the point above was that OP got a hassle free refund because of Costco's satisfaction thing which is part of store policy. Without the membership, yes the ACL would still apply, but the ACL doesn't provide for no-questions-asked refunds for all defects/issues, like the store policy does.

  • No store policy can override state or Commonwealth law.

  • I am just going to point out that generally most retailers other than Costco are going to after 4 months use for headphones which appear to be in $300 range would require before a refund is given are going to choose the repair option such as sending the headphones to a repairer or the manufacturer for repair/assessment.

    Costco refund policy is a lot more generous because generally retailers do not want to be dealing with faulty products which may be caused by user damage or products which are found to be not actually faulty but are now a used good (ie customer caused water or fall damage to product and for products not being faulty either customer lied to get a change of mind return or had problems that could not be replicated by an assessor) This is why retailers follow DOA periods because if fault happens outside the DOA period there is more of chance that customer could have damaged the product because if it was faulty from start generally you would assume it will happen within the first 30 days of use.

    So to answer your question yes Costco will still deal with your warranty or ACL issue under the ACL it just might not be as generous as their member return policy which may give you additional rights beyond the ACL ie immediate replacement or refund which is not 100% guaranteed under ACL because different interpretations of what constitute a major fault.

    • Under the ACL, if the fault is a major fault, meaning something that had you know about it at the time of purchase would have made you not buy it, then it is you who chooses either repair, replacement or refund, not the seller. To me, if something needs to be repaired, it's something that would've stopped me from making a purchased had I known it was going to break within that time period.

      • Yes but just need to add, it’s not just simple to walk in and demand this, expecting it will happen, the store/manufacturer has a right to assess the fault first. If the store can’t determine what the fault is and what is causing it, they can send it to the manufacturer to do this.

        Then they tell you it needs repair/replacement, or no fault found. If it’s the former you can decide based on the ACL what you want to do.

        The store doesn’t have to replace on the spot when you say it’s faulty. Costco’s policy for members is to replace on spot.

        If you read carefully, the staff member is avoiding a direct answer by referring to Costco’s policy. i.e. Instant replacement. Is this being evasive, or just ignorant, that the OP isn’t talking about the Costco policy, which is greater than ACL, but ACL itself.

        Like everything in business not all staff know all about everything. And talking about hypotheticals, doesn’t always get the correct answers. In reality you would just have to talk with a manager.

  • If the second pair fail it would be an instant refund.

  • Generally, Costco membership provides a more generous refund policy. However, if you had a faulty product after your membership lapsed, that was within a reasonable timeframe, you would be entitled to repair or refund under ACL, regardless of membership status. It would depend on time since purchased.