Costco (Canberra) Sold Me a Dead Battery - Sharing Return Experience

Hoping it helps someone, sharing my experience of purchasing a car battery at Costco in Canberra. I bought an Exide car battery CMF55D23L from them. Because it was the cheapest in the market at ~$107 after discount. Hooked it up on the good'ol Camry. The car wouldn't start. Went to SuperCheap, tested the battery and the dude said cells were dead and the battery was useless. Got a Century battery from them. When I went to Costco to return the battery, I was surprised with what I had to face.

When I told them the battery was dead, the dude pulled out some sort of a multimeter and said it shows 12 Volts so nothing wrong with the battery. When I said the battery perhaps didn't have the CCA to start the car he was clueless what CCA meant. It means cold cranking amps, btw - "I can't measure something I dont know". I was told "battery cover says 12 V, the meter shows 12 V - not my problem". I can't quite remember if the battery label mentioned the CCA but I was already anxious.

Showed him the supercheap fellas battery test slip/report. He said, can you prove the test was for this battery? Then he actually asked why did SuperCheap not charge the battery when their meter showed the battery was faulty! While this should have been an indicator of what I was dealing with, still, I showed him a video clip of me hooking up the multimeter to the battery and the voltage dropping to less than 5 when cranked, still wouldn't believe me. I was making videos to find out if the alternator had gone tits up. Somehow, an older dude came by, looked at things and said "ah well, we'll refund"

All this anxiety and putting myself at risk (the (power) steering would stutter after I turned the blinkers on, the radio wouldn't let the blinkers turn on, etc) was just not worth it. Horrified at the return process with Costco. Been shopping there for years but never returned anything. Going by what I read, was under the impression it'd be a cake walk.

Also, almost no one installs the car battery for free. Not even Battery World. When I pointed them to what was on their website they said "Oh we are in the process of updating it". $30 to install isn't the end of the world, but doesn't hurt to know in advance. Repco doesn't install at all. SuperCheap at least extends the warranty by 3 months if they install it.

Costco car battery
SuperCheap's test
Voltage dropping

Related Stores

Costco Wholesale
Costco Wholesale


  • +7

    All this anxiety and putting myself at risk (the (power) steering would stutter after I turned the blinkers on, the radio wouldn't let the blinkers turn on, etc) was just not worth it. Horrified at the return process with Costco.

    Thoughts and prayers 🙏

  • why bother arguing with him?

  • +6

    Sold Me a Dead Battery

    Why didn't you checked with Costco first instead of supercheapauto ?

    Also, almost no one installs the car battery for free.

    They doing a service, you have to pay them or you could do it by yourself.

  • -3

    How was it showing 7/8 volts at SCA but 12 volts at Costco?

    • +11

      Supercheap tester puts it under some load

    • +3

      car batteries need to be load tested, putting a multi meter on just shows its no load voltage

  • +1

    Also, almost no one installs the car battery for free.

    For most cars, it's not very complex…

    • +1

      It can lock the radio in a lot of cars. It's just not worth the hassle of problems.

      • +3

        Then you simply re-enter the PIN.

        • +2

          Yeah but its not worth the hassle of dealing with Karen customers who don't have the PIN (or the right PIN) handy.

          It happenned to me a decade ago in a Nissan, i had to go to the dealership, get the PIN, leave the keys in the ignition for 10min, etc, etc. Sure its not a big deal but the sort of people who cant change a battery are the exact same sort of people that couldnt work out how to enter a PIN lol.

        • +1

          99% of people have zero clue what their car radio pin is
          and whats the process going to a dealer to ask them $$$

      • A "pro" (at Supercheap etc) isn't going to change that from happening, unless they keep power to the car constant, which is highly unlikely

      • Also some toyota windows. Then battery recoding for most Euros.

  • +5

    I am never going to shop at costco Canberra

  • +11

    Costco always replace/refund a dead product like that (and are required to under law), it sounds like you just got to deal with someone who had a rod up their behind rather than any issue with the policy.

    Somehow, an older dude came by, looked at things and said "ah well, we'll refund"

    Old mate knows what's what. If you're still really pissed, write a complaint to costco/facebook/7 news and it'll get sorted out. Or just accept you got your refund and move on.

  • +7

    Fairly sure this bozo would get fired if he did indeed act that way and someone with half a clue that works.l there witnessed it.

    You need to file a complaint against this nitwit.

  • +2

    You should have asked to speak to someone else. Sounds like this guy's ego was on the line.

  • +1

    Its Costco, returns are normally painless. Take it back to the counter, say you want to return it as it doesn't work/fit. Done.

  • Tip: "change of mind"

    Your welcome

    • +5

      Tip: "Your welcome"

      You're welcome

      • +1

        Thanks teacher Muzeeb.

  • +3

    A multimeter is the wrong tool to test this test. It tests, No low voltage where you need to test loaded voltage. Which is what SCA used.

    • +2

      Agreed. The "voltage dropping" test appears to show an initial 12.0v. If that measurement is true (with minimal load) the battery is flat as a 12 volt car battery should measure around 12.8v when healthy and charged.

  • +4

    I too had a similar bad experience when swapping an Exide battery at Canberra Costco 4 years ago.

    At the time I thought it would be a simple change of mind as many OzBargainers had been hyping up how good Costco's return policy was.

    It was such a terrible experience dealing with the salesman that I stopped viewing Costo's change of mind policy as a way to justify their $65 membership fee. I didn't renew my membership 1 years ago around when Costco increased the renewal fees.

    I used to do a lot of impulse buying at Canberra Costco and spent heaps on technology as I thought I had the safety net of an easy 100% change of mind policy. After the bad salesman experience I stopped impulse buying at Costco. I treat Costco equal to any big competitor. Which meant I rarely bought any technology items from Costco purely because their pricing isn't competitive enough.

    As a single person household I haven't missed my $65 Costco membership. There are tastier food options nearby at Ms Ba Co. I hardly use petrol since Covid changed my commuting habits. I can still window shop at Costco with family and friends who are Costco members.

    If I see something decently priced at Costco like a washing machine the sales people at JB Hifi will offer to price match Costco and their delivery costs.

    • +2

      That's been my experience at Costco too. Used to buy technology from them, due to the stated returns policy. Even though their prices aren't great, you can usually do better by shopping around, it was a nice reassuring thing to have.

      Until I impulse bought one of those Philips pasta makers, tried it out and found it made thick, claggy pasta, and tried to return it. Nope. According to the returns female, you now had a month to return "change of mind" things, and this was just over 30 days, so no-go.

      It's cluttered up a drawer ever since, and I only buy things from Costco that are really worth it. Which is mostly meat and the odd sauce or slippers. I rarely go there, even less since I discovered you can get petrol in Queanbeyan for 2c more and no queuing. The membership renewal is coming up and it's going to be even more of a difficult decision this time. FOMO might not cut it any more.

  • +1

    How's the bozo at Costco with his $12 multimeter vs. a 1k battery tester designed specifically to test more than just idle voltage hahahaha

    • In the state it was in, a 50W halogen bulb would have been enough load to show a drop below 12V on the multimeter.

      • That's kind of the point and many others are making. He only chucked on a multi-meter, saw 12V and said yep that's fine when it clearly wasn't under load.

    • +1

      Old school carbon pile load testers very cheap under $300, highamp tests ever truck batteries.

      Modern digital load testers are even cheaper.

  • Surprising. I mostly have no problems with Costco return / Price protection at all. I am in Vic, Moorabbin Costco

  • +1

    Surprised you had to argue at all. The return policy is pretty clear, with some limitations, which don’t include car batteries, you can return an item any time for any reason and receive a refund. Put in a complaint about the employee so he can receive training.…

  • I've purchased supercharge batteries before that didn't have the CCA to start the car despite a 12V multi-meter reading. This tool only tells you half the story. I bring it back to Autobarn/Autoone, they normally perform a load test to see if the battery has dropped a cell, which is usually the cause of the issue. Got a replacement battery every time, no problems. It is a regular occurrence, sometimes the battery may be left on the shelf for too long and not topped up.

  • +1

    What colour is that little dot on top of the battery? I find those things fairly accurate…green = good, anything else = charge it.

    Might've been easier to say you've bought the wrong battery then come back and buy another one when that dude isn't around.

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