Wal-Mart Auto Battery Warranty Core Charge Scam - Walmart
This is a long rant!
Less than 3 years ago I bought batteries for a heavy duty diesel truck that requires 2 batteries. Wal-Mart was the cheapest place to buy the batteries and they have a 3 year free replacement warranty on the particular batteries that I purchased. To say the least, the batteries did not last 3 years; they started the truck 2 days earlier with no problems and the temp had not even dropped below 40 degrees between that time. I even put them on a charger all night to see if I could get them to hold a charge which they did but as soon as a load was put on the batteries the batteries would drain down to 11Volts within 5 seconds of turning over the engine.
I pulled 2 batteries from my boat and was able to start the truck with no problems and tested to make sure my charging system was working correctly and everything was in working order. I called my local Wal-Mart and they told me that because I didn’t have the receipts that they would have to go by the sticker dates on the battery and the same 3 year free replacement warranty would still stand. I was lucky because the sticker dates were also within 3 years.
I brought both batteries into my local Wal-Mart and they explained that they would need to test the batteries which is understandable and both batteries showed a 12.6 Volt charge so I explained that they did not work under load and the CS had no idea what I was talking about and he told me they could do nothing for me so I asked to see a manager. The manager working that day connected my batteries one at a time to a machine that also tested the batteries under load.
The first one he connected was now only slightly over 6 Volt charge so he said he had to charge it first before testing it. The test came back positive, so he then tested the second battery and said that it was also fine. I asked what sort of load test was being performed and he said it just a “normal load” test and it should be equivalent to starting a car. I explained to him that a diesel truck has significantly more load stress (a) because lighting the glow plugs before turning over the ignition and (b) because of the high compression of a diesel engine. He said that the batteries were fine and in a condescending attitude said that I should have my charging system repaired. I had to explain to him that I have a brand new and good working alternator and that I also tested with other batteries. At this point I was already at the CS desk for almost an hour and I felt like the Wal-Mart greeter as I said hello to almost everyone who walked in the door as I waited.
I was ready to give up and as I went to grab the batteries from the counter, I noticed that both batteries had significant bulges on the sides and I pointed this out to the manager who came back with a response of the batteries must have frozen and that frozen batteries are not covered under the warranty. I explained that they were in working order 2 days earlier and that it had not been below 40 degrees. At that point he reluctantly told me to grab 2 new batteries and come back to the CS desk so they could swap them out. When I returned he informed me that he was going to have to charge me a core charge and disposal fees for both batteries, which I immediately responded that I was leaving the dead batteries for the core and that there was a “Free Warranty Replacement” as stated on the batteries. He said that that the core charge is not covered under the warranty and that it was state law that he charge me. I didn’t have it in me to go on any more, but another gentleman standing at the next register over had been eavesdropping and piped in to the manager saying that he had been working as an auto mechanic for 30 years and there was no way that they should be charging the core charges, but the manager wanted to hear nothing of it. I paid the $23 charges and let the manager know that I would be calling the corporate customer service n umber to file a complaint and he said “fine”. At this point I had vowed to myself that I would never spend another dollar at Wal-Mart. I was so fired up during this whole event but I remained extremely calm and collected as I did not want to be “that guy”.
As soon as I got the parking lot, I called 2 Wal-Mart stores in Maine that had tire/lube auto departments and both stores told me that I definitely should not have been charged but I would have to have it resolved with the store that had swapped the batteries through. When I got home, I called the Corp CS line and spoke with a gentleman that said that the store was in the wrong and that he would call the manager and have someone get in touch with me.
The next day a different manager of the same store called me and apologized for what had happened and that I could come back to get my money back. He also said that he would make everyone aware of how the battery warranty policy worked. The very next day I headed back into the store and went to the CS desk and the same manager that I had originally dealt with was there again but he was not working the register. I explained to the CS woman about my conversation with Corp CS and also with the other manager. She turned around to quietly talk to the condescending manager and then came back to me and handed me a Wal-Mart gift card, I immediately said that I wanted my money back and not a gift card. She explained to me that returns can only be refunded in the form of cash and that Customer Satisfaction refunds need to be paid in the form of a gift card. I explained that this should have been run through as a return as I was wrongly charged. The manager came to the desk at this point and told me that this is a Customer Service refund which I responded by asking if this is a nice way of making me shut up and go away. He said that the store needs to stick by the battery warranty policy and the refund needs to be run through as Customer Satisfaction.
I took the card and went to the parking lot and called Corp Customer Service and explained what had just happened and that I was done fighting over this but I just wanted the policy to be well understood at all stores so that other customers would not be ripped off by those who didn’t understand the policy. While on the phone I also asked if I could get a balance of the amount put on the gift card and I was told that there was a $22 balance, which I explained that this also wasn’t worth fighting over, but they should have given me a $23 refund because that is what I was charged for 2 core charges plus disposal fees.
I now have $22 to spend at Wal-Mart (which I will do) and after that I will never be caught dead in one of those stores again.
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