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Author Topic:   Battery Prices: Cheaper Batteries at Big Box Stores
striper swiper posted 04-08-2009 01:56 PM ET (US)   Profile for striper swiper  
Has anyone used walmart, costco, bj batteries?
How do they compare to interstate? Interstates are about 125.00 each, whereas the others are about 80.00 each?
I need 2, 2x125=250 vs 80x2=160. so the savings can go towards fuel, beer, wine ,women.
jmorgan40 posted 04-08-2009 03:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
I have four of the Walmart batteries in my 1987 Outrage. I have been very happy with them. I bought them almost 3 1/2 years ago. Last year I had to replace one and this year a second. So I got over 2 years out of the first two and the second pair that are running my Lenco Troll-N-Tabs are still going strong. I undertand the Johnson Controls makes the Walmart batteries. They came highly recommended by the guy who made my Stealth charging system. So far I have been very happy with them considering they are substantially less money than other batteries.
johnhenry posted 04-08-2009 03:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for johnhenry  Send Email to johnhenry     
From what I have heard there are only two battery manufactures in the USA. That means that all your brands are repackaged. What matters more than anything are cca(cold cranking amps), RC(reserve capacity) and CA(cranking amps). I think you would be fine with a battery that has high spec ratings.
I have recently noticed a drop off in the the quality of Interstate Batteries( My business is a wholesale customer of Interstate). Someone in the business recently told me that Interstate batteries are produced in Mexico. We are considering switching to Exide whom we know are using American made batteries, which I am pretty sure are made buy Johnson Controls. Exide is no less expensive than Interstate but We are concerned more with quality than anything else.
oysterman posted 04-08-2009 04:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for oysterman  Send Email to oysterman     
From what I remember the four lagest battery makers are-

Johnson Controls: (Interstate, Motorcraft, Energizer, older Diehards),
Delco: (Sears, newer Diehards),
GNB: (Champion) and
Exide: (NAPA).

L H G posted 04-08-2009 07:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
Walmart's batteries are now made by Exide.

Their size 24 dual purpose (starting and deep cycle) battery is about 1/2" too high to fit the BW tan battery box.

Dan posted 04-08-2009 07:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dan  Send Email to Dan     
I've had bad luck in my cars with Exide brand.
jimh posted 04-08-2009 09:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The last two batteries I bought were purchased at my local boat store and engine service provider. I paid a fair price. I suppose I could have saved $5 somewhere else, but I would rather keep my trusted boat mechanic in business than enrich some giant big-box retailer.

There is no way WALMART will provide one lick of service to me. They will hardly take back a battery on a core deposit without a trail of evidence that would have convicted O.J. Simpson. Why on earth would I want to give WALMART my business instead of a my local boat mechanic and dealer?

Vote with your dollars. If you vote for WALMART, don't complain when the last retail store left standing is some ugly big-box warehouse staffed by non-English speaking immigrants working for minimum wage that doesn't give a hoot about you.

David Jenkins posted 04-08-2009 09:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
I agree with you, Jim. Except, to be fair, the price difference between Wal-Mart and most other stores for marine batteries is about $50 per battery.
20dauntless posted 04-08-2009 11:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
I've heard that "marine" batteries have more robust plates in them that are more capable of standing up to the abuse that they see in the marine environment. No idea if this is true or just marketing though. And I agree with Jim on this. I've found it's hard to find good, trustworthy, and reasonably priced shops and mechanics for the boat. When you find one, be a good customer and don't try to nickel and dime them. The shop that I prefer to do work actually has encouraged me several times to buy parts from online retailers to save money, however.
jimh posted 04-09-2009 12:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The last time I needed a boat battery I did happen to be in the vicinity of a WALMART, and I stopped to see what they had. It was in early June, as I recall. This WALMART store was out of batteries. The shelves were empty. That is one of the more frustrating things about shopping at WALMART: their inventory is highly variable and quite inconsistent.

If WALMART sells batteries for $50 less than others, then they must be selling a premium 1,100-MCA marine cranking battery for $25. I only paid about $75 for an INTERSTATE battery with those ratings. It was a few years ago, and no doubt prices have gone up.

There is one positive about a WALMART battery (and I hope you appreciate that pun): once you leave a large metropolitan area they'll be the only retail store you can find. Go to a smaller town, and the WALMART will have driven all the other retailers out of business. This is great if you need to get a replacement battery from WALMART on their warranty. Let me know how it works out for you.

HAPPYJIM posted 04-09-2009 12:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
I've been buying batteries from Walmart for more than 14 years now. I used to buy them from Sears until they shafted me on a so called warranty.

I have 4 diesel trucks with 2 batteries in each truck. All of my equipment that uses a battery and the Whalers have Walmart batteries installed.

Walmart gives you a piece of paper that goes in a little plastic baggie on the side of the battery. It is used in case the battery fails before it's time. On the rare occasion that the battery failed, I was given a new battery.

The last time that the battery failed in my skid steer loader, the piece of paper and the plastic baggie were gone. This battery is exposed so I guess the sun/weather got it. Well I had to take the battery in anyway to size it and get the $5 core charge. They just scanned the bar code and it still had 2-3 months left on a 3 year warranty. I didn't get a new battery for free this time but I did get $10-15 off and upgraded to a higher cold starting rating.

I use the top of the line batteries in my trucks for piece of mind, I guess. They cost around $70-80 bucks each but I have never had them fail but after 4-5 years of daily use they start to show signs of slower cranking. I put them on the charger overnight and do a load test on them. If the load test does not check out, I replace them.

The Marine battery at my local marina is $130. Marine batteries are $60 with the deep-cycle at $80 at Wally world. I like my local marina guy but not enough to pay double for the same item.

HAPPYJIM posted 04-09-2009 01:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
I guess I need to say that I may be biased a little towards Walmart. Since they came to town 17 years ago I have been doing their parking lot sweeping every night. So, I'm one of the people that have benefited from them coming to town. By doing work for them, my business has done very well. So well that I was able to buy another $$$$ sweeper truck in these tough times.

I also had a lawn & garden shop when Walmart first came to town. They did hurt my business by selling lower than what I was selling. Luckily a nasty divorce forced me to give the nursery business to my lovely EX-wife(bless her soul) in trade for my freedom(it was a good trade). So I have seen both sides of the giant big-box retailer. My profit margin is much, much better sweeping trash from their parking lot than when I was selling a flat of petunias.

SC Joe posted 04-09-2009 10:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
My "manufactured in March of 2008 90 hp Mercury FOURSTROKE" (lol) requires a miniumum 1000MCA/800CCA/125 min reserve capacity starting battery.

To my knowledge, and I have looked, Wal Mart does not sell such a battery, at least in a group 24 size. I haven't seen that spec in any size at Wal Mart.

"Batteries Plus" down the street, however, does. It is the EXACT same brand and battery that my Whaler dealer sells for $37 more. Seems like an easy choice to me.

If my Whaler dealer wants to stay in business, and sell more batteries, perhaps they should attempt to meet the price of other battery retailers (And at the price they want for a Whaler, maybe they should attempt to meet the prices of other Whaler retailers as well).

L H G posted 04-09-2009 10:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
For those 1000MCA starting batteries, Bass Pro Shops are a good source, if you have one nearby. They sell them for about $82.
Yiddil posted 04-09-2009 11:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
I was in the market for a baot battery last year and after all the looing around at Brick and Mortor, I got a battery at my local WHaler Dealer cheaper and original equipment to my boat. Happens that the original battery dated 04 is still strong, so I got another just like it...cheaper than anyone else in those stores...I thought it very unusual...but did not complain....
modenacart posted 04-09-2009 08:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for modenacart  Send Email to modenacart     
I have never in my life had a problem taking something back to Walmart. They have by far the best return policy of any store I have ever shopped at and most likely ever will shop. If you don't like the company, thats fine, but people should speak the truth. They even took back a jacket they didn't sell.
jimh posted 04-09-2009 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I checked the price of a premium INTERSTATE 1,100-MCA marine engine starting battery today at Lockeman's Boat and Hardware. Due to inflation the price is now up to $79.
SC Joe posted 04-09-2009 11:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for SC Joe  Send Email to SC Joe     
Too bad we don't have a Lockeman's in SC.

swist posted 04-10-2009 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
What I don't understand is why typical market dynamics don't seem to be in effect here. Yeah Walmart sells batteries cheap, but why doesn't this cause the local marine stores to drop their prices in an attempt to compete? Sure they could never get down do Walmart pricing, but as stated by someone earlier, a lot of us would not mind paying a little more to keep the local stores in business. But it seems to me in some cases that they are not even trying. No one is going to pay double for a battery. What are they thinking?
johnhenry posted 04-10-2009 09:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for johnhenry  Send Email to johnhenry     
Its not necessarily an unwillingness of a "mom and pop" operation to drop their battery prices to compete with Walmart. Walmart buys in very large volume and therefore purchases the batteries at a much lower price than a small operator. If a small operator tries to compete, his profit margin drops to an unacceptable level to run a successful business. We as consumers have to decide whether we want to pay higher prices to support small businesses. No, double the cost is not realistic, but paying 20% more is.
modenacart posted 04-10-2009 09:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for modenacart  Send Email to modenacart     
I think you usually see more than a 20% difference.
striper swiper posted 04-10-2009 09:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for striper swiper    
My local marina wants about 125.00 for an interstate battery,I like to give marina's my business but I don't want to overpay either.I may check Costco, they seem to be very accommodating with customer service. Costco wants about 80.00per battery.
New 2 Whalers posted 04-10-2009 10:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for New 2 Whalers  Send Email to New 2 Whalers     
I bought a starting battery from an Interstate dealer over 5 years ago and it finally gave it up this year.

I have only heard good things from some of my neighbors about Wal-Mart batteries so I bought a deep cycle group 24 for my trolling motor but I replaced the Interstate with a marine battery from a local auto parts store since they were much closer to home.

I think many performance issues are related to regular maintenance.

L H G posted 04-10-2009 11:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
Much to my surprise, I just accidentally beat Walmart's pricing on a same type and rating product.

I don't buy starting batteries, but instead buy the dual purpose starting/deep cycle type. This handles the heavy draw of electronics, cruise lighting, etc. Since Walmart's Exide manufactured battery is too tall for the Whaler tan battery box, I found a Stowaway at Batteries Plus, also by Exide, that does fit, for $69, and no old battery core needed. Walmart chages $64 for theirs, plus $9 if no core turned in, which I didn't have.

swist posted 04-10-2009 05:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
I'm not suggesting that the local stores can equal Walmart's prices but I think a lot of us would go along with your figure of 20% more for keeping the business local. Unfortunately, as many people have verified, it's usually a lot more than 20%.

Walmart not only has the advantage of volume, but I would assume that there are fewer middlemen taking a cut. I have no idea what the actual numbers are but it's entirely possible that 20% above Walmart is still a losing proposition for the locals.

I find it interesting (and sad) that a lot of people say they don't want to patronize the big-bopx stores, but they have to.

modenacart posted 04-10-2009 09:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for modenacart  Send Email to modenacart     
I live in a small town and I spend my money where I get the most for my dollar. Sometimes thats advice along with my purchase that makes it worth the extra money. There is only one marina I will go to only for that reason. He is much more reasonable than the rest of the marinas, actually close to Walmarts prices. The rest of the marinas around here, along with almost all the other mom and pop stores, are filled with owners that think you owe them your business. I will be more than happy to spend my money somewhere else. I am not going to spend more to be treated like a jerk.
Hoosier posted 04-13-2009 04:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
There are only a few battery manufactures, Walmart and Interstate don't make their own batteries, they buy them from contract vendors like Johnson Controls, Exide, Deko, and US Battery. Just like Sears did before them.
pglein posted 04-23-2009 10:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
[Changed topic from retailers to choice of battery type and brand. Please begin a new discussion to discuss the topic of choice of a particular brand and type of battery. Thank you.--jimh]
HAPPYJIM posted 04-25-2009 02:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
[Commented on opinion about battery brand choice and type.]
glen e posted 04-25-2009 07:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
[Commented on opinion about battery brand choice and type.]
jimh posted 04-26-2009 10:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Let's keep the discussion focused on retailer and comparative pricing.

To add the topics of which brand of battery is the best brand and which type of battery is the best type will expand the scope of this discussion to a hopelessly large frame.

Ablewis posted 04-29-2009 11:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ablewis  Send Email to Ablewis     
On the topic of big boxes. I choose not to shop at Walmart largely due to the employment practices, environmental record etc. I am more conflicted with Costco as a big box. Costco pays even their cashiers about $17 per hour with health care, vacation, sick leave and retirement benefits. Let me say that this is significantly higher than almost any merchant on Main Street. The Wall Street Journal has criticized Costco for paying high wages and for not paying enough attention to its stockholders. The world gets more complex every day. It wasn't long ago that Sears was the big bad bully on the block.


[This article re-introduced a general discussion of the performance of batteries by brand and type. That topic has been separated and moved to its own thread. This thread is discussing retailer of batteries, not the batteries themselves. --jimh]

andygere posted 05-01-2009 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I've purchased a number of batteries for both my boats and my cars at Costco over the last few years. In addition to very low prices, I have found Costco is excellent with warranty issues. If your battery is under warranty, bring it in, no questions, no hassles. I can't say the same for WalMart. I purchased a used truck that had a WalMart battery (with a date stamp on top) that would no longer hold a charge. Despite the fact that the date stamp showed warranty remaining, the clerk refused to provide any warranty without a sales receipt. I guess this store didn't train their employees to scan the bar code on the battery. Nevertheless, I won't be buying any batteries at WalMart in the future.

For a long time, I was a dedicated Sears Die-Hard battery buyer. Whatever I drove (Jeeps, cars, Whalers) it got Die-Hards because I had excellent luck with them. The last set of Die-Hards I purchased provided only mediocre service (about 2 years on the Montauk) despite their premium price for lead-acid flooded cell batteries. I've had as good or better service from Kirkland (Costco brand) batteries at a much lower price. Since there are just a few battery manufacturers out there, and the retailer house brands seem to switch manufacturers fairly frequently, it would be much more usefull to compare batteries and prices based on who manufactures them. Unfortunately, this is not terribly easy to do.

I'd love to be able to do business with a localy-owned retailer like Lockeman's in my area. Unfortunately, of the two local chandelries around my seaside town, one is an outright crook (learned my lesson with that guy) and the other has yachtsmen pricing and banker's hours (actually, my credit union has better hours than this outfit). I don't know how a yard stays in business operating 9-5, Monday through Friday, but I'm certainly not going to take time off of work to buy a battery from that shop.

cmarques posted 05-01-2009 02:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for cmarques  Send Email to cmarques     
I have had good luck with WalMart batteries. Last one I replaced spent four years in the boat and season in my camper. It finally died and I was able to get it warrantied while in Provo,Utah no questions asked. I now have one for the camper and two dual purpose in my Whaler hooked to a BPS 4/4 amp charger.
jimh posted 05-01-2009 02:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Andy--My experience with WALMART and trying to obtain satisfaction with a battery is similar to yours. Without a chain of evidence, the euphemistically named "Customer Service Representative" treated me more like someone attempting to commit robbery than a customer who would be entitled to a very small courtesy and compensation under the terms of WALMART's own policy. The level of customer service provided probably varies with the individual and the store. My experience was enough to teach me that WALMART was a retailer of last resort for me, not a place of choice for buying anything I expected to be warrantied or replaced under a warranty.
gss036 posted 05-02-2009 08:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for gss036  Send Email to gss036     
Use your credit card whenever possible and they can check way real fast.
My last set was Interstate 1000CC batteries, early summer 08, they were shot by mid-February of 09. I called the boat yard who had installed them and they happened to have a person coming my way 2 days later they came and exchanged them for new batteries, no questions asked. That's what I call service.

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