Why Costco issued an immediate refund for its Kirkland four-piece golf ball

September 25, 2019
Cracks are visible on the cover of Costco's Kirkland Signature four-piece ball.

Costco can generally do no wrong in the eyes of its supporters. With one of the most relaxed return policies in the industry, reasonably-priced pizza and jars of mayonnaise the size of a beach ball, there’s very little to quibble about when it comes to the wholesaler. The lone exception might be their updated four-piece Kirkland Signature golf balls.

The initial four-piece offering Costco rolled out in 2016 drew rave reviews for its performance, but as quickly as the ball took the industry by storm, it became swept up in a lawsuit with Acushnet Holdings Corp., maker of Titleist’s popular Pro V1 ball, over claims Costco made that the ball “meet[s] or exceed[s] the quality standards of the leading national brands.” Acushnet also asserted the Kirkland ball violated 10 patents. The case was later settled out of court in 2018.

Costco’s golf ball business went dark briefly before resurfacing with three-piece and four-piece offerings ($29.99 for two dozen) under the same Kirkland Signature name. While few have complained about the quality of the three-piece ball, the cover of the four-piece was brought into question on Reddit’s golf page recently, where user archsplinh posted a photo of two Kirkland Signature balls resting side-by-side on a couch under the headline “After 3 holes, Costco…”

The balls have visible cracks in the cover from minor use — a red flag that quickly gained traction as other users relayed similar stories and posted photos of their own. On Costco’s website, the Kirkland Signature ball currently has a 1.7-star user rating that continues to plummet.

All of the complaints have a common theme: a cover lacking in durability. “These just aren’t the same. Same issues as others: cuts/cracks on the balls. I’ve already returned and bought the 3-piece instead,” said one user on Costco’s site, who gave the ball a 1-star rating.

Reacting to questions about the ball’s durability, Costco issued an immediate refund for the four-piece model.

“Our records show that you recently purchased the Kirkland Signature 4-piece Golf Balls (Item #1250052),” Tim Farmer, Costco’s VP/GMM of merchandising, stated in an email to consumers. “Feedback we received since the item went on sale shows that some of the balls do not meet the high standards that are expected for the Kirkland Signature brand. Therefore, Costco is refunding your credit card for your purchase and the shipping costs (two separate credits). There is no need to return the item.

“As with any Kirkland Signature item, if ever you are not completely satisfied with the product, your money will be refunded. Please accept our apologies, and thank you for your continued support.”

Farmer did not return an e-mail from GOLF.com seeking comment on the “high standards” the ball failed to meet, or whether the wholesaler would be bringing back a corrected version in the future. But based on numerous complaints from users, it’s safe to assume a faulty cover was the impetus behind the refund.