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Ethics and REI Return Policy
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Scott Toraason
Re: karma on 01/29/2008 11:48:37 MST Print View

Well said Ben! I purchase from everyone, local shops like Pro Mountain Sports and Feathered Friends in Seattle, all sorts of cottage industries like Six Moon Design and Stephensons Warmlite, on line vendors like,, etc, etc, and of course REI.

On day out of curiosity I took the time to get off the REI internet retail pages and ventured into all the information relating to their community, volunteer, and outreach programs. Several hours later, because there was so much information, I was amazed at the millions of dollars in grants towards parks, trails, environmental projects, and individual donations, that REI gives each year at a percentage of budget that put to shame other corporations. I won’t even start with what REI is doing in the construction of their stores to make them green.

After that eye opener I quit criticizing REI as some sort of evil empire.

mark henley
(flash582) - F
tired on 01/29/2008 12:19:10 MST Print View

I'm so Tired of the Stereotype of the "evil" corporation.

If we see a couple of backpackers leaving trash about their campsite should we then call all backpackers "litterbugs"?

Most of the people who work for Corporations are fine, upstanding people, and are very interested in social issues. However, when an outfit like REI donates a bunch of money to a good cause the newspeople have no interest. Let one employee make a mistake, however, and it's "tear down the corporation" time all over the 6 O'clock televangelist eye witness news.

Without REI there wouldn't be a local outfitter in many places. Without Corporations in general, and the associated laws governing them, we would harken back to the days of the robber barrons with individuals wielding great wealth and power to get what they want. How would that improve things?

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: tired on 01/29/2008 13:29:33 MST Print View

Amen to that, Mark.

No one is required to shop where they don't want to shop, for whatever reason. And as for anyone who feels strongly that they have a "better way" to do things, go for it!


Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Evil Corporations on 01/29/2008 17:09:12 MST Print View

"Most of the people who work for corporations are fine, upstanding people, and are very interested in social issues."
---I agree with this. And yes, some corporations do donate significant amounts of their revenue to great causes (too bad donations amount a drop in the bucket though).

The problem is that the power of a public corperation lies with the shareholders, the executives, and the consumers. We all know that consumers in the USA, for the most part, want the cheapest possible goods (this is why so many shop at Walmart). In addition, most shareholders view profit as their number 1 objective, as do many executives. This profit sometimes becomes a conflict of interest as far as "doing the right thing" is concerned.

An example: You might be familiar with Bell's Brewing which makes some of the best microbrews in the world. Last summer there were rumors that Budweiser was attempting to buy Bell's. Lo-and-behold, Larry Bell is now being sued by Bell's Inc's shareholders for not disclosing a buy-out offer.

If Bud bought Bell's out, a seriously great part of Michigander brewing history would be smeared. There would be many upset beer drinkers saying Larry Bell "sold out," and rightly so. Did Larry do the right thing or are the money-grubbing shareholders right (they would have sold in a second, trust me)? You could argue either way, but IMO I'm with Larry.

That was a fairly lighthearted example but lets get serious now. Many publicly owned corporations do whatever it takes, within legal limits (and sometimes not), to make the largest profit. Thats why companies outsource to areas that produce goods cheaply. Is it good to exploit cheap labor or rape poor countries of their resources? No, it is not good, it's terrible (ie: evil).

Good publicly traded companies are mainly the result of consumers and shareholders who are educated and give-a-damnn. Too bad those people are in the minority in the USA. Are corporations evil? IMO, consumer ignorance is the biggest problem, but yes, cooperations are ruining this country (and many others) with their capitalist-extremism.

Cheers to Larry Bell!

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 01/29/2008 22:24:28 MST.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Evil CorPORations (sp) on 01/29/2008 21:53:56 MST Print View

REI is a member-owned cooperative, not a corporation.

If you are a member, you get a ballot to vote for the Board with every dividend check. Few get sent back, but you have that right as a member.

If you are unhappy with something in REI, leave comments in the box at your local box store. They DO get read. Encourage friends to do the same. Trends get passed up to Seattle and they DO make a difference.

So make your voice heard, because in a coop, every member has a voice, unlike a corporation where pretty much only the VP's and up have any real say.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Re: Evil CorPORations (sp) on 01/29/2008 22:09:55 MST Print View

Ya got me there...

I didn't mean to imply that REI was a corPERation. Anyway, IMO, REI falls under the category of a good company. I purchase from them with no hesitation. I don't see where people get off comparing REI to Walmart either.

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 01/29/2008 22:21:35 MST.

John Manning
(pctjohnbadger) - F - M

Locale: Stainforth
REI on 01/30/2008 02:46:49 MST Print View

I wish we had a trader like REI in the UK. I've bought plenty of gear there on my US trips.
In 2004 I had to return a pair of shoes that tore across the sole and not only did they trade them - mailing the new shoes out to me on the PCT - but they also refunded the difference between the new and old shoes AND gave me a further refund as the shoes I'd originally bought had since been discounted. That's customer service over and above what should be expected.
If someone is having an ethical dilemma over returning to a good trader something that should really have been returned within a few weeks of purchase, I'd say don't return it - your conscience will be so much clearer!

Linda Voll
(Mataharihiker) - F

Locale: NW Wisconsin
My feelings on returning products after 7 years.... on 01/30/2008 07:57:01 MST Print View

I feel it unethical to return gear because you made a poor purchasing decision 7 years ago...sell it on Ebay or one of the backpacking forums...REI is a co-op and I am a member...I understand the lure of $500 but really, after 7 years do you feel justified pushing their customer service just because you can? ooh, don't I sound like a righteous PITA...

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
PITA PETA on 01/30/2008 11:59:57 MST Print View

Perhaps you mean PETA? :)