Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
REI currently working on new return policies
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ted E
(Mtn_nut) - MLife

Locale: Morrison, CO
REI currently working on new return policies on 11/13/2012 21:12:40 MST Print View

I heard from a very good source today that REI is seriously considering reworking their return policies and getting rid of their lifetime satisfaction warranty.

has anyone else heard anything about this, and if so, what do you think?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/13/2012 21:24:58 MST Print View

I'm thinking that I will no longer have an incentive to shop at their store.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/13/2012 21:26:49 MST Print View

Having been to my first REI garage sale recently, and being shocked at appalled at the state of people's returns, I can say I wouldn't be surprised. Here I am doing my best to use something maybe once or twice before deciding on whether or not to return it, and feeling like I'm some sort of mooch in the process. Meanwhile I saw more totally abused and destroyed stuff than I can shake a stick at, often a couple years old. Moreover, I've heard tales from several employees of people openly talking about how they take advantage of the system; the best/worst being a woman who openly said "this is great, I'll bring my kids' clothes back as they outgrow them, and get them new stuff!"

If they wanted to shorten the policy to something more like, a couple months, or even a month, I'd be pleased enough to continue buying my stuff there honestly. If they decided to get rid of the ability to return it even gently used I would stop buying my stuff there however, because ultimately it's the biggest draw to using REI over online sites where the prices might well be much cheaper.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
REI currently working on new return policies on 11/13/2012 21:30:09 MST Print View

Probably a sound economic decision that will benefit their members. I'd support it, but I've only been a member since 1973. I keep hearing it's a new world, so they probably need to come out with a new policy to match.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/13/2012 21:30:19 MST Print View

has anyone else heard anything about this, and if so, what do you think?

I haven't heard this, but it's disappointing. I don't care much about the annual dividend, not as much as the return policy. Maybe they should just strengthen up against abusers of the system. Anyways, Backcountry.com now offers lifetime replacement, without the need to buy a membership. AND they often times offer better and/or more brands.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re REI currently working on new return policies on 11/13/2012 21:35:20 MST Print View

I think it may be necessary, because people abuse REI's policy. The amount of gear I see that gets returned after being completely worn out is appalling. IMO, if you got a reasonable life out of the product, you've got no business returning it. It's also not right to use REI as a "rental" and buy the gear, use it, and return it after the trip. That's taking advantage. I've returned one item ever to REI in the 14 years I've been shopping there, and that was a legitimately defective coat that the zipper broke on right after I bought it.

Dustin Smith
(dsmith87)

Locale: Bethesda, MD
Abuse of return policy on 11/13/2012 21:38:08 MST Print View

I've heard of several people who've bought really high-end strollers ($400+) and then returned them as soon as their kids aren't toddlers anymore. With stuff like that happening I can't really fault them for wanting to change the policy but it might lead me to making more purchases from Backcountry.

Edited by dsmith87 on 11/13/2012 21:39:03 MST.

Loki Cuthbert
(lokbot) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
doesn't really bother me, but it'll hurt REI on 11/13/2012 21:42:58 MST Print View

I'm sure it's something that they've been thinking about for a while. It's hard to have a change like that without loosing a lot of business though.

Many other businesses have similar exchange policies some even more lenient(bed bath and beyond, nordstroms, Eastern Mountain Sports). Of course some people will take advantage of the policy, but what you loose with the minority abusing the policy you gain 10 fold by having customers who feel confident in what the policy offers them. There are plenty of on-line retailers that have good return policies, free returns on clothes that don't fit, etc. I don't buy much from REI anymore seeing as they don't have a big selection of ultralight gear anyway.


-Loki

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/13/2012 23:39:06 MST Print View

I think their return policy is crazy

I could buy a pair of boots, wear them out with normal use, and then return it and get new pair - forever

I bet many people take unreasonable advantage

Some time period like a few months or a year, or if the equipment is defective in their judgement would be reasonable

George Davis
(nsiderbam) - F - M

Locale: mid-Atlantic
re: change in policies on 11/14/2012 05:31:03 MST Print View

I just hope that they find a way to change their return policies while still being able to have those awesome garage sales every once-in-a-while. It would be nice if they could do some sort of "common sense" policy, where if the item was purchased a long time ago and is beat up, an employee can just say "no, you can't return it" and that's that.

However, that's just bound to create a bunch of complainers who will of course want to talk to their manager who will, in order to make the customer happy, say "ehh, I don't think it's toooo bad" and let him/her return it. The complainers are always louder than the content or happy.

Maybe if they had a bouncer that would just come out and punch people in the face if they tried to pull that crap...heh.

Christian Denniston
(cdenniston) - F
returns on 11/14/2012 05:48:56 MST Print View

It is true that it would negate the incentive I have to buy from them. However I think a 90 day "no questions asked" policy would be just as effective. 3 months is plenty of time to try out your gear. If returns must be unused then they will more than likely lose my business because their prices aren't anything special .

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Good on 11/14/2012 05:49:53 MST Print View

Their current policy is ridiculous. The only ones that will likely be impacted are those abusing it.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
pricing on 11/14/2012 06:00:04 MST Print View

only a small percentage likely abuse the policy.

If they changed it they will need to change their pricing structure to discount pricing.

You buy from REI for peace of mind. Period.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
"Peace of mind" on 11/14/2012 07:58:06 MST Print View

Personally, I don't need a "lifetime, no questions asked" return policy to have peace of mind about gear purchases.

For me, being able to return items after using it because of performance issues is a huge benefit but I'd be fine with a reasonable time limit.

Beyond the time limit, for durability issues, I say prorate the return. I think those "I expect boots to last 10 years and this one only lasted 9..." returns are ridiculous.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Return policy on 11/14/2012 08:22:59 MST Print View

I attended a garage sale just a few weeks ago and the overwhelming numbers of bike racks and strollers was very interesting. Most appeared to have been used very little, say one vacation.

I made my first REI purchase in 1973 and have returned 3 items that I used. A pair of boots that I just couldn't get to work after two week long trips and a couple of sleeping pads that leaked slow enough that I couldn't find them.

I shop at REI because of the return policy even if I don't use it much. I do my homework up front before purchasing but like the peace mind that comes with the return policy. Without it they are just another retailer and I can get more than 10% off elsewhere.

If it goes away this will be another instance where a few have ruined it for the many.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Confirmed? on 11/14/2012 08:48:31 MST Print View

Besides this thread, is there any other confirmation of this policy change?

A big part of REIs success is the exchange policy. A change in policy would be a a very big change to say the least.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Confirmed? on 11/14/2012 08:57:33 MST Print View

If there are abusers, that would drive up the cost for others

A properly communicated change in policy that still allowed reasonable returns could be perceived as a good thing

I've returned a few things - Steripen (which quit working after 6 months), Thermarest mattress that delaminated after a year - I feel a little bit like an abuser

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 11/14/2012 09:03:42 MST Print View

I agree with most people here, but I think they should have a common sense policy. They should shorten the return policy to 1 year.

That should give people more than enough time to try something out. I too recently went to a garage sale and I was disgusted at some the the old old worn out stuff I saw. I saw shoes that were completley worn out, ancient sleeping bags that were shredded etc. People that return stuff like that have no morals. I'm sure the clerk that processed some of these returns had a feeling of anger inside.

Having a "Forever return policy" is just asking for trouble, there is no excuse should a normal person decide that 5-10-15-40 years down the road that they want to return a piece of gear.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
New REI return policies, pros and cons on 11/14/2012 09:50:50 MST Print View

If REI changes their return policy/guarantee, they will do it strictly for business reasons, something like:

Current policy costs $X per year which
Brings in $Y per year of additional business,
On which we make $Z per year.

Is $Z still larger than $X?
How would a change in policy change all these variables?

Perceived "abuse" is relevant only to the bottom line.

If REI goes to (say) a one year guarantee, they could start selling gear from cottage industries, which can't or won't make gear guaranteed forever. Which might be a good thing.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
My two cents' worth... twice! on 11/14/2012 11:23:35 MST Print View

Firstly, I'll keep shopping at REi because their products, proces, and service are good.. especialy with the 5% bonus for having an REI Visa card and the 10% dividend.

The only reason I can see why anybody would get thier knickers all twisted up over this, is if they were disappointed that they weren't going to be able to abuse REI's good-faith policies any more.

Secondly, it seems clear that if this is true, REI's bean-counters must have done their due diligence and concluded that his is anecessary, or at least financially desirable step.

If this move is going to either drive prices down or profits up by getting rid of all those people who are returning worn-out boots, used-for-a-season bike racks, and outgrown kids' clothes, then I'm all for it!

Charles P
(mediauras)

Locale: Terra
Re: on 11/14/2012 11:36:56 MST Print View

If REI does this then Backcountry.com could follow, which would mean an end to all the great deals on Geartrade. NOOOOOOOOOooooooooo!

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
REI currently working on new return policies on 11/14/2012 11:47:50 MST Print View

I still haven't seen a lick of evidence to deserve this much commentary. Where's any proof to this?

Rich J
(PNWhiker) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Go for it REI on 11/14/2012 14:52:02 MST Print View

I really love REI. If they made a reasonable change (e.g. 6 months to return an item) in response to abuse I would applaud it. Yes, a business is a two way street. They want to keep me happy as a customer so I will repeat business. But I want them to be successful as a business so they can keep providing the service I appreciate. I've been to a couple of used gear sales, and yes there is absolutely abuse going on.

Thomas Conly
(conly) - F - M

Locale: Lots of canoeing and snow
Definite abuse on 11/14/2012 17:37:11 MST Print View

I've talked to a few former employees of REI on my AT thru hike and they said the abuse was unbelievable. What you see in the garage sales are only what is even remotely salvageable. That doesn't represent all the people who return or exchange things after they are completely used up. I met one couple who had thru hiked the PCT and the CDT (and were now doing the AT) using almost exclusively gear bought at REI and returned after they were done their hike. That's thousands of dollars lost for the company and you can bet that their gear never showed up in a sale.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Definite abuse on 11/14/2012 18:35:12 MST Print View

I don't think REI has publicly announced this. I do not know first hand what kind of "abuse" of the policy has happened. But knowing how much of the public has a sense of entitlement and a general lack of ethics, I am sure it is a big problem. And the abuse just raises the prices on everything that honest people purchase at REI.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
REI currently working on new return policies on 11/14/2012 19:01:43 MST Print View

The forever return policy might work for Backcountry, since you'd have to ship everything back to them. That would knock a bunch of returns out. Unless I'm confused, and Backcountry has brick and mortar stores now.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
rei on 11/14/2012 19:07:57 MST Print View

I would not term it "abuse". Their policy is clearly worded, and nobody has to lie, or use deceit to take advantage of it.

Personally I think it is what their whole business is built around. When you buy from REI you generally pay full price, 10-20% more than at a deep discount retailer. Part of this may be because they have real stores with overhead, and some online vendors dont. However, using simple math, if the average item sells for 15% more than otherwise, they could come out ahead if less than 1 in 7 persons return that item.

Retailers dont necessarilly eat all of returns either. The manufacturers take open package returns back in most cases. The line is probably drawn somewhere, but where I have no idea. If it passes for barely used, it may go back to mfg.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
returns on 11/14/2012 20:38:25 MST Print View

"I bet many people take unreasonable advantage."

Jerry, the son of a close friend informed me that he spent no money on clothing - just wore Bean's stuff for six months, and returned it for exchange with various trumped up claims of defects. He was quite proud of this, and was probably exaggerating a bit. But a lot of it was probably true.

Of course retailers have to protect themselves from this kind of thing if they want to stay in business. I bought a WPB pullover shell from Bean's years ago for a long backpack that wetted out and was next to worthless after just a few days. They did refund the price. But I'd have been better off with a higher quality shell in the first place. I think the companies with a good reputation for customer service will strike a fair balance, and the others will not, no matter what their so-called policies say. Policy-making is much over-rated (along with the pundits who go on about it). You have to get down in the weeds and analyze the problem, and make changes specifically tailored to correct what is not working well.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: rei on 11/14/2012 20:47:43 MST Print View

It's probably a lot better than that on the REI accounting side of things, so it's definitely worth arguing from a "it's probably not as bad as it seems" standpoint indeed. Here's why....

Outdoor equipment, at least the major brands sold by REI, typically list for 45-55% of the retail price. Indeed, if REI sells an item at $100 they likely only spend $50 to acquire it to sell, meaning they're breaking even, at least from an inventory cost perspective, by simply selling one for every one that comes back. Even with inventory taxes, sales, and costs associated with personnel to sell said equipment (i.e. all the overhead sunk costs), they're still probably doing quite well.

So yeah, while it's clearly stated that you can bring the stuff back and if they make an offer they can't be disappointed when people use the system to its fullest, I think a lot of people feel like the practice is similar to the person you invite to a party who drinks all the booze, or eats all the cookies, or really does make themselves feel at home. You say it to be polite and offer the majority of people with shame the option to be more comfortable, but you don't expect lots of people to really take full advantage of the offer.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Keeping it in perspective... on 11/14/2012 20:58:26 MST Print View

Yeah, we all see the obvious abuse dumped in bins at the garage sale, but let's keep this in perspective...

REI has been in business for decades, maintaining prices that are mostly competitive in their market. Clearly, if the abuse was rampant, such a change would have happened years ago. Maybe it's finally reaching a threshold. Maybe it's the same as it's always been but the margins are coming down. But the business simply wouldn't be around to contemplate the change if the problem was widespread.

Don Abernathey
(OldGuysRule) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: rei on 11/14/2012 21:01:32 MST Print View

I don't think you understand the business side of things. REI isn't a cash cow for a bunch of investors. Abuse of REI's return policy by a bunch of gen-X low-lifes can run the coopt into the ground.

scott Nelson
(nlsscott) - MLife

Locale: So. Calif.
The Golden Shoe award... on 11/14/2012 21:30:48 MST Print View

I used to work at REI for two stints long ago. A favorite story was the "Golden Shoe Award" that a store gave to an Assistant Mgr. He struggled with returning abused stuff, but would grit his teeth and take it back. The Store Manager took some ratty old returned shoe, spray painted it gold and gave it to him for doing what the company wanted. That is a core part of their business- I would be surprised if they changed it. The stuff in the garage sales is stuff that REI couldn't, or wouldn't send back to the manufacturers for credit. Man, did the employees score some sweet deals digging thru the boxes before the customers did....

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Re: rei on 11/14/2012 21:44:58 MST Print View

Don't blame this on gen-x. People have been abusing the return policy since the moment they created it. As a former REI employee during most of the 90's, I was always amazed at how some things came back. The policy is simply a "100 Percent Customer Satisfaction" policy. It has never been about the stuff, but about how the customer felt.

Of course, that philosophy is likely the primary reason why they are still a big player in the outdoor retail industry. If it were to change for some reason, I wouldn't be surprised if they were to reinstate it when sales start to tank.

We shall see...

Edited by NamelessWay on 11/14/2012 21:48:41 MST.

And E
(LunchANDYnner)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Love REI on 11/14/2012 23:23:13 MST Print View

I love REI, and visit my Seattle flagship store atleast once a week (don't always buy something, but fun to look!). I have always been pleased with the service and product support they offer. I'm amazed they've been able to continue offering the 100% satisfaction guarantee during these hard economic times. I won't feel betrayed if they change their policy, as i feel they will strike a good balance if they do. Its upsetting seeing some of the products that come back, shoes worn until the soles are gone and returned because they were "uncomfortable." Yes, the return policy says 100% satisfaction guaranteed, but please, be a decent human being. Oh, my favorite reason I saw for returning an item after much use:ridiculous

It says "no padding, didn't like logo" ...no padding in a tent... really...

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 11/14/2012 23:26:28 MST.

And E
(LunchANDYnner)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Dilbert's dad on 11/15/2012 00:17:58 MST Print View

Anybody watch the Dilbert animated cartoon back when it aired? In an episode, it explains dilbert's dad has been at an all you can eat restaurant for years on end without once leaving because he wanted to know if it was truly all you can eat. People who abuse the return policy because it says 100% satisfaction guaranteed remind me of Dilbert's dad in that episode.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: Love REI on 11/15/2012 00:46:08 MST Print View

Hilarious excuse. That's pretty ridiculous. The worst I've heard from an employee was from a guy who fell asleep with his boots next to the campfire and melted the soles completely off the boots. Brought them back and demanded another pair, which of course they obliged him with.

The garage sales are great for picking up Exped mats I've discovered, especially those with the integrated pump. A lot of people (sadly my girlfriend included) can't seem to master the idea that your hand has to seal the intake opening as you press down on the foam otherwise the air blasts back out the way it came in, and you never get the mat to inflate. I saw a SynMat UL and a DownMat UL at the last REI garage sale that both said "pump broken" and after some inspection it was clear they just didn't know how to use it. Too bad I'm all Exped mat'ed up and didn't need another (nor did anyone I know).

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
no change on 11/15/2012 01:09:16 MST Print View

if they change it theres no reason to buy REI ... you can usually find the stuff for less online with free shipping ...

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
If true it is not surprising on 11/15/2012 09:47:54 MST Print View

I do a decent amount of shopping at REI as I and my wife are also cyclists - and my wife does triathlons - so they cover a lot of bases for us. I shop sales and clerance mostly and find those prices pretty good. As a newbie camper/backpacker I also like being able to see stuff - talk to real people about products - try things on - etc... While the brick and mortar for many industries may be shrinking rapidly - outdoor provisions is one area where many people (albeit not very many on this site) do still need and value a bit of expertise and being able to touch/feel/try on stuff. A lot of new and weekend campers don't have the knowledge to buy online and pick the right stuff - it is a puzzling and overwhelming world for a newbie - trust me I know.

There is a smaller independent shop here in town that sells at roughly the same prices as REI - that continues to do well or at least well enough to keep the doors open. Any time I'm in there it has a decent amount of foot traffic. It is enough of a specialty kind of like a bike shop - that the brick and mortar model will continue to work.

I'll keep shopping there if they modify the return policy - particularly if it is solely to limit it to 6 months or a year from purchase. I'll know pretty quickly if something is defective (like the small leatherman I bought there about 2 months ago and am returning) or if it just doesn't fit/work...

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re Gen X lowlifes on 11/15/2012 12:14:54 MST Print View

This comment: "Abuse of REI's return policy by a bunch of gen-X low-lifes can run the coopt into the ground."

Nice. I'm one of those Gen X lowlifes you're insulting there. Got any facts to back that up?

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
REI currently working on new return policies on 11/15/2012 12:52:23 MST Print View

It's been my experience that being a lowlife transcends generations. But not families. Kind of like being stupid.

Edward Zwibel
(YetiEddie) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
+1 on 11/15/2012 13:15:32 MST Print View

Well said Joe

Don Abernathey
(OldGuysRule) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re Gen X lowlifes on 11/15/2012 17:46:47 MST Print View

Are you confessing or asking? I'm confused...

Some people are basically dishonest with the return policy. I guess somehow they justify it by imagining that REI is somehow a Haliburton or related to Bush.

And I think I am mistaken - I think it should be Gen-Y.

I wouldn't blame REI in the least for modifying the return policy - no reason for them to absorb the cost of this form of shoplifting.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/15/2012 18:05:19 MST Print View

Sounds like pure rumor to me. I've always assumed that REI doesn't return items to the manufacturer and gets a deal in the process--- pure speculation on my part.

My favorite gear garage sighting was a pair of 17 year old Vasque Sundowner boots, still in excellent condition, that were returned because they no longer fit. Many adults would change a shoe size in a 17 year period.

The descriptions on the return tags are a book in themselves: two sleeping bags, both the same model, one marked "not warm enough," and of course, the other marked "too warm." Goldilocks shops at REI.

I like to imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger as an REI customer service clerk: "Vat? It iss too colt? You cannot climb zee mountains undt be a girlie man!" {{{SLAP}}} {{{SLAP}}}

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
If you're going to dump it on a generation on 11/15/2012 22:04:31 MST Print View

I do think Gen X, statistically, would be more appropriate than Gen Y. The sheer burdensome cost of outdoor equipment means any real lowlife ne'er-do-well will likely not buy something at REI to begin with. Plus, have you been in an REI lately? It's like an ethnically un-diverse GORP blend of childless yuppies with loads of disposable income, newly be-child'ed yuppies, and retirees.

Mind you I'm not saying the "it's Gen ____ argument" has any merit to begin with, this was simply an excuse to post on how much I tend to loathe the patronage inside REI's. ;-)

Oh and if anyone's wondering I clearly fit into the first group of childless yuppie. Though I've only returned one used item (an REI tent) because it had a rainfly that, when the vestibule was unzipped, dumped water directly onto the mesh door (Half Dome T2+).

Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
taking this conversation the wrong way on 11/16/2012 00:40:35 MST Print View

I may be getting the wrong conclusions from this conversation, but you all are making me feel pretty good about returning shoes I've had for 2+ years that I simply never liked enough to wear out, even if I've worn all the new off of them.

and if a policy change is really in the works, I better hurry! ;)

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
REI on 11/16/2012 07:49:52 MST Print View

Some would say that I abuse the REI return policy, but I don't think I do. I do take advantage of it where I feel it is appropriate. I figure that I pay more to buy from REI specifically because of the easy return policy (and dividend policy). I have returned a number of pieces of gear that either just didn't work out for me despite having no flaw or that I felt failed prematurely. I do draw the line at returning things that wore out after a normal amount of usage.

They set the policy and set their prices accordingly. If they make a really big change in that policy in a way that impacts my returns and do not lower prices I will spend less there than I currently do. They are not usually the cheapest place to get any given item. If they tighten the policy in a way that does not stop the types of returns that I have made then it would not affect my loyalty, but .

Their whole relationship with their customers is based on the return policy and the dividend policy. Trimming back on either will change that relationship. My guess is that they are doing fine and will make no changes in the near future.

I suspect that there is a pretty small percentage of really blatant cases that rise to the level of abuse and that those actually wind up being worth it to REI in the form of good will. Even folks who will never return an item still are likely to buy from REI due to the fact that REI will allow them to return an item at any time for any reason.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Any confirmation? on 11/16/2012 08:26:46 MST Print View

So far all we have is one post. Is there anything concrete at this point confirming this policy change?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Rumor, rumor on 11/16/2012 11:06:11 MST Print View

All we have in this thread is one rumor from "a very good source" and we get three pages of comments! Nor have I seen this pop up on any other forums I check, even from those I know are REI employees. (Of course, generally with management issues, the employees are the last to know....)

Maybe we should all calm down until we have confirmation?

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Inter generational hate on 11/16/2012 13:50:59 MST Print View

What's with all the hate for Gen-X or Gen-Y? If you've got enough time to sit around getting all judgmental on arbitrary groupings, you probably need either:
A) a job
B) a hobby
C) more of either A or B

Now go get off your lazy rears

Josh Lee
(drakoran)
Return policy for people new to the hobby on 11/16/2012 18:59:52 MST Print View

I have returned several things to REI and I don't think I abuse the policy.

I haven't returned any items that have seen excessive use that couldn't be resold at a garage sale.

With clothing I will always try it on first and maybe even wear it out once before removing tags so if I do return it can be resold as new.

I have also returned a couple of items that were defective that could be sent back to the manufacturer.

The main reason I started shopping at REI is I am relatively new to the hobby and I had no real way of knowing what gear would work for me until I took it out and tried it. A friend who was an employee at the time recommended them for this reason as I could start out with basics and upgrade over time. Items like backpacks and sleeping pads are the kind of thing that you really won't know what you are getting until you've had it out for a few days. If it doesn't fit or I don't like it I will return it, in as good a condition as I can so it can be resold. Also I bought some lower quality gear that I upgraded over time by returning and purchasing something better.

I also do my best to buy a replacement product at REI which means I usually end up spending more at the store than I did on the return and I usually ask for store credit rather than cash back.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/16/2012 19:34:26 MST Print View

I proposed to my first wife at REI way back in 1980. I returned her four years later, and really appreciated REI's return policy.

If they change their policy, I'm not proposing to any more women at REI.

Bummer. Gotta find a new proposal store.....

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/16/2012 19:41:21 MST Print View

If you buy an article of clothing and never use it other than wear once, will they resell it as new? Or do they have to resell all returns as used?

I have returned clothing to REI that I bought and changed my mind on. It would make me feel better about that if they could get all their money back.

Jerry Cowan
(krazyone44) - F

Locale: Pac NW
REI would still have my business on 11/17/2012 09:21:41 MST Print View

So long as the return policy is at least 90 days I will continue to shop at REI. Over my 10 years of shopping there I have only returned one item past the 90 day mark and that was because I just didn't make it back to the store within that time frame.
If after 90 days something isn't working for me or I have found a better product I just sell it to a friend or Craigslist it.
The benefit of REI is I can avoid most returns because I am able to physically get my hands on the gear before purchase.
Hopefully a change in the return policy could allow them to expand the products they offer.

Brian Abram
(boglins)

Locale: The South
A bit of a drift, but... on 11/18/2012 16:30:45 MST Print View

Backcountry's return policy specifically states, "if at any time - now, next month, in 30 years, you're not 100% satisfied, send your gear back for a full refund. No questions asked."

Under what sort of scenario could someone imagine that a 30 year old return would not be abusive? The fact is, Backcountry and REI celebrate their return policies, and they use those policies to gain sales, knowing that the few who abuse the system will be overshadowed by many more of those who buy partly due to the policy with no intention of actually exploiting it. These companies are taking advantage of folks who buy from them due to the policy but then are too principled to use it to their own advantage.

It could be argued that anyone who buys something under the influence of a policy like that who then fails to take full advantage of it is a sucker.

Disclaimer: no REIs near me, but I have ordered lots from BC. The return policy at BC does affect my choice.

Edited by boglins on 11/18/2012 16:32:44 MST.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/18/2012 16:34:41 MST Print View

Alex, I saw that kind of stuff, too. There's always someone who has to abuse the system, no matter what the system is, and ruin things for everyone else.

I can't say I blame REI.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
Makes sense... on 11/18/2012 18:13:06 MST Print View

I am not sure why I get this impression that so many people feel like its cool to return lightly used gear or gear that you just didn't use, but many years later... I think that when you buy something, you own it and that the company has no responsibility to let you return it for just any reason. Especially if you've used it! Now let's say you use shoes and they were the wrong size - that's only their fault if they sized you wrong or the shoe company's fault if the shoe causes you serious blisters. If you wear a wind breaker twice and decide you just don't want it anymore, why should you be able to return it? Did it fail? Did it not do what it said it would do? I think that a return policy that allows someone to return gear that is just not performing because its badly made, or gear that fails during normal use, like tearing or seams failing, etc makes a lot of sense. A return policy that allows you to return anything for any reason is just going to cost the company a lot more. They are merchants. You are buyers. You vote with your spending dollars. If a product sucks you go to the company that made it and tell them, and work something out. Don't expect the merchant, who has a store, overhead fees, and makes money selling you gear on behalf of all the great manufacturers to just take it back. That should be on the people who made it. Now if they sell you a boot that is "waterproof" and it leaks because it was poorly made, by all means they should let you return the boots. If you buy a headlamp that doesn't work as advertised, great. But you didn't like the way it looked or changed your mind later about something? Why is that on REI? Anyway I've had to return a few items due to bad manufacturing, but I would never return the shoes I bought that I didn't wear often because I chose shoes that were not for the right activity - I could have asked more questions or learned that before buying them. Anyone else agree with me on this?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Makes sense... on 11/18/2012 18:34:20 MST Print View

+1 Adam.
Sadly common sense and a sense of ethics are lacking in many people.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: REI currently working on new return policies on 11/18/2012 20:24:10 MST Print View

I don't get it. If people think REI policy is immoral and abusive it's easy to shop elsewhere. Preferably someplace where consumer service is a stern old conservative who's only answer to any consumer complaint is to get the hell out before he calls the cops. Leave REI their consumer niche and find your own.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
because on 11/18/2012 21:11:35 MST Print View

there are tons of people on the intrawebs who like telling other people what to do ;)

if REI thinks its "abusive" ... then they can ban that particular person or stop their return policy ... till then ...

i guess im gonna "abuse" MECs return policy again ... bought a pair of approach shoes a month ago and the rubber is already delaminating and the heel tab is falling apart ...

mmmmmmm =P

Will Govus
(willgovus) - F
REI on 11/19/2012 07:22:54 MST Print View

After every garage sale at the three REIs in my region I pull out massive amounts of expensive items out of their dumpsters. Often the stuff is useable (I've gotten virtually unused trail runners, jackets, bike racks, trainers, steripens, even cargo boxes) and even re-sellable.

Most of the time they cut up time massive amounts of sleeping bags (everything from cheap synthetics to marmot helium's), backpacks (gregory, osprey, etc), footwear, and sleeping pads before they throw them away. I am not exaggerating here. Last weekend I filled up my trunk and all seats of my car with all kinds of stuff...

This is done quite obviously to uphold the "integrity" of the brands instead of donating these to items people that could use them. What comes to mind immediately is that they could donate these to homeless shelters or even boyscouts. This is the reason why I despise REI. If they plan of having such a lax return policy, they should have a less disgusting way of dealing with the excess it produces.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: REI on 11/19/2012 08:26:45 MST Print View

Wow... I wonder how long those particular stores have been doing that? In my many years of working at REI, I was never aware that any activity like that was ever taking place. I admit, I wasn't wasn't working in the warehouse or customer service, but I do know that dealing with any damaged equipment was always a risky thing.

Keep in mind that the slightest bit of “damage” in any product, even if it were donated to a great cause, could be a potential lawsuit for ANY outdoor retailer, regardless of some well-written waiver signed by a well-intentioned recipient. Let us not forget the litigious world we live in these days. I am sure REI has had their fair share of lawsuits over their 74 years.

Perhaps the higher level solution could be REI “encouraging” all manufacturers they represent to accept their products back for reconditioning, regardless of their condition.

(Not to digress too much, in “Cradle to Cradle” systems, the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for both the creation of their product, and what happens to it at the end of it’s intended life. If there is any room for re-use or repurpose, the manufacturer would take on this responsibility. I believe large retailers like REI would be in a good position to push more in this direction.)

Matt

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: REI on 11/19/2012 10:00:15 MST Print View

I plan far ahead. I buy winter gear when it goes on sale in the summer. I don't have a chance to use it in the field till 6 months later. So 12 months return policy would be ideal for me, and it encourages me to buy on sale, instead of the week before a trip.

I have not returned any gear so far, because I heavily research the equipment and read the customer reviews.

There are two pieces of ancient gear that I contacted REI support for repairs that I would gladly pay, but instead they offered me to return them. I held on to the items anyways, and tried to repair myself.

REI Roadster Tent: the transparent rainfly window peeled off from the main rainfly. I bought it in 2006, on clearance for $50. For that price,I'd rather hold on to it and repair it rather than return/sell it back to REI.

2004, Garmin eTrex vista GPS, no color, no USB, no memory card, old style serial port, drains battery, and loses signal if there's a cloud or bird in the sky. It takes 20 mins on a clear sunny day to triangulate position. I've used this thing for ever in my early bp days! Some of the system maps are out of date also. After talking with REI support, they wanted me to return it back. I held on to it just the same. Read plenty of negative reviews on the new product releases, that I may be better off with the old ancient device.

REI's policy and customer service is top notch.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Makes sense... on 11/19/2012 10:22:18 MST Print View

"I am not sure why I get this impression that so many people feel like its cool to return lightly used gear or gear that you just didn't use, but many years later... I think that when you buy something, you own it and that the company has no responsibility to let you return it for just any reason."

REI specifically says, "We stand behind everything we sell. If at any time your REI purchase doesn't meet your expectations, you can return it for a replacement or refund."

Personally, I limit returns to gear that either didn't work out for me or gear that failed prematurely. I don't care if it has been a while since I bought it. Their policy seems to specifically allow that.

I do draw the line short of returning items that wore out after a normal life.