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REI currently working on new return policies
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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

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, now offers lifetime replacement, without the need to buy a membership. AND they often times offer better and/or more brands.

Dena Kelley

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

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

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.


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) - 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.

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!