Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
REI limiting returns to one year
Display Avatars Sort By:
Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 00:02:21 MDT Print View

Report: REI limiting returns to one year
Updated 10:16 pm, Monday, June 3, 2013

"Are you one of those legendary locals that has returned worn-out shoes or an outgrown coat to REI? No more.

Starting Tuesday, the Kent-based outdoor retailer will curtail its amazingly generous returns policy, limiting returns to one year fron the date of purchase, The Seattle Times reported Monday.

"What we found is that small group of folks who are probably extending the policy beyond its intent, is getting bigger. And It's not a sustainable thing long-term if we want to maintain this fantastic policy," REI Senior Vice President of Retail Tim Spangler told The Times. "It's something we have to put some clarification around."

Guess you'll have to sell that old stuff on Craigslist."

Read more:

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 00:59:40 MDT Print View

They will never win... the abusers will be quite happy to swap out their gear every 11 months.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 06/04/2013 01:07:00 MDT Print View

Lifetime returns was always a little over the top.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 01:11:01 MDT Print View

Seems reasonable.
I pay a premium for items at REI that I'm not sure about. If it doesn't work out for me, I can always return it. The extra cost is kind of like an insurance for the item.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
totally reasonable on 06/04/2013 01:40:24 MDT Print View

I agree, its totally reasonable. That said, I'll probably shop there less.

I generally waited for the %20 off sale at REI to make bigger purchases on things I wasn't totally confident would last (neo air xtherm, ultra distance trekking poles etc.) I have friends who work at REI, and I genuinely think they are an excellent co-op even if they don't offer the ultimate in nerdy technical UL gear. I hope this doesn't negatively effect business, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of other folks also take their business elsewhere.

I know that a lot of people on these forums have already arrived at this attitude, but I'm trying to be more conscious about the long term durability of my gear. On a practical level, I can't really afford replacing stuff like broken trekking poles etc. But more importantly, its just wasteful and bad for the earth to buy gear thats basically disposable. I think a certain amount of UL gear nerdery is acceptable, but I don't want to be a natural resource vampire. Taking this attitude a step further would suggest making mainly second hand purchases, which may very well be the route that I take. For now, I just bring this up to suggest that unlimited return policies might encourage bad consumer habits, and create a win/lose situation for consumers/the environment.

Oh, and if you're wondering the xtherm has been great, and I'd buy it again without the lifetime warranty. The one pad solution.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 04:25:04 MDT Print View

Assuming this is correct...

The two big reasons I shop REI are the return policy and the dividend. Especially since the dividend isn't given on sale items, I likely to more often buy from other sources due to this new policy. I will definitely be a little less likely to buy from REI unless prices drop a bit to compensate.

They do still have the advantage, for me at least, of being a local store.

I wonder if the policy will be retroactive to include items that were bought in the past. To me it would feel like bad faith if it is retroactive since the sales staff stressed the "you can return it at any time for any reason" policy during past purchases.

I guess I will be shopping more for price than I used to and they will lose at least some of my business. I suspect that will be the case for others as well. I guess they figure the lost business will be offset or more than offset by the reduction in returns.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Is this for real? on 06/04/2013 04:34:41 MDT Print View

The article dated yesterday says, "starting Tuesday". Today is Tuesday and the web page still lists the same policy they always did, at least as of a few minutes ago. Also it seems like there would be actual quotes from REI and or coverage in other media sources.

It looks like it is real

Edited by staehpj1 on 06/04/2013 05:14:24 MDT.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
Doesn't affect me on 06/04/2013 04:53:24 MDT Print View

It won't affect me at all.
The only times that I ever return anything is with clothing that didn't fit, and I exchange for the correct size.

I have never returned anything for any other reason. I think the idea of returning something after you have used it for a year is ludicrous.

Edited by towaly on 06/04/2013 04:54:54 MDT.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Returns on 06/04/2013 05:13:44 MDT Print View

With one exception, I am not sure if any of the stuff I have returned was over a year old or not. My guess is probably not.

The one exception was a 5 year old pair of almost unworn boots that I kept procrastinating about returning, even though they just didn't prove to be comfortable. Despite being 5 years old they probably had less than 20 miles on them.

Despite that I will still be at least a bit less likely to choose REI in the future.

I can understand their dilemma, but I am not sure the one year limit really addresses the issue. Abusers will still return the same items, but before the year is up.

I wear out a few pairs of trail running shoes per year. My sense of fair play prevents me from returning running shoes that lasted a normal life span, but it sounds like the new policy would do nothing to stop someone from buying one pair of shoes and returning them every few months when they have 500 or so miles on them.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
REI on 06/04/2013 05:49:06 MDT Print View

It's too bad that a few bad apples have ruined it for everyone. My feet have grown in the past year and I could easily abuse their policy and return them but I really enjoy sleeping at night so I'll eat the cost.

I don't think of something like a coat or shoes as a lifetime purchase but as someone who's has a 30 year old Thermarest, other items are imo (product defects not from wear and tear). When I purchased gear like my Steripen at REI over Costco, I choose (or chose) to spend more money at REI because of their lifetime return policy. Restricting it to a year is a game changer.

I understand their position but it's disappointing.

jim logan
(jim_logan) - MLife
REI and LL Bean's on 06/04/2013 05:50:07 MDT Print View

In Maine we have LL Bean's, with its lifetime warranty -- as long as you have your receipt (and I do!). There is a huge difference and it's noticeable on their websites: Bean's has been for many years a fashion store which also sells to hunters and fishermen; REI has a great interest in hiking and camping. REI has great product information and specs on the website; Bean's doesn't even show an average weight for size M. But they do take the returns. I am debating yet another sleeping pad and Bean's site is useless for studying; it's hard to tell if they even have what I am considering in a small size. Still, the return policy is wonderful if one is buying in doubt and that's why I shop there as much as I do. (There is a large body of people who feel that Mainers cannot afford LL Bean's.) You are spared more as I have to take my daughter to school!

Edited by jim_logan on 06/04/2013 05:50:56 MDT.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
1 year on 06/04/2013 06:14:34 MDT Print View

One of the reasons that I have bought items from REI has been that some of the items might have sporadic use. Say you buy a set of snow shoes at the end of the season and then have a zero or very low snow year. Or maybe you buy an item for canoe camping and then spend the season on a bike tour. The items might not even see use until out of the warranty period. It was really nice to know that they were still covered.

Personally I think I would rather have seen REI tighten up the policy by not covering items worn out from normal wear, and maybe by requiring some reasonable complaint with the item, than by limiting the warranty period. I guess that would leave too much up to the judgement of the staff and wouldn't instill the same customer confidence in the warranty.

Edited by staehpj1 on 06/04/2013 07:29:21 MDT.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Hoo Rah on 06/04/2013 07:08:29 MDT Print View

I think a year is a very nice, broad returns policy. As a longtime member of the, co-op, I applaud the decision.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
One year on 06/04/2013 07:09:15 MDT Print View

Seems completely reasonable to me.
I have only shopped there once and this change does not affect my purchasing decisions.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Some.. on 06/04/2013 07:16:48 MDT Print View

I know people that would buy a dog crate at Costco while visiting family in a different city, then return it before they go home.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Good for them on 06/04/2013 07:23:12 MDT Print View

The idea that you use the heck out of something and then get a new one for free, or buy something intending to use it only a little and then get your money back is ridiculous. The people who are doing this almost certainly can afford not to, yet it is their choice to abuse the goodwill of the co-op. Not very co-operative if you think about it.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Some.. on 06/04/2013 07:24:26 MDT Print View

Kat, I thought of tucking the tags in on formal wear and returning it after the fancy dress event. Some people.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 07:31:39 MDT Print View

I assume the change is a preemptive, in preparation of carrying SUL gear from our favorite cottage industries !

Obviously they couldn't have a lifetime warranty on these products, so they changed the policy.

Being able to shop for MLD, zpacks, ULA, SMD, trail designs etc at REI will be great for light weight backpacking.

I can't wait !


Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
Abuse on 06/04/2013 07:32:03 MDT Print View

This is because so many people abused their warranty. The REI by me has a clearance gear loft that's full of worn out equipment that clearly was used beyond it's lifespan and then returned for no reason other then the original consumer wanted something new without paying for it. While it might not cost REI money to do such ridiculous returns, it costs the manufacturers they partner with as the buck has to stop somewhere. I hate to see the policy go, but over abuse is what led to this and I'm sure either the manufacturers starting pushing back or even REI, with all their PL goods now, was losing large sums of money on the returns.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
UL Gear? on 06/04/2013 07:33:37 MDT Print View

>"I assume the change is a preemptive, in preparation of carrying SUL gear from our favorite cottage industries !"

It would be great if that is the case. I very much doubt that it is though.

Edited by staehpj1 on 06/04/2013 07:34:20 MDT.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 07:35:38 MDT Print View

Maybe unconditional returns for a year, and after that it takes a reason ?

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Defective Product on 06/04/2013 07:39:48 MDT Print View

So will REI still warenty defective product?

One of the reasons I purchase from REI are new products that may fail like the neo air. If you buy it from REI you didn't have to deal with the manufacturers. It was much easier to take in a delaminating jacket to REI than to send it to Marmot and was worth paying an extra 10% to do so.

So I fully support the policy of limiting unconditional returns to 1 year but I hope gear failure type issues are covered longer otherwise I will limit my shopping there.

I think a better way to handle it would to be just ban abusers from shopping there. I have heard 2nd hand that MEC does this. If the dollar value of your returns is above a certain amount or you have a high number of returns that abuse the system they will ask you not to shop there anymore because you aren't following the rules of the co-op. The difference being that you need to be a member to buy from MEC so if they just cancel your membership you can't buy anymore.

Matt Allen
(zeroforhire) - MLife
interesting on 06/04/2013 08:11:24 MDT Print View

Yet another reason to shop at

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: interesting on 06/04/2013 08:59:08 MDT Print View

They could have just put in a stipulation that all returned gear must be cleaned before accepted by customer service. I'm sure that would have cut down the amount of used shoe returns in half alone.

Their policy was naturally open to abuse but I also found that most of the returns were shoes for various sports. It almost makes you think the shoe industry is partly to blame. With shoe prices ever increasing, durability decreasing and no standardization on...well does make shoe buying about as hopeful as playing the lottery.

After shoes you have clothing, most of which was returned because people blow out the crotches of pants (active but overweight people squeezing into a size smaller than they should?).

Then you see big 3 items like tents, sleep gear, and backpacks. I think this is where the costs from abusing the return policy hit the company hardest since these are bigger and less frequent purchases with smaller profit margins (from a lay person's perspective).

After that it's the junk gear that REI would be well served to stop carrying because it has little to no purpose and that is usually cheap imported plastic gimmicks that break first time they leave town.

Michael Ray
Re: Re: interesting on 06/04/2013 10:02:01 MDT Print View

well, glad I didn't wait longer than 12 years to return my unused pack. :)

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: interesting on 06/04/2013 10:16:20 MDT Print View

Yes this is interesting, yesterday I returned a Firesteel mini that I had used maybe 2 times but was purchased 3 years ago. On the second use, while demonstrating how to use it during a training class the steel fell out on the first strike. Obviously this was a manufacturing defect and though 3 years old it was still brand new.
I did take it in and returned it for a replacement.
They exchanged it with out any issues.

To me this is the kind of thing that should be covered and is/was under the old policy. Now a pair of shoes that looks like a train had ran over them after they were drug behind a car on a dirt road for 100 miles, isn't in the spirit of the policy.

It will be interesting to see how this is implemented.

It will also make me think twice when I want to purchase something- drive 2 miles to the local REI or chance the possibility of the return postage to because they have a better return policy.

Edited by bestbuilder on 06/04/2013 10:18:34 MDT.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Don't blame them a bit. on 06/04/2013 10:19:50 MDT Print View

Having watched people use REI to "borrow" gear (buy, use for the period you need it, return for a full refund) and/or return gear that is obviously worn out through regular wear and tear over a long period of time, I have long thought REI's policy was abused. Those people pretty much ruined it for everyone, but that happens in all walks of life.

Fitz Travels
Re: interesting on 06/04/2013 10:24:56 MDT Print View

Whats wierd is that does not take returns or exchanges in person at its store. They make you mail it in, even if you live in SLC. By the way, what a bunch of snobby trust fund kids that work there, but i digress.

Dave Stoller
"REI limiting returns to one year" on 06/04/2013 10:34:20 MDT Print View

"Maybe unconditional returns for a year, and after that it takes a reason ?"

I think this is the idea right here. And "reason" needs to be defect-related.

I think it also ought to be exchange-only after a year unless the item is accompanied by a receipt and in straight up new condition. That would at least keep the money in the building.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: "REI limiting returns to one year" on 06/04/2013 10:47:04 MDT Print View

IMO the problem with adding a reason for the return after the 1-yr is that now you've got REI store managers deciding whether or not something should be returned. This is going to be trouble because everyone's opinion is different & obviously the customer thinks it should be returned. So every time a return is denied you've got a pissed off customer. Easier to manage a customers expectations to have a flat one size fits all policy.

This change will not affect how much I shop there. (which is very little anyway)


Edited by ViolentGreen on 06/04/2013 10:48:07 MDT.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
alas on 06/04/2013 10:49:26 MDT Print View

I have a colleague at work who has two sons - both scouts. He buys them nice rain gear - a reasonable choice - except as they outgrow it he returns them to REI and gets a new, larger set. I'm sensitive to cost - understand with growing boys and Scouts gear can be a challenge but it always irks me that he does this... and I know he is not even close to being the worst offender.

On the other side of the equation I bought a Garmin watch for my wife online and it stopped working after 2 years... Garmin would repair it, for a relatively high fee. I was irked that a top of the line item stopped working after a relatively short period of time with no abuse. Wish I'd gotten it at REI - I would have been able to return it and just gotten another Garmin. I got the replacement at REI however ... almost exclusively due to the return policy.

For me it is the benefit of not having to go through the manufacturer which can be a hassle and worth paying a bit more for the option. That defective Garmin was dicey from an early stage too but by that point I had no option about getting something different.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: alas on 06/04/2013 11:20:43 MDT Print View

Phillip, maybe you should remind your fried about the scout law- A scout is honest and trustworthy.
Some how I don't think his clothing exchange is honest or trustworthy

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
return policies on 06/04/2013 11:40:53 MDT Print View

I hardly ever shop at REI because there are no storefronts in my area and I shy away from buying my gear online--mostly because I have a great locally owned gear shop that suits my needs for everything except "Big 3" type items.

My local gear shop has a no-questions returns policy on new-in-package items, no time limit. For anything that's been used, they'll charge a restocking fee or suggest you consign it in their huge used-gear department. I think it's a very fair system, as the original purchaser recoups some of the original cost, minus the value of whatever use they got out of the product (rather than expecting a full refund on something that is no longer worth its MSRP). From my perspective, consigning saves me the hassle of maintaining an eBay/GearTrade account and shipping things all over the place when I want to upgrade my gear!

Likewise, the local bike and ski shops here do annual swaps where folks can bring their stuff, set a price, and find new homes for used bikes, skis, etc. It's a great resource for young folks, families with kids, or anyone else who wants to get into a sport but doesn't have the cash to buy shiny new equipment. It's similar in concept to the REI Garage Sale, only none of us go into it expecting a full refund on used items. I wonder if restricting their returns policy will reduce the volume of stuff for sale at the Garage Sales...

Plus, shopping local and trying things in person reduces the likelihood that you'll need to return items in the first place!

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
New REI Return Policy on 06/04/2013 12:30:58 MDT Print View

I just received an email from REI outlining their new return policy. I have no major issues with it. For most items, I'd expect to figure out if I'm satisfied with them well within the first year of purchase.

Just as a point of clarification, the email I received stated that products subject to manufacturing defects would not be limited to the new 1-year deadline.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 12:43:32 MDT Print View

"Just as a point of clarification, the email I received stated that products subject to manufacturing defects would not be limited to the new 1-year deadline."

Yeah that is good news.

They also added the following language:
"REI’s guarantee doesn’t cover ordinary wear and tear or damage caused by improper use or accidents."

All in all it is still a pretty good policy, but personally I think the prices should come down a bit with the reduced warranty. I doubt they will and I will probably shop price on my purchases a bit more than I have in the past. I imagine they will lose some business as a result, I am pretty sure they will lose a percentage of mine, but it remains to be seen how much.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 12:50:53 MDT Print View

I have a pack and my wife has a sleeping bag that we only have used once each but not too happy with them, we were going to bring them back but decided to hold on to for another while to try them, now that things are changing I will deifniley bring them back and get use the cash for a new canoe.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 12:53:46 MDT Print View

New policy is now posted

And the email to all members went out today. I am assuming most folks here received it as well.

Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
Disclaimer on 06/04/2013 12:54:36 MDT Print View

The other thing most people should realize that this is the official statement regarding exchange policies. Typically manufacturers/retailers post something in the event of abuse, but regularly will go beyond the posted claim/guarantee if the situation honestly warrants it.

Ian Kyle
(Ieo) - F
I think it's a bad move... on 06/04/2013 12:59:40 MDT Print View

I spend MORE at REI than I would elsewhere because I know I don't have to worry. It's a shame they have decided they can't continue this unconditional policy, as I no longer have a reason to make big purchases there when I can get the same items cheaper elsewhere. I bought my boots at REI for $130, even though they were $100 on Amazon because I know if they fail before they should I get taken care of.

In my opinion, REI is setting themselves up to be the next Best Buy - Just a fitting room for cheaper online retailers.

Fitz Travels
Yuppies on 06/04/2013 13:12:48 MDT Print View

Thank the yuppie North Face crowd for this. Im poor as hell and always restrained myself from using something and then returning it unless it was defective. Whats happening is people are using REI basically to test gear. People basically admit it in here indirectly. Have you all read any of the product reviews on REI website? Most negative ones are ridiculous, people expecting a product to do something it was never intneded to do, misusing the product and complaining about results, or people expected the products to cook their morning tea and give them massages, not to mention people who bought something a year ago and only used it 2 times and think they are entitled to get their money back. Come on.

Damn greedy yuppies.

Edited by fitztravels on 06/04/2013 13:14:06 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 13:13:44 MDT Print View

Good for them.

Perhaps this will force people to become smarter consumers and do some diligent homework prior to making a purchase. So many people who shop at REI make impulse purchases and leave with a bunch of stuff they don't really need or could have found somewhere else for less had they been patient. I agree completely with a previous posters comment about REI selling junk. Much of their gear is junk and is sold to buyers that lack any real knowledge in how to use it.

Buy right the first time and buy quality gear from companies that stand behind their product. Use what you do own and get rid of what you don't. Trim the gear fat and you'll have less stuff to return or exchange.

I don't understand why so many REI members are frequently going back and forth returning products and exchanging items. With all the available information available to the outdoor community it's perplexing how many people make regretful purchases on shoddy gear.

Tanner M
Re: Some.. on 06/04/2013 13:19:21 MDT Print View

> I know people that would buy a dog crate at Costco while visiting family in a different city, then return it before they go home.

Yes, or buy things from Wal-Mart to use for the weekend. A cooler or whatever. Or buy cameras to play with even though they never plan to build a system with that company. etc. Some people do have fantastic rationalizations...

Tanner M
Re: Yuppies on 06/04/2013 13:28:19 MDT Print View

> Whats happening is people are using REI basically to test gear.

In more ways than one. In addition to TNF, I think blogging has a small hand in this mentality.

At least at a camera site I visit, people will order equipment to 'review' so they can have content for their blog. Not many, only a few.

The bizarre thing are the threads about 'used' equipment from camera stores. Where do they think the $1400 camera goes after someone fiddles with and changes their mind. ?

Tanner M
Re: Re: interesting on 06/04/2013 13:29:32 MDT Print View

> ... people blow out the crotches of pants

Some cultures, this is a 'coming of age' event.

Jason Mahler
(jrmahler) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Disappointing on 06/04/2013 14:40:31 MDT Print View

I had already stopped purchasing from REI because a lot of what I want isn't available in their stores. One area I have continued to use is their outlet because you can get some great prices. The problem is that they put a 30 day restriction from purchase date on outlet items, which means I have very little time to return if the item just isn't a good fit ( I live far from any rei or other outfitter). This took a positive and made it a pretty big negative.

I do think the 1yr for non-outlet items is fair, bug won't pay as much of a premium in the future to get a lesser benefit.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 14:47:34 MDT Print View

Unbelievable !

I signed a one year lease and bought all new gear to match my rad paint job. Unfortunately, I found out my lease wasn't getting renewed.
Now, After 11 months, I have to move. I found a new place, but the shoes, tent, bike, clothes, and pack I bought for my last place clash with my new decor. REI will take it back. Or at least they used to. I bought it all there especially for the unlimited lifetime warranty.

I use my new bike everyday, and wore out my tires, break pads, and tubes. i returned them to REI. I can return them after 10 months of abuse because I thought they should be better. Then a month later i find out I have to move again. l had to take it all back and get a kayak because I had a trip planned and needed a kayak more than the other gear.

Too bad being wet and cold is miserable ! I returned they kayak for a set of backpacking gear and set off on the AT. After walking from Georgia to Maine, I found BPL and soon decided I don't like anything in my kit. so i head to REI and return it all.

I can't believe they are limiting the swindling to 1 year. I will never shop there again ! I only buy everything at their sky high prices because of the return policy. Lets get the pitchforks and torches,


Edited by redmonk on 06/04/2013 15:07:55 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: REI limiting returns to one year on 06/04/2013 14:58:52 MDT Print View

One of the best posts yet.

Terry G
(delvxe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
i think they are not going far enough on 06/04/2013 15:00:22 MDT Print View

my offices are darn close to the REI flagship store and I frequent their gear garage which is where returns generally go. I am amazed at both the condition and the reasons for their returns.

There are many, many items that that were damaged during use and returned. There is a Patagonia down jacket in there right now with several large burn holes and tears covered by black duck tape. I cannot imagine a reasonable scenario where this should be covered by the retailer.

I also see many items in perfect shape returned for the flimsiest of reasons – it was itchy, didn’t realize the rack wouldn’t fit my car, no longer wanted, etc.

I will miss the great finds though, like my $20 Sol Ti in perfect shape.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
good to know on 06/04/2013 15:04:23 MDT Print View

There have been a few items I have bought in the last year that I thought I would use or would fill a niche but they did not fully and I have been waffling on returning them or not. i was going to keep them because of the warranty and just try ot use them but maybe not so much right now. Thanks for the update. I am an REI memeber but never received an email. Probably turned that feature off when they kept sending emails about their specials every three days. But yeah, Backcountry looks much better now as an option.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
It's everywhere. on 06/04/2013 15:04:38 MDT Print View

When I used to work at an Audio/Video department in Sears, people would come in and "buy" a big screen TV a couple of days before Super Bowl week-end, throw a party, and then "return it" on Monday.
In the sporting goods department, the sales guy there told me that people would buy a small boat and outboard motor, go fishing for a week-end, and then bring it back for a refund.
At Lowes, when I was buying my lawn tractor, the salesman told me that people buy these things and mow their lawn for a month, and then return them for a refund. Then they do the same thing to another store to get one for the next month.

It seems that there is no end to it.

Loki Cuthbert

Locale: Portland, OR
a year is more than enough time on 06/04/2013 18:42:20 MDT Print View

If you buy a product and it takes more than a year to find out that the product isn't working out for you than you then that sounds like a personal problem. Be more aware with how you spend your money and take the losses you get for shopping frivolously. Choose who you buy from based on the products and services you want.

As far as people taking advantage of the return policy. It's a risk that you take by having such a liberal return policy. You gain X profit from word of mouth and having such an open return policy. You loose Y profit from having people return products after one year. If X is greater than Y you keep the return policy.

This also doesn't affect the manufactures very much. REI doesn't get reimbursed by the manufactures for the returns. That's why they sell all of the returns at their garage sales and recoup a portion on their loss.

I applaud them for trying to do something about the returns being an issue, but I don't see this as being the solution to their problems. The system will still be abused. They may loose customers. If they test run this for a year or two and compare the numbers against their old sales they may find out that they made a mistake. I don't really care either way because REI rarely has something that I want to buy that I wouldn't buy online at a significant discount.

Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
Re: a year is more than enough time on 06/04/2013 19:02:11 MDT Print View

This also doesn't affect the manufactures very much. REI doesn't get reimbursed by the manufactures for the returns. That's why they sell all of the returns at their garage sales and recoup a portion on their loss.

I would LOVE to see the programs REI is being sold at and what they request for defective allowances whether in the form of a DFI or destroy for credit. I can 100% guarantee their program requirements lean heavily on manufactures to help offset the massive(relatively speaking) amount of returns on used gear is for the industry.

Russell Peavey
Disappointing on 06/04/2013 21:28:21 MDT Print View

Their return policy was their calling card. It is sad to see the way in which it went, fraud included.

Edited by Russell on 06/04/2013 21:42:59 MDT.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Great news on 06/04/2013 22:06:05 MDT Print View

I can't wait to check out future parking lot sales as I will have less to look through and it will cut out all the beat up outdated gear.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: REI limiting returns to one year on 06/05/2013 11:31:23 MDT Print View

Seattle Times frontvoage

It was amazing to see it on the front page!

I've seen 17 year old boots in the REI Gear Garage that were returned because they didn't fit.

It won't have a large effect on the "renters" as they use stuff for a season and return it. I think those types are rare, but they exist.

Jafco was a retailer of cameras and audio gear in the 1970's. There was a guy who would go in every year on the Friday before the big Seafair hydroplane race and buy a pair of the best binocular, use them over the weekend and return them Monday. We all end up paying for that behavior.

Nordstrom is famous for good service, but if you return too much stuff, you might get a letter from their security dept asking if there is a problem. Subtle ;)

So, with the REI change in policy, it should help keep prices down and dividends up for those who don't abuse it.

My first thought was that there would be less in the gear garage, but it is full of stuff with minor defects, fit issues, new items with a scratch or missing part, all of which are well inside some sort of one year policy.

Edited by dwambaugh on 06/05/2013 11:35:25 MDT.

Connor C
(athousandtimes) - F

Locale: California
Sad to see it go on 06/06/2013 10:58:27 MDT Print View

I'm sad to see it go, for I enjoyed the peace of mind that came with an unlimited return policy, despite not actually using it myself. In theory people can still "rent" gear from REI for a season, or a couple months. I guess we'll see how their new return policy shapes up on the ground. I've never shopped much from REI, but have bought a lot of stuff from backcountry, which often offers free 2-day shipping on purchases over $50. I've seen REI's return policy discussed on these forums before, but not so much backcountry.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Sad to see it go on 06/06/2013 12:42:37 MDT Print View

"In theory people can still "rent" gear from REI for a season, or a couple months."

People keep saying this throughout this thread, but I thought the following part of the guarantee would prevent much of that: REI’s guarantee doesn’t cover ordinary wear and tear or damage caused by improper use or accidents.

So if you trash something up, or even use it so that it's obvious it was used, the return policy doesn't apply. At least that's how I read the new policy.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
REI to carry SUL gear... probably not on 06/06/2013 13:08:42 MDT Print View

The cottage industry people could not supply the volume that REI needs... certain not the volume to stock the stores...

me thinks...

And if they could, it would likely ruin the 'custom' nature of the products... mass production... you know...

Connor C
(athousandtimes) - F

Locale: California
True on 06/06/2013 13:46:08 MDT Print View

Doug, that's true, so I guess returning used up boots or trail runners won't work, but if the "renter" were to take really good care of an item like a tent, sleeping bag, shell, etc, maybe they could return it no problem...I bet store managers will be making more judgement calls on an individual basis in terms of what constitutes a legit return and what constitutes abuse.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: True on 06/06/2013 13:56:12 MDT Print View

"I bet store managers will be making more judgement calls on an individual basis in terms of what constitutes a legit return and what constitutes abuse."

Yeah, Connor, I'd bet that's right. Which generally means inconsistent enforcement throughout the 'enterprise.'

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
great news on 06/07/2013 19:14:20 MDT Print View

This is great news for cottage industry people, now people aren't going to keep comparing their return policies to the money losing one of rei, with multi billion in sales.

I lost all sympathy when I read about the guy who did a long hike on rei gear then returned it all when he got back, that's just stealing as far as I'm concerned.

I can't find anything I need at rei beyond thermarest stuff, and maybe darn tough socks, anyway so it makes no difference to me. Not a hint of big dig ti trowels, not a single ul alcohol stove, no evernew pots, no tarptents, no mld tents, no zpacks stuff, no reasonably priced shoes, no feathered friends, no western mountaineering, no enlightenment equipment quilts, not a single lawson product, no evarest pads, no polycryo ground sheets, not a trace of any backpack I'd actually buy or want. They do have the rubber tips for bd trekking poles, that's true. Hats off to the cottage guys, they have almost covered the bases, nice work. Rei used to meet all my needs a long time ago, now it meets almost none of them, times change. But then again, Northface used to be a cottage industry, as was Sierra Designs, and I believe Lowe Alpine, and those products were there. Now it's all the corporate trash that's great for new backpackers, perfect in fact, that's a good market too for rei.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: great news on 06/07/2013 20:56:38 MDT Print View

Anytime I have gone in to REI lately my wife has dropped cash on lifestyle gear and I ended up getting a gas cartiage or some tent pegs.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: great news on 06/07/2013 21:42:54 MDT Print View

Last summer my brother's pack did not fit right, it kept slipping, torso length wasn't right,...

He took it to REI and they spent 20 minutes fixing it up for him and didn't charge him

It's probably a 40 year old pack, external frame, probably not bought at REI

There are many good things about REI

oliver hulland
Thoughts on the return policy on 06/08/2013 09:55:32 MDT Print View

I recently returned a pair of REI/Leiki Ultralight carbon poles that failed to lock. They were probably four years old, but had only seen a few weeks of use at most. The poles wouldn't lock anymore because a piece of plastic internally had sheared, and I was going on a week-long hike the next day or I would have tried repairing them myself. I really wanted them repaired, but Leiki told me to go to REI. And when REI wouldn't repair them, they opted to give me original purchase value (which I was fine with, but would have preferred the poles). I ended up using the refund to buy a similar pair of poles, but this time were only made by REI.

I imagine to some folks four year old poles would probably fall outside the realm of the intent of the return policy, but given that I only used them sparingly I didn't feel that I was "abusing" the system. I will admit that when I was in college, and much more spendthrift, I did end up returning stuff I probably shouldn't have (two year old pants with busted zippers), but in being so generous they made me a customer for life.

I'm hoping that this new return policy has some sort of clause wherein they'll still try and help people get stuff repaired after 365 days are up.

Also, does anybody know whether REI branded gear carries a different warranty/return policy than other things carried in store?

Jacob Linton

Locale: Western NC
well... on 06/08/2013 10:37:47 MDT Print View

I just got back from the Garage Sale and I found the majority of the excuses on the return tags to be pretty ridiculous.
I like REI.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: great news on 06/09/2013 10:31:54 MDT Print View

This is great news for cottage industry people, now people aren't going to keep comparing their return policies to the money losing one of rei, with multi billion in sales.

nonsense ... backcountry, MEC, EB, OR, Lands End, LL bean, etc ...

great to see the day when BPLers want LESS service so that cottage makers can "compete"

as to REI ... theres plenty of other places to buy from ... like backcountry ... which has better sales ...


Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
no sense on 06/09/2013 12:13:40 MDT Print View

eric, usually you make decent sense, so I assume you didn't think this through. You can't compete with a huge corporation that can eat the amount of returns that rei can, particularly when a certain sense of entitlement to return no matter what has been created by that policy. The article noted that REI made I think 27 million profit on 1.7 or so billion in sales. Ie, this is not a high margin business. Cottage works because there is no middle man, in most cases. I am not talking about the few 'cottage' guys that outsource their production since that's not 'cottage'. I can't count how many times I've seen people compare the return policy of rei to some other company and cite it as the reason they did not buy from the other company.

What is good is that now people will gradually start to lose the idea that you can rent for free, buy, never use, then return, etc, that's a mindset that I'm happy to finally see get corrected by a policy change. It's obvious this mindset has grown too prevalent or REI would not have changed this long standing policy. You also can't offer lifetime warranties on light or ultralight gear, it's not the same as a 6.5 pound lowe alpine backpack that is made out of 1000d or 500d cordura, or a 70d tent, so as gear gets lighter, it's also easy to understand why you can't offer lifetime return policies on it.

Cottage guys compete because their products are more interesting, better made, or so ultralight that you simply cannot compete with them on a mass market level, not because they can churn out the same outsourced garbage as every other big corporation that used to be a good small company before they were absorbed by some no name outdoor gear holding company.

It's taken me a while to get what Ray Jardine was talking about when he wrote about freeing yourself from these mega outdoor corporations as part of the point of going light, but after reading these forums for a while it finally started to register what he was trying to say.

I'm always happy to give real cottage guys my money, and am glad they are here, I like them precisely because they are real people who run small businesses in an honest way, with reasonable margins, but little room for extras in that model, and I'm particularly glad I can get almost everything I need from them. I'm also glad to see REI drop their endless return policy, I have some very old gear I've debated returning, but of course did not do it because it has served me well over the years so pretending there was some reason to return it makes no sense. Good for REI. You can still buy to try with this policy I believe as long as you can lie convincingly enough when returning, but they've closed that loophole too.

I'm hard pressed to think of any other business were people expect to be able to rent for free, try as long as they want to use the thing then return it, where does this sense of entitlement and corresponding lack of responsibility come from? Is it a yuppie thing? I don't get it. You can't do that with a car, a toaster, a house, clothing, beds, toys, stereos, high tech stuff, or any other consumer gadgets I can think of. This particularly the case with outdoor gear geeks like we are here, research, etc, should have already done most of the job.

I like REI by the way, I went in to buy some trekking poles on sale there, and the guy working told me to not buy the rei branded ones because they had undesirable vibration damping, which was cool. They aren't very good when it comes to light/ul thinking in general, but that's ok, that's not their market anyway. I got the trekking poles he recommended I get online for a lot less on sale.

A year return policy is really good on this type of gear, very fair, and the extension of that year for true failures of gear like seam rips etc is also excellent, so all I see is REI targeting some freeloaders and spoiled kids as neatly as they could while still offering very good support to people who don't do that and don't expect it as a right. I definitely miss the pre-'lifestyle corporate gear' rei though, the one with wood boxes of real gear sold really cheap but of good quality. Happily however, we can type in whatever we want and express whatever outrage we want, rei has already set its new policy, which is basically just slapping the hands of kids as far as I'm concerned while respecting the needs of adults.

Actual gear failures are still covered for more than a year I believe, like a trekking pole inner that cracks or whatever, or a tent seam failure, so in terms of awesome protection, you still get it from REI, better than anyone else offers as far as I know. Again, good for REI.

Edited by hhope on 06/09/2013 12:22:24 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: no sense on 06/09/2013 14:57:44 MDT Print View

it makes perfect sense

theres no reason to downgrade the service or expect it to be downgraded because of "cottage" or other small manufacturers

this is a free society, and a capitalistic market

if companies want to offer "infinite guarantees" thats their choice, and if they dont thats their choice ... people vote with their feet and wallets

companies such as EB, OR, LL BEan, Lands end, backcountry and MEC still over such guarantees ... and are proud of the fact ... they know very well that there are people who push the limits of the system and figure it as the cost of doing business

if you dont want to shop at somewhere with such guarantees its your choice ... but its very BPL to say that they should get rid of them because of cottage manufacturers

small manufacturers are not a "charity" ... they compete on their own merits


Walter S Phillips

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: interesting on 06/12/2013 14:18:04 MDT Print View

Hey fitztravels,

I work for and wanted to reach out and apologize for any bad experiences that you had with us. It's not cool if one of our people has an off-putting attitude as all we want to do is stoke people out on what gets us stoked (being outdoors and having fun) and give people the best experience possible. I want to help as best I can so shoot me a PM and let me know the situation.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
REI on 06/12/2013 14:42:40 MDT Print View

I find lots of stuff I like at REI... No cottage guys sell GPS's, patagonia gear for 25%off, Backpacking cloths, regular cloths, shoes, all my arctyrex (like 2 grand worth of stuff so far). and there is definately NOTHING wrong with their back pack selection.

Just because it comes from a cottage gear maker does not mean its better... for instance I have never recieved a tent from REI with loose stitching and unfinished end threads but I know some cottage gear makers that have(boom that can just popped back open)

I like cottage gear guys too, but they definately do not have ALL the bases covered atleast not all the ones REI does.

All in all I think having to change policy sucks but I really think something needed to change...

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: too on 08/11/2013 15:58:55 MDT Print View

Anyone notice that has changed theirs too? I tried to search in the forums, but nothing came up.

Here's the new policy from their website:

Not stoked on your gear? Looking to return it or make an exchange? No problem. If your new and unused gear just doesn’t fit your needs, we will issue you a full refund. If your gear fails, at anytime, we will also issue you a full credit. No questions asked.

• You can return your new purchase at anytime after purchase

o Products must be in the condition you received them in and the original box and/or packaging

• We do accept used gear – as long as it is received within 90 days of purchase date – and we will issue a credit for full purchase price