Companies are successful for many different reasons. One reason is that they build high quality stuff and stand behind it. These are the types of companies from whom I buy gear. Good examples are OR, Cascade (MSR, Thermarest, SealLine, Platypus...), Tarptent, MLD, etc, etc, etc. There is no shortage of companies that deserve your business precisely because they offer superior products and service at a "fair" (i.e. "you get what you pay for") price.
Then there are companies that make a fine living thank-you-very-much selling inexpensive, or "adequate", products to those on a budget. Again, that is perfectly fine, but...wait for it...You Get What You Pay For.
I'm not sure how I feel about REI changing it's policy, nor am I sure that it affects honest people asking to return defective or unsuitable merchandise in good condition for good reason. Any company doing business via mail-order has to expect that people willing to buy products sight unseen (and untested) will also expect to be able to return them for good cause. I seriously doubt that REI will change their behavior in those instances. Not allowing someone to return a product that is clearly (well) used or abused is a business practice that I find quite reasonable.
Finally, here is something else my Mom taught me: "You make your decisions, and live with the consequences!". Personally, I spend my money on quality (gear, service, attitude, ...), every time, and am quite certain that in doing so I am both saving money in the long run and enjoying my gear more.