Forum Index » GEAR » NPR Reports: REI vs L.L. Bean Return Policy


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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
The Old Standby Argument on 09/25/2013 11:12:35 MDT Print View

Dean,

That was a joke. if I was interested in refuting that opinion, I certainly wouldn't have typed it. "Max is Trolling" has been used a lot by people who disagree with me and can't think of anything else to say.

(still joking)

Edited by mdilthey on 09/25/2013 11:14:29 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Linda Bean on 09/25/2013 11:15:59 MDT Print View

"Dean, this is the first hit when you google"

Did you use Google or do you mean small-g google and used some other search engine? Because that's not what I got. And I'm having trouble pulling that site up- I don't see what I suspect are graphs or any other actual numbers other than the total amount contributed.

And it looks like that's just corporate contributions. But I still need to investigate more- if Linda is (for example) a 90% shareholder then that sort of outweighs what the company itself does, eh? When a company has so few shareholders a couple of individuals who are way off the bell curve have a bigger effect.

Edited by acrosome on 09/25/2013 11:18:45 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: The Old Standby Argument on 09/25/2013 11:17:13 MDT Print View

Ah, my bad- my interwebs humor-detector must be fritzing.

I don't think I've ever argued with you before- which is odd, since I've probably argued with every other person on this forum at one point or another. For instance, I've gotten decent at detecting when Rog is just trying to goad me...

Edited by acrosome on 09/25/2013 11:22:15 MDT.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
REI Garage Sales on 09/25/2013 11:21:23 MDT Print View

In an effort to get this thread back on track, I would like to reveal to you the dirty secret about garage sales: they are actually priced randomly!

I've heard a lot of interesting speculation about garage sales, all of which are false.

First of all, a garage sale item is almost never priced for profit or even with the cost to REI in mind. Items are marked down according to what the employees think is a fair price for them. If you see a dirty, grimy Marmot Precip on the rack for $30, it's not because that's the cost of the item to REI, it's because the employees at the store don't value Marmot Precips very highly and they wouldn't want to pay more than $30 for it.

Garage sales are two things: a membership benefit or driver, and also simply a way for each individual REI store to attempt to recoup some of the money lost in negative sales transactions (returns). Negative sales come out of a store's stats and garage sales can help bring those up.

If an item is marked down a second time during a garage sale, it's not because it's the lowest price REI will accept, it's because the warehouse is overflowing and the employee managing the sale really wants it gone.

Finally, garage sale items are not charged against vendors. Only items that are clearly due to manufacturer defect are sent back to vendor.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Dean... on 09/25/2013 11:22:36 MDT Print View

The satire chain is kind of only to the benefit of the few members who were around when I argued for heavier backpacks, stealth camping, and one-person tents. There was a big battle of wits, I stuck my own foot in my mouth several times, and I ultimately learned some backpacking and BPL lifeskills. It's funny in hindsight- I can certainly laugh at myself.

The "rules" on this non-anonymous forum are a lot different than the rules I grew up on a decade ago, 15 years old, arguing about Warcraft III on chat forums with my brother. I like BPL's style a lot better.

Because at the end of the day, Dean, you're a backpacker and I respect your opinion and I don't pass judgement on you as a person. That's what I'm trying to say. I can argue against your argument without thinking "Dean is a bad person." And I'm sure you're doing the same (I doubt you think I'm a bad human being).

Besides, anyone who backpacks is OK in my book.

Lee Oz
(LeeOz) - F

Locale: NY
Really? on 09/25/2013 11:22:46 MDT Print View

Most of the modern world transitioned nicely to the news of the REI Return Policy change right after learning about it. Those who did not should get busier.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Chaff on 09/25/2013 11:24:11 MDT Print View

I have to agree, though- this has become chaff, if it wasn't from the outset. Not that I've ever actually seen a thread get moved, mind you- but that's my judgment on the issue. :) heh

Edited by acrosome on 09/25/2013 11:25:23 MDT.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Back on track on 09/25/2013 11:26:12 MDT Print View

Stephen,

I actually assumed it worked that way. Still, the REI employees aren't pocketing the money directly. It goes to REI's bottom line. To get things even more back on track, this is why the last line of the article in the OP was so interesting.

The return policy is free word-of-mouth advertising and incentive to buy more expensive items, more frequently. It's generating revenue, even when it's a loss.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Are We Expecting Too Much of Commercial Entities? on 09/25/2013 11:26:34 MDT Print View

Are we expecting too much of retailers (REI in particular)? All the back-and-forth about judgment aside, what CAN one expect of a "business" that is designed to make a profit by selling X?

I have definitely noticed other changes at REI recently, beyond the new limits on returns... for example, the dominance of certain brands getting floor space in the stores (if folks don't see something there, they will probably buy what IS there), much less knowledgeable/trained staffers, etc.

All these changes are aimed at profitability. That's the bottom line (sorry -- can't resist the pun). If a commercial entity is not making money, they will have to make changes that make them profitable or they will cease to exist.

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: The Old Standby Argument on 09/25/2013 11:29:50 MDT Print View

I liked this quote from the linked article:

""How many times has your colleague talked about the fact that she's returned that backpack, and L.L. Bean gave her a new one without question?" Fuller said. "That's really the value of the guarantee."
As a business practice, it's expensive. As advertising, it's cheap."

I'll still shop at REI and I don't blush when I return an item as there always is a legitimate reason. Yes returning shoes with 700 miles on them is shameful but I guess I don't understand some of the group-think on BPL in regards to any return at all falling into the same category. I drive to the other side of town, past Sportsman Warehouse and other outfitters, to spend more money at REI. If a gasket fails on my filter after using it less than a dozen times, I (guilt free) expect for them to stand behind their return policy.

As their reward, I give them every bit of business I can for non-cottage industry type stuff. Again, I had to replace the cassette on my bike and drove past three or four bike shops (two of which sell Specialized) to have REI do the work.

I think buying a rarely used item like an ice axe from them may be problematic with the new return policy; hopefully they've empowered their store team to exercise discretion in those cases.

Deja vu.... seems like all this has been discussed before.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Enigmas on 09/25/2013 11:30:01 MDT Print View

Therein lies the problem; deciding the profitability of word-of-mouth advertising.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Crossing the Line on 09/25/2013 11:31:33 MDT Print View

Ian,

I think judgement is wrong and I would never do it.

I must gently warn you that there is a special place in hell for those that deny local bike shops.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Dean... on 09/25/2013 11:33:14 MDT Print View

My opinions on stealth camping are... complex and ever-evolving. I won't start that discussion. :)

What's wrong with 1P tents? Really? HYOH.

But, coming onto Back Packing LIGHT and advocating carrying heavier packs is just ill-advised...

That said, do I think you are a 'bad person'? Hell, how would I know?- I'm talking to you on an intertube forum. If you abuse return policies (a point of which i am not convinced) then that certainly speaks poorly of you, but that's hardly a litmus issue on which to hang such a judgment. Wrong, yes, but not litmus.

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Dean... on 09/25/2013 11:35:44 MDT Print View

"I must gently warn you that there is a special place in hell for those that deny local bike shops."

Remember though, I live in Washinton so REI is local for me.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: The Old Standby Argument on 09/25/2013 11:35:46 MDT Print View

"I'll still shop at REI and I don't blush when I return an item as there always is a legitimate reason. Yes returning shoes with 700 miles on them is shameful but I guess I don't understand some of the group-think on BPL in regards to any return at all falling into the same category. I drive to the other side of town, past Sportsman Warehouse and other outfitters, to spend more money at REI. If a gasket fails on my filter after using it less than a dozen times, I (guilt free) expect for them to stand behind their return policy."

No one is arguing against such legitimate returns, Ian. I find it a stretch to think that ANYONE on this forum would say that any return at all is wrong.

But I have actually heard people brag about buying children's clothes at REI and returning it to get new clothes as they wear them thin or grow out of them. I have heard people brag about getting "shoes for life" from REI by returning them as they wear out. These are all the same people who are now pissed that REI changed the policy.

Edited by acrosome on 09/25/2013 11:39:46 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Crossing the Line on 09/25/2013 11:36:40 MDT Print View

"I think judgement [sic] is wrong and I would never do it."

Well, now you're just being a smart-@$$. :)

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
"group-think" probably not the best description on 09/25/2013 11:41:22 MDT Print View

'No one is arguing against such legitimate returns, Ian. I find it a stretch to think that ANYONE on this forum would say that any return at all is wrong."

That wasn't directed at you or anyone on this thread for that matter. "Group-think" was an unfair and inaccurate statement.

Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Linda Bean on 09/25/2013 11:41:32 MDT Print View

Dean, the Influence Explorer link came from my phone. I repeated the Google search on my desktop and got the same result (disregarding the ad which pops up above the regular search results).

If you think that one of Leon L Bean's grandchildren ownes 90% of the company, or that Linda L Bean would allow balanced contributions (not to mention same-sex partner benefits for employees) if she controlled the company, then more power to you. You can research this stuff yourself; I need to get back to work.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Your LBS needs YOU! on 09/25/2013 11:55:57 MDT Print View

Local bike shops are head and shoulders above REI's bike service. I'm apparently enough of a member of the cycling industry to get some pro deals, so I guess I'd better advocate once in a while.

I form a relationship with my mechanic; after all, he's working on the closest thing I have to a surrogate child. He and I do team triathlons together. A good bike mechanic will never steer you wrong, get a great many things at a reduced price, and ultimately keep your bike in better working condition. For tents, I see REI, but for bicycles, I would never go to a big-box.

That's another conversation for another day, though. I don't want to open the door on this becoming a "Cottage VS Big Industry" debate. *shudder*

P.S. There's an REI near me in Massachusetts. Where aren't they local? Guess the returns didn't hold them back from expanding!

Edited by mdilthey on 09/25/2013 11:56:36 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linda Bean on 09/25/2013 11:59:09 MDT Print View

Well, clearly LL Bean Inc. realizes what a liability Linda has become- the only board members mentioned on their corporate website are the chairman and the CEO, and I keep seeing her mentioned elsewhere as a board member.

But I clearly have to research more. The problem is that LL Bean is a private corporation and they do not release shareholder information, or in fact ANY financial information. (What can I say- no one has time to research EVERYTHING in great detail, and we all work from imperfect information.) Not that there's much of anything I really want from LL Bean except maybe work boots, and even then there are better alternatives.

Edited by acrosome on 09/25/2013 12:00:35 MDT.