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Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: REI HAS THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE ON THE PLANET! on 04/22/2014 18:24:47 MDT Print View

Tom, I'm still going with high-maintenance, low experience. But anything is possible. It doesn't feel that way to me.

Edited by millonas on 04/22/2014 18:25:57 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Re: Re: GET REAL! on 04/22/2014 18:24:51 MDT Print View

...."you guys are being played"

Maybe, but I don't think so. The word order used in the posts shows Italian as the native language.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: get real! on 04/22/2014 19:06:53 MDT Print View

OK I get the language thing. What I don't get is someone saying yes to 1.5 years of travel/backpacking without really having any experience, knowledge and insight.

And sorry to say that dropping a thousand dollars at REI means nothing. They have single items that cost more than that. Truly a drop in the bucket for them. Over two billion in sales last year alone. It's a big chain with poorly trained and low paid staff that don't care. Just like almost every retail chain in the good 'ol USA.

Bob Moulder
(bobmny10562) - M

Locale: Westchester County, NY
Re: Re: get real! on 04/22/2014 19:21:52 MDT Print View

"It's a big chain with poorly trained and low paid staff that don't care."

That is not my experience at the fairly new REI store in Yonkers, NY. I was there today, and although it was not at all busy (pretty early on a Tuesday, after all) the staff were friendly and offered assistance a few times. I did not need help this time, but the few times that I have desired some staff input, the sales people were knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Okay, maybe not every store is like this, but I have been to the Seattle store and the Denver store (very impressive!) with similar experiences.

I have seen some of the back-and-forth in Alexandra's other Gear threads and would have to agree wholeheartedly with Marko B's assessment above. Sometimes the customer expectations are so overwhelmingly unrealistic that nobody can overcome the obstacles.

Edited by bobmny10562 on 04/22/2014 19:32:22 MDT.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 04/22/2014 20:12:57 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/01/2015 14:09:17 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: REI has the BEST customer service in my area. on 04/22/2014 20:37:07 MDT Print View

REI has fairly good mainstream advice, not so good at ultralight, but this is sort of a niche category.

REI has lots of fashionable yuppy stuff, but that's what a lot of people want. Look good walking around the city. Not so much serious backpacking.

With email to anyone, people are often not so responsive. People get huge inboxes of people that aren't important. Hard to keep up with it. In a lot of cases, people won't respond to you quickly. That's just how email is in my experience. They just "upgraded" my yahoo mail - now many legitimate emails are sent to my spam folder.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: REI HAS THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE ON THE PLANET! on 04/22/2014 20:49:14 MDT Print View

"Tom, I'm still going with high-maintenance, low experience. But anything is possible. It doesn't feel that way to me."

Yeah, I'm willing to admit anything is possible. I'm probably just a curmudgeonly old skeptic who finds it hard to take a lot of things seriously anymore. ;0]

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Re: REI HAS THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE ON THE PLANET! on 04/22/2014 21:47:58 MDT Print View

>"It's a big chain with poorly trained and low paid staff that don't care."

I find the staff to be active, motivated perhaps in part by employee-discounts on gear, and (I presume) flexible working hours who enjoy talking about stuff they like to do. I worked 3 years in a backpacking / ski shop and called it an "toy store for adults" (because "adult toy store" sends the wrong message). I'd much rather sell stuff people ENJOY using than stuff they dread getting like auto repair, a new dish washer, or tax services. I have noted, in Berkeley, Seattle and Anchorage that some staff are there a LONG time. Like decades. The tend to be pretty outdoorsy, tanned, and speak from experience using the gear and traveling a lot. I suspect REI employment fits well with a highly-active outdoorsy lifestyle, if you keep your expenses down.

Sometimes REI staff seems inexperienced to me, but then how could I find someone who has only been alive for half the time I've been backpacking tremendously experienced? When I'm out of my comfort zone - looking at bicycles, or PLBs, or current rock climbing hardware, then I find their experience helpful.

As to the OP, if someone sent an essay to an REI employee about, basically, one person's worth of BPing gear ($1000), and perhaps gave the same sense some of us are getting about an attention-seeking, hard-to-please customer, yeah, I'd be quick in my response. It was an EMAIL! That's different than a flesh&blood person in front of you in the store. Look how long BPL members will discuss, debate, and argue about truly minor differences in gear and, in the end, not buy anything!

I love the Nordstorm's suggestion. I just dropped $600 there on Saturday and the service was lovely - exactly the right level of helpfulness - and the measuring, tailoring, and shipping to where I needed it was all included. If there was a backpacking equivalent (there isn't, but Eddie Bauer and Patagonia are maybe as close as it comes), then that $1000 for 12 pounds of REI gear becomes $1500 (and it might weigh more).

In both the backpacking and microcomputer stores I worked in, we'd get "kickers" (as in tire-kickers who are just window-shopping from INSIDE the store) and "strokers" (who wanted to show how much they knew and be told now smart they were). If we had nothing else to do, we'd engage with them, but if there was a more serious customer or the book rack needed to be straightened, we'd excuse ourselves pretty quickly.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 04/22/2014 21:49:19 MDT.

Philip Tschersich
(Philip.AK) - MLife

Locale: Kodiak Alaska
Hyperbole on 04/22/2014 22:30:12 MDT Print View

I looked up the published planet earth customer satisfaction survey results and it turns out the North Korean State Political Prisoner Corrections Board has a worse customer service record than REI (by a comfortable margin, I might add).

I submit there might be some exaggeration on the part of the OP.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: REI on 04/23/2014 06:51:10 MDT Print View

"It's a big chain with poorly trained and low paid staff that don't care."

Well, you simply must try the Santa Rosa and Copley Drive locations.

Edited by kthompson on 04/23/2014 06:52:51 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: REI on 04/23/2014 08:41:45 MDT Print View

I also get the impression that Alexandra is asking unanswerable questions. No offense to her - but this truly is inexperience talking - although I'm surprised to read that she is 28. I would have guessed much younger....

Anyway, if she is still reading this thread - wow girl you are biting off way more than you can chew. Seriously. An 18-month backpacking trip - not hosteling - is a huge undertaking for someone WITH a great deal of wilderness/backpacking experience, and just foolhardy for someone with admittedly zero backpacking experience.

You need to start somewhere, that's true, but a 1.5 year, central/south american wilderness adventure is decidedly NOT the place.

You do know there are cartels and kidnappings around there, right? When I worked for ABC News every single time we went to central or south america we had a kidnapping insurance policy taken out on us. I have literally dozens and dozens of trips, including solo ones, into scary places around the world thanks to my old job. I also have more than 3 decades of experience backpacking. I would not do the trip you describe. Hostels? Absolutely. Wilderness camping on my own? No way. And I spent time in the middle east.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: REI on 04/23/2014 08:43:35 MDT Print View

Ditto Ken. My "local" one, in Saratoga, CA seems fine in this regard, though I never really expect them to solve my greater problems for me, just to be able to direct me (the store is pretty big) and give me quick and dirty info on specific products. Alas they almost never know weight. :-). As a person living in the SF Bay area, there is a rather lofty standard set here for incompetent, useless staff at a local chain of electronics stores know as Fry's, so it is very hard to get my bowels in an uproar about the staff of place like REI which by comparison are fantastic.

Still fantastic or no, as David's post nicely lays out, I wouldn't expect the staff to put up a lot of high maintenance behavior - David's description of "kickers" and "strokers" almost made coffee shoot out of my nose! Still less if you are not there in person. Still less if it seem like an email "kicker" from far away. The usual definition of customer service, at least as I understand it, is to handle returns, questions about specific gear like prices and availability, take orders, maybe give suggestions for very specific scenarios. I don't think it is fair to include in this open-ended planning for someone's still somewhat vague expedition - e.g. she want a tent that is 4 seasons, but very light, and also bomber. (head explodes)

For example I still can't figure out after all her posts if the OP means backpacking (a la BPL), or "backpacking" a la the extensive tribe of folks who mean traveling with a back pack, but just in this case with the option of not having to stay a hostels (which she hates). Her admitted total lack of experience in the former make me feel like it is partly/mostly the latter. I don't see how it can possibly be the former if she has never done it before. Best guess - she want to do the hobo thing, which is %100 OK by me. But getting it clear that that is what she is talking about is step one. Closest thing we have is the cryptic statement that she will be doing "backpacking not professional hiking". Ah yes, those were the best days of my life - my years on the professional hiking circuit. But I digress.

The main point is the OP should not expect the customer service to solve such open-ended problems. Probably only we nutters here at BPL will have the patience, and then only because we have near carte blanche for sarcasm. Or if she wants to pay a lot more for a real "consultant" she could work with someone like Dan Mchale. I'd pay admission to hear that conversation (and make popcorn). "NO PACK FOR YOU!"

Edit: I am also worried about her as well. It seems like being a "hobo", though possibly a eccentric "rich" foreign one, is a double risk - as a solo foreign traveler, and also one potentially placing herself on the fringe or outside of local law/customs. The last thing she probably would want if something along the lines that Jennifer suggests is possible happens is for the, possibly already somewhat indifferent, authorities to shrug and say "well, what did she expect?"

Edited by millonas on 04/23/2014 09:05:01 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Alex on 04/23/2014 09:41:28 MDT Print View

Alexandra, fammi la cortesia di non dar troppo peso al tono sapientone di un paio di persone. Da un lato hanno ragione che il tuo viaggio potrebbe essere pericoloso e sarebbe cauto informarsi di piu' e magari considerare un compagno di viaggio; dall'altro il tono degli ultimi due e' quasi offensivo, ma piuttosto tipico per loro.
Sei in contatto con gruppi di escursionismo in Italia?
Anche se qui' ci sono molto sapientoni, ci sono anche molte persone con tanta esperienza e consigli veramente utili. Purtroppo la rappresentaza internazionale e' minuscola e sarebbe meglio per tutti incoraggiare persone come te.
Se vuoi mi puoi mandare un messaggio e posso aiutarti; ho diversi zaini e tende che potrei mandarti se pensi che potresti usarli.

Edited by Kat_P on 04/23/2014 09:46:39 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Alex on 04/23/2014 09:53:24 MDT Print View

C'mon Kat...I wasn't trying to be offensive...I have a LOT of international traveling experience (and I speak Italian too, so nice try), especially alone, and especially into out-of-the-way places, and I just really think she is wading into very dangerous territory.

Backpacking around the world, staying in hostels and home stays, great! That's wonderful and sounds like a great plan! But actually setting out on your own, with no experience or wilderness equipment knowledge whatsoever, into certain out-of-the-way central and south american places is dangerous. Plain and simple.

Do you actually disagree?

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Alex on 04/23/2014 10:01:35 MDT Print View

Maybe you don't speak it all that well if that is what you got out of it...
But I can help; I do not disagree about the danger and said as much. I encouraged her to seek out local groups. I mentioned how helpful people on this forum can be and that a lot of good help is available here. I did tell her not to let the tone bring her down and I do think you were out of line in tone, if not in content.

I offered her some gear and said that given the minuscule international presence we could use more people from abroad.

Edited by Kat_P on 04/23/2014 10:12:31 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Alex on 04/23/2014 10:16:08 MDT Print View

Umm. Not seeing it. I WAS definitely "borderline offensive". As usual. But I don't see it at all in Jennifer's post.

David T
(DaveT) - F
caution on 04/23/2014 10:19:02 MDT Print View

Yes, agree. Don't see anything offensive about Jennifer's post. Just some good advice.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: caution on 04/23/2014 10:22:21 MDT Print View

"- but this truly is inexperience talking - although I'm surprised to read that she is 28. I would have guessed much younger...."

I don't think this was necessary.

No problem, Dave, Mark and Jennifer. I am out of here. Well done.

Edited by Kat_P on 04/23/2014 10:32:53 MDT.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Why reinvent the wheel? on 04/23/2014 10:27:36 MDT Print View

I just gave Alex a link from some women who did a South American traverse (using REI sleeping bags augmented with insulate clothing) in her other thread and then called it a day.

She can decide for herself what potential differences are should she ultimately attempt this (they were in a group and knew basic Spanish - you cannot assume someone will know English away from tourist areas) .. but she should try out the gear locally if not tied to hostels. Return or exchange anything that doesn't work immediately (note: try gear out without letting it touch the ground leaving the tags attached, footwear on carpeted stairs if possible, etc.. ).

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Rei: Rei: Rei: Rei: on 04/23/2014 20:48:48 MDT Print View

Did this thread really happened? The internet is weird.

I just wanted to post something to make sure.