Jun 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm #1303756
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
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."Jun 3, 2013 at 11:59 pm #1993073
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
They will never win… the abusers will be quite happy to swap out their gear every 11 months.Jun 4, 2013 at 12:07 am #1993075
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Lifetime returns was always a little over the top.Jun 4, 2013 at 12:11 am #1993076
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 12:40 am #1993078
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 3:25 am #1993085
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 3:34 am #1993087
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 http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2021116265_reireturnsxml.htmlJun 4, 2013 at 3:53 am #1993089
@towalyLocale: Smoky Mtns.
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 4:13 am #1993090
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 4:49 am #1993092
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 4:50 am #1993093
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!Jun 4, 2013 at 5:14 am #1993096
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:08 am #1993106
I think a year is a very nice, broad returns policy. As a longtime member of the commun….er, co-op, I applaud the decision.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:09 am #1993107
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Seems completely reasonable to me.
I have only shopped there once and this change does not affect my purchasing decisions.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:16 am #1993110
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:23 am #1993111
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:24 am #1993112
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
Kat, I thought of tucking the tags in on formal wear and returning it after the fancy dress event. Some people.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:31 am #1993113
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
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 !
–G.B.–Jun 4, 2013 at 6:32 am #1993114
@paintplongoLocale: Hopefully on the Trail
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:33 am #1993116
>"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.Jun 4, 2013 at 6:35 am #1993118
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
Maybe unconditional returns for a year, and after that it takes a reason ?Jun 4, 2013 at 6:39 am #1993119
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
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.Jun 4, 2013 at 7:11 am #1993125
Yet another reason to shop at backcountry.comJun 4, 2013 at 7:59 am #1993141
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 anything…it 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.Jun 4, 2013 at 9:02 am #1993167
well, glad I didn't wait longer than 12 years to return my unused pack. :)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.