Oct 5, 2012 at 5:32 am #1294717
@kentchristopherLocale: Madison, WI / Berlin, Germany
I've been an REI member for 14 years, and have always felt that they're a good company with a trustworthy reputation.
Today, however, I made an unfortunate observation about their sales practices at REI Outlet. I had my eye on a Marmot sleeping bag. The price had been $180 just a few days ago. I knowingly waited for the 20% sale which started today. I loaded the product page to see the price had changed to $225 making the final price – you guessed it – $180 after the 20% rebate. I'm quite sure this is not the only item that they jacked up the price on.
Maybe it's just me, but this wreaks terribly of deceptive marketing tactics. I didn't expect this kind of tactic from REI and I'm disappointed.
I write this to make others aware, and to encourage others to spread the word and call them out on this kind of behavior.
I'll be sending the link to this thread to REI, so by all means, feel free to add your comments below.Oct 5, 2012 at 5:41 am #1918363
@rdalyLocale: outdoors amap
I agree, not a nice thing to do. I think many companies do this though. I'd write an email to REI and see what they say. Let us know if you get any response.
I too have been an REI member for many years.Oct 5, 2012 at 6:24 am #1918366
I don't buy anything anymore without getting an idea of the internet average on shopping.google.com to know if it's really a deal.
Not relevant to REI, but relevant to the strategy on Amazon and some 3rd party sites; check out camelcamelcamel.com It keeps a record of actual sale prices of most common products on Amazon and some 3rd party and used sites… it gives a good picture of the pricing reality, and lets you set alerts for when the price actually drops to something specialOct 5, 2012 at 7:00 am #1918375
Noel TavanBPL Member
And I also hear people abuse of their return policy. Maybe they are having trouble making profit since it is a coop and people have stopped joining rei.Oct 5, 2012 at 7:11 am #1918378
Art …BPL Member
REI may technically be a Co-op but more and more it is being run as if it were a Madison Avenue for profit retail company.
I have been a member for 25 years and have sadly seen them go farther and farther down this road.
Whoever is in charge no longer really believes in the Co-op concept.
The great return policy is pretty much the only thing remaining of the old REI.
If it goes I'm sure many customers will go along with it.Oct 5, 2012 at 7:52 am #1918382
I had talked a friend into buying the REI Halo25 bag. We have one and I think it's a really solid bag. It's been on the Outlet for a while for $159, which was already a good buy. But the 20% coupon would make it a steal. So, he waited for the sale… and this morning, the price was jacked up to $199.
I emailed REI about it, noting sentiments just like you've posted ("disappointed") and the customer service email response? "Pricing in the outlet is subject to change and constant fluctuation. Please see additional information regarding REI terms and conditions regarding pricing at the link below."
I've been a member for 10+ years, too, and what they did *plus* the response I got just took REI out of the list of companies I like and respect to just another store.Oct 5, 2012 at 8:07 am #1918384
@earthdwellerLocale: North Carolina
This isn't the first time they've done this kind of thing, but I fully agree that it's very disappointing. Presumably, it works from a business standpoint, because most customers won't have been monitoring prices but will respond to the coupon offer. My guess is that this didn't happen across the board. Rather, there are specific items that they either can't afford to discount further or don't think a further discount is necessary to sell. They bump the prices on those items so that they can do a 20% off across the board promotion (instead of a 20% off select items promotion), and off they go…Oct 5, 2012 at 8:20 am #1918386
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
So what happens if they don't raise the base price during the %20 off sale? They lose money because the price is too low.
Nothing wrong with that, complainers ITT. Just because you expect to "get it at a steal" doesn't mean you will.Oct 5, 2012 at 8:29 am #1918388
Richard LyonBPL Member
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
Michael W is quite right. Unless REI increased ALL its prices ahead of the sale (which it did not do), the increase on the product Sumi wanted is simply bad luck. Grab a bargain when you can. In more than twenty years' dealings with REI I have always found them to be fair, and the company provides outstanding customer service. The return policy is just one example. Perhaps those who abuse that policy are to blame for several price increases.
RichardOct 5, 2012 at 8:36 am #1918390
>> So what happens if they don't raise the base price during the %20 off sale? They lose money because the price is too low.
Then, imo, they shouldn't have offered the 20% coupon or specifically excluded the items that they cannot afford to give the discount on, which they already do with the regular (i.e. non-outlet) coupon.
While I agree that it's certainly REI's preorgative to raise prices for a sale, it doesn't change the fact that my *perception* of REI, as a long-time customer, has been affected. Whether REI cares about that or not is, again, their choice.Oct 5, 2012 at 8:37 am #1918391
It worked on a houdini in the outlet :)Oct 5, 2012 at 9:12 am #1918393
Matt AllenBPL Member
looks like backcountry did the same thing. On arcteryx at least.
As far as REI being a fair company to deal with, I disagree. I recently ordered a black diamond avalung pack that they had listed on their site for $149.99. Instead they shipped me the same pack minus the avalung. They advertised one thing and shipped me another. Hmmmm. I am going to see if it was just a mistake, but I think they will probably just say it was a price mistake and that I am out of luck.
I am fine with them admitting it was a mistake and not honoring the price, but to go through the hassle now of returning the wrong product is just that… a hassle. They could have just emailed me and told me it was a price mistake and that they would not be honoring it instead of sneaking in the wrong product.
We will see what happens. Who knows, I might be pleasantly surprised!
Looks like it was a price mistake. The best they could offer was a UPS return label. Oh well.Oct 5, 2012 at 9:27 am #1918397
Yuri RBPL Member
If they offer 20% coupon instead of jacking up prices they should exclude items.
I think it is not ethical to hike prices prior to sale just to even them out after discounts. This practice stinks.
REI being a COOP is nothing more than a marketing strategy to make customers feel better about spending money. I have yet to see how it being a COOP actually makes it run any different from any other sporting goods chain.
The dividend is a joke – instead of returning money at some point in the year, why not make prices lower by 10% (at least for members)? The answer is simple – they get to enjoy profit on the 10% they hold through the year. For them it is free money.
I like selection at REI, I like their return policy, but i can't say that I actually like the chain.Oct 5, 2012 at 9:34 am #1918399
@kentchristopherLocale: Madison, WI / Berlin, Germany
To be clear, I feel no personal sense of loss in this situation about "not getting a steal" whatsoever. The item I was looking at was something a friend was loosely interested in (she's looking for a new sleeping bag) and I was simply offering to buy it with what I *thought* was going to be my 20% discount.
The lessons for me here (and hopefully others) are:
1. Don't wait for the REI 20% member sale assuming you'll get a reduction on a particular item at REI Outlet.
2. Realize that REI is willing to stoop to such deceptive marketing practices.
The tactic is a cheap deception in the name of boosting sales – plain and simple. Telling someone "You're a member? Well today you get 20% off one item!" attempts to make them feel they're getting get an exclusive deal, one which they are entitled to because of their *paid* membership, yet the reality is that they'd be paying the same price a non-member paid the day before, and to me that's simple marketing trickery. I expect it from a used car salesman. I didn't expect it from REI.
I agree with what Sumi said: they should have left the price as it was and simply noted that the 20% coupon didn't apply. They do this with the regular (non-outlet) items during this sale, so there's no reason why they can't do it in the outlet as well.
Lessons learned. I'm now looking elsewhere for a sleeping bag for my friend.Oct 5, 2012 at 9:40 am #1918400
Art …BPL Member
REI actually began as a real co-op many years ago, so it is not so much using that designation as a marketing ploy as it is slowly but surely forgetting its roots.Oct 5, 2012 at 10:32 am #1918412
@timalanLocale: Mid Atlantic
Well said. I appreciate REI for what it is, and their return policy makes it a great option if you have one local. My wife and I probably spend ~$200-300/year at REI, the majority of that is on clothes for her (REI has a great selection of comfortable "outdoors" gear, some of which office-appropriate for her); the occasional pair of shoes (they carry FiveFingers and have good sales); and the rest is consumables (trial food, isobutane).
I'm sad to hear they are price inflating before sales, but I'm not surprised. As a whole, the REI annual sales have gotten poorer and poorer over the years I've been a member. Your best bet these days is the occasional deep discount when no special sale is underway, so few people catch it.
The REI Outlet has been the source of lots of good deals over the years, and while I don't like the corporate direction they are going, I'm still glad to patronize them when its convenient. They are still better (for our purposes) than any other B&M chain store. And for the gear we buy there, I'd rather have my money go to REI than to a random internet retailer or to Walmart.Oct 5, 2012 at 10:45 am #1918414
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Think about this, there are certain items that are already discounted (especially in the outlet).
When REI has this coupon they have must apply it to all items in their store. However on they can not, or won't go lower on the things already discounted. Thus them raising prices on certian items to protect themselves.
I don't think of it as them trying to screw people over.Oct 5, 2012 at 10:56 am #1918418
>> Think about this, there are certain items that are already discounted (especially in the outlet).
When REI has this coupon they have must apply it to all items in their store. However on they can not, or won't go lower on the things already discounted. <<
Not sure what you mean. The 20% member coupon that can be used in the store can only be used on regular priced items and cannot be applied on sale items or on Outlet items. There are also additional exclusions like kayaks, electronics, etc.
The 20% Outlet coupon is a separate coupon specifically for the Outlet. They don't always have one of these coupons with the member sales. If they can't afford to discount outlet items, they shouldn't issue that coupon.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have an issue with them not discounting some items further in the outlet but I'd prefer that they be honest and up-front about it. Even when I sent them an email about it, instead of an honest answer, I got this "outlet prices can fluctuate and please see our terms and conditions" BS response. Gone corporate.Oct 5, 2012 at 11:52 am #1918438
Slightly OT, but if you are still looking for the BD avalung pack, they have been on Steep and cheap a lot the last few days for 89 bucks..Oct 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm #1918457
@roadster1Locale: Southeast mountains
To the OP, too bad you didn't put the item in your shopping cart. I just bought a sleeping bag that I put in my shopping cart yesterday at the lower price. When I went back today I noticed that the bag had gone up so I too was bummed, but I went to my shopping cart from yesterday and it was still in there at the lower price and then used the coupon and it worked like a charm. Been a member of REI for 40 years and I think they are running a business but I think they try to be as fair as possible.Oct 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm #1918463
Dustin ShortBPL Member
Bargain shopping is inherently volatile. plenty of big ticket items (like Arc' Atom LTs) were kept at the low price and I assume the coupon works for.
Also you're getting a 20% coupon on any full price item, great for those few brands/items that seem to NEVER go on sale (darn you Sportiva climbing shoes!!!). Sucks but reasonable. They didn't "rob" you of any savings since you still get the same discount as pre-sale.
Remember, sales exist for only one purpose, to move inventory. They do not exists as a service to the consumer. If you hate it so much, don't buy from them, but me thinks many people still will (myself included) because their return policy and customer service is still top tier in the industry.Oct 6, 2012 at 1:25 am #1918600
If there is something you know you want you just have to move on it right away. There is a small window that you can use the coupon before the prices go up. I was lucky to snag one of those sleeping bags before the prices went up.Oct 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm #1918822
Ryan SpurlockBPL Member
i noticed this last year when i waited to use the coupon on the rei chrysalis tent. price went up and after the math it was the same price before the sale. so i ended up with the big agnes seedhouse which also had the footprint available, something that wasn't for the chrysalis. in the end im happy with how things turned out.Oct 7, 2012 at 8:23 am #1918861
Matt JonesBPL Member
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