REI new return policy

I agree, I've been expecting them to take this step for quite a while now. Abuse was pretty rampant in certain categories (but then again, then I've gotten some great stuff from the Used Gear Sales, which will no doubt suffer under the new changes) and have on occasion over the years taken back items that were old enough that 'only REI would have taken them back for a full refund', I admit it. The thing is, I almost always purchased something to replace that item during the same store visit; and often more items while I was at it. I always felt comfortable purchasing gear from REI under the old policy, and don't think the new policy will affect my future purchasing decisions at all.
As a former REI employee who left just as things started to fall apart. Yes, you would not believe the stories customers would give to the front line people (cashiers).

1) My daughter is not quite able to wear this jacket. Could I just exchange it for the next size up? (member records show that it was bought 15 months ago)
2) These shoes!!! You said they had a lifetime warranty on them!! (busted shoes after *** 9 years *** on the trail, flat-*** worn out)
3) (How about this one?) I would like to exchange these shoes to a narrower brand. (running shoes bought 9 months ago, lost weight after starting running as exercise)
4) I would like to exchange for another jacket just like this. (after wearing it around a sparky fire on a windy night)

I'm sure there's lots of stories that I haven't heard, since I didn't work front line. It was one reason I left REI. I was getting fed up with the quality of literacy (or how about laziness) of the customers. I have worked hard at forgetting the dumb things that they asked me to help with (I do remember that a girl was asking for a cattle branding iron, and another person was asking for fencing hardware). These people SIMPLY DO NOT THINK. They do no research before showing up at the store. Oh, how about this!! They drive in from an hour away, only to find out we don't have the product in stock.

Edit:

I forgot to mention something that might affect your buying decisions after you read this. As you recall, I left REI in late April, wanting to get a fresh start in something else entirely. The fact is, the wrong kind of people infiltrated REI and started to chip away at what REI once was, and it may have started sometime before I was rehired over 8 years ago. Changes were being made to the company at many levels, and one tactic they used, which to my knowledge had not been done in this company before, was hiring an outsider at any level above a full-time non-supervisory employee. Our previous store manager, a great guy who ran a tight ship with great results for many years at REI, was told to up and leave for another store for him to open, without consideration for his family's setting in the area and having to uproot it again, and replacing him with someone who had no REI experience, never worked on the floor there before, and didn't understand REI culture. He was sent in to house clean, as he had NO connections with anyone that would impede his ability to simply cut people off and send them out, no matter what. I didn't realize this until months after he had been there for a while.

I really would like you to consider shopping elsewhere, seriously, considering these facts. I had total 10 years altogether, and I had become expensive for the company because of my hourly rate and vacation/sick leave accrual rates. They were cutting several other older people and myself of our hours while giving them to the newer employees (so they wouldn't object to the cuts they received as well, which was NOWHERE what we received). I ran into someone today who told me that she had been laid off, and then discovered that they hired another person in her place without telling her they had "reopened" the position (which is part of the house-cleaning plan). We who had worked more than 20 hours per week as part-timers were able to receive full health insurance benefits were no longer able to hang onto to it, even if we continued to pay the higher rate than required for part-time insurance. And guess what? Now, they're dropping part-time-level insurance for part-timers as well! Now, it's just another retail store. If you know of a store that treats their employees better, please shop there. Another thing she told me is that now, people who have shopped at REI are beginning to state that they'd rather support Academy instead of REI.

It looks like thus far, given my limited ability to spend for traveling, I'm going into farming. I just came off a ranch on Sunday and came to Houston to house-sit for ANOTHER former worker of REI until he gets back, and then I leave for a small organic permaculture farm that I'll help develop in the fall to get it ready for the growing season next year. While I'm there, I will work at a work-share farm to earn some food in exchange for my labor. While I'm here in Houston for the month, I'm volunteering at Last Organic Outpost, a really cool farm that I got to work for a bit today. Really neat place situated on a former rice mill facility just east of downtown Houston. I'm going to volunteer out there about 3 times a week to give me something to do while I house-sit.
 
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chromisdesigns

Adventurer
The life span of shoes should not be 6 years, especially if they are not daily worn. the spongy layer became a tar like sticky crumbly mess- the leather and sole were perfect.

Mine were winter hiking boots- worn maybe 3x per winter.

The material they used degraded prematurely- it wasn't worn out.

and I've had many other shoes- which are over 10 years old, which are still wearable.
When shoe companies started using cast polyurethane for soles, more than a few had this problem. For probably the most notorious example, google "ECCO shoes suck" and read the amazing story of self-dissolving shoe soles.
 

Honu

lost on the mainland
is that when they get all gummy and kinda rot in a sticky inside crusty outside way ?
have seen that on some old shoes ?


When shoe companies started using cast polyurethane for soles, more than a few had this problem. For probably the most notorious example, google "ECCO shoes suck" and read the amazing story of self-dissolving shoe soles.
 

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chromisdesigns

Adventurer
is that when they get all gummy and kinda rot in a sticky inside crusty outside way ?
have seen that on some old shoes ?
That's it -- I used to wear ECCO all the time, but I had a couple pairs of their dressier shoes that I wore infrequently. Pulled a pair out to go to a wedding and they were glued to the shelf! The whole sole peeled right off in a tarry mess. The other pair was no better. The soles on a couple pair of my casual shoes had deteriorated in the past, too; but since I wore them all the time, I just figured that they wore out. The dress shoes, however, wore out SITTING ON THE SHELF in the closet!
 

Seeker

Adventurer
Sounds like REI is taking a page from Walmart's corporate handbook. Disappointing. I guess Bass Pro for selection and Costco for price now. I would go to Adventure 16 but I havent seen one around in years.

--Allen
 

jeep-N-montero

Expedition Leader
One of the things I love about living in Utah, and Colorado before here, is that our second-hand stores and local classifieds are chock full of lightly used outdoor gear due to the active lifestyle of so many in the area. I have bought everything from Thermarest pads to my Millett Gore-Tex jacket in a thrift store, even found my $5 12 volt fridge there, my most recent find is a Marmot 0 degree bag. Only time in recent years we spent much time at REI was after our wedding because we had gift cards for their store, but other than that I always look on ebay or elsewhere before looking at REI or other big box stores. We do on occasion go to the local Cabela's though, but mostly because it's a fun store with a good little wild game eatery.
 
That's it -- I used to wear ECCO all the time, but I had a couple pairs of their dressier shoes that I wore infrequently. Pulled a pair out to go to a wedding and they were glued to the shelf! The whole sole peeled right off in a tarry mess. The other pair was no better. The soles on a couple pair of my casual shoes had deteriorated in the past, too; but since I wore them all the time, I just figured that they wore out. The dress shoes, however, wore out SITTING ON THE SHELF in the closet!
It sounds like they did this on purpose, so that you have to go back to buy shoes again no matter how careful you are in wearing them. I HATE shoes like that and will not buy them. They also probably did it on purpose so that in a SHTF scenario, everything falls apart on you, and it demoralizes you to the point that you don't fight back, or fight as hard as you would, otherwise (which I think is a mistake on the planners' part - you don't mess around a hive full of angry bees!).
 

Wallache

Observer
It sounds like they did this on purpose, so that you have to go back to buy shoes again no matter how careful you are in wearing them. I HATE shoes like that and will not buy them. They also probably did it on purpose so that in a SHTF scenario, everything falls apart on you, and it demoralizes you to the point that you don't fight back, or fight as hard as you would, otherwise (which I think is a mistake on the planners' part - you don't mess around a hive full of angry bees!).
That's quite the jump...from crappy shoes at REI to a grand conspiracy to steal your rights.
 
So, do you think this is more of a case of technology getting ahead of materials science? I sure hope you're right... When you said, "Yep, I'm sure the brain trust at Ecco had that exact scenario in mind when they sourced the supplier who makes their materials," it made me wonder again about how cars are sized in Asia and elsewhere versus here in the US. I just don't like the creeping feeling I get that gradually, auto makers are reducing our carrying capacity for SHTF scenarios where we have to get out of dangerous places. It seems like... Ah, topic for another day.
 

Co-opski

Expedition Leader
Yep, I'm sure the brain trust at Ecco had that exact scenario in mind when they sourced the supplier who makes their materials.

You can almost see them standing there wringing their hands and laughing manically if you loosen the tin foil hat a bit to let the voices in.
Here is a good read on Hong Kong government limiting the VOC in shoe glues. The EPA did it here first but the governments over seas did not care much but they are beginning to.
http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/air/pub_consult/files/ConVOC_AS-eng.pdf

I had to look up SHTF scenario and I think my life is always a SHTF scenario. Kind of makes it fun. Haha.

BTW I drove an hour to REI for some 3mm cord but some person purchased the whole spool. SHTF I had to get 5mm and 10 ten tent stakes should have gone to Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking (AMH) but that big REI sale sign drew me in.
 
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Here is a good read on Hong Kong government limiting the VOC in shoe glues. The EPA did it here first but the governments over seas did not care much but they are beginning to.
I think the ban on VOC is probably the reason that companies like Red Wing stopped offering to resole such shoes, since the replacement stuff apparently can't be resoled, which is why I went straight to traditional stitch boots, as they CAN be resoled.
 

Hoss86

Observer
I used to work at the REI in Austin, TX. I remember working customer service and having people return used underwear. One guy returned a old REI Sabertooth jacket bought in 1993. The customer said the jacket was no longer waterproof....
 
I think part of the problem was the confusion of just what "lifetime" meant. Did it mean the lifetime of the garment itself, or YOUR lifetime? People tried to claim they thought it was the latter. "Are you serious?? He expects a jacket to make it into the 22nd century should Stem Cell Therapy become perfected?? That would create a whole new meaning to the word 'lifetime!' "

Ol' Hoss, I'm GLAD I never worked customer service. I WILL NOT work such a department because I don'... Never mind. Glad I'm not there anymore. By the way, I stepped into Whole Earth Provision, as it's not far from the house I'm house-sitting now. I COULD NOT BELIEVE how much further off-track WEP has gotten than REI. I thought REI was bad, in that while they merely expanded into some useless or irrelevant products, at least they maintained the look and the appearance that things were the same on the surface (though people have noticed a slide in personnel quality, service, etc.). I couldn't believe it, I was blown away by all the stuff they tried to get into.

Whatever...
 

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