I could hear the collective sob of dirtbag climbers across the nation as news broke yesterday of REI towing a harder line on gear returns. Legendary stories abound of people abusing the old liberal, no questions asked return policy in order to fund their alternative outdoor lifestyles. It looks as though the glory days have finally come to an end.
What finally tipped REI over the edge you ask? Perhaps it was Leif Karlstrom's blurb in Outside Magazine last year about his illicit "REI sponsorship" that created a wider gear fraud movement. According to REI's Senior Vice President of Retail Tim Spangler, the company noticed an alarming growth trend in returns over a year old, causing them to finally take action.
The new policy will not only impose a time limit on returns, but enforce stricter guidelines on what type of gear is accepted. Excerpts from the new returns policy found on the REI website read as follows:
"We stand behind everything we sell. If you are not satisfied with your REI purchase, you can return it for a replacement or refund. Items must be returned within a year of purchase, except items purchased from REI-OUTLET which must be returned within 30 days of purchase.
You must have a proof of purchase (store receipt, gift receipt, shipping invoice, or member purchase history) for all returns and exchanges.
Used items must be cleaned for a return or exchange. If you send merchandise that is not cleaned or laundered to the REI Returns Department, it will be returned at your expense."
So there you have it. About 90 percent of returns are already made within a year so this new policy will probably not bother the majority of us. REI will continue to take back defective products regardless of their age.
Thoughts? Have you ever taken advantage of REI's liberal returns policy?