I’m Bummed….

Flagship store of Recreational Equipment Incor...
Flagship store of Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI Co-op), Cascade District, Seattle, Washington, USA. The high portion of the building at left includes a large artificial climbing rock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


You know, there are just certain things you should be able to count on in life.  I know for a fact that my girl cat will do everything in her power to lay in the most inconvenient part of the floor each and every morning when I am trying to get ready to go to work, I know that Memorial Day in Seattle is going to be wet and rainy, I know my college Football team the WSU Coug’s will force me to drink every season (either due to an epic loss or an amazing win or BOTH), I know my brother-in-law is going to be grouchy (we call him Mr Chipperpants) AND I know that, if I wanted to, the polar fleece pants I pants I purchased in 1996 can be returned to REI….


Well, up and until Tuesday morning, I could count on each and every one these items.  But then, while getting my tea in the morning, I heard a news story: “REI changes it’s Return Policy”


WHAT???  Time froze for a minute!  For the luvva gawd what is happening?  I Brag about REI and send people there because of its return policy.  Now fair is fair, they are limiting the returns to items purchased within the last year…  Compared to the real world, that’s one helluva deal.  But compared to what it was, it stinks.


What they had was legendary!  They bragged about it!  A few years ago, a man who purchased a high altitude down suit for a possible attempt on Everest in the 70s brought it in for a return.  His wife finally got tired of it cluttering the house.  It took them a week to determine what the price was then, ut he got the full refund.  That is REI, or should I say that was REI.


Now to be fair, REI did tell of people who abused the system.  Bringing back clothes and bikes the kids grew out of, using things for one trip, then bringing it back since they wouldn’t need it any more, and one guy who returned a bike rack because it clashed with the new car.  I personally saw a coat returned  with the explantation “After 15 years it started to leak”  Well no shit pal!


Yes, those people abused the system….  But seriously how many could it be?


As for myself, I can count on one hand the number of items I have returned to REI ever.  And only once, a pair of sunglasses that snapped when I was changing the lens 4 years after I bought them, did I return something that was over a year old.  I am not bummed because I used this policy, I am bummed because it was always there if I needed it! Now it isn’t….


I have sent many people there to buy their first bikes because of the return policy.  A bike is a serious investment, if you buy it and don’t use it, why keep it?  REI would take it back.  For the record, no one that I have recommended this to has ever returned their bike.  But it was purchased there because they knew they could.


There are cheaper brick and mortar stores in Seattle, and even cheaper places on-line.  For years I could’ve gone over there, talked to experts, gotten the advice I needed, and then gone whom and gotten the same item and a much lesser price.  I didn’t.  I always felt they were sticking by me and ready to be there anytime I needed them, so I was willing to pay more!


It also seemed a bit underhanded to me the way they did it.  There wasn’t any advanced warning (Unless I somehow missed it, but it was headline news here in Seattle).  It was announced and effective today!  Now I can hypothesize on the reason for this.  If they announced it prior, they would get a rash of returns trying to beat the cut off.  Yep it makes business sense, but damn it feels slimy to me.


Now I know, compared to what’s happening in the real world, this is not that big a deal.  And lord knows, I will still shop there, hell they are across the street from my office.  But, just to share how this one cycling hiker feels…. I honestly feel let down by them.  From now on, I will tell people, check REI, they have everything, but I bet you can find it cheaper on-line.


Oh well, I can still count on an annoying cat, cranky brother-in-law and the COUGS causing heart palpitations come football season, but I am still bummed….




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