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Thread: Why I love REI

  1. #1
    Senior Member mtruman's Avatar
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    Why I love REI

    I've been a loyal REI customer and member for a number of years but my experience last week really sealed the deal. Last weekend we went to the garage sale at the Cranston RI store. For anyone not familiar REI runs these sales every few months to sell returned merchandise at huge discounts. We've gotten many great GS deals in the past and always go. We got there a bit late to avoid the crowds breaking down the doors (it gets worse every time) and weren't expecting to find much left. I went to the shoe section first like I always do (we've gotten 3 pairs of $120 hiking boots for $20 in past sales). I was amazed to find a new looking pair of Lowa mountaineering boots that looked like my size sitting on the shelf. Checked the tag and not only were they my size, they were brand new. Checked the list price for Lowa Cristalo X Pro GTX on the web and found out that these were $380 boots priced at $124! SOLD!

    Now I have to say that I didn't really need mountaineering boots (unless we start doing more serious winter hiking) but these were too good a deal. I wore them three times the next few days on our morning walk in the woods to break them in. They were awesome - really warm and comfortable. First day with snowshoes, next with microspikes and the next bare-boot. Then the problem. Got 1/2 way through the hike and noticed that one boot was unlaced. Went to relace it and saw that one of the lace hooks had broken off! Brand new $380 boots after just over 5 miles? Yikes!

    I know that REI garage sales are "all sales final - no returns" deals, but these were brand new never worn boots with the tags still on them and the Lowa 12 month warranty so next day I head back to REI. Told the story to the clerk and he calls the manager. Tell the story again and the manager points out to me that this was a garage sale purchase and not subject to return. But I don't want a return, I want Lowa to fix the boot. He gets Lowa on the phone and after a very quick conversation says that the Lowa warranty doesn't apply to REI. They give REI low prices and it's up to REI to deal with product problems. REI will of course replace or refund any product forever - except garage sale items. Damn. Is it really possible that in this kind of situation a company like Lowa won't stand behind their product? Apparently so. I was clearly showing my frustration at this point and the manager told me that he wanted me to be happy and offered to give me a refund (even though he didn't have to). As much as I would have preferred to have the boots fixed this was sure better than losing $125. It's customer service like this that will make me an REI customer for life - and why Lowa has lost one.
    Mark

    Going to the mountains is going home.
    - John Muir


    Hiking photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42
    Hiking Blog: http://theramblingsblog.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
    Senior Member bubba's Avatar
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    mark - those that embrace good customer service just know how to do it.

    As far as Lowa is concerned - it's their product and they should have stood behind it. Sour taste is justified!
    You only live once... but, if you do it right, once is enough!
    animus non integritatem sed facinus cupit
    "The heart wills not purity but adventure" (R J Waller, A Thousand Country Miles)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jay H's Avatar
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    Did you consider perhaps having a boot maker fix it? Shouldn't of had to with new boots but given the deal that you got, it might be worth if if you liked the boots...

    Jay
    You must go and you must ramble
    Through every briar and bramble
    Till your life is in a shambles
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  4. #4
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    So I walk into this REI Garage sale and I see this great pair of Lowa boots, brand new except for one missing lace hook...
    Last edited by cbcbd; 01-11-2010 at 10:51 AM.
    Doug

  5. #5
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    Retail - Gray market

    There is a term in retail - Gray market - which is when a manufacturer sells a product to a retailer at a lower price and in return the retailer is responsible for warranty. Sears has done this for many years with appliances and electronics. I have not had good results with this type of relationship, so once I'm aware of that, I avoid those stores for that particular type of merchandise.

    I'm sorry to hear that REI has been doing that. They probably can pull it off better than other retailers because of their overall great customer service. However, in the case of the garage sale Lowa's, you probably got the best possible outcome given that background.
    It's a lot like fun, but different.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mtruman's Avatar
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    Jay - I did consider the boot maker idea and in fact the manager at REI even said that they have someone on the west coast that they use that could have possibly done it. I just figured it wasn't worth the hassle at that point since I had the refund option.

    cbcbd - If you're a size 10-1/2 get the the garage sale in Cranston early next month and you just may have that chance

    expat - Normally I would agree but since REI backs everything they sell new (forever) it's not really an issue. They will take a return on something that just wears out after a couple of years just because you think it should have held up longer (which is evidenced by stuff that shows up at the garage sales). Many customers obviously abuse the policy and return things that have just normally worn out or were damaged due to neglect. Last spring there was a backpack at one of the garage sales that had been chewed by a bear. Given that it is certainly reasonable that garage sale items are all "as-is" and gray market or not their regular product line is all top brands, good prices and satisfaction guaranteed forever. Hard to beat that combination
    Mark

    Going to the mountains is going home.
    - John Muir


    Hiking photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42
    Hiking Blog: http://theramblingsblog.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    Senior Member WhiteMTHike's Avatar
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    Interesting. I have an REI membership at that very same store in Cranston, RI and they made no attempt to contact me about this garage sale. I would think they'd have sent an e-mail to all members.
    "The laborers day ends with the going down of the sun, and he is then free to
    devote himself to his chosen pursuit, independent of his labor and his
    employer". Henry David Thoreau

  8. #8
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteMTHike View Post
    Interesting. I have an REI membership at that very same store in Cranston, RI and they made no attempt to contact me about this garage sale. I would think they'd have sent an e-mail to all members.
    REI has never contacted me about garage sales. They are announced on the "REI Classes, Events and Presentations" page from the store page.

    The garage sales are already a mob scene, they don't need to announce them... One of the salesmen told me that some people camped overnight in line to be at/near the head of the mob.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 01-12-2010 at 10:13 PM.

  9. #9
    Junior Member DakotaWolf's Avatar
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    The REI store here in Richmond alerted me to the garage sale a week in advance but I was going out of town and was unable to attend.

    I have heard about the mob scenes at other stores and wonder if getting there before the store opens is worth the hassle ?

  10. #10
    Senior Member paul ron's Avatar
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    I hate them because they moved out of NYC 15 years ago. Haven't bought anything from REI since.

  11. #11
    Senior Member KRobi's Avatar
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    Does anyone know why REI hasn't opened any stores in NH? Competition with EMS? It would seem that the proximity to the mtns would be a selling point but obviously not. I like the products but would not buy something without trying it on. Traveling to Reading and then paying MA sales tax is not a great option. I emailed the headquarters but never got a reply.

  12. #12
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtruman View Post
    Jay - I did consider the boot maker idea and in fact the manager at REI even said that they have someone on the west coast that they use that could have possibly done it.
    REI uses Dave Page for their warranty work - he does superb work. Have not needed him and his staff to do any warranty work, but they've resoled my Norwegian welt Raichle's three times over the years. Am VERY satisified with his work. The re-soles are better than the original.

    KRobi - as to why REI isn't in northern NE - my hunch is that partly it's a distance thing. They're a huge coop based in Bellingham, Washington, which is just about as far away from NH as you can get. They have a huge presence in the West; not so much in the East.

    Also - coops aren't driven by the same dynamics as a company with stockholders.
    Last edited by Kevin Rooney; 01-12-2010 at 08:09 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nessmuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul ron View Post
    I hate them because they moved out of NYC 15 years ago. Haven't bought anything from REI since.
    I've been a member since 1970. I hated them when they first opened a store in NY, Nyack I believe, because then I had to pay NYS tax. Of course now, even though there are no longer any stores in NY, the state still collects tax on items delivered to NY.

    REI is a much different company now than it was in 1970. The catalog actually catered to a much harder core of outdoor folk, and the catalog included several pages of useful tips and stories - it was actually worth keeping for reference. REI and EMS were catalog competitors, but REI had the edge with its dividends. Then for several years EMS stopped publishing any catalogs and had no mail service at all.
    Last edited by Nessmuk; 01-12-2010 at 08:30 PM.
    "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

  14. #14
    Member averagejoe's Avatar
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    Hi All,

    Disclaimer; I work for the Reading Ma REI. My opinion does not neccesarily reflect that of REI blah, blah, blah.

    Now then,

    mtruman;
    I'm glad you had a good experience. The fact that we as employees are allowed (even encouraged) to go above and beyond to satisfy costomers was a driving reason in my working for REI.
    Any company that has a few dozen or more stores can place big enough orders to cut a deal like the one with Lowa. I understand if you had boots that were broken in you would want to have them repaired, but most big companies would rather just give you a new pair rather than deal with some manufacturers warranty department.

    paul ron;
    That was the New Rochelle store we closed. This was before my time, so this info comes from those who were with REI then. I know this won't make it right and you may or may not care. It's actually a little embarassing. That store was broken into so many times it became not worth the constant repairs.

    KRobi;
    REI is really conservative about moving into northern New England. You've got EMS, LL Bean, IME, Ragged, Wild Things, need I go on.
    REI'll get there, they just need to find the right location.

    Joe.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nessmuk View Post
    REI is a much different company now than it was in 1970. The catalog actually catered to a much harder core of outdoor folk, and the catalog included several pages of useful tips and stories - it was actually worth keeping for reference.
    Those catalogs were great. I bought my first external frame backpack and a 60/40 parka from REI in the '70's. Should have kept the parka--4 bids on Ebay right now for one much like it in auction ending in 90 minutes. The vintage market isn't lucrative but it's certainly active.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Vtg-70s-REI-60-4...item5ad627c0f2

    Auction update: it went for $36.99, much more than I paid for it. Anybody know whether it's the REI label or just vintage outdoor clothing in general that motivates the interest?
    Last edited by Waumbek; 01-13-2010 at 07:07 AM. Reason: update

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