EMS not standing behind their products


Help Support vftt.org:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-known member
Jan 31, 2008
Reaction score
A couple of years ago, I bought my girlfriend an EMS brand rain jacket. The zipper on the pocket pulled out on the first wear, but I didn't think I had the receipt handy, so forgot about it. She's worn it about five times since then (I've been too busy to take her out) and just reminded me about the pocket. I found the receipt and took both to EMS (Comm Ave, Boston). Their website claims "If you are dissatisfied for any reason and have your original store receipt or web invoice, we will exchange or repair the item in question or provide a full refund." It says the same on the back of my receipt.

The only option provided was to pay $20 for the repair. I declined and left the store without buying the other jacket I was considering. I appreciate it when a manufacturer provides repairs for a reasonable price, but it is NOT a substitute for honoring a warranty for a defective item.
That's terrible. I'd give a phone call to the corporate office in Peterborough just for giggles and remind them there are a plethora of options when it comes to purchasing outdoor gear, and both REI and LL Bean offer superior service (IMO). Even if you vow never to shop there again (and I wouldn't blame you) you should at least get the defective garment replaced by them.
It would also be worth pointing out that you'll be publicly posting their response to a very popular electronic forum with thousands of visitors ... most of whom spend more on outdoor gear than the average bear.

When I thru-hiked, I got improved responses about warranty issues a couple of times when I pointed out that I was encountering dozens or hundreds of people on the trail every day, many of whom asked me for my opinions about boots, gear, etc.

Good luck.

I'll bet that if you bring it to another EMS store, you'll have more success. Sounds like you ran into a bad salesperson on Comm Ave.
Anytime I have an issue such as this I skip speaking with the sales staff and go directly to the store manager. Although every employee should know the return policy by heart.
My wife and I have returned gear over the years to the north conway EMS and never had any problems. One store employee told me that they are told not to piss people off.
I had the same experience but it was from LL Bean (at one of the outlet stores) Called Freeport and it was taken care of. Call Peterborough.
To be honest i think EMS is loosing it in alot of area's, Im now a diehard REI fan. I stopped by EMS the other day for a small stuffsack to carry my food in. First the clerk told me to go to the travel section, I informed her there were no stuffsacks there I had already looked, she walked me back there anyway, heck what would I know, she looked puzzeled then took me back to the other end of the store with another clerk in tow, who took me to the drysack area and said "here". I told them I didnt want a drysack then they fianally said I guess we dont have any. I mean cmon you dont sell stuffsacks at an outdoor store? and worse the employes dont even know it. There should be a big ass display featuring 5 sizes at least, I mean when someone starts out you must have to buy at least 3 to 5 various sizes. See ya EMS IM now a full time REI customer. Besides that EMS brand stuff is really not that good imo.
An assistant manager at our local EMS told me this winter that EMS is tightening up their return policy. I was able to exchange winter gloves with a failed seam because they knew my face. And I don't save receipts.

So, part of the issue could be people, and part could be change in corporate policy.
I had a similiar experience this past winter.....couldn't return an item (with original receipt) they were going to charge me to mail it out and have it repaired.......Not happy with that answer, I called the head quarters.....They told me that employee must be confused and put me in contact with the manager to have it taken care of......kinda a hassle, in the end I was pleased with the results, but I try not to buy EMS brand products anymore.
Had good return experience at EMS

I returned a rain coat to EMS a couple of years ago and they gave me full credit towards another one ... which I upgraded.

Perhaps it is a new return policy, perhaps a cranky clerk. Before you buy anywhere you may wish to check on the return policy and and warranty practice ... not all stores service warranties and refer you to the manufacturer.

LL Bean has long had a very consumer friendly return policy and they seem to be the model for the industry.
Ditto, ditto, and ditto... I think you bumped into a zealous store employee who can't see the customer forest for the defective product trees... as someone else said, I have had the same experience at LL Bean Outlets (defective bite valve on a hydration pack -- ended up more like a trail sprinkler system on the first use). They refused to replace it (even with a receipt, exactly one week later). I did something completely out of character and swapped it for a valve on another pack on the floor, and I don't think I have bought another thing from Bean since. Their loss.

I would probably give EMS another chance, but I would go straight to Peterborough... I recently caught an article about them wanting to go back to their semi-dirtbag roots, and this one speaks directly to that DNA.

Good luck.
Guess I ve had pretty good luck with EMS t shirts, socks, and other apparel, but have never bought any equipment made by EMS, just made by other companies sold by EMS...did feel they could have helped me out more when I broke one MSR Denali and was told to send them out myself..as long as you don't take your superfeet out of your sweaty boots in the store to compare to new ones, the staff usually treat you well.....
I recently bought some EMS brand rainpants and returned them. They refunded my money with no problems. I don't work for EMS but I would think that the majority of the time, the sales staff does not give customers a hassle.
I just returned a pair of two-year-old Garmont boots to EMS, without a receipt, and they gave me a new pair. A chunk of the heel was gouged out after a recent hike.

The first person I spoke with said there was nothing they could do. Luckily for me, another employee came by as I was about to leave and intervened. He said that there had been a bad batch of these boots about 2-3 years ago, so they had seen the problem before.

I would ask to see the manager if you're not satisfied with a sales person's response.
I personally think we have ourselves to blame. Too many times people have abused the system, with threats of "LL Bean will take it back, no matter what". It puts retailers, especially smaller ones, at a disadvantage. We're forced to take back a product, and at times just throw it in the trash, all for "customer service".

I'm not saying that was the case here. It probably wasn't. But, corporations are losing money and profits are dwindling. I'm sure the clerk/manager went overboard with the directive to stop taking everything back. If you fight it, you will win.

Next time someone is proud to return something that has been worn and abused for several years, think of the long term ramifications of those actions. :eek:
Agree. Case in point: MANY years ago, an acquaintance was rebuilding his car engine on a stand. The bearings were too tight, and he was trying to get it to turn. He had a Craftsman socket on it, a 5 foot pipe on the socket handle, and he was jumping up and down on the pipe. He broke the socket (of course), and returned it Sears for a replacement. Only pennies, but it never struck me as "right." It struck me "freeloading."