So, I'm pretty new to backpacking and only found REI when I started looking for good places to buy the gear that I needed for backpacking, so I'm pretty new to REI as well. I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon (like everyone else) and was originally drawn to REI because a) they have a store that I can actually walk into and touch things before I buy them (now) and b) the pricing is almost identical to Amazon on a lot of items *before* my dividend, and the dividend basically makes buying from REI 10% cheaper. After joining the REI co-op, I found these forums and just keep finding more and more things that I like about REI.
That said, I've seen a couple of posts with folks sharing their negative opinions of REI and wanted to share my story to maybe help balance the scales.
As I noted, I'm new to backpacking. I was in the Army for a while and got pretty familiar with loading everything I own into a rucksack and walking to wherever I was supposed to go and sleeping outside, but that was about as close to backpacking as I've really gotten. I've been hiking for a while now and decided to take the next step and start hiking far enough to require an overnight and, apparently, now I'm a backpacker 🙂
My son has shown some interest so now I'm getting him geared up and we're going to start taking some trips and, as part of his big 3, we bought a backpack from REI. We didn't like the backpack (none of us) so we bought another one and were able to return the one that we didn't like to the REI store. We had also bought some gear that, two days after returning the backpack to the store, we realized had been left in the backpack that we had returned (2 days earlier).
I called REI Perimeter (Georgia) where I had returned the pack and talked to Marcus around 10:15am. I explained the situation. He took ownership of the situation and told me that he'd do what he could. He advised that any returned gear should be in quarantine and that he'd look through all of the bags that match the one that I returned and let me know.
At 11:59am, Marcus called to let me know that he had found my items and would hold them up front for me. Definitely awesome and we now have all of the gear that my son and I need for a little camping excursion this evening to test our gear. Excellent customer service,
@nathanu thanks so much for sharing this with us - we'll also pass it along to the Perimeter store management team! This is certainly the service we aim to provide, and although we sometimes mess up and fall short...it's always nice to hear when we get it right!
At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.