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Returns not taken of gear bought many years ago question

I have a pair of chacos that were purchased from REI about 13 years ago that just broke. I also had a pair of Timberland boots that wore down and needed to be returned also, they were maybe 3-4 years old. I believe when i bought the chacos and the boots for that matter that REI had a lifetime warranty of retuns on the items, ive been shopping at REi for 25 years under this assumption. This was actually the first time i was returning a product at REI and i went to return the item at the REI in Eugene Oregon and they told me REI's return policy was only for 1 year. So they wouldnt return the items. I told them i believe i bought the chacos specifically when there was a lifetime warranty at REI and yeah it wasnt honored which i thought was preety lame. I've always told other friends to shop at REI because even though its expensive the return policy is great and makes it worth it. What happened to this return policy when i bought the gear, im kinda irritated that the policy changed and the old policy when i bought the gear isnt being honored. Thanks, still love REI


24 Replies

@Seandstoneeugene thanks for reaching out about our current return policy and the change that you noticed. For many years at the co-op, we offered a Satisfaction Guarantee that stated that customers could return or exchange any time they purchased at REI that did not meet their expectations. This guarantee was not a lifetime warranty and did not cover products that had been used heavily, were well-loved, and had simply worn out as expected over time.

A few years ago, we updated our Satisfaction Guarantee to limit returns to one year after purchase. We still cover defects in manufacturing, however we do not cover wear and tear or damage due to accidents or improper use.

As you've described your items above, neither item would have been covered under our former or current Satisfaction Guarantee, as it sounds like both have done a great job over many years for you and have simply reached the end of their product life. With that said, Chaco may be able to fix the webbing on your sandals and your Timberland boots may be able to be resoled, using a cobbler like Dave Page.

We hope this explanation makes sense and allows you to purchase with us in the future with a full understanding of our guarantee.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Com'on, 13 years 0n Chacos, give me a break!!!  Why don't you return that 2002 Nissan Sentra with 320,000 miles on it. while you are at it.  Eddie Bauer used to have a lifetime guarantee, but they have changed that policy.  Maybe you're confused.  I've been shopping with REI for 43 years and never heard of a lifetime guarantee, unless it is directly from the manufacturer.  I feel sorry for the clerk that had to deal with this insanity.

@JD6957 I agree. 13 years for sandals goes well beyond normal wear and tear. People should be glad that such items have lasted that long.

LL Bean also used to have an indefinite guarantee period. Then they too had to stop a couple of years ago because it was being abused. As it happens I once saw a customer at one of their stores bring in a well worn pair of boots and insist that they replace them because he didn't think they lasted long enough. 


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@Seandstoneeugene You should definitely try contacting Chaco, and Timberland. Companies usually back their products, but as you can imagine, it would be really difficult for REI to cover warranties for all of the brands they carry. But 13 years for Chacos is great! I'd say you got your money's worth.


oh man! someone beat me to a rant!

I'm not sure, but this is probably the attitude that made REI change it's policy.

Folks, who really know better, who think, I'll buy 1 pair of (insert object) of 'boots' and just keep returning them when they wear out, for the rest of my life! 

Please.... give me a break.

And thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.  However, I do believe a 1yr period is more than satisfactory.

Man, I was not surprised when the policy changed.

REI Member Since 1979

Their former return policy was what had kept me a dedicated shopper, too.  But given that I no longer have that comfort (yet I do have a BA air mattress used fewer than a dozen times that now won't hold air) I will be taking my business elsewhere.  REI may just have cost themselves their juggernaut status.

I would like to return a pot lifter handle, part of a cook set I purchased in 1963, my second REI purchase.  It no longer functions, primarily because I no longer have the pots it was designed to lift.  It is also kind of yucky and rather worn.  It just isn't petty any more.  Can I get a refund of the full purchase price, plus interest compounded at 5% semi-annually?

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Of course! No problem!

Just return the item, with original receipt and original packaging, to store of purchase, wait outside and we’ll be with you as soon as possible 

REI Member Since 1979

@hikermor  I believe it was a general question the original poster asked about some well loved gear. Maybe in the future, we can try to avoid providing him/her a satirical analogy in response to an honest question?  I’d like to always encourage a more inclusive culture here instead of having a sense of superiority. Hopefully most others would agree. 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.