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Is sustainability greenwashing at REI when they won't even return failed items?

This is an arresting recent inquiry with an REI customer service person, regarding the second failure of the exact same product within a year. 

 Julie M (Listening)

 Julie M: Thanks for reaching out to us! My name is Julie M and I'm happy to help.

 marty: Hi, i have ordered two REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pads(Item Number: 1107230004) and the second one just failed. Each was beyond its return window and its very frustrating. I spent 120 for each!
 marty: Is there anything you can do at all?
 Julie M: Hello Marty, thank you for reaching out to us. We stand behind our products for a full year after the date of purchase. If your air mattress failed within that year, we are happy to exchange it or refund it.
 marty: I know Patagonia has a lifetime warranty and return policy and so I'm always unsure of whether to use REI because of the return policy
 marty: And that is the problem because these are each more than a year old. One year is not very long for outdoor products

 marty: The idea of built in obsolescence is something that really bothers me about REI

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 Julie M: I understand. In that case, another brand might be a better solution. I'm sorry there is not more I can do to help.

  marty: in other words, "'tough luck', go somewhere else"?

 marty: I have been an REI co-op member for over 15 years but I will probably quit now, and make sure that my friends and social media following as well as the REI management know your response

 Julie M: Of course!

 Julie M: I will pass it along.
4 Replies

@martymcdonald yes, our return policy covers the products we sell for 1 year, with exceptions for electronics and used gear, and does not cover wear and tear and damage due to accidents.

Would it be possible to provide us with more information about the type of failure you are experiencing with the REI Co-op Flash Insulated pad? This is important information we can pass along to our buyers and product designers. The most common areas of failure we see with ground pads, across all brands, are leaks at the seams, small punctures in the fabric and leaky valves, some of which can be repaired.

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

Thanks, I am well aware of the one-year warrant by now, which is precisely the problem. A one year warranty on most items is just not enough, and so things will end up in a dump, just exacerbating our refuse problem on earth. If the products were made to last longer, with more investment, then they could justify a higher price. But there's something seriously wrong when you spend $120 and get a little more than one year out of it before it fails. This is the kind of thing – like fast fashion -- that is just adding to our consumer problem. As I mentioned in my customer service exchange, Patagonia works hard at eliminating this problem and aims for durability. Not to mention returns, and a repair service("If your item isn't working for you, send it in for a return or repair, hassle free, anytime." REI could do better. I'm sorry to say that (after 15 yrs) I will probably no longer shop at REI because of these serious shortcomings, and will become and evangelist for others to do the same.

This pad has failed both times at the valve and cannot be repaired without the right tools and time.


just to clarify, you say it failed within a year, but you waited until after the return window closed to return it?  Did I read that right?

REI Member Since 1979

If I said within a year, I was incorrect. Each of these pads failed beyond the warranty time.