REI’s Revamped Return Policy | Effective as of June 4th

Kyler Roush |


R.eturn E.verything I.ndefinitely?

Not anymore.  REI has released a statement regarding the changes to their “no questions asked” return policy that so many have come to love and unfortunately abuse.

Myself, an REI Member, being epic in the Wasatch.  Photo: Jacqueline K.
Myself, an REI Member, being epic in the Wasatch. Photo: Jacqueline K.

As of June 4th, 2013 you are no longer able to return any item that you purchased over a year ago.  In addition REI outlets will no longer accept returns after 30 days of being purchased.  All of this is coming in the wake of a lackluster year for Recreational Equipment Inc.  In 2012 REI saw in increase of 7% percent in sales to $1.9 billion.  However profits dropped by 4% to only $29 million.  In addition to significant profit drops, REI has noted an extortionate trend when comparing returns of items over a year since purchase to those under a year.

-The National Retail Federation estimates that in 2012 retailers lost $9 billion due to return fraud alone.

“What we found is that small group of folks who are probably extending the policy beyond its intent, is getting bigger. And It’s not a sustainable thing long-term if we want to maintain this fantastic policy, it’s something we have to put some clarification around”

-Senior Vice President of REI, Tim Spangler


We stand behind everything we sell. If at any time your REI purchase doesn’t meet your expectations, you can return it for a replacement or refund. What’s more, if you’re an REI member, you don’t even need a receipt—we’ll have a record of your purchase.

The NEW POLICY now states:

We stand behind everything we sell. If you are not satisfied with your REI purchase, you can return it for a replacement or refund. Items must be returned within a year of purchase, except items purchased from REI-OUTLET which must be returned within 30 days of purchase.

REI’s guarantee doesn’t cover ordinary wear and tear or damage caused by improper use or accidents.

If your item has a manufacturing defect in its materials or workmanship, you can return it at any time. See our limited warranty.

To see the entire return policy visit REI’s website.

What is the reason for the return today?  Because I can!  Photo: Denver Post
What is the reason for the return today? Because I can! Photo: Denver Post

This change may seem drastic to some, but still far exceeds the industry standard on returns and is being applauded by other retailers who simply could not compete against such a loose policy.

Some examples include:

  • Target – 90 days
  • Sears – 60 days
  • Costco – 90 days on electronics
  • Walmart – 90 days

On the opposite end of the spectrum is, with over 1000 brands to choose from, still sports an unlimited return policy on any item for any reason, any time.

Not stoked on your gear? Looking to return it or make an exchange? No problem, we have an Unlimited Return Policy: we guarantee complete satisfaction and an unlimited lifetime warranty. If at any time — now, next month, in 30 years — you’re not 100% satisfied, send your gear back for a full refund. No questions asked.

Will the announced changes effect your gear buying habits?  Let us know.

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8 thoughts on “REI’s Revamped Return Policy | Effective as of June 4th

  1. I know I am late, but folks please realize that when you purchased the items under the previous return policy, you had a contract of sale. And the other party CANNOT retroactively alter that contract. REI and other stores will get away with it because 99% of people have no idea they cannot apply such policy retroactively. Get management on the phone, start talking about getting a lawyer, and rest assured you will get your return. I see no reason why this isn’t amounting to a class action case. You can also get your State Consumer Protection office involved.

  2. I purchased 2 Roadster tents 8 years ago. Both tents experienced delamination of a plastic window in the rainfly. Since both tents experienced the same failure, I argued at rei in santa fe and falls church, va, that it was a materials defect and asked for an exchange. I was told I should only expect 2 or 3 years out of a tent and glue failure is common and expected. I was offered a 20% discount on a new tent. Really? I see a $200 purchase as an investment, not a disposable item. The change is driven by corporate greed. They had built the old
    warranty cost into their business model, and the change only benefits rei, not the customer.

  3. Will things purchased prior to this announcement be grandfathered in for lifetime return?

  4. I noticed did a similar revision, and it’s retroactive to stuff I purchased with an unconditional return guaranty. more people with less money now affecting profits?

Got an opinion? Let us know...