Outdoor equipment retailer REI recently announced changes to its return policies, which previously allowed customers to return any item for any amount of time, no questions asked.
The new policy states that items can only be returned within one year of purchase, and that items damaged by the customer during ordinary or improper use will not be covered. Items purchased at the online outlet store, REI.com/outlet, have to be returned within 30 days from the date of purchase.
The changes come after REI reported that, while sales were up 7 percent to $1.9 billion, profits dropped 4 percent in 2012. Analyzing sales numbers, the retailer noticed a spike in returns made for merchandise purchased more than one year ago. The rise in such returns caused REI to reconsider their current policies.
“We’ve always taken back products more than a year old, but to see that growing disproportionately caused us to ask some questions,” said Tim Spangler, REI’s senior vice president of retail, in an interview with The Seattle Times. “What we found is that the 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,” he said in the interview. “It’s something we have to put some clarification around.”