REI's return policy, well known for being very customer friendly and generous, was a retail legend -- so of course, horrible people had to go and get it ruined by not only abusing it but bragging about their jerkiness to the whole internet.
If you purchased durable goods you may use rarely, REI's return policy was pretty neat -- if your purchase failed, and you only backpack once or twice a year, you could basically return anything forever. The store trusted you to be honest, and in turn, people felt assured that a long-term purchase from REI was guaranteed to be a good investment.
But then thieves had to go a-thievin', bringing counterfeit or just simply used up stuff to REI for a fresh replacement. Backpacks for life, yo'!
The retailer, in turn, was forced to admit that they were losing money hand over fist on the REI return policy -- and because of the jerks, you can no longer bring back your Camelbak when it leaks on the fourth use.
The Wall Street Journal profiled REI return policy abuse and the decision to change course on the famous purchase condition, saying that publicized shady dealings made it hard for the company to hold the line.
The paper reports:
"In a blog item that ricocheted around the Internet, climber Leif Karlstrom bragged last year that he and a friend took 'a bunch of knockoff gear' from China, used items bought at yard sales and broken gear scrounged from a dumpster back to REI for cash refunds. 'I couldn't have afforded to climb in the Bugaboos or Yosemite without them,' he said, according to the post on the Outside magazine website, which is frequently cited by those mourning the REI policy change."
One aging backpacker and infrequent user of the REI return policy told the paper that times are different, and "now people will take advantage of any opportunity they can." Bummer, man.