What’s Up With That?
Recreational Equipment, Inc., one of the country’s largest outdoor gear retailers (nearly $2 billion in annual sales) has been around since 1938. Actually it is a co-op and members receive approximately 10% of their purchases in a yearly dividend.
REI has been well known for its no-questions asked return policy. And the strategy worked – at least until recently. It appears that those who put the long running 100% satisfaction guarantee policy in place, failed to anticipate the decay of the public’s integrity and morals.
Although I have been a REI member since the early 1970’s I wasn’t truly cognizant of the REI satisfaction policy – I knew there was something in place – I just assumed that if a purchased item failed during the manufacturer’s warranty period, I could just return it to REI instead of dealing directly with the company that made the product. I also thought that if I purchased an item that did not fit properly, I could return it as long as I didn’t actually use it; an example would be wearing boots in the house, but not hiking outdoors in them.
Apparently I was wrong, and so was REI. The policy was that if you were not completely satisfied with a product, you could return it. No fine print. Over time, it seems that many, many people decided (against all rational thinking) that if you bought something and used it well past its intended lifetime, the REI warranty was still in force. Not something an honest or ethical person would think. It seems that REI just ignored the occasional abuser of the policy. The decline of morality in the U.S. brought in hordes of REI customers looking for something for nothing – a free lunch, so to speak. Finally, REI was forced to limit the satisfaction policy to one year, unless the product failed within the manufacturer’s warranty period past the REI one year limit.
Many people blame the REI policy abuse on the information age, inferring that this age legitimizes unethical behavior – somehow people sharing their abuse behind an Internet pseudonym somehow makes it “socially acceptable.”
If you are still with me on this, you probably think REI did the right thing. Well, apparently denizens of people throughout the country think REI is wrong – they threaten to stop doing business with them, yada, yada, yada.
So my question is what has happened to America and Western Civilization?
America, like the rest of Western Civilization has lost its moral compass. The root-cause of this is the welfare state, socialism, communism, or any other self-sacrificing social system, which is created in the name of altruism. The welfare state (and its derivatives) is a downward vortex sucking the morality out of society, leaving a populace that justifies their immoral actions based on any whim and creating hardship for those who refuse to succumb to this insanity.
And this is what happened to the REI return policy.