SEATTLE -- For years individuals have returned their dirty hiking boots or slightly dinged skis to outdoor retail giant REI for a full refund or store credit. But soon shoppers will need to think carefully about their purchases, as the store -- nicknamed "Rental Equipment Inc." -- tightens restrictions on returns.
According to the Seattle Times, locally owned REI will end its long-standing no time limits policy on equipment returns. Starting Tuesday, store bought items must be returned within a year. The deadline for returning things bought on REI-outlet.com will be 30 days.
The change in store policy is an effort to curb excess returns of used goods. Customers will also be pressed to provide proof-of-purchase when making a return in an effort to eliminate fraudulent items being handed back to stores.
Tim Spangler, senior vice president of retail at REI, told the Times retailers were beginning to see a "growing" trend in returning items more than a year old.
"What we found is that a small group of folks who are probably extending the policy beyond its intent is getting bigger. And it's not a sustainable thing for the long-term if we want to maintain this fantastic policy," Spangler told the newspaper.
Sales at the retail giant fell short of expectations recently and a small number of employees were laid off from the company in March. REI will continue to carry a 100 percent Satisfaction Guarantee with its products.
Currently, 90 percent of REI returns are already made within a year of purchase.