On Purchasing

Have I ever told you how much I love REI?  They pretty much have a lifetime unconditional return policy:

“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.”

Sound too good to be true? It’s not.  In what has grown to be the age of bargain hunting and online deal browsing, I think we look for cheap over quality; and quality sometimes lies in the sense that there is a guarantee behind it.

The back story is that almost two years ago I purchased a pair of Zeal sunglasses at REI, and I bought them there because my other ones flew off the top of my car and I needed them in a pinch (REI was on the way to the trails from where I was at the time).  Last week, I was wearing them and moved them from my face to sit on top of my head when an arm just fell off.  Upon inspection the joint fell apart in a manner it really shouldn’t have, or at least not for another 10 years.  I was crushed!  Now Zeal has their own waranty, and as I’m told a pretty good crash replacement policy too, but they stopped making these and that would take some time to sort out.  Because I bought them at REI, I was able to walk in my local store (very distressed due to lack of sunglasses) and get a refund on the spot; then the clerk helped me find the same pair at a store in Northbrook, IL which were quickly mailed to me at my house. No questions asked.  Had I bargain shopped and save $20 online, I would have been SOL.

The other half to this story is that I bought a KitchenAid Mixer three and a half years ago; as this was a $400 mixer, I was bargain shopping to see what I could save.  Fast forward to now and I believe the gears are stripped in some of the speeds and the motor is straining.  This is a mixer that I expected to last me 15-20 years; a mixer my mother had lasted her close to 30 years, and mine was dying after 3!  KitchenAid only offers a 1-year warranty on these things, and the store where I purchased it offers no support.  Asking around about replacement and repair I found out that Sur la Table has a similar satisfaction guarantee to REI; if I had bought my mixer there, for what probably would have been $50 more, I could walk in, hand them my mixer and walk out with a new one on the spot.  Now, I’m looking at a hassle and ~$150 in repairs.  Such a shame.

Just a little lesson I am learning in quality of service from the seller, even though the service may not be the traditional sense of “service” we think of.

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