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797 REI's
100% Guarantee

luggage lock used as a bike lock

I use a luggage lock to secure my bike,
probably not the most failsafe method.

There is a rumor going around that REI is planning to change their 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed Policy. Their current policy is simple, if you could show that you bought it from REI, then the store would refund or replace the item, if you were not satisfied. Wow! Essentially, a customer or member, would only have to buy one item for the rest of their lives. For example, they could buy a sleeping bag, 5 years later, return the bag and get another bag, 5 years later return the latest bag, etc. It is an amazing policy that has lasted a number of years.

I have a good example of how the Satisfaction Guaranteed Policy worked for me and the company ...

In 2001 I bought a new bicycle from REI, a Schwinn Panther. While shopping for accessories, I decided to use a luggage/ski lock instead of a traditional lock for the bike. I was not trying to really secure the bike, I was just trying to keep joy riders from borrowing it!

After using the lock just a few times, the retracting mechanism for the wire failed. It would not retract.

I returned the lock to our local REI and they gladly exchanged it.

The new lock looked just like the old lock, but also performed the same way - soon the retracting mechanism failed.

Once again I returned to REI and once again they exchanged the lock for a new one.

Well, guess what? You're right, the lock failed again.

Back at the now familiar Customer Service desk, the representative questioned what I was doing with the lock.

I explained that it was quite simple - I pulled the wire our wrapped it around an anchor, returned it to the lock, pushed the button, and changed the combination to secure the lock. On returning, I would open the lock, and push the button to try and retract the wire. It was really quite simple. The representative watched closely as I demonstrated the procedures for using the lock. Once again, they sent me to get another lock off the shelf. When I returned, I informed them that this was the last lock (as sort of a warning). Well, then, the representative decided not to give it to me.


I knew that I had not damaged any of the locks. After the first lock failed, I had been very careful to avoid over pulling the wire, thinking that might have caused the failure, but the retracting mechanism still failed.

Instead they asked for me to wait until they could order new locks. It might take a few weeks, but the locks I had used must have been part of possibly a bad batch.

In a couple of weeks I got a message that the new lock was at the store. When I picked it up at the Customer Service desk we joked about it being number 4. I promised I would handle it with care as I left.

Well, I still have lock number 4. I use the lock almost daily to secure my beloved Panther. Through the years I have yanked it, pulled on it, dropped it, forgot that it was still locked and pulled the bike away from the anchor, and abused it in many ways - and the lock is still working fine. Like the Customer Service Representative guessed it was just a bad batch.

REI could have told me after a couple of returns, that I was using the lock improperly and they would not accept the returns, but they didn't. Instead they solved the problem by deciding that the batch was faulty. Once I had a lock that worked and I was a happy customer/member.

REI has an amazing Satisfaction Guaranteed Policy. I am sure the changes to the policy will still guarantee satisfaction, but probably just 99.5% of the time. For that other .5%, they are the folks who have purposely taken advantage of the REI policy. These folks buy gear for a weekend trip, use it, and then return it for a refund or folks who abuse gear and then return it for an exchange.

When the policies change, more burden will be placed on Customer Service to keep the members happy even those that do not receive a refund or exchange. I guess that is one reason why REI is a different kind of store.

Of course the new policies might not allow me to exchange a lock, but they probably would, after all they are still REI.

Happy Satisfaction Guaranteed trails


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