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California-Northern

REI registry is a BAD idea.

The following is based on my experience with REI online and in their San Carlos, CA store.

I recently got married, and we chose to register at REI, among other places.  I would not recommend this establishment for a gift registry, online shopping, or in store shopping.  I would like to share my experiences with you to help you avoid the frustrations I experienced.

First, the registry.  While signing up is relatively easy, managing your registry is not.  REI does not keep track of who purchases what (all other registries that I am aware of do).  Purchased items simply are listed as "fulfilled".  This wouldn't be a big deal, except that several of our fulfilled items (fulfilled months before the wedding) have yet to be delivered.  Our wedding was over a month ago.  This means that we have no ability to figure out who purchased us a present, or to write them a thank you note.  We also have no recourse to have that party refunded.  Twice we tried speaking with REI customer service via phone, and twice we were told "good luck."  At this point I am left only with the difficult task of calling the few people that didn't get a present and making myself sound like a real jerk, or just not writing thank you notes.

Products.  We received both incomplete as well as damaged products from REI.  These products were shipped directly to us from REI.  Deficient products were made our problem by customer service reps who told us "you can pay to have it mailed back or bring it into one of our stores."

The store.  To make exchanges we drove the 30 miles to the San Carlos store.  Twice.  I can tell you that my experience in this establishment was nothing less than awful.  The first time we went in it was because they item we were exchanging was listed as "available" at that specific store.  When we got there, they didn't have it.  The woman we made the exchange with honestly took 30 minutes to make the exchange, blaming it on a "slow" computer system.  She attempted to sell me a membership (my wife is a member, I am not), and I politely declined.  When she continued her sales pitch, my smile disappeared but I remained polite.  My wife met me at the counter after doing some shopping, and noticed a promotional flyer and said "oh, I want to go to this", the customer service agent snapped back "thats for members only" with a smirk on her face like she was enjoying the ability to be exclusionary.  My wife replied sheepishly "i'm a member" obvious embarrassed.

Our second visit was to retrieve a product shipped to the store.  The gentleman that helped us, Scott, was even worse than the first woman.  From our first interaction he was aggressive.  Since my wife didnt have her ID and the order was under her name, I wasn't expecting the world, but I thought a copy of the confirmation email and my own ID would suffice.  For him, it did not.  He told me he wasn't going to get me my order, because those were the rules, whether I liked them or not.  I asked him to not be rude, and he responded that he had not been.  His fists were balled and his stance was one of extreme aggression.  My wife offered her old ID to help calm the situation, which he initially accepted but then immediately demanded why her name didn't match the one I had told him initially.  We were treated as if we were thieves.  I explained that her name had, of course, changed a few weeks earlier after we were married.  I calmly asked him to get his supervisor, who was, thankfully, able to quickly and courteously get the product.

I honestly and truly would like to be an REI customer, but at this point I just don't believe that I can be.  They seem to have great stores, and carry great products at reasonable prices.  Unfortunately, i've been disrespected as a customer too many times to want to return here.  As far as the San Carlos Store goes, I felt physically threatened during my second time, and even considered the threat of Scott having access to my registry information. 

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