Returning those 2-year-old hiking boots? Not so fast

Courtesy wikimedia

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 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.