A survey of outdoor company return policies

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I've written before about return policies for running shoes. These vary a lot, ranging from unused (Zombie runner) to unlimited (REI). I'd generally assumed that this was mostly feature of the kind of store. For instance, the two big mountaineering co-ops, REI MEC, offer unlimited warranties: you can return any item for any reason at any time. This includes items which are so badly used they can't possibly be resold. Interestingly, however, there's a huge amount of variation between companies in the same category. Take some of the big outdoor gear manufacturers (I buy a lot of outdoor gear). Here's what they offer in terms of warranty/return policy.

Patagonia Unlimited: repair or replace. Nominally they repair at a reasonable cost, but since it's satisfaction guaranteed at any time, this is really unlimited.
North FaceOne year for any reason. Lifetime for defects.
Mountain Hardwear Lifetime warranty for defects. No general returns at all.
Black DiamondOne year warranty for defects.
OspreyWill repair any pack for any kind of functional (non-cosmetic) damage or replace if it can't be repaired. No sign of replacement for dissatisfaction. (this policy seems to be new as of Jan 2009).
Arc'TeryxRepair during the "practical lifetime" of the product.
MarmotLifetime for defects.

I'm not sure what to make of this much variation. It doesn't seem to be correlated in any way to quality or price: Black Diamond and Arc'Teryx have only so-so return policies but make good gear, and Arc'Teryx is legendarily expensive. It does make me want to buy Patagonia when I have a choice, though...

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