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Old 06-29-10, 12:10 AM   #1
HawkOwl
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An unabashed plug for REI

As some of you who have followed my posts on my purchase of a Garmin 705 bundle that included heart rate monitor and cadence/speed sensor know the transaction has not been trouble free.

First the initial 705 itself was defective. But REI-Direct, who I bought it from, made the replacement process smooth and easy. They even paid the postage to return the bundle. Good on REI.

I bought the 705 because economically it made sense and because it allowed car navigation also. It does everything I wanted. There are car navigation units that are better. But, as an all in one bike computer with every statistic you could ask for that also does a satisfactory car navigation job the 705 is hard to beat.

BUT, Garmin documentation and customer orientation leaves a LOT to be desired.

When I got a unit that worked I used a USB cable that I had here to set it up and use its' functions. When I got around to using the one included with the 705 I discovered it was either defective or an external power only cable. Given Garmin Connect and other uses for which instructions are included with the 705 it makes no sense for the cable to be charge only so I assume it is defective. REI is making it right. They have sent me another cable from another bundle. If it is charge only then I am to buy a proper USB cable locally and they will reimburse me. Good on REI.

The Garmin sales information doesn't say the microSD version of CityNav is not updateable. In fact Garmin even tried to sell me an updating subscription for it. But, it isn't. So REI is selling me an updated copy at a reasonable price. Good on REI.

At this point I haven't tried everything it is advertised to do. But, I have used all the major functions and have to say this is a very capable and easy to use machine. I don't think there is anything on the market that is better. It does what it says it will do effectively and efficiently.

On the other hand to call Garmin documentation "pathetic" is too kind. It is, in a phrase, indescribably awful. It makes the 705 learning curve way more steep than it needs to be.

At the same time either accidentally or intentionally their sales information is deceptive. I didn't see anything in the web sales informtion that said the microSD card version of CityNav was not updateable. Garmin even tried to sell me an update subscription. But, it isn't. That is reinforced in the updates section of the web site. A place new purchasers are unlikely to go.

The 705 tool/toy is very good. REI does a very good job. Support and documentation from Garmin is extremely poor.

REI has proven they are focused on customer satisfaction. Every time I have interacted with REI-Online people they have been unfailingly professional and focused on making me happy. If they could not do what I wanted they clearly explained why and offered alternatives that would at least make me financially whole. I can't ask for anything more.
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Old 06-29-10, 12:57 PM   #2
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I like REI too for their quality merchandise; helpful staff; variety of merchandise; supporting web site and free delivery to one of their stores. They also have seasonal sales and have several garments bought on sale. Keep visiting and every now and then something good in your size becomes a sale item.
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Old 06-29-10, 01:51 PM   #3
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I still remember our family pilgrimage to the four-story REI headquarters store in Seattle. If you have never been there, it is definitely worth a side trip when you are in that area. I buy most of my bike parts at bike shops or on eBay, but I do buy hiking gear and bicycling clothing at REI.
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Old 06-29-10, 02:09 PM   #4
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I've been a member of REI since the early days of the original and at the time only store in Seattle. REI was mostly mail order then and were famous for reasonable prices and unique gear hard to find elsewhere.

We do visit their stores when in Atlanta, but I almost always buy elsewhere. They are way too expensive even with the end-of year dividend. There are too many other competitors that sell cheaper and provide excellent service as well. Amazon being one and Jenson another.

It's amazing what you can get from Amazon. I bought a Panasonic 46" plasma HDTV from them last year in time for the Tour. They had the best price for the model I wanted and the price included delivery, unpacking and set up to insure it was working.

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Old 06-29-10, 04:19 PM   #5
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I've been a member of REI since the early days of the original and at the time only store in Seattle. REI was mostly mail order then and were famous for reasonable prices and unique gear hard to find elsewhere.

We do visit their stores when in Atlanta, but I almost always buy elsewhere. They are way too expensive even with the end-of year dividend. There are too many other competitors that sell cheaper and provide excellent service as well. Amazon being one and Jenson another.

It's amazing what you can get from Amazon. I bought a Panasonic 46" plasma HDTV from them last year in time for the Tour. They had the best price for the model I wanted and the price included delivery, unpacking and set up to insure it was working.

Al
I guess if I was after as 46" Plasma HDTV I might go somewhere else than REI also. Come to think of it, REI doesn't sell HDTVs, or any TV for that matter. At least I've never seen one online where I do most of my shopping or in any of the stores I've been in.
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Old 06-29-10, 04:23 PM   #6
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REI made a believer out of me. I try to keep my bike shopping to local LBS. But no one was as helpful or as community minded as REI. Plus their online clearance dept is killer. REI deserves all the love they can get.
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Old 06-29-10, 05:53 PM   #7
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I guess if I was after as 46" Plasma HDTV I might go somewhere else than REI also. Come to think of it, REI doesn't sell HDTVs, or any TV for that matter. At least I've never seen one online where I do most of my shopping or in any of the stores I've been in.
You can buy bike stuff at Amazon. I'm not a loyalist but have several trusted cycle sites sites. For a big TV, I would only trust Amazon & B&H if I don't buy locally.

For bike clothes, it's hard to beat Boure' ( http://www.boure.com/index.html ) especially during sales. The quality is first class and if you don't like it after several rides, you get you $'s back. If it's a fit issue, they'll make a new one to your measurements for a slight additional cost. They won't modify the old one, you return it and pay a few $'s more for the custom.

I've always considered REI brand cycling gear/bikes a poor value unless very heavily discounted. Their gloves don't even fit my hands with out big folds in the palm area.


Al

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Old 06-29-10, 06:18 PM   #8
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There's no REI near here but I visited the one up in Chicago and bought a bunch of stuff I didn't really need. It was a cool store.

As far as Garmin is concerned, I've gotten more help on public forums than I have with their own documentation, whcih I agree is inscrutable.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:30 PM   #9
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As far as Garmin is concerned, I've gotten more help on public forums than I have with their own documentation, whcih I agree is inscrutable.
+1 I've always used the public forums for Garmin help. Their customer service department is about as bad as their documentation.
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Old 06-29-10, 09:18 PM   #10
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I went into REI to buy a replacement pole for our 5 year old, heavily used tent, and walked out with a new tent and $69.00. The tent, a Sierra Design Lightning, had carbon fiber poles, a definite weakness. One of ours split. The new version comes with aluminum poles, so instead of just replacing the poles they replaced the entire tent! I got a $69.00 refund because I paid full price when I purchased the original tent. It was on sale when I returned it, and got the replacement. The only thing I really wanted was a new pole.

Hard to beat that kind of service.
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Old 06-29-10, 09:50 PM   #11
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I'm also one of the older members of REI, joining in 1972. I have stopped buying mailorder from them ever since they went to postage based on the price of the item. Back in the old days, the catalog listed the weights of the items. When you put together an order you added up the weights and paid postage based on total weight. Now, if you buy a shirt for $100 you pay more for postage than if you buy a shirt for $50, regardless of weight. Seems dishonest to me. Also, back in the old days REI offered gear that was an alternative to the high-priced stuff of specialized manufacturers. Now, they are a high-priced outfit themselves. Remember the portable stainless steel and bamboo chopsticks with a ferrule in the middle so you could take them apart? I believe they are still available for around $25. All this said, I just bought a Novara Randonee from their Portland store, a bike which I like very much and thought was reasonably priced. But no more mailorder for me.
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Old 06-30-10, 12:04 PM   #12
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REI rocks. Living here in Boston we have the luxury of two convenient stores, Boston and Framingham. Anybody who doesn't live close to a store is missing out on better than half of the REI experience. I use my REI Visa card for everything and my dividend is usually several hundred dollars every Spring, so that's nice too. Using an REI credit card is the only way to get dividend credit for REI "on sale" items. Since we buy as much as we can on sale, our dividend used to be miniscule before we got REI credit cards. Free shipping to stores is fantastic. There are times where I'll order 3 sizes of something, have them delivered to the store and return 2 of them right then and there (sometimes all 3), all for no cost whatsover beyond the purchase price of items kept. Their sale stuff online is great, but nothing compared to the ridiculously low sale prices you'll stumble on in the store. With two young children, my wife and I will often buy something for them they won't wear for years but it's just too ridiculously cheap to pass up. They've spent all of their winters since birth outfitted in REI base layers, fleeces, and SmartWool socks purchased at tremendous bargains.

Last year I got a $200 pair of GORE BikeWear Gore-Tex Paclite waterproof/breathable cycling pants. They were marked down to $100 and were paid for in full out of our dividend. I must have used them at least 75 days this past Winter and they were fantastic.

Lest I repeat, REI rocks.

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Old 06-30-10, 08:02 PM   #13
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The smallest REI store is in Grand Junction, CO and I live within walking distance of it. I'm a frugal shopper and I have gotten some awesome deals on their super clearance sales. A $250 Gregory Deva backpack for $75 on clearance, for example. I have two Giro Eclipse road helmets. They were $25 each on clearance. One is in the closet as a spare. I just got a $35 Vittoria road tire for $13 on clearance. I really needed a new tire as I recently ruined on one some nasty train track crossings.

They have a "garage sale" every couple of months, selling off used returned items cheap. I've gotten some flapping amazing deals. Half my stuff has an X on it from that sale (they mark the stuff so you can't return it later.) I got a NOS Novara Randonee frameset there once for $15. It's my commuter bike now. I spent all last week at the Bicycle Tour of Colorado sleeping in an old REI Taj 3 tent ($200 retail) that I got for $35. Slept on a REI inflatable pad I got for $11. I could go on and on.....

Yeah, REI rox.

I have an REI Visa too.
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Old 06-30-10, 09:38 PM   #14
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I've been an REI member since 1976 but have never set foot in one of their stores. Even now the nearest one is 100 miles away.
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Old 07-01-10, 05:10 PM   #15
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I had given some thought to becoming an REI member, but I just don't go in there enough to make it worth while. That aside, the REI in Framingham seems to be very well managed, with knowledgable, polite staff.
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Old 07-01-10, 06:32 PM   #16
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I had given some thought to becoming an REI member, but I just don't go in there enough to make it worth while. That aside, the REI in Framingham seems to be very well managed, with knowledgable, polite staff.
I don't live where there is a convenient store either. About 3 or 4 times a year I get to a city that has a store. What lured me into the fold was their outstanding Direct Sales (Mail Order/Internet Order/Telephone Order) branch. Prices are good, service is fast, no shipping charges, good terms and conditions and, most of all, a well trained, professional staff.

Of course one always has to shop and not buy blindly. But one thing I know is that when I'm dealing with REI I'm dealing with someone who realizes the way to maximum profits over the long term is to generate satisfied customers and, thus, will do right by me.
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Old 07-02-10, 08:20 AM   #17
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[QUOTE=

They have a "garage sale" every couple of months, selling off used returned items cheap. I've gotten some flapping amazing deals. Half my stuff has an X on it from that sale (they mark the stuff so you can't return it later.) I got a NOS Novara Randonee frameset there once for $15. It's my commuter bike now. I spent all last week at the Bicycle Tour of Colorado sleeping in an old REI Taj 3 tent ($200 retail) that I got for $35. Slept on a REI inflatable pad I got for $11. I could go on and on.....

Yeah, REI rox.

I have an REI Visa too.[/QUOTE]

+1 on the scratch & dent sales. On Sun day everything is 50% of the sale price and many items price is negotiable - at least at our store. I bought a 24" K2 Mt bike for my daughter last year for $40 - listed at $250. I had to install the chain which was taken off. I have many many items with an "X" on them also. REI visa too.
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Old 07-02-10, 11:37 AM   #18
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Here's one more plug for REI, more specifically their membership USBank Visa card. I just ordered a large order from Probikekit.com in the UK and I got a very fair exchange rate as well a very reasonable currency exchange charge. I haven't ordered anything from overseas before, and some rudimentary research had me prepared for a currency exchange charge of about 6%. With my REI Visa it was only 3%.
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Old 07-04-10, 06:19 PM   #19
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My only complaint is the lack of plus-size (2x ain't plus!) in the stores. Other than that, I love REI.
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Old 07-05-10, 07:41 AM   #20
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REI member since 1975, and now luckily live within a few miles of a good REI store (Bailey's Crossroads store). Their absolutely "no questions asked" refund policy is fabulous. The swapped an expensive Polar HRM for me and they've happily accepted returns on two saddles I tried.

At REI I also get better, quicker, cheaper routine service on my bike than at any other LBS. They've been very helpful when I needed something done quickly, and the people in the bike department are very nice.
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