Yesterday I received an email from REI, with the subject line: “REI is Closing Black Friday.” Of course like so many people who received the email, my response was: “What, what, what?” It is a great marketing ploy and strategy. I immediately was curious and opened the email and read it out loud to Chris. My next thought was: “Did someone hack into their email server or is this legit?” Here is an excerpt of the email I received from REI:
“This Black Friday the co-op is doing something different. We’re closing all 143 of our stores. Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside.
We want you, our members, to be the first to hear—not just what we’re doing, but why.
We’re passionate about bringing you great gear, but we’re even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks for all of us. Perhaps John Muir said it best back in 1901: “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.”
We think Black Friday is the perfect day to remind people of this essential truth.
And don’t worry, as a member you’ll still enjoy great deals on great gear all holiday season long. But on this one day, we’re going to #OptOutside and we want you to join us.”
From what I can tell, it is legitimate and I applaud REI for driving the point home so clearly – potentially at a loss of revenue. Maybe though — just maybe their members and frequent shoppers will find this admirable and not worry a bit that they will not be open. Of course their website will still transact orders. Why not have the deals happen the day after Black Friday? Why does it have to follow consumerism tradition and happen on Black Friday?
In any case, I hope it starts a new trend. I for one do whatever I can possible to stay away from ANY shopping on Black Friday. The only thing I would do is venture out to what Portland calls “Little Boxes” which supports small businesses. That is something I can support. It makes it even better that they want folks to be outside. Maybe other companies will join #OptOutside.
Other improvements to this year are companies that previously were open on Thanksgiving day are choosing to stay closed. Staples and GameStop will be closed this year as the companies want customers and employees to enjoy the holiday they way they want to celebrate it. There is even a group of individuals trying to get a local mall closed for Thanksgiving Day by way of a Change.org campaign.
No, this isn’t about a wardrobe malfunction. For those of you that know me, I am a fiend about how I am treated as a customer. I care about principles.
So let me tell you what happened. I ordered a bra online from the online website: Bare Necessities. When I received the bra on Wednesday, they sent me a size larger. I emailed them because their website states that they are available 24/7/365 via phone, and yet all their communication tells you that they close at 6 pm EST. For me that is 3 pm, so my availability to discuss my order is limited. I asked them to resend the correct size, and once I received it I would send back the incorrect size with the return shipping paid by them. I received an email response Thursday morning.
“I am sorry to hear of the trouble with your order. We can reship the U.K xxx which is a U.S xxx-cup, please ensure this is the size you need as Fantasie is a U.K sized bra and may show the conversion size on the tag as well. Our reship process entails a new charge since we will be shipping product out, if this is okay I can have the package delivered tomorrow.”
Here is the thing. I ordered the correct size, they decided to send me a different size. I know my size. I wear this brand, and do not need them to try to translate and send me a different size. Frustrated, I called them Thursday morning at the beginning of my work day. The woman who answered the phone? The same woman who responded to my email. A coincidence or a VERY small company. You decide. Right away she was snippy with me, cut me off, and told me that Fantasie had changed their sizing and that they were doing the right thing. Um, no. See my dad taught me something early on. “The customer is always right.” In this situation, an apology would have gone a long way. She could have said we are sorry for the confusion and mix up, and we will send you the size you ordered. Instead she continued to aggressively fight me that they were right and I had the right bra. She continued to tell me that there was nothing she could do for me, that they could not send me new product without charging me again. Why should I have to be charged for another bra, mail it back and then wait forever for it to be refunded?
When I asked to speak to her supervisor, she said: “I am the manager.” When I said “oh, you own the company?” She said: “I can you put you into my manager’s voicemail.” My response: “Why, so I can have her leave me a message, and not be able to talk to her because you close at 3 pm my time?” No thank you. I promptly told her that I would be returning the bra, no longer making any purchases from them, and would tell everyone I know not to waste their time or money on their website.