Does Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee Only Go So Far?

In December of 2011 I became a Patagonia convert. Not a fan. Not a customer. A convert. I bought in. I picked up, what they were putting down. I fell in love with the rare combination of a company’s mission, products and service.

My first purchase was a Patagonia R3. That was followed up rather quickly with a Piolet Jacket and then a Integral Jacket. Over the holidays I purchase a women’s R2 as a gift and convinced my ex-wife to purchase a Patagonia Torrent Shell (I think it was a Torrent Shell).

Last month, I needed new shoes. Swung by REI (the local Patagonia didn’t have my size) and purchased a pair of Patagonia Tawa shoes. Look, when I get invested in a brand, I get invested in a brand. After about 2 weeks of ownership, I ran into a problem with the shoe. I took them to a Patagonia store, they concurred the problem existed and would have swapped them out on the spot if they had my size. What they did do, which was awesome, was call the local REI, tell them the shoes had a flaw, to expect my visit and process a return. Wow! So, off to REI, where in less than5 minutes they processed the return. Amazing!

Given my love for Patagonia, a colleague sent me a $100.00 Patagonia gift card as a present. I was very thankful and set out to make that $100.00 work hard. I online ordered at Patagonia.com for the first time. I ordered a tee shirt and a hoody. And this is where, things got strange. For the sake of story flow, I’ll bullet out what happened.

  • I ordered online and received a confirmation email ASAP
  • Received a shipping notification a few days later
  • Tracked the shipment online and saw it was delayed/lost
  • Called UPS who asked me to call Patagonia since they were the shipper
  • Called Patagonia and used Patagonia’s online chat – both were not helpful and indicated I should simply wait a few more days
  • A few days later, the item was more than 3 days past the expected delivery date, but when I came in to the office, waiting for me was a package from Patagonia that had a different tracking number, but exactly what I’d ordered. Patagonia was proactive and shipped me overnight/2 day a replacement order because UPS had misplaced the order. My initial thought was WOW…I mean WOW, that’s freaking awesome.
  • The next day, the original order finally showed up. This meant I had 2 of everything I ordered and 2 problems.
  • The first problem was I ordered the wrong size. So no matter what I’d need to make a return.
  • The second problem was I now I had 2 of everything.
  • I figured rather than call the 1-800 number I’d simply visit the local Patagonia store.
  • I explained the entire situation to the Patagonia folks. Literally, every bullet you just read I shared with them. I also explained that I wanted to make an exchange for the right size.
  • They looked over the situation, and basically said, we can usually take returns in-store for online orders, but we’re not sure what to do with the second order since you didn’t order it. After some conferring they said, since it was our mistake you’ll just receive a credit a for both items. Basically, this meant I had $200.00 to spend now, not $100.00.
  • I asked several times for them to confirm. This seemed strange getting an extra $100.00 (I mean when does that ever happen), but I chalked it up to their Ironclad approach to making things right.
  • After they confirmed, I set out to do some shopping. They didn’t have the sizes I needed so I pivoted and ended up purchasing a Patagonia R1 and a UV protection T-Shirt with the $200 I now had to spend.
  • The transaction was smooth.
  • A few days later I received an email from online customer service indicating that they saw that BOTH packages had arrived. I sent an email back explaining what I just outlined above…went to the store, explained the situation, store accepted both returns. Case closed, right?
  • Nope. So this is where I’m at a loss. They wanted me to call them, give them my credit card info so they could “bill” me for the replacement order.
  • I debated doing this because from my perspective, I did EVERYTHING I should have and it was their mistake. But, I also believe in Karma. So I called, gave them my info and they billed me.

If you’ve read all of this, thanks. I wanted to give an accurate and thorough overview. Am I wrong for being irritated about this situation?

If the situation had been reversed…had I overpaid on an item that should have been marked down, would Patagonia chase me down like a lawyer after an ambulance and say, “Adam, you over paid, we MUST refund you the difference.” I don’t think they would. In 32 years, I’ve never seen it happen. It happens, when I identify the error and then chase the company down.

Was chasing me down for $84.00 (tax and shipping were not part of the 2nd shipment cost) worth it? By worth, I mean from a resource investment and brand reputation standpoint? When you consider the obscene margin (if you’ve worked in retail fashion/clothing you know what I mean) on their products, was it worth it? Look at my purchases above…in a span of less than 6 months, I’ve directly spent on contributed to the spending of roughly $700.00 worth of Patagonia products. Was $84.00 worth it? Is the letter of the law more important than the spirit of it?

Am I being too sensitive? Not sure, to be honest with you. While I did the “right” thing, did Patagonia?

UPDATE 3/22
Bryan from Patagonia reached out the same day this post went live. We connected by phone. He explained the situation, apologized for the confusion and made things right. Awesome work by the Patagonia social media and customer experience teams.

  • Puravidaa

    Calm down, relax and just wait for the package next time.  You would have saved a ton of time just by waiting.

  • Teri

    FYI: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0181-unordered-merchandise

    There’s probably a glitch in that since you did order the items, but then received two orders. Not sure, but next time, my advice would be to call and check with their online store. I think you probably know that now. Anyway, Patagonia is a very good company. They will replace or repair for the life of the item. Who does that? Patagonia! And they will also recycle garments so that they don’t end up in landfills. They were green before green was popular. Worth supporting? Most definitely!

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Digital dad to Cora and John. Love ironing, bourbon and BBQ; no necessarily in that order. Living life, like I stole it. I'm always up for a

spirited conversation. These are my thoughts and ramblings, not those of my employer.
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