For outlet items, the difference is big: now you have to bring items back within 30 days of purchase. For the main REI store, whether your purchase was online, through the catalog (it still exists!) or in person, returns have to be within one year.
Of course, any manufacturer’s warranties that are longer still apply, but you have to go to the manufacturer for those.
Here’s a screen grab of their return policy site as of June 3rd, 2013:
Every item you purchase at REI is 100% satisfaction guaranteed.
You can return or exchange your item by mail or at any of our retail locations, regardless of whether you made your purchase online, by mail or in an REI store.
In a hurry? You can expedite an exchange by placing a new order with your bank card and returning the unwanted merchandise for credit.
Here’s what that same section looks like today:
We stand behind everything we sell. If you are not satisfied with your REI purchase, you can return it for a replacement or refund. Items must be returned within a year of purchase, except items purchased from REI-OUTLET which must be returned within 30 days of purchase.