Recreational Equipment, Inc — REI Culture of corruption: Why you cannot trust REI CEO Sally Jewel, nor managers Brad Brown, Eileen Pollack, and Angel Currier
Fellow REI Co-op members and customers:
I'm writing to urge you to support the REI Board of Directors in ousting CEO Sally Jewel and her overpaid, unethical management staff.
And to replace her with an honest leader who will restore REI's roots of integrity and customer service.
If the current Board refuses to do this, then I enjoin you to begin petitioning and voting to replace its membership with upstanding Directors who will replace Sally Jewel and her overpaid, unethical management staff.
Brad Brown is the Executive Vice President of REI's E-commerce Division. He reports directly to Sally Jewel. On 4-Apr-2011, Brad consummated a lie to a customer and REI Co-op member … me. In a previous conversation, on 24-Mar-2011, Brad had pledged that he would find out and tell me why Angel Currier, a supervisor under his reporting chain, had deliberately ignored my request to put me in contact with her boss. Rather than stem the tide of unethical malpractices under his purview, Brad Brown chose to reinforce them, and lie.
Ladies and gentlemen, please understand wrongful action that gave rise to this debacle. On 3-Mar-2011, I responded to an email sent to me, that same day, by Angel Currier. According to the job title at the end of that communication, Angel was (and, unfortunately, remains) an REI Online Supervisor. After explaining that I was not satisfied with Angel's answer about why my REI online account had been deleted, I concluded with
"… let's escalate this to your boss. Kindly get back to me, sometime today, by sending me his or her name, title, telephone number, and email handle."
Timestamped 17:02:11 PM PT, an email read receipt from Angel acknowledges the above request. Ladies and gentlemen, Angel Currier never did send me her boss' name, title, telephone number and email handle. In fact, she never contacted me at all. Not the day of my request, not the next day, not ever. Ladies and gentlemen, here you have an REI Online Supervisor, Angel Currier, intentionally refusing to place a customer (and REI Co-op member) into contact with her boss, even after being requested to do so, in writing, and even after acknowledging the request with an electronic read receipt.
Ladies and gentlemen, Angel Currier, an REI Online Supervisor, deliberately dissed a customer!
Speaking on behalf of REI Co-op stewardship, ladies and gentlemen, Angel Currier should have been fired. This is not about Angel Currier interposing a delay in passing a complaint up the management chain. Rather, it is a clear-cut case of Angel Currier, an REI Online Supervisor, burying that complaint. In so doing, Angel egregiously betrayed the trust of REI Co-op members and customers.
Things are even worse than that. Not until 15-Mar-2011, almost two weeks after I had asked Angel Currier to provide me with contact information for Angel's boss, did Eileen Pollack, Direct Sales Operations Manager, (two levels up the management chain from Angel) get back to me on this complaint. Moreover, Eileen emailed me only after I had followed up on my own, by placing a call to Bill Baumann, Information Technology Vice President at REI. According to Bill, Angel Currier was not under his line of employee reporting. To his credit, however, Bill said that he would pass my request to be put in touch with Angel's boss onto Noel Nelson. Noel, it appears, is Eileen Pollack's boss.
The timeline is relevant: in our 4-Apr-2011 conversation, Brad Brown tried to spin things to sound like Eileen Pollack's response to me was just a delayed answer to my initial request to Angel Currier! Likely as not, Brad will try to blow smoke like this toward anyone who will inhale it. When Eileen and I finally spoke on the telephone, she revealed that she had not even spoken to Angel Currier about the matter. Barring urgent sick leave or family emergency, I impressed onto Eileen that Angel Currier should be fired, on the grounds of intentional customer mistreatment. In retrospect, the same goes for Eileen: like Brad Brown, she lied.
In a 24-Mar-2011 phone call with her and Noel Nelson, and like Brad Brown later on, Eileen reneged on her pledge to find out and tell me why Angel Currier, a supervisor under Eileen's reporting chain, had deliberately ignored my request to be placed into contact with Angel's boss. Eileen and Noel offered crocodile-tear apologies, but would not let Angel Currier offer an apology or explain herself. Of course, Eileen and Noel also insisted that they would not fire Angel. Ladies and gentlemen, please support the REI Board of Directors in reversing that decision.
Which brings us to my disappointing but not surprising conversation last week with REI CEO Sally Jewel. Predictably, and just like a southern redneck sheriff, she confirmed that she stands behind her boys and girls. Seriously, folks, you could smell her bovine excrement through the phone. Cowering behind a vague reference to laws protecting confidentiality, Sheriff Sally asserted that her organization takes corrective measures in cases like this. Poppycock! The only proper corrective measure is to oust Sheriff Sally and her bobbleheaded deputies: Brad Brown, Eileen Pollack, and Angel Currier.
REI CEO Sally Jewel concluded by dismissing my complaint as a relatively minor matter.
Just imagine, ladies and gentlemen, a law officer roughing up some poor soul in a cotton patch in Jim Crow Mississippi. The local sheriff might give the deputy a "talking to", but (heavens forbid) would never admit to wrongdoing, much less fire the deputy, for such a relatively minor matter. Instead, southern law enforcement would close ranks, stonewall, and protect their own. In sheltering Deputy Angel Currier, REI Sheriff Sally Jewel and her underlings – Eileen Pollack and Brad Brown – are smugly confident that they can get away with a white-collar variant on Jim Crow corruption. Don't let them get you.
Fellow REI customers, setting aside the embarrassing e-commerce incompetence that led to all this, do you consider Angel Currier's intentional dissing of a customer to be – as Sally Jewel puts it – a relatively minor matter? Is lying and stonewalling on the part of Eileen Pollack and Brad Brown relatively minor? Fellow REI Co-op members, do you really want to keep on paying the inflated salaries of Sheriff Jewel and her deputies, despite their wink-and-nod unethical behavior?
As a glimpse of the e-commerce incompetence that gave rise to this debacle, under Brad Brown, REI online accounts are deleted after just one year of activity, regardless whether the REI member, who has also signed up for the online account, had any purchase activity. That is, Brad Brown is too gall-danged lazy to have his bloated organization figure out whether you are an REI Co-op member; instead he'll just delete your online account after a year of inactivity, and without as much as courtesy email. When asked why REI does this, Brad's staff replied, at first, that was to "save bandwidth" (consistent with the demise of the American educational system, they don't even know what bandwidth is). But then Angel Currier, bolstering Brad's Brown's practice of encouraging idiots-by-choice, replied that REI does this "in order to optimize data storage". Is that so, Angel? How many fractions of a cent do you think REI saved by being so quick on the draw to purge my online REI account?
How about optimizing for customer service? No, that's not a priority for Angel Currier. Nor is it the main goal for Eileen Pollack, Brad Brown, or - especially - REI's CEO, Sally Jewel.
Beyond promulgating their idiocracy of self-congratulatory arrogance, the facts of this experience expose how Sheriff Sally Jewel and her deputies prefer cover-their-rear self-preservation to ethical behavior. Can you say Richard Nixon?
How much money do Sally Jewel and her administrative assistants suck from the REI Co-op? What is the dollar expense whereby Brad Brown, Eileen Pollack, and Angel Currier continue to enrich themselves, remaining on the payroll of the REI Co-op? If, on one hand, you want to perpetuate Sheriff Jewel's corrupt idiocracy of self-congratulatory arrogance, then pin a medal on her and her deputies, and urge them to Sally forth, metastasizing REI into the Enron of the Outdoor Equipment Industry. Watch your back, though. If they did me wrong (and they did), then they'll do wrong to you and to other customers.
On the other hand, ladies and gentlemen, if you agree that REI should return to its Co-op roots of integrity and value, then support the Board in its actions to oust Sally Jewel and her minions. Failing that, replace them all with real professionals who, by contrast, will actually deliver honest service for honest pay. Unless and until we excise this ulcerative cancer, REI Co-op members, customers, and employees will be subjugated to the likes of Angel Currier, Brad Brown, Eileen Pollack and Sally Jewel – corruptocrats who will continue to betray our trust.