LL Bean eliminates lifetime returns policy

Dianna Christensen
February 10, 2018

Gorman added that if, after a year has passed, one of their items is found to be "defective in any way", L.L. Bean "will work with our customers to reach a fair solution".

"What we have seen, and it has come to the point where we had to act upon it, is a small but growing group of customers who are interpreting the guarantee as a lifetime product replacement program, and that was never its intent", L.L. Bean President and CEO Stephen Smith told the Portland Press Herald Wednesday in an interview. "Anyone who says they won't shop at Beans anymore because of this change isn't the kind of customer you want anyway".

While some customers saw this coming, given that other brands with generous policies, such as REI, have also gotten stricter, many others expressed their disappointment on social media.

After a year, the company said it will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship, NPR said.

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L.L. Bean has always been known for its promise to replace a defective product over the course of the item's life, but leaders in the company say a select few are taking advantage of that promise. We make great stuff and we stand behind great stuff. "When I'm spending $70 for kids' snow trousers, I need to know that the company is putting enough care, quality and effort into them that they're not going to break 14 months down the road". "Let's go to L.L. Bean", Dave said, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Like other American retailers, it has struggled with years of slow or nonexistent sales growth. The National Retail Federation last year estimated that retailers lose about $22.8 billion a year from fraud, such as getting a refund for an item that was shoplifted, and abuse, like returning a garment worn once, in merchandise returns, or roughly 6.5% of all returns made by shoppers.

In the letter, Gorman wrote that it was people who took advantage of the generous return policy that forced the company's hand. He left with a gift card worth hundreds of dollars.

L.L. Bean's announcement in a memo to employees and in a letter to customers represents a seismic policy shift for a 106-year-old company that used its satisfaction guarantee as a way to differentiate itself from competitors.

The outdoor specialty retailer said returns of items that have been destroyed or rendered useless, including some purchased at thrift stores or retrieved from trash bins, have doubled in the past five years, surpassing the annual revenue from the company's famous boot. She said she had recently bought a pair of $200 L.L. Bean boots, which she said were already falling apart. "I liked the idea that they would withstand my kids tearing them apart".

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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