Wednesday, 21 February, 2018

Citing abuse, LL Bean rescinds its legendary lifetime returns policy

LL Bean SHoes Dennis Green Business Insider
Cristina Norman | 10 February, 2018, 09:48

If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. "The numbers are staggering", Steve Smith, the company's CEO, told The Associated Press.

For over a century, L.L. Bean has been famous with shoppers for its return policy. until now. The company used to put it like this: "Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way".

"Based on these experiences, we have updated our policy".

Lifetime policies are meant to be helpful to customers, giving them the ability to refurbish elements that are easily worn out or broken-like a janky zipper, for example. Plus, it was a policy that said "we trust our customers to act honestly, and forgive those who don't", which assumed the best and not the worst of us humans.

"Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent", L.L. Bean chairman Shawn Gorman said in a letter to customers Friday. It represented a vestige of quality, goodness, and integrity that American manufacturing is supposed to be known for - and it lived on at this one company, in a world dominated by industrial chintziness.

"There is no one in this family who would've allowed this to happen if they thought that L.L. would be upset with us, like, if he would be rolling over in his grave", Gorman said. For example, they would try to turn in items they bought at Goodwill or a yard sale, costing the company about $250 million in the past five years, according to a spokesman. First-quality products are returned to store shelves and "seconds" are sold at outlets or donated to charity.

If you still haven't gotten around to returning your blown-out L.L.Bean flannels from the 90s, then you're too late. It let generations of customers know that if they became unsatisfied with a purchase for any reason, at any point, L.L.Bean was willing to accept the item back.

"A year is MORE than fair - most stores offer 30 days", wrote Camie Maslowski. He left with a gift card worth hundreds of dollars.

Behind her, in the next room, an unpleasant odor wafted from a bin containing returned items, including well-worn boots, ripped bedding, dog cushions and other items. "Frankly, unlimited returns open the door to abuse".

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