After years of customer’s abusing a generous return policy, outdoors retailer L.L. Bean has decided to do away with the century-old practice.
As reported by The Portland Press Herald, the outdoors outfitter recently announced that they would scrap the longstanding policy that allowed customers to return any product regardless of its condition or age.
The retailer used to accept returns for virtually any item that it would then replace with a new version of the same product, a gift card or a comparable product. However, those days are now long gone due to abuse of the generous policy.
“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,” Stephen Smith, L.L. Bean president and CEO said in an interview.
From now on, products purchased from L.L. Bean can only be returned if they were purchased within the previous year or have a defect, according to the retailer. The company has now also implemented a requirement for proof-of-purchase, something that had not been present in company policy previously.
According to NPR, the official policy reads as such: “If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”
“The satisfaction guarantee and the intent of the guarantee is very much still intact. We make great stuff and we stand behind great stuff,” Smith stated. “But we have had a huge growth in abuse, and fraud, and a misinterpretation of that guarantee.”
In order to display the countless abuses of the policy, L.L. Bean executives presented photos of items that had been returned by customers.
One photo displayed a blue children’s ski jacket that had a large stain on it. However, the jacket also had ski-lift tickets still attached indicating that the garment had been worn previously.
While the customer who returned the product stated that the quality was “unsatisfactory,” the executives stated that it is more likely that the child outgrew it.
Another photo showed slippers that were falling apart after years of use. The customer who returned the item stated that they were “displeased” with the product’s quality.
Many on Twitter defended L.L. Bean’s decision to end the policy.
However, others weren’t pleased with the company’s decision.
As reported by ABC News, Victor Bondi, a disgruntled customer, is suing L.L. Bean over the new policy, claiming that the outfitter broke a promise to its customers.
The class-action lawsuit filed on Monday accuses the company of breach of warranty.
An L.L. Bean spokesperson stated that the lawsuit misrepresents the company’s long-held policy, claiming that purchases made before Feb. 9, 2018, are not subjected to the newly enacted return policy.
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