Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

LL Bean Eliminates Its Legendary Lifetime Returns Policy

LL Bean Eliminates Its Legendary Lifetime Returns Policy

Going forward, L.L. Bean customers will have one year after buying an item to return it, and you have to have proof of purchase.

Previously, customers could bring back items bought at L.L. Bean's stores and online any time they felt it didn't live up to their expectations.

Updated throughout with additional details about the policy change.

L.L. Bean is putting its boot down.

Apparently, though, some folks were taking advantage of the policy, per a statement emailed out to customers on February 9: "Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent", it reads. In 2013, after people bragged of taking used REI products bought at swap meets to the store for cash refunds, the company began requiring customers to make their returns within a year of purchase (with some exceptions: outdoor electronic items have a 90-day return window, but products with manufacturing defects can be returned anytime). Now, thanks to growing abuse of the program, the bootmaker is drastically cutting back its generous policy. "After one year, we will work with our customers to reach a fair solution if a product is defective in any way". Thus the satisfaction guarantee was born.

Gorman said the change in return policy "will only affect a small percentage of returns".

"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. Over the last five years, L.L. Bean lost $250 million on returned items that were so low quality, they had to be destroyed rather than donated. Some even head to thrift stores, yard sales or junkyards to retrieve L.L. Bean items that they then return.

The original intent was that Bean didn't want customers to be dissatisfied with his products.

"We make good money, but we're not rich and have to make very financially responsible decisions about where we spend our money", she said. Well, the 106-year-old company is not messing around, and it's done with people returning things from a decade ago.

Now, the policy extends for one year only. He left with a gift card worth hundreds of dollars. "Frankly, unlimited returns open the door to abuse".

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