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LL Bean Ditches Legendary Return Policy

10 February 2018

Read L.L. Bean's return policy online. I kept those boots for years, and when the soles on them finally wore down, I dutifully boxed them up, filled out the return form and waited for the replacement pair to arrive a few weeks later. The return policy covered the full lifetime of the item.

In a follow-up conversation with Outside, an L.L. Bean spokesperson elaborated that in the last five years, the percent of returns that violate the guarantee policy-which was created to protect customers who received defective products-had doubled to 15 percent, costing the company approximately $250 million. You'll now have one year after purchasing an item to return it, accompanied by proof of purchase. In 2013, REI went from a lifetime, no-questions-asked return policy to a one-year return policy. Proof of purchase is also required.

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"Increasingly, a small but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent", L.L. Bean executive chairman Shawn Gorman wrote in an email to customers this morning. It used to be that 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.

But when the move to end unlimited returns was first floated a year ago, it coincided with other cost-cutting measures at the privately-held firm, including freezing pensions and offering employees early retirement, as the Boston Globe reported.

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Gorman says the company has updated its return policy based on the abuse of a small portion of customers.

But Jen Tedesco, a homemaker in upstate NY, said she was "really disappointed" with L.L. Bean and what she said was a "one size fits all, super-stringent policy that is going to alienate customers". The company used to put it like this: "Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Work it out. If it doesn't perform, return it".

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L.L. Bean has been considering changing the policy since at least February of past year, and is now making the change because some of us don't deserve the company's longstanding good faith. Thank you for being a loyal customer and we look forward to continuing to inspire and enable you to Be an Outsider. We'll fix it or if we can't, we'll replace it. "Our commitment to customer service has earned us your trust and respect, as has our guarantee, which ensures that we stand behind everything we sell", the letter began.

LL Bean Ditches Legendary Return Policy