My in-laws are obsessive, lifelong L.L.Bean fans, largely because of the brand’s legendary “100% satisfaction guaranteed” return policy. For decades, L.L.Bean believed so strongly in its products that it vowed to replace any item purchased, even if you bought it years ago and it eventually wore out, and even if you had long lost the receipt. My mother-in-law has been wearing the same L.L.Bean watch for at least as long as I’ve been alive, having sent it in to be replaced a couple of times.
But the glory days of L.L.Bean’s generous return policy are over. The brand just announced on Facebook that customers would now only have one year to make returns and would require proof of purchase. If an item is defective after this relatively narrow window had closed, the company’s customer support team will work to find a reasonable solution, the statement said.
Shawn O. Gorman, L.L. Bean’s executive chairman and the great-grandson of the original Leon Leonwood Bean, said in the post that the company had to make this change because customers were abusing the generous returns policy. This includes asking for refunds for products that had been worn for many years and seeking refunds for products purchased at yard sales.
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. My mother-in-law, who has no social media presence, will simply shake her L.L.Bean-clad fist in the direction of the company’s headquarters in Freeport, Maine.
A Letter to Our Customers,Since 1912, our mission has been to sell high-quality products that inspire and enable…
Seriously? The only reason to pay the mark up at LLBean was you knew that product was guaranteed for life. Now all of a sudden the products I bought two years ago are no longer guaranteed? Backsies? No reason to bother now. At least at @REI I get a dividend.
— Mariam Watt (@MariamWatt) February 9, 2018
Your return policy was the only reason I shopped at #LLBean! I shared your amazing service with with friends, colleagues, and more. Now, I'll be sure to suggest they avoid like the plague!
— Austin Walters (@AustinGWalters) February 9, 2018