LL Bean Ditches 106-Year-Old Unlimited Return Policy

McKinneMike

McKinneMike

Michelle Zaleski of Marlborough, Mass., said she anxious that the new L.L. Bean policy could mean the company was reducing the quality of its products.

Gorman said customers were seeking refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.

Gorman added that if, after a year has passed, one of their items is found to be "defective in any way", L.L. Bean "will work with our customers to reach a fair solution".

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"Roughly 15 percent of recent L.L. Bean product returns abused the lifetime guarantee policy, L.L. Bean President and CEO Stephen Smith said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald". The previous lifetime guarantee, which enabled customers to return products years - or even decades - after purchase, has always been a selling point for the company.

L.L. Bean has always been known for its promise to replace a defective product over the course of the item's life, but leaders in the company say a select few are taking advantage of that promise. "It's not sustainable from a business perspective". The now-defunct lifetime return policy had been in place for 106 years. In February of 2017, it started freezing worker pensions and offering incentives for workers to take early retirement, which it expected to slim its workforce by about 500 people. Outdoors retailer REI, which was once jokingly dubbed Rental Equipment Inc. and Return Everything Inc. because its unlimited returns policy, imposed a one-year restriction five years ago. In 1912, 90 of the company's first 100 pairs of its signature boots fell apart. The company is expecting backlash but promises to "continue to honor one of the best guarantees in retail". Abuse of the generous return policy with no time limit has accelerated thanks to people sharing their return stories on social media, they said. While I felt a twinge of guilt entering the reason code "01 Quality Unsatisfactory" (after all they had lasted longer than any other shoes I've bought) their return policy clearly allowed it, and I meant to partake for the first time ever. Take Patagonia: the California-based apparel maker has an Ironclad Guarantee, which ensures that customers unsatisfied with the product they've bought can bring it back for "repair, replacement, or refund".

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