LL Bean dropping its unlimited returns policy

LL Bean dropping its unlimited returns policy

This policy has, over the years, set the company apart from its competitors, and led to some odd sights in the customer-service line. The return policy was a part of a lifetime satisfaction guarantee, and never meant to be used as an unlimited replenishment method.

Now, items will only be covered for one year. The guidelines for returns on the L.L. Bean website have already been updated.

The lifetime return guarantee shrinks to one year (with a receipt). A member of my family, who will go unnamed, once scoured the house for discarded L. L. Bean items, and turned them in toward credit for a new bag. The guarantee covered the item's full lifetime.

Behind her, in the next room, an unpleasant odor wafted from a bin containing returned items, including well-worn boots, ripped bedding, dog cushions and other items.

The return policy now states that if customers aren't satisfied, they can return products within a year of purchase for a refund.

The outdoor specialty retailer said returns of items that have been destroyed or rendered useless, including some purchased at thrift stores or retrieved from trash bins, have doubled in the past five years, surpassing the annual revenue from the company's famous boot. It allowed customers to exchange any item for a replacement if the customer was unhappy with it in any way, with no questions asked, no matter how old the product was.

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Gorman said the policy changes will affect only a small percentage of returns. "Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years", the statement read.

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

Based on these experiences, we have updated our policy. In 15 years of regular buying from the company, she said, she had returned fewer than a dozen items, including one vest, one jacket and several backpacks with broken handles.

"We'll have to see how consumers react, but I think most will still consider their new policy very fair", Dworsky said in an email, according to the paper.

The decision has been a long time coming for L.L. Bean, as it first began reviewing its policy a year ago.

L.L. Bean also outlined a number of rules regarding when it will not accept a product under any circumstances - even within a year.

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