Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Finance | By Gustavo Carr

LLBean is ending its beloved lifetime return policy

LLBean is ending its beloved lifetime return policy

L.L. Bean's return policy has been nothing short of exceptional since its inception in 1911: its products carried a lifetime guarantee.

Gorman said customers were seeking refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales. One particularly egregious example: L.L. Bean executives showcased a returned child's ski jacket still bearing lift tickets from three years of skiing as evidence of how customers were misusing refunds; it was more likely that the child had just grown out of the jacket, they said.

L.L. Bean had previously allowed customers to exchange any item for a replacement if it failed to live up to expectations - no questions asked, regardless of the product's age. 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 informed the public of its new policy on Facebook, which was met with many cry face emojis.

L.L. Bean is putting its boot down. "It's not sustainable from a business perspective". For years, the outdoor retailer touted a lifetime return policy, accepting returns on items purchased years prior.

This American Life dug into L.L. Bean's legendary return policy -.

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The company, based in Freeport, Maine, joins a list of other retailers that have been tightened return policies.

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. Some even shared stories about customers abusing the return policy.

The family-owned company is prepared for a backlash, but the changes honor the spirit of the founder's original guarantee, said Shawn Gorman, L.L.'s great-grandson and the company's chairman.

"L.L. Bean to us is a quality name, and that means they should stand by their word", Ms. Zaleski said. "The satisfaction guarantee and the intent of the guarantee is very much still intact", Smith added. 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.

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