The days of finding your grandfather’s L.L. Bean boots in the attic and returning them to the retailer for a refund are over.
L.L. Bean said Friday that abuse of its more-than-a-century-old returns policy has led it to update the rules. Now shoppers will only have one year from the time of purchase to return a product that they find unsatisfactory.
The executive chairman of the famed outdoors retailer, Shawn Gorman, said in a letter to customers that “increasingly a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.’’
With the policy change, that stops now, though Gorman added that if an item bought longer than a year ago is found to be defective, the company “will work with our customers to reach a fair solution.”
It’s a major change for L.L. Bean whose effort to accommodate its customers dates back more than a century and is part of its DNA. In 1912, 90 of the company’s first 100 pairs of its signature boot fell apart. Founder Leon Leonwood Bean fixed the defects –and issued refunds establishing a customer service tradition.
Edgar Dworsky. founder of the consumer resource site Consumer World said in an email that “L.L. Bean’s old guarantee was not so much a liberal return policy as it was an assurance to customers of the high quality of their garments.
The new one year limit is “absolutely reasonable and still generous,” he added, noting how purchases that fall outside of that time frame will still be dealt with if there is a problem. “We’ll have to see how consumers react, but I think most will still consider their new policy very fair.”