Way back in January 2014, I posted about my very happy, one and only experience with L.L. Bean's famous 100% liberal return policy (KezarLife post here) Even though I am not a big customer of Bean's products, you buy with the knowledge that it will last for a very long time. So even though you might pay more for a similar item than at another store, you are getting the L.L. Bean value!
It is so sad that a high number of people took advantage of this longstanding option! The Company's Chairman suggests that people were exchanging items that they acquired at yard sales. So here is another example of how the majority suffers because of the actions of a greedy minority. And according to a Boston.com article, social media may have spread the word on just how to take advantage of the store's goodwill.
Here is the letter from Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman that was sent to the store's customers:
A Letter to Our Customers
Since 1912, our mission has been to sell high-quality products that inspire and enable people to enjoy the outdoors. Our commitment to customer service has earned us your trust and respect, as has our guarantee, which ensures that we stand behind everything we sell.
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.
Based on these experiences, we have updated our policy. Customers will have one year after purchasing an item to return it, accompanied by proof of purchase. After one year, we will work with our customers to reach a fair solution if a product is defective in any way.
This update adds clarity to our policy and will only affect a small percentage of returns. It will also ensure we can continue to honor one of the best guarantees in retail, with no impact for the vast majority of our customers. To learn more, please view our full return policy at llbean.com.
L.L.Bean has stood for quality, service, trust, and getting people outdoors ever since my great-grandfather founded our company over 100 years ago - and that will never change. Thank you for being a loyal customer and we look forward to continuing to inspire and enable you to Be an Outsider.
Shawn O. Gorman