LL Bean imposes limits on its return policy, citing fraud

LL Bean

L.L.Bean, the venerable ME retailer of rustic boots and clothes, is ending its long-running, no questions asked return policy. "Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as 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.

Under the previous policy, L.L. Bean customer service representatives were required to ask for a reason for a product's return. 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.

A year ago, there were rumblings that L.L.Bean was considering revising those terms because of scammers; today, those murmurs became law.

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Bean isn't the only store to roll back a great return policy in recent years, either. 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. L.L.Bean should have information on file for customers who bought from it directly and provided their information at the time.

L.L. Bean, which was known for its "100 percent satisfaction guarantee", says more and more customers abused its former policy. "I feel bad for L.L. Bean, because I can imagine some of the abuses [that were going on]".

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. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship. "We stand behind the performance of the products we sell", an REI spokesperson told Outside. "But we have had a huge growth in abuse, and fraud, and a misinterpretation of that guarantee".

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