In an email sent to customers on Friday morning, Maine-based L.L.Bean announced that it has chose to kill its no-receipt-needed lifetime return policy because too many people were abusing the system. The letter goes on to explain that some consumers expect refunds for "heavily worn products used over many years" or refunds for products bought at yard sales or other third party outlets.
The return policy now states that if customers aren't satisfied, they can return products within a year of purchase for a refund.
In a letter to customers this morning, the label announced that it was nixing its generous lifetime return policy in favor of a one-year return limit for most purchases with a receipt.
L.L. Bean's selection of rugged jackets and hardy boots has grown in popularity in recent years, as vintage brands caught on with urban shoppers.
Although the company is changing its return policy it will always accept returns on products that have failed, such as this boot. "It's not sustainable from a business perspective". Instead, they'll now have a year to bring back an item for return and need to provide proof of purchase.
The company is also imposing a $50 minimum for free shipping as part of a belt-tightening that includes a workforce reduction through early retirement incentives and changes in workers' pension plans.
So I was saddened, if not entirely shocked, to hear that L.L. Bean would be putting an end to its legendary policy effective February 9, 2018.
"Based on these experiences, we have updated our policy". Notably, the option for "repair" means that not all returns at Patagonia stores end in the customer walking out with a brand new product, sometimes just their refurbished old one. It represented a vestige of quality, goodness, and integrity that American manufacturing is supposed to be known for - and it lived on at this one company, in a world dominated by industrial chintziness. Thus the satisfaction guarantee was born. Even during my own stint working in a Patagonia store in New York City four years ago, I watched a customer return a $550 Tres Parka because it smelled weird.
"The financial impact is remarkable-in the last five years, the rate has doubled on such returns and in that five years, has cost us approximately $250 million", a spokesperson for the company says.