One of the oldest and most famous retail policies in America - L.L. Bean's promise to replace any product regardless of its age or condition - has been scrapped. It claimed some people tried to return heavily worn or destroyed items and saw the policy as a "lifetime product replacement program". Some took advantage of the lax return policy-seeking refunds for products that have been rigorously worn for 20 years or bought at garage 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. 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.
Sad news for Bean Boot-lovers.
Gorman said the change in return policy "will only affect a small percentage of returns". Instead, they'll now have a year to bring back an item for return and need to provide proof of purchase.
"As a lifetime loyal customer I'm surprised you didn't do this sooner", a Facebook user, Joe Gagne, wrote in a post on the company's page. "Let's go to L.L. Bean", Dave said, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Plus, it was a policy that said "we trust our customers to act honestly, and forgive those who don't", which assumed the best and not the worst of us humans.
But companies often found that accepting returns came at a high cost. If an item is defective after this relatively narrow window had closed, its customer support team would work to find a reasonable solution.
Those who suspect they've intentionally wronged the business founded by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1912 have also been put on notice, as the new policy states they may also turn down exchanges citing "on rare occasions, past habitual abuse of our Returns Agreement". Thus the satisfaction guarantee was born. "We stand behind the performance of the products we sell", an REI spokesperson told Outside. Because when someone (like greedy Bean boot buyers) abuses a rule, we all must be punished.
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