Michelle Zaleski of Marlborough, Mass., said she anxious that the new L.L. Bean policy could mean the company was reducing the quality of its products.
"Some view [our guarantee] as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years", wrote executive chairman Shawn Gorman, who is the great-grandson of founder Leon Leonwood Bean. "Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as yard sales".
If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund.
In a letter sent to customers and posted to the brand's Facebook page, L.L.Bean explained that people were abusing its famously generous policy.
In a follow-up conversation with Outside, an L.L. Bean spokesperson elaborated that in the last five years, the percent of returns that violate the guarantee policy-which was created to protect customers who received defective products-had doubled to 15 percent, costing the company approximately $250 million.
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Gorman said the change in return policy "will only affect a small percentage of returns". The return policy isn't going away entirely-it's just getting ratcheted down from "lifetime" to one year with a receipt, with returns made after that decided on a case-by-case basis.
She said her family, which includes three children, was willing to spend more at L.L. Bean than at Walmart or Target because of the expectation that the products would last longer.
The outdoor footwear and apparel company said it's changing its renowned lifetime return policy. 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. After one year, the company said it will "work with customers to reach a fair solution if the product is defective in any way". Thus the satisfaction guarantee was born.
"I completely understand this decision, but it still makes me a little sad", comments Cathy. "But we have had a huge growth in abuse, and fraud, and a misinterpretation of that guarantee".