In a letter to customers Friday, the Freeport-based outerwear giant said it would no longer honor a lifetime replacement guarantee that had become an integral part of its reputation.
The company had allowed customers to return products, even years, later if they weren't satisfied with their purchases. It was outrageously generous, and basically unparalleled among retailers-and now it's gone.
L.L. Bean announced Friday that it will now accept returns for any reason only for one year with proof of purchase.
L. L. Bean's own official company history centers on the idea that not everything is flawless the first time: of the hundred hunting boots that the founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, first sold, ninety of them were returned due to flaws.
But now a dark age descends upon fishermen, hikers, and the like, as L.L. Bean has updated its return policy, diminishing the return window to one year, according to an official statement from the brand.
"A small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent", he wrote.
It also will continue to replace products for manufacturing defects beyond that. L.L. Bean said in some cases, people are trying to get a refund for something they bought second-hand at a yard sales. Of those returns, an estimated 6.5 percent, or $22.8 billion worth of merchandise, were thought to include shoplifted goods, items bought with stolen money, products backed by counterfeit receipts, and other forms of fraud or abuse. See what we meant by generous? Internal surveys indicate 85 percent of customers are OK with the new return policy, he said.
One of customers' favorite things about shopping at L.L. Bean has changed overnight. "Anyone who says they won't shop at Beans anymore because of this change isn't the kind of customer you want anyway".
For decades, the outdoors brand has let customers return apparel and shoes with dissatisfactory quality whether it's been 10 days or 10 years- with hardly any questions asked.
Gorman said the change in return policy "will only affect a small percentage of returns". They ended up walking away with a $350 gift card.
"I consider a one-year limit to be very pro-consumer". In 15 years of regular buying from the company, she said, she had returned fewer than a dozen items, including one vest, one jacket and several backpacks with broken handles.