news

L.L. Bean Is Changing Their 100-Year-Old Policy, And It Affects Every Customer

L.L. Bean has been an American institution for over a century. The outdoor retailer has long provided customers with excellent customer service and products that come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

WTOP

They also have this incredible Bootmobile.

Wired

L.L. Bean is perhaps most well-known for their 100% satisfaction guaranteed return policy, which allows customers to return any and all products from L.L. Bean, regardless of how long they've had it or how damaged it was. The policy was originated by Leon Leonwood Bean, who saw 90 of his first 100 pairs of boots returned to his store. He gave each customer their money back and vowed to make a better boot.

This policy has been in place for 106 years, but now the company has made some serious changes to it.

L.L. Bean sent a memo to both employees and customers today, saying their "unlimited" return policy would no longer be in effect. Now, customers must have proof of purchase of the item and it has to be within one year of the purchase date.

The company began hemorrhaging money when people realized they could go to any thrift store and purchase an item from the retailer and then return it for full value. Over the past five years, the amount of completely damaged merchandise that has been returned to L.L. Bean has surpassed the revenue from their famous boot. L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Bean says the company has lost more than $250 million since 2013 due to the return policy.

New England Today

"The numbers are staggering," CEO Steve Smith told The Associated Press. "It's not sustainable from a business perspective. It's not reasonable. And it's not fair to our customers."

Recently, a family showed up at an L.L. Bean location after cleaning out their grandfather's attic. They brought a pile of 30-year-old clothing and walked out with a $350 gift card to the store.

Glass Door

Shawn Gorman, L.L.'s great-grandson and the company's chairman, says he once donated a shirt to Goodwill which had his name printed in it. The shirt later showed up at the store having been returned.

Gorman says social media is to blame for the uptick in fraudulent returns, as people share their "success" stories.

"There is no one in this family who would've allowed this to happen if they thought that L.L. would be upset with us, like, if he would be rolling over in his grave," Gorman says.

The policy changes also include a $50 minimum for free shipping when ordering online.

L.L. Bean posted an official statement on their Facebook page.

A Letter to Our Customers, Since 1912, our mission has been to sell high-quality products that inspire and enable...

Posted by L.L.Bean on Friday, February 9, 2018

The decision is obviously a controversial one. Some people are going to boycott the store now unless they lower the prices.

Others are standing in solidarity with the long-time retailer.

Do you think that L.L. Bean made the right call with their policy change?