The L.L. Bean return policy was one of the great wonders of the retail world, a satisfaction guarantee so sincere, you could literally exchange items decades after an original purchase. Alas, those days have ended. The quintessential New England purveyor of backpacks, winter weather gear, and waterproof boots has revised its rulebook.
In a post on Facebook Friday, executive chairman Shawn O. Gorman announced that customers will now have one year to return or exchange an L.L. Bean product, along with proof of purchase. "Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent," he wrote. "Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales."
The new policy is already live on L.L. Bean's website. While some wonder what took the company so long, others are disappointed — they see the famous 100 percent satisfaction guarantee as a quality indicator.
"We make good money, but we're not rich and have to make very financially responsible decisions about where we spend our money," shopper Jen Tedesco told the New York Times. "When I'm spending $70 for kids' snow pants, I need to know that the company is putting enough care, quality, and effort into them that they're not going to break 14 months down the road."
It's a reasonable expectation, but if we take Gorman at his word, too many people simply abused the company's policy. Wrap it up, everyone — this is why we can't have nice things.