L.L. Bean Ditches Legendary Return Policy

Filed under: News 

L.L. Bean joins a growing number of retailers updating return policies. The reason? To exclude items that have been simply worn out through regular use.

l.l. bean store
L.L. Bean revised its exchange policy to one year

Are you one of those people who maybe stretches the definition of a “lifetime warranty” to mean, well, your lifetime? If so, then this is for you.

L.L. Bean No Longer Warrantied “For Life”

L.L. Bean today announced it will no longer offer lifetime returns or exchanges on products. The brand updated its policy to give customers one year to return purchases, with a receipt.

The brand expanded on the policy change in its statement:

“Increasingly, a small but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. 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.”‘

Death of the Lifetime Warranty

L.L. Bean follows a decision five years ago by REI to update its return policy to one year on most products. Previously, both brands honored returns and exchanges on products that were sometimes decades old.

“I had people who would come in, explaining their family member had passed away, and they wanted to return all of their old camping supplies from the ’70s and ’80s,” said GearJunkie employee and former REI staffer Emily Reed. “Lifetime, right?”

L.L. Bean tightens its return policy to one year and requires proof of purchase. According to the new policy:

“If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”

L.L. Bean’s Letter to Customers

The brand shared the letter on Facebook this morning. Read on for the entire text.

A Letter to Our Customers,

Since 1912, our mission has been to sell high-quality products that inspire and enable people to enjoy the outdoors. Our commitment to customer service has earned us your trust and respect, as has our guarantee, which ensures that we stand behind everything we sell.

Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. 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.

Based on these experiences, we have updated our policy. Customers will have one year after purchasing an item to return it, accompanied by proof of purchase. After one year, we will work with our customers to reach a fair solution if a product is defective in any way.

This update adds clarity to our policy and will only affect a small percentage of returns. It will also ensure we can continue to honor one of the best guarantees in retail, with no impact for the vast majority of our customers. To learn more, please view our full return policy at llbean.com.

L.L.Bean has stood for quality, service, trust, and getting people outdoors ever since my great-grandfather founded our company over 100 years ago – and that will never change. Thank you for being a loyal customer and we look forward to continuing to inspire and enable you to Be an Outsider.

Sincerely,
Shawn O. Gorman
L.L.Bean Executive Chairman

By
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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