Bad News: L.L. Bean Got Rid of Its Lifetime Return Policy

published Feb 9, 2018
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(Image credit: Michael G. McKinne)

It’s a sad day for L.L. Bean devotees. We’re crying into our Bean boots, because the Maine-based retailer has gotten rid of its legendary lifetime return policy.

The generous return policy meant that even if the same backpack you had from middle school got a rip, you could exchange it for a new one. That all changed Friday morning when the company posted a letter to customers explaining the update.

“Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent,” the letter reads. “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 satisfaction guarantee and the intent of the guarantee is very much still intact. We make great stuff and we stand behind great stuff,” President and CEO Stephen Smith told the Portland Press Herald. “But we have had a huge growth in abuse, and fraud, and a misinterpretation of that guarantee.”

The policy now reads:

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.

The policy will also require a proof of purchase. The company’s system has records for the last four years, so unless it’s four years or older, you won’t necessarily need a receipt.

The Press Herald also reports that the company is doing away with free shipping for all online orders. The new threshold for free shipping is $50 or more to encourage people to place larger orders, since shipping small items is costly and bad for the environment, Smith added.