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L.L.Bean (finally) Truncates its Guarantee
Old 02-09-2018, 07:19 AM   #1
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L.L.Bean (finally) Truncates its Guarantee

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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
Executive Chairman
When Gorman talking about "increasingly" he's being polite. It's been going on for decades. I haven't checked but I wonder if the abuse has gotten so rampant that it shows up on the balance sheet as a recurring liability now.

But you know that there are some people who are going to yell and scream and beat their chests about the company taking away what they feel entitled to.
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Old 02-09-2018, 08:22 AM   #2
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Good for them. Many companies run on pretty small margins, it only takes a small% of people treating this a s a "lifetime replacement" policy, and/or abusing it by buying used and requesting new to have an impact on the bottom line.

This makes it better for the majority of customers who treat the policy as intended.

Not sure this is anything new. I remember some people bragging that they bought Craftsmen tools at garage sales, and went right to Sears to trade them in for new.

I think the company just accepts this as a cost of doing business. At some point, they may determine the benefits don't outweigh the negatives.

-ERD50
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Old 02-09-2018, 08:34 AM   #3
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I can understand why they did this- too bad some people have to abuse the system. I hope Costco doesn't change their policy, which is similar.
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Old 02-09-2018, 08:39 AM   #4
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I do business with an online car parts vendor that offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee on any car part they sell. That includes filters and wiper blades. The only catch is that you have to ship the broken/used-up part to them on your dime and fill out a somewhat detailed return form. They're also pretty price competitive and offer free shipping on purchases over $49.

The company is FCPEuro.com. As the name suggests, they only sell parts for European cars, unfortunately.
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Old 02-09-2018, 08:43 AM   #5
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Having been a Bean customer for decades, I suspect they're telling the truth with the
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After one year, we will work with our customers to reach a fair solution if a product is defective in any way
part of the policy. A few good examples of that kind of customer service and their real customers won't quibble about the change in policy.
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Old 02-09-2018, 07:34 PM   #6
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Before I retired in 2016, I had the chance to occasionally interact with the HR and Finance teams and BOD at LL Bean. In my experience, there wasn't another company that had as genuine a concern for their customers, their employees, and their history/legacy. This had to be a very difficult decision for them.
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Old 02-09-2018, 08:12 PM   #7
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The global standard is low-trust culture, the US us just catching up to everyone else.
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Old 02-09-2018, 08:26 PM   #8
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I can’t imagine honoring the guarantee had a material effect on the company. In this 2016 article a reporter (who never identified herself as a reporter) returned a pair of shoes and wrote a story about it. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.bus...-policy-2016-8

Quote:
Surely customers would take advantage of such a generous policy. And while that does happen, it's possibly less than you may think, according to L.L. Bean.

"We know that the vast majority of our customers are adhering to the original intent of the guarantee, that being to ensure we sell high quality merchandise and stand behind it with our satisfaction guarantee," McKeever said. "Our guarantee is not a liability, but rather a customer service asset -an unacknowledged agreement between us and the customer, that always puts the customer first and relies on the goodwill of our customers to honor the original intent of the guarantee."
But in 2017 management seemed to be reconsidering the guarantee https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bos...ec8tO/amp.html :

Quote:
Smith said .... the company was surprised to learn in customer surveys that L.L. Bean’s “100 percent satisfaction” guarantee of all of its products didn’t seem to be valued as highly as assumed. He wasn’t clear about what that revelation will mean. Earlier this year, the company said it was reconsidering its generous return policy.
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Old 02-09-2018, 09:50 PM   #9
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Through the years I've been very happy with the stuff I've bought from LL Bean.
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Old 02-09-2018, 10:34 PM   #10
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I worked at a company called Woolco... they had an easy return policy also...

I used to watch people who bought a weed whacker at the beginning of spring, use it all year and then return it in the fall... covered in grass and grass stains... still working!!!!

Just looked it up... closed in 83....
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Old 02-09-2018, 10:44 PM   #11
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Not sure this is anything new. I remember some people bragging that they bought Craftsmen tools at garage sales, and went right to Sears to trade them in for new.
Yup, my wife used to work in Sears shoe department. The men's work boots also had a lifetime guarantee. She was amazed when guys in the trades would bring back boots they were obviously using for construction (like pouring concrete, etc). for extended periods. My wife said the boots looked like they'd been thru a war. And typically Sears would have to give them a new pair. Eventually, Sears wised up and changed their policy to one year.

I still have Sears rubber garden hoses that have a lifetime guarantee. They're about 26 years old and still don't leak. I'm sure my wife would smack me if I ever tried to take them back for new ones!
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Old 02-10-2018, 05:01 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
I can’t imagine honoring the guarantee had a material effect on the company.
It seems pretty clear that things have indeed reached that point.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I worked at a company called Woolco... they had an easy return policy also... I used to watch people who bought a weed whacker at the beginning of spring, use it all year and then return it in the fall... covered in grass and grass stains... still working!!!! Just looked it up... closed in 83....
Consumers Distributing. My brother used to relay the abuse, abuse that almost surely had "material effect".

I'm opposed to any arrangement where some consumers are subsidising the abuse of others.
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:26 PM   #13
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I can get a golf shirt at Wal-mart for $5 on sale, vs. $29-49 at LL bean. Seems like the pricing will need to drop now at LL Bean. They could have changed the policy to a receipt required/original owner only/5 year limit and kept the good will they've built up over a century. Even before the announcement the retail outlets were being difficult-we had varying responses between the Maine store and other stores when doing returns. This started us looking at WalMart, and they will take things back no questions asked for 30 days at least. Too bad for the LLBean employees.
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:53 PM   #14
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I can get a golf shirt at Wal-mart for $5 on sale, vs. $29-49 at LL bean. ...........
I have to agree. While Bean stuff is good, it no longer seems to be a good value.
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Old 02-11-2018, 04:26 AM   #15
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I think a lot of people (including myself to a great extent) have adopted a perspective that durability and reliability are less important than initial quality, currency, and low cost. This is reflective of a more disposable culture. People would rather buy five shirts over ten years than have one shirt that costs five times as much but (legitimately) lasts for ten years. Retailers ignore this trend in consumer behaviors at their own peril.
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Old 02-11-2018, 06:48 AM   #16
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Or do like I do, buy quality shirts at steep discount when they're no longer in style. I like Cabelas brand shirts, well made, nice fit, deeply discounted occasionally. I recently bought 11 of their shirts for under $100.
Straw hats in summer? Didn't someone famous say that?
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Old 02-11-2018, 07:21 AM   #17
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I think a lot of people (including myself to a great extent) have adopted a perspective that durability and reliability are less important than initial quality, currency, and low cost. This is reflective of a more disposable culture. People would rather buy five shirts over ten years than have one shirt that costs five times as much but (legitimately) lasts for ten years. Retailers ignore this trend in consumer behaviors at their own peril.
I agree with you about the market but I think that's sad. It means more stuff in landfills and more clothing being made in developing countries under questionable working conditions. My classic Brooks Brothers dress winter coat cost me $450 in 1983 and it's still beautiful.

This morning I did some searches for clothing made in the USA for an upcoming trip to India. It's out there and that's what I'm going to buy. I hope I'll still be wearing whatever I buy 10 years from now.
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Old 02-11-2018, 07:21 AM   #18
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Or do like I do, buy quality shirts at steep discount when they're no longer in style. I like Cabelas brand shirts, well made, nice fit, deeply discounted occasionally. I recently bought 11 of their shirts for under $100.
Straw hats in summer? Didn't someone famous say that?
Thanks for your post, you should work for Cabela’s, based on your tip I went and bought 6 pairs of their jeans that I like for $100. Less than half price - now I just have to stay the same size
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Old 02-11-2018, 12:07 PM   #19
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.......... I hope I'll still be wearing whatever I buy 10 years from now.
That's good logic. I'll ask DW to buy an extra high quality suit to bury me in.
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Old 02-11-2018, 12:54 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=folivier;2010890]Or do like I do, buy quality shirts at steep discount when they're no longer in style. I like Cabelas brand shirts, well made, nice fit, deeply discounted occasionally. I recently bought 11 of their shirts for under $100.
Straw hats in summer? Didn't someone famous say that?[/QUOTE]

I don't think so.
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