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Old 10 February 2018, 06:37 PM
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Icon09 L.L. Bean Has Ended Unlimited Returns, and I Am Fairly Certain Itís My Fault

Iím responsible for this. That was my first reaction when I read Friday morning that outdoorsy retailer L.L. Bean had decided to stop guaranteeing its merchandise for life. For more than a century, L.L. Bean had offered a lifetime return policy, allowing customers to return or exchange L.L. Bean merchandise at any time for any reasonóeven years after the initial purchase date. Now, citing ďabuseĒ of the policy, the retailer will only offer a one-year exchange periodóand, even then, exchanges will only be granted if you have a receipt. I really feel like this is sort of my fault.

https://slate.com/business/2018/02/l...-my-fault.html
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Old 10 February 2018, 10:48 PM
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Years ago, a co-worker accidentally ran over one of his LL Bean hiking boots and broke the metal shank in the sole. LL Bean exchanged them for a brand new pair.
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Old 10 February 2018, 10:55 PM
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The purchase agreement could include a clause that the return policy can be changed unilaterally.
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Old 11 February 2018, 03:49 AM
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I remember a few years back when Sears quietly ended a similar policy for their Craftsman tool line -- that they would replace any tool that broke, regardless of how long you'd had it. I think that policy was more famous, though.
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Old 11 February 2018, 03:50 AM
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Yeah, that was one of the things that really convinced people that Sears was never going to recover.
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Old 11 February 2018, 02:11 PM
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That was also the only reason some people were buying their tools there. The tools were decent, but not extraordinary. The warranty made it make more sense for many people to buy a Craftsman wrench than a more expensive one: the Sears tool was more likely to break than a very expensive professional grade tool, but since Sears would replace it, if the job could wait till you could get back to the store, or get the replacement in the mail, that didn't much matter.

ETA: I always assumed that Bean didn't mean 'we'll replace it if you just plain wore it out, even if that took you twenty years'. Interesting that some people -- including some LLBean people -- apparently did take it that way.

It's also interesting that the person who wrote that article apparently repeatedly got junky boots from Bean. The ones I've had from them were reasonably well made, and I've certainly gotten more than one year's use out of them -- in some cases a whole lot more than one year.
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Old 11 February 2018, 02:58 PM
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I still have, and occasionally wear, a pair of hiking boots I bought from them at least 25 years ago.
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Old 11 February 2018, 08:39 PM
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It was never a "lifetime Warranty" it was a satisfaction guarantee. It was never intended to be "Spend $40 on a pair of shoes and get a free new pair of shoes every year for the rest of your life." That is a completely unsustainable business model. I'm surprised they held onto it as long as they did.

I've seen comment after comment from shoppers who've stood in the return lines and even former employees. The abuse of this policy by some people is ridiculous. People scour garage sales and thrift shops for old LL Bean merchandise and return giant bags of used stuff to the store for credit. People returning a shirt from 25 years ago because "It's dated." People bringing back their children's coats every year, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they grew out of them.
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Old 11 February 2018, 11:34 PM
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When my kids were little, I worked at Kmart. They had a generous return policy for kids' clothes. If your kid wore an item out before he/she out grew it, you could replace it with the exact same brand, size, and style. It was great for my boys because they constantly wore out the left knees (yes always the left to this day I have no idea why) of their jeans. They didn't grow very fast so I kept them in jeans for a couple of years. That policy was very specific though and you had to have a receipt. I'm assuming that even the Kmarts that remain open don't have that policy anymore.
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Old 12 February 2018, 12:43 AM
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Sometimes your employees can be the problem. I know a couple who was going to have a big party and were at a store -- a Costco, I think -- looking at a folding table that would be handy for the party, but they wondered if it was worth the price, as they weren't sure how much use they'd get out of it after that. The clerk assisting them suggested, "Buy it, and return it after the party." Not something these people would normally have considered doing (although I know it's not an unheard-of thing for some people) -- but with the clerk telling them it was OK....
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Old 12 February 2018, 01:59 AM
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There are places that will rent tables out for events like that.
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Old 12 February 2018, 03:52 PM
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But that still costs more than free.

Note, I do not condone buying and returning as suggested in the post.
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Old 12 February 2018, 03:54 PM
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And I don't know how easy or reasonably priced it is to rent just one table.
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Old 12 February 2018, 04:51 PM
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Well, for the rental company one of my mom's neighbors runs, it's about $8-12 per table per day, depending on the size of table you want (she has a variety available).
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Old 12 February 2018, 05:45 PM
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I was buying LL Bean no-iron dress shirts. I found that they would develop holes at the creases near the cuff. I exchanged several shirts without a receipt. As much as I liked the shirts, I have switched to another brand. The problem has not changed. I understand that they cannot do this forever.

I use Stanley stainless steel cups for my morning java. I have had two with handles that fell off. The first was a replacement for a different style mug (looked like a sawed off Stanley Aladdin thermos bottle) which had also lost its handle. I did the online request to them for this last one. Never heard back.
I bought a different Stanley cup anyway. No mention of satisfaction or a guarantee. OTOH, I prize my Stanley thermos, although a quart of coffee is not useful to me these days.

Ali
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  #16  
Old 12 February 2018, 06:08 PM
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I'm more of a Lands' End kinda guy, and I've bought many items over the years (about 25 years), and I've probably returned 4-5 items. I don't abuse the policy.

I've returned a pair of boots for a refund because when I first laced them, the plastic "hooks" for the laces broke right off.

I've returned shirts or polo shirts when they fail at a seam which I deemed improperly sewn.

I'm very aware that not all products are made to "last for life".

OY
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  #17  
Old 12 February 2018, 10:08 PM
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I once returned a Philip's screwdriver to Sears that I had ruined by shorting it out on a big battery. Burned the end right off. I asked the clerk if the return policy included tools ruined by stupidity. He said it did and I got a new screwdriver.
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