A former LL Bean employee tells the New York Times that up to 70% of the returns she and her coworkers dealt with seemed iffy. "Most of the people who used the policy abused it," Jessica Pikowski says. "And we weren't allowed to confront them about it." For example, she says one guy brought in a garbage bag of clothes that seemed like they'd been involved in a fire and left with a hefty LL Bean gift card. Well, it seems the retailer has finally had enough. NPR reports that LL Bean changed its famous return policy—essentially a lifetime guarantee—on Friday. For over 100 years, LL Bean customers had been free to return products years later, receipt or no and regardless of the products' condition. Under the company's new policy, customers have one year to return an item and must have a receipt.
"Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent," LL Bean says in a statement. "Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years." The company says the number of items that had been bought at thrift stores or stolen or completely destroyed before being returned had doubled over the past five years, the Wall Street Journal
reports. It says returned items cost the company $250 million over that same period. While some customers have been supportive so far, others are worried about a possible decline in quality without LL Bean's lifetime guarantee. The company says it will fudge the new one-year return deadline for products that are defective.
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