Outdoor retailer L.L. Bean (Freeport, Maine) has discontinued its famous lifetime guarantee, a policy the brand has proudly held since it was founded in 1912.
That officially changed late last week when the company’s executive chair and the great-grandson of the brand’s founder, Shawn Gorman, announced via email that it would no longer accept returns past the one-year mark. Gorman explained that many customers misinterpreted the policy, seeing it as a “lifetime product replacement program” or “expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years.”
According to Women’s Wear Daily, now customers must send a proof of purchase with their return – combatting the issue of returning product from third-party sellers. Beyond one year, he said, the company will “work with” customers to reach a “fair solution” if the product is deemed defective.
Competitor REI (Kent, Wash.) quietly rescinded its similar policy in 2013, while Patagonia (Ventura, Calif.) and Lands’ End (Dodgeville, Wisc.) continue their generous return policies that are much like L.L. Bean’s now-defunct stance on long-term product guarantees.