L.L. Bean: Return Doesn't Mean Lifetime Replacement

L.L. Bean has had it with customers who abuse their generous return policy. The company is making two major changes: customers must return products within one year unless they are damaged, and customers must produce a receipt.


A company spokesperson explained the decision:

"If it's been over a year and someone is able to provide a proof of purchase and if the product does not fall within one of our Special Conditions such as products damaged by misuse, abuse, pet damage, personal reasons unrelated to product performance or satisfaction and more, we would honor the return."

Although it was a small percentage of customers, some had taken advantage of the product "guarantee." The question we might ask is, Why did it take so long? Or, why now?


  • Why do you think L.L. Bean waited until now to tighten the return policy? What are the potential consequences of the decision?
  • Assess the message to customers. Who are the primary and secondary audiences? How well does the message meets its objectives?
  • How do you see this as an issue of integrity? How is L.L. Bean demonstrating learning from failure?