L.L. Bean is considering dropping its legendary return policy because of 'fraudulent returns'

L.L. Bean is looking to cut costs as it looks to treat its employees better.

The Maine-based retailer is considering cutting its famous “100% satisfaction guaranteed” return policy to cut costs amid weak growth. The privately held company is also considering limiting its offer of 100% free shipping while simultaneously boosting employee benefits, freezing pensions, and offering early retirement, according to the AP.

Bean’s offer is exceedingly generous by retail standards, and it allows customers to exchange any item made and sold by the store for a replacement if the customer is unhappy with it in any way with no questions asked, no matter how old the product is. Unfortunately, this trust the company placed in its customers has left the policy open to abuse.

“Fraudulent returns have been a problem and we are definitely reviewing our policies, but we have made no decisions,” L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem told the Boston Globe. “We will always stand behind our products.”

The change to the return policy has been under consideration for almost a year, the company says. L.L. Bean considers a return fraudulent when the item was not purchased directly from them, such as from a flea market or thrift store.

In August, L.L. Bean spokesperson Mac McKeever told Business Insider that the “vast majority” of customers adhere to the original intent of the guarantee.

“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 honour the original intent of the guarantee,” McKeever said.

Chairman Shawn Gorman, great-grandson of founder L.L. Bean, told the AP that the decision will “weigh heavily” on the family-owned business, but that it’s a necessary step for the company to survive in an increasingly competitive retail environment.

The company expects to reduce its workforce by about 500 employees through early retirement incentives, as well as boosting benefits like flexible time off and paid parental leave or elder care support.

Customers are already voicing their displeasure at the possible change.


NOW WATCH: Here’s what makes L.L.Bean’s ‘100% satisfaction guarantee’ the best return policy of any retailer

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.