One customer is so angry that L.L. Bean changed its return policy, he's suing the company

Business Insider | Feb 15, 2018, 12.43AM IST

L.L. Bean

AP/Robert F. Bukaty

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin holds up a Bean Boot in 2017.

  • L.L. Bean just changed its return policy to cover items unconditionally for one year only. Previously, items could be brought in for a refund at any time during the lifetime of the product.
  • A new lawsuit seeking class-action status accuses L.L. Bean of refusing to honor its warranty when it changed its policy.
  • L.L. Bean confirmed to Business Insider that items bought before the change can be returned or exchanged, as long as the customer can produce a proof of purchase.

L.L. Bean just changed its legendary return policy to cover one year only, and some customers are not happy. One is so dissatisfied, in fact, that he has filed a lawsuit alleging breach of warranty. The plaintiff, Victor Bondi, is seeking class-action status for the suit.

Filed Monday in US District Court in Chicago, the 16-page lawsuit argues that customers had bought products because of L.L. Bean's "100% satisfaction guarantee," which enabled customers to return or exchange items whenever they wanted.

The suit claims that taking the guarantee away and reducing the time to only one year breaches the promise made by the company.

"As a result of L.L. Bean's deceptive and unfair breaking of its promises and violation of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and other laws, Plaintiff and all other L.L. Bean customers did not receive what they bargained for," the suit reads.

When L.L. Bean announced it had revised its returns policy, confusion abounded as to what it would mean for older purchases. Previously, items could be brought in for a refund at any time during the lifetime of the product. A company spokesperson told Business Insider that purchases made before February 9, 2018 could still be returned after a year from the data, the only change being the new proof-of-purchase requirement.

L.L. Bean did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment, but in a statement to the Bangor Daily News, it denied it did anything wrong.

"The recently filed lawsuit misrepresents the terms of our new returns policy. L.L.Bean products bought prior to Feb. 9, 2018 will not be subject to the new one-year restriction," spokesperson Carolyn Beem said. "Proof of purchase will continue to be required. That is what we have consistently told customers since the new policy was announced last Friday."

L.L. Bean switched to primarily digital records for purchases, so it shouldn't be hard to prove that you purchased the item - provided you actually did. If the system can't find your purchase for any reason, a paper receipt would be required.

If you can't prove you bought it, however, the store will not accept the return. The changes put a stop to people purchasing items at garage sales and thrift stores to return to L.L. Bean for a full refund, but it shouldn't affect legitimate customers too much.

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