Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sustainable Saturday - The End of a Legend

On February 24, 2014 I posted this experience with an American retailer by the name of L.L. Bean.  Located in Maine, this proud retailer used to stand behind their products - for life.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, L.L.Bean announced they had to change their return policy, due to the fact that it was increasingly being abused, including by some who apparently bought L.L. Bean products at yard sales and decided to make some money.

What a shame.

This was my experience in 2014.  And, for what it is worth, I still have - and wear - both the coat, and the fleece jacket I mention below.

With some small edits:

The L.L. Bean Coat

I occasionally  blog about customer service experiences, both good and not so good.

This experience, though, has to be a first.

There is a long time company, located in Maine, called L.L. Bean. They have been in business since 1912 and have a reputation for excellent customer service.  Their clothing can be a bit pricey, but I've been wearing one of their light fleece jackets for years and years, and I will go into mourning the day it finally falls apart.

In September of 2011 I bought a ski jacket in their flagship store in Freeport, Maine.  It was a splurge, and I don't ski, but it had some features I wanted.  It was a light ivory/white, which I wanted, so I could be visible at night if I had to go out.  It had a nice red liner, so fleecy and comfy.  I hadn't worn it enough to have to wash it until this year, when it became my go-to coat, in our extended "polar vortex" weather.

I washed it yesterday, and to my horror...well, let my email to L.L. Bean from today tell the story.

"I purchased during a visit to Freeport in 2011, a white ski jacket with red liner... I didn't wear it much the winters of 2011 and 2012 but wore it a lot this winter and got it dirty. I washed it for the first time yesterday-cold water, gentle cycle as directed. The red liner has bled all over the coat in various places and is visible from the outside in many spots on the hood and the back. It is cosmetically ruined. Is there anything that can be done? I love this coat and we are ready to go into another cold wave later this week. Thank you."

Less than 1/2 hour later (on a Sunday!!) I got this response:

"I am sorry to read the red liner on your North Ridge Sport Jacket bled.
Unfortunately, the jacket was discontinued in 2011 and is no longer available for replacement. You are welcome to return the jacket if you wish. We would issue you a gift card for the return... Simply print a return form and return shipping label[from our website]."

After a little further correspondence (which they responded to in minutes, as if someone was waiting there to get my email) I was told no rush if I need the coat until it warms up - there is no time limit on returns!  (I've read that - and now I know it is true).

And maybe, one day, it will really be spring.  Meantime, tonight, it is supposed to dip down to 10 above (-12.2 C), and by Wednesday, 3 above (-16.1 C) .  If you see someone with a blotchy white/ivory coat walking around Binghamton, New York, you'll know who it is.

Have you had a really good customer service experience?


  1. I read the article this morning. It is appalling what some folks are willing to do to scam another or a company. The rest of us end up paying for their treachery. That being said, I saw someone in line at Costco returning toilet paper. Who returns toilet paper???

  2. The world seems to be full of scammers these days. It really is a shame that good companies find it harder and harder to offer their once excellent customer service. I'm fortunate that I mostly shop in local neighbourhood stores. The only downside is they sometimes go out of business after a few short years. The larger companies I shop with have varying return policies but none as good as the one you've described.

  3. Returning anything is a challenge -- especially when I always seem to have my product fail 2 days after the last return date..ugh. Seems like a design flaw to have a red liner you couldn't zip out for the wash... Keep warm!

  4. It’s not just LL Been that gets scammed. When my sister was in college (in the 80’s) she had a part time job in a major department store. Lots of stories about people trying to return stuff. She told me about one woman who brought in a pair of five year old shoes that had been worn to the point that they were falling apart, and she wanted a refund “because the shoes should have lasted longer”.

  5. I saw that yesterday and it just made me sad. Some people have no moral compass.

  6. Leave it to a few dishonest folks to go and spoil it for all of us. The stuff wore like iron.

  7. Reading the comments, I was reminded of my job in college. I worked in the designer clothing area of a large department store, now part of Macy's. Some society dame wore a fancy dress to a party, had her picture in the paper, and sent it back on Monday morning as unacceptable. Of course, her money was refunded.

  8. That's too bad. That's the kind of return policy that is bound to be abused, so of course, someone had to ruin it for the rest of us.

  9. Wow. What a shame. The sins of a few ruin it for the majority.


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