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Thread: Runaround from LL Bean

  1. #1
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    Angry Runaround from LL Bean

    As many of you probably know, LL Bean changed their official guarantee back in 2018. This departure from their decades-old "Lifetime satisfaction guarantee" made news at the time.

    Now I'm seeing the fruits of this change.

    At bear camp in Maine, my LL Bean boots broke (Boa steel cable snapped). Fortunately, my bear hunt was over, but it did affect my decision to return home early, as I needed to resolve the problem before the September 1st bear season in NH.

    Bad as this timing was, it offered, I thought, one silver lining. I drive right past Freeport, Maine on my way home from bear camp. I made a detour to bring the boots in person for exchange/repair/refund. Time was of the essence, as I had bear in a cooler in my truck.

    Customer service gave me the complete runaround. Wouldn't lift a finger to help me. Worse still, their excuses were laughably dishonest.

    "Our records only go back five years" - Really? In this era of "Sell everybody's information", you expect me to believe that?!? (Boots purchased in 2013, not 1890).

    "Our policy today is...." I don't give a shit about your policy today. What matters is the terms in place in 2013, not 2019. You can't change one side of a contract.

    (My favorite) "We might not have your name in our sales records" Tell me again how you can make a credit card purchase without a name?

    So I left the store in disgust, telling shoppers on the way out to think twice. "Lifetime satisfaction guarantee"? I'm still alive, and I'm not satisfied.

    When I finally returned home, I started the email chain in a last-ditch effort to get them to honor their warranty. They're still feeding me much of the same B.S. They're sticking to the "five year" line, demanding that I produce a receipt. If they didn't keep electronic records for five years, why would I keep paper records for six, especially for a product with a "Lifetime satisfaction guarantee"? I've had to tell them more than once that, legally and morally, their 2019 policies don't mean jack shit regarding a 2013 purchase.

    Companies generally don't resort to bureaucratic doubletalk unless they're planning to shaft you, so I'm not holding my breath, but there is some hope. They claim to be able to "research" (their word) the purchase and "evaluate" the situation. The bullshit about five year records history sounds like a de-facto attempt to convert previous lifetime guarantees into five-year guarantees. Now their official line is an anemic one-year guarantee for new purchases. This is a far cry from only a few years ago, when you could walk into any LL Bean store, show them the LL Bean logo (which I did), and all discussion would end - they took care of you.

    It seems like some fund manager bought the company and is planning to bleed it dry. Not long ago, they had American products guaranteed for life. Then they had Chinese products, guaranteed for life. Now it looks like they have Chinese products with short guarantees. Why would I pay LL Bean prices when I can get Chinese goods with a short guarantee at Wal-Mart for half the cost?

  2. #2
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    The straw that broke the camels back with their guarantee was when Shawn Gorman, the president, donated clothing to the goodwill that had his name on it. Somebody bought the clothing and returned it under their previous return policy for a new item. Word got back to him about the return of his personal shirt and that was one of the defining moment for the change. Plenty of people were abusing their returns policy and then bragging about it online so others did as well.

    On the other hand 5+ years on a pair of boots is good quality in today’s throw away world. I returned a pair of leather boots to them because a pull tab for the heel ripped off after a few weeks and had to supply the proof of purchase as well.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by NH Mountains View Post
    The straw that broke the camels back with their guarantee was when Shawn Gorman, the president, donated clothing to the goodwill that had his name on it. Somebody bought the clothing and returned it under their previous return policy for a new item. Word got back to him about the return of his personal shirt and that was one of the defining moment for the change. Plenty of people were abusing their returns policy and then bragging about it online so others did as well.

    On the other hand 5+ years on a pair of boots is good quality in today’s throw away world. I returned a pair of leather boots to them because a pull tab for the heel ripped off after a few weeks and had to supply the proof of purchase as well.
    I never heard that story, but heard and saw plenty of the policy abuse. A damn shame fore sure.

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    The decision to adopt a one-year return policy for new purchases is their right, albeit a dumb move. Attempting to apply this metric retroactively is where the problem lies. Based on the way they've been talking to me, they seem to think that their new "policy" can be applied to old purchases - something that is both unethical and illegal.

    I can understand their desire to have proof of purchase, and had I paid cash for the boots, I would most certainly have kept a receipt. But to imply if not outright state that the product carries a "Lifetime satisfaction guarantee" at the time of purchase (something they're backpedalling from) and then act surprised that a customer didn't keep a receipt he was led to believe was unnecessary is problematic. I can't tell you where any of the receipts for my Ruger revolvers are located, because I will never need them.

    Like I said, the weasel excuses are the worst part. The "five-year records" is a complete lie, probably designed to cap their liability on older products. The "We may not have your name on the purchase" that was made using a credit card is an insulting lie. They know damn well that I bought these boots from them, not a third-party retailer.

    My own nasty situation aside, I hope they don't expect to be able to charge the same prices for products now carrying a substantially inferior warranty. In my particular case, the boots were overpriced, but I paid the price explicitly for the guarantee. Now knowing that the product warranties are no better than anybody else's, people won't pay LL Bean prices for Target warranties.

    Those of us with pre-February 2018 LL Bean products will likely endure an unethical abrogation of the guarantee as I have. People considering buying from LL Bean in the future should know that it is not your father's LL Bean.

    I don't know if the abuse is as rampant as LL Bean claims (neither does anybody here), but they could have addressed this problem better.

    It reminds me of my father returning a pair of LL Bean boots about 15 years ago. I think he bought these boots in the 1960s. They were well worn out, but he returned them. They sent him a new pair. No questions asked, no receipt. I wouldn't blame Gorman for thinking dad pulled them out of a dumpster, but they honored their warranty anyway.

  6. #6
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    Sadly the utter abuse brought this. I know of people who would gear up and return everything at the end of the season so they could gear up for the next season. Habitually did that every year. Was only a matter of time before they caught on. My last return was a downeast rod holder that lasted 1 trip before breaking in half. They swapped it out no questions asked

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    Like I said, I think they could have addressed the abuses in a way that didn't shaft those of us with legitimate claims. The "five year" thing is particularly hokey, as is applying their new terms retroactively.

    To prepare for tomorrow's bear hunt, I grabbed a pair of rubber boots from a local store. A lot cheaper, with a short warranty. If LL Bean steps up and honors their warranty, it would be kinda nice since I'd now have one of each "style" of hunting boot. Still trying to figure out which style I prefer. A lot of guys at camp had the long rubber pull-ons.

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    Shame what people with no integrity did to LLBean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by longbow View Post
    Shame what people with no integrity did to LLBean.
    It's more then just LL Bean...... It's a shame what people have done to our society with no morals, ethics or integrity. Our society has misidentified who's a "victim" in every day life.

    Not to get too political, but look at bail reform. We have politicians that claim bail keeps "poor people poor". Here's a thought...... stay out of trouble and you don't have to worry about finding bail money!!! Better yet, if those people consumed their time looking for work, working once they found work, they'd realize they don't have time or energy to commit crimes.

    I have a few friends in law enforcement. I'm sure this hits home with you as well.

    As for the Bean warranty thing.... I can see both sides. What I'm annoyed with as a person who purchased a lot of Bean goods, is the CS people that would tell you "you have a 100% satisfaction guarantee". I called CS a few years back asking if I purchased Lacrosse Alpha burly sports, and the heal wore out like they do after two years would you replace them? The lady said YES. I could never understand that business model of replacing another companies merchandise.

    I have a pair of waders from Bean that I purchase specifically from them because of the warranty they boasted. With that being said, I understand now that is no longer an option when they are worn out. I still think Bean has some decent quality merchandise, but I won't pay over and above what the product is worth to me personally. So with that being said, Bean may suffer in future sales going forward. But that would take a lot of people spending their money some place else for it to be a wash on the 250 Million a year they are claiming were taking place in false or fraudulent claims. It's their company and their choice. Sounds like Igloo won't be buying from them again, and I will be treating Bean like any other store. I'm just looking for the best price I can find on a decent product. Usually for me that means I don't buy anything I want or need until I can get it on a well marked down sale.
    "The rich who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own exertions, these are the real enemies of the game" Theodore Roosevelt's the principals of the hunt.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NH Hunter View Post
    It's more then just LL Bean...... It's a shame what people have done to our society with no morals, ethics or integrity. Our society has misidentified who's a "victim" in every day life.

    Not to get too political, but look at bail reform. We have politicians that claim bail keeps "poor people poor". Here's a thought...... stay out of trouble and you don't have to worry about finding bail money!!! Better yet, if those people consumed their time looking for work, working once they found work, they'd realize they don't have time or energy to commit crimes.

    I have a few friends in law enforcement. I'm sure this hits home with you as well.

    As for the Bean warranty thing.... I can see both sides. What I'm annoyed with as a person who purchased a lot of Bean goods, is the CS people that would tell you "you have a 100% satisfaction guarantee". I called CS a few years back asking if I purchased Lacrosse Alpha burly sports, and the heal wore out like they do after two years would you replace them? The lady said YES. I could never understand that business model of replacing another companies merchandise.

    I have a pair of waders from Bean that I purchase specifically from them because of the warranty they boasted. With that being said, I understand now that is no longer an option when they are worn out. I still think Bean has some decent quality merchandise, but I won't pay over and above what the product is worth to me personally. So with that being said, Bean may suffer in future sales going forward. But that would take a lot of people spending their money some place else for it to be a wash on the 250 Million a year they are claiming were taking place in false or fraudulent claims. It's their company and their choice. Sounds like Igloo won't be buying from them again, and I will be treating Bean like any other store. I'm just looking for the best price I can find on a decent product. Usually for me that means I don't buy anything I want or need until I can get it on a well marked down sale.
    Actually, my response will be much like your's. Once my blood pressure returns to normal, I will treat LL Bean like any other store. I suspect, however, that in so doing, LL Bean will not be able to compete on price without the added value of their guarantee. Their talk of "We still stand behind our products" rings pretty hollow - not aligned with their deeds.

    I'm really not terribly upset about their decision to change their guarantee. Although I think its a bad business decision (as their guarantee is what set them apart), it's theirs to make. What lights my fire is their conscious decision to cease honoring warranties given to pre-change purchases, and the laughable excuses used to justify this abrogation of an agreement.

    Time will tell if this was a good decision on their part, but my hunch is "no". Now they're just a Sears with fifth avenue department store pricing.

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