If you’re upset that you can no longer return your decade-old L.L. Bean boots for a full refund thanks to the Maine-based company recently changing their generous return policy, you’re not alone. In fact, one Illinois man is going so far as to sue L.L. Bean for the “breaking of its promises.”
In a class action lawsuit filed Monday in Illinois federal court against the outdoors retailer, “loyal customer” Victor Bondi seeks at least $5 million in damages or requests an order that L.L. Bean honor its 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee that allowed people to return heavily worn items that were years old or were bought secondhand.
L.L. Bean’s Executive Chairman Shawn O. Gorman announced earlier this month that the change to the century-old policy was necessary after “a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent.” The brand’s updated return policy allows customers to return items within a full year with proof of purchase, vows to work with customers on a fair return for items deemed defective after that year and states that they’ll honor the old return policy for anything bought before February 9, as long as the customer has proof of purchase. But Bondi, in his lawsuit, says it doesn’t go far enough.
“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 lawsuit states.
A Letter to Our Customers…..https://t.co/JuBXC9NaLx pic.twitter.com/zLFXyLNJm6
— L.L.Bean (@LLBean) February 9, 2018
Fashion law attorney Elizabeth Kurpis told Footwear News that “the plaintiff may not have had all the details surrounding the updated policy” when filing the lawsuit, given that purchases made before the policy change was announced on Feb. 9 are still covered under the original lifetime policy. However, she also notes that L.L. Bean spokesperson Carolyn Beem’s response to the lawsuit stated that “proof of purchase will continue to be required” — emphasis on continue.
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“This leads me to believe that proof of purchase has always been required, but the company’s chairman has pointed out that some of those abusing the old policy sought ‘refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales,’ where presumably a proof of purchase would not be available. Yet these customers were still able to return or exchange the merchandise,” Kurpis explained about why the lawsuit may have some merit. “So the issue then becomes if a proof of purchase was not actually required for these prior purchases, but now is, does this violate the ‘no conditions’ warranty or any of the consumer protection laws cited in the complaint or elsewhere?”