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L.L. Bean Sued For Ditching its Lifetime Return Policy

February 14, 2018, 6:36 PM UTC

Last week, L.L. Bean announced plans to end its decades-old policy that let customers return products years after they had bought them. Now a Chicago man has sued the retailer for changing that policy.

In his complaint, self-described L.L. Bean enthusiast Victor Bondi claims that L.L. Bean’s lifetime return policy, which he says was advertised with ‘no conditions” and “no end date,” was key to the retailer’s marketing for years. He argues that the warranty was a huge selling point for L.L. Bean products and that ending it harms customers, Bloomberg reports.

Bondi hopes to gain class-action status for his lawsuit.

L.L. Bean says that the return policy was never meant to be “an infinite replacement plan.” The company says roughly 15% of all of its recent returns were bogus and cost it $250 million. Customers were only supposed to return products that were defective, the company says.

“Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales,” L.L. Bean chairman Shawn Gorman said in a letter to customers on Friday.

L.L. Bean’s new return policy limits most returns to one year after being bought.

Company spokesperson Carolyn Been told CNBC that the lawsuit misrepresents the new policy, and that “purchases made before Feb. 9, 2018, are not subject to the new policy as long as there’s proof of purchase.”