Customer sues LL Bean over 'deceptive and unfair' changes to return policy

LL Bean changed its lifetime return policy last Friday, transitioning to a more restrictive one year term. The company has now been sued by a consumer seeking to create a class action against the company for the change.

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The 106-year-old Freeport, ME-based company made the change to its formerly legendary return policy last week after it said consumers were abusing the life long option to return product. LL Bean spokesperson Carolyn Beem told the Associated Press that in the past five years, LL Bean has lost $250 million replacing items its classified as "destroy quality."

LL Bean said returns of destroyed goods have doubled over the past five years. The increased volume of what it deems abusive returns cost the company more than it has earned in revenues from its top selling "Duck" boots.

Beem said the company had to make changes as a result of learning about its consumers' behavior on social media. Consumers proudly shared stories of themselves digging through junkyards and thrift stores for decades old product, which they would then send back to the company with the expectation of receiving new product in exchange.

In response to the policy change, Victor Bondi, an unhappy LL Bean consumer, filed a lawsuit in Chicago federal court this week. Bondi claimed the lifelong return policy was a basis of LL Bean's brand marketing, and that the changes deprived him of the "benefit of the bargain" of his purchases. 

He is also attempting to enlist other Illinois residents in a class action against the company.

The lawsuit claims that LL Bean's "refusal to honor its warranty" is "deceptive and unfair." Essentially, the lawsuit alleges that consumers would not have purchased items from LL Bean if the warranty did not exist.

The company has not responded officially to the lawsuit yet. However, Beem also noted that the warranty changes only affect product purchased after February 9, 2018. As a result, it is unlikely that the lawsuit will hold much traction.

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