This summer, outdoors equipment co-op REI made a change: they cut back on their return policy. They no longer accept any item back for any reason indefinitely. Other companies continue the practice, most notably L.L. Bean and Costco. It must be expensive and there must be customers who abuse it. So why do they do it? [More]
When you go to Twitter, Facebook, an online forum or any other form of social media to voice a complaint about a product or service you’ve purchased, one can understandably be left with the feeling that no matter how loud they shout, no one is listening. However, some businesses say they are monitoring all those negative posts and reviews and a few claim to be making systemic changes in response. [More]
If you’ve ever written an e-mail to a retailer and either never received a reply or received one that did not adequately answer your question, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a new survey, retailers only provided complete responses to customers’ e-mails 54% of the time. [More]
While Santa and his pointy-eared, non-union laborers toil away at the North Pole, the editors of our more famous sibling publication Consumer Reports have compared their notes on a wide variety of companies’ policies on everything from guarantees to fees to refunds and distilled it down to the best and worst of the lot in their first-ever Naughty & Nice Holiday Shopping List. [More]
L.L. Bean just wants you to be happy, ok? Even if your unhappiness is entirely your own fault because you ordered the wrong size shirts and had them monogrammed. They don’t care. You will be happy or else.
Reader j. sent us the above scan of a page from an L.L. Bean catalog. j. says:
Reader Tim scanned a letter he got from Bank of America announcing that the bank and retailer L.L. Bean were breaking up.
I’m a fan of L.L. Bean, but don’t actually own a lot of their products. It’s only recently I got into them. When the Boat & Tote lunch bag came out, I really had to have one. Of course they sold out and were back ordered (they’re very cute lunch bags!) I placed my order on October 7th, when the items were all said to be backordered until October 29th. Well, that date came around and they still didn’t have enough to fulfill the pre-orders, so I got a charming little e- mail telling me they were backordered again until November 2nd. This time round they actually shipped (with free shipping on any order!)
Working mom/WSJ reporter Suzanne Barlyn discovered it wasn’t easy to return a busted Tamagotchi. The Journal also tried to return a Target shirt that didn’t make it through the wash, a $13 camera from Toys “R” Us that broke after one use, a broken flat-panel TV from Amazon, a coat that didn’t fit from BabyGap, and an oversize duffel from L.L. Bean. At each turn, they discovered retailers tossing road-blocks in their way.
Who can blame them? Return fraud soaked retailers for an estimated $9.6 billion in 2006, according to the National Retail Federation. Returning stolen merchandise for a refund is the most flagrant offense, affecting 95% of retailers last year. Computer-generated, counterfeit receipts make the practice easier. So-called wardrobing — the unethical practice of returning nondefective, used merchandise — affected 56% of companies. About 69% of retailers have modified their return policies in response to fraud, according to NRF. Changes include shorter time limits, restocking fees and requirements for original packaging.
The Journal recommends making purchases with a credit card (paid in full each month,) since retailers look up purchases electronically. We agree, but for a different reason: credit cards allow you to dispute charges. Tell us about your fun experiences returning products in the comments. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
After the first or second ring, a REAL LIVE HUMAN BEING answered. I’ve heard tales of such wondrous, magical, fantastical happenings, but this was happening to ME! Anyway, a very pleasant woman named Michelle helped me with everything and I hung up very happy. It’s true. LL Bean rocks.
Online megastore Amazon.com won top honors in a national customer service survey released last Thursday. Here’s the top ten list, according to a National Retail Federation/American Express study.
We spew a lot of slags and jags here but every once in a while, we like to take a moment to praise an instance of particularly good customer service.