L.L. Bean Reportedly Thinking Of Ditching Free Returns

Image courtesy of Dave Seidman

As retailers increasingly shifted toward more restrictive return policies, L.L. Bean’s generous approach to accepting returns has stood out. However, that could soon change as the Bean looks to shave costs.

The Associated Press reports that the Maine-based company could make a decision on the fate of its free return and “satisfaction” guarantee policies.

The retailer, which is examining its overall business practices, offers customers the option of returning any ordered product for free regardless of the issue.

“We make pieces that last, and if they don’t, we want to know about it,” the company’s website states. “So if something’s not working or fitting or standing up to its task or lasting as long as you think it should, we’ll take it back.”

This means that the company will accept returns on just about anything, indefinitely — even your dead spouse’s wardrobe. Of course, there are a few caveats, you can’t return items you purchased second-hand or from a thrift store.

The policy has long been the subject of curiosity for many in the retail business, namely concerning how it actually affects L.L. Bean’s bottom line.

We’ve reached out to L.L. Bean regarding the potential changes and will update this post when we hear back.

In the meantime, the AP reports that L.L. Bean has also made other cost-cutting changes, such as freezing pensions and offering voluntary early retirements.

The changes are set to take effect next year, with about 500 workers expected to take the early remittent incentives, CEO Steve Smith tells the AP.

As for the pension changes, the company tells the AP that it will freeze all defined-benefit pension plans, while boosting its 401(k) savings contributions to all 5,000 employees.

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