Classy Move: Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against LL Bean

How selfish are people today? Pretty selfish, it would seem. As in willing to file a class-action lawsuit against LL Bean for dropping its much-abused lifetime return policy. Reports Bloomberg:

“The warranty, promising that there are ‘no conditions’ and there is ‘no end date’ has been a core component of L.L. Bean’s marketing and has been emblazoned prominently on many L.L. Bean catalog covers,” the complaint stated. “The warranty was a basis of the bargain with the sale of L.L. Bean products. Because of L.L. Bean’s unilateral refusal to honor its warranty, plaintiff and the other class members were harmed, and have been deprived of the benefit of the bargain.”

And:

“Increasingly, a small but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent,” L.L. Bean Chairman Shawn Gorman said in a letter to customers on Friday. “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.”

We knew Bean-wearing folks were frugal, but come on people. — CC

17 Comments on "Classy Move: Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against LL Bean"

  1. I stopped buying Bean when the quality of their clothes changed. I taught school in their dress shirts for years. I could have sent back their poorly made in South Asia shirts when they started to fray about 6 months into the purchase…But why? To receive more poorly made shirts?

  2. L.L. Bean customers don’t strike me as the type who would join a class action, even if it were warranted. Seems like a very un-Yankee thing to do.

    Further, I submit that if you join this class, you are part of the problem rather than part of a solution. Our friend Justin Peters from Slate (see former post) is probably excitedly calling the plaintiffs’ lawyer right now.

  3. I wonder if this lawsuit is just a stunt to protest LLB’s decision. It costs very little to file a lawsuit but a lot of time and money to actually pursue one — especially a class-action.

  4. I’d also assume the CEO ran this decision by his lawyers for any liability exposure, and they okayed it. At least he better have.

  5. It makes sense to me. If you purchased something from Bean 2 years ago, for example, you expected to have a lifetime guarantee. They reneged on their guarantee for that product. That isn’t fair.

  6. The whole idea of a lifetime guarantee is nonsense.

  7. There has always been “moral abuse” of the policy. I recall an article, decades ago, where Bean employees described returns of items used for years or just for a single vacation trip, outgrown children’s clothes, items burnt in a housefire or run over by a car.

    Two items stick out in memory: a fishing reel that the dufus took apart and then couldn’t reassemble, and a bloody hunting jacket with a bullet hole.

    I hate that the abuse has grown to these proportions, but Bean, in fact, DOES have, as written by itself, a “lifetime product replacement policy”.

  8. Morons don’t know the difference between “wear and tear” and a defect. A warranty should be for for defects, not use or the fact that the boots aren’t pretty anymore.

    I’ve be wearing 14 inch Bean Boots for 50 years for upland game. They last about ten years with heavy use in hunting. What kind of human being wants a free pair of boots when no defect can be shown.

    Sears once warrantied a life time replacement on defective tools. I’ve actually had them replace a 50 years old wrench, but not because the chrome wasn’t shinny anymore.

  9. Take just a few moments to compare/contrast modern-day L.L. Bean with Bean of yesteryear–as recently as the early 80s. No comparison. If they offer cheaply made stuff at a premium (I can only imagine the markup on the khakis, for instance), customers have a right to demand a generous return policy.

    I am still wearing a circa-80s OCBD. Really well made. I’ve had the collar turned more than once. If they carried the same level/quality of goods they carried in, say, 1983–well. A different story.

    Speaking of which:
    http://www.navyblazerclub.com/ll-bean-fall-1983/

    We need a source for well made (but not ridiculously expensive) goods, including “Whippet” worsted pants, flap-pocket tattersall oxfords, lightweight flannel pants, and shetland crewnecks. The latter cost $26 in 1983, which means, adjusted for inflation, it would (ideally) cost around $65 nowadays. Imagine a woven-in-Scotland shetland crewneck for less than $70.

    What the hell happened? We can’t keep blaming NAFTA, right?

  10. Trucker Carlson | February 15, 2018 at 2:00 pm |

    Even with the lawsuit LLB will be coming out ahead. These lawsuits will disappear like a fart in the wind as they have no basis. Look behind the lawsuits and you will find a bunch of whiney suburban soccer moms from Revere, MA who make a lot of noise because they have lawyer husbands.

  11. In all fairness, this lawsuit may not be so frivolous. As a consumer, a company’s warranty factors into my purchasing decision, and that comfort has been taken away. It wasn’t part of the original bargain.

    For example, the main reason I bought a pair of their waders was the guarantee. Bean used to produce leaky waders, but the latest generation seems superior. That said, the guarantee gave me comfort in the event that they still weren’t up to snuff. Otherwise, I would have chosen Orvis.

    I get changing the warranty, it makes business sense. However, this should be on a prospective basis.

  12. “…expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years…”

    The soles of my camp mocs lasted two Fall seasons until they completely wore out. Since they knowingly reduced the quality of their goods, they can no longer honor the guarantee put in place by their eponymous founder. Frustrating and sad.

  13. A Trad Confused | February 15, 2018 at 4:52 pm |

    LOL, I actually mentioned this very scenario on my comment on the previous LLB post.

  14. Funny that just about this time I have discovered that Dr Martens, the legendary makers of heat-sealed “airware” boots and shoes, have now a “For Life” option for their most expensive items. Not sure I got all the details but it looks like that you buy a pair and that’s it – when it’s worn out (not simply defective as all warranties, but including normal wear and tear) they will either repair or replace it at their choice and, most importantly, at their expenses, no questions asked. And this over and over again- “for life” indeed.
    I guess this will still exclude the most outrageous misuse but still quite a bold move.
    I know, DMs are really not Ivy League- type shoes and boots but I’ve had a few (although none of the FL line) and I’ve been impressed by their quality, not only for the England-made but also for those produced in Asia.

  15. How can a company accept heavily worn, broken or spoiled items? Also, how is it possible for someone to return an item that he purchased at a yard sale? Isn’t a receipt required to make a return? All this doesn’t make any sense.
    That being said, J. Press is the exact opposite. Their return policy is some of the strictest (and confusing) out there, and unfortunately they don’t like to worn their customers that an item is (for example), “final sale”. Not very honest.

  16. Len Longville | February 16, 2018 at 2:08 am |

    What has this got to do with jazz?

  17. button down law geek | February 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm |

    It’s a frivolous lawsuit and will go nowhere. Assuming it’s a contract action, the plaintiff will have to establish they are a valid party. How do you do this – with receipts. Then they have to show breach. How – they’d have to attempt to enforce the contract provision by returning merchandise to Bean (with receipts – otherwise bad faith) and Bean turn them down. Has this happened? Doubtful. Now try certifying a class that meets (or could possibly meet) these requirements. Unlikely to occur.

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