How Much Is Too Much? L.L. Bean The Latest Major Retailer To Revise Their Return Policy


As a business, there is a very fine line between going above and beyond for your customers and opening yourself up to being taken advantage of. It’s a natural part of the business: life is expensive, consumers live in a consumer-driven world where getting the most bang for their buck is top priority. That being said, worrying about your bottom line doesn’t make you a bad business-owner.

Looking out for their bottom line may be exactly why some retailers are becoming less accommodating when it comes to their return policy. L.L Bean is one of the many large scale companies doing a complete 180 on their infamous return policy. Following a half decade of not-so-stellar sales, and a change in CEO, the company maintains that their new outlook on returns has been on the horizon for some time. As per Chairman Shawn Gorman (great-grandson of founder L.L. Bean,) while the changes “weigh heavily” on the family-owned business they’re necessary for the company to remain competitive.

The company’s century-old return policy allowed consumers to return items at any time and in any condition if they became unhappy with said item for any reason. The shift towards a tighter return policy comes as part of a larger wave of changes to the company – with everything from their 401(k) plan, and benefits, to maternity-leave and many other policies –  but it seems to be the one that has caught the most attention. The company wants to watch their bottom line while remaining competitive and they realized losing money on dicey returns wouldn’t help them do that.

In similar fashion, Nordstrom – another store with a notoriously lax return policy –  has also decided to take a hard look at their return policy. Their store locations had no return desk, meaning consumers could be helped by anyone on the floor and when consumers wanted to return something by mail, the company even provided postage-paid labels. Moving forward, the company will be keeping a log of customers and what they return to avoid people being able to abuse the system.

Despite the tried- and-true mantra of “the customer is always right”, when it comes to a relaxed returns policy it may be best to safeguard your business from abusers. Sadly, one bad apple always ruins the bunch, and in the case of returning things a little later than we should, we have all been there. When it comes to growing a successful brand, finding the happy medium between being accommodating and business-savvy is best.

Dante Berardi Jr.

Dante Berardi Jr.

Dante Berardi Jr comes to Hubba from a background in content creation and grant writing for musicians and artists. A writer/musician himself, Dante has a thirst to consume words and the stories they create when pieced together. He sleeps too little, reads too much, lives on coffee and will talk your ear off about vinyl.
Dante Berardi Jr.