I HATE lawsuits. I had the opportunity to join over 30 such lawsuits over the years as a consumer, but decided to join none…UNTIL now. About the Class Action Lawsuit here.
What is at stake in this Class Action lawsuit? The right of ALL consumers not to be PUSHED AROUND by a company, quick to blame others, for their lack of foresight and leadership. The recent changes to this policy was a “knee jerk” reaction to a long standing returns policy they knew nothing about and a long standing failure of executing that policy. This is NOT a consumer problem, it is a failed leadership problem.
For years, the company honoured returns, without question. I once asked a telephone agent, “What exactly does the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee mean?” She responded by stating it was more how I was “FEELING” about the product. It had nothing do with the product itself. This conversation left me with the impression that L.L. Bean did not understand, nor could fully interpret their own returns policy. “Feeling?” I said. So does that mean, I could return my product at any time if I was not “feeling” connected to it? The telephone agent confirmed this.
At the time of this conversation which was in 2016, L.L. Bean still required some sort of proof of purchase. Then, I heard others returning items with no proof of purchase. This led me to believe that the left side of L.L. Bean did not know what the right side was doing. You had telephone agents and stores executing two completely different “returns” policy. What L.L. Bean should have done from the VERY START was require “Proof of purchase” on ALL THEIR PRODUCTS. Even if their computer system only tracked receipts back four years, customers should be responsible for holding on to their purchase receipts.
As a direct result of L.L. Bean not understanding or correctly interpreting their returns policy, they have created their own “fraudulent returns mess.” This is NOT the consumer’s fault, but a company that failed to “strategically” and purposefully instruct all their employees on the handling and return of products purchased by LEGITIMATE customers. This is not the first time honest and law abiding consumers paid the price for companies who failed to understand their own policy and clearly define this for everyone. THIS IS NOT the case of a few bad customers. This is a case of dumb executives and just BAD LEADERSHIP.
A Case Study: L.L. BEAN RETURNS MESS
We recently tried to return a dog bed (purchased January 2017) that FAILED to deliver. It continually flattened out every time our 80 pound dog laid on it. Here is the description of the dog bed:
“Rugged, long-lasting and comfortable – our denim dog bed set makes the ideal comfort system for your best friend.”
Additional descriptions: Large - Dimensions: 44"L x 34"W x 5"H. For dogs: 60 to 90 lb.
At the time of the attempted return, we were unaware of the new returns policy since nothing was posted on the front door of the store and I never received an email about it. When we got to the register and handed in the receipt, we were promptly informed that it could not be returned because it was over one year old. The manager, a female in her 50's regurgitated their new returns policy. She also stated that whilst she had no dogs herself, she thought the two “Symmetrical” holes were “chew marks.” Anyone who has a Labrador Retriever knows that they don’t make “Symmetrical holes” when they chew anything, unless we have a “Vampire dog” who is either a contortionist or so organised to stand parallel with the dog bed to use his “fangs.” You be the judge (image below).
During my research on their new returns policy, I came across an interesting OMISSION by store. On 13 February 2018, L.L. Bean spokesperson, Carolyn Beem, in response to the recent lawsuit, emailed staff reporter, Lori Valigra of Bangor Daily News. Ms. Beem wrote:
“The recently filed lawsuit misrepresents the terms of our new returns policy. L.L.Bean products bought prior to 9 Feb. 2018 would not be subject to the new one-year restriction. Proof of purchase will continue to be required. That is what we have consistently told customers since the new policy was announced last Friday.”
I contacted Ms. Valigra of Bangor Daily News who confirmed receipt of the email that "L.L.Bean products bought prior to 9 February 2018 will not be subject to the new one-year restriction." The full article here.
In Ms. Beem’s remarks, she claimed that L.L. Bean had been telling customers that the items purchased before the new policy change was not subject to the new rules. I guess, someone at L.L. Bean Headquarters FORGOT to tell outlet store employees.
TO VINDICATION - UPDATE: Monday, 5 March 2018 -- SUCCESS! When confronted with the returns policy EVIDENCE, the store staff did a complete 180 degrees. Armed with our knowledge of their "internal policy," which was not disclosed to the public, we spoke with the store manager. Calmly, she said, "Well, we will return this product just this one time, but remember our new policy moving forward." What a difference EVIDENCE makes in getting your money back!!!
Here is the highlighted section of the article EVERYONE should use to get your RIGHTFUL refund. Just make sure you have the receipt handy too and the date reflects the purchase BEFORE 9 February 2018, when the new policy went into effect. GOOD LUCK!
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