L.L. Bean Rocks

January 13, 2010
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(I have decided to edit this post to better explain my rationale on using L.L. Bean’s unconditional guarantee when sending back my old fitness pants for a new pair. The last thing I want to do is come off as unscrupulous. Edits appear in italics.)

You’ll recall my mentioning in my frugal resolutions blog post about how I’m a devout L.L. Bean customer, because of the company’s outstanding product guarantee. Just take a look at the picture here and you’ll see what I mean: this is the shipping confirmation I got for a pair of replacement workout pants that are on their way to me, free, courtesy of L.L. Bean. (You can’t see the retail price but these pants cost $34.50–that’s $34.50 I don’t have to spend.)

You see, about 10 years ago I bought a pair of fitness pants from L.L. Bean. When the waistband had stretched out so much that double and triple rolling it still didn’t keep my pants from falling down and the fabric had pilled to the point where I could have knit a new pair of pants with those pills, I knew it was time for a replacement. (FYI, I’d followed the washing instructions ever since I’d received the pants and one of the guarantees that L.L. Bean had made for these spandex/cotton pants is that they would never pill. Well, they did.)

Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to spend a dime replacing them. That’s because, as I’ve said many times before, L.L. Bean stands behind its products 100%.

All I needed to do to send back and then receive my new pants was to visit the L.L. Bean website, print out a return/exchange form, download their postage-paid label, and put the whole package in my mailbox. Simple as that. And soon enough I’ll have a brand new pair of workout pants.

Interestingly, according to the experts in the retail industry, this guarantee and the easy-to-navigate website are all reasons that L.L. Bean rocks customer service, too. Here’s what an announcement today from the National Retail Federation:

Maintaining their coveted spot at the top of the list, L.L. Bean once again lands the number one position as the retailer with the best customer service.  According to the fifth annual NRF Foundation/American Express Customers’ Choice survey, conducted by BIGresearch, shoppers revealed that L.L.Bean delivers the best customer service across all retail formats.

I realize that L.L. Bean clothes may not be for everyone, but if you find something you like in its catalog or store, or on the website, you know that the company is going to stand behind that product forever. And paying once for a product you can use for a lifetime is the best kind of frugal there is, don’t you think?

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16 Responses to L.L. Bean Rocks

  1. [...] L.L. Bean Rocks (suddenlyfrugal.com) [...]

  2. Pam on January 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I have to disagree with Anne, Jennifer, and Wilson. The reason why the return is justified is that the company GUARANTEED that the fabric would NEVER pill. The product failed after being cared for according to instructions. This type of situation is what return policies are designed for.

  3. Suzie on January 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

    I purchase many items from LLBean because of their guarantee and they know it. I have purchased hundreds of dollars worth or school backpacks and winter jackets when my children were growing up. I have had to return for replacement one backpack with a broken zipper and 1 boys jacket that had frayed way too soon at the wrist bands. They replaced them happily and I will continue to shop with them for many years to come. PS Most of the items wear well for many, many years.

    • Leah Ingram on January 26, 2010 at 8:23 am

      Thanks for posting your comment, Suzie. Glad to hear there are other devoted LL Bean customers out there.

  4. Wilson on January 25, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I also agree with Anne & Jennifer. I don’t believe its right to expect a company to honor a return/exchange policy after 10 years of use, although they are the ones who offered you an exchange and honored their guarantee, so I can’t fully blame you. Sounds like they have great customer service which is why they are doing well. And you are just trying to stretch your $$.

  5. Jennifer Krieger on January 14, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I’m with Anne on the late return. I can see a scenario where less scrupulous persons would misuse that viewpoint of the guarantee.

  6. Anne on January 13, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I can’t help but comment that I see this differently: the sign that they display on their website (http://www.llbean.com/customerService/aboutLLBean/guarantee.html?nav=gn) indicates that the founder didn’t “consider the sale complete until the goods are worn out and the customer is still satisfied.”

    A pair of workout pants that wears out after ten years of being worn into the ground — and you’re not satisfied with the product? Sounds to me that the pants lasted much longer than many workout pants available in the market today, and that this was a great product that had reached the end of it’s natural lifespan. I’ve had experiences with Lands’ End where a product didn’t live up to my expectations and they have also replaced it for free, but I would not be able to look at a product that I believed I had gotten the appropriate lifetime use from and ask for another. Products do wear out, and to me it feels morally questionable to ask a company to replace a product that lasted for so long.

    I’m certainly not against using a guarantee. But I wouldn’t have returned my L.L. Bean backpack because it wore out after thirty years — I don’t expect a backpack will last indefinitely. I call that a worthy product and buy a new one.

    • Leah Ingram on January 13, 2010 at 9:15 am

      That’s totally fine that you see things that way and choose not to use the guarantee the way I do. I appreciate your taking the time to post your comment.

  7. Denise Schipani on January 13, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Thanks for the timely reminder! This is why I spent more on the boys’ backpacks and lunchboxes from LL Bean (more than I’d have spent on something at Target, say) — because I knew I could make them last for years. Daniel’s three-year-old lunchbox is ripped inside, making it impossible to clean out. Back it goes for a new one!

    • Leah Ingram on January 13, 2010 at 8:33 am

      Denise, keep in mind that if you send the lunchbox back and they don’t have the exact “model” available anymore, LL Bean will call you and find a suitable replacement–still free. This is what happened when I sent back Jane’s monogrammed lunchbox–purchased four years ago but on which the zipper had broken. The couldn’t replace the monogrammed part for free but I didn’t care; I just wanted a new lunchbox that worked!

  8. Kate Harold on January 13, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Leah — thanks so much for posting this! I have some LLBean silk long undies that have a hole and run in them. I was bummed out because I don’t use them very often — occasionally on cold days in winter and once every five years (if I’m lucky) on a ski trip. I was getting ready to toss them. Now I’ll send them back! I’ve always liked LLBean, but now I like them even more!

  9. mystery4 on January 13, 2010 at 5:58 am

    L.L.Bean rocks! Wait until you see its new L.L.Bean Signature line that debuts in March. A new, hip, edgier line than you’ve ever seen from L.L.Bean. A company founded in 1912 is becoming one of the “hottest” companies of the 2000′s.

    • Leah Ingram on January 13, 2010 at 7:26 am

      Interesting. Do share information about that if and when you come across it.

  10. Jen A. Miller on January 13, 2010 at 5:13 am

    Fantastic! I need a new duffel bag, and I’m considering an LL Bean one. That way if it breaks I’ll get a new one.

    There’s an LL Bean store near me if you’re ever in the area again :-)

    • Leah Ingram on January 13, 2010 at 7:26 am

      Yes, in Medford, right? I’ve been going to the one near Quakertown. There used to be an LL Bean outlet store in Flemington, but it closed last year.

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