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Sun Feb 11 2018 13:37:16

LL Bean Draws Attention to Rampant Returns Abuse

By: Ina Steiner

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LL Bean dramatically curtailed its returns policy, reporting that returns of items that have been destroyed or rendered useless have doubled in the past five years. It believes returns abuse has grown as people share their stories on social media about easy returns.

In its letter to customers, LL Bean wrote, "Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. 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."

LL Bean's policy had been, "...Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in very way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise,..."

Now it states, 

"If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.

"We require proof of purchase to honor a refund or exchange. If you provide us your information when you check out, we will typically have a record of your purchase. Otherwise, we require a physical receipt.

"Please include your proof of purchase with the products you wish to return or exchange and bring it with you to any of our stores, or include it in your package of returned item(s). We will reimburse the original purchase price to either your original method of payment or as a merchandise credit."

The retailer didn't say so, but online marketplaces may have contributed to the problem by allowing bad buyer behavior, including returns abuse, to flourish on their sites. 

eBay urges its third-party sellers to offer returns in an effort to make the marketplace attractive to buyers. But because eBay doesn't own inventory, the sellers are the ones who bear the risk and any losses that may arise due to returns abuse - with eBay even able to keep commission fees on some purchases that are returned.

eBay outlines its policies on help pages, which show the seller doesn't always get their commission fees (FVFs) returned when a buyer returns an item:

Refunds: When a full refund is successfully deposited in the buyer's account, your eBay final value fees show as a credit on your next seller invoice.

Replacements and exchanges: If a buyer requests a replacement or exchange but does not return the original item, the replacement or exchange is then handled like a standard purchase. The buyer is charged for the second item and a final value fee for the transaction appears on your next seller invoice.

You won't receive a final value fee credit if the buyer asks us to step in and help with a return or an item they didn't receive.

In the fall, eBay implemented new return procedures, announced here - let us know how it has impacted you, whether for better or worse.

How do you think retailers and online marketplaces can reduce returns abuse?



Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Feb 11 14:13:34 2018

Well if LL BEAN was doing business on Ebay they would probably be like the rest of us.

BORDERING ON BANKRUPCY with Ebays CUDDLE, BURP AND CHANGE THE DIAPERS OF BUYERS.

And if for some fate you happen to win the return against you its only because Ebay has paid off the buyer from their own pocket which just makes things worse.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Feb 11 15:01:32 2018

Just ask any major Amazon seller about stuff like this ....

LL Bean is finally learning what many others (including we sellers here on eBay) have about returns and what they do to business. Its a business KILLER.

LL Bean now knows - since they manufacture the items they sell - that means THEY eat the crap. UNLIKE Amazon, who just pushes the cr@p back on someone else .. 3P seller, maker, distributor etc.

People put up with it because they are SO HUNGRY to do business on Amazon that they kick the can down the road when it comes to this topic.

I know a major ecommerce player who had to take additional warehouse space to put the SKIDS of defectives that would come back.

I remember being at a cetain NJ based retailer who had ROOMS full of defectives (most without boxes/manuals and accessories) that they just couldnt dump. They resorted to having a "warehouse sale" 1x per quarter to sell the stuff at insane prices - just to get rid of it.

eBay as usual takes ZERO responsibility for anything - especially the mess they themselves cause with returns.

Read the forums - read the sellers who cry when their iPhone 7 goes out as sold but comes back as a Motorola Startac .... if they are lucky. And, watch that old buffoon Griff - the "seller advocate" sit back, make stupid comments on his radio show, collect a big paycheck all while throwing said sellers under the bus.

Its about gd d@mn time that people stood up to fraud - glad LL Bean is taking charge - will eBay????

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Sun Feb 11 17:52:54 2018

Seems like I read that L.L. Bean have now gone to a 1 year return policy, which they will find will still give them problems.

Pace, it seems like I read some comments made by Wayfair CEO recently regarding his unhappiness with Amazon.  I think that it was related to their sky high fees.

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by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Sun Feb 11 18:03:46 2018

I hope that this is the first shot in a Returns Revolution.

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This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Sun Feb 11 18:34:42 2018

Amazon, eBay, and anyone else who is in ECommerce knows returns are a killer.

And returns fraud is a billion dollar industry, and a drain on all sellers, whether online or in a B & M store.

Unfortunately, in the race for business, retailers are forced to kowtow to the whims of those with less-than-honest intentions because they do not wish to lose sales.

If a buyer is documented returning, say, 30% or more of the items they purchase from a single retailer, how can they make a profit continuing to deal with this person??

Having a retail business model like a Nordstrom (who takes back any returns and refunds and gives cash or store credit) is not sustainable for online sellers.

Nordstrom sells their goods at full retail, so buyers do pay for the privilege of no-questions-asked returns with very high prices. This cannot be achieved when an EC vendor must sell at the least expensive total cost to the buyer. And just one return can erase the profit from 10 sales for some folks.

It would be impossible for stores to ban buyers because of excessive returns, because there will always will be one company with deep pockets (like Wal-Mart) which would welcome your business, even if you are a ''serial returner''.

There will always be returns if you sell anything. It is just a fact of life. But it is very disheartening to a small to medium sized seller when an online sales site allows thievery and scams. And will not address it no matter what evidence is presented that the buyer is less than honest.

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by: Studiolines This user has validated their user name.

Sun Feb 11 19:47:30 2018

@ Rexford
Read the whole LL Bean return policy
They are clamping down in several ways
Kudos to LL BEAN , I hope it is a turning point in retraining buyers to be more responsible and honest when it comes to returns.
Hopefully others will follow

Perminate Link for LL Bean Draws Attention to Rampant Returns Abuse   LL Bean Draws Attention to Rampant Returns Abuse

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Feb 11 23:05:26 2018

Only when major retailers tighten their return policies is there ANY hope for the rest of us.

To some extent fraudulent returns impact Amazon's bottom line, but I'd guess it's not enough for them to change their return policy to A-F (for fraud).

Monkey see, Monkey Do ebafia won't change until Amazon does. Ebafia MAKES MONEY on some returns and loses nothing on the remainder so there's no incentive for them to become responsible "partners" especially when they deceptively include each sale in the GMV. What Wall Street should demand is NMV which would tell a far more accurate story.

Also part of the problem is that too few sellers report fraudulent returns to USPS if the return is delivered by USPS.

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Feb 12 00:27:33 2018

I have bought several pairs of slippers for my husband via LL Bean. When the first pair wore out, I just purchased him a new pair even though the price had gone up. When they feel apart, I called LL Bean and asked them about their policy because I didn't want to take advantage of them, but I thought perhaps a partial credit could be issued. For them it was a full refund or none, and if I felt like they hadn't given appropriate service, then it was our decision to ask for a refund. So it is ambiguous. They gave a lifetime guarantee on their goods. But with no definition of what a lifetime entails. My lifetime, the normal life time of a pair of slippers, or the lifetime of a moth?

I am glad they have made a change in their policy, it is still generous, although with specifics as guidance. I could tell when I was talking to the woman on the phone that they were at that time under orders to NOT refuse a refund for any reason. Now there is guidance.

I have wondered for a long time, ever since I was a kid, what in the world a life time guarantee meant.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Feb 12 06:25:31 2018

Lifetime warranty--"Fred died, so I guess we can no longer return his well worn slippers. Dang it."

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by: Diogenes This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 12 08:15:44 2018

In the EU we have crazy liberal legislation which actually encourages returns fraud and too many small sellers kowtow to it. Some of these buyers are actually stupid enough to claim that something ''did not fit'' or ''was the wrong colour'' when there are pictures of them on their social media wearing it.

I check social media before agreeing to any returns request and have caught out more than one petty criminal in this way. A stern message from my ''legal'' department accompanied by a copy of said pictures (and the info that I have software that has scraped the entire site so removing the picture wont help therm in court) invariably results in them sinking back under whichever slimy stone they crawled out from under.

Anyone who says returns are a ''cost of doing business'' does not know how to run a business. I do not run a clothing exchange agency or a charity.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: MainelyVintage

Mon Feb 12 08:28:38 2018

I buy most of my clothes at an LL Bean outlet store here in their back yard. We have seen customers return some ridiculous stuff.

''Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years,'' [LL Bean CEO] Gorman wrote. ''Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.''

Yep. We could see this coming : (

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Feb 12 08:34:19 2018

@Rexford >>Lifetime warranty--"Fred died, so I guess we can no longer return his well worn slippers. Dang it." <<

That is the thing, what is the average lifetime for the product. It is one thing when I buy my slipers at Kmart and they fall apart in a year or so, I only paid $10. But if you pay $70 for a part of slippers, How long really should they last? That is dependent on whether someone wears them for half an hour before and after bed, or they wear them most of the day because they no longer go out for work. So many variables to account for when giving a lifetime warranty. Unfortunately before our kmart closed this winter, I never got around to getting a new pair, dang it!  

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 12 08:56:26 2018



I think it really depends on the venue, if they actively promote easy returns, as a selling feature, that's exactly what they get,,,,,,,,,,  returns

companies that promote returns normally factor in higher return rates, with higher prices, except for ebay amazon, etc. which don't incur any loss's on returns, but encourage returns. to drive sales,  

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by: suumcuique This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 12 11:00:11 2018

It's about time.
I live close to the Flagship store in Freeport, Maine and have returned (legit) items from time-to-time, usually because of fit.  (And btw, they don't manufacture ALL their goods, just the Hunting Shoe and the totes here in Maine.  Just about everything else is imported, why is why I need to return things.  From year-to-year they just don't fit the same due to  different manufacturing).  Almost every time, the person in front of me brings a HUGE bag of stuff.....things that should have been thrown out *years* ago.  The representative behind the counter is pleasant, but only because they HAVE to be.  When I get up to the counter and mention something, they just roll their eyes.  

I don't know how people have the gall to return this stuff.  And it's *nasty*, too.

One could reason that's why their prices are so high.  But we all know they won't decrease any once this ~still generous~ return policy goes into effect.

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by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 12 13:46:58 2018

Kudos to LLBean!! I don't blame them.  I am sick of this "freebie generation" expecting to get everything handed to them, with no cost.

Best way to work LLBean is to use your customer # and order through them directly.  They keep records of purchases (the records they have) for years!  

I have returned a couple of things and was surprised at how long records are kept.  

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by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 12 13:56:33 2018

@:suumcuique -

I surely miss the old(er) days when most things they sell were USA made. Sadly I am about finished buying from them, I am tired of the poor fits (are they skimping on materials? example, shirt sleeves now are too tight) and poor designs. The fabrics are noticeably poorer quality. The button tabs on "camp shirt" sleeves wrinkle even though the shirts do not. Moccasins are made with too narrow lasts. Etc.  

Returns (even valid ones) are too expensive. I've decided to just buy in person at other stores where I get about the same quality except for much less money, and I can make sure the fit is OK.

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by: suumcuique This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 12 14:21:43 2018

@timeaftertime

I agree with you 100%.  
Fortunately, I can go into the store to try stuff on, but fighting for a parking spot in Freeport isn't all that easy.  I too, have decreased buying from them, sadly.  If you notice, in their catalog, most everything says "imported"....and things that were *perfect* at one time (like the unshrinkable tee's) are no longer perfect for me.  They must change manufacturer's to get the price they want to pay (labels from VietNam, Guatemala, China) but increase their retail price.  It's sad, really.

Did you notice they no longer offer free shipping to everyone as well?  Free only if your order is more than $50 or have their credit card (which I do).  *That* was bound to happen as well.

That being said, they are generous with their employees.  On top of a yearly bonus (for everyone, from the ground up excluding part timers) if they meet their annual projections, they get a 33 1/3% discount.



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