End of LL Bean’s Lifetime Return Policy Spurs Class Action

CHICAGO (CN) – A class of consumers filed a federal lawsuit against L.L. Bean after the clothing retailer said it will end its famed “no questions asked” satisfaction guarantee, arguing that’s not what they bargained for.

“Although the warranty promised to have ‘no end date’ and there had not been one since 1912, on February 9, 2018, L.L. Bean announced without forewarning that a new warranty had been made that would limit returns to one year after the date of purchase, and proof of purchase would be required,” according to the 16-page federal lawsuit filed Monday in Chicago.

Lead plaintiff Victor Bondi, represented by Chicago attorney Ben Barnow, brought the class action against L.L. Bean, a Maine corporation that sells outdoor-style clothing and shoes, on behalf of himself and other customers who bought products before the return policy change.

Bondi claims he is a loyal L.L. Bean customer and all of his purchases from the retailer, including a pair of Bean Boots, were based on the company’s century-old unconditional satisfaction guarantee.

“Plaintiff and the other class members paid a particular price for L.L. Bean merchandise and a warranty with certain terms,” the lawsuit states. “When L.L. Bean announced those terms would be dishonored, plaintiff and the other class members were deprived of their benefit of the bargain.”

Bondi says L.L. Bean has built its brand on its famed warranty. According to the complaint, until recently the company’s website stated: “Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.”

The lawsuit includes photos of two L.L. Bean catalog covers with the words: “100% Satisfaction Guarantee. No Conditions. No End Date.”

Bondi wants to represent a national class of all customers who purchased goods from L.L. Bean before the return policy changed on Feb. 9, as well as a sub-class of Illinois consumers.

He wants the retailer to either honor its original warranty or engage in “corrective advertising” in the form of notices in the L.L. Bean catalog for the next year and point-of-sale reminders about the new policy.

The complaint also seeks at least $5 million in damages and a declaration that L.L. Bean’s policy change is an unfair and deceptive breach of warranty in violation of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

L.L. Bean and Bondi’s attorney did not immediately respond Tuesday to email requests for comment.

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