LL Bean is an east coast thing; their flagship store is in Freeport Maine, open 24/7. I’ve been to the store on the way to mid-coast Maine to visit my sister and brother-in-law, and if you love the outdoors, it’s a great place to browse. My family has owned a lot of LLBean gear and clothing over the years, from backpacks to snow pants to snow shoes to hiking poles to bike gear to warm winter boots and a lot of other things. The store is famous for their lifetime guarantee, that they’ll replace anything that fails, no matter how long you’ve had it, no questions asked.
I have an LLBean raincoat that has to be 20 years old. I love the coat: it’s long and keeps a sheeting rain off your pants, it has a hood, and with the zip out liner and roomy design, an added sweater underneath makes the coat a year-round wear. Just recently, I noticed that the waterproofing factor was pretty well gone. Now, waterproofing technology is IN the fabric. Back, then, waterproofing was ON the fabric — and subject, with time and the elements, to wearing away. I thought briefly about asking Bean to replace the coat, and then I said to myself, “Nah. The lifetime guarantee is for product failure, not longtime wear and tear. ” I ordered and paid for a new one, and donated the old.
Apparently I’m in the minority. Far too many customers were returning gear worn to the nubs and asking for a free replacement — sometimes asking replacement for an item bought so long ago it wasn’t demonstrably a Bean product at all. But given the company policy, the replacement was forthcoming.
No more. From now on, a replacement for product failure will happen during the first year, and then you have to have documentation that you actually bought the product at Bean.
I think it’s fair, and I’m surprised that they could keep the lifetime guarantee as long as they have.