LL Bean wins return policy lawsuit, court dismisses case
A Chicago federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed against outdoor retailer LL Bean in February when the retailer changed its lifetime return policy to the much shorter term of a year in an effort to mitigate abuse of the system.
The customer who filed the complaint, Victor Bondi, sued the Maine-based retailer, calling their policy changes deceptive, and sought to certify his lawsuit as a class action. The judge, however, disagreed, writing in the order dismissing the case that the changes to LL Bean's return policy were potentially ambiguous but that “ambiguity[...] does not amount to anticipatory repudiation.”
The court also pointed out that when LL Bean announced the policy change it clarified that it pertained to products purchased after the alterations. Products bought before the date of the change in February would therefore still have a lifetime warranty.
LL Bean made the changes to its historically generous return policy after reporting that customers were abusing the system by returning "destroy quality" items found at yard sales and other used outlets, and exchanging them for brand new products. In a statement, company spokesperson Carolyn Beem said that this abuse had cost the company $250 million over the past five years.
Beem said the court's ruling confirmed the claims were without merit and that the suit misstated the company's new policy, adding that Bondi was never denied a refund so he had no financial loss or basis to sue.
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