L.L. Bean has eliminated its beloved lifetime return policy on its famous boots. The company said that the guarantee had grown too costly. Now it’s going to discover that ending it could cost even more. It’s getting expensive, although Bean charged a premium for its boots, because people are abusing the policy, as people are wont to do, and taking advantage of a successful business. Even usually trustworthy individuals are looking to scam businesses today.
The Bean move is short sighted. They have two types of customers: 1. The Lifer, the evangelist, they purchase Bean gear not only for themselves, but their kids, grandchildren and business associates. 2. Fraudsters, by contrast, are the real problem. They are not using Bean products themselves, and they certainly aren’t buying them for family. They find Bean products through third parties and attempt to cash in a refund.
What Bean really needs is a return policy that separates the Lifers from the Fraudsters. I wouldn’t think this would be too difficult to do with their database. So by doing a little more work internally, Bean could save money by eliminating Fraudsters and build their brand evangelists business even more. But by lumping them all together, I’m afraid the opposite effect of making or saving money is going to happen by disenchanting their best customers