An Illinois man has filed a lawsuit against Freeport-based L.L. Bean, claiming the company’s change in its return policy is “deceptive and unfair.”

Bean late last week announced it was changing its unlimited return policy, saying a growing number of customers were abusing the longstanding practice of allowing the return of any product, regardless of age and condition, if the customer wasn’t satisfied.

Company officials said that more customers were treating it as a lifetime replacement policy. Under its new policy, Bean will allow returns only within a year of purchase or because of a manufacturing defect.

The company also is requiring a proof of purchase on many older items because the company only has records on sales in the last four years.

The suit was filed in federal court in Chicago by Victor Bondi who, in the suit, calls himself a longtime, loyal Bean customer. He is seeking certification as a class-action lawsuit, which would allow others to join the action and share in any potential settlement.

Calls to Bondi’s lawyer seeking comment were not returned Wednesday.


His suit said that the company has used the policy as “a core component of L.L. Bean’s marketing.” Bondi’s complaint includes copies of a couple of Bean catalog covers with the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” return policy prominently featured.

Bondi’s suit notes that customers who bought products before this week’s announcement did so under the belief that they could be returned at any point if the customer wasn’t satisfied.

“The warranty was a basis of the bargain with the sale of L.L. Bean products,” the suit alleges. “Because of L.L. Bean’s unilateral refusal to honor its warranty, Plaintiff and the other class members were harmed, and have been deprived of the benefit of the bargain.”

The suit said Bondi and others who join the potential class-action suit are seeking unspecified damages or an order that Bean honor the warranty and corrective advertising on the return policy.

Bean has said the new restrictions on returns will apply only to items purchased after Feb. 9, when the new policy was announced.

“L.L. Bean products bought prior to Feb. 9, 2018, will not subject to the new one-year restriction,” company spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said in an email. “Proof of purchase will continue to be required. That is what we have consistently told customers since the new policy was announced last Friday.”

Beem did not reply to an email seeking further comment on the lawsuit.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: