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In February, L.L.Bean ended its legendary lifetime return policy to clamp down on customers who were taking advantage and using it to replace heavily worn products.
"Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers have been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years," the company's executive chairman, Shawn O. Gorman, wrote in an email announcing the policy changes to customers. But it isn't all doom and gloom for L.L.Bean customers, as the store still offers a very reasonable one-year window for returns. And it's not alone — a whole host of US retailers offer customers incredible return policies.
Use psychological pricing methods.
Costco has one of the most generous return policies of any store. Any product can be returned to Costco warehouses for any reason. The only restrictions are on electronics, which must be returned within 90 days.
Ikea gives customers a 365-day return window for a full refund unless the product in question is a mattress, which can only be exchanged once.
Given that a year is a long time to hold onto a receipt, the store can also help you out by searching for an order using your credit- or debit-card number.
Demonstrate the differences
L.L.Bean previously offered an almost unbelievably generous return policy - customers could bring back any items bought at L.L.Bean if they felt it didn't live up to their expectations. The guarantee covered the item's full lifetime.
Offer a money-back guarantee
In February, the store reduced the return window to one year, which is still considerably better than a lot of stores.
Test your offer and price, and be creative.
REI also used to offer a no-questions-asked return policy where customers could return used items for cash. The return window has now been reduced to one year, but customers are still able to trial the products during that time.