L.L. Bean announced last week that it was ending its famous "100% satisfaction guarantee" program. In a statement, the company said, "Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent."
L.L. Bean's new program allows for returns within one year, with proof of purchase, "if you are not 100% satisfied." Even during that one year period, however, L.L. Bean will not accept returns for a variety of reasons, including, for example, misuse, excessive wear and tear, and returns for personal reasons unrelated to the product. L.L. Bean does say it will consider accepting returns after that period that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.
How do you prevent consumers from misinterpreting your guarantees? According to the FTC's Guides for the Advertising of Warranties and Guarantees, marketers should only use the term, "satisfaction guarantee," if it refunds the full purchase price of the advertised product at the purchaser's request. If there are material limitations on the guarantee, they should be disclosed "with such clarity and prominence as will be noticed and understood by prospective purchasers."
L .L. Bean is no longer interested in replacing the ratty sweatshirts or worn-down boots you bought from the company decades ago.