As reported in Law360, L.L.Bean has filed a motion to dismiss a purported class action alleging that the famous Maine sporting goods seller breached its "100% satisfaction guarantee" when the store refused to allow him to return his six year old slippers with flaking soles.
The complaint alleges that L.L. Bean's "highly publicized and widely-known Guarantee has, for decades, been part of the benefit of the bargain for purchasers of L.L. Bean products. L.L. Bean’s Guarantee has become almost entirely intertwined with the L.L. Bean brand." However, the Guarantee was revised in 2018, to limit it to returns within a year of purchase. That change, alleged plaintiff, was a "deceptive and unfair repudiation of its Guarantee and violation of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and other laws" because "Plaintiff and all other L.L. Bean customers who bought products before February 9, 2018, did not receive what they bargained for."
Not so, says L.L. Bean. Its motion argues that "at no place in his Complaint has Plaintiff alleged that these slippers were either unsatisfactory, or not working, not fitting, not standing up to their task, or not lasting as long as he thought they should. He has not alleged his own reasonableness, fairness, or good faith. He has not alleged any defects of workmanship or materials. Instead, he has alleged facts more consistent with a conclusion that he was trying to avoid financial liability for a pair of six year old slippers that, after a long life, had simply worn out."
Decision is TBD but one thing is clear: when companies change their longstanding customer policies and practices, even those that have been abused, they will face at least some angry consumers (and their lawyers).
In his complaint filed last month, Pershouse notes a change in store policy enacted Feb. 9, in which the president of L.L. Bean said it would only replace defective clothing or gear within a year of the purchase date. But the company argues some people were misusing the previous lifetime guarantee, mistaking it for a promise to replace worn-out items in perpetuity or to offer a refund for products purchased “through third parties, such as at yard sales.”