Am I stupid not to abuse a return policy?

I have actually been in the DVD section of a Barnes & Noble, looking at old British TV shows for my daughters X-Mas gift, when a salesman recommended I return the following week because all that department was going on sale then.

As for your example, I might think about it but I am too lazy to actually do that. I also am not a good liar. Would it be unethical? I don’t know.

On the return item question, I think if you can return the cheap item using the expensive receipt and the store will accept it, it’s all good. You will have fulfilled your obligation to them in terms of providing what’s required for a refund. Keeping track of what receipt matches which specific item bought at which specific time is their problem.

Same rule still applies though, I don’t think it’s stupid if you don’t feel good about doing that and keep the original item.

I think it’s unethical to have fluctuating prices. So there’s that.

Bean could have simply repaired your boots, they chose to replace them.

They’re taking advantage of overly generous return policies, not stealing candy from babies. Yeesh.

They could and would, but it’s not like the boots failed, I just wore through the bastards. I put a lot of miles on my footwear and I’m a big guy who apparently walks on his inner toes. I just wore through the Vibram soles in both pairs, it took 3-4 years each.

I’ve definitely returned (unopened) DVDs when I’ve noticed a price drop soon after I bought the first item. On the other hand, I’m Greek-American, so I might have a genetic disposition to stinginess when it comes to my money.

Meanwhile, if you have to buy a new boot or two, isn’t that being unsatisfied with the one you have? Its the store’s policy. They could have offered a more reasonable one year guarantee policy. They chose a lifetime policy and probably have used this fact to sell stuff to people before. And frankly, its a good enough policy that if you ever wanted to buy a family member a pair of boots, you would go back (I presume). When you throw in the fact that most clothes are sold at a very high margin, you’re just being a smart consumer. If LL Bean couldn’t afford the policy, they wouldn’t offer it. They are counting on most people not bothering to take advantage of it.

PS) If it really bothers you, just donate to their upcoming kick starter campaign. Everyone has one of those, now, right?

The fact that you framed the question as “abusing” a return policy sheds some light on how you really feel about it. I think you know how you’d feel about returning the boots!

Do you think LL Bean would take an ethical approach to getting sales from their customers?

You missed the part where they didn’t offer a lifetime policy, they just have a “satisfaction guaranteed” policy. Our Guarantee | Our Guarantee at L.L.Bean

I can’t say I’ve been dissatisfied with the boots; I’ve gone through several iterations of my other footwear in the same period that I’ve had these boots, they’ve easily been the best bang-for-buck footwear I’ve owned.

Contrast that with my reloading rig from Dillon, which does have a “lifetime no B.S. warranty” on anything and everything. I can drop it off a building, call them up, and they’ll ship out whatever it takes to fix it. I certainly haven’t abused the policy, but I’ve used it several times and it’s as good as they say. “Hey, I did this thing that broke the machine and I need this part.” It’s there two days later. THAT’S a policy I can get behind, and of course I did to the tune of $1,000 or more and another for my brother. Plus, as you would expect, it loses roughly no value so I can sell it for a profit at any time.


Yes. They offer a product, you buy it. Completely ethical.

Perhaps it was an issue of time, they couldn’t get them back to you in a timely fashion so they chose to replace them. Perhaps it was cost, it may be less expensive to send you a new pair of boots than it is to repair them in house. Regardless, I suspect replacing them is good for their bottom line. Goodwill goes a long way.

Sure, the first time around. But I wouldn’t think they could keep sending me boots until I died and maintain a profit. I’ve been shopping for replacements and a two-year warranty is about the gold standard for boots, and those are much more expensive than the Beans. Either way, I have the money, I enjoyed the boots, blah blah blah I bought some new boots.

Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now here’s Charlie. He’s come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It’s the right path. It’s a path made of principle – that leads to character.

Nicely done, Hougan.

We got a saying in the circles I travel in, and you know what those circles are.

Just do the next right thing.

You’ve always lived by the same code, clearly.

The others who suggest other actions here, it all comes off as either entitlement, justification, but underlying it, we know you know right from wrong unless you are psychotic. Just wanted you to know we see through it easily.

Case closed (and enjoy your new boots Houngan!).

I use to teach my kids “Character is what you do when no one else would know the difference.”

Any company with the customer focused approach that L.L. Bean demonstrates deserves support, as they are a vanishing breed. I am, this morning, in customer service hell with a company that has the “service” being done in India, with people that have no idea what they are doing but either not understanding the problem or pretending to not understand, and thus refusing to fix it.

Buy the boots and include a nice note telling them how much you appreciate their service and policies and that their customer focus is why you continue to buy from them.

I like that.

It is a “satisfaction guaranteed” return policy.
Hougan was thoroughly satisfied.
If he lied and stated he was not satisfied he could have received new boots.
You stated you had upstanding friends who would not have hesitated to do just that.
The definition of upstanding is honest.
Someone who would lie without hesitation is not honest, therefore my questioning their being described as upstanding.

If the ethical aspect isn’t enough to make you do the right thing, the other thing to consider is that excellent customer service policies can go away if they’re abused too frequently.

Witness Costco, which used to let you return items like TVs after any period of time, no questions asked. So people used this as a method to upgrade their TVs on on a yearly basis. So Costco eventually had to change the policy.

We have a Sharp 32-inch TV in our bedroom that’s thick and 720P, and was purchased long enough ago that it was nearly $1K. Because it was purchased before Costco changed its policies and I’m grandfathered, I could return it and get a super-nice, thin, larger set at no cost. (In fact, I should, since the bastards changed the policy. :)

In a case like this, the company has obviously served you well with their products. Buy a new pair and vote for them with your wallet.