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The letter goes on to explain that some consumers expect refunds for "heavily worn products used over many years" or refunds for products bought at yard sales or other third party outlets.

Customers reacted with both support and surprise. "I've been embarrassed for your associates when I've been in line seeing customers take advantage of the guarantee".

LL Bean
My well-loved four-year-old shoes. Dennis Green Business Insider

Gorman said the change in return policy "will only affect a small percentage of returns".

Those who suspect they've intentionally wronged the business founded by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1912 have also been put on notice, as the new policy states they may also turn down exchanges citing "on rare occasions, past habitual abuse of our Returns Agreement". If something from L.L.Bean broke, they fixed it.

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"I completely understand this decision, but it still makes me a little sad", comments Cathy. "When I'm spending $70 for kids' snow trousers, I need to know that the company is putting enough care, quality and effort into them that they're not going to break 14 months down the road". Apparently, the offending returns recently cost the company more than the total annual revenue it receives from its flagship product, Bean boots. Like other American retailers, it has struggled with years of slow or nonexistent sales growth.

Friday morning, L.L. Bean Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman emailed customers regarding an update to the company's long-standing replacement program. She said that up to 70 percent of the returns she and her colleagues processed seemed questionable. They ended up walking away with a $350 gift card.

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The federal Office of Management and Budget told federal agencies to plan for a "limited shutdown" of perhaps a few hours. That would put the Senate vote no earlier than about 2:30 a.m. "I didn't come up here to be part of somebody's club".

L.L. Bean's turnaround is similar to a change in policy at the outdoor retailer REI.

Customers who demonstrated "past habitual abuse" of the policy won't be allowed to return or exchange products, even within one year of purchase, according to the site.

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L.L. Bean has always been known for having one of the laxest return policies, but all of that is about to change. After a year, L.L.Bean will still take returns for items that are defective because of the materials or craftsmanship. The now-defunct lifetime return policy had been in place for 106 years. Abuse of the generous return policy with no time limit has accelerated thanks to people sharing their return stories on social media, they said.