(NEWS CENTER Maine) -- LL Bean is facing a class-action lawsuit after announcing a change to its longtime tradition of unlimited returns.
Illinois resident Victor Bondi filed the lawsuit in the Northern Illinois U.S. District Court Monday evening.
The suit claims, 'as a result of L.L. Bean’s deceptive and unfair breaking of its promises and violation of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and other laws, Plaintiff and all other L.L. Bean customers did not receive what they bargained for.'
L.L. Bean touted its 100 percent satisfaction guarantee for more than a century, but announced Friday they would impose a one-year limit on most returns to reduce growing abuse and fraud.
Company spokesperson Carolyn Beem, who could not be reached Friday, said Wednesday that they have been telling customers and "people who ask" that items purchased before February 9, 2018 are still covered under the old policy -- but proof of purchase is still required.
"It was never our intent to not share that," Beem said when asked why that aspect of the policy was not highlighted.
The outdoor specialty retailer said returns of items that have been destroyed or rendered useless, including some purchased at thrift stores or retrieved from trash bins, have doubled in the past five years, surpassing the annual revenue from the company's famous boot.
In the suit, Bondi calls himself, 'a loyal customer of L.L. Bean products and has been a customer for years.'
► DOCUMENT: Class-Action lawsuit filed by Victor Bondi
The suit claims L.L. Bean has damaged their customers because, 'for more than a century, L.L. Bean’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee has been a pillar of its brand. It has garnered substantial goodwill and brand awareness because of its generous, unchanging, no conditions, no-end-date warranty. L.L. Bean has worked hard to inform customers of its warranty for many years and has enjoyed substantial revenues because of it.'
L.L. Bean spokesperson Carolyn Beem says some customers have twisted the intent of the policy over the past few years.
'We’ve seen a definitive uptick in third-quality, destroy quality products,' said Beem. 'Those are products that have no useful life left in them. It’s a small but growing percentage of the returns we received. In the last five years, we’ve seen a cost to the company $250 million on third quality items. It was never the intent of the guarantee. It was a product satisfaction guarantee. When we see products that have been well-worn, well-loved, well-used, that’s the definition of satisfaction. It’s not that it gets to be replaced every year for the rest of your life.'
Purchases are now only eligible for free shipping if they exceed $50. However, if a customer cannot find an item in a store, L.L. Bean will waive the shipping fee and ship the item to the customer's home.
Bondi does not specify what damages are sought in the suit.