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Oct 17, 2007
Oct 17, 2007
In 30 years, one customer service mistake
I placed my first order with L.L. Bean in 1976. Back then, you had to send in your order form by mail, and they used their employees as catalog models -- and their office staff were down-home and friendly. Now they have a well-designed website and much cuter models, and the customer service people still sound like your nicest aunt or uncle -- if your family has a Maine accent.
In 30 years, I've ordered from there at least once a year. I've experienced exactly one error, and it happened last week. My package was late because the shipping wasn't expedited as I'd requested. It was a big inconvenience in this case, because I had a deadline, and I was extremely... let's say, irritated. The lady on the phone at Bean couldn't undo the error, but her sincere apologies took the anger away. A good measure of quality in Customer service is how they handle mistakes. Until now, I had no way to gauge L.L. Bean using that criterion. They really seem to understand a disappointed customer's point of view.
The 100% guarantee forever is for real. My brother returned a watch after wearing it for several years because the crystal cracked; they sent him a new one. None of my returns has ever been questioned, even on items that had clearly been used for quite a while. I once had a problem with white sheets that yellowed slightly. The washing instructions said "no bleach," but I'd bleached them anyway. Customer service said "Send them back."
It's very rare that I send something back for quality reasons, though in 30 years it's happened a couple of times -- because of dye fading or inconsistent sizes. Usually, the quality is excellent. Buttons stay on, seams are strong, fabrics don't pill.
Of course Bean isn't perfect. One complaint is that too often, items have to go on back-order. A new catalog comes out, and even if I order the day I receive it, there's often something that's not available yet. Also, the color selections can be rather limited.
If you need simple, well-made clothes; warm, durable outerwear; luggage that can take abuse; kids' clothes that can be passed down again and again -- look to Freeport, Maine. L.L. Bean is a reliable, high-quality retailer that cares about customer satisfaction.