About five years ago Catherine bought me an L.L. Bean winter jacket for Christmas, an olive green (officially “dill”) Gore-Tex shell with a warm removable lining and a pleasant array of zippered pockets. Warm enough for the coldest Prince Edward Island cold, I wore it faithfully from late fall to late spring every year. It was a good coat.
Except that the zipper never worked: some small defect at the bottom of the zipper prevented it from fully “meshing,” and so, unless I zipped the jacket up carefully and with some degree of magic finesse, I would often find myself with a jacket unzipping from the bottom on my way out the door.
I liked the jacket so much, though – and had nothing to replace it with – that I just put up with this problem and continued to wear the jacket year after year.
Until last Friday.
I found myself sitting on the on-ramp to Route 128 North in Burlington, MA faced with stop-and-go traffic all the way to Boston when I remembered that there’s an L.L. Bean store south of the highway in the Wayside Commons. I pulled off the highway to wait out the traffic and went jacket shopping.
I tried on a lot of jackets, including one, the Weather Challenger, that was very close to my old jacket, but I ultimately settled on the Bigelow model, a little less “outdoorsy” looking than my old jacket and with a better fit. And a much, much better zipper system.
Up at the cash register I noticed the “100% satisfaction” guarantee displayed prominently, and so I told the cashier the tale of my zipper. I was honest about my situation: I loved the jacket, had been wearing it for many years, and would have happily kept wearing the jacket should the zipper have worked. I showed her how the zipper unzipped itself. I told her that I wasn’t 100% satisfied, but I was certainly, say, 85% satisfied. I would have been happy if she’d knocked $25 off the cost of the new jacket.
But before I really knew what was happening, she’d accepted my old jacket as a “return,” looked up it’s original retail price, refunded me the entire amount, processed the sale of the new jacket, and handed me the new jacket along with a gift card for the difference owing me because the new jacket was less expensive and on sale.
So I walked out the door with a brand new jacket with a working zipper and an $86 gift card.
That is amazing customer service, a true implementation of “100% satisfaction,” and L.L. Bean deserves to be commended for standing behind its products and its guarantee.