When business policies change, prepare for disputes

While we often discuss business policies or procedures that affect workers or parties to a contract, there are also situations in which customers are the people primarily affected by a specific policy.

Because of how crucial -- and tenuous -- relationships between a company and its customer base is, it is vital for business owners in Albuquerque to prepare for some potential backlash if they put in place a policy that adversely affects consumers.

As an example, recently, the retail company L.L. Bean faced some criticism after it changed its return policy. It is also facing at least one lawsuit from an angry customer citing breach of contract, among other allegations of unlawful conduct.

According to reports like this one, the man says that he tried to return a pair of slippers only to be denied by a manager citing the new return policy. However, the man who filed the lawsuit says that he made his purchase in 2012, when the policy was still in place. 

Since the company started in 1912, it stood behind its products with a lifetime guarantee. This allowed customers to return products they were not satisfied with, even if they had no receipt and the items had been worn. 

In recent years, the company increasingly found itself dealing with parties taking advantage of this guarantee by returning decades-old products for refunds and exchanging items purchased from third-parties. As this was not the intent of the company's guarantee, it decided to change the well-known policy this year, limiting returns to one year and requiring proof of purchase.

It is not known what the outcome of this case will be, but it is likely that the outdoor company expected this type of situation to arise, considering the popularity of the previous return policy.

Other companies considering changes to their policies would be wise to do the same if the changes might have an adverse effect on customers and spark a legal claim. Discussing these types of changes with an attorney can allow business owners to examine the legal implications and have a plan in place for resolving any disputes that might arise.

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