Monday, August 27, 2012

L.L. Bean's Very High Cost of Free Shipping


Here is a comment from "Mollie's Mom":
Bean's prices are very high for the quality of product they are selling. "Free Shipping" means that they included shipping in their new pricing strategy. Did Bean actually believe that we would fall for that? Their shipping for an entire order rarely ever exceeded 13 dollars and now I'm paying 10 dollars more for each item shipped.
Here is a comparison of prices from 2010 to today and some data points.

Item 2010  2012 % Increase
Flannel Lined Double L Chinos
49.95
59.95
20%
Chamois Shirt
34.50
44.95
30%
Ragg Wool Sweater Full Zip
49.95
59.95
20%
Scotch Plaid Flannel Shirt
29.95
39.95
33%
Men's Original Field Coat (cotton-lined)
89
119
34%
Warm-up Jacket
59.95
79
32%
Men's Blucher Mocs
69
79
14%
Norwegian Sweater
129
139
8%
Stretch Bayside Corduroys:Plain Front Comfort Waist
39.95
49.95
25%
Camden Corduroy Shirt
34.50
44.95
30%

Perhaps they are being delivered by this.  These increases are also reflected in the prices in the L.L. Bean stores.

62 comments:

Nick F said...

I still think the mocs are a good deal for that price. I guess it could be worse!

Brian said...

As soon as I saw L.L. Bean's ads on TV (yes, on television) touting their new shipping policy, I knew that the cost of Bean's "free shipping" was going to be passed on to the consumer by way of higher prices. In my opinion, this move is purely an effort to attract new customers while further alienating long time customers.
Even when I order on-line, I still have tax added to my non-clothing items, so I don't even get the psychological benefit of pretending I'm getting something for nothing.

Chris from New Hampshire said...

Someone has to pay for the CEO's lawyer bills as he tries to block off his neighbors access to the ocean: http://www.kjonline.com/news/l_l_-bean-ceo-loses-lawsuit-in-dispute-with-neighbors_2012-02-28.html

Joshua said...

Not to mention the deterioration of quality in the "heritage" items at Beans. The Norwegian sweaters of today are shabby compared to 20 or even 10 years ago. Their flannel shirts (not the chamois, but the flannel) are no longer presentable after 4 or 5 washes. Pure rubbish. At least companies like Brooks Bros. are honest about the fact that they sell some big margin items to support their small margin products, but Beans can't even present that justification. I think they are the quintessence of your chart on preppy brands. Beans is all but a shell of their former self.

PHEW. That rant in the rear view....at least most of their stuff looks the part, and is fairly inexpensive compared to an Orvis, or Filson. 95% of the time I just push the BS factor out of my mind and indulge in their classic styles like a guilty pleasure. Sure their dress shirts are made in Sri Lanka or Malaysia, but at $39.50 they're a decent buy compared to a $90 Bonobos US made dress shirt, or a $80 BB offshore piece.

Joshua said...

P.S. I don't always grasp what's going on on this blog conceptually, but this post beautifully highlights the conflict we are all facing as consciencious consumers in 2012. Way to keep it real.

Craig Sevde said...

Large companies. Especially mail order companies. Let's be honest...How many people travel Route 1 to Freeport...
Can actually have old fashion sit down conference room meeting with shippers face-to-face. And what sales rep wants to go back and say UPS got the account?
So not only does Bean win but the average Joe who goes to the local UPS store now pays more as well.
Everything is passed down.
And L.L. Bean quality on the whole is not worth it.
You have to keep in mind all of our old retailers still have some great picks that we used to purchase. And they are still there. But they have introduced so much crap into the market unless your a certain age you can't distinguish the original from the bad.
I can maybe list 5 items that I would ever buy from Bean today. The rest of Bean is China imported crap.
Yes, it's a shame.
Personally, Give me quality and charge me for it. I expect it. I want it that way.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the reason, it's a crime. Furthermore, it's an insult to us all by touting "FREE" shipping at the trade off of higher prices and lesser quality. They don't seem to think much of their client base. --Holly in PA

Mike in CT said...

I bought my hunting clothing and boots from Bean for years. Some of the original items like the Maine guide wool shirts that are still available seem to be high quality, but the line in general has deteriorated. Don't even think of Bean when I need to replace something now - Cabelas is better priced for ordinary items and I look at Filson, Orvis, Kevin's and Schnees for heavy-duty gear.

John said...

Hard to think of a secular reason for the price increases. USD/RMB exchange rate is pretty stable, so it's not like buying French wine which is sensitive to USD/EUR. And I thought there was overcapacity in shipping today, which, all things being equal, ought to bring the cost of shipping down. My best guess is that as quality declines, the number of returns increases, and the associated costs (essentially, two shippings) probably factors into the price increases.

That having been said, I was one of the fortunate few to get a Fenway Park anniversary tote, which I love, so I won't be too hard on them.

Paul Connors said...

I agree with the comments here that posit that L L Bean quality has declined overall. And I remember Muffy's scathing comments about their SIGNATURE line.

The last Norwegian Fisherman's sweater I bought (now probably more than 5 years ago) came via UPS since Bean had not yet opened their store in the Paramus Park Mall in NJ. It seemed grossly oversized even though I needed an XL. In reality, it was more like a XXL and that I didn't need. Overall, it struck me as far too blousy.

I think the day has finally arrived that we must all be wary of what we buy from Bean and focus in, with laser-like accuracy on those products we believe are still worthwhile and at the same time, deliberately ignoring or refusing to buy the Chinese made crap that has prolferated throughout their inventory.

Patsy said...

I would totally pay 30% more if my stuff arrived via Bootmobile! Talk about a no-brainer!

Joshua said...

Mike in CT,

I had never even heard of Kevin's or Schnees. Kevin's has US made khakis for under $50. KAZAMM!

Bethany Hissong said...

I'm sure their number one reason is to get their product to your doorstep. Look at Zappos' success. It works for them even though the shipping cost is obviously inside the product price. The cost of gas has risen and it seems everyone is tacking on that expense to the consumer (even when the prices dip again). I also think people are willing to pay for convenience. Bean became popular with the college crowd and they are trying to fit their business model to accomodate them. Let's face it-- there are fewer of us out here that really search for quality. Our nation is a bunch of perpetual consumers that want the latest thing continually. I bet most people would be totally shocked at how long we hold on to our quality clothing. They don't want "classic", they want "fashion".

Anonymous said...

With the increase of cotton prices between 2010 and 2011 we are lucky we didn't see more widespread price increases. However, now that supply has caught demand I wouldn't hold your breath for a price decrease.

Granted none of this relates to LL Bean's decline in quality, however, I don't think all price increases are corporate greed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Muffy. I thought I was going crazy seeing the prices. It simply never occurred to me that L.L. Bean would impose a broad 30% price hike in this economy. Now I realize that I am not the crazy one.

Anonymous said...

let's not forget a weak dollar and higher commodity prices.

Jack said...

Interesting, but not that surprising. There's no such thing as a free lunch. LL Bean's goods are all still competitively priced.

US consumer confidence was dismal in early 2009. LL Bean's pricing mechanism is not perfectly responsive to demand changes (thus the relatively lower prices in 2010). They likely upped their prices when consumer confidence recovered and the US recorded positive growth a few consecutive quarters.

Anonymous said...

Hi Muffy. I have been a dedicated LL Bean employee for many years. In that time I have been witness to any number of mind numbing moves on the part of upper management.
Let's talk return policy. We have dealt with an over abundance of fraudulent returns as Beans takes back practically EVERYTHING!!!!! From chewed dog beds to to 30 year old clothing to women who either lose or gain weight. Kayaks and snow shoes at the end of each season and zippers ripped from back packs and snow jackets in order to get new styles and sizes. Add to that their new slogan, "Guaranteed to Last" and the flood gates have opened for even more returns. This and free shipping have added to the cost of doing business.

Employees also learned this spring that there would be wage cuts for a great number of people leaving some to wonder why they should even stay. I truly love the people I work with but am very frustrated by decisions made at the corporate level. Chris McCormack. Are you listening???

Craig Sevde said...

"Guaranteed to Last" is a quality issue. If you have no quality or fail to correct that statement then upper management has failed to do it's job.
You get what you get. The consumer of L.L. Bean products is not stupid. In fact, I would rate the L.L. Bean consumer highly educated.
I feel sorry for all the good Bean employees who have dedicated years to Bean to see this happen. I also feel sorry for the state of Maine. Who in my opinion is the last bastion of quality in this nation.

Anonymous said...

I'm old enough to remember the days of the lovely catalog covers (before the parodies forced the company to change them) and when shipping only cost (I believe) $3 for any - back then - quality item. Although there are still some treasures to be found, like everything else it is just not the same. Coach is another example from my day. They used to make fine, sturdy leather bags. I'm not sure about the day-glow stuff I see from them now...
Allegra

John Ireland said...

Oh how I long for the old days. I wish L.L. Bean could go back to their product offerings on 1982. In their effort to be all things to all people they have degraded the brand. There are no free lunches in life and free shipping is no exception. I wish them well. I still like the company but I too want them to do what they do well and remain loyal to their customers and not become a Banana Repulbic or Gap. Your blog is the best.

Anonymous said...

Muffy:

Thanks for addressing this issue. I first noticed the price increase in their "1912 Chinos," which however imperfect, I like, when it changed from $29.95 one day to $45 the next! Since I returned three that didn't fit over the course of the price change I called to exchange them for my correct waist size and asked if they could retain the old price ( again, the price went up $15 overnight) and they said...NO.

Alas, that's probably why my negative reviews on their website often get quite a few "helpful" votes.

I haven't given up--yet.

Anonymous said...

also, the price increases at land's end and land's end canvas has been more dramatic.

Anonymous said...

LL Bean sent me an email asking if they could "introduce" me to their Signature line. My reply was absolutely not! I told how very disappointed I am with that line and even more so with the fact that they are getting most of their items from China! My family has bought clothing from LL Bean for the last 50 plus years because it was an American owned company that put out a very good quality product. We no longer do so as they have slid so far down hill in quality that they are no longer worth it. It is such a shame as they used to be the clothing store to go to for almost anything! This latest issue of hiding the shipping in the cost is just another sad attempt to try to bring back shoppers. Sadly it is not working. Jane Keller

Anonymous said...

Better online retailers with better products at better prices. Shopping at LL Bean is not a smart buying choice.

William said...

At least you get free shipping! Here in Tokyo, the prices are roughly 20-30% more (on top of the already inflated US price) with no free shipping available.

In addition, LLB has decided to create altered versions of most items for the Japanese market. These are all labeled "J-Fit", with short arms, narrow shoulders, and wide torsos. Horrible. The only items with US sizing are the Signature line. Eddie Bauer and Patagonia are in the same canoe here, creating items for the Japanese market that are ill fitting and very trendy. The domestic alternatives look nice with good stitching, but are ill fitting with cheap material.

Any suggestions of "shipping-friendly" companies?

Juli said...

Dear Muffy,

Just this week my Matinicus sweater arrived from Ll.Bean. I purchased it based on your post which gave it high marks. Since I was able to buy it on sale and got the free shipping it was a bargain. I'm pleased with the purchase, but doubt I'll be ordering anything else in the near future. It's a shame when finding a well-made, high quality item at a fair price from an institution like Ll. Bean is the exception and not the norm.


Tom Conroy said...

It is hard to complain about the shipping policies. Is there anothera Norwegian ski sweater (and a very nice one) available at that price? LL Bean generally prices things below the market. Sourcing is another issue. They remain a value leader.

Anonymous said...

Bean's collection for women is awful: quality, styles, and colors. I just finished looking at Brooks Brothers women, and it's horrible too. I still own and am wearing clothing from Bean and Brooks that I purchased years ago. Just can't beat then vs. what we have now.

suburban prep said...

I guess that is why I try to wait until I can get things on sale.
They just built the shipping into the cost of the item.

Unknown said...

This issue of higher prices and lower quality is bigger than ll bean. I have solved both by buying good quality used. I am also going to start selling off a lot of things I no longer use. (I've lived in northern California for 13 years..) If that sort of thing doesn't work for you, read what Yvon Chouinard has to say. Ethan

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tom Conroy:

Bean is still a good value. I would bet that removing labels many of us wouldn't be able to distinguish between, say, their fleece and Patagonia among several other things. Their oxfords, although now sprayed with Teflon ("non-iron") are very good cotton and construction despite said treatment.

Bean is on the border of the "Eddie Bauer syndrome,"i.e. just a brand name rather than a long-running company.

BlueTrain said...

I'd say the biggest thing wrong with L.L.Bean is the same thing that's wrong with Eddie Bauer: both L.L.Bean and Eddie Bauer are gone. They began with quality products in almost a niche market. At the moment, however, one thing Bean is not trying to do is to be exclusive. Perhaps that's the problem.

I have no problem with imported products, just because they're imported. They have to stand on their own regarding value and quality and after all, if it isn't made where I live, it's imported, even if it came all the way from Maine.

Joshua said...

BlueTrain makes a good point on imports. We are looking for value. If they are raising the prices, the net value of the transaction ought to be proportional.

I always bang the Norwegian sweater drum, because I think it is a perfect example of our gripe. They have reduced the integrity of the weave on the body, they have DRASTICALLY cheapened the finishes of the sleeve and bottom cuffs, AND they have raised the price. The reasoning for disgruntlement is distilled in that one piece.

Greenfield said...

The problem is, what is the alternative? Who else makes a nice pair of women's chinos in a traditional fit at a reasonable price? Everywhere else they've gone to "low-rise," sprayed-on, boot-cut, every other trendy (tacky) style they can stitch together. I keep buying from Bean by default because I just haven't found another source for basics!

Mags said...

Bigger, better*, faster, more.. bigger, better*, faster, more...

And the train rolls on. I hate to sound facetious, but I hear the middle class squishing through the wringer.

It's got me tapping my fingers and recalling why I frequent some of the best SE Ct farmer's markets whose merchants peddle everything from farm raised/slaughtered meats and seafood off the boats to hand made soaps, pastas, pesto and more.

A matter of time before we see more clothing items I suppose.

*lol

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that most of the price increases were an even ten dollars. That suggests it was to offset the free shipping.

Once in a while it may be convenient to order something from LL Bean, but for most of their items one is paying for a label that meant something 40 years ago. One is getting quality that one can find in Macy's or Marshall's.

Anonymous said...

Prices are signals for producers and consumers and they are aggregations of costs and values associated with a product. In the case of shifting LL Bean prices, it may be more than simply an internalization of free shipping. Cotton prices may have increased, labor costs have have increased, government regulations may have placed a higher cost burden on someone/something along the product line, higher gas prices, higher rates of inflation, more demand for the product, and the list goes on. Small shifts in costs of something along the process of making the product would then become reflective in the final product price. This is what Nobel-winning economist Frederich Hayek became famous for. (And it is what caused the Soviet's to fail.) Prices are not arbitrary.

In the end, all we can do is speculate as to the reason why costs have increased.

Anonymous said...

LL Bean isn't the first company to offer "free shipping" by jacking up its prices. Most Zappos shoe prices are $2-$3 higher than shoes found at brick and mortar stores. The problem is I can't find the same shoe in my little town so I willingly pay the price difference. Bean does seem to have raised the prices much more than necessary in order to offer "free shipping".

The reason I applied for an LLBean credit card was because cardholders would get free shipping and monogramming. Now that everyone gets free shipping, there isn't much benefit to being a cardholder and that's annoying.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous at 1:37

While I agree that prices aren't arbitrary, I suspect the price gouging (33%!) has more to do with paying for their rent for all their mall shops, tv advertising, and worst of all, that regrettable choice of designer who heads LLB Signature.

Joshua said...

Ironically, (and I'm no Alex Carleton fan) Carleton may in fact be more "prep" than most of us commenting here. Double ironically, he's arguably most well known for Rogue's Gallery, and $100 graphic Tees are definitely NOT prep or even remotely classic american sportswear.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Carleton

Paul Connors said...

I was in the Short Hills Brooks Bros. store yesterday and theyb had the fall lines in (as well as what remained of their summer clearance) and noticed that they had crew neck shetland sweaters. They looked nice and even had the older, more expensive "saddle shoulders." They also had some nice heathers such as the olive gray and a blue heather. They've gone up in price from $98 last year to $128 this year and they are MADE IN CHINA!

Someone needs to tell the folks at BB corporate that their MADE IN AMERICA campain does NOT apply to all their merchandise and among those in the know, the campaign is nothing but a poor joke.

Jovan said...

Tom Conroy: Suggest you try Woolovers' Norwegian sweater.

Old Oak Farm said...

After receiving the Bill's Khaki's catalogue in the mail yesterday, I was not at all surprised to hear from the owner of the clothing store here in town that Bill's has begun a partnership with Woolrich.

Anonymous said...

The only time I buy anything from LLB is at the “outlet” store on the sales or clearance rack where I live in Nashua, NH. No sales tax or shipping. I got two pairs of pants for eight dollars last week, they are basically something like Lands End or JC Penny stock items. Other than that, it is the end of January when Christmas returns are put out.

Anonymous said...

@Jovan, I have purchased several items from Woolovers and I have been happy with each of the items received. Great prices too! --Holly in PA

Tim J. Moerman said...

You know, I am so glad you posted on this. I'm in Canada and I just ordered four shirts--total price $133. When I got to the last screen to confirm the order, I was hit with over $45 in "duty and taxes." That's over 33%!

Now, I know for bloody sure it isn't the government that's charging that money. I am beyond angry about this. When someone slaps me with a ludicrously high fee and then pretends that it's the big bad gummint that's gouging me--well, put it this way, no way is that 33% going into roads and public services and police, right?

Paul Connors said...

I asked a question of the Brook Bros. website today and then posted it, pending moderation. When I came home, I'd received a note to "re-ask my question" within their guidelines. I had asked, rather pointedly why the shetland sweaters, MADE in CHINA had gone up from $98.50 to $128 from last winter to this fall?

Apparently, Brooks Bros. doesn't like customers questioning their pricing or their claims to Made in America and now CENSOR their website.

I have been a BB customer for more than 40 years and as much as I hate to admit this or say it, am concluding that my once unquestioned loyalty to that brand may be misplaced.

Paul Connors said...

@ Tim Moerman: Gee, wasn't NAFTA supposed to eliminate trade barriers and tariffs?

Hmmm. Do you think Bill Clinton and others back then lied to us?

Tim J. Moerman said...

@Paul Connors - No, I believe you're thinking of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA's predecessor, enacted in 1989 by Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney.

But that's neither here nor there, since as I said I don't believe it's either government that is charging this amount. It's being charged by a private entity who is then claiming that it's the government. This bothers me because there's a lot of misplaced rage out there, by people who think they're getting hosed by the government when in fact it's the private sector that's ripping them off.

For what it's worth, the fault may not be with LL Bean either. As I was typing my comment last night, my GF received a package ordered from the US and delivered by UPS. Her purchase was $100; but UPS charged her an additional sixty dollars. (!!!)

I have had similar experiences with FedEx. (And by the way, none of these was particularly fast delivery--it's not like we were paying these costs to get it overnight. It appears to me that the private courier companies take the opportunity to bury ludicrously high brokerage fees in their prices.

betsy said...

On the other hand, I like knowing what the cost of the item will be as I browse the web site. Shipping based on item cost can give you an unreasonable high cost when the expensive scarf can be slipped into a flat envelope. Nothing is "free," but I like having the cost up front.

Joshua said...

Paul Connors,

While visiting a BB factory in NYC a couple of years ago, I discussed with some of their Madison Ave. managers the rational for their significant off-shore production. In a nutshell, it was explained to me that their product line is designed to capitalize on larger margin items, such as 346 products, in order to offset the small margin domestically produced, top shelf heritage lines. Im talking Southwick made suits, bespoke suiting and ties handmade in NYC etc. I think it's a balanced approach and it makes sense when you think about it. Unfortunately it means we get 3rd world products unless we want to shell out big bucks....

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I have ordered from L.L.B.I thought there quality was supposed to be good. Have to say I am very disappointed. I ordered the comfort fit chinos for $44.95 and the fit is terrible. I do not have this trouble with Dockers or Haggar. So big deal that the shipping is free-how much is it going to cost to return them? I learned my lesson. NEVER AGAIN!

Wendy S said...

I have to say, Last year I ordered several things from LL Bean and I was thrilled with the purchases.

The Womens 10" shearling lined boots are increadibly comfortable and warm, the quality is great and I suspect they will last many years. I originally bought one Scotch Plaid flannel shirt for my boyfriend for Christmas and after it arrived I ordered two more. They are very soft, warm and great quality. They have been washed many times and they look great. I am sure there are some items that don't please everyone but for the items I bought, I couldn't be happier.

MOLLIE'S MOM said...

Hahahahah...re: the boot. Too funny!
Thanks for sharing the specific data Muffy. Here is another perspective: in the past, if I ordered let's say, ten items and they all arrived in a fairly large box, the shipping never exceeded 15.00. Yet, if I were to order those same items today, I would be paying 100 dollars more for that same order with the new ' Free Shipping'. That is outrageous!!

This past Saturday I experienced the most humiliating experience relating to a pair of washed Chinos from Bean that I purchased earlier this summer. I had to give a brief presentation at a seminar ( not formal) and I wore my Chinos which was a HUGE mistake ( no pun intended). When I put the pants on, they fit fine and by the time I got up to give my presentation, they were at least 3 sizes too big thanks to the spandex they integrated into them. I looked so sloppy and felt even worse. I had to roll the waist band just so I could keep the pants on and the legs were HUGE. When I arrived home, I immediately called Bean and complained and inquired about returning all the pants that I had purchased this year. They were understanding, aware of the problem and provided instruction on how to return the items. I am happy that I will be receiving a full refund. However, it really bothers me that those items need to be returned at all based on shoddy manufacturing and design. Bean is contributing to air pollution, wasting valuable resources, supporting cheap labor practices and adding to landfills with their dsposable products. I really don't believe they care because in reality, they still maintain cash-flow regardless of returns. Bean has become a bank, using my money to inflate their stock! Bean isn't the only company doing this. It seems to be the modus operandi of most corporations today.

After whining to my husband about this frustrating issue, he suggested that we humble ourselves and visit the local Walmart to make product comparisons. We have only been to Walmart twice in our lives and that was for water during a hurricane! hahaha I was stunned by what I found. First of all, the items were of the same quality, many from the same location ( China, Vietnam) and their Levis were 13.00 a pair, not 49.99. They all contained Spandex as well. I didn't purchase anything but this shopping experience was very enlightening. My husband who usually purchases Bean's fly fishing shirts for approx. 50 dollars, found the same type of shirts at Walmart for under ten dollars and to be frank, the Walmart shirt seemed to be of better quality. My husband commented that it appears that Bean and Walmart are using the same factories! I don't know if that is true but it sure seemed that way.

My husband and I then began talking about how the once preppy, William and Mary College had also become a haven of poorly and cheaply dressed students. I always loved living in Williamsburg because it was more refined, worldly and well-suited to my taste. We had the most beautiful shoppes with elegant and refined clothing. In the last decade+ those shoppes have gone out of business: http://articles.dailypress.com/1999-06-18/news/9906180153_1_colonial-williamsburg-department-store-casey The Scotsman is gone, and the only survivor is Binns which I highly recommend if you visit Williamsburg.

When we drive by the College of W&M, we don't see students dressed in anything but trendy, cheap, synthetic clothing and the campus looks no different than any other community college campus.

Oh well. I suppose this is a sign of the times and I'm showing my age..... grumble grumble.


Anonymous said...

I just purchased a bath robe and taxes and "duty" come to 27 dollars. I think "duty" = shipping because there is no duty charged on clothes to Canada.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it isn't very preppy, but I only buy from LLBean on sale. Then the free shipping makes sense. Has anyone looked into Sierra Trading Post? Sometimes they have great things.

Anonymous said...

You think LLBean is bad, you should check Zappos. Their women's shoes are always $20 more than anywhere else, thus paying for their free shipping to and from, their policy being even more generous than LLBean's. And, you have to put up with their horrible staff posing as ugly models in their annoying and unprofessional videos.

scotmiss said...

I just want my old LLBean back -- tacky catalogue and all. I'll pay more and for shipping if they bring back the quality and colours I love. I'm not trendy, don't want to be trendy and neither should my friends in Freeport. I have clothing and tote bags so old I don't know how old they are - that is something to be proud of as a retailer. Just venting . . .

Anonymous said...

A big part of the problem is that the younger crowd LL Bean is targeting has very little experience with quality products, so they keep buying cause they don’t even realize they’re being cheated. But most of us in the 40 and up group remember the high quality of LL Bean and other similar retailers, and resent being sold lower quality goods for higher prices.

Although the deterioration does seem to be linked to the movement of production overseas, Bean’s management has no excuse. Apple has used overseas factories for years yet still manages to produce consistently high quality products in exchange for their fairly high prices. What’s LL Bean’s problem? Greed, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I do agree that some of the old L.L. Bean things were better quality-- and much of it was made in the USA, which I would far prefer. For example, there is a difference in the pima tees from 20 yearsago and now. However as those shirts have holes from 20 years' of wear (I bought them in my teens and am in my mid-30s now) they are not really suitable for wearing outside of my home.

Also I really like their kids' clothes, which are not so expensive when one gets the sales. My daughter is today wearing a dress that it on its third summer-- we bought it big-- and you would never know it, despite how often it gets washed and the hard wear it gets!

And now I cannot find any pants that I like (have just ordered some from Boden.) However they are still my go-to for everything else, and are far better than the selection available to me in the country where I now live. At least Bean still stocks staples like turtlenecks. Last year Lands' End in Europe did not stock cotton turtlenecks, only that modal mix junk!

The price of shipping might have driven prices but frankly I am not finding other sources of clothing that I like better.

L.L. Bean customer service is unbeatable. I don't need to return things-- but for example I recently placed and order and later that day received a 10% offer. They were happy to adjust the price for me.

Do any of you remember their short-lived Freeport Studio line? I wish they would bring it back. I bought a lovely dress there that I wore at my uni graduation (and for other nice occasions since) and had assumed they would be around for buying more professional attire.

Signature, however, should just go away, they should bring back more talls, and they need to set up a shipping presence within the EU (they would make a killing over here!)

--EM

Phyllis McDonald said...

My main complaint with the decline in quality at LL Bean is that every time I wash stuff from there, if it has buttons, at least one/garment will fall off. This is not happening to me with products from other catalogs of similar price. Used to be this stuff lasted for YEARS, now I'm lucky to get a season out of it. I think I'm done w/them.