Some customers of L.L. Bean Inc. continue to experience shipping delays and other frustrations nearly two months after the company first reported problems related to a systems upgrade.

The Freeport-based retailer said most of its online and catalog orders are shipping on time, but acknowledged a recently implemented systems overhaul continues to cause delays for some. Company representatives said they are “working very hard to resolve these issues.”

In April, L.L. Bean sent letters to some customers to apologize for shipping delays and offer a 20 percent discount on a future order. In the letter, it said the delays were temporary and were caused by an upgrade to its order-processing and fulfillment systems.

On Thursday evening, company President and CEO Stephen Smith expressed his regret over the continued delays in a written statement to the Portland Press Herald.

“We are not used to disappointing our customers and understand the frustration they are experiencing right now,” he said. “We are committed to making this right; all of us at L.L. Bean take this very seriously – from our employees who serve our customers directly, to those working to implement system improvements, to everyone in between.”

Smith said the systems upgrade has been a four-year project that changed out all of L.L. Bean’s legacy order-taking and processing systems, as well as all of its product handling and warehouse management. The legacy systems it had in place were 40 years old and had “basically hit the end of their useful life,” he said.


“The upgrades to the system and the scope of the project is highly complex, and is the largest system implementation the company has undertaken; we are fine-tuning and making progress,” Smith said. “While we are making great efforts, and seeing improvement every day, it has created a challenging customer experience for some. We know. We are working to resolve each and every customer concern, and are confident in the end these upgrades will result in service levels our customers have come to expect.”

The company, which reported $1.6 billion in sales last year, operates a fulfillment center in Freeport, where more than 45,000 orders are processed a day, according to the company website. In 2016, it shipped 14.5 million packages.

Some L.L. Bean customers have contacted the Press Herald in recent weeks to express their frustrations with the company, including shipping delays and difficulty getting through to a customer service representative. Some who did get through said the representative was unable to cancel their order or tell them when it was expected to arrive.

“Things seem to have slowed to a crawl at L.L. Bean. I can’t get anyone on the phone to place an order,” said Carol Stevens, a Bean customer who lives in Scituate, Massachusetts. “I’ve been a customer for years and I’ve never not been able to get through for days. Is this still the internal systems upgrade problem?”

“Why is it taking so long for L.L. Bean to resolve the issues?” asked customer Kim Wood. “I have been a loyal customer of theirs for decades and have found their business practices in the past to be absolutely stellar. I cannot understand why they don’t go back to the old system if they are unable to fix the new system.”

Wood, who lives in Hartland, Vermont, has continued to order from the company despite knowing about the shipping delays, but said she was dismayed to find out that refunds on her returned items are now being delayed, as well.


“That is a whole different kind of a thing,” she said.

Some customers said they have been waiting for weeks to receive their orders. L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said less than 10 percent of all orders are shipping later than the quoted date, and that the company expects the problem to be fully resolved sometime this summer.

“The goal of the system upgrades is to be able to serve our customers better than ever,” Beem said. “We strive to always provide the world class customer service that we are known for. We are fully aware and deeply regret that we are currently disappointing some customers. We are confident that we are making progress to our goal but realize there is still work to be done.”

In the meantime, customers seeking to cancel their orders because of extended delays may not be able to do so, she said, but they can eventually return the items for a refund if they choose.

“Customers are not charged until the product is physically shipped,” Beem said. “When an order is canceled but too far along in the process to stop it from shipping, customers would still be charged – unfortunately we can’t stop it – but we would initiate a package recall or the customer can send it back to us and we would refund the customer as soon as possible. We are doing everything we can to make it right for customers whose orders have been delayed.”

Customer Julie Oberheide noted that L.L. Bean is not providing any prominent notification of the continued shipping problems on its website.


“The company can’t even tell me when my item will ship,” she said.

On social media, some L.L. Bean customers also complained about recent problems with ordering and shipping.

“An order I placed with @LLBean was ignored for three weeks before I cancelled it,” Twitter user Robert Birman wrote. “#neveragain.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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