Lululemon's "Quality Promise" Means You Can Return Items Indefinitely
The store's generous policy makes it easy to swap out some items.
When it comes to finding the right thing to wear for your workout, it can be hard to top Lululemon. The high-end activewear company has become a popular resource for everything from well-designed leggings to sweat-wicking shirts that keep you comfy and looking great during your yoga class, long run, or gym session. The company has also won over customers by building a reputation for high-quality clothing that can stand the test of time. And unbeknownst to many regular shoppers, Lululemon's "quality promise" means that you can essentially return some of their items indefinitely. Read on to learn more about this generous policy that could help keep your workout wardrobe fresh.
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Lululemon offers a "quality promise," which means you can return some items indefinitely.
Investing in good clothing can come down to trial and error with your shopping. But unlike everyday clothes or fancy garments, the activewear you purchase needs to be both durable and functional to help ensure you get the best workouts. And while even the best-made materials will wear out after so many exercise sessions, Lululemon goes above and beyond with its "quality promise" that essentially makes it possible to exchange an item long after you purchased it.
Lululemon offers a standard 30-day policy on all items, allowing customers to return their recent purchases for a full refund—so long as they're unwashed and still have their tags attached. After that initial period, guests can return some products for an e-gift card to the store's "Like New" program, with the amount depending on the items in question, according to retail expertise blog The Krazy Coupon Lady.
But the store also offers a way to replace any items you've purchased after an extended period of time if it isn't living up to expectations or is somehow otherwise falling short. The company's website guarantees that "if our product doesn't perform for you, we'll take it back."
Customers have taken to social media to talk about their experience with the policy.
Since the store sets no defined limits on how long an item can be returned after its purchase date, the policy can sometimes seem too good to be true. But according to some accounts on social media, the system actually works in a way that could instill some trust in the company's products as a worthwhile investment.
In a video posted in Sept. 2021, TikTok user addison.jarmon explains that she purchased a pair of Lululemon's Align leggings and noticed that they began pilling in the crotch area after months of use despite "taking exceptional care of them." She then used the company's website to submit information on the product, including the damage, pictures of the item, the order number, and the date it was purchased.
The company reached out three days later and said they would issue her a gift card to the store good for the total original purchase amount after she shipped the defective item back to the company. Nearly two weeks later, she received a gift card covering the original cost.
There are some important exceptions to be aware of.
Still, there are plenty of caveats to the company's generous rule. And even though Lululemon uses an open-ended description of what items qualify, there may also be a logical limit to which products will pass the company's inspection.
"Lululemon plainly says that the promise doesn't cover usage 'beyond practical lifetime.' This means that if you've had an item for several years and it's showing its age, there's no guarantee they'll process the return for you," explains Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com. "Items that do qualify for these returns are actually done so with a Performance Return Request, and again, there's no guarantee it'll be approved."
This means that normal wear and tear might preclude your product from netting any kind of refund. "The item must show some defect or flaw—so if you ripped a pair of leggings, they're not going to allow you to return those. And it should be noted that the return is typically processed by handing over an e-gift card for store credit, so don't think you'll be getting cash back if you opt to try this," Ramhold tells Best Life.
Lululemon's policy is likely a way to keep customers invested in the brand.
Even though Lululemon's "quality promise" is likely an investment in the company's reputation with its customers—and an excellent way to keep them coming back.
"Generous policies like these tend to benefit retailers because they show a commitment to a product which can instill confidence in customers," says Ramhold. "That said, Lululemon also only provides store credit for these returns, meaning that customers essentially have to make purchases at the store again or forfeit the funds, so for Lululemon, it can be a win-win."
That doesn't mean the store won't revisit its policy over time, however. "Even though they sort of keep customers by providing store credit instead of cash refunds, they also will likely watch for customers trying to game the system. And if it becomes apparent that many are—especially with tidbits being spread on social media—the company could end up adjusting the policy or removing it altogether," she says.
Ramhold adds, "A good cautionary tale is that of L.L. Bean, which for years had an excellent return policy that basically allowed customers to return anything at any time. But after obvious abuse by some shoppers, the company adjusted it so that now you have a year to return an item. It's still a generous policy overall, but obviously not as extensive as it used to be."
Ultimately, the lenient return rules can be seen as a type of marketing cost. "Policies like this are good for honest consumers in that they can shop with confidence knowing if an issue arises, the store won't leave them hanging out to dry," Ramhold says. "That can encourage them to shop a brand more and to spread the word to friends and family, which will grow the network of shoppers overall."