“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

— Luke [23:34]


Printed on every receipt, L.L.Bean’s return policy reads: “Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L.Bean that is not completely satisfactory.” It’s true, this is exactly what L.L.Bean means. There are countless stories about people returning things many years later and getting their money back. No questions asked and no hassles. Live Christmas wreaths that have turned brown or slippers worn out in the sole—L.L.Bean will refund you your money. 

“Successful businesses index to trust and an attitude of forgiveness.”

Sure there has been abuse. You can read about these stories on the Internet. L.L.Bean sees it differently. They see a customer they have to satisfy. Each employee knows the rules and issues a credit with no questions asked. Successful businesses index to trust and an attitude of forgiveness. They avoid judging their customers and look for ways to give their customers the benefit of the doubt. They surely know there is abuse, but they look the other way. They look to satisfy and put themselves in their customers’ shoes. They believe in their customers and have done so for over 104 years. They remain one of America’s most successful retailers. 

“Forgiveness is one of the major tenets of Christian belief.”

Jesus likewise implores us to have a forgiving heart. A heart that does not judge, but searches for a different view. With this attitude we take a position that all people have value. That people make mistakes, not because of inherent evil, but because of a lack of knowledge. Jesus says, “They don’t know what they are doing.” By admitting this, we make it easier to forgive. We assign a value of humanity to the individual. We avoid the argument of telling someone he or she is wrong. Instead, we provide an example of Christian action. Forgiveness is one of the major tenets of Christian belief. It removes judgment and seeks an understanding of the offender. For L.L.Bean, the customer is always right. 

“Businesses with the most lenient return policies are also the most successful.”

How many of us have been duped? We know the cost, and it is the most difficult position to be put in as a business. A position where we have to make a decision out of anger or out of kindness. But what if we knew more about the offender’s backstory? What if we knew about why the person acted that way on this day? What caused him or her to behave in a way we found offensive? Businesses that have a reputation of good customer service choose to give their customers the benefit of the doubt. They know there might be abuse, but they also know they have to forgive. Businesses with the most lenient return policies are also the most successful. Their hearts are aligned with the adage “The customer is always right.” 

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman



How many chances do we give people?

How many should we?

Do we know the rest of their story?


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