Missouri man sues Bass Pro over sock ‘lifetime warranty’

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Lured by a lifetime warranty, Kent Slaughter bought about a dozen pairs of socks from Bass Pro Shops for the better part of a decade.

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The slaughter took advantage of this. Over the years, he brought back several pairs of RedHead Lifetime Guarantee all-purpose wool socks to the Bass Pro store in Springfield, Mo., where he purchased them, according to a new lawsuit. Each time, the employees honored the promise by exchanging the worn socks for new ones.

Then, one day last year, they refused, the lawsuit says. Instead, Bass Pro reportedly offered to trade in its “lifetime warranty” socks — which sell for $11.99 — for some with a 60-day warranty.

Now, Slaughter is suing Bass Pro Shops, claiming the Missouri-based outdoor retail giant dupes customers with a “hollow promise” that no longer lasts a lifetime. Earlier this month, he filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Western Missouri. He is seeking a jury trial and is seeking $5 million in damages for himself and anyone who joins his lawsuit.

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“This lawsuit is about a simple principle: a company’s obligation to tell consumers the truth. Bass Pro Shop has made a promise to its customers by offering its RedHead socks with a lifetime warranty. Those words should mean something,” according to a statement from Singleton Schreiber, the California law firm representing Slaughter, sent to The Washington Post.

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Bass Pro Shops declined to comment on the allegations.

Struggling with higher costs and abuse, other retailers — including LL Bean, REI and Costco — have reduced their lifetime warranties and generous return policies in recent years, USA Today reported in 2018. In a world where people often buy a replacement after trashing what they’re broken or worn out, lifetime warranties “are an endangered species,” said Edgar Dworsky, founder and editor of Consumer World, at the time.

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But Bass Pro continues to sell its RedHead Brand Co. socks with a lifetime warranty, according to Slaughter’s lawsuit. The advert reportedly includes language saying the socks – dubbed ‘THE LAST SOCK YOU’LL NEED TO BUY’ – are ‘backed by our Lifetime Guarantee’ and customers can ‘return them for a FREE replacement’ if they become worn out .

The lawsuit references a YouTube video in which a Bass Pro store manager in Nashville held up the “RedHead Lifetime Sock.” After hailing it as “the best hunting/hiking sock you can buy”, the manager pointed out “what really makes it unique”.

“It really is a lifetime sock,” he said in the video. “If anything happens – if the dryer steals one from you – you bring the other one and we give you a brand new pair of socks.”

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For years, Bass Pro has delivered on those promises, according to the suit. Slaughter estimated that he bought about 12 pairs of socks between 2014 and 2021. In 2015, he started returning two to four pairs at a time. Bass Pro gave him new pairs for each, with the last such trade occurring in early 2020.

“To say that the lifetime warranty was and is a key selling point for socks would be an understatement,” Slaughter said in the lawsuit.

But when Slaughter attempted to replace his socks in January 2021, a clerk refused to do so and referred him to customer service, the suit says. Employees there reportedly told Slaughter that they would no longer trade his RedHead wool socks for new ones. Instead, they offered socks that came with a 60-day warranty – ones that had been “distinctively marked” with a striped pattern, “presumably so his store employees would know that no warranty will be honored for such socks 60 days beyond the limited warranty period,” the lawsuit alleges.

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Late last month, Slaughter learned that Bass Pro still advertised that the RedHeads came with a lifetime warranty, according to the lawsuit. He ordered a pair online and on July 6 the socks arrived. Despite what he was promised online, the packaging for the socks would not bear any mention of a lifetime warranty or guarantee.

Bass Pro “did so because – despite its intentionally false and misleading advertising – defendant knows that it will not honor any lifetime warranty for these socks,” the lawsuit alleges.

Chris Rodriguez, another attorney representing Slaughter, told the Post he knows his client’s handful of purchases over the years weren’t “a big-ticket problem,” but that’s why they invite other Bass Pro customers to join the class. action suit.

“That’s the purpose of class action lawsuits … to protect consumers,” Rodriguez said, “and that’s what we do.”

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Luz W. German