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Publication: Today's Golf
Great Customer Service

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          GOLF TIPS - Wednesday, November 21, 2007
 "Tips... News... And More... All For The Love Of The Game"

Fellow Duffers,

I ran the below article on the great customer service in the golf
industry a while back and I thought I'd run it again. If you're
having issues with a club the winter is a great time to get the
manufacturer involved because it might take a while.

I was looking forward to some local Holiday golf, but it doesn't
look like the weather wants to cooperate. It's been raining for
two days and it's supposed to snow tonight. My wife and kids are

Have a great Thanksgiving by letting the slights of those certain
family members slide off your back.


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Happy Returns
Break a club? Here's what to expect if you're hoping for a free

SCOTT KRAMER Senior Editor, GOLF Magazine

Like most golfers, you probably haven't read the warranty that
covers your golf clubs. In fact, you probably didn't know they
had one. Clubs are so well made today, who expects them to
break? Truth is, no matter how intelligent the design, or how
strong the titanium or steel, nearly 125,000 clubs are returned
to golf shops and manufacturers each year. (We can only guess
how many are broken and thrown away.) But if your club fails,
will the company replace it for free? That depends.


Say your driver shaft breaks during a round. Assuming you don't
want to pay to have it re-shafted, your options are to try
returning it to the store for exchange or repair, or sending it
back to the manufacturer.

If you take it back to the store, bring your receipt. You'll
have to abide by the store's returns policy, which often means
a clerk must rule out that your club is neither a clone nor a
counterfeit. Then, while you're still there, the store should
contact the manufacturer. Depending on the situation and the
store, you'll either be handed an instant replacement, have to
wait until the store receives a replacement, wait for the 
manufacturer to repair and return your original club, or wait
for the store to repair your club (in which case you'll probably
have to pay for the new shaft). If that sounds like a lot of
aggravation, blame the store, not the manufacturer. (continued


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It might make more sense to contact the clubmaker directly. If
you do, the customer service agent will typically ask what part
of the club broke, how it happened, and when you bought it.
He'll ask for your specs and a credit card number, then send
you a box containing a replacement club and a prepaid shipping
label for returning the broken club (the credit card slip will
be torn up once the broken stick is received). Some companies
will even send along a free cap, headcover, or divot tool for
your troubles. And that's usually true whether or not the club
is still under warranty: While most credible companies
"officially" cover their clubs for one or two years -- Ping
doesn't bother with a warranty, but backs its products for as
long as you own them -- they'll still help you out long after
the warranty period is over as long as the club broke under
normal playing conditions.

Why all this attention? Because the club market is highly
competitive, and companies want to keep you as a loyal customer.
"If a golfer spends good money on our clubs, I don't want him
worrying about it breaking later only to find out that we don't
care," says Greg Hopkins, president and COO of Cleveland Golf.
"We stand behind our products."

However, several companies claim they're being forced to limit
their generosity. They blame the growing number of golfers
trying to take advantage of the unwritten code, looking for free
upgrades from clubs or shafts no longer in stock, or returning
clubs they've abused.


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Them's the Breaks

A poll of equipment companies reveals that one of every four
returned clubs was broken due to abuse. They weren't properly
cared for, they cracked "accidentally" (see sidebar), or they
were the victim of a fit of rage. All violate most warranties,
and prompt a company response based on a golfer's statements.
So don't lie: Savvy retailers and manufacturers need just one
quick look to know how a club was treated.

For example, a steel shaft snapped in the middle was likely not
broken during a swing. "That raises eyebrows," says Dawn Nacey,
credit and returns manager at Tour Edge, which this year added
"foul play" to its list of exclusions from its lifetime
warranty. "Most steel-shafted clubs will break at the hosel or
grip," Nacey says. "If the break is in the middle, we know it
probably was cracked over a knee."

Companies also know that a colored metalwood clubhead marred
with shiny metallic pits has been rattling around in the bag
without a head cover, banging up against the irons. Green
scratches on the soleplate can only be made from artificial
turf at driving ranges; several companies have made these a
warranty violation because range mats don't "give" at impact,
causing ultralight shafts to break.

"Most golf pros can tell whether a club was broken out of anger
or poor craftsmanship," says Scott Chaffin, director of golf at
Mile Square GC in Fountain Valley, California. Yet Chaffin says
he's had several golfers "bring in a club that still has bark
on the shaft and claim that they didn't hit it against a tree."

Returns (most of which are broken clubs) have become such a big
issue that several major manufacturers keep close tabs on the
returners. Callaway uses its computers to track repeat returns
and look for trends. Every Ping club has a serial number etched
into the hosel or sole plate, which allows its computer to
detect recurring violators. Many companies devote entire
departments to scrutinizing returned clubs in an effort to
determine how they broke and detect any defects, particularly
in new product lines, and to prevent future ones.

Breaking Point

Drivers make up 90 percent of all returns, as they have the
largest clubheads and the longest shafts, and are swung the
hardest. "More people get angry with drivers than with any
club," says Chuck Renner, Ping's director of customer relations.
"Look at any tee box and you'll see" where drivers were slammed

Occasionally, the face of a driver caves in, usually from
hitting a rock. But drivers most often snap at the shaft near
the hosel. Tremendous "load" pressure builds on both ends of the
shaft during the swing, so if the ball makes contact anywhere
but in the middle of the face, the resulting clubhead twisting
can be the last straw.

"Shafts typically fail because someone hits it on the hosel or
in the high heel," insists Frank Garrett, director of research
and development at Wilson. "We often see ball [dimple] prints
on the ferrule of broken drivers."

Steel shafts are 10 to 20 times less likely to break than
similarly weighted graphite shafts. "Steel is very damage-
tolerant," says Scott Hennessy, president of True Temper, which
makes steel and graphite shafts. "The only way to damage a steel
shaft is to dent it, and you'll be able to see that. But with
graphite, you can damage the fibers inside without being able
to see it. Then you get a domino effect, and it eventually

Still, graphite shafts are much stronger than they used to be.
"In the last five years, they've become much more durable and
breakage resistant, due to improvement in the materials,
designs, and consistent manufacturing," says Hennessy. "But as
long as golfers aren't perfect, no shaft will ever be

The Lake Ate My Club

What do consumers hoping to score free replacement clubs say?
One of the most-frequent excuses is, "My clubhead flew off
into a lake, and I was so mad, I threw the rest of the shaft
in after it." (Not even a skeptical consumer rep would ask a
customer to jump in and fish out the pieces.) No one's
accusing them of lying, but golfers also commonly claim
"The club broke when..."

  * The bag fell
  * It hit a tree during a swing
  * It was in my car trunk when
  * I had an accident
  * It was run over by a golf cart (or automobile, or train)
  * It was mishandled by an airline baggage employee
  * It was slammed into an open car trunk

You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the new
Golf Tips forum. Check it out here...

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