PING set to appeal £1.45m fine for breaching UK competition law Golf club manufacturer Ping Europe Limited (PING) has been fined £1.45 million for banning UK retailers from selling its golf clubs online. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that PING broke competition law by preventing two UK retailers from selling its golf clubs on their websites. PING is required to bring the online sales ban to an end, and must not impose the same or equivalent terms on other retailers. Whilst PING must allow retailers to sell online it may require them to meet certain conditions before doing so. These conditions must, though, be compatible with competition law. The CMA found that, while PING was pursuing a genuine commercial aim of promoting in-store custom fitting, it could have achieved this through less restrictive means. Ann Pope, senior director for Antitrust enforcement, said: “The internet is an increasingly important distribution channel and retailers’ ability to sell online, and reach as wide a customer base as possible, should not be unduly restricted. “The fine the CMA has today imposed on PING should act as a warning to companies that preventing its products from being sold online could be illegal,” added Pope. The level of the fine imposed on PING reflects that the CMA found the breach of competition law occurred in the context
of a genuine commercial aim of promoting in-store custom fitting. In a strongly-worded defence, Ping Europe Limited said: “PING Europe profoundly disagrees with the announced decision. Our Internet Policy is an important pro-competitive aspect of our long-standing commitment to custom fitting. This ensures the customer is fitted in person, something which cannot be achieved in an online environment. “PING Europe strongly believes consumers should be custom fitted in person by a trained PING fitter before purchasing PING golf clubs – that is why we adopted our Internet Policy.
Take three for 59club
BMW PGA Championship to move to September date
Specific to the golf and leisure industry, the 59club have created a Customer Service Tracker (CST) that sums up customer experience in three critical questions. Designed to provoke thought and generate high completion levels, the CST survey simply asks: Did the experience represent value for money; Did we offer a warm, welcoming and friendly experience; and how likely are you to recommend us? Simon Wordsworth, CEO at 59club said: “The customer service tracker is an extension to the wealth of management tools that are already revolutionising sales and service standards at our client clubs. “It’s invigorating to be part of the driving force that is advancing standards within the golf industry, and we look forward to engaging with more businesses who share the common goal of wanting to make the experience in golf great for the benefit of each and every one of us.”
8 | GMé September 2017
The PING G400 family
The 2017 BMW PGA Championship
The European Tour has announced that the BMW PGA Championship will move from its current date in May to a new September slot from the 2019 season onwards. The move comes following news that the 2019 US PGA Championship, which will be played at Bethpage Black, will move from its traditional August date into May, with The Players Championship on the PGA Tour moving from May to March.
“This personal face-to-face service is the key to realising the full value and performance designed and built into every PING club. PING Europe will be appealing the decision to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) to demonstrate how our policy benefits consumers and improves choice. “We remain committed to distributing custom fitted and custom-built golf clubs in a manner that is in the best interest of the consumer. We are confident the CAT will recognise PING Europe’s Internet Policy is an appropriate and justified means to ensure we continue this valuable service to golfers.”
The specific date of the 2019 BMW PGA Championship will be released in due course but it will be central to a strong and robust end of season schedule on the European Tour. Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “Significant changes to the global golfing calendar have given us the opportunity to move the BMW PGA Championship to a more favourable date from 2019 onwards. “Wentworth Club is an iconic location in the realm of British sport and the BMW PGA Championship is always hugely popular with the public as was seen in May when it launched our Rolex Series with 110,000 spectators in attendance over the course of the week. “This is a new chapter for the event but we expect similar interest in the autumn, as was shown historically by the World Match Play Championship when it was played at Wentworth Club at that time of the year.”
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