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Racquet String Categories Guide

The are several categories of racquet string. Each has pros and cons. Below is a summary that hits on the main features of each category.

The King of String. Suitable for all racquet sports. Best choice for frequent recreational players over 30. Best overall choice for players with severe or persistent tennis elbow issues. Organic and biodegradable. Lowest environmental impact. Holds tension longer than any other type of string. Maintains elasticity for about 20 hours of play. Not recommended for frequent string breakers.
Sensible choice for most recreational players who cannot afford natural gut. Multi-filament is a synthetic version of natural gut that offers comfort and playability. Suitable for all racquets sports. Maintains elasticity for about 8 hours of play.
Best choice for players on a budget. Most medium- to low-end racquets come from the factory pre-strung with synthetic gut. Maintains elasticity for about 8 hours of play.
Tennis only. Not suitable for squash, racquetball or badminton. Used by most players on the pro tennis tours. Maintains elasticity for about 4 hours of play — which is why pros change racquets so often during matches. Not at all suitable for the vast majority of recreational tennis players. Not at all suitable for players under 16. Not recommended for players of any age with tennis elbow issues. Default option for frequent string breakers on a budget.

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We Solve Problems

vapour racquetball gloveEarlier today, a gentleman came into our southwest Calgary store looking for a racquet glove. Specifically, he wanted a right hand, size large. Of course, we had one for him because that is what we do. We carry odd things that only racquet sports players would want.

Further conversation with the customer in this case, however, made it pretty clear to our staff that a glove was not going to solve his problem. In fact, the glove might actually have made things worse.

When a customer walks into our store, we usually start off by asking questions. “Hello. How are you today?” “How can I help you?” “Are you looking for anything in particular?” This is not just small talk. It is the beginning of the best kind of service customers can ask for — service that aims to identify their problems and help them find solutions.

In this case, the customer thought the solution for his problem was a $30.00 glove. In the end, it was a $3.66 overgrip. So he left with his problem solved and saved $26.34 in the process.

Why do you want a glove, we asked him? What problem are you trying to solve? His answer: my pickleball paddle is turning in my hand. This is causing me to miss shots. OK. No problem, we said. Do you have the paddle here? Maybe we can take a look at it.

Examining the paddle yielded all of the information we needed to help solve this customer’s problem. Issue Number One was the grip; his grip was completely worn out. It was hard and totally smooth. So of course it was slippery. Issue Number Two was the grip size; this customer was nearly six feet tall and he had a tiny little handle made for a player closer to five feet. Issue Number 3 was perspiration; it turns out this customer was a heavy sweater.

Could we have sold him a $30.00 glove? Sure. Would it have solved his problem? Not fully. Even with a glove on, the paddle would continue to turn in his hand. Even with the glove, the paddle would still be too small. And wearing a glove, especially on a hot day, is likely to provoke and even stronger sweat response from his body.

In this case it was more sensible to build his grip size up with overgrip designed for heavy sweaters. The new grip added traction to this paddle handle and it made it a little bigger which was more proportional to the size of his hand. And because we picked out an absorption grip that is heat and moisture activated, his grip will become tackier as he plays.

Problems solved. Money saved. That’s the essence of what we do for customers every day.

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Warranties, Returns and Other Pickleball Gripes

stamp-out-fraudMost people don’t think much about return fraud or warranty fraud. And why should they? Most people are honest, so they aren’t affected by such nefarious things. Right?

Wrong. Warranty fraud and return fraud impact honest people more than dishonest people. While dishonest people benefit from these common types of retail fraud, honest people pay the price.

Let me give you an example.

Approximately one per cent of customers are “serial returners”. This means that they return more than half of their purchases. In the pickleball world, this is the kind of person who buys a paddle, plays with it, returns it to the store to exchange it for another one, plays with that one for a while and then returns it again.

They may eventually purchase one paddle, but in the process they have used and returned two or three or four. Of course, the returned paddles are not new and cannot be sold as new, so the cost of these paddles is passed along to honest customers in the form of higher margins.

Serial returners and their cousins, “frequent returners”, make up only six per cent of the population, but they account for about 90% of the costs associated with returns and exchanges while the remaining 94% of retail customers — the honest people — collectively account for only 10% of the costs of returns. The numbers for warranty fraud, meanwhile, are equally disturbing.

What is warranty fraud? Here’s an example. Earlier this year we got an email from a loyal customer and friend who has shopped with us for years. He warned us to expect a visit from an angry customer (we’ll call him Ben) in the next few days. Apparently, Ben had purchased a paddle from us two weeks earlier that he no longer liked and wanted to return.

Unfortunately for Ben, there was nothing wrong with the paddle. So after discussing it with some of the players in his group, Ben decided to heed some bad advice and take matters into his own hands. Before he went home that day he smashed his paddle into the top of a gate post several dozen times until the surface was dented and damaged beyond repair. A few days later he came into our store asking for warranty coverage, claiming the damage was done by nothing more than playing pickleball.

This is a classic case of warranty fraud. The customer decided he wanted a new paddle. He also decided that he wanted somebody else to pay for it. So he faked a warranty claim. Sadly, he is not alone.

The Canadian Retail Council estimates that shrinkage due to return fraud, warranty fraud and other forms of fraud costs retail stores more than $4 billion annually. They estimate that just under 19% of all retail purchases are returned. In fact, return/warranty fraud alone accounts for about nine cents of every retail dollar spent.

In other words, honest people pay about 10% more than they should because big box retailers make it easy for dishonest customers like Ben with easy return/warranty policies. For pickleball players, this works out to about $8-10 per paddle and about 40 cents per ball.

Here at Racquet Network, we have taken a stand against return/warranty fraud. In order to ensure that we can charge the lowest possible prices, we have very restrictive return/warranty policies. As a result, we have reduced incidents of fraud to lower levels than most retail sporting goods stores.

At the same time, we have also developed fair demo programs that allow honest customers to try before they buy. We have also added online product reviews to our website so that customers can share their opinions of products with other customers and do some research before they spend any money.

On top of this, most of the products that we carry are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty of some kind. So if something does go wrong for a legitimate customer, there are ways for them to get replacements for genuinely defective products.

None of this matters to serial returners or warranty fraudsters, however. In their minds, they are doing nothing wrong. And they are not shy about saying so. In fact, a recent US study found that serial returners are 40 times more likely to post a bad review about a store or a manufacturer after a failed return attempt than a happy customer.

So the next time you are gathered with your pickleball friends listening to somebody complain about how a retailer did them wrong, ask yourself this: who is the real problem here? Before you judge the retailer, maybe you should gather some facts about the customer.

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Pickleball Paddle Warranties

Wilson offers a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.
Not all pickleball paddles are created equal — and not all come with warranties.

Staff at Racquet Network generally advise our customers to purchase pickleball paddles that come with warranties. Unfortunately, not everybody listens to us. Frequently, in fact, customers complain that we are only advising them to do so because paddles with warranties cost more.

Like everything else in life, quality costs money. So the more you spend on a pickleball paddle, the better the paddle you get. In fact, higher quality paddles are so well made that they don’t even need a warranty. The people who make them know this. So offering a warranty is a no-brainer for them. They know the paddle is so well made that they most likely will never have to replace it.

Low priced paddles (there is a lot of junk in the racquet sports industry) do not come with warranties. They cost less because they are poorly made with low quality materials. The manufacturers know this, too, of course because they are the people who make them. They know that cheap paddles are not durable and so they also know it would be foolish to offer a warranty on such a low quality product.

So why do these paddles exists if they are not worth buying? The answer is simple: demand. There is huge demand for low-priced paddles in the pickleball market. For every one player who understands that quality paddles cost money, there are ten who fool themselves into thinking that pickleball paddles should be cheap and that a cheap pickleball paddle is just as good as an expensive one.

A second explanation for the success of “junk” paddles is that most new pickleball players try the sport before committing to it. In other words, they buy a cheap paddle and see if they like pickleball first. Then a few months later, if they are still playing, they buy a better paddle.

Here at Racquet Network, we stock paddles at all price points. We carry low-priced paddles for players who are just trying the sport out and we carry high end paddles for players who are fully committed to the game. We also carry a variety of paddles for every price point in-between.

Whether you are a new player or an old veteran, though, our advice will always be the same; you are more likely to be satisfied with a quality paddle than a cheap one. So unless price is an overwhelming issue for you, choose a paddle with a warranty. You may never need the warranty, but having one virtually guarantees that the craftsmanship is worth the investment.

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Customer Advisory – Yonex BG66

Yonex BG66 Badminton String
Yonex BG66 Badminton String

[Calgary] Racquet Network has issued a Customer Advisory regarding Yonex ™ BG66 badminton string following a series of complaints from customers regarding durability.

There are three strings in the series — BG66, BG66 ULTIMAX and BG66 POWER — all of which were created by Yonex to serve customers who want more power. All three strings are exceptionally thin. BG66, the original, is just 0.66 mm thick while the others are even thinner at 0.65 mm.

“Over the past six months, more than a dozen customers using BG66 have returned re-strung racquets to our Calgary store complaining about premature breakage,” says Racquet’s Network’s owner Brent Johner. “Several of these customers claimed that the strings broke the first time they used them.”

A recent inquiry to Yonex Canada resulted in this response by email: “BG66U [BG66 ULTIMAX] is definitely not for everyone. Its a very thin gauge for high response. It will break sooner than other strings.”

“In this particular case,” says Johner, “the issue appears to be one of customer education. Therefore we will be taking steps to ensure that customers purchasing BG66 are aware of the string’s design and intended use.”

Strings in the BG66 series appear to be designed for use with feather shuttlecocks. Because they are exceptionally thin, these strings should not be used with nylon shuttles. Contact with the skirts of nylon shuttles during smashes may nick the string causing it to break at that moment or during a later stroke.

The BG66 series also does not appear to be suitable for strong players who smash a lot. Rather, it is a thin string intended to help juniors, women and smaller players who need additional help from their string bed.

“Every single complaint we have had about this string over the past six months has come from an adult male,” notes Johner. “At this point it appears to us to be a classic case of ‘power greed’.”

Men tend to be attracted to anything that promises more power, notes Johner, even though they don’t actually need it. In this case, strong male players appear to be overpowering the structural integrity of this string causing it to fail.

Effective immediately, Racquet Network is advising adult male badminton players using nylon shuttles to stay away from the BG66 series. However, staff will still be recommending the string to juniors and women who genuinely need more powerful string beds.

About Customer Advisories

Racquet Network is committed to maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. Products that do not meet high standards of customer satisfaction are removed from store shelves and company websites.

Customer Advisories are issued following a series of customer complaints. Sometimes the source of these complaints is improper usage of products by customers. Sometimes it is a genuine decline in the quality of the product.

Products for which Racquet Network has issued Customer Advisories are monitored closely for 12 months. Those that continue to fail to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction are discontinued.