View Full Version : The ethics of Penn (balls)

05-15-2004, 08:57 PM
Let me state up front that I do not know if the Penn Practice balls I'm describing below are the same ones that TW is selling. Having looked at the photo of the Penn Practice balls TW is selling, the cans have no labels. The cans I am referring to do have a label (basic gray background with some red, as I recall). So the balls I am referring to and the balls TW is selling seem to have different packaging, and are perhaps different balls. Let's hope so.

Saw some Penn Practice balls the other day. About half the price of Penn Championship balls. The label read something to the effect of "Not suitable for league or tournament play" But it was also written "These balls did not meet Penn's high standards for quality due to cosmetic defects. The balls in this can are otherwise of the same quality as all Penn balls - the only difference is cosmetic."

Ok, so I figured I might give them a shot. I don't really care what my balls look like.

Umm... let me rephrase that... If a tennis ball bounces and wears well, I don't care about any cosmetic blemishes it may have. Function over fashion.

So I began to look at the balls in these cans. I noticed that all of them were labelled 'Penn Practice' - but about half of them had additional labels. Some were additionally labeled 'Penn 2' (Penn Championship), while others were Masters Series balls, and others were Pro Penns. Most were Extra Duty Felt, but about 20% were regular felt. One can could have one Masters Series, one Pro Penn Extra Duty Felt, and one Championship regular felt.

Ok - this was beginning to seem a little odd. So I kept looking at the balls, and that's when I began to see cracks in some seams. Not minuscule cracks - but big, blatant cracks. The kind of cracks that get a ball rejected during the inspection/quality control phase. This is obviously quite more than a mere cosmetic problem. A good 20% to 25% of the balls had cracked seams. In fact, there were far more balls with cracked seams than there were balls with cosmetic blemishes.

It is quite obvious that these balls were balls that failed Penn's quality control. Some marketing genius decided to round up these bad balls, package them, and sell them to an unsuspecting public, complete with a label wich is an absolute and outright lie.

Would Penn have committed such an unforgivable abuse if they'd not linked up with Head?

05-15-2004, 10:48 PM
Relabeling substandard quality manufactured goods is part of LIFE! It is so pervasive that I'll bet that you don't even realize that it's an ingrained part of the sales strategy of most companies around the world.

Here's just a few other examples:

1. Factory outlet stores - sell factory rejects or last seasons stuff that didn't sell.

2. Ever bought a really cheap digital watch, (e.g., $5 or so) and wondered why it was so cheap when the in***** are practically the same as the brand name labels, like Casio, Timex, etc.? Of course it begins to make sense when you realize that this watch doesn't keep time quite as accurately, or goes dead after a few months inexplicably. Yep, it was the same in***** alright, only there was some QA problem and so it got shipped to a different generic line to be made into a watch, rather than put into a name label watch.

3. Ever wondered why, whenever Intel or some other chip maker migrates over to a new, smaller resolution photomasking process that will allow for faster processors ( the smaller the transistors, the less capacitance energy gets built up during switching, allowing for faster switching speed) they don't just start selling the chips at the top of the maximum speed for this new chip process? Why? Well, not all of the chips that come off the line are any good. In fact yields are pretty low, something like 10-20% of the chips off any one disc of silicon wil work. Some chips will work at faster cycling speeds than others ......and so rather than just sell only the chips that make the grade for the fastest speeds, and trashing the ones that work only at the lower speeds, what we see is that the slower chips get sold first at a premium price!!! While the inventory of faster chips is saved up for later, at which time, these faster chips get sold at the premium price while the slower chips get sold at a discounted price!!

4. I'll bet you didn't know that this principle also gets applied to the million dollar superconducting magnets used in MRI scanners in Radiology. Yep, you are GE, and your factory has just wound all that expensive niobium wire into this huge superconducting magnet, and oh my, the thing just won't ramp up to 1.5 T or 3T or whatever. What to do? Cut the thing up with a blowtorch and send it to the landfill? NAAAHHH!!! The thing does work at 0.3T, sort of - so you get your marketing guys to come up with a cheaper product at the low end of the MRI line designed SOLELY to use these magnets that have failed to work at the higher field strengths.....VOILA! profit out of trash!!!

Yes, Deuce, you see, you've got it all wrong. Making profit out of what would otherwise just end up as garbage in a landfill is the ultimate in re-cycling!!!! Very environmentally sound!!

And ultimately, it goes with this cluster of old and new adages,

1. You get what you pay for!
2. Sometimes you get LESS than what you pay for!
3. The goal always, though is to get MORE while paying LESS!
4. Companies know that #3 exists as a strategy, and so they are always trying to disguise products as #3, when in fact they are #2.
5. Therefore, never trust an advertisement or a sales pitch, you've got to figure it all out for yourself! (this last bit of pithy aphorism is from "Life of Brian").

Brent Pederson
05-20-2004, 06:54 AM
Never confuse the product advertised for the product delivered...

05-20-2004, 08:31 AM
You couldn't pick a worse example of corporate greed than tennis balls. They're consistently held up as one of the most inflation resistent products in the American economy (even if you consider the most expensive varieties). The cut rate factory seconds that I bought, which at the high end is already the economic equivalent of the 50 cent cheeseburger - they have (gasp) something wrong with them?

Cry me a river.

06-01-2004, 09:13 PM
As is his custom, 'oh please' has deliberately decided to miss the point so that he can 'contradict' someone in his haughty manner, and embark on his own agenda. For a person who likes to cast himself as being of a higher intelligence than others, he interestingly likes to 'play dumb' whenever he finds it convenient to miss a point someone is making.

When it is marked on the can that the balls contained within said can are merely cosmetically faulty, and that they are physically as good as regular, higher priced balls, but the balls that are advertized as being only cosmetically faulty turn out in fact to have major cracks and gaps in the seams, then the practice is unethical, no matter the price, and no matter the 'spin' certain posters try to put on it to serve their own purpose - whatever it may be.

It is false advertizing; trickery; manipulation; deliberate deceit; lying... whatever term one uses, it is wrong.

A. Tacker
07-06-2004, 11:03 PM
Pennansd Wilson balls were great in the 70's...they suck now. I've been around the game for over 30 years and can tell you that the Dunlop Absorber is the best ball out there currently. The previous poster felt that they were larger than other balls because they wear quite well and don't lose their shape, while Wilson, Penn and others wear like crap and their covers become smaller, while their seems become wider. What's more, they're also better for your arm and and have 15% less shock, multiply that 15% by the amount of times you stroke a tennis ball in one match.... one week... one month..... one year.....

09-13-2004, 05:29 PM
Here's my question: did the balls with the cracks in them play the same? Were they dead or otherwise play-compromised?

I'm curious because practice balls have always been this way--ever since I was a junior in the early '80s. Back then, they were also called "coach" balls because they could be bought cheaply in bulk by tennis coaches for junior tennis programs. I played with zillions of balls that sound just like the ones you (original poster) describe and they played fine--for practice purposes. The cracks didn't seem to hamper play for drills and sundry. I don't know if the balls lasted any longer than regular balls because we went through balls like nothing else in my program.