1. Topspin101

    Topspin101 Rookie

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    A couple in their mid seventies asked me to restring their racquets. Both were super OS. A Wilson BLX 118 and a Prince Thunderbolt. The racquets had never been restrung and the strings were yellow with age. I told them exactly what I was going to tension them at (mid-range) and threw in a couple overgrips. They want them restrung at much lower tensions because the strings are too tight for them to generate any power. Of course, they want it done for free. I feel terrible but c'mon, free! What is the proper way to handle this situation?

    Thanks/Don
     
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  2. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    hopefully you used some cheap cordage.

    tell them the string is free but the labor is not.

    edit: lastly, mention how your parents also walked three miles to school, uphill both ways through three feet of snow.

    haha ;) you just have to explain how old their strings were, might not be worth it.....
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
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  3. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    I rarely do string jobs for free. It's a skill, it should never be done for free.
     
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  4. Topspin101

    Topspin101 Rookie

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    Thanks. I offered to comp the strings and reduced my labor charge but they feel they deserve to be satisfied without paying again. I sort of understand their logic. BTW, did you know my parents? It was actually 4 miles!
     
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  5. Fusker

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    Tell them that in the absence of a customer providing direction, industry norm is to string it at mid-range. I'd probably suggest to them that the strings will lose some tension as they settle, and might be a little softer in a week or two.

    One thing I would not do is give them a new set of strings for free. Just based on this brief story, they strike me as the sort of folks that don't respect the value of other people's time. Giving your services away will just feed in to that mentality.

    Or based on your description of them, just bite the bullet and put some powerful polys on there so you never have to deal with them again. They'll be long dead before they break those.
     
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  6. rich s

    rich s Hall of Fame

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    ...............................
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
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  7. Fusker

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    You posted this while I was replying, but bummer. So you're out strings and any profit you made, and they're still not happy. Hopefully you asked them to specify exactly what tension they want. It's not your job to guess.

    I guess I just don't understand why people expect others to work for free. My wife (a photographer) gets that kind of stuff. People who barely know her will ask about getting family photos done and then make a comment like, "I'll even pay you." Well, yeah!
     
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  8. Lakers4Life

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    Older player tend to want lower tension, below 50 lbs. How much was the string they used? I would ask to just pay for the string if not re-do it one time. Though it's probably unlike they will be regular clients since it will probably take them a year to break the string. But if you do good work, they may recommend you to other player they play with.
     
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  9. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    follow them to a restaurant and see how much they tip.

    throw some loose kevlar in there and they'll die (the strings will die too, of course) before they ever need another stringjob.
     
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  10. hyperion99

    hyperion99 Semi-Pro

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    It's a value for value relationship.
    You give them the product and they give you the $.
    It's as simple as that.
    You are not a charity.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
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  11. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    i am so lost.......how do they justify it
     
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  12. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    They assumed new strings would be better not worse than what they had before. If there was going to be such a drastic change it should have been explained to them and apparantly it wasn't.
     
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  13. max pl

    max pl Rookie

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    yeh dont do it for free. make em pay for either labor or the new strings at least.

    as someone else mentioned, if they werent specific about what they wanted and are upset, its their fault.

    you told them you'd string mid range and they agreed, no? they gave you approval...
     
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  14. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    ohhh gotcha the wording threw me off. id do a discount but not free
     
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  15. pvw_tf

    pvw_tf Rookie

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    Did you consider that the advice you gave and job you were did was possible not the best for them.

    You did not write what the old string used in the rackets was, before you strung them. I do not know how old the wilson was but it is still a racket which can be bought so will not be 10 years. The thunderbolt is an older stick. But if you like it, it is hard to replace and not needed for such a veteran player.

    In a case like this I would try to sort out what they played in the past, level of play and type of string. If they would not know the string, I sort out if they have been decent players, mostly they have been. I would go for thin gut and explain it will not last for ever. And it would be anyway better to re-string it, before it gets 2 years old.

    If they do not want to have gut, I would go for top quality multi string. Also a thin one. Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 18 or other high level multi string. String it on below the lower limit. 23-25 kg would be enough.

    Explain what it will do and what they can expect when they start playing again with the new and that it will take at least a few times playing to adjust to the new. More control, no trampoline effect anymore.

    I do not think you would have gotten them back complaining, but thanking you for a good job done.

    Peter
     
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  16. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    best way to deal with this is to write off the loss as a lesson learned.

    I also went thru this, and learned to explain in detail that the strings/tension they currently have is very loose, and stringing it at the racquets recommended tension will feel much tighter than what they are currently playing with. Then let them make the decision if they want it at recommended or want it strung much looser.
     
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  17. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    oh, bull$hit. an ignorant customer doesn't make a right customer. it's not always the stringers job to find the "perfect" tension for the customer..... he did the job as requested.

    these people are ancient and should understand such, they should pay and learn from THEIR mistake (no offense to the elderly intended, but c'mon..).
     
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  18. Topspin101

    Topspin101 Rookie

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    I just spit coke on my keyboard.....
     
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  19. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    They requested to have their racket restrung. If someone 75 years old brought me an old Thunderstick with very lose string I would expect they are looking for as much power as they can get. I would not even consider string their racket at the lower end of the tension range.

    Do you consider it a mistake to have your racket restrung?

    EDIT: I don't think their is a right or wrong here. The OP should do what he feels is right.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
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  20. Topspin101

    Topspin101 Rookie

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    Apparently was not? What a bold, arrogant assumption. Granted you are the guru of this forum BUT I will not let you insult me. Apologize and retract your statement or ban me from this forum which you will because certainly you do not have the intellectual capability to debate me. You are a stringer, not Methuselah. I do thank you for past informative responses though....
     
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  21. VeeSe

    VeeSe Rookie

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    lol... calm down and just make a judgement call.
     
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  22. beernutz

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    Lord, grow up. How exactly were you insulted? No where in any of your replies have you stated that you explained what the effect of a tension change was going to be to the codgers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
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  23. RJYU

    RJYU Rookie

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    I'm not sure you know who Methuselah was. From what I understand, his claim to fame was solely his age. I figure Irwin isn't 969 years old or going to live to be 969 years old, so technically, I agree with you that Irwin is not Methuselah. :)
     
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  24. Lakers4Life

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    I totally agree with Drakulie.

    Chalk one up to experience. In this business you will get almost all types of clients. When dealing with new clients one needs to ask more questions, especially when the client does not provide any specifics.
     
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  25. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    Take those racquets out back, jump up and down on the stringbeds for a half hour, and call it a day. ;-)
     
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  26. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    Topspin101 I am sorry you took my comment as insulting it was not meant that way.
     
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  27. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

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    If it were me (and it HAS been me), I would have said right from the beginning: "Absolutely, I will redo it for free. Customer satisfaction is the #1 priority. I want you to be happy, and I will make sure you are."

    Lose a sale. Never lose a customer. This has worked incredibly well for me. People trust me and know I will take care of them.
     
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  28. Slitch

    Slitch Rookie

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    Such manners are very delicate. Why? Because mouth-to-mouth advertising is the most powerful form of advertising with a high degree of authenticity and reliability(as percepted by most people). The way you deal with your customer ultimately defines your image as a stringer. As a stringer you're a service provider. Remember to allways put service first. Try to understand where your customer is coming from and explain where your coming from. Use an example they can understand. Explain stringing is a craftsmanship obtained by learning and working hard. It's something you take great care to. Materials cost money and stocking up on strings is a financial risk. Explain you're sorry it is not what they expected, but you've delivered what you promised. Try to reach a understanding, but never do it totally free. To me they sound like a typical restaurant customer who want their steaks rare but when the steak shows up they find it to rare, have it send back and complain the steaks are to well done. Some customers are never satisfied, remember that.
     
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  29. COPEY

    COPEY Hall of Fame

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    I'm more in line with Lakers and Drak, however, sstchur nailed it in my opinion. You may lose a sale, but in the long run you'll likely pick up additional customers from this situation.

    People that age usually know a lot of people, have quite a few relatives who might play, etc. The question you have to ask yourself is in this case is it worth it to you to lose a potential repeat customer, and very likely, customers who might come from their recommendation. If yes, cool.

    I have a fairly sizeable list of people I string for, but I don't do it for "income" per se. I lose a little money here and there on the occasional do-over, giving away free overgrips and replacement grips, but as a result, I get quite a few referrals, so I'm making more money than I ever intended.
     
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  30. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    +1 here, I'd apologize and restring the frames looser. I'd also string it with synthetic to be sure. Good will goes a long way
     
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  31. jim e

    jim e Hall of Fame

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    I would assume that most stringers have their own policy.
    When I get a new customer, and tension is in question, (they have no idea on what tension they want) , I make it my best guess, and tell them that if they do not like the tension that I would restring it one time for tension change for no charge, providing the string is not nat. gut.Most are surprised of that comment, and so far no one has taken me up on it. That comment makes good will with many. Its your buisness to handle it the way you feel is best.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
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  32. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Deleted Post
     
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  33. 8F93W5

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    I have a lot of tennis friends in that age range at my tennis club. None of them are that ignorant.
    How often do they play? If they play a lot, then they probably became used to the ancient strings and anything you put in would be different and also an improvement.
    I think maybe they are terrible players and are blaming you. I know the type. I work retail (I'm a meat cutter). Some people just love to complain. I bet this couple sends food back at restaurants a lot. They want things free and they want refunds they aren't entitled to. They never stop to think that their refund will affect someone else in a negative way.
     
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  34. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Who is Solomon, Alex?
     
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  35. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    Or at they didn't fully grasp the explanation.... Lesson is mid-seventies aren't going to be wanting much change; likely talked into getting re-strung by playing partners over their private reservations.

    I'd try explaining that you want them happy and playing their best; they'll get better control and power will come as they get used to the racket manufacture's recommendation -- it really is better. Make sure they know they can always bring back later for restringing (in case they feel there is a short "warranty period" and that they must act immediately.)

    It's not likely to work but shows a willingness to work with them. Valuable lesson with seventy year olds bringing a racket in after two years. Good luck!
     
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  36. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    tennis_ocd you could not be more right, you want your customers happy, and playing their best with the feel they expect is the best way to achieve that. Their perception of how the racket plays is the only thing that matters. Whether or not the racket is performing at its maximum potential does not matter in the least. If you can't give them the feel they want they will never be back and may drive off other business. If you string one customers racket 10 times and make $100 you would be better off that if you string their racket one time and make $12.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
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  37. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    It makes more sense to me to have a happy customer that promotes your business to his friends than to have an unhappy customer that drives his friends away.
     
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  38. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    This part of the equation probably hasn't entered into the minds of many of the people in this thread, but: People that old are probably retired, and are living off meager/moderate levels of FIXED income. If I were them, I'd have absolutely no shame on asking for free/discounted things when/wherever I can. Is this right? Is this "Ethical?" Is this "Moral?" IMHO, this will completely depend on your perspective. I'm not saying it's right, but I 100% understand the limitations of not "giving away" your money when you have only passive income (read the rest of the post before you knee-jerk disagree, though).

    Yeah, it's delicate, and it depends on a few factors. I'm generally inclined to restring free simply by principle, but I think it's entirely reasonable to throw in labor and charge for strings. If they requested and/or had only a simple syn gut, I'll throw that in every time to keep a customer happy. I can't give away NXT, etc, though.


    I agree with the first part. There should be a verbal contract in place before proceeding with any job like these. Give them the proper amount of information and/or caution them beforehand that their strings are very loose. Mid-range IS probably very, VERY tight as compared to what was in their frames. Align expectations before performing any work so these situations don't come up in the first place. Mitigate beforehand rather than firefight afterwards. It'll save you some gray hairs.

    As far as the entitlement -- see my comment above about fixed income -- I'm not saying it's right, but when you don't have a ton of disposable income, I at the very least understand their mentality. In this situation I'll happily donate my labor to not **** someone off -- negative word of mouth is easily an order of magnitude more impactful to my bottom line than positive (unfortunately).

    I actually take the opposite approach -- redo labor is free [BUT, this is discussed beforehand], strings are not. My perspective/approach is that I'm happy to keep a customer happy, but my bottom line is my bottom line. I can't give away strings and expect a profit.

    The expectation of old strings and new strings (and stringbed stiffness) would ALWAYS have been discussed before installation. I want my customers to understand my motivations and decisions ahead of time -- expectations management.

    Yeah, if the customer agreed ahead of time to the tension (call), you get into this gray area where you could be justified denying a re-do for discount/free. I'd still throw in labor as a good-faith deal, but IMO this is more about expectation alignment before performing work than anything else. As far as "Ethics," it's obvious from the amount of discussion that it's not black or white, and not everyone agrees. My personal approach is to give away labor, but I don't depend on my stringing income to pay the bills ;)

    Agree. HOWEVER, an ignorant customer is not always the fault of the customer. From the perspective of a client, why SHOULD it be expected for someone who depends/relies on the stringer to know every little thing? The stringer as a service provider IMHO should be helping the customers make the "right" decision. This is vague wording, though, and what I mean here is "right" for the customer.

    This is an approach I can understand, but what if it's gut? What if they complain AGAIN? Can you take multiple $40 hits without feeling it? If so, you've probably considered this and factored this into your base pricing. That's why I'm of the opinion that the string isn't free, but I'm 100% happy to keep a customer happy by redoing labor if the tension doesn't feel playable. I tell any (wary) customers this up front. I also tell them to not be shy about giving me their feedback. (This also gives me a little lee-way to throw in free syn gut that costs me ~$2/set off a reel to make them even MORE happy -- I make that money back+ profit on my original labor charge, anyways...).

    While I know there are the entitled jerks out there, there needs to be some perspective. When we're talking about 70+ year old people, they might be living off extremely low fixed income. Restringing may actually be a luxury they're splurging on for the month -- and labor (for me) is simply 15-20 minutes of my time. I am not in too much of a rush where I can't donate a little of my time if necessary. String comps are not made unless there was a genuine (uninformed) error on my end [with the exception of syn guts since they're THAT cheap].

    Maybe my mentality here is a little different because I'm kind of a "young guy," but I don't like giving advice or persuading people to my point of view in this way. When someone is ALREADY wary of your judgment beforehand, to someone who is skeptical, this just feels/seems like a cop-out move. I may recommend giving it at least one more chance on the court and letting me know how it goes before cutting it out and re-doing it. Tension loss is natural, and it may play a lot better after a hit or two. In the end, though, if they're still unhappy, I'll comp labor (at least the first time).
     
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  39. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    yes but it's the *manufacturer's* pov.

    Interesting discussion as I don't do too many rackets for outsiders. Those that I do take on come with no real tension (or even string) preference and I just default to middle of racket specs (with 5-10% adjustment if poly.) I can see where this could cause some missed expectations.
     
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  40. sovertennis

    sovertennis Semi-Pro

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    If it was Methusela complaining about the string job, I'd probably re-do it on the presumption that he'd need a lot more re-stringings. For the folks in the OP's message? Probably not, particularly since I told them in advance that I'd go middle of the range and that the new string would feel a lot different.
     
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  41. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    You just hit the nail on the head. Where was it said the new string would feel a lot different? If it was said (and I am not saying it wasn't) why isn't the OP saying, "I told you so?" As a matter of fact in the tension thread the OP started not long before this one he specifically asked where to start but never mentioned the specifics. Had I known more about the specifics of his problem I would not have recommended what I did in that thread.
     
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  42. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

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    I've thought about this a little (what if it were gut) and honestly don't know what I would do. I would probably be less inclined to do it for free, but it would be be a case by case basis for me. Thankfully, that has never happened so far.

    Generally when I do restring for free b/c of dsat, I make it abundantly clear to the customer that I'm doing it for free because I want them to be happy, but that it's not an "unlimited" sort of deal. Mostly this isn't an issue though. Usually people appreciate the good will and accept the 2nd restring. Also, it happens so infrequently for me that it's largely a non-issue.

    Also, it depends largely on the customer. A lot of times I'll offer a free restring and the customer himself will offer to chip in something.

    In the end, I'll almost always eat the loss (even a fairly big one) in exchange for a super happy customer. If it ever got to the point where I felt the customer was taking advantage of me, I would probably put my foot down at some point. But in practice, it has never gotten to this point.

    EDIT: Another point that is worth noting: when I have new customers, I usually chat with them quite a bit and explain how things work. I given them plenty of my time and attention to make sure they feel they're being educated on this process. I also usually tell them up front to let me know how they like the strings and if they have any issues "don't hesitate to let me know and I'll make it right." I also usually encourage them (if it is a new string or tension for them) to give it a "fair shake" and at least reserve judgement until 3 or 4 hitting sessions. In a lot of cases, I even follow up with the customer to check in on how they like the strings. Is this a lot of effort? Yeah, maybe, but I'm convinced that it's absolutely worth it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
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  43. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Agree, it's a slippery slope if you don't have a policy in place. I will happily throw in a set of Syn Gut, but I make it very clear this is not my policy. I can't/won't eat expensive/individual sets of string, because if I have to re-stock on an individual basis, it's not just the set cost I'm eating, it's the shipping, too.

    I think your approach is great -- provided the customer WANTS to be educated. I meet WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too many people who really don't care about the details of their strings/equipment. I approach things pretty similarly (in practice and theory) to how you do it, though.
     
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  44. sovertennis

    sovertennis Semi-Pro

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    Irv, the Methusela comment was meant in jest. If the older couple didn't intuitively know that new strings would make the frames feel very different, why did they even ask for a restringing? I don't think it's the responsibility of the OP to confirm the obvious for this couple; moreover, if he does another restringing, whether gratis, the frame will still feel much different than before he cut out the original, yellowed, older than Methusela, string.
     
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  45. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    No one really knows what the two wanted or expected. And it does not matter what the OP decides to do about the situation. No one is really going to win here. What is done is done and since the old strings are gone it can't be undone.
     
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  46. Radicalized

    Radicalized Semi-Pro

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    In this case, with older folks, I think it depends what was said about how they play. The customers know going in that the strings won't feel the same. That is why they changed them. They weren't broken. You should be able to assume that, right?

    When changing strings, there is a learning experience. I play with some older guys now and then because I'm "nice" enough to do so and "play" to their abilities. Generally, what I see them using are racquets for short swings. Fine. Same thing here. When it comes to strings, they don't break. Personally, in this situation when discussing tennis, you can get the information you need without getting technical. I don't string for them, but when I do string kids' racquets or racquets for people with low powered swings, I use Gamma Challenger 16 strung at the very low end or Gamma 15L strung a bit lower.

    I think what many want to feel is a comfortable pop. It isn't so much the actual power of the strings at a given tension, but the way they respond to the impact that makes them modify their swings, leading to telling you they aren't getting enough power (Assuming again you didn't intentionally choose a stiff string strung high or whatever.). Dropping five pounds most likely wouldn't have changed the experience here, in my opinion. I mean this particularly for those who no longer have the strength they once did nor the ability to really control the ball precisely.

    Also, it is tough to get into finances. I know elderly people who are both not well off and those who are rolling in the dough. Have no doubt, either group may love a deal/free/etc...

    I think you have to treat them as any other customer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
    #46
  47. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Joined:
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    I once witnessed a nasty scene at the pro shop. Guy came by to pick up his racket. The stringer told him his racket was fake and was already partially cracked when the guy dropped it off (with the admin, when the stringer was not there) and it started to crack further when he tried to restring. Customer said his racket was not a fake. Pro shop owner intervened and asked him whether he had the receipt or was it a dubious purchase on the bay. Customer gets insulted, said he bought it from a big store. Owner says show me the receipt and I will talk to the store manager and explain why it is a fake. Guy says who keeps the receipt for so long, and nothing was wrong with the frame - you guys cracked it. Owner demonstrates why it is a fake and explains that is why the poor quality caused a bigger crack on stringing. Customer says he doesn't want to argue - he wants his frame back with the strings on it. Stringer says he had to cut out the strings because the existing crack was unexpected and hardly visible. Customer asks for it to be strung for free - stringer refuses saying stringing will completely destroy the frame and he won't do it, even for money. Customer marches out and promises to tell all his friends never to buy from the store.
     
    #47
  48. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    This is what I would have done: If they haven't paid yet, just say it's no charge this time, it's on the house. They can choose to keep it and play with it, or they can pay to have them restrung again. If they have already paid, I'd ask that they play with the rackets one more time and then after that if they are still unhappy I will offer them a full refund or restring for free.

    You have to respect your customers. People don't always remember what you did for them, but they will rememeber the way you made them feel. I've dealt with a lot of elderly customers and they tend to hold on tightly to their dollars, they grew up in a different generation. Also, don't try to win them over with technical speak about strings, just apologize and take care of it. If you gain their trust, they're willing to go out of their to come back to you, and they'll tell their friends, not just senior tennis friends, maybe they have a son/daughter who plays and you can become stringer of choice for their league team because they heard how well you treated their parents who know nothing about tennis equipment. No amount of money can buy the quality of advertising that word-of-mouth personal endorsement provides ("you have to see my stringer, he's the best! and such a nice young man."). On the other hand, if you offer bad service, word will spread quickly about the rude service and that can kill your repuation quickly. Tennis is a social game and the tennis playing community is very tightly knit.
     
    #48
  49. Topspin101

    Topspin101 Rookie

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    I so apologize for jumping down your throat Irvin. Had a couple cocktails and I reacted poorly at best. I have not read yet beyond your post but assume I get blasted as I should. Sorry man!

    Sincerely/Don
     
    #49
  50. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    Don I have no problem with what you said I don't take this personally there is no need to apologize.
     
    #50

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