How much do you pay for a can of balls?

How much do you pay for a can of balls?


  • Total voters
    81

chsu74

New User
To think Head/Penn has created a separate line for the specific purpose of producing "substandard" Championship balls for Costco (and other big box distributors) to sell for a slightly lower price is just idiotic from a business perspective. The simple reason that distributors like Costco and Walmart have lower prices is that they are the 900 pound Gorillas who have the ability to grind out good deals from their suppliers, not because they purchase substandard products. In the case of Costco's practices, it is actually quite the opposite. Likewise, it makes no sense for Head/Penn to have identically branded substandard products in a very competitive marketplace.

Just for yuks I posed the question to a Head/Penn rep and they stated that all balls for each specific product line are exactly the same, irrespective of distribution channel.

Years ago, when they were initially consolidating ball production to China there were plenty of inconsistencies in QC across the board, which may have contributed to idea that failure of balls purchased at Costco were unique to that company. I have know people who experienced flat tubes purchased at Costco at that time. At the same time, I experienced defective product purchased through other distributors such as pro shops and big box sporting goods stores. It was a brand wide issue, with the exception of the then US made Pro Penn balls.

Currently, there is no difference in the quality and incidence of defects among Penn Championship balls at Costco vs anywhere else -- unless you have a conspiracy theory.
There is no conspiracy issue. Sales rep usually don't know anything about procurement and are told that their product perform within spec (a certain spec tolerance.) I have not been in Penn's manufacturing facility in China but I would bet that machines in that plant are of different age in different lines. As business grows, new machines must be added which translates to new lines of production etc. Tennis balls have a tight tolerance which means it is more difficult to manufacture than say a plastic fork. We can feel the difference in ball performance easily don't we? Just read the threads on different tennis ball performances..

Any manufacturing process deal with tolerances in spec. Age of machines on the tennis ball line (especially their moulds for balls) make that slight difference and they must have multiple production lines within a factory producing balls for the volume Penn requires. It will not be the first time that lower value orders get allocated to older/aging machines. I see it all the time across various industries in my line of work.

I import 300+ different items from 25 countries around the world. 25% of my annual purchasing budget goes to China. I see factories all operate the same way from producing Walmart/Costco orders to someone else willing to pay a slightly higher price, Apple or Samsung headphones, sewing machines production allocation for clothes, using less experienced labor to producing processed foodstuff and the list goes on. It is just us humans working with the resources on hand to satisfy demand.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
For practice, I'll buy whatever's around $2 at Target. Matches I prefer to have Wilson US Opens, because I got used to them... Penn ATPs are good too, I've had several pro penns break on me after a set or so... I think the seams must be crap. If I forget my own, the club only sells Pro Penns and the Wilson USOs, and at a price, so I'm probably paying closer to $4-5 :(
 

Chotobaka

Hall of Fame
There is no conspiracy issue. Sales rep usually don't know anything about procurement and are told that their product perform within spec (a certain spec tolerance.) I have not been in Penn's manufacturing facility in China but I would bet that machines in that plant are of different age in different lines. As business grows, new machines must be added which translates to new lines of production etc. Tennis balls have a tight tolerance which means it is more difficult to manufacture than say a plastic fork. We can feel the difference in ball performance easily don't we? Just read the threads on different tennis ball performances..

Any manufacturing process deal with tolerances in spec. Age of machines on the tennis ball line (especially their moulds for balls) make that slight difference and they must have multiple production lines within a factory producing balls for the volume Penn requires. It will not be the first time that lower value orders get allocated to older/aging machines. I see it all the time across various industries in my line of work.

I import 300+ different items from 25 countries around the world. 25% of my annual purchasing budget goes to China. I see factories all operate the same way from producing Walmart/Costco orders to someone else willing to pay a slightly higher price, Apple or Samsung headphones, sewing machines production allocation for clothes, using less experienced labor to producing processed foodstuff and the list goes on. It is just us humans working with the resources on hand to satisfy demand.
I am well aware of manufacturing processes overseas -- I have been having my own company's products manufactured to our own specs and our own designs for over 20 years, including by ODM's in China. I have traveled to factories throughout China during that time and have dealt first hand with every issue imaginable, including QC. I know the drill.

Your statement that Costco balls are being manufactured on an old line to substandard specification is pure speculation. Do you know this for a fact? Any specific information relative to Head/Penn? I'll assume you do know that Head/Penn owns and operates its own factory. Most production started in the then-new facility in 2007, with Pro Penn's being the final product leaving the US in 2009.

Frankly, I do trust the Head/Penn rep's statement. Why would you assume that they are ill informed? In my experience, I find tennis manufacturer reps to be very well educated by their respective companies and very knowledgeable about issues such as this.

Moreover, I trust my own experience in finding zero defective product in the many cases of balls I have purchased at Costco over the past 2-3 years. As a coach, I go through a lot of these and have found the quality to be the same as those I have purchased elsewhere. So, my own experience tells me that these are not "substandard" balls as you erroneously stated.

Again, I will go with what I see in the way of results for myself and not your baseless speculation, unrelated anecdotal experiences and wild guesses about the company's business practices. The current Costco balls are first-quality and represent a good value. That's the bottom line.
 
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I also have never had bad balls from Costco in the 2 years I have been buying there. I have really only seen a few cases of bad balls from a new can in general.
 

toby55555

Hall of Fame
Normally I buy 6doz for a cheaper price per can:
Wilson US Open £4.08
Wilson Championship Extra Duty : £4.00

Today though I bought some different cans to try out and only bought one dozen (3 cans) of each:
Babolat French Open Clay: £4.49
Dunlop Fort Elite £4.50
 

toby55555

Hall of Fame
Looking at the poll results clearly most folk here are U.S. based, you can't get decent balls for less than $5 in the U.K. Though it should be noted that's for four ball cans, I know three ball cans are popular in the States.
Actually balls cost more here before 2003 when Mike Ashley bought Slazenger/Dunlop and brought the prices crashing down; I well remember cans of Slazenger reaching £8 ($10 today, more then) pre 2003. Mind you the quality control went out the window...
 

beltsman

Legend
Unreal what people are playing around the world. Come to the US, everything is cheap here! I get my Penn Extra Duty for about $2.00. I can't imagine paying what some of you are paying.
 

eelhc

Hall of Fame
Let's see....
$2.50~3.00/can ($60~70/case).
  1. Open a fresh can for every match.
  2. Use old balls for hitting/serve practice
  3. Once they're completely flat throw them in a large bin
  4. Sell on Craigslist (dogs, chair/walker feet etc), 24 for $10 or $1.25/can.
Wash-rinse-repeat... Works out to $1.25~1.75/can. Also get the satisfaction of knowing that they'll get more use prior to going to the landfill.
 

Crisp

Professional
I'm in Aus and can bay balls from Costco at lower prices then anywhere else. I'm a tennis coach with wholesale/trade accounts at a number of distributors but still can't beat the Costco price for Americas number one selling ball Penn. they may not be the best balls around but when you go through about 300 balls every 10 weeks or so they are definitely at the best price. I end up paying around $1.10 per ball Aud.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Let's see....
$2.50~3.00/can ($60~70/case).
  1. Open a fresh can for every match.
  2. Use old balls for hitting/serve practice
  3. Once they're completely flat throw them in a large bin
  4. Sell on Craigslist (dogs, chair/walker feet etc), 24 for $10 or $1.25/can.
Wash-rinse-repeat... Works out to $1.25~1.75/can. Also get the satisfaction of knowing that they'll get more use prior to going to the landfill.
does that really work?
i've seen folks selling, and always thought, "no way anyone will buy em"
 

eelhc

Hall of Fame
does that really work?
i've seen folks selling, and always thought, "no way anyone will buy em"
Actually it does... Been doing it a couple of years now. Dog owners, little league, etc... are always looking for balls. I really don't do it for the money but if they're willing to pay... why not? At least the balls get to a landfill later...
 
1

1HBH-DownTheLine

Guest
I buy tennis balls by the case not the can. $70 from TW not counting shipping which is expensive but it's for 24 cans. Usually lasts me a long while. A half year or more.
 

Ronaldo

Talk Tennis Guru
I buy tennis balls by the case not the can. $70 from TW not counting shipping which is expensive but it's for 24 cans. Usually lasts me a long while. A half year or more.
Costco always has an odd number of Penns for $30. May wish you left them in the store.
 

DANMAN

Professional
I get dunlops...12 cans for $20 ($1.67/can) Performance is solid with high bounces and I never pop balls like Penns.
 

mhkeuns

Hall of Fame
Wow! I can't believe how expensive the tennis balls are. I am now much more appreciative of the sub $2 price point for both Wilson and Penn tennis balls I have been paying. I think Dunlop balls cost even less by a few cents.

I think due to hitting with poly strings, I open a brand new can every time I play. The balls are almost unusable after a set or so with all the felt peeled off. I can't imagine doing that if the cans cost around $10. :eek:
 

pabletion

Hall of Fame
Just got back from the US yesterday. Went there for Holy Week vacay, so loaded up on my fav Wilson Championship Extra Duty from Target for $1.97 a can. NEVER bought tennis balls for such a cheap price! I think last year (was in Orlando on february) I paid around $2.30 a can.

Cant beat that price anywhere and cost/quality ratio, just unbeatable IMO.
 

Puddy

Rookie
From my experiences (and nothing to brag about), four-ball cans/containers are the norm in UK, EU, AU and NZ whereas three-ball cans/containers in the US/Canada and surprisingly two-ball cans/containers in Japan (which I simply don't understand).

Nonetheless, the US is the only place where you can find quality balls for less than a dollar each.
 
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