"It's something we put in place to protect our brand"

David Westin reports on a fine moment in Ping history:

A prominent golf equipment company's stance against retailers discounting its products has angered two area golf shops that give military customers a break

Because of the military discounts, Bonaventure Discount Golf in Augusta and Gordon Lakes Golf Course on Fort Gordon no longer receive Ping products. And even if they could, they would refuse to sell them now.

Karsten Manufacturing Corp. of Phoenix, Ariz., which has a registered trademark on the Ping brand, discontinued its Bonaventure and Gordon Lakes accounts in August.

In a letter to the shops, Ping said Bonaventure and Gordon Lakes discounted Ping clubs below Ping's "Improved Fitting, Internet Transactions and Price Policy."

Both shops give 10 percent discounts to military members on all purchases. Gordon Lakes does it for active and retired servicemen; Bonaventure gives the discount for active servicemen.

Wow, a whopping 10%! How dare they do something nice for our underpaid, overworked solders and take money out of Ping's pocket. Wait, no, this doesn't cost Ping a dime. Oh, but I'm so naive, what about the brand? 
"It's something we put in place to protect our brand," said Bill Gates, Ping's director of distribution and associate general counsel.

And what great counsel he's providing.

According to Mr. Gates, no exceptions can be made when it comes to shops selling their clubs under the suggested price listed in their agreement (there is no contract).

"It's something we apply to all of our accounts consistently, and we don't have exceptions to it," Mr. Gates said. "We don't sell direct to the public; we sell to retailers, and we do have certain policies in place with them. Those policies are confidential between us and the account."

Mr. Gates did say that once a retailer buys Ping products, they own them, but must abide by their unwritten agreement with Ping.

If Mr. Waters and Gordon Lakes have been discounting Ping clubs to the military, why have they been cut off now, and both within 15 days of each other?

"It's something that's been in place for several years," Mr. Gates said of the no-discount rule.

"They have had it for years, but didn't pay attention to it because their business has been off," said Mr. Waters, who believes Ping is now enforcing the rule because "they've been hot the last few years."

The discount doesn't cost Ping a dime. Oh, there I go again, forgetting about THE BRAND.

Gosh greed is fun!

Make sure you read the entire piece.