According to the Augusta Chronicle, Ping Golf has announced a first-of-its-kind mail-in rebate program for military purchasers.
This is okay news. The publicity from the article, and surely the blogosphere, should be able to take some credit here. Without it, I doubt that the company would have reacted so quickly. Frankly, I'm not a big fan of mail-in rebates. First off, it's a pain. Second, twice, with Dell computers and Canon Printers, I've had rebates that never appeared or were sent back because I "hadn't provided the correct doucmentation." I later learned that this is a typical scam of the contractors that handle the rebates. Another problem, mentioned in the print article but not the online version, is that the rebate will require a photocopy of the military ID... is copying your ID card legal? I seem to remember a prohibition somewhere, although it's not mentioned on my old gray one.
Anyhow... Ping sees this rebate as support...
According to a statement from Ping Chairman and CEO John Solheim, the rebate is a continuation of Ping's support of the military.
"For the last year, we've been looking for additional ways to support the troops," Mr. Solheim said in the statement. "On three occasions we've sent hundreds of free clubs for the troops to enjoy during their limited leisure time, but we wanted to provide them additional benefits.
"The reaction of some individuals to the issue reminded us it was time to do more," Mr. Solheim added.
That's great news about the free clubs. But it helps to illustrate my point. I agree with one of my commenters who wrote that the corporate suits probably view this a catering to another special interest group. That's the way it feels. More evidence is in this line at the end of the article, from our old Ping spokesman...
"However, military golf course pro shops such as Gordon Lakes, which had their accounts dropped, will not have them re-opened at this time, Mr. Gates said"
This tells me this company still has a major disconnect between the "Corporate Citizenship" side - giving free clubs to charities, and the business side, dealing with acquiring, servicing, and retaining customers. This is obvious, otherwise they would have announced that they are restoring the accounts of those vendors at the same time they announced the rebate. They see them as separate issues.
They still don't get it. As I said earlier - it's not the money. It's the personal connection, the improved customer experience, the good feeling that you get in the shop when a vendor offers you a military discount. You don't get that with a rebate. Ping hasn't won me back yet.
Full text of online article below.