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Good news for golfers?

View profile for David Wisbey
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Ping, a well-known maker of golf clubs, golf accessories and clothing, recently lost its appeal against a ruling by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that Ping’s ban on retailers selling its golf clubs over the internet was anti-competitive.  Ping must now allow retailers to sell via the internet, maybe offering golfers the prospect of lower prices for Ping products.

Ping argued that it was in its customers’ best interests to buy clubs after a face-to-face custom fitting and such fittings are not compatible with online sales. Among other arguments pursued by Ping, it claimed that the CMA’s decision forces Ping to sell a product (non-custom fitted golf clubs) which it simply does not wish to sell and that is a breach of Ping's rights under the European Union Charter on Fundamental Rights.

The appeal tribunal thought the internet ban was capable of restricting competition between brands, as the internet is an increasingly important sales channel for sales of golf clubs. It could not be justified by the custom fitting argument, as Ping could use alternative measures that would not lead to customers guessing their specifications and buying the wrong clubs over the internet.

The decision illustrates the difficulties manufacturers have in justifying online sales bans and the determination of the CMA to ensure that consumers can benefit from the advantages of online sales, such as access from any location, 24 hours a day.

If you are interested in finding out more about how competition law may affect your business, you can contact me at our Chelmsford office on 01245 453817 or david.wisbey@birkettlong.co.uk.

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