Golf merchandise brand Ping has been fined nearly £1.5 million after the UK’s competition watchdog said it had unfairly prevented UK retailers from selling its clubs online.
The Competition and Markets Authority said today that Ping Europe, the European arm of the US-headquartered company, should bring its sales ban to an end and must not impose the same or equivalent terms on other retailers.
In total the company was fined £1.45m.
The CMA said although Ping may require sellers to meet ‘certain conditions’ before selling its items online the conditions must be compatible with competition law.
Ann Pope, senior director for antitrust enforcement at the CMA, said: ‘The internet is an increasingly important distribution channel and retailers’ ability to sell online, and reach as wide a customer base as possible, should not be unduly restricted. The fine the CMA has imposed on Ping should act as a warning to companies that preventing its products from being sold online could be illegal.’
A spokesperson for Ping said it profoundly disagrees decision and would be appealing to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
Ping said its internet policy is down to its ’long-standing commitment’ to custom fitting, which it says cannot be achieved online.
The spokesperson added: ‘We remain committed to distributing custom fitted and custom built golf clubs in a manner that is in the best interest of the consumer. We are confident the CAT will recognise PING Europe’s internet policy is an appropriate and justified means to ensure we continue this valuable service to golfers.’