A String Buyer's Bill of Rights (and Obligations)
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
There may be a simple message underlying the longevity of this column (it's been running for over two years): racquet string is not a simple subject. Even though technical details of string and stringing can make a big difference in your game, I'll willingly acknowledge that the subject is not of earthshaking importance to a lot of players. Rather than taking the time to read these columns (or seek other sources of information on the subject), many players prefer to leave the decisions to their racquet stringers-and that's just fine, provided the stringer is both technically competent, and responsive to the player's needs.
Players who can't get excited about string, but who do take their game seriously, should therefore be willing to spend a few minutes periodically talking with their stringer. Players who do care about their equipment probably need no encouragement; they're more likely to want to discuss the subject at length, and they have a better understanding of the issues and the terminology involved. But regardless of whether you're a "string-focused" individual or not, your relationship with your stringer is important.
As with any relationship, there are expectations and obligations on both sides. In the interests of good service to players, and fairness to both parties, we've developed the following list of "rights and obligations" for buyers and sellers of racquet string and stringing services. (Ashaway is a String Supplier Member of the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association; this list is intended to supplement the USRSA's code of ethics, and not to contradict or replace it.)
The Rights of customers for string and stringing services:
Customers also have the following Obligations:
- The right to confer with a knowledgeable stringing technician.
If the kid at the superstore who takes your racquet can't answer your questions or give useful advice, ask to talk with the individual who does the stringing. If they're one and the same, go elsewhere.
- The right to obtain objective, unbiased advice about string and stringing options.
No stringer can be personally knowledgeable about every available string, or carry every brand in stock. But recommendations should be based on your needs as a player, not on profit margin.
- The right to a professional-quality stringing job, performed according to the racquet manufacturer's specifications, and/or by agreement between the stringer and the customer.
There's just no excuse for shoddy workmanship.
- The right to a choice of strings, enabling the customer to obtain the desired balance of properties (e.g., power, control, durability, price).
If you're not offered a choice of several racquetball strings, look out! You'll probably end up with leftover tennis string.
- The right to receive service promptly, by the date promised.
- The right to expect that every package of a particular string will be consistent in quality and performance.
This one is aimed mainly at the string manufacturer, who should practice modern quality control methods to ensure good product. Stringers, however, can also play a role. Although modern string materials do not have a "shelf life," string should be stored in a reasonably stable environment, away from direct sunlight and excessive heat and humidity.
This article previously appeared in Racquetball Magazine.
- Obligation to describe your own skills, needs and playing habits clearly and objectively when conferring with the stringing technician.
The stringer can't make a sound recommendation if he or she doesn't understand your needs.
- Obligation to pay for work performed.
'Nuff said, again?
- Obligation to pick up work promptly after completion.
You authorized the work and expected it to be done on time. Please don't subject the stringer to the unnecessary liability of storing your racquet for an extended period, or make him or her wait to get paid.
- Obligation to understand that the performance-enhancing ability of any equipment is limited.
You can expect a little extra power, durability, or control from the right string, but not a quantum leap in your performance as a player. Better play comes from practice and instruction.
- Obligation to understand that even the best stringing job has a limited lifespan.
Eventually, all strings wear out, break, or lose their bounce. Make it a policy to replace them before they impair your game.