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How GolfNow and VW are similar

This is my first blog post. I think it is going to be fun. There are lots of subjects and targets out there. I will not hesitate to comment when they come into range.

Recently, VW was found to have developed a "defeat device" for its "clean diesel" cars. Seems those cars are not so clean after all, as the defeat device sensed when the car was attached to a smog control monitor, and produce a passing reading. Once disconnected, the cars drive away polluting the air in ways that would have killed the dinosaurs.

VW drivers were unaware they were silent, serial polluters. In the same way, my client was unaware how they were set up to potentially piss off customers. We found GolfNow overriding the course tee sheet (EZLinks) in order to double book people on a tee time that was filled. Of course, when that person or group appeared at the golf shop, they were nowhere to be found on the tee sheet, or in the PoS system. A call to GolfNow got the response, "Can you just take care of them?" Sure, because GolfNow already has their $2.49 per person reservation fee. It does not matter that the shop staff has to scramble to make the customer happy. And the customer is not face to face with GolfNow - their ire is directed at the golf course.

The client asked questions about how this happens. This was not a one-time occurrence. A few phone calls later, we knew it was happening at other courses. A GolfNow rep replied with a rather nonsensical answer, but also included this image (identities have been blurred):

15 10 06 GolfNow tee sheet override censored

Whoa! There it is, the equivalent of VW's defeat device: "Override Tee Sheet", with a check next to it. The obvious question, "What is this?", has been met with stone cold silence. So, let's hypothesize:

Reservation, or transaction fees, are a key revenue generator for GolfNow. It's $2.49 per round. Multiply that by the 13 million rounds they claim to have booked in 2014, and you have a $32 million-plus top line. There is good reason to make sure that number only goes up.

Also, customer retention and website stickiness are critical to GolfNow's success. They don't want their site(s) to be shopping windows for golfers, who then abandon GolfNow and find times on the courses' own websites - that have no transaction fees (a future blog post will speak to the stupidity of the American golfer who pays to reserve a tee time).

So, putting 2 and 2 together, or $2.49 and $2.49 in this case, GolfNow overrides the tee sheet in order to make "their" customer a happy golfer, who will come back and repeat throwing away their money by reserving more tee times. The golf course gets the weenie stuck to them by having to face an angry and confused customer, and that is all the better for GolfNow because it is hidden from view.

GolfNow and VW. Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. If you have a comment, I'd love to read it. If GolfNow can convince me and my client that "Override Tee Sheet" is an innoucuous, meaningless function, I will gladly retract and post their response. I'm just not going to hold my breath.

This blog was written without flying any miles on United Airlines.

Play on,
Harvey