Buying Equipment Online – Good Deal or Not?

Buying equipment online – good deal or not? by Ed Cotter


Scenario: A bowler, who has thrown a plastic ball for years, bought a new ball online and had the seller’s pro shop drill the ball for a large hand. The ball didn’t fit well.


Whose fault?

Before assigning fault, there are many unknown factors to consider.  Did the seller ask for drilling specifications from the bowler?  Did the seller’s website have upload capability for drilling specifications?  Did the bowler opt for a generic fitting thinking it would work?  Capitalism places the burden on the buyer to understand all the consequences of their purchase with minimal information from the seller.  Hence the statement “caveat emptor”, which means ‘let the buyer beware’.  So long as the seller made it known that the drilling would be general and not specific to the bowler, fault lies with the bowler.


Should the ball seller have drilled the ball or told the buyer to have a local pro shop fit his hand and drill the ball?

A lot of bowlers want complete service, which includes drilling the ball.  That way they can use their ball without having to wait for it to be drilled at the local pro shop.  Personally, I think sellers should state that unless the bowler supplies specific drilling specifications exact fit couldn’t be guaranteed.  For an exact fit, see your local pro shop.


Another aspect – a lot of older balls (new in box) are showing up on eBay. Is it a good idea to buy them?

Just because the ball is older doesn’t mean it’s not an effective ball.  Whether it is a good idea or not will depend on your bowling style and capability.  I have a son that throws a reactive ball first.  When the lanes transition and the reactive ball starts to over or under react, he will throw an AMF Gold Angle with no diminish in ball reaction.  The AMF Gold Angle is the earliest version of aggressive balls with a urethane cover stock.  He has adapted his game to incorporate necessary changes with the tools available to him.  As a coach I wouldn’t tell anyone not to buy an older ball, I would help them select the best ball based on their bowling game.


What if they are on the USBC non-conforming ball list?

This is very important consideration for any bowler who will want an award for a possible once in a lifetime award.  There would be nothing worse than throwing your first ever 300 game, only to find out the ball you used is on the USBC nonconforming list.  If there is only one thing you remember from this blog, before you buy any ball, on-line or in your pro shop, review the nonconforming list first at  (See “Equipment Check” on pg 17 of Fall 08 US BOWLER).


In closing, is buying on-line a good deal or not will depend on your perspective.  Are you willing to wait?  Most pro shops don’t have the luxury of having a lot of different balls in various weights on hand for you to buy.  So waiting for mail delivery or delivery to the pro shop is usually a wash, the same amount of time.  Though sometimes the pro shop can offer a package deal that will be worth ordering from the pro shop.  Do you want the latest and greatest now?  For me, I don’t tend to buy the latest and greatest when it first comes out.  I like to see the reviews after it has been out for a little while.  If I like it, I wait for it to go to the wholesale sites or closeout at the local pro shop.  There are plenty of wholesale sites that sell close out balls at very low prices and sometimes with free shipping.  The one thing I won’t do is let someone, other than my local pro shop, drill my bowling ball.  You cannot bowl well, regardless of the ball, if it doesn’t fit well.  Trying to fix or adjust a ball drilling long distance isn’t as easy as working with your local pro shop. 


Good luck and good bowling.

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