Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Yonex Voltric 80

I have noticed something a bit fishy about the new Yonex Voltric 80 and it is the pricing for it here in the UK. Funny thing is, the racket is almost exactly the same price at every single online store i have looked at. This price is £161 GBP. Is this price fixing? Oh yes it is, and many major racket brands, not just yonex, have been at this for years, not just in badminton but in squash and tennis. I did a little searching on the internet and found a very good story of this price fixing from a very successful racket store in California called The Racket Doctor and if you follow the link it tells the story of their battles with the big racket manufacturers over the years.

The sad part is that those of us who buy rackets are being ripped off by the big companies. The retailers have their hands tied because they have to sell the latest offerings at a certain price, or else they will find their supply being cut off and therefore will not be able to sell any rackets or other equipment. The guy from racket doctor actually challenged this in court, as he believed he should be able to sell rackets for whatever price he wanted to, the free market is what i am talking about. He lost, so we all get ripped off legally.

This price fixing means that the voltric 80 is the same price no matter where you look, or at least it has the same minimum cost, some retailers may take the piss and sell it at £170 or £180 for a short while until they realise they have failed to sell any because they were greedy. So what we are left with is about 50 online stores all selling for the same price because Yonex will dump them if they try to go below this magical £161.

This forces the online badminton retail stores to be more creative, or at least it should if they have any sense. Being creative means offering little extras to the deal so the customer gets something more than just the £161 Voltric 80. This comes in a few different forms such as free delivery, free stringing or free grips, or a free t-shirt, or free towel, or free whatever they can think of. Ok, so lets take a look at what deals there are out there in the UK online market for this Voltric 80.

Of the main players in the Uk market we can take a quick look at who is advertising on google for this racket, and who ranks on the first page of the organic listings for "yonex voltric 80". Here are the main retailers..

central sports
uk rackets
direct sports e shop
tennis nuts
millet sports
advanced rackets
maurice robinson sports
pro sport uk
badminton warehouse

The last on the list, badminton warehouse is a US based retailer that appears to be advertising themselves in the Uk market, and after looking at their site they do ship internationally. So lets see what their price is for the voltric 80, well it says it is on sale for $229.95 and when you click through for more details they also offer a stringing service, however this is only free if you choose yonex BG65, all other types of string will cost you extra. If we take todays pound dollar exchange rate which is 1.62 it works out that the price i would pay in GBP is about £141.94. This is about £19 cheaper than the £161 price from the UK retailers. Great, so i can save almost £20 if i buy from the US right? Wrong. You now have to look at the shipping cost as well. Badminton Warehouse do offer free delivery if you live in the US but after entering my post code and country it turns out the shipping cost is a whopping $66.50 for UPS global express, or an extra $89.95 for UPS mail international. WTF! So now my bargain racket is no longer a bargain at all, in fact if i choose the cheapest delivery option of $66.50 or £41 in GBP, this puts the total amount payable to £182 GBP, which is an extra £21 more than i could get it for here in the UK. This begs the question of why the hell are badminton warehouse advertising for this racket here in the UK market? Those of you in the US are going to paying about £20 less for the Voltric 80 than us here in the UK.

Going back to the list i will take the first retailer which is central sports, the biggest badminton racket retailer here in the UK. If you go to the All England championships you will see them there, in fact they are the only retailer allowed to actually sell anything there as they are the approved yonex retailer for the All England. Yonex sponsor the All England and have a monopoly on all the retail equipment as well, as they do not allow any other merchant or brand to sell anything there. This is nothing new, and in all honesty without Yonex there would probably not be an All England championships, so i guess we must be grateful for their support. Central Sports have a great time every year at the All England, and they get lots of exposure as well so all the badminton players know their name. They also have a close relationship with badminton england, and if you are a member you can get a discount at central sports.

At the central sports website the advertised price for the voltric 80 is? Yep its £161.50, and rather annoyingly you have click a few buttons to actually see the price. Why do all these retailers do this? They all sell it for the same damn price! Ok so we have the price, but what about the little extras? Well this is where central sports raise the bar from the others because you can customise this racket, which gives you the choice of a free yonex grip and a free stringing upgrade at your chosen tension. There are 7 different yonex strings to choose from, and more importantly you can have the tension up to 28lbs. Central Sports do tell you that they cannot guarantee any tension that is above their recommended tension, which for the voltric is about 24lbs. We all know that the voltric can be strung above 30lbs without too much trouble, but they have to have this disclaimer to avoid returns from customers who may very well snap the strings after a few mis hit shots at 28lbs tension. Still, credit to central sports for stringing to 28lbs, which is my own preferred tension. They also offer free delivery on 2-3 working days. So with central sports i get the racket, free grip which they also fit for you, and my chosen string at my chosen tension, all for £161.50. In addition, they have an offer of another 3 free grips with this racket.

Next up we have UK rackets, and their price is also £161.50, with free delivery. Unfortunately there is no mention of any extras with the voltric 80, no free grips and no stringing upgrades, so the racket would come with the factory string and tension. Oh dear.

Direct sports e shop are next up, and the price is £161.50 funnily enough. What extras do they have? Well they offer a free grip upgrade, and also they offer 3 free grips, which is identical to what central sports offer. You can also choose your string and the tension up to 28lbs, and this is also free, and is the same as central sports. You get free delivery as well, so up to now the best deal is with direct sports e shop and central sports. Both have an identical offer.

Sweatband are next up, and they are selling it for £161.49 which is 1p less than the others. You also get a free yonex grip, but sadly they do not have any restring offer so you will get the factory strings at factory tension, which is just fine if you are not bothered about the strings, however i suspect that most badminton players who are going to buy the voltric 80 are pretty serious players who will be concerned with the strings so they will be looking for these upgrades, i know i would be. Sweatband also offer free delivery, so they only fall down on the strings.

PWP come up next, and they advertise quite heavily in the badminton magazine that gets sent out once every few months. Once again the price is £161.50 however we soon run into a problem. There is no free grip offer, and whilst they do have a string upgrade, you have to pay for it. PWP offer yonex BG65 for an extra £3.99, or £4.99 for BG65Ti. Worst still they will only string up to a maximum of 24lbs, so i would be out of luck if i wanted my usual tension of 28lbs. You do get free delivery, but this offer is not as good as the others.

Tennis Nuts are next on the list, and again, they advertise in badminton magazines, but obviously their main focus is on tennis rackets and equipment. Still, they have all the latest badminton rackets on sale at the website, and after a quick look we find the Voltric 80 on sale for £161.49. The extras are either 3 free grips or a string upgrade in yonex string at a max tension of 26lbs. Delivery is also free, so their deal is just a little short of the best so far.

Millet Sports are a more general sports retailer, but they are currently advertising on google for the Voltric 80. The price is once again £161.50 but there are no extras, just free delivery on orders over £79, so Millets are offering less than the rest. I suppose that Millets are not badminton specialists, so their focus is on other sporting equipment.

Advanced rackets are also selling for £161.50 and you get a free grip and restring option with a good variety of yonex strings, with the max tension at 28lbs, so this deal is right up there with the best so far. Delivery is also free.

Maurice Robinson have the Voltric 80 at £161.50 with free grip and free restring upgrade, but the max tension is set at 24lbs, so not ideal for those who like their tension higher. Free delivery is also included.

Pro Sport UK surprisingly have it on sale for £161.50, but have no other upgrades so they are down near the bottom of the list for extras. One thing that made me laugh was the little comment box that came up when i had to click to see the actual price of the Voltric 80. It says "It is important to ProsportUK.Com and Yonex that as much technical information about the product is available, so that an informed decision can be made when choosing a racquet that will suit your technique and playing style rather than just on price". How daft is that comment?

So there we have it. It is impossible to buy the volrtic 80 for less than £161.49 in the UK. The best deal comes from central sports and direct sports e shop. I suspect that central sports are buying more voltrics than any other UK retailer as they have the most customers. The exposure from the All England and from badminton england means central sports are well known here in the UK. Of course when you buy more rackets you can expect to pay less for each unit, so central sports will making more profit on every voltric they sell. They have got very big, so they can offer a free restring and extra grips, and still make a decent profit on each racket sold. Credit to direct sports e shop for matching this deal. If i ran an online badminton store i would be looking to try and match this deal, especially if i was paying to advertise with google for this racket. To me it just makes sense to have the best deal if you want to actually sell more stuff. However, you would then need to buy a stringing machine and a stringer to upgrade the rackets sold, adding extra cost to your bottom line.

There is one more store that i have not mentioned yet, and that is my badminton who are based in Hong Kong and have been trading since 2004. The big deal with this store is that they offer free delivery worldwide, so i went and checked them out about the Voltric 80. First of all the site looks a bit jumbled up and the layout is a bit messy, but what i am looking for is the price. I clicked through to the page on the voltric 80 and was confronted with 3 results. The first offer was for a JP version which costs $239 US dollars. Me being from the UK i want to see that price in GBP, and there is a currency converter on the site, so after pressing this i get the prices in GBP, and the JP voltric 80 comes in at £147.52. Hmm this is cheaper than in the UK. However, further down the page is an SP version which is only £122.83 which is a £24.69 difference. Why is this? Why does the JP (japan) version cost more than the SP (singapore) version? Is there a difference in quality or something? After digging a little deeper i found the answer on the site which states that JP country coded yonex rackets are more expensive in Japan than the rest of the world, and my badminton (MBS) import them to Hong Kong to their store at this premium price, hence they retail at this higher price. Now who on earth would pay extra just for the JP version when, as MBS state on the site, that yonex themselves claim there is no difference in quality between the JP and all the other country coded rackets? Why would MBS even bother to import them in the first place? I have no idea either, but it seems to add extra confusion for no reason.

Ok so now i go and click on the buy button for the SP voltric 80 which is the cheapest option. I am now faced with a few things to fill in. The first is the shipping option. Here is where things get a bit confusing. You can get free shipping, but MBS recommend taking out the EMS shipping option if you are buying expensive rackets, which the voltric 80 certainly is. I have never used MBS before so it would be a bit of a guess as to whether i should choose this EMS shipping option. If i do choose this option it costs an extra £7.41 for tracking and 3-5 day delivery. However this is what is recommended so i would choose it to be safe. I can also choose my string and tension, so i would choose yonex BG65Ti which adds another £6.17 to the price. I can choose the tension by leaving a comment in the box at the checkout. If we add all this up the price is now £136.41. Look at the shipping charge of just £7.41 and compare that to the whopping £41 shipping charge from badminton warehouse in the US. How can there be such a huge difference in price? Are badminton warehouse overcharging for international delivery? It certainly looks like it from these figures. So what we are left with is a total price of £136.41 with strings and my chosen tension, and tracked delivery to arrive in 3-5 days, which is a saving of £25.08 if i import this racket from Hong Kong. If i choose free delivery i would save an extra £7.41 on top of that making a saving of £32.49.

If i was to go and buy this racket from MBS i would email them and find out what the best delivery option was and how reliable the free shipping actually is before deciding. I do know that they are legitimate and sell authentic goods. So basically the best option of buying a yonex voltric 80 in the UK is to get it from Hong Kong. If i was the owner of MBS i would be advertising on the UK google results just like badminton warehouse are doing. The difference is that MBS are the cheapest option by far.


Neel said...

What about ebay? I understand there is risk but it seems that it might be easy to mitigate.

Frank said...

About the JP version, many people think JP version is better than others and they would like to pay more for the JP, so they are more expensive.

antony said...

Hi Neel

Ebay is a bit of a lottery regarding yonex rackets as i am sure you know. I will have a look and see what offers there are, and what to stay away from. This could be good for all of us, it may help out people who do not realise what is fake and what is real. I will post my findings when i am done.


Yep i have read about the JP version being superior, but i have found no concrete proof of this anywhere. If anyone does know for sure that they are better then i would love to know.

Neel said...


I recently purchased a VT80 from ebay. It should arrive this week. I will let you know how I faired (paid $200 shipped). If you want I can take photos etc.

Thanks for your blog btw, First time posting, great read :)

antony said...

Hi Neel

Thanks for visiting. I have had a look on ebay for the voltric 80 and i will get a post up asap about it. From what i have seen there are at least 3 legitimate sellers, one which appears to be part of MBS, namely badminton deals, also trading previously as Ihoo, which i know i have bought RSL shuttles from in the past and they were legitimate. There is another from Australia named Calibre Sports who are legit, and one more from Taiwan, i can't remember the name off the top of my head but i wil find out. The prices are pretty cheap as well, cheaper than any of the badminton stores here in the UK anyway. Good luck with your Voltric 80, and any comments or findings you have are much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Should be getting my 3UG5 Voltric 80 in a few days - can't wait! I want to compare how it does with my Lethal 70 and Tantrum 300.

Paid about 132.5 pounds for it including delivery, BG65 string, and grip.

Antony, I'd be really interested in how you find the VT80 too!

antony said...

Where did you get it from for that price? I would be interested to hear you thoughts on it once you have played with it a bit.

dave said...

hehe i thought this was a racquet review!

interesting post nonetheless
thank you

Neel said...

The Ebay purchase came in. Checked it against various authenticity sites, looks 100% original with warranty card and such. Love the racquet, definately different from my old MP 88 and Armortec 500. Big jump in general racquet performance.

antony said...

Good stuff Neel. Can you tell me who you bought it from off Ebay?

Neel said...

Hi Anthony! Sure. The name of the seller is mysportsshop. Has had 100% positive feedback with 143 score.
Here is a link:


Anonymous said...

Hi antony, I ordered my VT80 from a genuine Taiwanese Yonex distributor. Can't specify the exact source sorry.

By the way, here's a way to get the VT80 with BG65 string + delivery for about 127 pounds (a bit more if you want faster delivery):

antony said...

I think that link is the same page i have been looking at when i checked out mybadmintonstore. One other thing to point out with mybadmintonstore is that you have to pay them in US dollars through paypal or your credit/debit card. This sounds great, but your bank will then add a commission to the total for this. I am not sure exactly how much they add on, but last week i bought something in US dollars for $28 and was charged an extra 52p for this, so for something more expensive it will be more to pay in commission. Just a thought..

Thanks for the comment, and i hope you enjoy your new voltric 80.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoying the 3UG5 VT80. However, I think I still slightly prefer the Lethal 70 for now. They are both amazing rackets and play differently. I'll definitely be keeping the VT80!

Ken said...

An interesting comparison. I have seen that this price 'fixing' is happening to all the recent Yonex models, not just the VT80. For example, I just bought a VT5, which everyone seems to be selling for £59.(something).

The price comparison with the overseas retailer would be IMHO fairer if the imposition of VAT and/or import duty and customs charges were factored in.

antony said...

Hi Ken

On the mybadmintonstore website they actually state they will mark the package as a gift, which apparently means you don't pay import duty. Not 100% sure about that, but others have managed to buy the voltric 80 delivered and strung for £30 less than if you bought it from a UK retailer.

The whole thing stinks in my opinion and it is us badminton players who suffer from this suggested minimum price fixing.

I remember a few years ago when the big supermarket stores, like tesco and asda started selling levi jeans for about £30 less than the suggested retail price. It caused a big stink from levis, and they were not happy about their branded jeans being sold for less. The supermarkets just managed to get hold of them on the grey market as levis would not supply them directly.

The link in the above post to the racket doctor is a good read about all of this, and it is not just yonex who do this, but all of the big name brands. I guess it all comes down to demand for the product. When yonex bring out a new racket they know the demand will be high, so they can sell at a high price. Even looking at the old armortec 900 rackets, they still come in at the same price point at all the UK online badminton retailers, usually around £125.

Ken said...

I agree, antony, that the whole arrangement does not do badminton players any good. I don't for a moment think that without the pricing policy the racquet prices would become unrealistic. There is enough demand for high end models like the VT70/80, I think, that the prices would remain high enough for vendors to make a healthy profit.

Furthermore I recall reading that resale price maintenance is illegal, however I suspect that the market for badminton racquets is small enough in the UK to escape the OFT's notice, unless we make a big enough fuss about it or one of the etailers blows the whistle on the practice.

antony said...

Hi Ken

I bet all of the etailers would love to be able to sell rackets at their own price point. Their hands are tied by the big brands. They know that the minute they sell at a lower price, then the likes of yonex will stop supplying them, so they have no choice.

I think i might just send an email to the OFT and see what happens.

antony said...

Well i just sent an email to the OFT, so we will see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Hi antony,
Are u going to write a review of VT80??? Coz I want to do how u compare VT80 and Lethal 70 as they both are amazing offensive rackets.

antony said...


I have not bought myself a voltric 80, i may just go out and get one to see what all the fuss is about and then compare it with the lethal 70. I have a feeling the voltric 80 is going to be much more head heavy than the lethal 70. All in the name of research of course!

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested, I have been quoted GBP132 for a Voltric 70 (including re-stringing and postage) and GBP152 for Voltric 80 (again including restringing and postage) by Strings 'N' Things based at the Wycombe badminton centre in High Wycombe. String and tension of your choice. Hope this is helpful.

Masiml said...

if you want to buy rackets cheaply, then go to Thailand. Many shops in Thailand are cheap (and legit) it all comes down at the end of the day a combination of the income for the average person in that country, and then what they can afford. Votltric 80 in Thailand, is around US$140.:)