Umpire Protective Gear Return Rates Show Bigger is Better

Dec 2nd, 2008

We hate returns. We want our customers to love what they get, have it fit and keep it. Overall, our return rates on all items are way below what the online industry average is.

Having low return rates indicate that customers are generally happy with what they ordered and it fits. If a product had high return rates for ALL sizes, that would indicate to us that the product is not well-liked or its description is less than adequate.

However, what we find is that return rates on umpire protective gear is higher (and higher is worse) on the smaller size options of an item than on larger ones. So are smaller people harder to please? Unless you are talking about my kids (and perhaps yours), I wouldn't think so.

Here are some specific numbers we found from 2008 that back that up:

  • Diamond DLG Shin Guards
    -The 17" size had a solid rate of 3.4% (meaning only 1 out of around 30 people who bought it returned it)
    -The 15" was a nearly double 7.6% return rate (a pretty high 1 out of 13)

  • Wilson-Davis Chest Protector
    -13" was returned at a 4.2% rate (not the best, but much better than the smaller)
    -11" was returned at 7.8%

  • Wilson West Vest Platinum Chest Protector
    -When just 1 size option (13.5") was available prior to 2008, the return rate of the Platinum was a wonderfully low 1.6%
    -The new 11" smaller size exhibited a staggering 20% return rate! No need to grab a calculator... mine says that's 1-in-5.

  • Diamond's DLGiX3 Shin Guards
    -18 1/2" - 0% (that's right, no returns for the largest)
    -17" - 3.1%
    -15 1/2" - 8.4% ("yucky" is a word that comes to mind)

By the way, you can find return rates on most items and their sizes as well as how each protective gear item sold compared to similar items. Just browse to an item's page on the website and look for "Customer Popularity and Satisfaction". And all this info is updated based on 2008 info.

Ok, what are we saying here? That we should not sell small sizes in any umpire gear? Obviously not. There is certainly a market for small sizes - even for those 80% who bought and kept the smaller Wilson platinum. Basically, we are saying that if you have any doubt on which size to get, any doubt at all, or if you are in between sizes that the best bet is to size up.

Measuring yourself by our guidelines before purchasing doesn't hurt either.

Although people might think we're crazy for sharing this inside information, not shared by any of our competitors, we're hoping it will provide a greater impact on your decision-making than just us saying, "Hey, size up one size when in doubt already, won't ya'?!."

Although I don't expect a -0- return rate to ever occur, next year I hope to blog with a post listing new lower returns numbers for smaller sizes.
So which categories of protective gear are returned more often? Here's some other stats that might be of interest to you:

  • Umpire Masks are returned less frequently - 2.3% - than other protective gear. For one, there are no sizes involved. And two, masks are more similar than other gear, thus leaving less room for controversy.

  • Umpire Chest Protectors return rates are a rather reasonable 3.0%.

  • Umpire Shin Guards could use some more improvement with a 7.0% return rate - proving that shin guards win the prize as the toughest umpire protective gear category to get just right the first time.


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About the Author

Picture of Jim Kirk

President Jim Kirk

Jim is a leading expert, educator and author on umpire gear, safety & appearance. After playing baseball at Centre College, he worked as a high school umpire. He became involved in E-Commerce while working on an MBA in the early 2000s and bought in 2006, He eventually led it to the leading umpire gear & attire retailer worldwide, a “Best Places to Work in Louisville” honor in 2020 & 2021 and a National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) Preferred Vendor. He maintained a long-standing relationship with Minor League Baseball Umpire Development & Training Academy for 10 years. He serves as an adviser to UMPS CARE Charities, the charity of MLB umpires, served as a 2-term board of director from 2012-2018, and was named their 2015 Ambassador Award recipient. A supporter since the inception of the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy, he was named to their Board of Directors in 2020.


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