9 Confessions Of A Former Sports Authority Manager

A former Sports Authority manager came forward to explain why their coupons are so damn useless. According to our tipster, “the coupons are always a sham,” but apparently, gift cards worth less than $10 can be redeemed for cash. Read his other nuggets of knowledge along with zesty executive customer service contact information, after the jump.

I saw your post on Sports Authority and I was intrigued… I am a former Sports Authority manager, and I wanted to share some secrets with you.

9) The store has a comment line run by some third party company (an 800 number.) But if you want to get to someone in the company, call (303) 200-5050 and ask the switchboard for INTERNAL customer service. They may want to transfer you to the 800 number, but tell them you want to talk to the corporate customer service. Usually when a problem gets reported to the corporate office instead of the comment line, it will get resolved quickly – usually within an hour. The corporate office figures everything out, and will talk to the store and issue a resolution.

8) So you’re having trouble with your store manager and want to escalate your problem to the district manager. They may not want to give you the DM’s number, but all district managers have their offices in a store in their district. Ask the manager which store the DM has his/her office in, and call that store.

7) They ask for phone numbers at POS. The under-trained cashiers say it’s to figure out where to build stores or how to allocate inventory. WRONG. It’s to add you to our mailing list/robo-call list.

6) Still have money on that gift card you got? As long as it’s under $10, you can “Tender Exchange” it.

5) The brands mentioned as exclusions on the coupon almost always have a 50-100% markup. In fact, Under Armour is essentially over-priced brand name clothing. A $24.99 pair of shorts costs $12.00.

4) There is no reason to exclude the brands that are excluded, except for maybe manufacturer agreements. I know that Under Armour wouldn’t let Sports Authority advertise a discount on their product because they wanted their product to have the same price across the board.

3) The coupons are always a sham. There is always a series of exclusions (the brands people want, such as Under Armour, high-end Nike product, high-end ski and snowboard equipment, etc).Complain to a manager, and they’ll usually take the discount.

2) The Sports Authority website is not run by Sports Authority. It is instead run my GSI Commerce. The same company also runs the website for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Because of this, returns are not accepted at Sports Authority locations, and the inventory on the Sports Authority website will always differ.

1) The fine text (Any illegal posting of this promotional code will result in immediate disaffiliation. This promotional offer may be modified or terminated at any time without notice.) was posted because what happened in the past was that the employee discount code was posted on Fat Wallet, so they did this so they can cancel coupon codes if they get used too much. How much is too much, is what I’m not certain about.

Now for EECB info:

UPDATE: Sports Authority corporate Customer Service Manager Mike Ash has offered his contact info as a first step for any customer experiencing problems:


Phone: (303) 200-5050 – Main Switchboard

CEO: John Doug Morton – dmorton@thesportsauthority.com
CFO: Greg Waters – gwaters@thesportsauthority.com
Operations/Customer Service VP: Tom McVey tmcvey@thesportsauthority.com or Cleo Frye cfrye@sportsauthority.com
Customer Service Supervisor: Noela Jordon njordan@thesportsauthority.com

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(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. drewheyman says:

    Sports Authority doesn’t discount things that people want to buy? quelle surprise!

    actually, just wait a few weeks for the recession to start hitting a bit harder, and Under Armour will be getting some discounts.

  2. pinkfreud says:

    damn under armors price controls…who else does this? Burton does, as well as KREW, but i only know of clothing doing it

  3. bohemian says:

    I wish someone would come out with a better under armor knock off. Champion did some through Target the last two years. The fabrics were similar but the design of the garments was awful. They had odd necklines or were cut too loose so they bunch under other clothing.

    I have a hard time justifying $50 for thermal underwear.

  4. bravo369 says:

    I still don’t understand the illegal posting part of coupons. I can understand for employee discounts but if it’s a coupon that has been mailed out and freely available to everyone then there should be no reason for a store to not accept it just because more than expected amount of people make use of it.

  5. Beer-Fart says:

    I’m sure that Under Armour doesn’t want it’s products to be part of reduced pricing schemes because it would risk losing its “premium” status. It is the Juicy Couture of jock clothing.

  6. NcSchu says:

    #7 is true for most retail stores. I’ve had summer jobs as a cashier for Marshalls and The Children’s Place and was told to ask for the phone number for the same BS reason. It all just went the marketing dept at HQ.

  7. CMU_Bueller says:

    @bravo369: But in most cases it’s not freely mailed out to “everyone,” it’s mailed out to a select few on Sports Authority’s mailing list. Therefore, the coupon is not meant for everyone.

  8. cmdr.sass says:

    A useful and informative “confessions” post. Thanks!

  9. ARP says:

    @Beer-Fart: Exactly, there are a number of brands (REI’s house brand, new balance, alpine lowe, cloudveil, brooks, pearl izumi, etc.) that are better than Under Armour and cheaper. The only difference that they market to campers, hikers, serious runners, and outdoorsy types rather than jocks. Some marketing experts said that the main reason that Under Armour is doing so well is that it uses very muscular manquins in combination with endorsements to model is clothing. Take a look. But I digress…

  10. jonworld says:

    “I know that Under Armour wouldn’t let Sports Authority advertise a discount on their product because they wanted their product to have the same price across the board.”

    Isn’t this some form of price fixing? Whatever the marketing term for it is called, I’m pretty sure its illegal.

  11. sleze69 says:

    @pinkfreud: Actually Burton allows small discounts at old, established snowboard shops. I used to work at a place called Cool Runnings that was the first, and for a long time, only snowboard shop in the suburbs of Philadelphia. We always sold our boards $5 cheaper than everywhere else.

    Not a big deal but the owner, Jamie, is HUGE in the snowboard world. Too bad he sold the shop to do business consulting…it was a landmark in Bryn Mawr…

  12. Brie says:

    @bohemian: >I have a hard time justifying $50 for thermal underwear.

    I’d rather pay $50 for something that keeps me warm than pay less for something that doesn’t. I’ve had the same experience as you at both Mervyn’s and Target. Yeah the thermals cost $19.99 or whatnot, but the cut didn’t fit my body or under my clothes, so nowadays I go with the $38 stuff at REISportsAuthorityChalet which is cut for people who move around.

    BTW, my bias is that I was raised in a house I still call Igloo Manor.

  13. pinkfreud says:

    still 5 bucks is stiff competetion. thats why im still getting a lot of gear from ebay. like for example jbl may do this but a speaker at guitar center which is guaranteed lowest price is 479 plus like 50 shipping….on ebay you get 2 for 529.00….they cant advertise the prices even on their online store only like sell on random ebay accts

  14. chrisbacke says:

    Thanks for the tips and advice – it’s always nice to see the people with insider knowledge confirm what we’ve suspected all along.

  15. privatejoker75 says:

    I actually used to work at GSI Commerce, man that place SUCKED

  16. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @bohemian: Target used to have the best underarmor knockoff boxer briefs for athletics (C9 brand). Then they changed the design. At the risk of grossing everyone out, the older model is still going strong 3 years later while the newer ones wear out within a year.

  17. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @jonworld: No. It actually can be perfectly legal. The supreme court actually ruled on this recently. See this article: [www.iht.com]

  18. drallison83 says:

    @bohemian: Target has definitely upped their quality and design. I buy from them exclusively now… the winter line was fantastic and dirt cheap.

  19. meneye says:

    Go to target and forget this freakin place. I went there a few weeks ago looking for a pup tent. None in stock at all. And it isn’t because they’re a hot item.

  20. cde says:

    @jonworld: You’re a bit late on the news. The Supreme Court has ruled manufacture fixed pricing to be legal.

  21. crankymediaguy says:

    If asked for your phone number, always give out (202) 456-1414.

    Call it and see why.

  22. opfreak says:


    burton might have ‘retail’ price rules, but go to a real sports store, i.e. a ski shop/snowboard shop, and you can almost always get a discount, esspically at the end of the season. and some online stores, have burton onsale almost all the time. underarmour is much harsher about it. Burton I tink enforces its prices on large stores like sports authority to try to protect the little guy that got them started.

  23. scoosdad says:

    @Beer-Fart: Or the Monster Cable of jock clothing?

  24. surgesilk says:

    GSI is an ecomm platform. Sports Authority still has…well, the authority over its site.

  25. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @cde: It ruled that it isn’t per se illegal. It could be illegal, but merely the practice is not prohibited. Think about it like throwing a baseball: merely throwing a baseball isn’t illegal, but if you throw it at someone’s head, it is.

  26. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    @notallcompaniesareevil: Indeed. And it’s always been acceptable for a manufacturer to act unilaterally – “If you sell below $X, we will terminate your merchant account and will not sell you any more widgets.” What was, and still can be illegal is when there is an agreement between manufacturer and retailer to sell at that price. It’s an artificial and confusing line, admittedly.

  27. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    @bohemian: We end up going with under armour because our daughter plays a competitive level of soccer where they have a lot of restrictions about cold weather stuff (must match jersey color, no stripes, etc) – there are even rules about gloves.

    Underarmour makes a wide variety of colors and makes youth girls sizes as well. We had some REI stuff but it fit our daughter great for ski trips but wasn’t as comfortable for playing in. And other target stuff we found is made for boys or unisex, not just girls.

    We have a few from land ends but they do not have a cut that works for our daughter for soccer (tails are so long, they drive her nuts).

    Perhaps it will change when she gets older but for now, for fit and availability, under armour works better. I’m not fond of the price but it works.

  28. TSAslave says:

    I work for a TSA in MN, and when customers come up to me and ask why the coupons exclude major brands, I say, “what do you expect?” They say it’s bait and switch, but I say it’s “business”. They just want you in the store because they know you won’t read the fine print on the coupon that you’re holding and you’ll spend your money on something else.

    This past weekend, there was an ad in the paper for an Easton CXN bat on sale. The ad was a misprint and was marked at the price of a cheaper bat. When I got to work, my manager told me that the DM sent an email telling us to pull the bats from the shelves and put them in the back room until the sale was over and to tell customers that we were out of stock. Coincidentally, it’s always been TSA policy to not give rain checks. That’s what I might call bait and switch.

  29. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @TSAslave: “That’s what I might call bait and switch.”
    In a perfect world, you could tell people that it is a mistake and people would believe you. Hey, it happens to everyone. However, this isn’t feasible because a) people don’t trust corporations even if it is an honest mistake b) a number of companies have done many things to lose that trust.

  30. Ben Popken says:

    Anonymous writes:

    “The former SA manager mentions that the SA website is actually run by a third party company call GSI Commerce, who also runs Dicks Sports. I used to work for GSI Commerce, and that’s true.

    Additionally, GSI runs the websites for pretty much every single major sports retailer, and they run them with the same inventory out of the same warehouses. If you do a search for a particular running shoe and wonder why every retailer on the internet only has the same size 13.5 wide left in stock, it’s not because of a shortage. It’s because all the hits are really all from the same company pulling from the same inventory.

    If you’re shopping online for a piece of sporting goods equipment and do a search, probably 90% of your ‘hits’ will all be GSI Commerce, just under different store banners – and often for different prices!

    And because they aren’t actually related to the brick and mortar stores, you usually can’t return things bought online to a retail store. Similarly, the websites won’t honor retail store coupons.

    You can find a list of all the retailers run by GSI here:


  31. aznkitten says:

    Thanks for all the info. I am actually in the quest to contact their corporate to complain about our local branch here in Milpitas, California. I would most likely email one of the email adressess you have given (would appreciate if you can suggest the best person!) to tell them about my recent experience with their branch here.

    My friend recently bought a bike, and before check out they do a quick tune up on bikes. They found a glitch, and the bike was put on hold for a few days to fix it. My friend picks it up, and she asked one them if ever she finds the bike still defective, could she bring it back for repair? And they replied “No, you’re buying the bike AS IS. Unless you purchase the warranty package, we cannot guarantee anything. And we don’t have a return policy for bikes.” (We went to another Sports Authority branch a few days before, and not only do they offer to fix a defective bike that was recently purchased for free, they also honor return if the bike has not been ridden or used)
    Strike 1.

    Now after my friend bought the bike, she realized she did not have the manual that came with the bike. So she calls them up and tells them she was not given a manual. The employee replied “We don’t usually give the manual, only when customers ask for it”
    Strike 2.

    I came to see the bike, and I noticed that the front reflector is missing. If I’m not mistaken all bikes come with the front reflector, and is required by law. And I know that this particular bike does have the front reflector as I’ve seen the bike at different stores.
    Strike 3.

    I believe this branch violated some laws or policy.. Am I right?