It’s Too Cheap – I Can’t Afford It

February 2, 2016 Chris Pearse

I first heard this line when I was working for a Bavarian engineering business. It was from a cameraman who had been loyal to our products his whole life. When I asked why he didn’t buy competitive products his answer was:

I can’t afford to buy cheap equipment

The company was uncompromising in putting quality before all else. The result was a very expensive product – the most expensive – that the market couldn’t get enough of.

Bizarrely,┬áthe tripod plus pan-and-tilt head that they delivered was often more expensive than the camera and lens that sat upon it. But because the user’s livelihood depended on smooth and steady images, from tropical rainforest to arctic blizzard, he was guaranteed to save money by spending more.

I’ve often brought this to mind in buying decisions, but the temptation to get a ‘bargain’ still overcomes me on occasion. And yet I’m regularly reminded that the adage is fundamentally true:

A few years ago, my wife bought me an excruciatingly expensive travel bag. I was delighted and horrified in equal measure. 5 years on, after travelling all over the world, its condition is little changed. It will outlast me and can be repaired.

This morning’s tv had an article on Miele (another of my wife’s favourites). Their tagline is Immer Besser (forever better). They are significantly more expensive than other white goods brands┬ábut they sell like hotcakes. If they last 20 years – and ours is definitely on track for that – they will cost less than cheaper alternatives. And, again, they can be repaired.

So the little voice in my head saying ‘you can’t afford it’ will be reserved for the bargains that always seem so attractive at the time…