Low Cost vs. Low Quality?

A simple comparison

low quality
low quality
higher quality
higher quality

Comparison price shopping is common, in order to locate the best deal. A particular television model may be priced at $200 dollars at one store but found on elsewhere on sale for $180 (a full $20 less) by the savvy shopper. Sure, pre and post sales service may differ slightly per retailer, but the actual quality of the product will remain relatively the same – regardless of the store from which it was purchased. Even when purchasing a completely different model or brand as long as the item remains within the same price range this rule holds true. Certain assumptions can be made concerning quality and it is rare, for even the most inexpensive item to fall apart after just a single use. This is because all items are quality controlled to meet certain basic standards.

In the west, lying is considered unethical. In China, it is an accepted business practice necessary to maximize profit. Which is why vendors will literally promise anything. It it’s something they’ve never done before, they’ll wing it. If it’s a custom request at no extra charge, they’ll cut corners elsewhere to recoup the cost. And, of course, every ‘antique’ they sell is from the Ming or Qing dynasty. In the end, the container of incredible product that one can buy at bargain prices will likely be filled with what is paid for – low quality merchandise. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless you were expecting/paying for something better.

fixture_low_1_
Lower quality lamp fixtures
fixture_high_1_
Better quality lamp fixtures

Low to Average Average to High

In China, where none of these rules hold true, quality is generally directly proportionate to price of the item. In fact, all levels of quality are manufactured and sold and it is possible to find an almost identical item existing in distinctly different quality, durability and price levels. When meeting the price demands of a customer, many factories will simply substitute lower grade materials for quality (and spend less time producing and controlling the quality of the product). Eventually this can lead to somewhat ridiculous situations. A product normally expected to last years (such as a washing machine) may become almost disposable in that it will break after just a few uses. It also can lead to products being manufactured that are not fully functional, durable or at times even harmful or environmentally unsafe. In these cases the few dollars saved per item is a futile exercise in that the item is now unusable – thus the total time and direct cost of the item is a complete loss.

You get exactly what you pay for here.

You get exactly what you pay for here. There is no such thing as getting a great quality product at rock-bottom pricing. It is no different than in the west: junk is junk. No matter how much you pay for it, it’s still junk.

More on this topic:

Related Books & Reading

Urban Environmental Governance: Comparing Air Quality Management in London and Mexico CityThis title was first published in 2001:  An insightful account of how different local government structures influence the capacity to address and all... Read More >
Buying & Selling Antiques: A Dealer's Inside ViewBuying & Selling Antiques: A Dealer's Inside View A professional guide to getting started with minimal investment, identifying antiques that retain their value, even advice on auctions and auctioneers.
Comparing the Incomparable (Cultural Memory in the Present)Comparing the Incomparable (Cultural Memory in the Present)In Comparing the Incomparable, Marcel Detienne challenges the cordoning off of disciplines that prevent us from asking trans-cultural questions that w... Read More >