The Price Versus Quality Debate

What matters more to you: price or quality? For some, price is the driving factor while others it is the quality. I have had two experiences in the price versus quality debate, one a few years back and another this past week that plant me firmly in the middle of the debate. How is that possible? Here is how.

Quality Is Most Important

A few years ago, after buying my first house, I had to buy a ton of things I never thought of ñ like bathroom rugs. Not wanting to spend a crazy amount of money, I went to Walmart to stock up on things and ended up buying a bathroom rug and shower mat for something like $15 total. Awesome deal, or so I thought.

Fast forward a few months and I was doing laundry. It was time to wash the bathroom rug and shower mat, so I put them in the washer, then the dryer. When I pulled them out of the dryer, the rubber backing was shredded. It looked like it snowed in my dryer! Disappointed, I went to another retailer and bought a new bathroom rug and shower mat. This time, I spent more money and got a name brand and they lasted for many years.

Price Is Most Important

Earlier in the week, I was shopping for a new dress shirt. I went from department store to department store looking for a light blue dress shirt. You may be wondering how difficult is it to find a light blue dress shirt since it is a staple shirt. It blew my mind as well that I couldn’t find one. First, they all had button-down collars. I hate button-down collars. Then they were that sateen-like material that meant I was going to have to iron the shirt for 30 years after washing it to get the wrinkles out.

Frustrated, I started going into various stores. One store I stopped in was H&M. For those that never shopped here, they sell men and women’s clothing for low prices. I’ve never shopped there a lot, but they did have some amazing prices. When I found a blue dress shirt, I was initially excited ñ only $19.99! But when I picked it up, I could tell why. It was lightweight and very thin. I knew it wasn’t the best quality.

My journey continued and I ended up at Bloomingdales. I’ve never shopped here before so it was a bit of an eye-opener. I found some dress shirts, the only problem was that they were $295! I wanted to see if they were made of gold thread or came with platinum buttons, but they didn’t. I quickly left the store. In the end, I found my shirt at another mall.

Price vs Quality

As you can see, I am smack in the middle of the argument. I will pay more for quality, but I will not pay an insanely high price just because of the brand/label on the item. I’ve learned that you do get what you pay for, but only to an extent. I liken this to the idea of needing to be rich to be happy.

Study after study has shown that the happiest we are is when we are earning a salary of around $75,000 per year. In other words, happiness is a sliding scale, it goes up until you reach $75,000 then starts to slide back down again as you make more than $75,000. I see the price/quality debate the same. You get what you pay for up to a certain point, and then the quality is roughly the same, you just pay more for the name.

Final Thoughts

Going forward, I will continue to shop for high quality items that are reasonably priced. I refuse to buy a low cost item simply to save money. As with the shower rug, that decision ended up costing me more money in the end since I had to buy 2 sets. But, I won’t simply assume something is highest quality because it is priced the highest either. I like the middle ground, where good quality is priced right.

Readers, where do you fall on the price versus quality spectrum?

3 Responses to The Price Versus Quality Debate

  1. Not all cheap items are of horrible quality, just as not all the items that are highly priced are worth the extra bucks. Reason why I always look to see if the specs are right (if we talk gadgets here), if the materials are good and the craftmanship is OK (for clothing / shoes) etc. Got some great deals in the past, but also got burnt by trying to go the cheapest route 😀

  2. I feel that quality is more important than price in most occasions because it you try to cut corners and go with a cheaper product or services, a lot of time it will end up costing you more in the long run.

  3. You know, I lament the decline of Sears, Roebuck. For more than a century they embodied the philosophy of “quality at a reasonable price.” The advent of cheap for the sake of cheap killed them, and they didn’t know how to separate themselves and keep providing quality across the board. Their Kenmore and Craftsman store brands are still popular because of quality, not price. Wouldn’t it be nice if they went back to their roots? I’ll confess I buy at Walmart and Costco, but that’s only because retailers offering good quality at a reasonable price (not necessarily the lowest) have become few and far between.

    Am I the only one?