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Quality Versus Quantity
Old 02-19-2009, 09:28 AM   #1
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Quality Versus Quantity

I like Quality. I think in the long term it is cheaper. I wanted other opinions on this matter.

What got me thinking about all this was that someone a comment about my Louis Vuitton purse recently. About how they would never pay so much money for a bag. My bag was purchased in 1989 for around $300. It is a timeless style bag and I have carried it almost daily for 20 years. It still looks fabulous and I can see myself carrying it for another 20. That breaks down to a few dollars a year.

Another example that comes to mind. My mom purchased a classic wool coat when she was in med school that she remembered paying almost $300 for back in the 60's. It was one that she wore until her death 2 years ago and you know what? It still looked great! Now we all know that that was a tremendous amount of money back then for a coat, but it was a bargain if you figure out the cost over time.

Furniture. My grandparents saved up for solid hardwood furniture many many decades ago. It still looks great and I use it and may pass it down to my niece or nephew if they appreciate it at some point in the future. Today's furniture is mostly cheap "junk" that you throw away after a few years. Here in NC we used to have Furniture Artisans producing "quality" furniture that would last for decades and could be handed down. Now we all head to "Rooms to Go" for furniture that will last a few years if we are lucky. I made the mistake of buying a cheap sofa last year that the recliner part broke after a few weeks! Still mad at myself! I KNOW better!

Yes, there are things that are fine to buy cheap, things like many electronics are usually not worth fixing and I can think of other things too of course. But, I honestly believe that what Grandma used to tell me still holds true. "You Get What You Pay For".

We have become a buy cheap wally world throw away when it breaks society! We need to go back to appreciating quality and get out of this short term mentality. It's hurting American workers and I honestly believe that it is not good for us as consumers!

And that is all I have to say about that!!
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Old 02-19-2009, 09:39 AM   #2
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I couldn't agree more! The issue seems to be that so many of the everyday items needed there is not a quality option. The basic items no longer seem to have truly well made items available. It frustrates me greatly to pay $30 to $50 for an item to see it fail in a year or two. This is far too common in items like basic garden tools such as shovels or rakes. If you are willing to pay, top quality can be found in clothing and furniture but appliances and electronics are now deemed disposable in just a few months or years. I wish corporate america would wake up and improve quality on basic items we all require to get by with. Charge me more and give me a 30 year warranty and be there to back it up! It should be cost effective since the majority of the cost for simple items is not the raw materials but rather the labor, shipping and advertising.
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Old 02-19-2009, 09:56 AM   #3
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Observations:
- There's usually a cost/expected utility curve. In most items, the stuff at the upper end has a much higher cost than justified by its utility. Is a Lexus model really twice as useful as a similarly sized Corolla? Will it last twice as long? Will it get the owner to and fro twice as well? Even the gadgets on it: Do they result in twice the user enjoyment as the plain-Jane model? On the other end of the curve (think Yugo) there are products built with such low-quality components and poor workmanship that the bang-for-the-buck really isn't there.

- Cost doesn't equate to good quality. I've got several shirt that are good name-brands that have fronts that twist into unusual shapes after each washing. OTOH, sometimes the lower-priced shirts behave well after a wash. Unfortunately, when i go back to buy more of the "good" shirts, I find that the manufacturer no longer makes that style--so I'm back to experimenting.

- Repairability: I'd very much appreciate it if manufacturers would make their cars/appliances easy/cheap to repair. Say a car with sheet meta; that stays constant for 10 years, and in which al the screws are easy to get to, etc. I'd pay extra for this car. But, I suspect I'm in the minority or else someone would have made a car like this.

- Marketing: Take a look at the magazine ads for cars, applances, or een clothes from the 1950s and 1960s. In general, the ads cited specific features of the product that made it a good purchase. Yes, much was hype, but at least the focus was on the product. Look at today's ads--very little about the construction, more about the feeling you'll get for purchasing it. Again, I guess this s wha consumers want.

Have I written about my fabulous Staber washing machine recently? It embodies the approach i wish other manufacturers would take: Simple, economical to operate, easy to fix.
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:07 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by JustMeUC View Post
I like Quality. I think in the long term it is cheaper. I wanted other opinions on this matter.

What got me thinking about all this was that someone a comment about my Louis Vuitton purse recently. About how they would never pay so much money for a bag. My bag was purchased in 1989 for around $300. It is a timeless style bag and I have carried it almost daily for 20 years. It still looks fabulous and I can see myself carrying it for another 20. That breaks down to a few dollars a year.
<snip snip>
We need to go back to appreciating quality and get out of this short term mentality. It's hurting American workers and I honestly believe that it is not good for us as consumers!

And that is all I have to say about that!!
Louis Vuitton (a French company) probably didn't make your bag in the U.S.

I agree with looking at the per-use cost of items, but I don't understand how that helps American workers.
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:09 AM   #5
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You are indeed correct. High Cost does NOT always equal quality. I think that it was more a thing of yesteryear. Even my beloved LV is not made the same anymore. The exact same purse is still made today but now goes for $700 but the quality has gone downhill somewhat. The materials are thinner and the attention to detail is less. I went shopping for a new purse last year at the LV boutique and decided against it. I am not willing to pay top dollar for mediocre quality.

Indeed, It is difficult to find quality products today. Very difficult. We as a society just don't care anymore so I suppose it that it doesn't make sense for the decision-makers to put quality as the primary objective. My point is that this needs to change. We need to demand quality products again, be willing to pay for them, appreciate them and make them last when we do have them.
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:10 AM   #6
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Samclem got it right.

Also, in the OP original post there might be some selective attention going on.
What things that, when purchased, were thought to be quality and paid premium price for are no longer in use?

As to the cost of the bag and length of use - $300 in 1989 = $900 today(?) = $45/year

Another perspective on "You Get What You Pay For" might be "You pay for what you perceive you are getting".
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:10 AM   #7
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Louis Vuitton (a French company) probably didn't make your bag in the U.S.

I agree with looking at the per-use cost of items, but I don't understand how that helps American workers.
Actually LV bags are made in the US, France and Spain. I am not against buying from outside America altogether, but feel at times like these that if I have a choice I will try to support American workers if possible.
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:11 AM   #8
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.....................- Repairability: I'd very much appreciate it if manufacturers would make their cars/appliances easy/cheap to repair. Say a car with sheet meta; that stays constant for 10 years, and in which al the screws are easy to get to, etc. I'd pay extra for this car. But, I suspect I'm in the minority or else someone would have made a car like this. ................
samclem, so what do the neighbors think of your Checker?
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:15 AM   #9
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I agree with the OP, noting two additional observations: quality and durability are not always the the same thing but are often used that way. Some low quality items last a long time, but deliver mediocre pleasure or functionality. Second, perception of pleasure derived from something you consider high quality may be meaningless to others. Who cares? I like your attitude of ignoring the unwelcomed judgments of your acquaintenaces.

Of course there are those who would spend a fortune on something of high value when they really should be paying off bills and credit card debts, saving for emergencies, etc. The issue there is not whether quality is present, it's whether their brain is present.
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:26 AM   #10
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Quality Versus Quantity

Isn't that what men usually say?
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:32 AM   #11
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As to the cost of the bag and length of use - $300 in 1989 = $900 today(?) = $45/year
I paid $300 for the bag. Not $900 I have already used the bag for 20 years which comes up to around $15/year and going down every year. Quite frankly, I have every intention of using it for another 20. Many women buy 2 or 3 TRENDY handbags a year that they will use for a couple seasons. Perhaps not most women on this board but I would bet that the average is somewhere in that range.

Some things I can't recognize quality in. Others I can''t. I watched my grandmother sew and can recognize quality clothing. I buy timeless styles and I am willing to pay for it.

I purchased a new Dynex LCD TV last night for the bedroom. Paid $300 while a comparable Sony was $600. I hunted for a bargain because I don't feel that It is worth paying double for Sony. My perception is that it may or may not last 8-10 years and I don't feel that paying double is worth it in this case. I might be wrong but that is my perception. Anyway, I don't know enough about it to tell the difference. If I KNEW the quality of Sony would give me double the time or double the quality or be trouble free for double the time, then I figure that with Inflation I will come out ahead long term. But I don't KNOW that, so in this case I have the throw away mindset and buy cheap! Oh Well.
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:35 AM   #12
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Quality Versus Quantity

Isn't that what men usually say?
You may have that backwards.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:02 AM   #13
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Samclem got it right.

As to the cost of the bag and length of use - $300 in 1989 = $900 today(?) = $45/year

Another perspective on "You Get What You Pay For" might be "You pay for what you perceive you are getting".
That's assuming you got a 6% constant return from the market that whole time.

Inflation only brings the cost up to $540 which is $27 a year.

I usually go for a happy medium a couple steps up from the cheapest option. The really cheap stuff is just too cheap and winds up breaking. And the really expensive stuff They are usually charging you for a bunch of unnecessary luxury that ends up being fragile or decorative also making it not last too long. All my silverware is stainless steel and should last forever. Actual silver is so expensive and tarnishes so much you probably end up wasting so much time on it you could have stocked a banquette hall with stainless steel. Of course the tin and aluminum silverware they sell with plastic handles and the like always ends up breaking or bending within a couple years.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:02 AM   #14
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That's always the toughie, figuring out where the cost/benefit curves intersect.

I won the bet on a 20" Honda lawn mower, $600 in 1986. It still runs fine, starts on the first pull, but I keep up the scheduled maintenance on it. Only repairs have been two springs for the self-propelled engagement and one blade that simply wore out from too many sharpenings.

Lost the bet on a Sears clothes dryer. Lasted 18 months before some circuit board burned out and the repair would have been more than half the cost of a new dryer. Replaced it with a Maytag, but I'm not impressed with that one either, although so far it has been trouble free. Needless to say I'll never buy a Kenmore appliance again.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:06 AM   #15
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We have become a buy cheap wally world throw away when it breaks society!
I think a significant reason for that is that the cost of labor for repairing a lot of items is close to, or more than, the cost of just buying a new one. I'd agree that seems wasteful in a sense, but that's economics.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:09 AM   #16
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Great discussion on "quality" in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but I don't think he's talking LV purses.

Also, your purse really did cost $900 considering the time value of money...that original price invested would be worth $x today, and also the decreasing value of the dollar. Otherwise you're comparing apples and oranges.

All that said, I agree totally with the sentiment that we're a nation that throws its resources away on garbage. Cheap things are awful to use, don't work well, and don't last or endure. Notice I said "cheap" and not inexpensive. My Levis cost me $1.00 in the thrift store, last years, feel good wearing them, and hold up better than the $20.00 garbage you'll find at Walmart et al. So you don't have to pay a lot for quality, unless you're too lazy/rich to care.

Same goes for tools, cookware, just about anything. Some of my favorite stuff is available at the store that's only open Sunday nights (we have garbage collection Monday morning.) It's amazing what kind of stuff people toss because they don't understand "quality."

Be a great discussion to continue talking about quality in terms of how things are done/accomplished too, but that's in the book!
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:06 PM   #17
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You are indeed correct. High Cost does NOT always equal quality. I think that it was more a thing of yesteryear. Even my beloved LV is not made the same anymore. The exact same purse is still made today but now goes for $700 but the quality has gone downhill somewhat. The materials are thinner and the attention to detail is less. I went shopping for a new purse last year at the LV boutique and decided against it. I am not willing to pay top dollar for mediocre quality.

Indeed, It is difficult to find quality products today. Very difficult. We as a society just don't care anymore so I suppose it that it doesn't make sense for the decision-makers to put quality as the primary objective. My point is that this needs to change. We need to demand quality products again, be willing to pay for them, appreciate them and make them last when we do have them.


I am glad to see that you noticed that quality has gone down.... even on your LV purse....

Most people do not want to have the same purse (or whatever) for 20 years... especially if it is a fashion item...

I buy quality if I can see it... but today you can not tell if something is quality or not... you can not even rely on brand name anymore... I bought a Frigidaire refrig a few years back because I had read they had good quality... but it blew up a few weeks ago... the guy who came to fix it said they were now crap after being bought by Electrolux...

SOOO, quality is hard to find... so buy the middle where the cost/benefit is probably the best....

BTW, my mom has a $20 purse that she bought like 30 years ago... still works... but IMO never looked good... so maybe you did overpay for the LV...
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:22 PM   #18
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Speaking of a throw-away-society, it snows here every year. After the first snowfall, you can go to any big box or hardware store, and they'll all be sold out of snow shovels. I bought one once off a wino for $2 (July), used it for 15 years, then gave it to my daughter (quite beat up but still uses it to scoop dog doo in the yard). Have 3 shovels now, averaging over 5 yrs old. What happens to all the shovels people buy every year--do they just throw them out or what?
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:28 PM   #19
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that's assuming you got a 6% constant return from the market that whole time.

Inflation only brings the cost up to $540 which is $27 a year.
300.00 1.06
318.00
337.08
357.30
378.74
401.47
425.56
451.09
478.15
506.84
537.25
569.49
603.66
639.88
678.27
718.97
762.11
807.83
856.30
907.68
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:37 PM   #20
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Speaking of a throw-away-society, it snows here every year. After the first snowfall, you can go to any big box or hardware store, and they'll all be sold out of snow shovels. I bought one once off a wino for $2 (July), used it for 15 years, then gave it to my daughter (quite beat up but still uses it to scoop dog doo in the yard). Have 3 shovels now, averaging over 5 yrs old. What happens to all the shovels people buy every year--do they just throw them out or what?
I'm also in a major snow belt.
The probability of snow falling is 100% at my latitude from Nov-March, and often happens even in April.
Stores have inventory systems and can easily figure out their sales quantities every year. So why isn't there an adequate supply of snow shovels? It's not like they are perishable or hard to ship. There is always plenty of rock salt in the stores.
I've always suspected that the stores may have their "out of stock" days to drive up the price and get customers to return to get them into the store again. Sound crazy?
Supply and demand rules the price last time I checked.
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