Cheap isn't always so

12:51 PM

My grand ma, as well as my mom always said that a bargain cannot be judged by the price alone and that what appear to be cheap price wise might end up being costlier than a pricier item. How so? Because if a cheap item is made of poor quality, you are likely to end up spending a great deal more replacing it frequently than if you went buying a costlier but better quality good in the first place. I have made this experience a couple of times, the most recent being with Ishita's school water bottles. But I have also discovered that a 3k bookshelf is not going to hold very long, that cheap china made plastic containers will break, let bugs in, and possibly leak chemicals into your food, that cheap bazaar bought clothes will barely survive one wash. Heck even back home when I was a student on a limited budget I learned the hard way that buying the cheapest appliances just to save 20 CHF would end up loosing me more than that in just a few months of use.

If you want to simplify your life and save some money, the soundest advice would be to go for the best quality your money can buy when in need to buy something. Which is not telling people to go break the bank on something they can't afford, but if you are in a position to afford an item and simply won't go for it because you found cheaper somewhere else without comparing the quality, you might want to rethink things. Back in Switzerland, I remember we once had a chain of discount stores that could be the equivalent of the Dollar store in the US, everything was priced 10 CHF, no food items, because regulations are tight there concerning these, but plastic containers, fashion accessories, bags, even outfits...all at a steal price. As a teenager, you can imagine were my allowances would go, the problem was that half of the stuff I bought there would break within weeks. These stores shut down, and a French chain called "Tatti" (Hindi speaking readers...don't laugh...the word for poop in French is caca). Tatti was the ultimate clearance bin, discount a gogo place, you could luck out and find perfumes and reasonably good clothes at a bargain from time to time, but a vast majority of the things you would find there was the kind of cheap china import you find here in India in these wharehouse or open industrial space that sells stuff for a few days or weeks before closing and reopen in later with some fresh arrival. Not to say these places are bad, but you need to know how to shop there and visit often to score a real true bargain, it can be time consuming, and if you are looking for something very specific, not pin your hopes on these stores.

What determine a bargain is not the price tag alone, but the amount and quality you get for a specific price tag. You are better off spending let's say 250 rupees on a steel water bottle rather than 170 on a plastic sipper that will end up breaking every two months and need frequent replacement. The same way you are better off spending a bit more on hardwood furnitures that will last you a very long time rather than go for a piece made of laminated MDF sold at an astounding price ( tough not all MDF laminates are bad quality...topic of another post...maybe). A cheap aluminium non stick pan will probably need replacing more often than a big heavy cast iron or a hard anodised one. A quality pair of leather sandals will last you longer than a plastic one and be more easily fixable by a cobbler too. Home linen with a high thread count might cost more, but will last you longer and stay nice looking. Crayons and art material from a more reputable brand will give you better colours and in the case of certain targeted at kids, wash off the walls, skin and floor much easier too. And it goes without saying that certain items that come priced as a premium just because of the brand might not be good quality either. Sadly in this era of mass consumption people have been conditioned to think in matter of price and quantity over quality. What I see is that my grand parents never had to worry much about replacing or fixing appliances or furnitures! back in the 50's when they could afford them, they were designed to last decades, but in my short adult life I have found myself dealing with broken things almost on a monthly basis and most of it due to my letting the price tag determine the value of the purchase in question, which proved to be a very stupid way of thinking.

And to conclude on a positive note, let me share a bargain I scored recently. I did some casual roaming around Ina household store at the mall months ago, spotted a dinning plate set made of stoneware (ceramics), four plates, four quarter plates, four big bowls, and four mugs. Price: 2000 rupees (well 1999 actually, you get the idea). Since they were the type I had never seen the other seasons in that store I figured out they would end up being discounted during the sale, so I waited until then, since we would need two sets to have enough plates to serve ourselves and additional guests. Sure enough, a few weeks ago the price came down at around 1700, not a massive discount but fair enough, I was set on buying these plates (topic of another post), and because I also had the stores loyalty card and a few points to redeem! the purchase came down to 2500 for something that would have cost 4k at full price. What made the bargain in this case was the not rushing when making our choice, and knowing how to delay the purchase until the time it would likely get a price slash, but I was already sure about the quality and our needs and probably would have gone for it even if still marked at full price (still using store points of course).


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  1. beatrix1:26 PM

    The problem is in Nepal as well as India often times there isn't a choice between quality & crap.
    You just have to buy whatever you can find, which is unfortunately usually cheap, poor quality, crap.
    Mumbai probably has the best selection of anything available in India, so you are bit spoiled, Cyn ; )

  2. I got a few of my furniture custom made by a local carpenter, the key is to ask for real wood, and most will do a great job if you give them the specifics of what you want. And thanks to e-shopping there is more good quality stuff available in India from anywhere too, the problem is that old habits of settling for cheap is still prevalent.

  3. Beatrix11:12 AM

    In the summer we live in Srinagar for 2 months - e-shopping does not work there. Actually, Jammu & Kashmir have even less of a shopping selection for most things than even here in Nepal.
    Unfortunately when you get out of the major metropolis of India like Mumbai & Bangalore e-shopping doesn't work (delivery service in nil or unreliable). Even in Delhi only some districts can utilize e-shopping. The huge shopping malls in Delhi don't have much in the way of 'quality' goods either (when compared to Mumbai & Bangalore).

  4. Well according to several marketing surveys and business articles it seems that many e-shopping sites see a significant pool of customers in tier 2 and 3 cities. J&k having the double whammy of being a conflict area and a mountain state could explain things.

  5. DH works in retail and is in charge of supply chain, he says that in his company the zone that cause him the most trouble is the North zone, it is mostly due to the team in place there not caring and refusing to follow orders and implement changes issued to them, but that logistics in the rest of the country for his company is doing well.


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