Bargains Are Not What They Seem

Last week’s Six Word Friday used the word “bargain” for its theme.  My philosophy on bargains is simple:

Beware getting what you paid for.

It’s so hard to trust whether you’re really getting a bargain or not.  Are the materials used actually as good?  Was there a defect and you don’t know it until after you’ve used it?  I’ll return it if I know fast enough, but sometimes it doesn’t actually break quickly enough.

This is a frequent argument at work.  The emphasis is rightfully on driving down costs, but I also leery of vendors who underbid, then want more money or who deliver poorly because they have their least experienced people doing the work.  I will pay more to get quality work, especially since my work directly impacts the financial statements of my employer as well cash out the door.

It’s the same at home.  Last year, we had to buy a new washer and dryer.  One house brand I looked at felt cheap and tinny.  The sales person said – oh, but so-and-so made them.  I just looked at him and replied – do you know for a fact they used the same materials?  And that they are the same quality of materials?  Well, no he didn’t know that for a fact.  All I knew was that by my observation, it didn’t feel built very well.

So yes, bargains are out there and some are very good.  But as with a anything, be cautious when the bargain seems “too good to be true”.

One of the best bargains I got last year was a season pass to the botanical gardens.  I certainly got what I paid for and have long made back my money in using the pass so frequently.  This picture was taken in early November and is one of many that I enjoy looking at.

Have you been over to A Daily Life lately?  Recent posts include encouragement for doing a daily challenge and a book review on A Creative Writer’s Kit by Judy Reeves.

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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

18 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I agree with you that somethings come with a bargain label and then end up to be anything but a bargain. Cheap does not always equal good. The challenge is seeking out value.

  2. You’re so right. One needs to pay attention to quality, even more so these days when God only knows where some of it comes from. As you said, sometimes you can tell by the feel of it. Just because a certain brand name is on it, doesn’t mean it’s the same quality you knew from them before, because everyone is looking for a bargain.

  3. Sometimes there are real bargains to be had. For example, yesterday I went shopping for my normal hair conditioner and there it was…reduced by more than half the normal price! I stocked up as it was something I would have to buy anyway.

    Bargains in sales shopping are often a disaster. The reason said item is in the sales is usually because it isn’t going to last, is poor quality or poor fit. Every so often you can find something you will actually wear more than once but that is rarely the case for me. I would rather buy less but buy well!

    • You are so right! We shop the sales at the grocery store the same way – right now we have about a dozen bacon in the freezer of the brand we usually eat. It was on sale for < half price – what a deal – and it will last a long time.

      But yeah, I've gotten really leery of the bargains on shopping that are the everyday items when the sales keep happening over and over. There's no way they're making money except by have cheap items to sell.

  4. Great post. We, too, would rather wait longer to buy something that will last. In lieu of that, we will buy a quality item used at the same or lower price as a shoddy one new,

    • We all have stories like that. Sometimes we do it because we didn’t know better, other times there just isn’t the money to spend. It’s the same end result though.

  5. I would rather pay more for something that lasts. We can’t just fall for the cheap junk. I can’t stand it when things break immediately. We have bought shoes as buy one get one free for my son and they just break faster. Forget it. I will pay more for a decent pair.

    • I agree with you. What’s sad is sometimes there simply isn’t better quality things available. My daughter buys a lot from Amazon and it’s often a much better quality than we can get locally in the stores.

  6. I agree with your philosophy on bargains. It is sad that the truly poor are often taken in with low prices for shoddy things that cost them more in the long run — or buying “on time” for high interest.

    • The poor really do suffer for this. I’d read your post and you’d made an excellent point about how bargain doesn’t always mean inferior. And you were right also. Not a surprise that we’d each have a different outlook – after all, we spent last year doing the same thing!

    • Good point. I’m the kind who keeps using her stuff until it has to be thrown away because it’s not fixable, whether its clothes, appliances, or cars. My Jeep made it to ten years and flipped the odometer. Unfortunately, in hindsight I should have gotten rid of it about a year earlier. All those repair bills would have paid for a year towards the new car. When the differential broke, it wasn’t worth fixing anymore.

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