The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten | RenewEconomy

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten

From solar systems to boots, there seems to be an ever widening gap between premium priced items and super cheap items and picking the difference is hard.




I’m pretty normal  – I just love a bargain.

In this day and age there seems to be an ever widening gap between premium priced items and super cheap items and picking the difference is hard.

This is true across a wide range of products from solar systems to boots, so how do you decide whether and when it’s worth paying a little more ?

Here’s a simple real world example that I experienced as an average consumer recently.

I love a decent pair of boots and when my 20 year old boots wore out a year or so back, I decided to make a quick purchase. I bought a cheap pair of boots that looked pretty much the same but were about one third of the price. I didn’t think too hard about it and frankly, was rushing and chasing uber convenience. Still leather, still oil resistant soles, lots of stitching and decent looking.

Within a week the laces broke a clasp broke off. But hey, no big deal – certainly an inconvenience because boots don’t work without laces or clasps. Within a few months the vinyl padding started to crack. Hhmmmm. On my first big bush walk I noticed that my socks got wet really fast and that the soles were starting to feel thinner and weaker by the step. I groaned to myself and lamented my budget choice.

Then a few weeks ago, I threw them on to tromp around after some big rain and noticed my feet were soaking wet immediately. A close inspection revealed that the soles had split wide open. I shook my head and realised that I had fallen for the trap of the sweet taste of low price, but now I was bitter. I had created landfill, wasted my money and needed a new pair. I tried to rationalise that someone somewhere probably had a job (albeit low paid) churning these out and that was a good thing. However, the real cost of the waste, pollution and time left me bitter.

What had looked similar on the outside was nothing short of a complete and utter gyp. The synthetics used in the sole were clearly utterly inappropriate for the task. The laces were such rubbish they couldn’t even do what they were supposed to and the quality of construction was so bad that they couldn’t even manage to stamp a clasp on correctly.

The manufacturer was focused on price, speed and substituting good quality materials with rubbish. Although I couldn’t tell at the time, my intuition did tell me that this was likely and yet I ignored it. I didn’t even think about going back to complain to the spotty faced underpaid 17 year old who served me – I certainly didn’t expect that I would get service, or support or back-up if anything went wrong with my cheap boots.

So, I took the lesson to heart this week and bought another pair of the same old Rossi boots that lasted 20 years the first time.

And it feels just great.

I got great care, support and advice from Rossie and their local outlet who all knew their products really well and were busting to help me. Seems they might have learned a trick or two in 100 years of making and supplying boots.

When it comes to determining what a good solar deal is, the similarities are surprising.

If you buy  budget solar panels, you’ll find that they are usually cheap because low quality materials have been substituted (like my boot soles), as we highlighted in this expose.

If you choose to buy a no frills inverter, then the chances of a small component failing increase substantially (much like the laces and clasps on my boots), but its not possible to replace a capacitor like a boot lace!

Likewise, if you choose to buy from a pushy door to door salesman, a call centre calling you out of the blue or a “low cost big solar company” you probably aren’t buying from a company who has support costed in (like my 17 yr old boot sales person) or is investing in the development of the industry.

Budget solar systems might work for a while.

But they can and do fail prematurely relegating all the electronics, aluminium, glass, silicon and plastic to landfill and let’s face it, you don’t really want the aggravation of buying a solar system all over again, do you? It might be cheap but it has no value.

RoofJuice aren’t perfect (no-one is) but with 23 years of experience, I know the difference between good products and crap and my team offers open, honest and transparent advice, backed up by our status as an Approved Solar Retailer.

Buying sweet solar is worth a little time.

Source: RoofJuice. Reproduced with permission.

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  1. Brunel 5 years ago

    laces broke a clasp broke?

  2. Brunel 5 years ago

    I got a cheap 12V charger for my mobile phone. It stopped working within 3-4 months.

    I got a genuine Nokia one and it still works after many years.

    I got 2 cheap Chinese heaters, and they stopped working within 3 years.

    I should have purchased a quality Delonghi one.

  3. Mike Dill 5 years ago

    I got the expensive phone that died after three months. Good thing I got the insurance. While your example is good, price does not always equate to quality.

  4. john 5 years ago

    One company while displaying the ACCC order continued to do exactly what they had been fined for.
    Mind have not seen any of their messages lately so must have gone to the wall.

  5. Ruben 5 years ago

    I wholeheartedly disagree with this article, in fact, it’s nothing more than an advertorial!
    Because one cheap thing is bad does not automatically know that another is as well.
    I have personally bought from a very budget solar installer, as has my father and my friend. And while it’s true that their service is pretty terrible, there products are fine.
    They have all been installed between a year and four years and not a single panel out of our combined 60 has failed or under performed. Same goes for the inverters.

    Ads that are made to look like news are still ads!

    • Tom @ Solaray 5 years ago

      We get dozens of calls a week from people looking for help with cheap systems that aren’t working and the original installer has gone out of business. This isn’t an ad, it is sound and professional advice and we have similar blog posts on our website.

      • Ruben 5 years ago

        SunEdison is going out of business soon too, so should they have been an installer that people should have avoided too?
        Plus RoofJuice (almost certainly) makes commission off their approved retailers, therefore it’s definitely an ad.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have problems with ads in general, but I absolutely hate advertorials.

      • JeffJL 5 years ago

        It became an ad when Nigel put in the second last paragraph.

    • Alan 5 years ago

      If you bought cheap, you probably got a standard string inverter system. Determining that one of your panels is faulty can be very difficult to do in this type of system, even if it has monitoring. Buying premium doesn’t guarantee you won’t get a failure but certainly reduces your chances. The advice is sound regardless of the sales pitch at the end.

  6. JeffJL 5 years ago

    A great comment piece. Spoiled by the clear promotional push in the second last paragraph.

    All it needed was a lead in comment that the writer was with the promoted company. If it had have been clear the writers position this would have been a fantastic piece. I don’t mind some promotion provided the articles are good.

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