Fact of Life (And Business): You Get What You Pay For

The above title says it all. No matter how you try to justify or spin it, it’s quite simple: in life, you do get what you pay for.  No matter what products or services you are talking about, no matter if it’s in business or in your personal life, you get what you pay for.  You can try to save with DIY projects but sometimes it just makes more sense to hire an expert in terms of what you get for the money. And if you are the type to only use free services, you shouldn’t expect much at all in terms of assistance or troubleshooting (ever try getting help from Google on any issue?) . 


Trying to cut costs in the office

I know a couple of guys who run a CPA office.  Not a big place, just the two of them and a secretary. About a year ago, they started to lose some clients; some were due to death while others due to their businesses going under in the poor economy.  Logically, the first thing they did was discuss cutting back on costs, like using generic ink and toner, cancelling the bottled water service, switching to a new telecom service.  But the one thing you NEVER do is cheap out on what directly affects your output, which in this case is tax preparation software.  The boys decided that they would make the switch from the leading (albeit most expensive) tax package to a fairly new name in the game with much less experience and a much smaller price tag.

Fast forward to the next tax season, and well what do you know? The new program didn’t convert all of the previous data properly, and for their bigger clients it didn’t provide the necessary tools they needed. As far as the customer service, it was a breeze to get through to someone–most likely because they didn’t have many customers to service–although the expertise of those agents wasn’t close to that of the more expensive company they ran away from.  I heard that and literally had to bite my tongue so as not to laugh.  I felt like asking what they could have possible been thinking when making that switch.  The last I heard, they are in the process of making another switch up to a pricier program, but not at the same level as they were originally at.

The lesson here: in life (and business), you get what you pay for.


The used car conundrum

My first car was a 1986 burgundy Pontiac Sunbird with an oxidized hood and roof.  Well, I purchased the car in 1994, making it approximately 9 years old at the time, and it was supposedly cared for by a mechanic acquaintance of the family .  I was assured that aside from the physical appearance (which he couldn’t control very much), the car was in perfect health.  Now I can’t remember how many miles were on the wreck, but it wasn’t a really high number for the age, and it only cost me $1,100 so I had my first car. 

The details are a bit fuzzy at this point, but I do recall having to drive out to Brooklyn from Staten Island a few times for issues such as the timing belt needing tightening or outright replacing at one point, but nothing too serious.  That was until I tried driving it to Buffalo and back in my first year of college. When I tell you that I could have run faster than the car was going uphill, it is no exaggeration!  The car had no pick-up, no power and, to finish off the story, the car died on me going down a hill!

The lesson here: in life (and business), you get what you pay for.


You would think I learned my lesson with cheap cars after that, but unfortunately that wasn’t entirely the case…. 


The used car conundrum II

The car I purchased to replace that piece of junk, wasn’t much better, and why would it be? Realistically it couldn’t be all that big of an improvement if a college student was purchasing it almost immediately after his first car suddenly died.  But, I was able to get a 1991 Geo Storm for a reasonably fair price (or so I remember).  The problem with this car wasn’t so much the engine as it was something completely different and ridiculous.  Back up in Buffalo for the 2nd year of my college career, the Storm was great, or so I thought.  That was before the winters and the freezing temperatures.  So, what went wrong this time?  You may never believe this, but the door handles would freeze and snap out of place! Yes, essentially it was like a shoulder dislocating and needing to be popped back in place, except we didn’t have time to wait as we would be freezing, so it was off to the back so one of us could climb through the hatchback and open the doors from the inside!

The lesson here: in life (and business), you get what you pay for. (No matter how ridiculous the story may be)


The job ad with the lowball payments

Ok, so this one isn’t relegated to the businesses out there.  You know the ads I’m talking about on craigslist and in the local newspaper.  The ones seeking someone to answer phones, file, take dictation, clean the office, get the dry cleaning, or drive the boss around (well maybe that last one was a stretch).  Then when you get to the compensation part, it’s for like $8 an hour, or just over what minimum wage is in that area.  I don’t know who comes up with these things, but I swear it’s like they think they are the ones who get the short end of the deal.  Here’s how it sounds to me:

All we wanted to do was to pay someone a garbage hourly fee to do everything that no one else wanted to do around here, and give it their all, with a smile on their face and bells on each and every day.  We can’t imagine why they only lasted a few days and seemed so pissed while they were here.

The same thing goes for the people who don’t want to pay a professional to cut their grass, trim the trees, wash the car, etc.  If you go to a neighborhood kid and offer him/her a nominal price to do the job (and they know, believe me they know or their parents will step in) what on Earth would make you think that they would even care enough to do a complete and exceptional job?  It’s not like they’re trying to start a business doing it, and they know exactly how much effort should be put in commensurate with the pay. Plus, kids don’t have the longest attention spans these days (then again, neither do many adults for that matter).

The lesson here: in life (and business), you get what you pay for.


You use free stuff and still complain

You know who you are. You use open source programs such as OpenOffice, have free email accounts like Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc., host your site or blog for free on WordPress or Blogger. Yet, you always find something to complain about. Or if something really isn’t right and you can’t find a support number you bitch even louder. Guess what, when you get things for free, expect to make some concessions! You can’t have your cake and eat it too–there’s no fee for things because they may not have customer service staff or an on-site support team, or maybe it’s made up of volunteers who simply can’t get to you, “Mr./Mrs./Ms. Important Big Shot In Your Own Mind”, right away. Deal with it.

The lesson here: don’t be cheap and you won’t have as much to complain about!


Look, it’s all well and good to try to find the best deal you can, but there comes a time when you have to realize that it’s not always in your best interest to be cheap and cut every corner you possible can to save a buck or two.  Sure everyone likes to get a bargain, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of quality, nor should you be foolish enough to think that  If you are that foolish I have some bad news for you:


It’s a fact of life (and business): you get what you pay for!