When a Cheap Price Does Not Mean Good Value

Posted on 06/19/2014

A low price tag is not a surefire indication of a great deal. But at the same time low price does not always equal low quality. How do you know if that product you're about to buy is a really great deal or just a piece of junk? As bargain hunters and couponers we're always looking to save money, but here are five times when a cheap price does not mean good value.

When the Product is Dangerous
When it comes to cheap toys, parents on the hunt for a good deal can end up playing with safety. In 2007 an investigation done by the Michigan-based Ecology Center found that a third of all the toys they tested contained lead, which is considered the second most deadly household toxin. Cheap children's jewelry has been found to be more likely to contain lead than many other toys, according to a report from the American Association for Justice. Millions of these products have been recalled over the years, the vast majority made in China.

When the Product is Expired
The dollar store is home to lots of great deals. But experts warn to steer clear of medicines and vitamins that are just a buck. Consumer Reports says that they may be past their expiration dates and often don't reveal where they were manufactured. A product that has expired may seem safe, but the question marks don't add up to a good value.

When the Product is Unnecessary
This is the trap many people fall into at stores like Sam's Club and Costco. They think they're getting a great deal on the five gallon drum of mayo or the pack of 100 batteries. But if you don't need a product than the price becomes less important. No matter how cheap it is you end up spending money on something that you really didn't need in the first place.

When the Product is Poorly Made
Should you buy the $499 flat screen or the $199 model? Saving hundreds of dollars on the off-brand version is enticing. But if the product is poorly made you could actually end up investing more money when the cheaper television breaks. Rely on product reviews and consumer news to tell you which one is a better value for the money.

When the Product Offers Little or No Customer Service
What happens when you buy a product or service and aren't satisfied? You complain with hopes of receiving some sort of compensation. That could mean getting a refund or, at the very least, an apology. But when you're buying something at a bargain basement price, you can't always expect it to come with great customer service. One example is ultra low cost carrier Spirit Airlines. While customers may enjoy cheap airfares they are also the most likely to complain about their experiences, according to a recent report. So shoppers need to decide if delayed flights, lost baggage and poor customer service are worth the price of a cheap ticket.

By Alison Storm

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