07 December 2009

why are goods so inexpensive?

from Home Depot today, i bought a 25' outdoor extension cord and a can of black spraypaint. with tax, it was $6.23.

from Microcenter, i bought a tiny screwdriver set, packaged as a pocket pen. it was 79 cents, pre-tax.

these items are worth more to me than what I paid for them. i'd pay $20 for a good 25' extension cord. for a good set of screwdrivers, i'd be happy to pay $15. i have no issue with the quality of the these items, i simply think they're underpriced.

i assume i'm "benefiting" from cheap overseas labor and lax environmental laws, if not in the US then elsewhere. but i have to think "this'll hurt come winter." at a minimum, there's really no consumer downside to seeing these things as disposable.

this practice seems highly unsustainable to me.


JustJoeP said...

seeing them as disposable, in my perspective
- fills landfills unnecessarily
- contributes to the depletion of limited fossil fuels for short term goods. Copper, oil (in all the plastics), nickel, chrome, all are not infinite.
- contributes to global warming in the flying of the US business people to China, Malaysia, Eastern Europe, etc, to "monitor" the making of the product and the "quality" (which many companies do a piss poor job of doing), transporting the product, etc.
- contributes to the 'lowest common denominator' mentality, across US consumer goods. Crap at one store begets crap at many others once it sells well.

I too, am disturbed by the unreasonably low prices. And I am a FIRM believer, that typically, "one get's what one pays for". There ARE exceptions to the rule... but often, quality and price are very closely linked, especially with imported low cost goods, and with expensive services (like an excellent meal at a fine restaurant).

that's my 2 cents.

Matt said...

Since my company manufactures stuff here in the US, let me give you a little perspective on Chinese imports. Take reinforced silicone intercooler couplers for example. I buy them custom in small lots of 20-30. To source them in the US I would have to pay $500+ in tooling then $20-$30 each after that. Turnaround time is 3-4 weeks. If I source them from China the tooling costs $100 and then they are $9 each and turnaround time is about a month + shipping time. I have tested, sold, and installed 100's of the Chinese ones and the quality and strength is equal to the US ones. The Samco ones from the UK might be better but those are ridiculously expensive.

Whenever I can I source parts from the US, but the above example is just too much cost increase. Also it seems that the typical 'Merkin consumer doesn't give a shit about "Made in USA", as they just want their empty-soul-filling shiny stuff as cheap as possible.