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Editorial: Only price matters?

Article-Editorial: Only price matters?

The terms ?cheap? and ?inexpensive? are often used interchangeably, but not by me. To me, something cheap is junk, regardless of the price. Something inexpensive is low priced, but could be of high quality.

The scuttlebutt circulating in the era of the Apollo moon missions was that these astronauts were flying a spaceship consisting of thousands of parts, every one of which was made by the lowest bidder. (Surely this is not true.) The usual question was ? Would you feel safe in that thing?? Probably not.

It is not uncommon for someone to tell us that they bought something and paid only a given price for it. Later we might find out something else about the object. But the first thing that seems to matter is price. We usually do not find out whether the object was needed, at any price whatever. Did Imelda Marcos need her 3000th pair of shoes, at any price?

From ancient biblical literature comes the saying: ?Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.? (John 8:32 KJV) The modern American translation might well be: ?Ye shall know the price, and the price shall set you free.? As a consumer-driven and price-driven society, we are constantly focusing on the price of this or that.

Surely all of us have met people who proclaim their devotion to price. What they don?t tell us about is the junk they have bought or the opportunities they have forfeited to buy a high-quality product for a little bit more money. The claim arises, of course, that some people must buy at the lowest price because they have limited amounts of money. My response is that sometimes one need not buy a given product at any price at all. Have it Nancy Reagan?s way: Just say no. Whatever the object is, if you don?t really need it, don?t buy it, at any price. That leaves a little money to buy good quality stuff that you do need.

Any given person?s concept of price is likely to be deeply entrenched. For example, a friend of mine, who we shall name Price Obsession, has parents who paid for his education all the way through college and law school. Mr. P.O. now proclaims that he will pay as little as possible for his children?s college education. No ifs, ands, or buts, just the cheapest. A couple of us who don?t really believe it have suggested that his children:

A) Become criminals, so they can study from behind bars at state expense, or
B) Join the military, which will provide education money after their term of service, provided they don?t get killed, or
C) Get full-ride scholarships.

Confronted with these possibilities, it turns out that Mr. Price Obsession has some non-price conditions after all.

Another windbag of my acquaintance (where do I find these people?), who we shall call Mr. Cheap Flights, was rejoicing recently that a certain discount airline was about to begin flying through Denver. I asked him whether time, seating, connections, or comfort mattered. He professed to believe that only the price mattered. Since he is retired, and has time to burn, he can take 16 hours to make connections on the way to a destination 3 hours away. Those of us still traveling to accomplish work can?t put up with much of that. Our time is still worth something.

We at PM&A have made specific efforts to address price issues in the plastics machinery industry.
  • In this issue, see an article by Dan Smith of PSI-Polymer Systems Inc. related to pricing of extrusion equipment.
  • An earlier article by Wolfgang Meyer, president of Kautex Machines, deals with industrial blowmolding equipment, and appeared in May/June 2004.
  • Multiple articles by Bill Tobin have addressed pricing in the injection molding and moldmaking arenas, and are also available on our website.
In the end, the cliché is true: you get what you pay for. If price is really and truly the only thing that matters, you will pay less and you will deserve what you get. When it turns out that you have paid the lower price, and bought a piece of junk, try to learn the lesson, and don?t do it again.

P.S.?Our music-world quote du jour: ? know sometimes words have two meanings...? (from Stairway to Heaven, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, 1971)

Merle R. Snyder
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