Do low prices = poor quality?

Benjamin Franklin said that “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.

This is something we see on a daily basis with contract fabrics.

Should you complete a search for ‘poor vinyl furniture’ you will be served a collection of images where vinyl fabric appears to be cracking and falling apart. Naturally, owners become very annoyed and then vent anger on various websites, enraged that the colour is fading, rubbing off or that the material is flaking – telltale signs of poorly manufactured vinyl products.

With the power of social media, consumers are now fully empowered to express their dissatisfaction with poor quality products and express their unhappiness. YouTube hosts an assortment of videos from irate customers, one titled ‘Don’t buy a sofa from DFS until you have seen this!’ has over 83,000 views. The video gives an indepth review of the poor quality fabric used in a couch and viewers with a similar experience are able to add comments and show support.

In 2010, BBC News reported on how a court sanctioned £1,800 payouts to 408 claimants in a multimillion-pound compensation battle over so-called “toxic sofas”. Certain couches sold in the UK contained chemical sachets with dimethyl fumerate – or DMF – placed inside the sofas to stop them from going mouldy during storage. However, when the sachets got warm, the chemical evaporated into the air causing painful blisters and sores for people sitting on the sofa.

Time Magazine published an article asking ‘Does a Low Price Mean Good Value or Bad Quality?’, the article notes that;

because consumers can’t know everything about a product, we fill in the gaps with our own (naïve) theories to help us make decisions about whether the cheaply priced product is a terrific deal or a piece of junk.

When we choose a product or service exclusively on price, we have to ask if the low price = poor quality as people end up always paying more in the long run, as the lowest price tends to force shortcuts at some point, especially in relation to products that are manufactured. Unfortunately, these shortcuts may not be be initially apparent.

But what do buyers actually want ?

According to Brooks, the top three reasons that people buy from a particular suppliers are:

  1. An Easy, “No-Brainer” Relationship
  2. Reliability and Dependability
  3. Predictability

An Easy, “No-Brainer” Relationship is when you provide your prospects and customers with a relationship in which they get what they want, when they need it, on time and in good shape. Reliability and Dependability is ensuring People know that they can rely on you. Predictability is when all of your actions and behaviours have been consistently professional and always handled effectively and efficiently, customers will be able to say you are “predictable” based on your past relationship and reputation.


Tuttle, B. (2015). Does a Low Price Mean Good Value or Bad Quality?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Apr. 2015]., (2015). 12 Things Your Buyers Want Other Than Lowest Price. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2015].

BBC News, (2015). ‘Toxic sofa’ claimants win payouts over DMF – BBC News. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2015].