Choosing price over quality sends an unwise message

Jan. 1, 2020
A growing number of jobbers and warehouses in Columnist Mitch Schneider's area have switched to lines of lesser or questionable quality.

By now you’ve probably come to realize that over a lifetime I’ve developed some fairly strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong with our industry. That isn’t very hard to do, especially with the “what is wrong” part of what you and I experience every day.

I’ve been a professional automotive repair technician for almost 40 years, and a successful career in automotive service depends to a large degree on how quickly and how well you can isolate and eliminate problems. A majority of the good technicians I know spend most of their working lives diligently searching for a better, quicker, more comprehensive way to identify failure: It’s what we do.

The fact that most shop owners are former technicians doesn’t make life any easier for you, however, because there is a lot of room for failure in our daily interactions.

That may appear negative on the surface, but it isn’t really. The way you look at things is just a matter of choice, which itself can become a problem. It isn’t a problem if you’re the one doing the choosing. It can, however, become problematic if or when someone else limits or eliminates those choices for you.

I earnestly try to purchase quality when and wherever possible. I choose brands I can depend on and try to purchase those brands through jobbers and warehouses I can depend on. That sounds a lot simpler than it has become.

A growing number of jobbers and warehouses in our area have switched to lines of lesser or questionable quality. They say they are reacting to pressure from an increasing number of shop owners pushing them to move in that direction. I can’t argue: I don’t answer their phones or call on their customers. But, I can argue against the wisdom in such a move.

I don’t care how many people — shop owners or motorists — are too ignorant to recognize the importance of quality. I don’t care how many can’t tell the difference between quality and a cheap imitation, or what that cheap imitation is likely to cost when it fails…and, sooner or later, parts of questionable quality will almost certainly fail. I don’t want to purchase filters for $1.79 each. If I wanted to, I’d buy them for even less from those good old boys who continually call trying to push them through the telephone. I don’t need you for cheap.

I don’t want the kind of motorist only interested in a cheap price as a customer either. They cost too much to attract and maintain and are likely to disappear the minute someone with a lower price materializes. That may be something some of you should be thinking about.

When you change lines to accommodate only those clients interested in price alone, you send a very clear message to those of us interested in more, especially when you offer no alternative. That message is: go someplace else.

That choice is clearly yours. But, remember, I still have a few choices of my own, some of which you may not like or even understand.