The phrase “You get what you pay for” is often used to justify paying a higher price for an item. The higher price is equated with higher quality. As a general rule of thumb it is true that a higher price is often an indicator of higher quality but there are so many exceptions that price shouldn’t be relied on as a sole indicator of quality.
The recalls of pet food and peanut butter showed that the same manufacturers were making both the store brands and the higher-priced brands. Often the only difference between a store brand and a name brand is the label. In that case when you buy the name brand you are paying for advertising and packaging, not for higher quality. There are plenty of other situations where the higher priced item is not higher quality than the cheaper item or at least not of sufficiently better quality to make it a better value. “You get what you pay for” is often used to rationalize an expensive purchase. Instead of making a purchase based on perceived value it should be made on actual value.
Sometimes even though the higher priced item might be of higher quality it still isn’t the best choice. An example would be cell phones. A new phone that takes pictures, plays MP3’s, and has tons of other features would be considered higher quality than my bottom-of-the-line 2002 cell phone that does little more than make and receive phone calls. However, since I only use my phone to make and receive phone calls and would be unlikely to use the extra features on a new phone the extra features would have little value for me.
I’m not saying that you should always buy the cheapest item. Many times the better quality and durability of a more expensive item justifies its higher price. My point is that you shouldn’t just assume that the higher priced item is a better choice. Your decision should be based on which product provides you the most value for your money.