Mistakes I Made #18 – Save A Penny. Lose A Pound. Don’t Do It.

When I Buy Something It’s USually For A Reason

If you’re a regular reader of my posts, you will soon learn that I love expressions. One often used in my family is that ”buying cheap is buying expensive” or “don’t be penny wise and pound foolish”. I’ve used these expressions before.

It comes down to the fact that when buying something priced far below the average going rate, chances are there is a reason.

It’s often because of inferior quality materials used that compels you to repurchase the same thing again sooner than you expect. This can end up costing you more than what you would have paid if you invested just a little bit more in something more durable and or trusted.

Having burnt my fingers in the past, I felt it necessary to share my experiences with you so that you could lessen the likelihood of it happening to you.

Let me share my most memorable one with you.

Another Good Story

Years ago, MY home was located far from my office. It was around a 40 minute commute one way, but with traffic being a nightmare, I found myself on the road for up to two hours in each direction.

After about a month of this madness I decided it was time to do something about it. I didn’t want a new job and I was even less interested in moving. The obvious answer to my problem was to get a scooter. Not a motorbike, yess ladies and gentlemen a scooter.

The European chic lifestyle appealed to me and the thought of zipping through traffic in style just made sense. Not only would I beat the traffic, but I was also going to save bucket loads in fuel costs. So, I pulled out my iPad and started searching for the best deal out there.

The time came to make a purchase.

My scooter search took about two weeks. I watched all the YouTube video reviews, I pulled each website apart and I knew all there was to know about every trim level and specification and I was now ready to make my purchase.

The area where I lived only had two scooter brands, and I needed to make sure I can service this scooter and get local after-sales support.

So, I went one Saturday and I visited both dealers. The one is a very well respected Taiwanese brand that I knew will stand the test of time. The price tag was $2500. The other brand was a relatively new Chinese brand that still needed to prove itself. The price tag was $2000.

Now I read a lot of reviews about both products. The Japanese brand had an overwhelmingly positive review base. The Chinese one was a mixed bag of good, bad and really bad. Yet, both were good looking, spec wise the same and they were both supported with decent 2-year warranties.

The cheaper brand also claimed to be the top seller in the country.

Weighing up the pro’s and the con’s between each product; I probably had a million arguments in my mind, and it looked something like this:

1. The sensible argument

  • Buy the trusted more expensive brand you know you will love and it’s going to last you a lifetime.
  • Buy the cheaper brand, just look how many people bought it. Surely so many people can’t be wrong.

2. Resale value

  • Don’t forget, the resale value on the trusted more expensive brand is better.
  • Why worry about resale value? This is a purchase from the heart, you are making a long-term commitment here. Besides, the dealership even offered to sell it for me when I want to upgrade my scooter for something bigger.

3. Maintenance

  • The running cost of the more expensive brand is more, but it is more mechanically sound. Rather be safe than sorry
  • Just think of how much money you will save with the cheaper brand. You can service it twice as often as the other one and still have change etc

Another one bites the dust, I settle for the cheaper option

After all that, the salesman at the cheaper Chinese brand dealership gets managed to sell me a scooter by luring me in with a further 10% discount.

For a while everything seemed meant to be. I was more excited about the fact that I could afford loads of accessories like a helmet, jacket, boots and top box since I was paying a lot less for the bike as opposed to my Taiwanese brand. I took delivery a week later and I was in scooter heaven.

It didn’t take long for the first issue to rear its ugly head.

First the indicator lights stopped working, making it very hard to avoid accidents and upset other drivers. The worst was when the scooter died on me during peak hour traffic, twice!

Fortunately, the warranty included free roadside assistance. They would load my scooter onto a pickup and I was able to secure a ride home every time.

Before long, I was in the workshop every weekend. I had serious buyers remorse and I was also losing my sense of humor in the dealership. I asked the dealer to refund me my money as this was the worst 4-week relationship and it was time to cut my losses.

Sadly though, reality kicked in. Not only were they not interested in taking the scooter back, but they also pointed out that they are only obliged to repair the bike free of charge. It became clear that the legal jargon spewing out of the workshop manager’s mouth was well rehearsed.

It hit me like a ton of bricks when the realisation sunk in that I have bought a piece of junk and I was stuck with it.

Moral of The Story

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. In the end, I managed to sell the scooter at a third of the original price, with a mere 3000 kilometers on the clock but I was glad to be rid of it.

I ended up going back to the reputable Taiwanese brand and bought something that was sensible. True to form it hasn’t given me any trouble and I am delighted with my purchase.

The only drawback stems from the horrible cheap Chinese brand I bought that ended up costing me more than what I would have paid if I just went for the more sensible choice the first-time round.

So here the saying rings true, “the university of life teaches a man many things” and in my case it did.

If my story prevents one poor soul from making the same mistake, it was a lesson worth learning and not in futility.