What is Quality? — Let’s Blog Off

Quality is an interesting thing.  Many people claim to have “an eye for quality.”  I think it goes deeper than being able to spot well-made products with hefty price tags.  Anyone can do that.  From my perspective, if something lasts as long as I need it to and does what I need it to do, it is of enough quality for it to be worth it.

I have no trouble stopping by the local big box store to pick up some basic items.  My kitchen doesn’t have custom cabinets, except for the ones I built.  Does that decrease their quality?  Not necessarily.  I like how they look and they hold my dishes.  That’s high enough quality for me.

I’ve paid a dollar for a bottle of shampoo.  I’ve also paid $8.  In both cases, I ended up with clean hair.  Which was higher quality?  I couldn’t tell.  One sure didn’t have $7 more quality.

When I go out to dinner, I want good food and a comfortable atmosphere.  If I have to dress up, chances are I’m not interested.  One of our favorite dining spots, the Cheeky Monkey Deli, suits the bill perfectly.  They have a delightful menu and it’s comfortable to sit and chat without feeling rushed.  The food is more than worth the prices they charge.  As far as I’m concerned, the quality of the experience here beats out many “fine dining” restaurants.  Why?  I get my money’s worth here.

Several years ago, Liz and I found ourselves at an upscale Chinese restaurant that was serving a special Chinese New Year meal.  The cost was about $40 a head but it was the best meal I’ve ever had.  We didn’t know what to expect.  The menu wasn’t really specified and the courses just kept coming.  Everything was spectacular, even when I had no earthly idea what it was.  WORTH EVERY PENNY.

I’ve mentioned it previously, but I had a stained glass window custom made to go above our front door.  Worth the money?  Yes.  I’d have paid double.  Sometimes I think about sending some more money just because it is that valuable to me.

Quality truly is in the eye of the beholder.  If your needs are met and your wallet hasn’t been emptied, be satisfied.

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About Raun Lauterbach

Optimistic realist, life enthusiast, outdoor cook, Midwest traveler, husband, father... Follow me: Twitter | Facebook | Get updates in your email
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  • Btewes

    Interesting subject. And you are so correct when you say it is truly in the ey of the beholder. What one person perceives as being high quality may fall far short of another’s idea. I’m sure everyone has had at least one experience where they recommended something to someone, only to learn that their recommendation didn’t meet or live up to the expectations.

  • http://cft411.com/ Joe Freenor

    OK, I’ll be odd man out. I disagree with a lot of what you
    said in this. I do think quality makes a difference and that those who shop
    only for price end up with a lot of schlock in heir homes. IKEA cabinetry is
    not the same as the cabinetry I make, not even close. Some people may be just
    fine with installing IDEA in their kitchen and touching that sort of “quality”
    every day of their lives, but I tend to look for the best I can afford. We are
    in kitchens and bathrooms every day of our lives. Why not make them the best
    rooms in the house?


  • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

    That’s happened to me more than once.  That’s why I do plenty of my own testing before I recommend anything.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, by there’s almost always a caveat to my recommendations.

  • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

    I knew I’d ruffle a feather or two knowing the “contracting” nature of the Let’s Blog Off group.  I appreciate your comments, Joe.  I agree that quality makes a difference.  I just question how we define quality. 

    I don’t think there’s much argument if I say that granite counter tops are better than laminate counter tops.  Granite counter tops are also significantly more expensive than laminate.  If I’m expecting my kitchen to last 20 years before being remodeled/replaced/updated, and both will last at least 20 years, which is higher quality?  I say that in that time period, they are exactly the same, which makes the laminate a better value (not taking into account matters of opinion, like personal preference, emotional ties, etc., which do have value but are hard to quantify.)

    I built a couple of the cabinets in my kitchen.  I built them out of better materials than the rest of my cabinets, but I can’t honestly say they are higher quality than the others.

    That said, I’d rather pay a few bucks more for a good meal of smaller portions than go to an all-you-can-eat buffet of mediocre offerings.  In both cases I end up full, but the experiences don’t compare.

    Complex topic, I guess.  Thanks again for offering up your view!

  • http://twitter.com/ScottSliver Scott Sliver

    I’m with you… “Quality” can be a moving target, but if it works, I like it, I enjoy it, it made me smile, that’s what I’m paying for. I’ve had great $10 meals, and not-so-great $20 meals. Maybe “value” is a better target than quality?

    Great post!

  • under cover waitress

    Nice post, and very thought-provoking. For the most part, I agree. I differ when we look at the “hidden costs.” For example, the $1 shampoo and the $8 shampoo both get your hair clean, but does the extra $7 pay for jobs in the states? And does the $1 shampoo move jobs overseas and still pay unlivable wages to the overseas workers who make the shampoo? Complex topic! 

    On a side note, home-made wood products, such as cabinets, are extremely valuable to me. 

  • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

    Thanks for your thoughts, Scott. I wrestled with whether “value” made more sense than “quality” but I decided quality was the appropriate term for this reason: Value is a relationship between cost and benefit. Quality, while taking benefits into account, is really an opinion about the choice made was the best choice. I’m having a terrible time explaining my thoughts on this. Thanks for bearing with me. :)

    “They don’t build ’em like they used to” is a pretty common saying. I’m sure it’s generally true, but they also don’t need to build ’em like they used to as long as we’re so quick to replace things. I guess that leads to a whole other social commentary. I’ll leave that for someone else. Thanks again, Scott.

  • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

    Hidden costs, in some cases, are the biggest costs. The fact is that both the $1 shampoo and $8 shampoo pay for jobs in this country. Until a couple of years ago, both my wife and I worked jobs with “unlivable wages.” We made it work. We did it without debt and without fretting too much. It forced us to decide what was important to us. Do I want to go back to that? Absolutely not, but it was a valuable learning experience.

    I also hold hand-made wood products close to my heart. I’m fascinated by the craftsmanship and joinery techniques. (The New Yankee Workshop is one of my all-time favorite TV shows) I built a pantry cabinet and some wall cabinets for my kitchen and 2 built in bookcases for my living room. I am proud of the work, but I probably would have bought stock cabinets had they been available for my needs.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate it!