When some things are too cheap

dog in glassesI have had it with Poundland. I only ever went there to bulk-buy their £1 spectacles. But the last three pairs I had lasted – and this is no exaggeration – four days. The arm of one pair fell off as soon as I put them on. One lens of the next pair fell out after a day. The final pair managed to last for two whole days before the rim snapped. I’ve probably been unlucky – and admit to being clumsy – but I think it’s time to move up the price range for glasses. My new ones cost £5 for two (so hardly expensive) online from Amazon but seem much sturdier.

It did make me think about what cheap things just aren’t worth it. Top of the list here is cheap meat – not only for ethical reasons but because it tastes of nothing and is so watery you can never crisp it up. I wouldn’t buy the cheapest cling film, foil or bin bags either (though I would buy own brand) because they rip too easily. On taste grounds, I’d rather go without totally than buy the cheapest bread, tea bags or instant coffee. And trust me on this: cheap cat litter is rubbish and it stinks. It’s not as if the top of the range stuff is that expensive, either. On more expensive things, it’s a false economy to buy a cheap vacuum cleaner: not enough power equals not enough suction.

But there are some things where the absolute cheapest is fine. Bargain electric hand whisks and stick blenders are OK and are cheap to replace when they break down (and as they sit out of sight in a drawer, aesthetics are unimportant). Bleach just goes down the plughole, so the bargain non-branded is best although the thicker version is probably best for bunging down the toilet. There’s no point in paying anything but as little as possible for flour – but don’t buy it in huge bags unless you’re a manic baker as self-raising doesn’t keep its rising capabilities for ever. I also wouldn’t buy anything other than the cheapest grass seed – the birds will probably eat most of it anyway.

And there are some things which I wouldn’t pay good money for even if they are a ‘bargain’. Out of season, non-local soft fruit: crunchy, imported strawberries are horrible. Designer baby clothes are another. I still wince at the thought of all the posh, pricey items bought for my son by well-meaning friends when he was tiny which he never wore, because tiny babies are best in easily-washable bodysuits, not miniature jeans, hand-wash only jumpers and the like. Quite a few of those presents were never worn: I did pass them on to others – and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those items are still being passed on in their pristine, useless state 12 years late. What a waste of money.

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Saturday, 21 April 2018
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