My Own Worst Customer

By: Eric Johnson, AVG President

Earlier this year, I had the misfortune of clipping a deer with my truck. There was no significant or debilitating damage, so repair was not an urgent matter. However, a couple weeks later, when my neighbors decided to make some additional “cosmetic alterations” to my truck (with their car), I decided it was time to seek pricing for the bodywork.

As I shopped around for pricing at several different providers, my mind immediately started down the dark path of focusing on the dollars and cents. Those dangerous tendencies of human nature led me from rationally analyzing, or at least greatly discounting, the value of past experiences and qualifications of each provider. The decision instead became dependent on where I could get the work performed for the least amount of money. I was falsely tricked into believing I was looking for the best deal—based solely on price. After all, the lowest priced provider told me they’d do a good job.

Here is where the irrational part comes into play.

I had been told warned by some friends of prior experiences with the “cheapest” provider. When shrouded with the fog of “lowest price,” you can easily convince yourself that such a situation must have been an isolated incident, or “it won’t happen to me.”

After ignoring the warnings, I decided to proceed with the “cheapest” provider. And guess what? I got what I paid for. The finished product was not what I was expecting, nor what I wanted. Trim that was once a clean black was now coated with overspray and other sloppy work showed prominently on my truck. After pointing out the flaws to the manager, I got the following explanation: it should have been presented that there is a difference in quality between “elective” and other work (i.e. insurance claims). I told the manager that this was never explained to me and without missing a beat, the manager shrugged off the issue. In his defense, he did offer to repaint the trim. But rather than starting the snowball rolling, metaphorically speaking, I just walked away and accepted that the fault was mine. I had fallen victim to the trap I have tried tirelessly to help my clients avoid for decades.

I’m sharing my experience with you to remind you, as I have been reminded, that the cheapest solution is rarely the best. In this day and age, costs for goods are, for the most part, pretty competitive. The difference in cost comes from the service (or man-power), which tends to vary with experience. In other words, you’ll pay more for someone that’s worth more—whether it’s more tenure, proven track record, advanced training or certification, or simply higher quality. If you are being told you will get the same product or service for a noticeably cheaper amount, don’t believe it. There are always differences. Every quote, regardless of what the product is, combines three factors—quality, speed and price. You can NEVER get all three factors. If you want the lowest price, then speed and/or quality will suffer. If you want something fast, either price or quality must be sacrificed. And if you want the best quality, get ready to sacrifice price or speed.

Hopefully, you get the message. I talk about this all the time with my existing and potential clients. Through my personal experience, and my own bad judgment, I have been reminded of the truth in these thoughts. None of this is to state that some “good deals” or special breaks can’t be found. The proper steps must be taken to check references, ask the relevant questions and, ultimately, assume you will be getting what you paid for—whether good or bad.

Eric Johnson


Eric Johnson is the president of Audio-Video Group and has long been a champion for quality work and getting what you pay for. Don’t want to get stuck in the same situation Eric was in? Check out our references, review our portfolio and ask us some questions.

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