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LUXURY BRANDS

I've long taken the view that, on the whole, it's better to pay a bit more for things, on the grounds that the added value is disproportionate to the actual cost (even when it's double or even treble what you might get away with).
 
The old adage, "Buy cheap, buy twice" has resonated with me for a long time. No doubt the cynics will say that that's easy to say when you have enough money to afford the more expensive option, and that most people don't necessarily have the luxury of that choice. Fair enough.
 
It is certainly true with wine, for example, where a two- or three-pound premium (over a budget product) makes an enormous difference to the quality you experience (unless it's corked, obviously). But a number of things have happened recently to make me question the generality of that sentiment.
 
And it all revolves around longevity. If you pay more for an allegedly better quality product, should you expect:
1. that it will last longer than its cheaper competitors?
2. if and when it eventually starts to wear out, should you expect to be able to get replacement parts to mend said item (albeit at the price of a small country's entire annual budget)?
 
The brands I am highlighting here are all bywords for high quality, verging on luxury status. All of them have been in my possession for more than ten years, and all have recently developed faults that are in effect terminal. I have little choice but to literally throw them away.
 
Is this good enough? Should we be making more of a fuss about the cavalier attitude to after-sales service that many so-called luxury brands actually offer? Well, this is intended to start the ball rolling, in terms of calling to account lax attitudes. Needless to say, your feedback and comments would be very welcome: I may even start a dossier and/or blog!
 

DO YOU GET
WHAT YOU PAY FOR?


Example One

My Jaguar XK8, purchased in 1997 (on the then company) for an exorbitant sum - and which has admittedly covered over a quarter of a million miles since.

The rear of it is so rotten that it will never pass the next MOT, and the estimate I had to fix it came to £8,000 - more than the thing's worth, before you take into account all the other things on it that are falling apart (and I mean literally in some cases).

But much worse, in my opinion, was the case of the cracked alloy wheel about two years ago. I was told, with no sense of shame, that there were no longer any such replacements in stock (I discovered during my researches that Jaguar had had a dispute with the original manufacturer, who had refused to supply any more), and therefore I would have to buy a new set of four - at the usual ludicrous spare parts rates: a cost that would have allowed me to buy a small car new almost. Luckily E-Bay came to my rescue.

Example Two

Jacuzzi informed me that my malfunctioning spa bath, purchased in 2000, would require parts costing £1,000 to restore it to full working order.

This is not a product that has been fault-free during its 12 years of existence: I've had service engineers out more than once before, and the company's provision of service generally has been decidedly average at every stage, to put it mildly.

As I write this, however, I have just received a call to tell me that, actually, even this 'luxury' is beyond me because the parts required are no longer available at all anyway, so my only option is to throw it away and buy a new one (around £2,500 was quoted). Assuming I might even be tempted, I disabused them of the notion that any such investment would have the name Jacuzzi associated with it.

Example Three

My Longines watch. Again a couple of decades old - but specialist shops in London still sell 'antique' versions of the thing at several hundred pounds.

The case itself has worn, so that the strap cannot be fixed to it securely. I am told, again with no hint of apology or regret, that they no longer keep spares, so a perfectly good working watch may as well be thrown away. It is after all a wrist watch. If I want to keep it in my pocket - well, I've got a phone in there with the time on.

No wonder my kids don't bother with watches. I wonder if the industry has woken up yet to this long-term threat to their very relevance.

Three examples - and I could go on (and on). OK, dismiss me as a grumpy old man (it's a fair cop, and I don't care): luxury brands with cavalier attitudes to their long-term customers are playing Russian roulette with their own long-term reputations - and therefore future. Would I recommend any of these brands to anyone. No, I would not. Enough said.

David Croydon: 01844 238692 or e-mail dave@hilltopconsultancy.co.uk




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David Croydon

Hilltop Consultancy
Business Advice Oxford, Oxfordshire