You get what you pay for… every man is in his underwear on the web.

by oneafrikan on November 19, 2006

I’ve just had an interesting experience these last few weeks, where I’ve been woefully underwhelmed by a supplier that I thought was going to do a lot better than was eventually produced. Throughout the process I was defending the supplier with my colleagues, thinking that I would hold on ‘cos that great piece of work I was expecting was around the corner.

Unfortunately it never arrived, and I had to face the fact that I was out of time, and couldn’t afford to take things further. It kinda sucks, but this was for something that is really, really, really important to us, so I had to stop things in their tracks and find another supplier.

This is all pretty standard in most business lifecycles I think, so nothing great so far, but what is important is that on the web every man can literally be in his underwear, warts and all, but pretend to be as amazing as they would care to portray. Now I’m not for a minute insinuating that the person in question is or does pretend, but the fact remains that since we’d not met personally, nor worked together before, I had no yardstick with which to measure things with. No experience to make an informed decision on.

I guess the point is that originally we looked at our budget and decided against the Ferrari ‘cos we didn’t have the cash to pay for it up front. Instead we went with what we thought was the Audi. As life would have it, the Audi simply didn’t perform well enough, and now we’re back with the Ferarri (on a side note, we’ve managed to mitigate the cost of the Ferarri with a barter, so we should really have been that creative from the start, instead of assuming we would have to pay outright. Note to self I think) and since we’ve worked with the Ferrari before we know what the results are likely to be.

Bottom line for web work (and I guess most everything) is you get what you pay for.

My lesson is to never ever make the assumption that you will save money in the long run by choosing the cheaper option in the short term, ‘cos the cheaper option in the short term will almost always have other costs you didn’t factor in that will probably equal the more expensive option, so why not choose the more expensive option and save yourself some hassle, and get something better in the process?

Anyways, catharcism over – any thoughts?


Your experience is shared by millions I am sure but each one of those experiences is unique. No two pairs of underpants are the same!! I had an incident two years ago with some software I wanted developed in-house. I stipulated that I wanted a Rolls Roys, not a clapped out VW Beetle. Guess what I got. Yes the Beetle.

All I wanted was a kak off a shiny shovel web based interrogator to sit over SAP (or as I said – a mini Google) and search for and return data in a prescribed manner.

I guess the developers had their knickers in a twist the day I submitted the works order and scoping documents!

by Robert on November 22, 2006 at 7:12 pm. Reply #

I live on the other side of the fence. I am one of those people who might well be in their underwear. In fact I am right now – but it’s hidden underneath a few other garments.

But I take my contracts seriously; there’s a level of responsibility there, as well as it being a possibility for future contracts. Some of us are diligent.

The problem I have right now is where the contract involves support for projects in both Muslim & Christian countries, and in timezones 6 hours apart. Living with the responsibilities seems to mean I have no weekend, and no sleep.

You sometimes have to tough with the customers; I just wish I were better at it ;-)

On the other hand, I know of plenty of engineers/designers who are just as you describe. How can you make sure you choose one like me over one like them? My experience is to go for the ones who are underselling themselves. The glossier the spiel, the worse the deal.

by Ellie on November 25, 2006 at 4:39 am. Reply #

Good points ;-)

@Robert: yup, I often find that developers don’t have the client sensibilities that they should have (since people like us do the work to pay their salaries after all, so best not to piss us off), so there’s always a tradeoff. Another general rule is that no matter how good the engineer / coder, never piss them off, as it’s likely to come back to you as bad karma or whatever in the future… As always, treat others as you would have them treat you…

@Ellie: Yup, I hear ya ;-) My advice would be to develop mutually beneficial relationships with people that compliment your skill sets, so that they can cross-sell your skills to their clients, and then build up a base of reliable, trustworthy people to work with in the future. Best of luck! ;-)

by Gareth Knight on November 27, 2006 at 11:19 pm. Reply #

one of my teachers at school always said (about rock climbing equipment) “you can’t afford to buy cheap”

Words to live by.

by scott on November 28, 2006 at 1:45 pm. Reply #

Yup, so true ;-) Wish all clients lived by that though!

by Gareth Knight on November 28, 2006 at 7:58 pm. Reply #

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