Why Made in China Doesn’t Mean Quality

Cheap-Shoes-Made-in-China_photo-6An open letter to consumers about how “Cheaply Made Products Don’t Last”

As a consumer I’m always looking for a good deal , and I think that I’m like most people in that respect. Recently though, a few purchases I’ve made have turned out to be a real eye-opener as far as value goes.

You see, we bicker about price so much [moreso than value and reliability] that we’re really shooting ourselves in the foot.  How? As we’re pushing retailers for lower prices, we’re buying tons of cheap crap made overseas, and this reinforces the retailers to seek lower costs by having these goods made there and not in the USA.

Stuff that’s made in China or (Fabrique en Chine) as I also see, means buying something that’s cheap (yes), but we’re also buying stuff that’s CHEAP, which alternateively means it’s not a high-quality item.

These products are made cheaply with inferior materials, and put together with cheap labor  – and at the same time we’re expecting quality? WOAH WOAH WOAH! We can’t have both!

You can either get a good quality product that was made well and with quality materials, and you’ll pay more. OR, you can get a low-cost product that was made with questionable labor & materials …that costs less.


Image Source - Wikipedia
Image Source – Wikipedia

If you didn’t catch that analogy, let me give you an example… I recently went into a discount box retailer and I bought a pair of shoes off the clearance rack. I know these aren’t the best shoes, but they are always good on price. So I’m price shopping – I know in my head that these shoes aren’t the best quality, but they will be the right price. As a consumer, I get that crossover, right?

So I find a great pair of shoes, they’re trendy, they look good, they fit right – SOLD! $30 for a pair of shoes. They look great on my feet, I’m wearing these to work daily now.

But after 3 weeks of regular wear to my office and around with the kids on the weekends –  I see that the shoes are falling apart. I’m not exaggerating here, they are LITERALLY FALLING APART around my feet. The seams have started to separate, the heels are somehow loose and feel “funny” – and one of the shoelace grommets has fallen out, so that shoelace is now pulling on the fabric of the shoe when I tie my shoes.

I’m just amazed here, when did I buy these? I find the receipt and it’s 28 days since I bought them, not even one month!

As a consumer, I’m like WTF! But should I have expected quality for $30? …Probably not.

I remember when I was growing up in the 80’s my Mom would take me to get shoes… good dress shoes always cost $100 or more, and they would last as long as my feet would fit into them. In other words, the shoes would still be in great shape by the time I outgrew them. Sneakers were $50 & Up and maybe one would accept more wear and tear as we tended to trash our sneakers. With boots, you could get them all scuffed up or muddy, but they held together like they were supposed to. We had quality stuff back then.


Take a look at the pictures below and look at my $30 shoes! I will say that the US company that made them took full credit for them being defective and they’re sending me a new pair – that’s a good thing. I won’t even mention them here because I appreciate that they stood behind their products – something very genuinely American so I want to be fair to them and not trash their products online. They did right by me and I respect them for doing it.

Image Source - http://djcadchina.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/made-in-china/

So the American company is ok in my book, but the quality of the shoes, ….very decidedly cheap and Chinese. I’m not saying that everything that comes from China is cheap, but I can say that you can’t expect high-quality for the lowest price. When you get that discount on your cheap Chinese-made goods, you’re accepting a lower-quality item at the same time. I don’t think people make that distinction well enough, and we pay more in the long run when we buy a new pair of cheap chinese shoes to replace the defective and low-quality ones we bought before that. This is a cycle of buying and using inferior products that is great for retailers, but bad for us consumers. We’ve lost sight of quality and value in our thirst for a better “deal” on price. But  having to pay twice for the same goods isn’t a good deal for us overall.

I think it’s time to start making better decisions as consumers, and start buying better goods that are made in America. Let’s support our own and buy something that was made in the USA by an American. And if that’s a Chinese-American, that’s great too.

We need to take stock in our own, and also realize that the “great deals” we get at the mall come at a price. My wife makes a comment when we’re shopping for a household item…

I’d rather pay more for an item that lasts, than to save a little and have to buy it again later when it breaks

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Made in China / Fabrique en Chine – A Photo Essay of Cheap Shoes I bought for $30

Shoelace eyelet popped out
Shoelace grommet popped out
Right shoe - outside seam coming apart
Right shoe – outside seam coming apart
Still the right shoe - inside seam coming apart
Still the right shoe – inside seam coming apart – also note the shoes’s fabric starting to tear towards the top
another view of the shoes falling apart...
another view of the shoes falling apart…
The heel is cracking apart... All this after 28 days of regular use.
The heel is cracking apart… All this after 28 days of regular use.

Would you expect your “Brand New Shoes” to look like this? I didn’t either!

Consumer Note: As I mentioned, I did contact the manufacturer, and they stood by their product! They are sending me a new pair, hopefully it won’t fall apart like the first pair did. But – what am I expecting for $30?!?

Image Source - CoveringDelta.com
Image Source – CoveringDelta.com

Also Important – I did NOT make any effort to damage or further pull apart these shoes for display here, this is the actual damage caused simply by wearing them on my feet and going to work. I didn’t wash these or get them wet, nor did I enhance the damages in any way… this is just what regular wear caused. The cracking of the heel really stood out to me as a failure of the material, whereas the seams coming apart could be a combination of poor glue or workmanship.

[Read more about the Book “Poorly Made in China” on Wikipedia | Buy the book on Amazon]

These shoes were awesome when I first got them! They had a little spring in the back under the heel, so when I stepped up you could feel the spring snap back into place. This was a cool thing I thought, but that stopped working about 1 week into wearing them. It wasn’t until I was tying my shoes one morning that I noticed the seams on the sole coming apart, and I knew that they weren’t going to last long.

Has this ever happened to you?

By Louis Wing

About Louis Wing 68 Articles
I talk about this, that, and the other stuff. I have to admit I may ramble on and on... but I am usually driving to a point. Educated and street-smart, I like my beats downtempo. Read more about Louis Wing

1 Comment on Why Made in China Doesn’t Mean Quality

  1. This is some very interesting perspective on our consumer-driven lives and the impact on the products we buy.

    We should be looking to pay a fair amount, and we should expect quality. At a certain point, the lower the price goes, we have to assume that the quality is reduced somehow.

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