why cheap is often more costly

Why “Cheap” is Often More Costly

why cheap is often more costly

Today I got my car M.O.Ted, for the non-uk-centric audience an M.O.T is an annual test that judges the road-worthiness of your car or motorbike (other larger vehicles also have their tests too) the tests are £54.85 for cars or motor caravans and £29.65 for motorbikes according to the Government’s own website https://www.gov.uk/getting-an-mot/mot-test-fees

This annual pilgrimage to the local garage is a feature of all car owners with a vehicle that is more than 36 months old, the thinking is that you simply don’t need to test a new car, it’s new! But anyone with an older car requires a valid M.O.T.

Many garages train and register as “M.O.T. Centres” and then offer low cost or even “free” M.O.T. tests as an incentive to get car owners through the door. If you see a garage offering cheap M.O.T.s this blog will tell you why that, and possibly the same strategy elsewhere is costing you money when buying websites.

Life Before Mister Metric

Before I was Mister Metric, I was an engineer who took the leap to run his own mobile car repair business. When mobile phones were still a novelty I had the idea to have an “on call” service for car owners that could call me to get their car fixed and I would book a “same day” appointment (if I could). The idea mostly worked, and I had a few customers and often they would call me in when they had a problem. after they had their car M.O.Ted.

With failure slip in hand they’d show me all the areas on the car that needed attention. I would then write up a parts list and then source the parts new or if safe, second hand (you don’t use second hand brake components for instance). It became a familiar story, customer needs M.O.T., so it is a pain purchase. They seek to spend as little as possible and look for a discounted M.O.T. garage. Garage looks at car, finds faults, car fails M.O.T. owner comes to me and I fix car.

Now, garages can set their own price for an MOT up to the maximum permitted by the Government, their is no minimum, however the regulatory body VOSA charge each garage £2.05p per MOT as of April 2010. That gives a lot of leeway for discounting and you will frequently see vouchers giving money off M.O.T.s used as marketing by Garages.

The Reason NOT to Buy Cheap M.O.T.s

Now here’s why it is a false economy to take up an offer of a massively discounted  M.O.T.
The garage lures you in to have your car M.O.T.ed, the garage is not allowed to make up, fake or otherwise misrepresent any wear and tear on your vehicle. The idea of the M.O.T. test is it is impartial and fair assessment to some tight standards, however perception and assumption can cost you money.

The garage has to recoup the cost of the M.O.T bay equipment, the cost of running it, the wages and all the associated time and effort that has gone into getting you into the garage. Therefore it is an ideal opportunity to “upsell” you by way of a failed M.O.T.

Now I am not saying any specific industry, garage or person is not on the “up and up” however I have found that when I took my customers cars to garages offering “cheap” M.O.T.s the likelihood of repairs increased.

Their is more of an incentive for the technician to look harder, to make borderline judgements in the favour of the garage,  especially if they perceive the car as “old” or “tired”. Items that might be perceived as serviceable on a newer car may just be failed because the car is “old” and therefore more likely to be a problem. This may be justified in some instances but the technician has to judge the car as presented, not how dangerous he thinks the car may be in 6 months time. He can make advisories, about the state of the car and its systems but cannot fail because a tyre’s tread is low and may wear out in the next 12 months.

Nope, the inspection has to be about what the car is at the time of the M.O.T. Conversely, if you drive the car from the garage and, for instance, an indicator bulb fails then the car is now not roadworthy and would fail an M.O.T. Years ago something similar to this happened to me and I was stopped by the police driving with a rear brake light blown. They asked why I had not fixed this, and I was able to show them my M.O.T. certificate issued not more than 20 minutes previously. It ended amicably and I was given a 7 day “producer” (show or “produce” all your documents at the police station within 7 days and the Police then check your car is fixed).

A Sneaky Tip to Win Hearts and Minds

Whenever I take my cars for an M.O.T. I make sure they are tidy, clean and washed recently. I brush the seats, wipe the windows and make sure the car looks “loved”. Whilst I always keep my vehicle in roadworthy condition, if you drive in and the car is just a mess, roadworthy, but a total eye sore then immediately the technician is thinking “hmmm… not well looked after” even though you might ensure the car is always tip top.

The garage is then looking at a car that is treated well, and therefore you are likely to be judged more positively on borderline cases. You should always keep your car more than borderline, but I have found over the years when I “buy a cheap MOT, I buy a £500 car repair bill also. Since I now use a garage that seems always busy and does M.O.T.s as part of their servicing etc. and charges £50 for their M.O.T. I get advisories but have yet to get a failure. I could do a comparison and now drive my car to a cheaper garage and see what they say, but if the car fails it goes on record and I then have to fix everything . Even though another garage has stated it is all OK.

So. That’s why you should avoid cheap M.O.T.s and I’ll leave you with this thought, where else are you buying stuff “cheap” and it is costing you more in the long run? Car Insurance? Paying monthly? Why not save the same amount you pay monthly into a savings account, then next year pay it all up front? You can save 10-20% doing this.

Finally, the Point…

It is also the same with websites (I FINALLY make the point relevant!) you buy a cheap website you may be missing the bigger picture. The reason a website is “cheap” is either.

  1. Your web dev of choice is starving for work and will discount to get the work. However they will also take shortcuts to try and deliver the website as quickly as possible. Using less of their time and making it more profitable. One way they do this is to “recycle” websites and themes and whilst this is perfectly acceptable it can lead to “cross contamination” between sites where content is unfortunately taken across when they replicate a development site.


  2. You are going to find there are all sorts of things missing from the site you have to pay extra for; Sitemaps, robots.txt, analytics set up, correct meta data set up, registration with Google search console, cheap hosting, poor security, slow loading, bad on mobile… etc… the list is long.

So whilst there are ways to mitigate the cost just looking for the most desperate web developer who will give you any old price just to get the work and then cut corners and leave off a lot of the “bits n bobs” that can make a big difference over time.

And that’s the bigger problem, not the low cost you paid but the opportunities you miss out on because your visitors either didn’t find your site int he first place or that when they arrived you site loaded slowly, looked bad and then the website failed to do what it is they came for or show them the most relevant content.

It’s fine to bargain hard, to negotiate well and to get the best deal on offer but sometimes you need to leave more money in the pot to allow the person you are negotiating with enough to do the job for you well. We can build a website in a day, it’ll be VERY generic, quite formulaic and simple but, it’s a website in a day! But it’ll not have the optimisation, the overall strategy and thinking behind it won’t be examined and it’ll be very small (think 3 or 4 pages). But it was cheap and if that is your sole objective then think about this, when you next drive your car think “was this car built to a high standard or to a low price?”, and then think about how often cheap cars break down…

My mum used to have a saying “Cheap n Cheerful”… well, in my experience, cheap is rarely cheerful because the job will be rushed and there ain’t much money left over to be cheerful about.

Cheap is a mindset.

Don’t fall into the trap.

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About Stuart Morrison

Stu Morrison's background in marketing, entertainment and web development has fused him into a guy thirsty for results in marketing. His regular talks on marketing and web conversion help others to gain more revenue from their websites. He also has a big moustache.