Price vs. Quality

This seems to be a recurring theme with me lately, and I readily admit it. However, since I am confronted with this issue daily, I will keep hammering away.

In the Chicago limo market, there has been a lot of talk about “discount limousine services” lately. These companies appear to be spending vast amounts of money, or make use of email and the internet, to promote themselves as legitimate limousine operations. I could easily identify some of the more well known culprits, but I have a feeling there are more laws protecting unscrupulous characters than there are protecting me. Yet exposing them isn’t the purpose of this blog. I just want to educate the as many people as possible that there is a significant difference between cheap and quality.

As with any product or service, a customer always has the option – and the right – to go “cheap”. Since the economic collapse a few years ago, there are scores of people that have made fortunes teaching us how to get everything at a fraction of its “regular” price. There are also online “coupon” sites offering significant savings on all manner of products and services. We have an obligation to ourselves to get the best value for every penny we spend, and many times we fight an internal battle to determine whether a particular item is worth spending extra money on. But as consumers, we have all experienced what happens when we buy based only on price. From garbage bags to house painters, there is an inherent risk in putting savings over quality, and getting burned will inevitably bring a friend or family member out of the bushes to chirp…”I told you so”.

I can’t reasonably tell people to avoid buying cheap; that would make me a hypocrite since I do it myself on occasion. But I limit my thriftiness to goods and services that are unlikely to bite me later. For example, going cheap on a box of cereal is significantly different than looking for the least expensive car insurance. And that brings us to limousine service in Chicago…and my lesson for the day.

To say “you get what you pay for” is a monumental understatement when it comes to ground transportation. Every city probably has some taxi horror stories attached to it, and it is generally accepted that service and equipment from cabs will be “less than stellar”. There are exceptions of course, but are customers truly surprised when their cab driver seems like he’s lost…or if the floor of the taxi resembles that of a poorly maintained movie theatre? Not likely. A taxi is cheap and usually available when needed. It is what it is, and the same is true for limousine services in Chicago. You can go cheap and get a ride, or you can spend a little more and get “service”. You can save some money and take a chance that the car that shows up will be properly licensed and insured, or you can be sure by of it by choosing a reputable company with slightly higher rates.

When it comes to limousine service, or any service for that matter, you are not just paying for the actual service, you’re also buying quality. At O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service, we’re not just about the quality of the vehicle and chauffeur, but the quality of the organization. Any reputable company should be doing the same. But shoppers will find that “bargain basement” companies don’t offer much in the way of quality at any level, and they shouldn’t be too surprised. As with a taxi service, you get what you pay for. Bringing service issues to these types of organizations is akin to smacking yourself in the head with a hammer. You’ll be better off doing something else…anything…because you won’t be satisfied with the result.

In summary, it isn’t about using OML or one of our competitors. Instead, it comes down to using a quality service. If you are looking for a company to take you from downtown to the airport for $35.00, O’Hare-Midway isn’t your company. It comes down to simple math. The fixed daily cost to operate a late model sedan (payments, insurance) plus fuel, driver cost, tolls, and maintenance, can run almost $300.00 per day*. That means that the first 8 trips each day would go to paying for the cost of running the vehicle. So…what if you don’t run 9 trips a day?

*This estimate is based on new or late model financed vehicles. Old and outdated vehicles may have lower fixed costs and carry less insurance, but variable costs for maintenance will likely be higher.

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Dale Schahczinski
Goal driven team leader, with industry experience spanning all aspects of operations and administration.