when something is good value for money and economical at the same time

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, I tried to make the explanations below as short as possible, but they went on and on...

Let's say a woman called Naomi works in a very big office and are in charge of buying office equipment and supplies.
There are currently ten printers in the office, but since they are rather old, the manager asked her to replace them all with new ones.

So she bought ten new printers (all same model). She had first thought they were a little too expensive, but after learning about all the features offered by the model, she realized that they were actually quite cheap. In other words, she thought the printers were very good value for money.

Now, a six months later, the manager notices that the running cost spent on the printers (i.e. the money spent on buying printer ink cartridges) in the office has noticeably decreased in the last six months. So he asks Naomi "Have printers not been used very often in the last six months?" She answers, "Why? We changed all printers six months ago and they've been used as often as the previous ones. Maybe more often, I should say. Also, the new ones will require less maintenance cost."
The manager replies, "Oh, I totally forgot that we changed printers! How much were the new ones? Anyway, they are very economical."


MY THOUGHTS & QUESTION

I think I made the right choice and used "very good value for money" there.
I also think I made the right choice and had the manager say "economical" there.

Now, if Naomi had told the manager how much each printer had cost before he went on to say "Anyway", and if he had found the price quite cheap considering the printer's various features, would "economical" still be the right word (e.g.
"Only $200 with all these features and the running cost is this low? Wow, they are very economical.") or should it be "very good value for money" (e.g. "Only $200 with all these features and the running cost is this low? Wow, they are very good value for money.")?

Both seem appropriate. If it's "economical", it would mean that the reasonable price and the low running cost are BOTH economical for the company.
If it's "very good value for money", it would mean that the printer, with all these features and the low running cost, is very good value for money (i.e. very reasonably priced.)

What do you think?
 
  • london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    If something is good value for money it offers many features you would expect to find in a more expensive model (of whatever). If it is economical it is also cheap to run and maintain. Something can be good value for money but not necessarily economical.

    I'd say the printers were cost-effective.

    Cross-posted....
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Economical refers only to the relatively low amount of money required to keep an item in service.
    Value for money is reflected in the general utility, reliability, and build-quality of the machine when compared to other (brands/models of) similar machines - there may well be many features and each feature, when assessed as a proportion of the price, is cheap.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks all for reading that long post. I was feeling bad after posting it...

    Perhaps cost-effective.
    I'd say the printers were cost-effective.
    Is it because the low price of the printer and the low running/maintenance costs are effective in reducing the total cost?

    Would you use the expression even when the context isn't related to business operations?


    Example 2
    Context - You and your best friend love playing video games in their free time.

    Friend: My wireless mouse isn't very good. I have to change batteries about every other week and I've had it repaired at least three times in the last couple of years.
    You: Sounds terrible. I only change batteries every six months and the mouse hasn't broken even once in the last couple of years.
    Friend: Wow, your mouse is very ______________________.

    1. cost-effective
    2. good value for money
    3. economical


    I think it's odd to use "cost-effective" in this context, and "good value for money" also seems inappropriate, because you didn't tell him how much your mouse cost (it could be a VERY expensive mouse).
    Is "economical" appropriate? (It seems so, even after reading Paul's post.)

    I'm aware that the friend could just say "your mouse is very good" or something similar, but it's not quite what he wanted to say.
    Is there a better word or expression than "economical" in this example?
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I wouldn't use any of the three expressions you suggest in this context, as we have no idea how much the mouse cost and what it's features are and are therefore unable to make any kind of evaluation which involves cost/money.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I wouldn't use any of the three expressions you suggest in this context, as we have no idea how much the mouse cost and what it's features are and are therefore unable to make any kind of evaluation which involves cost/money.
    So you consider both the purchase price (which can be very expensive) and the running cost (which isn't usually high) when judging whether the mouse is economical or not. But isn't that different from what Paul said?
    Economical refers only to the relatively low amount of money required to keep an item in service.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Your sentences:

    You: Sounds terrible. I only change batteries every six months and the mouse hasn't broken even once in the last couple of years.
    Friend: Wow, your mouse is very ______________________.


    If you say:

    You: Sounds terrible. I only change the batteries every six months.

    Then this is feasible, because you mean the running costs (it doesn't use up much in the way of batteries):

    Friend: Wow, your mouse is very economical.

    But I would find it odd to say that the mouse is economical because it has never needed to be repaired: I would say it's a good one or a good quality one.

    This is quite part from the fact that I have never had a mouse repaired (I throw them away when they stop working and the 'expensive' one I have now - designed for gamers, like my son - I have had for five years or more) and that the batteries last for years, not six months..;)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Friend: Wow, your mouse is very ______________________.

    1. cost-effective
    2. good value for money
    3. economical
    None of the above (as they say). I would use the word reliable.

    As london calling says, that conversation is more about quality than economy.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I only change the batteries every six months.
    I didn't add the definite article because I thought adding it would change the meaning. I probably still don't quite understand the usage of this "change + plural noun" phrase. If you said to me "I changed phones last week", I'd assume you replaced your old phone with a new one. But if you said "I changed the phones last week", I'd be surprised and say "I didn't know you had two phones".

    But I would find it odd to say that the mouse is economical because it has never needed to be repaired:
    As london calling says, that conversation is more about quality than economy.
    I suppose so. I probably should have used an advanced air conditioner or something as an example that your friend had given to you for free without mentioning it's price and had dramatically reduced your monthly electricity bills. In this case, I think you can say "This air conditioner is very economical" but not "This air conditioner is very good value for money" (because you don't know how much the air conditioner cost) or "The air conditioner is very cost-effective".

    and the 'expensive' one I have now - designed for gamers, like my son - I have had for five years or more) and that the batteries last for years, not six months..;)
    Damn! I have a super-efficient MadCatz wireless gaming mouse but the battery lasts only for a couple of months and I've had it repaired twice within the last five years! :mad::D (I use it for general purpose, since I don't play games.)
     
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