you get what you pay for

Inexpensive goods or services are likely to be inferior, as in That vacuum cleaner fell apart in a year—I guess you get what you pay for, or The volunteers take three times as long with the mailing, but you get what you pay for. This economic observation probably dates from ancient times but is disputed by those who do not equate high price with high quality.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.