Every day in our consumer-driven society, we are faced with choices involving quality versus price.
Yes, I could buy the dress from Primark … under subdued lighting I might get away with it; but for sure I will feel much happier and more confident in the model with a higher price tag and a recognisable label. The cut will be more flattering, the fabric of a higher quality and I know that it won´t burst open at the seams if I sneeze or sit down suddenly!
We all have certain standards regarding what will “make the cut” on the wardrobe front (personally I draw the line at plastic shoes, however stylish); but what happens when we are faced with more significant choices – like the cars we drive, the airlines we fly, and purchases relating to our health and well being.
In short: what price are we prepared to pay for safety?
For some of us it is a no brainer.
Jon Lee – I learned – specialises in highly sophisticated safety equipment designed to prevent accidents in industrial processes such as refineries, power plants and oil platforms around the world. As such, his work also features risk analysis and risk assessments before he can recommend the right safety equipment which would take over control should the process stray outside its parameters leading to an explosion or other catastrophe.
“If you’ve got the right safety systems in place then you are further diminishing the risk of human error.
“Obviously these safety improvements to a plant are going to cost money and some customers will question the necessity of paying for them.
“The other choices, in the case of a refinery, would be to switch it on and run the high risk of an accident; or not to switch it on at all and not make any money.
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“If you think that safety is expensive, try having an accident”, he reminds his global customers.
Working in this field, Jon finds weighing up the cost of “peace of mind” in other areas of his life, straightforward.
“I use the same philosophy: you get what you pay for in life. I believe that if you can afford to have the better things why not have them. What’s the point in economising – you’re not going to take it with you.
“If the choice is between a small cheap car from China and a highly-developed expensive car from Germany – everyone would consider the German model to be safer. Some people might be prepared to sacrifice safety for something cheaper – but not me.”
With this philosophy it is hardly surprising that, when Jon made the decision to have Laser Eye Surgery (after his frustrating High Street experiences), he selected the London Vision Clinic.
When we met at Paddington Station he told me how thrilled he is with the results.
“When I came here immediately after the operation I looked up at the departure board and pointed out to my wife (without thinking) that our train was from Platform 12.
They had both looked at each other and laughed when they realised that Jon could see the announcement boards clearly without glasses or contacts.
“Sometimes I forget and take this new sight for granted. Then, before going to bed, I think that I have forgotten to take out my contact lenses! It is lovely to realise that I don’t have to.”
He is also delighted with all the extra space in his bathroom cabinet, while the novelty of not having to pack all of his glasses and contact lens paraphernalia for business trips will take a very long time – if ever – to wear off.