Unfortunately, dollar stores are an everyday necessity for some Americans and their families. But can it be possible to get quality goods of any kind for such a low price? Or is it, instead, a false economy where you’ll just end up spending more in the end?
Dollar Tree actually operate two business models. Buy in store, and you can get singles of anything for a dollar. Buying online, though, is different. When buying online, as long as you’re willing to buy in bulk volumes, every single item does cost just $1. By bulk, we’re not talking thousands, or even hundreds. In many cases, a dozen or two is all that you will be required to buy. You can’t, in most circumstances buy singles online.
The same is true of the phone chargers and cables available at Dollar Tree. In store you can buy a single charger or cable for a dollar. Online, you buy a case of 24, and it will cost $24. These are the things you will see on eBay for 4 or 5 dollars. A cheap charger for the customer, an easy profit for the seller. But how good can anything be which has been made, packaged, shipped (probably from China), and sold for just $1?
Put simply, you won’t see brands of chargers at Dollar Tree that are instantly recognizable. The standard brand is E-Circuit which, although you will see on the likes of Amazon, is actually a Dollar Tree brand.
It is, to be honest, always best to use a manufacturer’s own charger, as contained in the box when you buy the phone. But if you need a replacement, there are several brands which will do the job. We’re just not sure E-Circuit is one of them.
When electronic products are being sold by the manufacturer for a few cents, there’s no way they’ve used quality components. In their defense, it’s not like they use cheap components and charge a lot for them. You literally are getting what you pay for. Open up any cheap charger or check the connectors on any cable, and you will see how poor they can be. Dollar Tree chargers are no exception. That’s not to say that some aren’t perfectly usable, just that quality control probably wasn’t the biggest concern coming off the production line.
Tests have been run on the plastics used in the manufacture of E-Circuit products, and many have found to have high levels of chlorine. While not harmful in handling or general use. Should cables or other components get hot enough, fumes are a distinct possibility. Chlorine fumes are extremely hazardous to health and, in some circumstances, can be fatal.
Soldering and just the general standard of how they are put together is also questionable. Looking at a few E-Circuit products physically broken down, they all resemble home projects. Again, we’re not suggesting they won’t work, but ongoing confidence levels aren’t high.
The general pattern with cheap cables of any kind is that, if they work at all, they might not work for long. Looking around, and from our own experience, more Dollar Tree chargers work than don’t. Some, though, get uncomfortably and suspiciously hot. It is these which tend to just stop working after a while. It’s likely that the cheap components and cheap assembly can’t withstand heat too well, so something gives out.
Those that do work, and continue to do so, actually do a reasonable job. They’re no faster or slower than what you’d expect. We can’t really speak to whether they continue to perform in the long term, but there’s probably no reason not to spend a dollar on an emergency cable and leave it in the car/laptop bag or wherever.
Nowadays, it would be reasonable to expect all cables and chargers to conform to certain standards. Products have to carry stamps or include declarations of conformance, and all E-Circuit products do. However, conforming is a momentary thing. There’s no saying the charger won’t stop conforming at any time. This, again, is a confidence issue. We probably wouldn’t have the same confidence in a Dollar Tree charger as we would in the manufacturer’s charger.
We keep mentioning confidence, and that’s really the crux of any decision to use a dollar charger. Assuming your Dollar Tree charger works when you first try it, you’re on a winner. In fact, for a dollar, you can buy half a dozen and still be in pocket over a better known brand.
We also said earlier, and we can only emphasize it again, you’re buying a charger or cable for $1. If you expect to get more than a dollar’s worth, then you need to shop elsewhere. However, if you’re happy to accept that some may not work, or not work properly at least, then go nuts.
If money is especially tight, then there’s no question that anything for a dollar is great value. If necessary, try and check if the cable works before leaving the store. This will save a trip back if it does turn out to be faulty.
You might get what you pay for, but paying so little makes that a little bit easier.