As a lad, I was an avid taper. My friends were into taping music off of FM, or dubbing albums. Always the oddball, I was recording old time radio adventures. In Chicago, we're still lucky enough to have a radio show devoted to those old time classics like "Jack Benny" and "Suspense". My friends and I would argue the merits of various brands of recording tape, which had the best sound quality, which had the roomiest labels... I went through countless Maxell UR60's (since those old time radio shows tended to have low fidelity, I could get away with using normal formulation tape). Those tapes had a cleaning strip at the head of every tape, and if you watched the sale papers, you could catch them for a buck a piece (in 1980's money...).
If money was low, I'd sometimes cast my eye over the cheaper tape brands. ToneMaster was the house brand of national pharmacy chain Walgreens. They were quite cheap (sometimes you could get 10 for $3.00), looked cheap, were often packed in a plastic bag without protective cases, and most disappointingly sounded like death warmed over. A few times, I'd try to brave the odds, hoping that somehow ToneMaster tapes had improved. If the tape didn't snap or tangle, it was frequently significantly degraded within a few plays. The tape deck frequently needed cleaning after a ToneMaster playback. There was even an attempt to upgrade the image of ToneMaster by individually shrinkwrapping the cassettes each in a protective case, and upping the price. Still just awful.
If you mention ToneMaster tapes today, pretty much everyone is in on the joke. The name has been reduced to a punchline on cassette enthusiasts message boards. If the rotten audio weren't enough, there was always the fear that this inferior tape was actually harming your tape deck. Shoddy quality like this ToneMaster cassette is what made me welcome recordable optical media. Those times I had to use cheap audio cassettes or VHS tapes, I feared the irreparable damage I might be doing to my equipment. No matter how lousy a blank CD-R or a DVD-R might be, at least you're not wrecking your gear by using one.
I do still look for bargains, and I'm not afraid to test out an off brand product in search of a great deal. However ToneMaster has taught me that just because it fits into a cassette deck doesn't make it a particularly good thing to have in there. Sometimes a bargain can actually end up being quite costly.