That was absolutely true a decade ago and is still largely true today, but I'm pleased to say that some of the really good brands of tool manufacturer, now make a small selection of low cost, decent quality tools to encourage users to adopt their brand.
For normal pruning projects in the garden & professional work, I use my trusty Felco No.8 secateurs (above). I bought them and their holster as part of my first pay cheque from the fantastic Coolings Nurseries while working there and learning an immeasurable amount, way back in 1998. I have changed the blade twice over the years, but otherwise they are as they were when I bought them - cared for and cleaned regularly. They are a prized possession of mine and I hope, always will be.
Pro Tip - leave your secateurs open in the holster having first stretched it to snuggly grip them. This way they don’t fall out of the holster as closed secateurs do when you are hanging upside down or working inside large plants getting knocked around by branches.
I use the No. 8 model as it is a right-handed secateur designed to sit comfortably in the hand over longer periods of use. (below are some other styles) While these beautiful and inexpensive secateurs (when factored over the number of years of good use they will offer) are produced by the most famous name in secateurs and a horticultural industry standard, with a number of models on offer, they are more costly than most home gardeners will likely want to spend on 'snips'. In my experience, Felco have been often copied, but never equalled, often to disastrous effect. Other manufacturers produce excellent, sharp and hard-wearing secateurs; Niwaki, ARS and Fiskars all make excellent bladed tools for example. Most people find a brand they like and stick with it.
I was lucky enough to be sent a pair of secateurs by Fiskars last year. I have used Fiskars Shears for hedge trimming for years now and they remain sharp and in good order for longer than most brands in my experience. As well as that, the molded plastic handles are pretty comfortable to hold for prolonged periods of time (a must for all snips).
I specifically asked for the cheapest pair they offered to test quality. They sent me a pair of Fiskar 'Solid Bypass L' secateurs (as above GIF), which I have been using regularly ever since. The 'Solid' series is their budget range, though all of their secateurs are pretty good value I'd say. While I don't think the Solid Bypass L would survive industrial pruning projects, or commercial use in garden clearances, they definitely are well built enough and certainly sharp enough for most domestic gardening projects for years of use. Incredibly good in fact.
I have previously tried a £2.50 pair of secateurs in an emergency setting where I had forgotten to bring mine and these were the only available option. They cut poorly and lasted less than an hour before the cheap metal snapped. Like I said, you get what you pay for - most of the time. Clearly if you buy from the best brands and pay for their quality models, you should be fine for years to come. Buying cheap will remain a lottery, but if you know the brand do good work on their more expensive (though probably good value) products, the likelihood is that their cheaper products will still be decent.
Some useful Models of Felco Secateurs
Most people working in Horticulture opt for the No.2 Model Felco. They are great secateurs, but I personally prefer the handles on the No.8 Model.
Left handers generally use Felco No.9 secateurs, which seem to always be harder to get hold of than other models.
There is a right and a left-handed model of an unusual design that some people swear by and other hate using. I'm not a fan, but their supporters are very vocal. Models 7 (right-handed) and 10 (left handed) have a handle that swivels to reduce the effort required to close the secateurs. My advice on these would be to borrow a friends and try before you buy.
Final top tip is that regardless of which secateurs you buy and use, keep them clean, store them dry, oil regularly and sharpen the blade to maintain peak performance. Worth buying a sharpening stone akin to those below and designed specifically for secateurs too.
Please note, the links to Amazon are paid affiliate links. If you purchase the item from Amazon having used this link I will receive a small payment from them. It doesn't cost you anything and the item is priced as per the Amazon price. Thanks