Comparing gasoline to a generator is not valid.
Using your logic everyone should purchase
the lowest priced goods or services.
Actually it is VERY good logic. you buy gas and it does not have to be a certain brand to work well.
That's because gasoline has to meet certain quality standards in order to be sold in the USA. Most Americans buy gasoline so often that if someone sold truly bad gas, word would get around and they'd be out of business fast.
Generators are a completely different story. Particularly ones that aren't used a lot.
You do not need to pay a 3x premium in price to get reliable gas and same for a reliable generator. The quality of many generators is quite good and Honda motors are no longer the preferred motor for name brand top end commercial generators. Now it is Vanguard (built by a Toyota owned company in Japan for Briggs) as motor of choice with a superb track record and Subaru up there now too. Plus as stated before some units even use Honda motor clones that will interchange parts fully with Honda motors and are made in China and cost far less. There was a time long ago when Honda had little competition but that time is long passed.
The mere fact that a knock-off part will interchange doesn't mean it's as good as a part made by the original manufacturer. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't; you don't really KNOW until it's done. And then it may be too late.
The fact that you may have had good luck with a small number of generators of a certain origin doesn't mean they're all good. Even the worst suppliers can usually make at least some good ones. The important question is how a large sample performs.
Of course in some things it doesn't matter all that much. In some things, if you get a bad one, you just take it back or throw it away, and go on to the next. But when you buy something for emergency use, you don't want to find out that it's no good when you really, really need it and there are no stores open.
A good example is glass transmitting tubes. There was a time when Eimac 3-500Zs, RCA 811As and Cetron 572Bs were pretty much standard for US hams. We bought 'em, they worked, and they were all pretty much the same. Occasionally a bad one would show up but they were few and far between.
The "clone" tubes you can get now are a very different story. Sure, some good ones get through, but a lot are no good right from the factory, and others have short life in service. Many suppliers deal with the problem by testing them in their own facilities - because they can't trust the manufacturer.
There is also the fact that Honda and some others have seen fit to build factories here in the USA and do at least some manufacturing here. That pushes the price up, because Americans tend not to work for slave wages - yet. You may not care about this - but you should, because it will affect you sooner or later. The current Great Recession is due in part to our long-term exportation of jobs and industries to low-wage countries. We're losing the "race to the bottom".
73 de Jim, N2EY