Having worked in the sign industry for a bit, and owning my own shop with my wife for nearly a decade, here's my take on it (forgive any rants...):
Expense is relative, using run of the mill, cheap vinyl from ebay will cause problems, in installation, vinyl life and removeablity. Low price isn't the way to go. (ask him to price a pair of replacement faces...) Even higher cost cast vinyl can cause issues, there is vinyl made for illuminated sign faces, that allows plastics to outgas, and will typically be removable for several years. Not using this vinyl will eventually result in the aforementioned issues, at the least.
Much like photography, the sign industry has taken a major hit, from $300 cutters on ebay being sold to people that have no clue, to established shops realizing that the business has become a race to the bottom in most markets today. Personally, after investing upwards of $30k in equipment (in my case, 4 times that...)and a decade learning numerous arcane skills (glass gilding or pinstriping anyone???) as well as understanding what materials work best in which circumstances, would you want to make $20 for what amounts to 30 to 45 minutes of work, and takes you away from a higher paying job?
Or look at it this way, an inkjet print costs ~$1.00 or so a square foot, give or take on my 8300 using Lexjet E-satin, so using that same idea, I should be selling prints for around $2.00 a square foot? Maybe, if one totally ignores equipment amortization, fixed costs and profits (!), or as I refer to it, running a business as a business and not a hobby.
Do you really think that a business that charges a fair price, warranties their work and product, and operates a business as a business can exist long term by aiming to be the cheapest in their market? the Wal-Marts of the world have created this attitude of cheaper is better, without qualifying the reality of long term viablity, or the lack thereof.