I, too, have spent my entire adult life in marketing, design, advertising & copy. I used to do copy & paste when that meant scissors & glue.
When people use the phrase ‘don’t be ripped off’ it says more about them than it does about anyone else. People who are drawn to that kind of pitch aren’t the people you want to work with anyway. They will never appreciate what you bring to the table.
That said — a lot of people probably *should* start out with a cheap logo. Particularly if they are a new untested business.
Twitter started out with a stock photo as their logo. When they grew, they got a custom logo so that someone else couldn’t go pay the same $20 to buy their logo on a stock photo site.
Fact is, a professional logo isn’t going to help or save a business that was never well positioned to begin with. But a business that started out putting their money into the stuff that matters, and sees some growth — once they realize their idea is viable and they take it seriously, that’s when they need you.