Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell you the tale of the frugal TV stand that magically got cheaper.
Once upon a time…
Once upon a time there was a frugal blogger who hated her TV stand with an irrational passion.
The frugal blogger had been happy to get it for free — but she never would’ve have chosen it herself. It was wood grain (which she’d never liked) and only 19″ tall. It looked short even before the TV was mounted on the wall. After that, it just looked silly.
And so she hated the stand for years, but she did nothing about it. There were simply too many other things that needed fixing. But after eight years she reached the breaking point. She couldn’t handle the stand any longer and decided it was finally time to get a stand that she liked.
Actually, she wanted something she more than just “liked.” She wanted a nice stand. She was determined to get something that you’d see in a real grown-up’s house. The type of thing bought by people who use words like “decor” and “tie the room together.”
In other words, she wanted a piece that might get her mistaken for an actual adult (with good taste).
The new stand
After much searching, she found the perfect replacement on Amazon. It was lovely, tall enough for a wall-mounted TV and made of real wood. (Well, pine with veneer, but still…)
She threw herself into earning SB and exchanged those for $25 Amazon gift cards every time she had enough. After three months, she finally had enough in her Amazon account to pay for the whole things.
Well, almost the whole thing. The frugal blogger forgot to account for sales tax, but she figured that $21 for the TV stand (and getting it assembled) was a pretty good deal.
Yep, she decided to give herself the huge luxury of having someone else put the stand together for her.
Let the professionals handle it
The frugal blogger was no stranger to assembling furniture herself. She’d done a desk, countless bookcases and a few other assembly-required pieces. But this stand was a little different.
Despite positive reviews, people reported a few problems:
- It took up to four hours to put together. (Due to her fatigue issues, she was good for about 90 minutes.)
- It greatly helped to have a second person to the point that it was hard to put the top on alone. (Her husband’s back was too bad to ask him to sit on the floor and help.)
- The veneer could scratch easily. (She was something of a klutz.)
But most of all, she was worried about the pre-drilled holes. Four reviews mentioned a couple of holes not being drilled deeply enough. The people had to redrill — an option she didn’t have.
So she decided to make someone else deal with the potential headache.
Don’t let the professionals handle it?
Sure, it was weird to have a stranger over to put the piece together for her. But he seemed nice enough, even if he did bring his son (or nephew or something) along to help, which as a little weird.
They were pretty efficient right up until the end, when the frugal blogger’s worries turned out to be justified: There weren’t any holes drilled for the backing to get screwed on.
Now, there are three routes the handyman could’ve taken in this situation:
- Tell her so she could decide whether to ask for a replacement, or
- Drill holes first, then use the screws, or
- Just screw the backing in without any holes (aka “the stupid way”)
As you probably guessed, the handyman chose the stupid way. Miraculously, it worked… Except along one shelf. That split in each of the three places the screws went.
The splits were relatively minor (and in shadow) so no one even noticed at first. When they were discovered, the handyman apologized profusely, backed the screws out (thereby settling the wood slightly), then carefully put the screws back in.
Unfortunately, the splits were still visible. Well, “visible” assuming you knew what you were looking for and the lighting was particularly good. But the point is that they were there. She wanted something (at least briefly) perfect, but the stand was marred by the time it was completed.
Resolving the issue
The handyman, still apologizing, called Amazon Home Services to find out the next step. The frugal blogger was told to call customer service about a replacement, but the handyman had a different idea: Since the damage was minimal, why not just ask for a discount?
She knew that he was right. Once the optional shelf went in, not to mention some electronics, the splits would be impossible to see. For all intents and purposes, they didn’t exist. But she would know they were there; she would know the TV stand was imperfect from the get-go.
Still, the dog and cat would probably have marred the thing pretty soon anyway. At least by accepting a discount the frugal blogger could benefit from a damaged TV stand.
The decision was made infinitely easier by two facts. One, customer service confirmed that she’d have to disassemble, box up and ship off the original. Two, Amazon offered 40% off.
And so the frugal blogger received $100 back to her Amazon balance. A quick call to Home Services got the cost of the assembly ($63) back to her account too.
In the end, the TV stand was $162 after tax, and only $21 was out of pocket. After cash back (which yes, she was still getting for some reason), the net cost was $3.
So the moral of the story, kids, is that being doomed to imperfection can be a wonderfully frugal thing.
Do you have a frugal imperfection story? Oh, and the obligatory pics:
If you crouch down, push the electronics out of the way and shine a flashlight into the stand, you can kinda see the corner split in the back:
But here’s what people actually see: