Good Deals 2019

Sunday, July 14, 2019

This chain of events started off on one of those long nights I was spending at the care home, staying up all night next to my Dad during his final weeks. I couldn’t watch TV or play any kind of sound, nor did I want to put headphones on. I was there for Dad, and wanted to be alert. I sat there browsing my phone, mainly as a way to keep distracted from the gravity of his situation.

Talking to my friend Mark about sound systems, and the nuance of fidelity and connections, got me browsing the Facebook trading groups. One unit caught my eye - it was a Samsung 5.1 Blu-ray based sound system, listed as defective. Apparently the owner’s daughter had been opening and closing the disc tray for fun, and it had eventually stuck closed. This wouldn’t matter to me, because as long as the device would play audio from an external source over a digital connection, I could live without the disc tray.

Forty dollars later, and thanks again to Mark for running an errand for me to pick it up, it was mine. Other than the noted issue, it seemed to work well when I got it home and plugged it in. I took it apart easily, in case there was some way I could fix it, but couldn’t see any way to get the drive to open at all. Nothing looked broken or out of place, but that thing was stuck solid.

So, with nothing to lose, I gave it some welly. By giving it more force than I felt comfortable with, I managed to pull the disc tray out! It was now rolling free. After putting it all back together, I was 50/50 about whether I’d broken the drive entirely, but a negative outcome wouldn’t have made anything worse. As it turned out, the device now functions flawlessly, opening and closing, and reading all sorts of discs without error.

Good Deal #1

Getting on this track got me hooked on wheeling dealing. I looked around for a TV to upgrade my lounge, to make it more suitable for social viewing and gaming events.

Remember the Veon TV I reviewed last year? It’s still going well. Interestly, unlike most other brands, the budget Veons come with a full 3 year warranty. Someone in the Hutt Valley was selling a 65” Veon that had developed an issue - a thin seam of light down the middle. It was a 2016 model, so I was reasonably sure it was still in its warranty period. I messaged the seller to make sure they still had the receipt - the TV was originally ordered online, so he was able to print out a copy for me. The seller was asking $500 for it, but me feeling cheeky, I offered $350.

It was accepted!

The next time I was down that way, Mark and I went in his car and picked up the TV, and then immediately dropped it off at my local Warehouse store for a warranty claim. I was unsure if my claim would go through, but after about an hour of sorting out paperwork the store took the TV away for an inspection and repair.

Good Deal #2

Knowing that I had a giant TV coming home at some point, I went searching for some way of mounting it. I looked into wall mounting - it would work well, but it’s a fairly permanent solution. Plus an array of cables dangling down the wall doesn’t look good. A cabinet would be nice, but just having something as big as a 65” TV resting on top of the cabinet felt like it would be rather unsafe.

Again, looking at the used listings, I came across a compromise - a cabinet with a fully built-in mount stand at the rear to secure a TV to - far safer than free-standing it. The seller was asking for $150, but I got him down to $100. I was happy, especially knowing the shop price of a new one is around $799 right now.

Good Deal #3

I went around to pick up the stand, and it was in really good condition. Unfortunately there was no way it was fitting in my little Mazda. Mark again to the rescue! He kindly picked it up in his small, but surprisingly roomy, car.

On Wednesday I received a call from the TV store. My TV was deemed uneconomical to repair, so I needed to head into the store to sort things out.

I expected to be offered a gift card of some value, or maybe another refurbished replacement. At a stretch, possibly a new unit of the same model.

Nope, I was given a full refund of the original purchase price - $1000. I had just gained $650, given that I had purchased the TV a few days before for $350.

I still wanted a new TV, but with no good sales in The Warehouse or anywhere else I opted to wait. Now it’s Friday, and once again I’m browsing online, this time on TradeMe. I noticed something interesting - someone was selling a 65” Veon TV, 8 months old, barely used and still with the box. She was asking $680. I offered $650, and they accepted.

Good Deal #4

See what happened there? I got a near new, still under warranty, 65” 4K TV for…

Free! Well, other than the cost of all of this wheeling and dealing!

I’m here now, waiting on Mark. He has kindly offered to come and pick up the TV in his car just hours after I purchased it. The guy is amazing, did I ever say that? Between these errands and helping me with the death of my father, he is just such a kind, generous and good friend. I’d offer to paint his house, but he knows too well the many ways I’d screw that up. I hope I can help him out some day.

These deals all relied a lot on sheer luck. At any step in the process it could've all fallen apart. The first TV might have outright died and not have been claimable under warranty, the sound system could have not worked at all with a failed drive, and I could have been without transport to get any of it to my house.

Kenny Rogers was right when he sang about knowing when to hold ‘em and when to roll them, but even the best gambler must always be aware of the risks involved. These deals turned out amazing, but could have all hit the fan with a slight tweak to reality.