Should You Pay For Assembly When You Purchase Furniture?

I'm an intelligent person.  I've spent quite a few years on this planet already.  I have a college degree and I consider myself capable.  When I moved out of my parents' house into my first apartment, I saved money by purchasing ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture and I single-handedly assembled my bedroom dresser, nightstand and entertainment center.  

Without power tools.

I read the directions, followed them, and did it myself.  My hands were blistered and sore for quite a while afterward, but I did it myself.  

Earlier this summer I decided to purchase an RTA bookshelf from a catalog.  It's a nice-looking piece that I've been considering buying for quite some time.  I was waiting for it to go on sale, but finally realized that this catalog doesn't do sales.  So I bit the bullet and coughed up the money for it.  It's a small corner bookshelf with 6 shelves.  How hard can it be for someone who put together three pieces of large furniture?  (Wait for it.......)

I spread out the pieces on my family room floor, counted everything to make sure I had it all and inspected the pieces for damage.  AOK!  Now to get started.  It says all I need is a screwdriver and a rubber mallet.  Got it.  I'm ready.  I pulled out the directions, only to find that they're just pictures.  I HATE THAT!!!!!  GIVE ME WORDS to go with the pictures!!!


I take a deep breath and start again.  Picture #1 is pretty easy to understand.  I put the dowels in the pre-drilled holes and I try to mount the shelf to the back panel as shown, but it doesn't work quite right.  The pegs don't fit in the holes.  I go to Picture #2, hoping for some clarification, but I can't understand Picture #2 because there are so many lines and arrows all over the place that I can't follow it.

I tell myself I can do this without directions - after all, it's just 2 back panels, the shelves and a top and a bottom.  It should be pretty obvious how it all goes together.  


After several attempts to get the shelves to fit correctly and trying to hold the shelves and the back together all at the same time by myself, I discover that it doesn't work with only two hands.  (And did I mention it was 90 degrees this day and my house is sweltering because we haven't turned on the air conditioning yet?)  At this point I'm ready to throw this thing right through the patio doors.  I got up and walked away to clear my head.  I reminded myself of my success in my younger years and assured myself that I could do this.  

Attempt #4 was no more successful than attempts #1-3.  I'm hot and have lost all patience. I go to the kitchen, where my better half is sitting at the kitchen table.  I hear "Do you want help?"  "Yes" I replied, "I'm about to throw this through the window!"

So now two of us are working on this simple little bookcase and neither one of us can completely understand the directions. (My spouse is a college graduate as well.....)  My spouse looks at the pegs that I said wouldn't fit into the holes and informs me that they are a "press fit" and you use the rubber mallet to pound them in.  I had been wondering about the mallet.  The instructions have pictures of using the screwdriver, but no pictures whatsoever showing me when or where to use the mallet. The two of us work on this - one holding the pieces while the other pounds with the mallet.  We get the shelves all pounded into place on the first back piece, rotate it to do the other side, pound the other side and...Viola!  

Except that now, the first side of all the shelves has pulled away from the back.  Start again.  Pound the first side back into place so it's flush and move to the second side.  Get the second side flush.  Look at the first side - it's pulled away again.  It's like watching the Three Stooges.  We got so frustrated that we just walked away and went out to dinner.  After dinner we tried again.  All told, it took us about 4 hours to put this blasted thing together.  I'm so glad it's done!  I just want to clean up the garbage on the floor, put it in the corner and get a cold drink.  Then, as I lay on the floor reaching in between the shelves to peel off the stickers (which, by the way, weren't easily removable), I see that the back isn't flush after all and I have a sizeable gap with light shining through it. AAARGGHHHH!!!

I decided to leave it as is.  It's going to sit backed up to the corner of the room and get filled with books and magazines and mail.  Nobody who comes in my house is going to examine it the way I did or notice the gap.  I'm hot, I'm sweaty and I'm fed up with the whole thing.

Now for the million dollar question - why did I tell you this story?  To save you time, money and aggravation.  Yes, RTA furniture is less expensive than case goods and yes, you may have warehouse personnel who may be able to put it together, but remember that time is money.  RTA isn't always easy to put together and the cost to pay your staff to put it together when they're not familiar with it will almost always be more than the cost to pay a professional to do it.

Office Express has a team of experienced professional installers who know the product like the backs of their hands.  They will assemble and install your furniture quickly and efficiently, put it right where you want it and clean up the area when they're done.

Trust me - it's worth it.


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