Danny - I think the blog itself has enough in it to make my points. The work was done cash-only, suggesting that it was off-the-books (a not uncommon practice). It led to problems. My strong suspicion is that the price included very little tube polishing, but that the particular frameset was made with tubes that were more nicely finished than the classic Reynolds and Columbus, and with (??) precision-cast lugs that had been reasonably finished.
Other problems that I've seen (on a frame we had done) included improper drainage, which led to a seat stay rotting through from the inside several years later.
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Are you both certain that what you're positing is always true? I see here, a photo of an aftermarket nickel plate job, with a cost of $160 done in 8/06, that loks remarkably lovely: