Neil White: Why is it so hard to find an honest and reliable tradesman?
I HAVE always believed in supporting the local economy.
Thus, my current car is a Toyota Avensis. It is my third – I bought my first seven years ago when I joined the Derby Telegraph.
Years ago, when I worked in Birmingham, I drove a Rover, just like my dad.
He has always been big on making sure his hard-earned cash goes into the hands of local people.
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It's a trait I have inherited, although, until now, I haven't had enough disposable income to really make a difference.
Luckily for me, times have changed and I have a decent job (as does Mrs W) and our children are grown up.
I give thanks every day for the good health we have and our wonderful life.
Therefore, I am keen for others to share in our good fortune. Actually, this is only partially true.
The fact is I am hopeless at DIY, don't really have the time to look after our garden properly and neither of us can stand ironing.
So I am happy to pay people to carry out these jobs for us.
However, we have been utterly gobsmacked at how difficult it has been to find reliable tradesmen.
A couple of months back, we needed a decorator to put up some wallpaper and paint our bedroom.
He started the work and then for three weeks he left it unfinished.
Bleary-eyed every morning, I had to run an obstacle course of pasting table, brushes, buckets and a strange device which squeezes the substance which fills holes in walls.
At first we felt sorry for the decorator because we were told he had been ill.
But then he would arrive at the house at 9.30am, give a lame excuse about needing more paper and not appear again until the next day.
He finally finished the job, so we set about finding a carpet.
We were very happy with the one we picked but, sadly, a month later, it still hasn't been delivered.
This would not have been too bad if the fitters had called to inform us of progress.
Sadly, they haven't. Every time they have given us a date of delivery they have simply not rung us. When we have called them, they have given different excuses for a delay.
This week, because we were both busy at work, Mrs W organised someone to do our ironing.
He agreed to return it on Monday. Then Wednesday. It finally arrived on Thursday at 8.30pm.
Oh, did I mention the chap who is meant to be fixing our shower door? He couldn't fulfil his arranged appointment on Wednesday evening because he had to go Christmas shopping with his wife!
It took us ages to find a reliable gardener and even though we have now found one who does very professional work, he doesn't always turn up when he says he will.
I reiterate that I am willing to pay a fair rate for a good job and will recommended those who impress but so many have failed to do so.
At such difficult times, I find poor customer care baffling. Surely, the workmen would have wanted repeat business and word-of-mouth publicity.
Sadly, all they did was make me wonder whether I shouldn't just get off my backside and do the jobs myself. Heaven help us.