27 January 2015

Tradesmen

Tradesmen? You know - electricians, plumbers, bathroom fitters - people like that. Invariably they are men and when you find a good, reliable one he is worth his weight in gold. The demeanour and attitude of some tradesmen give me the impression they their opinions of themselves are as lofty as their bills. Their hourly rates are usually way above what a teacher or a practice nurse might hope to earn.

In 2013, we got a fellow in to revamp our downstairs shower room. He came highly recommended but in spite of charging the earth for his work, he left various problems behind. The light above the sink was upside down and off centre but I was able to sort that out myself. The expensive new bi-fold door for the shower cubicle was put in the wrong way round. His tiling was pretty good but he moaned that he couldn't complete the little column of small marble accent tiles because of their gravitational slide so I had to finish that off myself. But the worst thing of all is that the lavatory leaked. I got him back three times to address that problem but he never did sort it out properly and even had the gall to suggest that the leak was in our imagination. How can a little puddle of water be imaginary?

My friend Big Mick - a retired plumber - kindly sorted out the wrongly fitted cubicle door and tried his best to solve the leaking lavatory problem. In the end we reckoned that the original bathroom fitter may have caused a hairline crack at the back of  the porcelain unit.

So I had to get somebody else in to fit a second close-coupled lavatory. Oh Good Lord! Finding that man was such a mission. For example, one recommended plumber came to check out the job and after much humming and harring said he could do the job when he returned from a week's holiday in Wales. He would phone me. Trouble is he didn't and when I phoned him he said he had taken on two big central heating jobs so he wouldn't after all be able to fit our new lavatory before Christmas.

And there were others who made promises but didn't keep them. Didn't reply to emails or answerphone messages. Said they'd turn up at a particular time but didn't. Said they'd get back to me in the evening but didn't. I was starting to think we had been blacklisted by The Tradesmen's Mafia until I finally got in touch with Dan Campbell. He came to check out the job the next day and by the end of the week the toilet was in - at a fair price and what is more important - it wasn't leaking.

Dan could teach the rest of his "profession" a hell of a lot about how to deal with customers - providing good service at fair prices and keeping promises. I mean how would these tradesmen react if they turned up at Shirley's health centre and she turned them away with lame excuses - "Yeah, I can see you've got a severe chest infection but I 've got a lot on at the moment, I'll be in touch."  And how would they feel if their child's teacher said, "There are thirty others in his class. I am afraid I haven't got time to help him with his Maths. I might be able to fit him in next month but I'm not promising anything."

20 comments:

  1. That's all so disappointing, so frustrating; and so anger making!

    I have to ask. "Do you have any hair left?" (I'm not sure if you had any to start with, but I'm sure even if you only had a couple of strands they no longer remain)!

    I hate to say it...perhaps you should look around for a female tradeswoman! Okay! Okay! I'm leaving now. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tradeswoman? In spite of TV and cinema attempts to suggest otherwise, in my experience they are as rare as hen's teeth. For your information I still have a flowing mane to protect the Pudding cranium from beaming sunshine.

      Delete
  2. So I see that tradesmen are alike the world over!! Occasionally we run across an honest, reliable one that stands behind his work, but as you say they are rare and worth their weight in gold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate getting anybody in. I have always liked to do as much as I can myself.

      Delete
  3. Yep, it sounds like tradesmen are the same the world over! We have sorted through a fair few in order to come up with a list of reliable ones we can call. We find Plumbers are usually the worst- worst at their job, worst at being reliable, worst at charging a fortune. In fact I think some of the dumbest tradesmen in the world are plumbers! Make sure you have your Dan's contact number saved in more than one place so when you need him for an emergency you can find it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sexist or racist but like you Helen I have to admit to being plumbist. Apart from Dan, all plumbers should go back where they came from - some dark, damp cave that smells of bats.

      Delete
  4. Oh, yeah. My husband is a builder, though in recent years he mainly does remodels & repairs. (He hates plumbing, by the way.....) WE can't find reliable people to do anything and he knows most of the ones who work in the local area! In our experience, sheetrockers are the worst. In our own house, which we built ourselves, we hired out the sheetrock. They rocked over outlets, they spat tobacco juice all over my new floors, they worked only a couple days a week, never showed up on Fridays or Mondays.....and on it went. They finally quit showing up at all and we found out later that the 'boss' was in jail! We do everything on our place ourselves now. Well, everything that we actually do......if you know what I mean :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sheetrocker? I have never come across this word before. Is he a bit like a bedrocker - a gigolo? Why did you need gigolos when you already have a nice husband who is good at digging clams? Crazy Yanks!

      Delete
  5. Your complaint is a common one. The last thing we took in to be fixed came back with more problems than it went in with. That's why I do mos of my stuff myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We should hire thugs to beat up tradesmen who let us down or make them answer in a court of law.

      Delete
  6. I fitted a new water closet and mine leaked. I had to go to B&Q and get a little leaflet that explained how the job should be done. I then had to get my local plumber in to fix it. It cost me five pints and a couple of packets of cigarettes. It was only a little leak and I could have lived with it but management wasn't having that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet the plumber was leaking after five pints!

      Delete
  7. Thankfully, my experience with tradesmen is very limited. In the 11 yeras I have been living in this flat, no major repairs have been necessary, and most of the minor ones were done by my husband who was very good at such things. Now that he is not there any longer, I sometimes need professional help, for instance to replace the cord on a blind. My sister knew someone and gave me the number. The man was there exactly when he said he would be, did what he needed to, and the bill was not extraordinarily high.
    The only plumber I know personally has been at my place twice for minor jobs. He is from southern Italy and likes to complain about his home country where his line of work paid so poorly he was not able to provide for the family without taking on illegal jobs, which he did not want. We had espresso together and chatted a bit and it was nearly as much a social visit than a professional job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The tradesmen you mention were clearly entranced by your feminine wiles. Were you wearing your cheetah print catsuit?

      Delete
  8. I know a lady who was having an extension built and she came home early from work one day to find all the builders having a game of cricket in the back garden.

    Our plumber isn't too bad but we always have to wait until he's had a week's holiday in his Spanish apartment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A plumber with a Spanish apartment? In the past they'd be grateful for a week in a caravan at Withernsea! Our electrician has a private jet and flies to Las Vegas most weekends - unless he's skiing in The Dolomites or visiting his beach villa in St Lucia where he meets up with other tradesmen at "The Ripemoff Arms". Talk about laughing all the way to the bank!

      Delete
  9. I pretty much agree with your observations and would like to add horseshoers to the list of professions where the "professionals" have no business sense. Also, I DID pretty much hear excuses from teachers when Bob was in public school, which is why we had to take him out when he was behind in math and reading. His teacher at the Waldorf school, where teachers make considerably less money, said, "We can get him up to speed in math in an hour after school for a week." And so she did.

    I consider myself to have had a "trade" job for 40 years. For the last 5 of those I spent a good deal of time rewriting things for people with PhDs in education. I don't consider trades an inferior job, but like anything else those jobs need to be done with expertise and honesty. I love my Ukrainian carpenter and my Californian electrician because they are good at their jobs and honest about what it will take in time and money to accomplish their work. That kind of relationship works both ways. Tradespeople often work by the job. I keep a "to do" list so that when mine are out of work they can call and my little jobs can fill in their down time.

    One more thing...the tradesmen who used to drive me crazy were auto repairmen. Since I've had a Toyota, I only go to the Toyota dealership where I got the car. They are also reliable and tell me up front what kind of work is involved and how much it will cost. I have become their loyal customer because they treat me well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. Car mechanics! I forgot to berate them. Like most other car owners, I have had numerous bad experiences with those guys but recently my local SEAT dealership has provided excellent service at acceptable prices.

      Delete
  10. Whilst in many ways agreeing with you I would make the point that because a tradesman charges more per hour than a teacher may get he has all his own overheads to account for and they are substantial. I've been fortunate until a heating engineer and plumber moved in opposite me I had the same plumbing company doing my home and business work that I didn't do myself for 36 years. I have a similar arrangement with the glazier/joinery company (who even replaced my conservatory when it was destroyed in a hurricane in 2005 and I couldn't find anyone else to do it). Ditto electricians. Perhaps you should relocate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I have an update to this comment. My central heating is seriously playing up and I'm almost without central heating. My neighbour is so busy he's talking of March before he'll be able to do anything.

      Delete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.