Spitting mad (not MS)

My garden fence has been lying broken since one of the New Year gales.

Four panels were down.

I’ve got a fencing bloke I’ve used before, so I called him to get it fixed. He came round and did a quote, then said he and a mate would drop round one Saturday, to do it. Well, I’ve waited and I’ve waited…

Then, out of the blue, I got a call yesterday afternoon: “Are you going to be home this afternoon?” I wasn’t. College Wednesday afternoons.

My house has a side entrance, so I don’t have to be home for someone to access the back garden. So, much against my better judgement, I agreed he and a mate could come round and do it whilst I was at college. It was only four fence panels; what could go wrong?

Well, when I got home, I could not of course see the results, because it was dark.

But when I’ve had a look this morning, I’ve inexplicably got three 5’ panels, but one 6’. And this is in a row of 11 panels, so one is a foot taller! Absolutely ridiculous!

Obviously, had I been home, I would never have OK’ed this. I don’t know what to think: whether they didn’t order enough panels, and had to make do with a different one; whether they didn’t buy me new panels at all, but just recovered them from somewhere, so couldn’t make a matching four, or whether they damaged one during installation, and having no spare, had to substitute a different one.

I am not that fussy about achieving an exact match - if I had been, I’d have replaced the whole 11 - at great expense. BUT, one panel being a foot higher than the rest just isn’t OK.

They haven’t even done the logical thing, and put the taller panel next to the house. Some people do that, for greater privacy, and it wouldn’t look quite so odd. But it’s the one right down at the bottom - so ten 5’ panels in a row, then a 6’ one.

I’m so stressed. I thought I’d found a reliable workman, because he did a good job last time. Now I come home to this nonsense. And I’m annoyed with myself for bowing to pressure, and not insisting I was home when they did it, because obviously, had I been, I would have said: “Aye, aye: what’s up here? Why haven’t I got four matching panels?”

Why is it impossible to get a good workman? Or do they just think, when they see it’s a woman on her own, that they can try it on?

I really thought I wasn’t taking a big gamble by letting someone replace a few fence panels while I’m out. What would possess them to ever think substituting a panel of different size to all the rest was going to be acceptable?

So now I’ve got a confrontation looming, which I hate. I’m going to have to tell him to take the outsize panel away, and replace it with the proper size. And of course, then he’s going to want more money - which I don’t see why he should get, because it’s such a bizarre thing to have done in the first place - it should be his loss not mine. Luckily, he hasn’t had any money, yet, so I have the upper hand, for the moment - I can withhold payment until it’s fixed. There is so much else needs doing around the house. If I’d found somebody I thought I could rely on, there’s loads more I’d have him quote for. But obviously, now, I don’t feel comfortable commissioning him with anything bigger, because he hasn’t managed a simple thing like a fence without a problem.

Why is everything so stressful?

I’d really looked forward to coming home to a wonderfully fixed fence, and asking him to come back to to tackle the other jobs!


hey, sending u a hug and u take a deep breath, u know u will sort this out…

ellie x

I have to say, this would bother me…I have a bit of ocd in me…just a smidging :wink: I would definitely not pay him, until he puts it right. Put your firm and assertive head on. Good luck x


I wonder if these people would make do with this kind of half-arsed job if it was their own home ?

At least you can threaten to withhold payment until the job’s done to your satisfaction …and you can spell out that this has completely put you off engaging him for any future jobs !

As ellie says, deep breath…


Thanks Ellie & Blossom,

I don’t think it’s even particularly “OCD” to want fence panels to be uniform size, and not one taller. I feel I’ll be a laughing stock with the neighbours, when they see what I’ve ended up with.

I’ve just taken the coward’s way out, and e-mailed him, as I couldn’t face an argument on the phone.

I’ve said that it’s a clean and tidy job, but that the larger panel is not OK, and queried what happened. I’ve also said in no uncertain terms that I expect him to come back and replace it with one of the proper size.



In many ways I don’t like living in rented accommodation but not having to worry about workmen is worth its weight in gold. When I had my own house I used to dread getting jobs done because it was always problematic.

I lived in America for a while and it couldn’t have been more different. I don’t know what it was culturally but workmen couldn’t do enough to make you happy and regularly went the extra mile. Perhaps we British are just too reticent to complain and insist on a job well done. I hate confrontation myself and understand all too well how you are feeling Tina.


Sorry - thanks Dom, too - unable to keep up with the replies.

I agree - they wouldn’t put up with this at home, would they? They know I’m on a budget, and not that interested in fences - to the point of instisting on an exact match. So I guess they thought anything would do, as long as it’s cheap.

But I still expect the panels to look reasonably uniform - if only at first glance. Not one standing out like a sore thumb.


Hi Tina

This would bother me too BUT I think your approach is the right one for now. As he has been reliable in the past, there is a chance that he did damage a fence panel and for now thought putting a temporary one up would be okay. Maybe he fully intended to come back with a proper replacement anyway. I would have given him the benefit of the doubt for now and see what he said. I also hate confrontations - they make my insides churn but sometimes it is the only way.

Hopefully, this will all be resolved without you having to resort to fierce, warrior woman tactics (of which I am sure you are capable!). I live in rented accommodation and in my last property I had to put up with the worst carpenter EVER with no say in the matter as I didn’t pay for him. All the landlord ever said was ‘he does his best and we can’t get rid of him as he is registered disabled!!’ Grrrr! We all know that is utter clap trap!

Anyway, I digress. I hope your tradesmen gets back to you promptly and reassures you. Now go and eat chocolate and breathe

Tracey xx

Hi Tina,

I’ll add more hugs - more advice for a deep breath - more agreement that the one higher panel would annoy me or added emphasis that you without payment until it is fixed - and no extra payment either. He was paid to do a job and it has not been done.

And I second Jens advice on chocolate

Good luck hun

JBK xx

had you already paid him ? big mistake if so, paying them before the jobs done,they just take the mickey some of these people,it would have made me so annoyed too.

Well, the e-mail has worked!

He has claimed he mis-ordered, and was aware it “didn’t look right”, but as it was getting dark, he left it for the time being, and did intend to come back and replace it with a proper one.

He apologises for not having e-mailed to let me know of this plan…

As this explanation wasn’t forthcoming until after I’d complained, I still think it was a bit of a try-on, to see whether I’d just accept it. But it doesn’t look as if he’s going to make a fuss or demand more money.

I did hold out the carrot that as long as all is resolved amicably, and I can be confident I wouldn’t be left with a problem any time, there is still the potential for future work. So hopefully, he has an incentive to make sure I’m fully satisfied.

Thanks for all the comments and support. I absolutely hate anything like this.



PS, No Mrs. J - he hasn’t had any money up-front. If I had paid any up-front, the most I would have given was half, and the rest on completion. But as it is, he hasn’t had any at all, thank goodness, so I’ve got the winning hand: no fix = no payment.



Excellent news Tina :slight_smile:

Hi, glad its getting sorted. Do you ever wonder about the intelligence of some of these workers. I had my bathroom sink taps replaced and asked that they’d be the same design as the bath taps. When the plumber had done his work and gone under the supervision of my partner the taps didn’t match the bath taps. Only thing the same as the bath taps was that they had hot and cold on them. That must have been the criteria they’d used to make sure they matched ! Lynn

Oh Tina, that would drive me mad!!!

Why did he even start it if he realised he had the wrong size. Did he not think that you would be cross with this shabby workmanship? He should have left you a note apologising that he had ordered the wrong sized panels then he could have come back when the correct ones arrived and all would have been ok. Silly Man.

I really hope you get it sorted soon.

Lots of deep breaths I think.

Shazzie xx

Ah, Tina, I am so pleased for you. To be fair, this does sound like a man’s logic. “It’s a fence, right? She’s got to be happy with that until I can put together a matching set?” Men don’t care much about aesthetics.

It’s like grumbling about the state of repair inside a house. A man will shrug his shoulders and ask what is wrong with it. They just don’t see what we see.

Let’s hope you don’t have to wait six weeks for the replacement panel. Although if he wants his money, I’m sure it will be a much more prompt job this time :slight_smile:

Well done, you. It might seem like a small victory to some but I call that an achievement worthy of a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates. (Come to think of it, I think getting through each day is an achievement worthy of … ah, you get the picture :wink: )

Have a lovely weekend

Tracey xx

Hi Lynn,

Well, it isn’t quite sorted…yet. But at least he hasn’t tried to give me some cock-and-bull (bet that gets censored!) story about why it had to be that way, and he was really only doing what’s best. I’d been half-expecting some ludicrous attempt to make it sound perfectly reasonable.

Thank goodness he hadn’t already had the money!

I agree, it does make you wonder about their intelligence. Did he think there was a chance I might not notice, or might not mind, or what?

By doing something that obviously wasn’t likely to meet with the customer’s approval, he’s just made more work for himself.

If he’d just e-mailed: “I’m sorry, I forgot to bring enough panels; I’ll have to come back for the last one”, he wouldn’t have ended up putting in a wrong one, and having to come back to replace it.

I suppose you could argue he thought a temporary fix was better than none, but as I’ve been waiting for weeks anyway, he must have known I couldn’t have needed it urgently. I don’t have a dog, and neither does the neighbour. So why didn’t he just say: “Oops, slipped up - I’ll come back and finish the last one for you.”?



Shazzie, Tracey,

Well, as women go, I am not very much interested in aesthetics! I’m very much of the view that: “a fence is just a fence”. However, there ARE limits. I don’t want to be left with something that has the neighbours saying: “What’s up with her? Is she bonkers? Why didn’t she have it all the same size?”

I don’t mind a slight mismatch in the colour, or the design of the panels not being absolutely identical, when you get up close. But one panel a whole foot taller than the rest? It looks really weird!

I can’t understand why he still went ahead when he knew it wasn’t right, either.

As I wasn’t home, I’ve no idea what time they actually turned up, but I’ve a suspicion they might have been trying to do it in the dark. That could explain a few things. But surely they’d still have noticed the panels weren’t all the same size?



I think my “OCD” must be more than a smidging :-/ I wouldn’t be able to cope with a slight mismatch in colour or design. Anyone recommend a good therapist :frowning:


When part of the fence is over 20 years old, you have to accept you probably won’t get an exact match, after all these years - if you don’t want the financial burden of replacing the whole lot. There’s a heck of a difference, cost-wise, between replacing four panels, and replacing all 11. Obviously, I don’t know your circumstances, but for me, it would be an unwarranted indulgence to replace all of them, over an insistence they must all be absolutely identical. If I won the lottery Saturday, I’d probably say: “Sure, do the whole lot!” But at the moment, I’m all for fixing only what’s broken, even if it will show that some of the panels are obviously newer. But still, a long way from that, to accepting one a whole foot taller.