Jane Bradley: Lack of work ethic flies in the face of recession

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IT WILL be a sad day in my household next Sunday – for, no matter how good we’ve all been this year, Santa will be unable to get down the chimney to deliver our presents.

Why? Because, poor old Saint Nick will find himself hampered by 150 years of soot, birds nests and old newspapers.

Try as I might, I cannot get a sweep to clear the path for our festive visitor – nor can I easily find anyone to carry out any other work on my home. As a result, I would like to put out a call to trades-people to pull their collective finger out and stop acting like we’re not still in the depths of an economic downturn.

In the course of an arduous flat refurbishment, I must have called at least 40 plumbers, builders, chimney sweeps, paving stone layers and decorators. I am still waiting for the vast majority of them to call back.

When one does deign to ring, I turn into a giggling wreck – as eager to impress as on a first (and probably last) date. When one builder turned up ten minutes early to give me a quote this week, I almost kissed him.

Trying to get a small patio laid this summer, I contacted 15 Edinburgh-based companies. Only two replied – and only one showed up for the quote. He got the job, but for all I know, he charged ten times what anyone else would have done.

A plumber, who eventually refitted the bathroom, seemed to think it acceptable to turn up to fix the “snags” at any point over a three-month period – and let himself in using our spare keys. When we pointed out that it would be nice to have advance notice – in case one of us was in the bath/asleep/holding a nudist convention – his attitude was unspoken, yet clear: “My time is precious; yours is not.”

I’ve stopped judging tradesmen on their skills – or testimonials from clients pertaining to the quality of their work. If they answer their phone within ten rings, reply to e-mails, or simply keep appointments, I’m happy.

One day, the news of the recession will catch up with these industries. Maybe then, and only then, will they be the ones courting me. And Santa will be able to deliver 2012’s presents to a shiny, new, refurbished home.