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Tuesday, July 16, 2013



Sorry, this post exceeds the “Cranky Word Limit” but it is too short for a two parter.


Long, long ago, in a Cranky life far away, I lived in a 100+ year old home a block away from the center of a quaint little town.  My wife and I had just purchased this home and as with most people who purchase a home, we had stretched our funds to the limit. 

We moved into this old house with an adorable Black Labrador Retriever named Minnie.  Being a dog, Minnie did not appreciate boundaries, or at least her boundaries were not defined by our property line.  We had tried the electronic fence thing at our last residence with iffy results.  They do work, but if you are not anal about changing the collar batteries (which are not cheap) the dog will eventually re-draw his own boundaries. 


We decided we needed a fence.  The property was small, less than a quarter acre, so a fence should not be that expensive, but for our budget anything was expensive.


When my wife visited a friend who was having a new fence installed, she talked to one of the installers, Eric, who said he could put up a fence for a “good price,” just call him, not the fence company. 

Thinking we could get a good deal, we called Eric.

We explained our boundary, and the type of fence we wanted and Eric gave us a price right over the phone. 

“I could do that for $2400.”

“Oh, that is a bit too steep, sorry.”

“Wait, wait, how about maybe $2000?”

“Ooh, I’m sorry, that is still too high.”

“Ok, ok we can get this done how about $1600?”

“No really, I just can’t…”

“Twelve hundred dollars, I can’t go lower than that.”

Twelve hundred dollars was a really good price.

“OK, I guess we can do that.”

“Great, I’ll need the money up front…cash…in order to buy all the materials, and of course to show your good faith.”

“Sure, of course, I can do that.” (Don’t even say it, I was kinda young and plenty stupid.)

I had to borrow $800 of the $1200 off an ATM, and gave Eric the cash the next day, a Friday.  He was to start on Saturday, his day off with the fence company.

On Saturday, Eric did not show.  I called his home.  His wife answered.  She did not know where Eric was and told me firmly,

 “Please don’t bother me at my home.”

This was not good.  Eric had $1200 and all I had was Eric’s phone number answered by his testy wife.

I called again and told Mrs. Eric that I would try Eric at the fence company where he worked.  Eric returned this call right away.

“Ah something came up; I won’t be able to install the fence this weekend.”

“Hmmm...look Eric, you have $1200, all I have is a phone number, do you think you could at least deliver the materials, or should I call the fence company?”

Eric wanted none of my calling the fence company.

“I’ll drop off the materials Sunday; we can install it all on Tuesday.”

Eric drove a truck up to my back yard (our yard was right behind a commercial parking lot) on Sunday night at around 11 PM.  He introduced me to the driver of the truck, his supervisor at the fence company.

His supervisor was not friendly.

They dropped off all the fence materials and slid off into the night.  I slept better, as I at least had $800 worth of materials.

I did toss and turn a little bit when it hit me that the reason I was getting this fence job at a good price was because the $800 worth of materials which were delivered at 11 PM on a Sunday night probably cost my installer two hours of work and maybe $1.50 in gas.  My guess was that the fence company that employed Eric was probably missing $800 worth of materials.

Eric did come on Tuesday with several workers.  They dug holes, hammered nails, and in about four hours they were done and gone.  I never heard from him again.

One side of my property was fenced in 6 feet inside my property line (we corrected this several years later…another story,) apparently Eric took a short cut and avoided some tricky trees on the actual property line.  There were three gates included in the job, none opened and closed properly.

I was not happy at all with the way the installation was done, but at least I had a fence and it was installed.  Four days earlier all I had was an empty wallet, and a phone number that was monitored by a very unfriendly wife.

Apparently I was, in effect, the “fence” for a stolen fence.  Sometimes you get what you pay for; sometimes you get what was never paid for.  When you get what was never paid for and it is installed defectively, you probably deserved it.

Caulk it up as tuition for the school of hard knocks.


  1. at least you got it - and weren't caught with stolen prop!

  2. There are some lessons we all learn the hard way. This was one of them.

  3. So...technically...when you sold the house, you became a fence for a fence.

  4. So you were the "If it's too good to be true, it probably is" poster boy?

    A builder I know once asked the masonry supply vendor for the name of a super-cheap brickmason. He hired the rcommended guy, then complained to the masonry supplier his house was all "splotchy". Turns out the cheap bricklayer was going out at night and stealing portland cement....some bags were Brand X, some were Brand Y, and some were Brand Z, and they didn't match. You get what you pay for.


  5. A timely post for me. I just averted a situation that I would have regretted getting into with a contractor. Different though. His work was highly recommended but once I got the quote and compared, his prices were highly inflated. And his wife/parter was highly confrontational and essentially a bully. Bub-bye.

  6. My husband and I had a similar situation about 6 years ago so we can't blame it on youthful ignorance, but rather hmmm... gullibleness (Is that a word?) though we usually aren't. We were trying to give the "little guy" some business. Thankfully, we haven't had any more "burns" and hope you haven't either.


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