When I was a child, my family hired a local builder to do a small renovation. The work looked good. Here and there the new walls sounded a tad, well, sonorous when we knocked on them, almost as if they were hollow; but perhaps walls usually sounded like that. We were happy. Until we pulled a plug out of a socket and the whole socket came away with it, along with a not inconsiderable chunk of wall. Out of the hole there trickled dry, white sand.

The builder, we realised, had charged for plaster and then painted over a wall covered only in diaphanous strands of chutzpah. (In his defence, he did do one thing right: seconds after receiving payment he declared bankruptcy and vanished. Nicely done, that man.)

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.