Estimating over the phone is a risky business, especially when I have consented to drive almost 100 km. one way to do a job. He described the room, together with accurate dimensions and told me how much wallpaper he had. Based on that information, I calculated that there would be enough and that I could finish the job in about 6 hours and it was a 'go'.
Things are not always quite the way a customer describes them on the phone. He and his very pregnant girlfriend (fiancé) had decided a week prior that they would do the job themselves and had hung two pieces starting from behind the door. After having great difficulty, they called me.
I have always disliked fixing other's mistakes. I make enough of my own that I am obliged to fix. In this case, they had a major problem with seams not lying down and not being quite together from top to bottom. Pre-pasted paper can be that way, and most often is. Good news was that the mistakes were behind the door but the bad news is that I do not work from left to right. It is in my DNA to work from right to left. Here I had no choice because there was a pattern that now had to continue from where it was started.
Add to that was the suspicion that there was not going to be enough. I asked him why there was so little paper left on the roll when he had only hung two strips. Apparently the dogs stepped on the paper as it was lying on the carpeted floor and their paws 'n claws had ripped a substantial amount of paper. He had thrown that damaged paper in the garbage. We promptly measured the wall area and determined how much paper was actually on all the remaining rolls. The original amount would have been perfect but now we were going to be short.
There are always options and one of them was that we could fudge the pattern in four inconspicuous areas and thereby not lose paper when matching the pattern. If we did that, there would be just enough. At this point, the customer informed me that they were only renting and that mismatching was fine with them. I do not like putting my name to something like that and told them so. But the alternative was to drive back at a later date, and customer laying out more money that could go for something else for the new baby room, so they insisted I mismatch.
After giving it careful thought, I did just that. When the room was completed, I called the lady in and challenged her to find one of four mismatches. Her initial confidence of being able to do that quickly turned to disbelief as she could not find a single one.