I mentioned a while back that we were getting an extension built. Surprisingly even building an extension onto a house in good old Northern Ireland can make you a victim of Putin the Plonker's war in the Ukraine. Let's be clear about the extent of this up front. This makes me a victim of war in only the most miniscule of senses. It's not like I've lost a limb, or my home or anything else important. It's like this:-
All the existing doors in our house are varnished pine, so we wanted something similar for the two new doors in the extension. There are loads of pine doors online, and all the builders merchants and other door suppliers have catalogues that show them. There appear to be only two manufacturers across the whole of the UK, XL Joinery, and LPD Doors. So we tried to buy them, firstly from local sources, only to repeatedly get that great sucking of air through the front teeth that lets you know that you have asked a sales rep for something difficult.
One building supplier would not even attempt to order pine doors because they have become so deeply unfashionable that they didn't want to be stuck with the doors if I then decided that I didn't want them. Even offering to pay for them with up front cash couldn't change their minds! Unfortunately this early problem led me to believe that we were experiencing an attitude problem with all the suppliers. When we asked around at other sources none seemed able to come up with a quote for the price of the two doors. Eventually one supplier that did come back to me said that the doors, every single one of them from both companies, had been discontinued. This seemed strange, because the decision to discontinue them must have been made after both companies already had their brochures out for 2023!
We went on line to try to find old stock, reasoning that if pine doors were truly as out of fashion as we were being told, that someone, somewhere would have some old stock that they were dying to get rid of. We even found a company that would deliver to us in Northern Ireland for an amazingly rip off price of over £400 just for the delivery! Even here there was a catch, we would have to wait for the arrival of new stock. Every other online supplier was out of stock as well. I tried contacting XL Joinery directly via a form on their web site to ask where I could find a stockist. They didn't even bother replying. Great customer service if ever I saw it.
Since I couldn't get XL to talk to me, I asked one good local supplier who we have used many times before to phone them on our behalf. At long last we find the real reason why pine doors are impossible to find. It's all bloody Putin's fault. It seems that both of the companies above got their supplies of pine from Ukraine, so with more pressing concerns for that hard pressed country, the pine is probably being used to shore up trenches and build shelters rather than to make doors. This I can understand.
What I can't understand is why the two woodworking companies seem incapable of finding alternatives? Pine is not a scarce commodity. Neither can I understand their attitude towards their stockists and customers. We spent a lot of time chasing non existent stocks of the damned things where a simple notice that supply problems had led to a suspension of their manufacture would have explained all. As an ancient BT advert used to say, 'It's nice to talk.'