Concerns over the cost of paint left only half a roadmarking repainted outside a school.
Contractors carrying out repairs to water mains outside Victor Seymour Primary School in Denmark Road dug up part of the road which had on it lettering to indicate there was a school nearby.
When work was completed last week and the section of road was replaced, Sutton and East Surrey Water (SESW), which carried out the work, painted only half of the word school back onto the road.
The company said it is only obliged to repaint what it had damaged, and as the highways authority ,Sutton Council, was refusing to pay them to paint the rest of the sign, it decided not to.
A SESW spokesman said: "SESW understands the road markings look odd but the company is conforming to the requirements of regulations that govern road works of this nature."
Residents of Denmark Road think it is ridiculous and have accused the contractors of being "jobsworths".
Pennie James, 63, who not only lives on the street, but has grandchildren who will attend the school next week, said it was outrageous.
She said: "When I first saw it I just laughed, I couldn't believe it, I just thought what a bunch of jobsworths. If they had the equipment with them, why did they not just finish it?"
The SESW spokesman added: "We are obliged to reinstate road markings removed or damaged by our work and this is what we have done. Before doing so, we asked the local authority if they would like us to also repaint the markings beyond our area of work - for a small fee - but they declined.
Replacing road markings is quite expensive and, as our customers will appreciate, we are doing all we can to manage costs during difficult economic times."
A council spokesman said: "We are in the process of organising remedial work on the word ‘school’ and other road markings outside the school."