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BBC Watchdog Rogue Traders Response

Thank you for finding this page, my end of programme statement referred to it three times but these were all cut out so that most viewers wouldn’t see it.

My name is Jonathan (Jon) Hill and 8 years ago when I was 21 years old I took out a small loan which I used to start this business ’Perfect Turf’. We offer different products and services to suit all budgets and are usually by far the lowest price online business for new lawns in London and the Southeast. We have fitted many thousands of new lawns and everytime our customers select the turf type that they would like and follow our simple aftercare instructions then they are always left very happy with the end results. We offer affordable, useable lawns for customers on a tight budget which can cost half the price of other lawn laying specialists, and also top end products for those wanting a perfect ‘show-piece’ lawn. A perfect solution for everybody. This is why we are always very busy and receive regular customer recommendations and positive feedback.

Here is the current latest state of the two lawns that the BBC jumped on for their shoddy, unfair and biased feature:

  1. Featured complainant Mr Bonnett’s lawn


  2. The BBC filmed ‘set-up’ lawn


The first lawn is obviously looking fine. The second lawn, which was the one we were filmed fitting, is looking quite overgrown because the occupants of the house do not have a mower but despite claims it would die it is growing well and thriving. (We have been told we are not allowed to mow it for them.)

The first lawn fitted for Mr Bonnett back in January was on his new build property and so the garden was bare when we arrived with no existing old lawn or vegetation. As we always do, we listed the work we’d be carrying out for Mr Bonnett in bullet points and then did that. We charged £1855.10 for this large sized lawn. Our main direct competitor would have charged over £1,000 more for the same sized lawn including fitting, and the nation’s largest turf provider would have charged over £2400- for just the delivery of the materials alone.

Mr Bonnett wrote in an email to us after we’d finished that the lawn was “very green and nice” and the BBC wrote to us to say that “it looked fine when it was first laid”. Despite this, the BBC then show on TV only three pictures all of a few less than desirable looking rolls to portray the entire work as we’d carried it out. Their expert Tim Lodge then appeared on TV to judge the work we’d carried out from these three photo’s put onto easels. We feel this was unfair to do because it didn’t reflect the lawn we’d actually fitted (which as before we were told in writing was “ok”, “green” and “nice”). It also didn’t account for the important aftercare measures being ignored by Mr Bonnett, which he has also confirmed he did ignore in writing.

Common aftercare advice for all new lawns when fitted is to keep them moist enough by watering twice a day or else they will go off-colour and patchy, and to not walk on them for several weeks or else they’ll become unlevel.

Although he has tried to claim he’d complied with our advice, Mr Bonnett also confirmed in writing by email that he didn’t do so. He in fact wrote to tell us that he only “watered it every three days”, and also wrote that “when we walk on it we sink” therefore causing it to become unlevel. His wife Freda Bonnett also told us that they had allowed their large pet dogs to run on it from day one as “they had nowhere else to go”.


The BBC then showed the following footage of Mr Bonnett’s lawn:


No other lawns we fitted during this period had any problems arise. The lawn has been mowed extremely short, and any gardener or lawn expert will accept that these patches in the lawn were obviously caused by these two little rascals, Mr Bonnett’s dogs:



Now that the grass has been allowed to grow back to a normal height as it won’t be featured on TV again, here is how the Bonnett’s lawn actually now looks:



Mr Bonnett falsely claimed on national TV that the lawn we fitted for him was so poor he “had” to take up a third of it up and replace it with a very expensive new patio outside of his patio doors. I can confirm that only 10% max was taken up, and that Mr Bonnett told us when we first arrived that he’d be doing this anyway. He told us he wanted the lawn put here only temporarily so that the same little rascals wouldn’t walk the mud into his white-colour floored downstairs. (We have no issue with the rascals, only their owner.) To claim that he only fitted the lawn here because the lawn was so bad is false. It’s actually ridiculous given that the new patio will have cost much more per square metre than any lawn.

Whilst working there another tradesmen working at the property told us at the time that the Bonnett’s had been “a total nightmare”, and we notice on Mr Bonnett’s facebook page a link attacking Taylor Wimpey Homes’ workmanship too, so perhaps upsetting tradesmen who carry out work for him is a hobby of Mr Chris Bonnett.

A picture below that Mr Bonnett didn’t think we’d ever see is of the lawn just outside his patio doors (where it was supposedly so bad it had to be taken up) showing that, as he did already state in writing to us, the lawn here is in fact “very green and nice”:



Long before the show was aired, the BBC were informed of the various factual inaccuracies surrounding Mr Bonnett’s lawn, including:



Mr Chris Bonnett

The BBC were informed of all of the factually incorrect points before the show was aired, but rather than back down, Matt Allwright and the BBC still decided to base their entire feature on Mr Bonnett’s complaint because by that time they had invested so much money in their single-minded attack on my business. They feature no other complteted installation job of ours relying solely on this single, completely fabricated complaint, and refuse to confirm either way whether they have even spoken to any other customers or investigated the full client list we provided to them.

We completely agree with Rogue Traders claimed intention to tackle ‘businesses giving customers a raw deal’ and enjoyed seeing them in the past take down the mechanics charging for work they needn’t have carried out, builders leaving properties in dangerous states, and so far on this series an estate agent keeping somebody’s £2700 deposit for a flat they didn’t rent, and a car rental business renting out illegal, dangerous cars to young drivers. We work hard every day to install lawns for usually by far a much lower price than any of our direct competitors; cheaper lawns for family’s unable to afford the top end grades but wanting a play area for their children, or for landlords wanting a cheap greenspace for their tenants. Right through to top end lawns at the lowest prices for discerning customers wanting a ’showpiece’ perfect lawn using our top level products and services. We don’t take any deposit upfront, lawns are paid for only when completed and when they have been inspected and our customer is happy.

We offer different grades of turf and different services depending on customers requirements and budgets, the ‘Perfect’ solution for everyone. Every customer receives a quotation from us which lists in bullet points the work we’d be carrying out. We often use herbicide or turfcutters however these aren’t always necessary for the required results so we can quote without them. The BBC contacted us and from the outset implying that they required the lawn they were to film fitted “quickly”. They also told us that they had tenants moving into the property “the next day”. In the bullet pointed quotation we sent to the BBC and they accepted we did not state ever that we’d be using either herbicide or a turfcutter. We also, as a ‘favour’ then squeezed the filmed jobs in our already very busy Springtime work schedule. It is unfair to have not selected our highest grade materials and service, make out the work was required ‘quickly’ for tenants moving in the next day, and then slate us for being called ‘Perfect’ Turf as the lawn was not perfect. Had they ordered our top grade service and products and not wanted us to carry out the work quickly we would have charged more for the extra services and fitted one of our perfect lawns. Instead we fitted one of our cheaper lawns which was perfectly suitable for the actresses pretend circumstances.


Here is the area as it was when we arrived, dead and unuseable:




Here it as when we finished:



The BBC ignored our written aftercare advice which is vital for all new lawns to have a hosepipe and sprinkler ready for “immediate use”. When we arrived there were no watering facilities available, and not even an outside tap in the garden. We already had been told by the BBC that watering facilities were not even purchased until “after” the installation, and the tenant who didn’t move in until the day after fitting told us that the hosepipe the BBC eventually brought didn’t reach so another had to be brought “the next day”, so this was at least two days later. This is all easily confirmed from the footage after which shows that the lawn was obviously not watered “as per instructions” as Matt Allwright stated on the show. Despite requests, the BBC refuse to tell us how long it was before the lawn was eventually watered, but the footage of the lawn which had turned completely off colour within three days supports this. The BBC had intended to accuse us of fitting the lawn with gaps. They abandoned this when we sent them the following quotes:

B&Q’s new lawn aftercare guide states:
“If your lawn dries out your turfs will shrink and gaps will appear”

www.Turfman.co.uk FAQ section states:
“Why have gaps appeared in my turf? This has happened because your newly laid turf has not received enough water”

GardenSeeker.com’s aftercare guide states:
“If patches of turf turn brown it will almost certainly be because of lack of water”

Here is another quote we sent them, but they did still decide to show patchy brown turf to reflect our work despite being shown it was because of their poor aftercare:

GardenSeeker.com’s aftercare guide states:
“If patches of turf turn brown it will almost certainly be because of lack of water”


Despite all this, here is the ‘alive’ lawn several months later, even after a summer heatwave:



Unfortunately the tenants have no mower so the lawn hasn’t been looked after, but vitally the lawn is growing well and thriving. Proving that we needn’t have charged the actress the expensive extra costs for the extra services of using herbicide or turfcutters for her tenants to be left with a useable, thriving lawn.



Here is feedback from the happy tenant:


So the two lawns we have been dragged through the dirt over are, at very worst, debateable. At best, they are two good, useable lawns perfect adequate for purpose and installed for an extremely low price.

Matt Allwright states that the use of compost was not ideal because it would cause layers like a “trifle” and “water won’t be able to get through”. We sent the BBC advice from various sources including a BBC Gardener’s World turfing video guide recommending the use of compost when turfing. When planting any plant it is common to use compost with a soil layer and with normal watering moisture does of course easily travel through the layers.

Matt Allwright queries whether we used fertiliser despite being already told it had been mixed into the soil and being shown the receipt for the fertiliser we’d bought that same day.

‘Expert’ Tim Lodge states that our methods are incorrect and even that parts of the lawn will now die. We know that now, nearly 6 months, later they haven’t. Tim Lodge flies around the world working on million pound sport surfaces, his own website states “project values with which he engages range from a few thousand pounds to over a million”. Our lawn prices start from £50- and the methods we use are common amongst domestic lawn turf fitters with good results.

Tim Lodge probably doesn’t use a scaffold board when getting his hands dirty working on his million pound sports surfaces. However, most domestic turf installers do. He laughs that walking over the area with the board doesn’t really do anything, however it does press the raked, “fluffy” cultivated soil down for the new topsoil to be spread over the area evenly.

'Expert' Tim Lodge claimed that parts of the lawn "would probably die". Our photo's show that they did not. Even though aftercare procedure wasn't followed and the lawn was not watered.

To fill up their broadcast time, Matt Allwright goes on to make out that I am elusive and that they aren’t able to find me. They did try on other occasions to call us out, but their requests were very obviously fake and so correctly assumed to be timewasting that they were avoided. They called us out to Crawley and said they had a lawn that was dying around the edges (which doesn’t happen), then sent us a picture of a lawn featuring thriving grass which wasn’t dying at all, and although they had already sent us measurements of the large back garden they requested that we come to measure the tiny front garden for them. It was a large full-day project yet they then asked that we came to start at 1pm on the agreed date, and then they cancelled on us. We did then visit the property and a young girl answered the door and told us that she’d never heard of anybody called ‘Suzanne Black’, the name that had been given. So this job was correctly deemed to be false and timewasting, and so was then avoided. We then received a request from a ‘Melissa D’Lacey’ of ‘Janice Burnham Homes’ stating that they had just bought 3 properties again all in Crawley (where we rarely ever work) which all needed turfing. Because this too was a fairly irregular request and yet again in Crawley we googled the business name and couldn’t find any trace of a business called ‘Janice Burnham Homes’, so it was correctly assumed that these were the same timewasters and they too were avoided. However, the BBC knew exactly where I was, and even hand-delivered a letter to my home that same day.

My telephone conversation lasted 9 minutes and 15 seconds, however the BBC cut and edited it down to 2 minutes and 9 seconds which was out of sequence and also unfairly implied that I was acceptant of fault where I wasn’t, it didn’t make sense and was voiced by their actor.

We haven’t received a single negative review on our independent feedback page for over a year—except for three that all appeared within two days of each other. Two on the 29th April, and one on the 30th April. The exact same week that the BBC had us out to carry out this set-up job. In our view (as my lawyers told me to say) this is a very suspicious coincidence which is being investigated.

We reassure our loyal customers including the many homeowners, property developers, local government and landscape gardeners who depend on us that we’ll continue to supply TGA approved lawn turf whilst still offering the lowest available prices. Thank you to everyone; family, friends, existing customers, competitive turf supply and landscaping businesses, and the members of the public for their messages of support.





Here are some of the messages of support from the evening of the show:

What a load of old tripe. I feel very bad for you. We have been fitting lawns the same way for many years, in fact sometimes without even the layer of topsoil you added, and we’ve always had excellent results. Don’t worry too much, no-one listens to the BBC anymore anyway.


“Hi there, just wanted to say my wife and I agreed that the watchdog feature on you was a bit if a hatchet job based on shaky evidence and we felt you handled yourself brilliantly whilst under fire. Hope it doesn't effect business too much and you came across as genuinely wanting to take the business forward and do the right thing. Good luck, Rob & Clare”


Hi mate
Unjust.       

I watched the BBC footage and for what they paid I don't think you did anything 
wrong. They must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to pick on you.
I used to think Alright was an alright bloke  Now I think he's a *?!@$?@.
All the best mate, if I ever need any turf I will give you a call

Regards
Ross



I nearly cried tonight when you and your business appeared on the TV, it was so 
unfair. You guys worked really hard for us and we couldn’t be anymore happy with
our turf. Me and Alex were both standing up and just screaming at the TV. Hope that
you get through this ok.

Best wishes.



Hello,

Just seen BBC Rogue Traders and I have to say I think they were
completely out of order. They need to concentrate on real 'Rogue
Traders' not hard working small business owners like yourself.

Good luck, I hope the program doesn't have too much impact on your business.

Regards,
Andy C



I have read your response on your web site and congratulate you on presenting 
your side of the story. I would love to see them have to apologise and pay 
you compensation.

Go for it - and good luck
Mike

Sent from my iPad



Hi as the owner of a small business myself  I would like to express my disgust 
at the feature I have just watched, I truly hope your company can overcome this 
as having read your response my gut feeling is that you have been ripped off, not the 
customer, i happen to have been looking at lawns tonight but having 3 dogs and
4 chickens we have decided on large patio and an area of fake grass as having 
lost 3 lawns in 17 years here we have given up on real grass, too much hard work!
I wish you luck. Angela.



I must say that this episode of rogue traders is the most pathetic I have ever seen.
How can your company be held responsible for the customers poor after care.
Looking at the bonnets lawn you can see where the dog has been weeing on it

Anyway I will be contacting watchdog/rogue traders because this episode shouldn't
have made it to air!!

Nathan



Great response on your site Jonathan. Working in TV myself I am disappointed in the way that broadcasting standards in general seem to be falling off a cliff. Watchdog, and the rogue trader section is generally good viewing in my opinion but recently there have been a few episodes that seem to have been 'cracking a nut with a sledgehammer' and yours was the worst example.



Sorry to see how watchdog showed over the top entertainment and 
unsettling background music on their turf feature on tonight's programme.
And I'm not sure about their expert in the white shirt.
It is a pity that they did not mention the TGA
No need to reply to this e mail, if you don't want to, just be comforted 
that tonight's programme, as many, are engineered for entertainment and
not on fact.

Continue with the comfort of friends, family and a competitor in trade 
who really knows what happened and well done for putting a statement out.

Best wishes and good luck.



Hello,

I don't want any turf, but I wanted to tell you that if you are the same company
who has just been on Watchdog that I found their report to be heavy-handed,
unnecessary and over-dramatic. 

I don't believe that you were given any opportunity to rectify the problems 
in the original complainants lawn, and I didn't see any evidence that you 
were regularly conning people.

Watchdog does seem to be be fronted by some very self-righteous people, and
I think that many viewers will feel the same way.

Regards
L. Foster
Manchester



Hi Jonathan,
Just wanted to say we are still pleased with our lawn and the 
work you did for us despite the Rogue Traders thing. 

I cut the grass for the first time last Saturday and this was the 
first time I've walked on it. No problems to report and I was 
pleased at how neat the edging was at the bottom of my 
garden. 

Thanks again and I'm sure the BBC broadside won't do you too 
much damage as you seem to be handling it right with your website 
response etc.

Regards.
Paul



Just wanted to say that I saw your Co on Watchdog & my experience 
with you could not have been more different. 
 
Your price was competitive, the quality of work was good, the product seems 
to be very good, the workmen were efficient, courteous & helpful & I was 
generally very satisfied with things. 
 
So thank you & I hope you will not be affected too much by this. 
love your response mate , hope your business continues to go from strength to strength ,
pity you don't serve Glasgow , my garden needs a freshen up 

sent from my iPhone 

John

I just wanted to write to show support for you. I thought the BBC behave appallingly and i'm still very pleased with the lawn you fitted for us using the same techniques featured, I already recommended you to several of our friends. I'm sure you'll get through this, I think you handled yourself very well when under fire and also with your website response. Good luck, and to anyone reading please have no hesitation in using Johnathan and his services.
Terry.

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