Thompson & Morgan / BVG Public Apology

From 2020 until 2022 I administered a Facebook group allowing customers to share their experiences of poor customer service at Thompson & Morgan and, subsequently, other gardening companies owned by BVG Group.

It proved popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when a number of companies struggled to fulfil consumer demand. It was noted by a number of customers that complaints and negative feedback appeared to have been removed and some users blocked from the T&M Facebook page, hence the desire for an independent group on the same social media platform.

Management of T&M/BVG, including Chris Wright, Iain Burgess and Melanie Wood, have acknowledged on several occasions that their customer service levels during that time were not always at an acceptable level. From 2021 onwards they are confident they have rectified most of these issues, including the installation of new IT systems designed to streamline product ordering and dispatch.

The Facebook complaints group continued, being used to share general publicly available information about BVG's gardening companies. The volume of complaints and grievances being posted decreased significantly during 2021, primarily due to improvements in how the companies operated and by the continued use of official customer review sites such as Trustpilot and Feefo.

In hindsight, I became too personally and emotionally involved in the group towards its latter stages, in part because of alleged interference in the group in 2020 and 2021, and an overly heightened sense of loyalty to previous customer base. This led me to post updates with questionable relevance to the original purpose of the group.

At no point did I post anything which did not already exist in the public domain, or which I believe was not covered in the right to free speech. I do not believe anything written by me or other members was libellous or defamatory.

However, I realise that the tone and content of some posts may have caused distress, discomfort, hurt and upset to both named and unnamed management and staff of BVG, Thompson & Morgan, Suttons, Van Meuwen, and other affiliated companies.

It was never my intention to single out any individuals for criticism or judgement. Where this appears to have happened, or has been interpreted as such, I am truly sorry.

As of 12th March 2022, the complaints group has been removed from Facebook. It has no members and is not accessible. This (by Facebook's own conditions) makes it permanently unavailable. Any online caches of the data should, in time, be de-indexed, removed, or at least have reduced influence and appearance in online search results etc.

This is not an admission of anything illegal or unlawful having taken place.

My apology is in regard to the subject matter, negative tone and distress caused to staff, and for any potential negative misinterpretation by members of the public of the current state of BVG-owned companies.

I also apologise for the rude comment I posted on Iain Burgess's Facebook page. I came across a public posting he had made on a completely unrelated social media page and in my haste believed the comment remained on a public group/page and was not linked to his personal profile/page. It is no excuse for the hotheaded response made on that day.

Further to the posting of this public apology in visible and (where I have control) permanent online sites/pages, I declare I will make no further engagement of any nature to BVG, its subsidiary/affiliated companies, any of its staff members, or any other known associate of these, excepting any requirement or judgement made by their legal representatives or a court of law.

I will not create or be involved in any online or offline media whose primary purpose is to publicise the operation of BVG and its assets. Neither will I involve myself in any individual comment threads/posts pertaining to these companies or their representatives.

I hereby drop any and all allegations I may have made in public regarding perceived interference by BVG, its assets and representatives, over the past two years, in relation to the aforementioned Facebook group and my own privacy.

Notwithstanding anything I may be legally required to do, I hereby draw a line under proceedings and will make no further comments or representations in regard to this matter.

Andy Merrett
13th March 2022