Service. July 25, 2018

Recently I’m becoming a bit of a dick. I say recently when many of you that know me will say this happened some time ago ….so maybe it’s already a well-known fact.

I have excused myself by thinking it’s because I’m a bit older and I’ve gone into ‘grumpy old man’ phase.

There was a short run of a TV programme called ‘grumpy old men’ where the older generation expressed their thoughts on current affairs. It was supposed to be funny provocative and cause a stir – I just sat there agreeing with everything they said.

So, my latest ‘thing’… is bad service.

I’m convinced it’s all part of this global phenomenon I’ve been wittering on about whereby insidiously our lives are being changed for the cheaper – whilst being charged more.

I noticed it first in the car industry when all the good salesmen were replaced by idiots straight out of school. The salesmen had been so good they were hitting their targets every month and walking away with a great salary and a good bonus. This must have hurt someone’s pockets down the line so the bonus system was changed.

The new system meant that the number of cars to be sold to achieve bonus couldn’t actually be built and delivered to the show room – so the chances of getting a bonus were zero. So all the good guys left leaving the crappy salesmen and a new influx of kids that thought watching Top Gear on a Sunday night meant they knew everything about automobiles and could therefore sell them.

The hotel industry was next. Senior staff and bosses stayed the same but all the people that actually ‘made’ the hotel –  left due to cost cutting and reduced bonus systems. The front of house team that made your stay special we’re replaced by ‘on-line check in’ ‘instant check out’ and carrying your own suitcase to your room.

Restaurants….the ‘maître de’ …. who knew your name has now gone and you’re just another punter along with everybody else. Do you go anywhere nowadays where someone says ‘the usual sir’ – doesn’t happen does it? ….it doesn’t happen because it’s someone new every time you walk in the door….so the chances of them knowing what you drink are …zero

So now we can add watch shops to the ever-growing trend of crap that’s being shoved on us. I ordered a new watch about two years ago. These things take time (ha ha) to make, and if you want a particular watch you got to wait. Watch finally arrived but with the wrong strap – I took the delivery even though it was wrong because they assured me that the correct strap was in the post and would be with them within a week.

12 months later I’m still waiting for the correct strap …. yet …they are trying to sell me the next new version of the model that I like.

I know I know – first world problems.

It’s all about sell, sell, sell.

It’s not about making sure the customer feels special and the product is correct – it’s about targets and bonus systems and turnover and margin ….

Are WE to blame for this?

Maybe in our ever-quicker world of ‘on line’ everything we’ve pushed the service industry to the point where it can’t compete? Are we in fact killing the very things that we like?

Well I for one know that I’m not to blame.

I never ask for discount or money off. I never buy the cheapest item or wait for the sales. I know that every industry has to make a profit and I know what it costs to pay staff so I’m happy to pay a premium for quality service.

I’ve even managed to fall out with one lady who ran a small shop locally. Every time I went in she gave me discount on everything I purchased. I found myself arguing with her when she complained of poor results and a lack of customers – saying to her… ‘why do you knock money off everything I buy’ …. her response was that it kept me ‘interested’. I pointed out that I came in because of the quality of the product and the service that she provided not because I got 20% discount. She pulled a face. She ceased trading after 8 months.

The point I’m making is that people should be happy to pay for good service. We shouldn’t be paying for bad service or poor products …. but don’t expect everything to cheap and of the best quality.

The two things are mutually exclusive.


Mike C

14 Facts About Japanese Knotweed July 19, 2018

Want to know about Japanese knotweed in 14 fact filled steps? See our handy infographic below…



Does anyone give a crap…? July 18, 2018

As I journey through my little life I find myself wondering what’s happening to the world.

People racing everywhere on their powerful motorbikes and cars, pushing and shoving their way around the road system with no respect for any other road users. I see litter piling up along the main road outside my house from people throwing the McDonalds wrappers out of their car windows.

Then I go for walk and see dog excrement that’s been scooped, bagged and tied with a neat little knot – left on the footpath or tossed on the verge. What the fuck is that all about – leave it and don’t bag it rather than bag it in a non-biodegradable plastic bags you numpty – who the hell does this anyway???

Nobody seems to give a crap about anything anymore other than their own little bubble.

My worry is – it’s getting worse.

My thinking is that if we are seeing this on an individual level and seeing it locally – then it’s got to be happening globally and we just aren’t aware yet.

Those people that we’ve put in charge? The politicians – the police – the army – the whole armed forces thing. Are they actually looking after us …? or are they on some mission to ensure that  THEY are looked after.

Everyone’s got an angle.

Theresa May – I’m betting she’s got some BREXIT thing going on.

I’m going with, in twenty or so years’ time. It will come out that she bought shares in some European based company that makes huge sums of money if we make a complete balls up of leaving the EU…

The article will read … ‘May makes Millions from Euro fuck up – it’s has been proven that Theresa May made £150 million from being a complete twat over the Euro negotiations’.

We will all go …’aaaah I knew something was going on’ – but it will be too late… we will all be working in German factories and being whipped by French team leaders who all talk so fast we can’t understand them. England will have become a European rubbish dump but Theresa will no longer live here she will be on an island somewhere way beyond our reach.

I also have a theory that we’re all being poisoned.

The reason that we let the politicians do this to us – is that we’ve been slowly fed some mind control chemical that numbs us to everything. Have you noticed recently that food just isn’t tasting the same? The cheese burger or sausage that just tastes odd?? That’s the chemicals they are feeding us. They did it during the war and now they’re doing it again.

The actual mind control happens during ‘Love Island’.

You’ve all been sat there lapping it up looking at boobies and budgie smugglers …. when actually you’ve just been brainwashed into thinking everything’s fine…. England are going to win the World Cup and Theresa May is going to get us a good deal on Europe.

Yeah right.

I’m the only one not taken in.

I know they’re watching me.

Mike C

Japanese knotweed is not a problem. July 11, 2018

Recent articles have suggested that after years of research scientists have decided that Japanese knotweed is not a problem.

Funnily the researcher who has suggested that this is the case is the same guy that’s been making a living off Japanese knotweed for about twenty years. He was one of the first people to write a book on the subject and has been lecturing and advising others on the pitfalls of ignoring the issue ever since.

So why would he suddenly decide it’s not a problem?

I think it’s probably because he wanted a bit of press coverage and thought he’d grab a few controversial headlines.

The research suggests that the ‘7 metre rule’ is a ‘less than robust’ system of detecting where the plants roots will extend to.

Well ‘whoop de do’ it’s a fucking plant not a robot.

Of course the seven metre rule is ridiculous – but it’s a starting point. If a client asks me ‘how far has the rhizome extended’ I always want to say …. ‘using my x-Ray vision’ …. I can detect that it is exactly 4.2 metres in diameter.

Nobody can give you an exact location of underground root and rhizome until they have excavated and begun to remove the plant. This is why when quoting for excavation I always suggest to our customers that they go for a ‘re-measure’ so that they only pay for material removed rather than having somebody guess at an amount and give a fixed price.

Other suggestions are that ‘other plants’ can cause more damage than Japanese knotweed – with named reference to buddleja and sycamore. The impacts of these other species are well documented and cannot be ignored but these plants have been around for years and have been causing the likes of Network Rail problems for years as well.

The issues with Japanese knotweed relate to the fact that it is an alien species not from our shores. Since its introduction its particularly aggressive spread and its ability to colonise waste ground very quickly have made it notorious. The spread of viable root fragments by fly tipping has resulted in many green and brown field sites being covered with knotweed with resulting issues in the potential for damage to land values.

It is these areas highlighted for the building of new housing that represent problems for developers and where much of the removal costs associated with the plant come from.

No, it’s not going to batter down your front door.

No, it’s not going to leap up and grab you by the throat.

No, it’s not going to kill you.

No, it shouldn’t stop you getting a mortgage.

If your house was built some time ago and there was no knotweed present it’s highly unlikely that you will have a problem.

If your house has been built recently and your developer had a cavalier attitude to dealing with invasive plants in his site. Then – yes – you could be looking at some major issues. If your house has poorly designed foundations and inadequate structural elements and it’s been built on an actively growing stand of knotweed then you will be looking at a big bill to sort it all out.

However, …. the end of the day it’s a plant.

A particularly aggressive plant and one that shouldn’t be ignored…. but still just a plant.

Perhaps some of the articles that have been written have been a been over the top. This is nothing to do with the Japanese knotweed contractors – it’s down to the British press who just love writing horror stories about destroyed buildings and families in tears because of a plant.

Perhaps a bit of common sense is needed – but please don’t ignore the issues just because some boffin wants to grab a few headlines.

Mike C

It’s a plant… not a sales target. July 4, 2018

Have you ever responded to a request for help on ‘Linked In’?

If you haven’t – then don’t.

It’s opening a door to a whole load of crap that you just don’t need.

It starts off ok…. ‘Can anyone recommend a Japanese knotweed expert?’ Then one of my trusted contacts thinks they will help this person by recommending Japanese Knotweed Solutions’ or often they will simply say ‘speak to Mike Clough.’

As I say – this then starts to snowball – as everybody and his best friend think they know something about Japanese knotweed because they once ‘read an article’. Everybody has an opinion and most of it is absolute balls. Multiple companies with copied names and copied websites appear and all claim to have a ‘secret method’ of eradicating the ‘plant from hell’. Many of them claim knowledge of laws – then suggest huge fines and prison sentences for just having the plant on your land…

Aarrrggghhhhh ffs.

My favourite recently was a gentleman who started his comment… ‘well I know nothing about JK …but I believe that you can’t kill the plant… and anyone that says they can is a liar’… I think we maybe can dismiss this guy because as he admits he ‘knows nothing’.

The problem with the internet is that anyone can call themselves an expert. I’ve lost track for the number of Japanese knotweed ‘experts’ whose websites state they are the ‘number one service provider’ or the ‘UK’s first knotweed company’.

I know they are talking bollox …but anybody reading these claims would be hard put to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’ …as my father would say.

However dear reader – I do have a way of separating out the sales people from the horticulturalists.

Just check out the ‘Linked In’ feed of the people that go on to offer their services on these e-mail chains which appear after a request for help.

Check out the history of the person claiming to be a ‘knotweed know all.’ let me suggest to you that somebody with ten years in double glazing is NOT a knotweed expert. Let me suggest that somebody with fifteen years in the automotive industry doesn’t know anything about plants. Somebody that’s been in IT or teaching or retail isn’t going to know anything about plant growth or associated plant groups that live in association with invasive species.

Do you really want to deal with somebody who only knows one goddamn plant …?

OK they can identify Japanese knotweed but what about everything else on site? What about the nearby bluebell woodland or the shallow rooted beech trees nearby. What of the orchids or the rare cowslip that’s been seen downstream of your spray area that you’ve just recommended… even though everything downwind will die…?

Please if you’re going to get an expert in Japanese knotweed get somebody with environmental credentials. Some horticultural knowledge and a basic understanding of how flora and fauna work together.

Please let’s not destroy the environment just because somebody has a good sales patter that they learnt from selling life insurance.

Mike C