Happy New Year! Join in our monthly open thread of the latest news and updates from Which?, updated regularly throughout the month.
Welcome to our monthly open thread, entirely based on what’s happening right now in the consumer world. We’ll be keeping you updated throughout the month, both here on Which? Conversation and elsewhere on which.co.uk.
What’s happening for you? We’re keen to hear your experiences in the comments below – don’t be shy!
Jump ahead to:
- Tax Advice
- Scams and fake reviews on Twitter and Facebook
- Why are comments much narrower?
- Updates to the Highway Code
- Tips to avoid catching illnesses on a plane
- Do trains have too many announcements?
21 January: Planes, trains, and automobiles
Updates to the Highway Code
The new Highway Code comes into effect on 29 January and brings a number of new changes out into the streets. Some of the key changes:
- There’s a new hierarchy of road users, on which pedestrians are firmly at the top due to the high liklihood of injury in an accident;
- Drivers are required to give priority to cyclists in certain situations, such as when approaching, passing, or moving away from a junction;
- The parking rules now describe the ‘Dutch Reach’ for opening your door, ensuring you look over your shoulder to check for cyclists when opening your door.
Which? Cars’ Tom Morgan takes you through the key changes in the Highway Code.
How can I avoid catching COVID on a plane?
Spending hours in an enclosed space filled with strangers doesn’t feel the most COVID-safe of activities, and even pre-pandemic I’ve often been one to catch the beginnings of a cold during flight. If you’re thinking of travelling it’d be worth reading Katie Pasola’s guide on how to avoid catching Covid-19 or other illnesses while flying – and definately worth aiming for the window seat.
Do trains have too many announcements?
It’s been interesting to see in the news that rail chiefs have been asked to get rid of ‘tannoy spam’. If you have been out and about on the rails in recent times, how have you felt about the number of announcements you hear during your journey?
How do you feel about the number of announcements you hear during train journeys?
N/A - I don't tend to travel by train (33%, 31 Votes)
The number of announcements generally seems fine to me (29%, 28 Votes)
There's a lot, but I don't see it as an issue (20%, 19 Votes)
Far too many - they should be cut down (15%, 14 Votes)
I tend not to pay attention to them (3%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 95
17 January: Tax season is in full swing
With the deadline for self-assessments fast approaching and as many as 100,000 taxpayers potentially filing for the first time this year, the Which? Money team has been busy getting their advice and guidance in order.
- From registering with HMRC too late to not claiming allowable expenses, here are eight mistakes to avoid on your first tax return.
- Make sure you’re aware of five tax changes happening this year
- The Which? Tax Calculator is available if you’re looking for independent, tailored help for your return.
- Check out Which? Money’s extensive tax advice guides as well.
Which? Members (depending on their membership package) can also get personalised assistance on tax and other money questions from Which? Money Helpline. If you’re not sure whether you have access to this as part of your membership, or if you’d like to get access to Money Helpline, contact Which? Member Services.
Scams and fake reviews on Twitter and Facebook
On top of the Which? investigations into fake review factories and affiliates on Facebook and Twitter, Chiara has also been following a known scammer as they’ve taken out multiple adverts on Facebook. They’ve since been taken down, but the ease in which they were able to evade detection is extremely worrying.
A bit of a tight squeeze!
What has happened to the text of the comments and the posts here on Which? Conversation anyway? Why’d everything suddenly get so narrow earlier this month?
This relates to some work we’re doing behind the scenes to improve how the site displays on mobile devices, particularly in that this is now the way that the slight majority (55%) of people are regularly viewing Which? Conversation. Some of the page elements (particularly the site feedback button in the left margin) tend to cut off or cover some of the text of the page, so we’re working to fix that and other elements, and test across devices.
Obviously still a work in process, so please do bear with us for the moment! Thanks to those who gave us feedback through the sidebar widget to report this. You can also give us general feedback on the site via the comments, or if something is definitely broken, report it through the Website Feedback form, as this gets flagged straight to our site development team.
6 January: turn off the bright lights
If the results of our latest poll over the winterval are anything to go by, most people’s Christmas decorations are now taken down and stored for another year.
When do you take down your Christmas tree and/or decorations?
Between 2 - 6 January (69%, 985 Votes)
N/A - I do not put up a Christmas tree and/or decorations (12%, 167 Votes)
Between 27 - 31 December (7%, 102 Votes)
Later than 6 January (7%, 96 Votes)
New Years Day (5%, 67 Votes)
Boxing Day (1%, 9 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,426
Speaking of bright lights, what are your feelings about car headlights? Off the back of Neena‘s roundup of Which? Campaign wins in 2021, we’ve heard a number of you call for an investigation into modern headlights being too bright.
…Modern car headlights are way too bright with little cut off when dipped. For a driver faced with these lights the effect is dangerously dazzling, preventing visibility of anything ahead, including possibly an innocent cyclist. The intensity and spread of light should urgently be investigated, please.Bob J, 31 December 2021
Like many of you, I thought I was the only one who felt this way! We’ve raised it with the Which? Cars team and hope to have them join us in the conversation later on in January. In the meantime, we’d be keen to know how many people feel this way:
What’s new in January?
With the new year come new rules and regulations:
- New Ecodesign rules are now in force for wood-burning stove emission levels and efficiency. If you’re considering buying a wood-burning stove this year, you may want to have a read of Paula Flores’ guide to the new ecodesign rules, as well as our advice on the environmental cost and pollution such an investment might create.
- Taxes: if you file a self-assessment, you’ve got until midnight on 31 January to file your return. This year saw an increase in the number of people filing their self-assessments on Christmas day, with 2,828 people submitting their return (up from 2,700 the previous year). If you’re still to file yours, be sure to have a read through Danielle’s tips for making your taxes less…well, taxing.
If you’d like some help with working out how much tax you might owe, Which? Money has you covered with their Tax Calculator.
- Speaking of making payments, we’ve been hearing from Nationwide customers who have been hit with a string of outages over the past few weeks. Check out Grace’s recap of the story, including what you should do if you’ve experienced an issue.
Are you concerned about rising prices?
One of the biggest stories of the new year is that of everything getting more expensive; inflation is driving up prices, consumers reporting worries about the cost of the weekly food shop creeping up, potential supply chain issues, and more.
How do you feel about the year ahead?
Somewhat pessmistic (45%, 22 Votes)
Neutral (20%, 10 Votes)
Somwhat optimistic (14%, 7 Votes)
Very pessimistic (12%, 6 Votes)
Very optimistic (4%, 2 Votes)
Unsure (4%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 49
Adam French has helpfully rounded up what price changes are coming up in 2022 and how you can save money. If you have a question for our experts on price rises, please do ask in the comments below and we’ll aim to get it answered.