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This month on Which? Conversation: September 2021

Here’s what’s happening on Which? Conversation and around which.co.uk during the month of September.

15 September: If you change your mind…

Something we’re watching this week: energy bills.  It’s only two weeks away from the planned price rises in energy bills, so if you’re out of contract or approaching the end of your current energy bill contract, you may want to consider switching to a new provider to avoid future price rises. 

We’ll be starting a new conversation about switching this Friday, 17 September about your experiences of switching.  If you’re thinking of switching and want to hear from others, or if you have a bad switch that you’d like to tell others about, please do join us then.  

For some, changing providers may be less of a choice, as half a million households will be moved to new energy companies after Utility Point and People’s Energy go bust.  If you’re one of them, check out our guide on what to do if your energy supplier goes bust, and our discussion on how long you may wait for a refund from your former supplier, if you’re owed money of course.  

Something we weren’t expecting to happen this week – the return of ABBA.  The Swedish band have announced a new album and virtual concert coming to London in 2022. Earlier many of you had shared your thoughts on digital fakes and de-aging in our earlier discussion of Paul McCartney’s video

…deep fakes are a potentially worrying technology, as might be used by bad actors for criminal purposes.  (DerekP)

DerekP

…  the problem is that it is probably a very time-consuming and expensive process for which very few events would generate sufficient audience [and hence the advertising revenue] to justify the cost –

John Ward, in relation to remastering/colouring vintage film

Would this be an experience you’d pay for?  On the one hand there’s nothing like live music, particularly after concerts being on hold for so long due to the pandemic.  On the other hand, is it really live though – and if they’re not really there, couldn’t you just watch it on a screen at home? 

Would you pay for and attend a concert where the performers are virtual?
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Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

8 September: T&Cs, sneezes, and the future of money

Inspired by Em’s comment in the Lobby, what do you do when you are wearing a mask and have to sneeze?

What do you do if you have to sneeze while you're wearing a face covering?
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With more people travelling, we’ve been hearing a plethora of complaints about travel tests, from tests being ordered and not arriving to people unable to find a cheap test from the list of providers.  Following a lot of these complaints the cheapest firm on the government’s list of travel test providers has been removed.  We’ll update these as more details emerge, particularly with talk of upcoming lockdowns and of scrapping the traffic light system in favour of a Green/Red system. 

Updating our Terms and Conditions and Community Guidelines

We’ve reviewed and updated our Terms and Conditions on Which? Conversation. If at first glance these appear very similar to the previous version, you’d be correct; materially these are consistent to the earlier version, with much of the update being in page style and navigation.   

Here’s a summary of the key changes:

  • We’ve clarified the wording on the registration process for Which? Conversation, including how to register using your email address, using a social media account, or by commenting as a guest.   
  • We’ve added in a section about how to remove your data from Which? Conversation, including removing your user account from the site, and how you can hide or remove your comments from Which? Conversation.
  • We have clarified the rule on posting of personal information in regard to business email addresses linked to an individual (e.g. firstname.lastname@examplebusiness.com) – the most common example of these is a CEO’s email address. These qualify as personal contact details under our Terms and Conditions, so going forward our moderation team will be removing these as we would with general personal contact details.  Email addresses not linked to an individual (e.g. report@phishing.gov.uk), or linking to pages which feature one’s business contact details, is allowable under the Terms and Conditions.

Alongside this, our Community Guidelines page has also had a refresh. The key change you’ll see here is how the page is organised: we’ve taken the previous long list and divided it into Do’s and Don’ts, as well as making sure the wording is consistent with the updates to the Terms and Conditions.  Should you have any questions feel free to leave a comment here, or equally get in touch via the Contact us page.

The death of the wallet and passbook?

A couple of interesting stories on the subject of banking and the future of money caught our eye this week:

We’d be interested to know what these changes might mean for you – is your banking passbook an essential or a relic? Have you started using your mobile phone to pay more often? If so, why did you change from other payment methods?

Let us know in the comments.  

1 September: When does autumn start for you?

When does autumn actually start for you? With school starting and holidays ending? Cooler temperatures and shorter days? Maybe the return of pumpkin spice in your coffee? Can autumn actually start if summer – and the warmer weather it is expected to bring – didn’t really happen?

This question started a short debate around the virtual office the other day, and we’d be interested to hear how you’re marking the seasons, especially given the the regular cadences of summer holidays aren’t as regular due to the pandemic.

New petrol and the costs of holidaying at home

Some of the stories we’re watching:

Would you use a buy now, pay later scheme to book a holiday?
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What’s in store this month

Our scheduled events will resume later this month, where we’ll welcome Which? Magazine editor Harry Rose to the site for your questions. Watch this space for updates to come.

We’ll also be starting discussions on switching energy bills, whether you trust online ads, and updating you on how we’re campaigning on travel, among other discussions.

As part of our test and learn period as well we’ll also be updating and refreshing a lot of the older pages on the site and changing what pages appear in the comments and activity feeds so that we’re better able to steer people to topical conversations. We’ll announce these changes here as they go live.

One of the more immediate changes you’ll see is in this post itself. Rather than a new post posted each week, we’ll be posting one post for the month and updating it each week. This should hopefully reduce the number of pages you would need to click through to follow the conversation.

Over to you – what’s in store for September? Let’s chat in the comments.

Comments

My Autumn starts sometime in October – depending on the weather the later the better. I do not want to wish the Summer away. It certainly doesn’t start when the schools go back – why would it?

E10 petrol has got to be the biggest con out. For starters, it contains 90% conventional petrol as opposed to 95% for E5 – an insignificant decrease. The ethanol replacement (bio or any other kind) has the chemical formula C2H5OH which, when burned, produces carbon dioxide and water. So that part of it is NOT carbon-neutral. Plus, what will happen to ‘non-compatible’ cars? They will become valueless and destined for the scrap heap – incurring more energy consumption in doing so and making replacements…

Far better not to use a car at all for short journeys, the majority of which are under 5 miles. Most of these can be walked or cycled. A bike with panniers can carry a lot of shopping – and the bike is carrying its weight. Don’t forget that a car engine is least efficient when it’s cold – and most engines need to do 10 miles to get fully warm.

E5 will still be available for at least 5 years in the more expensive “super” form.

Although E10 petrol will not be a problem for most car owners it could cause problems for equipment with small engines that are unused for months, for example over winter. This could affect lawnmowers but is more likely to be a problem for the small engines used in strimmers and chainsaws. It’s best to allow the carburettor to run dry or use an (expensive) alternative to petrol (e.g. Aspen fuels) the last time the machine is used before storage.

Exactly, Wavechange. I use Aspen for the last couple of fill-ups of the season in the mowers and strimmer – and always in the rotavator. However, for those who have so far got away with petrol, I reckon they will be carb jet cleaning at the start of the next few seasons – with a whole new fuel system tank to port every 5-10 years (carb, pipe, tap…)

What if they by premium/super petrol which I understand is only 5%?

The problem started with E5 petrol, though it was difficult to distinguish between the effect of ethanol and stale petrol. Modern car engines have computer systems that allow them to cope with different grades of petrol but small engines may need to be adjusted to use petrol containing ethanol. Unfortunately the adjustment screws on carburettors tend to be factory sealed for emissions control.

I share Roger’s concerns.

I start stocking up on lots of essential goods, like bog rolls, razors, soap, cleaning stuff, aero 360 refills, anything that’s routinely consumable and runs out fairly quick so I can avoid having to go to shops that are full of stupid outright EVIL and grotesquely SICK halloween stuff, which causes me all manner of aggro which I absolutely DON’T need. And the household goods chain stores start filling up with such stuff from late august/early september which is FAR too early. And it so infuriates me how so many shops, including one well known British charity won’t display anything remotely Christian in december in case it might be supposedly “offensive” to non-Christian cultures, but that’s not the real reason is it? because IF they’re so “concerned” about offensiveness then how come their shops are still piled high with hideous halloween stuff two months earlier in october and earlier? What outright hypocrisy! No-one ever thinks of that do they, not even Christians by the looks of it. Well they should. And of course I try and do what maintenance I can on the outside of the house before the temperature drops too anywhere near frost level and before the autumn rains come. And I make sure my soda stream is fully gassed up in late august so it will last me until early november as I now only drink fizzy water.

Miranda says:
15 September 2021

I label seasons according to the meteorological quarters, so Sept-Nov are Autumn for me. Psychologically, there are two markers: leaf colour and the smell/feel of the air. So knowing it to be autumn and feeling it to be autumn are separate things.

Apropos BNPL for holidays – isn’t that how packages are usually sold? You pay a deposit, then the full price X weeks before travel. I will cheerfully continue doing that. But the popular BNPL looks to me like HP but even more debt-driven. I prefer only to spend when I know I can afford to. For food for my family in the week before payday, if they would otherwise go hungry, then maybe (though would then worry how I’d fund the following pay period). But for toys and clothes? Nah!

Did you know this week is Gas Safety Week?
For Gas Saftey Week we are focusing on the importance of having a safe and reliable carbon monoxide alarm in your home and how getting annual boiler service could save your life, as well as saving you money. Check out our content for more information and don’t forget to book your annual service: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/09/do-you-have-a-safe-and-reliable-carbon-monoxide-alarm-in-your-home/
https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/09/why-you-should-get-your-boiler-serviced/

I am abroad at the moment with my wife & son. I took out Breakdown Cover for 2 weeks until the 20th September. Through unforeseen circumstances I wanted to extend the cover by a week but on contacting Start I was informed they do not extend cover once abroad. That I could only purchase cover while in the UK. I phoned the AA and was informed I couldn’t buy cover from abroad to cover me to the UK.
So motorists should be made aware UK companies won’t extend Breakdown Cover if you are already abroad.
Why not? I haven’ta clue.