/ Community

The Welcome Lounge: introduce yourself 👋

Hello and welcome to Which? Conversation’s Welcome Lounge. Introduce yourself to our friendly community and let us know what brought you here.

This is our space to welcome newbies into our communtiy, help them discover Which? Conversation (and all of Which?’s online advice) and get to know each other a little better before jumping into our discussions.

Whether you’ve been a member of our community for a long time, or this is your very first time posting here, we want you to share what’s brought you to Which?. Plus, we’d love to hear about a consumer issue that you keep questioning.

This is also an area for Which? staff to say who they are and what they do.

Introduce yourself

You don’t have to be a Which? member to join in on Which? Conversation – everyone is welcome. Here are a few ideas for things you could tell us:

– the name you’d like to be known as here (often your username!)

– your hobbies and interests

– the consumer issue you keep questioning; what would you like to see change for the better?

The Which? Conversation team will be on hand to greet you, as well as our brilliant regular contributors, who are always happy to help provide answers to your consumer queries and point you at some of the discussions we’ve had here in the past.

I’ll go first!

I’m George, and I joined Which? back in 2015. I’ve got a background in content creation/writing and social media – most members will be aware of Which?’s Weekly Scoop Email – that was one of my responsbilities until I joined Patrick’s team in 2018 to work here on Which? Conversation.

When I’m not at Which? I can often be found on a football pitch (I’m from Croydon, so I’m a Crystal Palace fan!) and I also play a lot of tennis, table tennis and badminton.

The consumer issue I keep questioning is also one of the Which? campaigns I feel most strongly about; our railways are plagued by delays, cancellations and constant overcrowding. When will passengers get the service they deserve?

I’m proud that we’re keeping up the pressure to bring about change in the rail industry, but there’s a lot of work still to be done.

The spirit of our community

As always, have a read of our Community Guidelines if you haven’t already. Just like any other conversation, we want this area to be a healthy and friendly place for new community members to get involved with us.

Please do join us in making everyone feel welcome!

Comments

Hello Everybody,

My name is Richard and I’ve been a Which ? member for nearly 30 years. Over those past 30 years I don’t think too much time goes by without reference to Best Buys, Trusted Traders, Energy suppliers etc. There are always many newsworthy topics contained within the magazine and I like to think it has made me a more savvy consumer as a result. As far as I’m concerned Membership is a ‘must’ for all the above and for access to the legal resources should a dispute arise.

Many years ago I successfully sued a holiday villa company using Which ?. The advice I received and the step by step guidance was invaluable. Being able to quote the relevant law and ultimately pursue my case through the Small Claims Court was certainly a lot less daunting through your guidance than it would have been had I acted alone.

I am currently at loggerheads with Sony over screen burnt images on my Bravia KD65-A1 OLED tv. I tried searching for the topic but nothing came up. Maybe I’m searching in the wrong place and will be grateful to be pointed in the right direction.

To say Sony’s response has been dismissive and uncaring is an understatement so I wanted to get a conversation going here to see if anybody has had a similar experience.

Over to you all.

Hi Richard, welcome to Which? Conversation.

I think we do not have a specific topic for screen burn on Sony TV’s, but we do have a more general Conversation for product liability and consumer rights, see:-https://conversation.which.co.uk/shopping/consumer-rights-complaints-faulty-problems/

I’m very happy with my 10 year old 32″ Sony Bravia HD TV, so it is a shame to hear that you are having bother with a much newer model.

As a first step, I think the consumer rights act 2015 places the burden of product liability on retailers not manufacturers, but we do know that some retailers tend to misdirect customers with problems towards manufacturers.

The consumer rights act also requires good to be reasonably durably, i.e. an expensive quality TV should be defect free for around 10 years as a minimum.

Thankyou for your guidance. I had in fact researched your site for Consumer Rights info and will use it to tackle Curry’s/ PC World tomorrow. I’ll keep the Community posted.

Hi Richard and welcome to Which? Conversation.

Screen burn was very well known in the days of CRT screens, especially when static images are displayed for a prolonged period at high brightness. It can also occur on OLED screens. Here is a relevant article from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/09/is-screen-burn-on-oled-tvs-worth-worrying-about/?source_code=911CQJ&gclid=Cj0KCQjwxNT8BRD9ARIsAJ8S5xaP52PkthwVAXnD6KssIeq1kgCa4LwHfb156UjUKwsV3kmUqdgb4n8aAgm9EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

There are numerous Conversations that mention consumer rights and here is one of the most active ones: https://conversation.which.co.uk/shopping/consumer-rights-complaints-faulty-problems/ I hope you will join us as a regular contributor.

DetekP, just on a detail. While I agree that tvs should last at least 10 years (as should many products) the Consumer Rights Act only gives legal protection for 6 (apart from the unlucky Scots who get 5).

Many products do last well, and these should be used to demonstrate that it is not difficult to achieve if you design a product competently, specify decent components and build it well. We should be campaigning against manufacturers who do things badly. We could use the “durability” clause (or lack of) given to us in the CRA much more than we do to put financial pressure on retailers to sell decent products and avoid the tat. Which? should (and I think could) devote resources to help here; a more useful cause than some others they pursue.

Malcolm, thanks for that correction. I’ve known even “ordinary” TV’s like LG and Samsung to last for 6 years or more.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, the customer has six or five years during which they can make a claim against a retailer. For the first six months, a fault is presumed to be present at the time of manufacture, after which it is the responsibility of the consumer to prove otherwise if requested (e.g. by providing an expert’s report) or to provide evidence that goods have not lasted as long as might reasonably be expected. After six months, any refund can take account. of the amount of time between purchase and when the fault was reported.

A manufacturer’s guarantee can provide additional rights and is usually easier to to use than the CRA. It may contain exclusions but does not override the statutory rights provided by the CRA. Once again, a claim should be made against the retailer.

Neither the CRA or manufacturer’s guarantee will provide protection against abuse/misuse or normal wear & tear.

Welcome to the Conversation Richard! Great to meet you and keen to hear how your experience with Currys PC World goes!

Welcome to Which? Conversation, Richard!

Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your TV . How did it go with Currys? I’m interested to hear what their response was.

Welcome to Which? Conversation, Richard! And sorry to hear you’re having issues with your TV.

Have you spoken to Currys since you last posted? Am interested to hear their response.

You’re getting screen burn?

Interesting. I thought that went out with CRT

Is it new and unused? There shouldn’t be screen ghosting if it was from stock, ex shop display is a different matter as they’re usually thrashed and over-driven to an inch of their lives.

I’ve a Sony Bravia too.

Upon first getting it I hired an ISF certified screen calibrator to get it calibrated.
First thing the Calibrator he told me about was “out of box” (OOB) settings,
they’re almost always incorrect for home/cinema use and designed to wow in super bright shop floors.
Second thing he cautioned me about was the backlight, which can prematurely age a screen if too high, so he halved that.

Do you have static images on display for long periods? Or parts of the broadcast that persistently display the same image?
BBC News24 does this with their onscreen banners/marquees, e.g. My screen is often connected to a PC, so I make use of the screen’s idle function and the PC’s screensaver.

Screen burn is still very possible on TVs since CRT.

Our 2007 plasma screen had the Sky pause button permanently engraved in the corner until the screen failed and was replaced during the 5-year warranty. We were unaware this was a problem when we first had the TV but have been much more careful with the replacement screen and it is still going strong with no obvious screen burn.

The first thing our 2018 OLED manual says straight after the index is:
Important Notice
Do not display any still part of the image for a long period.

In such cases the still part of the image remains dimly on the screen (“image retention”). This is not considered a malfunction and is not covered by the warranty.
● Typical still image parts:
• Still images shown continuously on the same area (ex. channel number, channel logo, other logos or title image, etc.)
• Still or moving pictures viewed in 4:3 or 14:9 aspect ratio, etc.
• Video games

If we need to pause anything on this TV, we put the screen into standby.

Hi everybody,

Hope you’re well. Just wanted to take minute to introduce myself here. I have been working at Which? for over 5 years now and have just been assigned as social and community engagement officer.

I started off working as part of the customer service team moving on to Which? Legal and Which? Wills. One thing I’ve always love about the platform we have here is the ability to talk express opinions on consumer related issues and that help each other in our day to day lives.

As you’d probably guessed there’s lots for me to learn and even more for me to read up on so please bear with me as I get up to speed but please do say hi !

Hi Chirag and welcome to your new role. I hope you will enjoy dropping in to the Convos and providing us with a few words of wisdom.

Hi @wavechange, thank you so much. I will be dropping into convos for sure. Hope you’ve been well 🙂

I’m fine, albeit rather fed-up and wondering how long it will be before I can next shake hands with anyone. Have you been able to work from home?

Hi Chiraq, welcome to Which? Conversation. It is always good to see Which? staff posting here.

Welcome Chiraq. Look forward to seeing a lot more of you 🙂

Hi Chirag, good to see you here in our corner of Which? again.

I know, it’s a strange time at the minute – yes thankfully, Which? has been great with all of us wfh. What about yourself?

Hi @alfa, thank you feels great to be back. How are you?

We are muddling along fairly well in this strange new world thanks.🙃

Hi everyone,
I’m new on here and the group was recommended by Which Legal Team. My parents were Which Members for many years and I took over from them about 15 years ago. I am currently in cahoots with Bosch, their customer service is shocking (and I’ve won awards in customer services). Thankfully the Which Legal Team are advising me. At the moment though (I’ve just emailed the team), I think when appliances develop a fault, I think the problem should lie with the Manufacturer rather than the Retailer eg John Lewis, after all it is the Manufacturer which makes the product. I’ve been accused by Bosch of putting ball bearings into our 6 month old washer/dryer (Which best buy) when it became faulty. This was replaced but 1 year 6 months the same fault developed, but Bosch do not want to know and want me to pay £400+ for the repair! Similar treatment with a dish washer! Samsung all the way next time!

Hi Helen and welcome to Which? Conversation.

At present a manufacturer has no legal responsibility for faulty goods but they often handle recalls of products that are found to be dangerous. If the retailer, which is legally liable, is unhelpful, the manufacturer will sometimes help, presumably because they want people to carry on buying their brand. Presumably the retailers can reclaim costs from manufacturers for dealing with faulty goods.

I have generally been happy with Bosch products though the company did not even acknowledge a complaint about a reciprocating saw with no safety interlock, unlike other brands and even other models in their range.

It would be interesting to hear about your experiences with Which? Legal.

The reason the manufacturer is not legally liable to the customer is because, normally, by purchasing through a retailer your legal contract is with them. I would argue that in selling a product they also take responsibility for the choice they have made to promote it.

Given the worldwide distribution of manufacturers, some in countries beyond our jurisdiction, others in countries not subject to UK/English law, it would be very difficult to pursue a claim direct. Hence the responsibility is best with the UK supplier.

However, you will also have a warranty from the manufacturer which also gives you rtights that you can exercise separately from the retailer, although I suggest the retailer should be kept informed in case any further fault develops when the warranty has expired.

To say the manufacturer has no responsibility for faulty goods may not be the case. They may well be liable legally to the seller by virtue of their purchase contract.

Xanadutheblue says:
21 April 2021

Hello,

I join Which from time to time when I need something expensive, but I’m not materialistic enough to be buying new stuff if the old product still does the job it’s intended to, no matter how old it is.

I’m lucky enough to live in gorgeous countryside and my hobbies were birds, horses and painting, until lockdown. I haven’t seen a horse for ages, so my hobbies are now birds, music and painting, and I appreciate having a lot more time for the last!

I’m looking for a pedal exerciser but last time I checked, Which had only reviewed full size exercise bikes – no room for one of them! Anyway, I want something you can use to exercise arms as well as legs.

Good to meet you Xanadutheblue, and welcome to the conversation!

I’ll pass on your suggestion of the pedal exercisers to our testing team. There’s a bit more in the Home Gym guide now, including treadmills, dumbbells, and rowing machines.

For arms and legs, something like an assault or air bike could work (though doesn’t solve your space issue, unfortunately)?

Just stumbled across this section of the website so hello and thank you for being here. Only been a member for a short time but already finding it very valuable

Hi chrisandy – Welcome to Which? Conversation. It’s always good to have new faces. There are new topics and many older ones that are periodically revived.

Right back at you @chrisandy! It’s good to see you here!

david youll says:
25 May 2021

Hi, I’m David and a member of Which? for about 40 years. Has there been any discussion about Amazon becoming the new “Big Brother”? I ask because I received a bottle of shampoo yesterday from Amazon as a gift. Possibly by amazing coincidence, the day before, I had been searching the internet for the same type of shampoo (Alphosyl, it’s not common) and after looking at several sites, including Amazon, I decided to buy the product from an eBay supplier (it should arrive later this week). Could it be that Amazon has been monitoring my internet activity and decided to demonstrate that they could supply the product quicker? The Gift receipt gave a name of the sender – a German name that I have never heard of. What’s going on? Has anyone else had a similar experience? I did call Amazon to ask who had sent the product to me, but I was told that the sender was confidential!

Hi David, nice to hear from you and welcome to the conversation. That’s a different one, was it explicitly a gift from Amazon? As we have a discussion (linked below) about an Amazon brushing scam. Where Amazon account holders are getting items delivered that they did not order and did not pay for? This type of fraud involves Amazon sellers setting up accounts in a stranger’s name, then sending their products to an unsuspecting recipient. They then use this account they’ve set up to write fake ‘verified reviews’ in a bid to improve their seller ratings.

You can find out more about it here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/amazon-prime-brushing-scam-explained/

Hope this helps 🙂

I’d worry about the integrity of unsolicited gifts; are they fake, maybe dangerous? Why should someone just give me something with no strings attached?

Hi all,

I’m Misha and have been a Which? member for 3 or 4 decades. While I find the regular Which? information very useful, there are — inevitably — consumer issues which aren’t covered by Which?. Sometimes it’s easy to find relevant information elsewhere and sometimes it’s difficult. I’ve just hit a serious problem which doesn’t appear to be covered by Which? and for which the online information is not easy (for me) to understand. I hope that someone here can help me.

Spurred on by the recently announced imminent ban on the sale of halogen bulbs (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/end-of-halogen-light-bulbs-spells-brighter-and-cleaner-future), we arranged to have the recessed downlights in our kitchen and bathrooms changed from halogen to LED. This required a change to the dimmers as dimmers for LEDs are different from dimmers for halogen bulbs (I only learnt this in the past week).

As soon as we turned on the new lights, I experienced strong feelings of nausea and a headache. These feelings are particularly acute while I’m in these rooms (with the lights on) and take hours to fade away when I leave these rooms. I’ve done quite a lot of browsing and discovered that a lot of people have negative reactions to LED lights, varying from mild reactions to epileptic fits. It appears that the problem is caused by the way LED lights continuously flicker when driven via AC. Here are a couple of fairly old papers about the problem:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224188247_LED_lighting_flicker_and_potential_health_concerns_IEEE_standard_PAR1789_update

http://www.e3tnw.org/Documents/2011%20IES%20flicker%20paper%20poplawski-miller-FINAL.pdf

What I’ve discovered from browsing the Web is that:

1. There are three components which can play a role in this problem (or in avoiding the problem): the light fitting, the LED bulb, and the dimmer.

2. The problem is not inherent to LED lighting but is the result of choices made by manufacturers.

3. There appears to be no way for a consumer to know whether a given combination of light fitting, LED bulb and dimmer will result in this problem.

The only advice I’ve found online is to use warm white (2700K) LED bulbs and to keep the light intensity down. I find that these steps help somewhat but still leave me unable to function properly.

Has anyone else here experienced this problem, possibly on a more minor level, and/or do you know of family or friends who have done so?

Can anyone here offer any advice on overcoming the problem?

Are there any regulations governing the supply of these items which should help overcome this kind of problem?

Many thanks,
Misha

Hi Misha,

Welcome to the conversation, thank you for highlighting this situation with LED light bulbs. We have had previous conversations on the site here about halogens being phased out here -https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/halogen-light-bulbs-eu-commission-energy-saving/ but have yet to have anything reported on the issue you are having which much be taking it toll.

This is something that I will be taking back to our research teams. Has anyone else experienced this sort of thing? If so we’d love to hear from you 🙂

Hi Misha – Some fluorescent lighting (magnetic ballast) produces a visible flicker that is noticeable to some individuals including me, but I am not aware of a problem with modern LED lamps. The articles you have provided links for are quite old and designs of LED lamps have changed.

I suggest using mains voltage LED lamps rather than ones that need a separate driver, and it is important to use a dimmer that is specifically for LED lighting. Dimmers for halogen lamps may cause flickering and cause LEDs to behave unpredictably.

There are regulations that limit the amount of radio frequency emission that electrical products can emit to avoid radio and TV interference but I am not aware of anything specifically related to flicker.

Hi wavechange,

Many thanks for your reply.

I’ve found a newer paper (from 2015), which appears to be the outcome of the deliberations mentioned in the introduction to the first paper I quoted earlier. It’s called “1789-2015 – IEEE Recommended Practices for Modulating Current in High-Brightness LEDs for Mitigating Health Risks to Viewers” and is available here:
http://bio-licht.org/02_resources/info_ieee_2015_standards-1789.pdf

And here’s an even newer paper, from 2019, called “Light Emitting Diode Lighting Flicker, its Impact on Health and the Need to Minimise it”:
https://jcdr.net/articles/PDF/12880/41491_220419_41491_CE%5bRa1%5d_F(KM)_PF1(AJ_SHU)_PFA(SL)_PN(SL).pdf

The light fittings our electrician installed are described here:
http://www.allledgroup.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=630
Neither the product page, nor the accompanying data sheet, mention a driver, but I’m not sufficiently technical to say for sure that there isn’t one. Can you tell?

The bulbs the electrician fitted are described here:
http://www.allledgroup.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=468&search=AGU501D%2F27

Our electrician told us that the new dimmers he installed are designed for LEDs. I’ll need to ask him for their make and model.

Thanks very much for these links, Misha.

Your light fittings take GU10 lamps, which are mains voltage and there is no driver to complicate matters. If the dimmer(s) are designed for LEDs (sometimes called ‘trailing edge dimmers’ and dim the lamps progressively without any sign of flickering they are not obviously creating a problem. Nevertheless, dimmers work by switching the lamp on and off at a frequency that is too high to be perceptible and it might be worth running the lamps at full brightness to see if that eliminates the nausea and headache you have mentioned. If that works you could replace the LED lamps with ones that are less bright.

LED lamps themselves produce slight flicker because they are run from AC mains, which means that the light output cycles up and down, again at a frequency too high to be visible. LED lamps consist of blue LEDs and a fluorescent phosphor that converts blue light into white light. The phosphor helps to reduce flickering.

Although LED lamps contain a rectifier to convert AC to DC there is not enough room to include a large capacitor that would be needed to remove all flickering. That is one of the problems with making lamps that are a plug-in replacement for incandescent bulbs. It might be worth swapping to LED lamps from a different manufacturer. You might get some useful advice from the major manufacturers.

I have never had any problems with LED lighting and my interest is because I suffer from a headache and nausea very quickly if I use an stroboscopic tachometer to measure the speed of rotation of motors etc. I also find faulty lighting (see Beryl’s post below) very unpleasant. I am only affected when flickering is obvious, though you and others seem to be affected by higher frequencies where it is not possible to see flickering. This is mentioned in the IEEE article.

Please let us know if you manage to find other information or find a solution to your problem.

Thanks, again, wavechange.

I’ve discovered which dimmers our electrician installed. They’re described here:
https://www.mlaccessories.co.uk/product/2460323/10200w-5150w-led-trailing-edge-led-dimmer-module
As you advised, they are trailing edge dimmers.

Tonight, I’ll try the lights at full brightness, as you suggested.

I’ve also found another two relevant articles:

1. “The scientific reason you don’t like LED bulbs — and the simple way to fix them” published in 2017 in The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/the-scientific-reason-you-dont-like-led-bulbs-and-the-simple-way-to-fix-them-81639) and in the Scientific American (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-scientific-reason-you-dont-like-led-bulbs-mdash-and-the-simple-way-to-fix-them/). The words “and the simple way to fix them” seem to be false advertising as the article doesn’t appear to describe a simple solution.

2. “Flicker: A Hazard of LED Lighting” (https://energyperformancelighting.com/flicker-a-hazard-of-led-lighting/). This article (unlike the others) appears on a commercial Web site but seems (to my non-expert eyes) to make sense. It was last updated in 2019. I’ll quote some of it below. Apologies for the length of the quote, but it seems worth it. Note the distinction it makes between visible flicker and invisible flicker.

LEDs and Flicker

Flicker is exactly what it sounds like – light output from a given source changing repetitively over time – similar to flicking the light switch on and off except the light output is fluctuating on its own and at a much quicker pace. There are two types of flickering with lights: visible flicker and invisible flicker.

Visible flicker (considered anything below a frequency of 100Hz) is observable by the human eye and is typically undesirable except in special applications such as stroboscopic lighting. Invisible flicker is flickering that is present but not perceived by the naked eye. If left uncontrolled, lighting flicker can cause an abundance of biological and health issues that can ruin an otherwise well-designed space. Neurological problems (including epileptic seizures), dizziness, headaches, fatigue, increased autistic behavior (especially in children), eyestrain, impaired thought, and migraines are some potential flicker-induced impairments.

What Causes Flicker?

For LED lighting to perform optimality, it should be run on direct current (DC), since there is a constant stream of current through the circuit. But because electricity in the U.S. is delivered through alternating current (AC), voltage delivered to a source fluctuates between on and off as it bounces off the positive and negative poles of the sine wave (unless the current is maintained in some way). A source without quality electronic circuitry – such as a ballast, driver, or capacitor — will flicker.

Another cause for flicker is with dimming and control circuitry that uses a method called PWM (pulse width modulation). PWM cycles the LED from the maximum current to zero current, essentially switching the current on and off very fast, and repeats this process at a fixed rate. Dimming is controlled by the driver, so choosing the proper driver is crucial to getting the desired lighting effect. Drivers that use PWM at a low enough frequency have a high potential to introduce undesirable flicker.

How to Reduce LED Flicker

The key to reducing flicker lies in a well-designed driver. The right driver can eliminate the problem of flicker by providing the LED with a constant, non-oscillating current. The issue here is that manufacturers must weigh several factors—such as size, efficiency, cost, and reliability—when deciding which driver to include in their products.

Capacitors are typically used in LED drivers to smooth and reduce the ripple that comes from the power supply. Selecting a quality capacitor for an LED lighting system can help to avoid flicker, eliminate excessive heat, and ensure the longevity of the LED lights. Even lamps with capacitors may flicker; it is a matter of the quality of the lamps and their components. Lower cost lights/lamps have lower quality capacitors.

It is also important to verify that the LED lighting product is compatible with the dimmers or other control circuits used in the lighting system. A faulty photosensor or timer can cause flicker issues. Moreover, random flickering may be an indication of another problem in the lighting system, such as loose wiring and interconnections. The quality of the electrical supply can also result in problems with power fluctuations.

Hi again Misha – I agree with your comment about the Scientific American article. SA is usually a very good source of information.

The second article is even less helpful to the layperson. For example it refers to PWM dimming, but as far as I know, domestic dimmers use phase control rather than PWM. (PWM is ideal for controlling high power loads such as heaters and specialist lighting.) It’s true that decent capacitors can reduce (invisible) flickering but there is not enough room in the cap of a lamp (especially the GU10 type) for a big enough capacitor to do the job. It is right that it would be best to run LEDs on DC rather than AC, but our mains supply is AC.

You have established that warm white (2700K) lamps are best for you. That might be because the colour temperature is low or simply because high colour temperature lamps that produce bluish light tend to be brighter than the rather yellow warm white lamps.

It might be worth visiting neighbours or friends who have LED lighting and find out whether you are affected. If not you could switch to using the same LED lamps.

Em says:
23 June 2021

Hi Misha, I started looking into flicker from LED lamps yesterday, but I see you have now posted the details of the light fixtures and bulbs fitted, which is helpful. Originally, I thought you might have integrated LEDs (part the light fitting), so you would only have the option of changing the entire unit.

It looks like you have standard downlighters with GU10 connectors, so you can change the bulbs to see if you could find something that suits you better. In other words, only the bulb and the dimmer can be the source of flicker, as there are no components in the light fixtures themselves.

I wonder if something from the Philips (Signify) EyeComfort range might suit you better. Philips are aware of issues with LED flicker – philips.com/eyecomfort has various papers. You can Google part number 929002065733 for example. But there don’t seem to be any recognised standards for flicker measurement in the EU, although the US do from Underwriters Labs (“UL”).

I have no experience of these, as I don’t suffer. Failing that, why not go back to halogen bulbs, whilst you still can?

Hi wavechange.

I’ve now tried setting the dimmers to maximum brightness and that does, indeed, greatly reduce the problem. Thanks for the suggestion.

We do, though, want to be able to dim the lights, eg when eating supper or relaxing around the table afterwards. This will be much more relevant later in the year, when it gets dark earlier.

I may need to ask the electrician to tweak the potentiometer built into each dimmer. The dimmer’s instruction manual* states:

If small levels of flicker can be seen in the dimming curve at the lowest point, then this can be eliminated by following the steps below

Adjusting the minimum dimming level
• Isolate the power and rotate the dimmer to its minimum position
• With the aid of a small slotted screwdriver, rotate the potentiometer
• Switch on the mains power and check for correct operation
• If flicker is still in the dimming curve please repeat the above steps

* For the dimmer’s product page, see the link in my post of 22 June, below.

Hi again wavechange.

We don’t know of any neighbours or friends who’ve taken the step of replacing all of the lighting in some room with LEDs, connected to a dimmer. 🙁

Hi Em,

Thanks for your input. I’ll look at the Philips (Signify) EyeComfort range you mentioned and will also follow up the other suggestions you made.

I have a pair of Philips Hue LED bulbs (with integral dimmers), which I’m very pleased with.

Another problem has arisen (I don’t think I should say “has come to light”) with our new LED lights. We have two banks of 8 downlights (so 16 lights in all) in our kitchen/dining room/playroom. Each bank is controlled by a dimmer. After being on for an hour or so, all the lights in a given bank go off, stay off for around 5 or 10 seconds, and then come back on. This off/on cycle then continues, with gaps of 5 minutes or so. The two banks go off and then on at their own rhythm. We’ve noticed that the area of the switch plate behind which the dimmers are located gets very hot.

This is a mystery to us as:

• The LED bulbs are described as taking 5.5W.
• We have 8 of them per dimmer, making 44W per dimmer.
• The dimmers are rated at 5-150W when used with LEDs.

Any suggestions?

Many thanks.

Hello Misha, you could swap that module to a different brand of dimmer, say MK, and see if that changes the flicker and the extinguishing.

Hi malcolm r,

The problem is that the more I look into this stuff, the more I discover that achieving a successful LED-dimmer partnership is a black art rather than a science. This makes me reluctant to try to solve the problems by throwing money at them, as I have no basis for supposing that one product combination will work better than another. I wish there was some organisation that would test these products and publish the evaluations.

I’ve found two Web pages with conversations about the problems, among people who seem to know what they’re talking about. They include horror stories, like dimmers in adjacent rooms interacting to cause problems.

I don’t want my post to get stuck in the 24-hour holding tank while the hyperlinks are checked, so I’ll try leaving out the protocol section of the hyperlinks. The two pages are:

http://www.electriciansforums.net/threads/led-flashing.191676/
forum.buildhub.org.uk/topic/18736-dimmable-led/

I was suggesting a known (hopefully reputable) supplier of dimmer modules might be worth trying, rather than an unknown (to me) make. Just substituting one may test whether it makes a difference.

“I suggest using mains voltage LED lamps rather than ones that need a separate driver, and it is important to use a dimmer that is specifically for LED lighting. Dimmers for halogen lamps may cause flickering and cause LEDs to behave unpredictably.”

Apologies being late to the party – only recently rejoined Convo after some absence. I can empathise with this problem having had bad headaches as a result of flickering fluorescent tunes in yesteryear.

If I were in Misha’s shoes and getting ill as a result of this, the first thing I’d do is “un-replace” the LED bulbs with the removed halogen ones (and “unreplace” the dimmer too as a sticking plaster solution.

I’d then seek out low voltage DC LED fittings and a a DC driver for LED lights, and finally add a DC to DC dimmer such as the one RS sells – https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/led-lighting-controllers/7693189/ and, having jerry rigged one or two on my desk to confirm success, replace all the existing fittings with the new solution.

An alternative if this sounds too complicated, contact LED manufacturers and find the ones that use long persistence phosphors – you need one where the phosphor luminescence half life is >100ms. Provided the phosphor glow continues for substantially longer than the mains cycle, flicker should be all-but absent no matter what the driver system.

The Lighting Association should be able to help Chirag @chiragkhetiya

I had a similar problem with LED lightbulbs and had to change back to halogen.
Also, there is a street light at the front of my house that started to nonstop flicker that triggered a migraine with nausea. I had to phone the council to come and fix it.

There is a condition that can cause a reaction in susceptible people; a type of photophobia, which is a sensitivity to light. It’s interesting to note something can trigger a migraine where you see flashing lights at the onset or just before, can feel nauseous but without a headache. It’s known as a silent migraine.

Thanks for your comment, Beryl.

We haven’t (yet!) changed back to halogen lights in our kitchen and bathrooms but have put on hold changing the lights in our study/office from halogen to LED, pending the outcome of our investigations into the cause of the problem. We did find that swapping the LED bulbs from cool white ones (4000K) to warm white ones (2700K) helped a lot. Do you know the colour temperature of the LED bulbs you tried?

I came across the Wikipedia article on photophobia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photophobia) during my research but the problems it describes are mostly much more severe than the ones I’m experiencing.

Since my childhood, I have (occasionally) suffered from flashing lights at the edge of my vision, which are followed by difficulty focusing my eyes and needing to minimise eye stimulation in order to avoid a migraine. I wonder whether people who suffer from this kind of symptom are more sensitive to flickering lights. I’ve just looked up “silent migraine” and found the articles interesting.

I’ve also always been made ill by going on fairground rides but have never been sure whether this is due to visual problems (ie the scenery flashing by very fast) or balance problems (ie my body not coping well with rapid changes of position). If it’s the former, then that might be related to my current problem with flickering lights.

Another question, @beryl,

You wrote that you abandoned LED bulbs and changed back to halogen ones.

Were you using a dimmer with the LED bulbs?

It seems that it is sometimes the dimmers that cause the problem.

@beryl and anyone else who might click on the link in my comment above …
I accidentally linked to a section (called “Other causes”) within the Wikipedia article on photophobia, rather than to the entire article. So if you do click on that link, please scroll to the top of the article before you start reading.

You were spot on Misha! The LED bulbs were not compatible with the dimmer
switch. In my naivety I bought the wrong bulbs for a 3 armed chandelier that failed to dim when I turned the dimmer switch down, and which kept flickering until they were full on, which were then much too bright.

I have been a migraine sufferer since my early twenties, inherited from my mother. It was much later in life when I started experiencing the silent migraines, as the flashing lights and aura without the headache were quite disconcerting, until a consultant reassured me they were just migraine without a headache. I expect after researching you are now more familiar with photophobia which can come on with a migraine headache, but if you are not sure about the symptoms you are experiencing, I would strongly advise that you talk to your GP for reassurance, as headaches can often be a symptom of something else.

Anyone who suffers from migraine, with or without the headache, know only too well how it affects your whole system and not just your head, and once you understand the trigger that brings it on you are in a much better position to deal with it, or learn to live with it. I hope you soon get to the bottom of your problem and wish you well.

Beryl – The severe flickering and lack of proper dimming you have described are what happens if you do not have a dimmer suitable for LED lamps or you try to dim LEDs that are ‘non-dimmable’.

With a wall-mounted dimmer it is usually easy to swap to a dimmer suitable for LED lamps. Dimmers designed for LED lamps will work on halogen lamps too if you want to compare both types of lamps.

Thanks Wavechange. I would need a dual switch as there are 2 lights, totalling 6 light bulbs. I would have to hire an electrician as tampering with electricity is not something I would feel comfortable with. I will probably wait now until all the existing bulbs I have stored are used and are no longer available.

We would not want to lose you, Beryl. If you have an electrician in to do another job it should be a simple task and with luck you might never need to change an LED bulb.

Thanks Wavechznge. Having absorbed my fair share of shocks during my longevity, I now tend to avoid all contact with undercurrents. I may no longer be able to change any more lightbulbs, or the world for that matter, but I can still change myself 🙂

Hi! I’m Liisi. I grew up with Which, my Dad being a lifelong member, if I needed advise on products or consumer issue, he would always go to Which. Now, I go to Which online and did so with a recent purchase of a wheelbarrow. Having read a article on wheelbarrows, decided what I was looking, I followed a link for Wheelbarrows.co.uk. From the Which website.
How I wish I had chosen another link or gone down to the local garden centre!
The barrow arrive damaged, to the point it could not be assembled. I call DF Sales Ltd and was told to email with photos. 5 days later, no reply, so I rung. Now they wanted a video, so I said I wanted a replacement that was fit for purpose or a refund. To which I was told, you only get refund if the product is resaleable! What about faulty goods, I asked… “We make an assessment to if there is damage and if there is you don’t get a refund.”
What about my rights as a consumer under the Comsumers Rights Act 2015…. “You agreed to our terms and conditions when you bought our product”.
So it seems what they are telling me is it ok for them to sell me a damaged, faulty, used before product but I won’t get a refund if it is damaged in anywhere when returned, even if it arrive damaged.
I have written to them and stated my rights as per the law, told them to remove the wheelbarrow and provide a full refund. I am still waiting.
In the meanwhile, I have had a look into what others say about the company. The poor reviews are numerous and go back for years.
One comment summed them up “Buying from this company is like choosing to eat a sting nettle sandwich”.
However, I now realise that just because a company is shown as a potential supplier on Which, means it is any good. I will be doing better homework next time.

Welcome along Liisi. Terms and conditions of distant selling – and that is what this is – cannot overtrump the act to which you refer. If it were me having reached this impasse I’d send (by email) a letter before action demanding a full refund explaining where the barrow can be collected from with a time limit of 14 days – and on the 15th day launch a claim to the courts via MCOL.

I must add this is my opinion only – I am not a lawyer, but I think it’s time to start playing hard ball given their responses.

Window cleaning. I couldn’t find any Which reviews. I have used 2 Karcher window vacs and each stopped working after about 18months.

Hi Judy and welcome to Which? Conversation.

Karcher window vacs have a manufacturer’s guarantee for two years, although that might not have applied when you purchased them. In the UK there is a five or six year period in which you can make a claim against the retailer, though this is not a guarantee and may need evidence that the problem was not caused by the user. This Which? advice explains how to make a claim: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights

Hi I,m new to this so not sure if I,m in the right place,
I was about to book tickets for a event in November and the site is charging a refund fee if the event is cancelled . Does that mean I won,t get refunded if I don,t pay the charge?
How does that affect my consumer rights?.

Caroline — Welcome to Which? Conversation.

I am not sure whether my response is legally correct because event tickets might not be treated in the same way as goods and services under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but there is still a contract.

If an event organiser cancels an event for whatever reason then they should refund the customer’s money at the organiser’s expense. It is a normal business risk [which is insurable] and the cost of repayment should be factored into their operating expenses under their business model so, in practice, it becomes a component of the ticket price.

The problem in your case is that the organiser has made it known, giving the impression that it is lawful, that a refund fee will payable in advance if customers want their money back if the event is subsequently cancelled. There are two inferences in this: (a) unless the fee is paid in advance there will be no repayment in the event of cancellation, and (b) there will be no repayment of the refund fee if the event is not cancelled. The customer loses on both sides of the toss of the coin, which cannot be fair.

I cannot believe this is legally correct but unless anyone challenges it in the courts I would expect the ticket seller to get away with it, customers being likely to cough up the refund fee when they buy their tickets since they might be concerned that a refusal to do so could mean they don’t get the tickets they want or they would get treated badly in the event of a cancellation.

Events, as pleasure expenditure, carry higher levels of personal expectation, self-indulgence, and excitement than routine purchases so special emotions come into play if the experience is ruined. Exploiting that is easy and the trade has institutionalised it.

It is legitimate to make tickets non-refundable [or to charge a premium for refundability] in the event that the customer wishes to cancel but I question whether that principle can apply in reverse.

The situation could also be different if the organiser offered substitute tickets for a different event or for an alternative date.

You could ask your local Trading Standards service to look into this for you. Contact is usually via Citizen’s Advice.

I believe some fees may not be refundable: ” If an event is cancelled, you are entitled to the refund of your ticket cost. It is unlikely that the ticket refund will include any administration, booking, postage or card fees that you paid, but you should check your contract to make sure.

Where does that quotation come from, Malcolm? Is it a statement of fact or an opinion?

My view is that unless the terms and conditions available at the point of purchase specifically state that those charges [as incorporated in the ticket price] are non-refundable then there should be no deduction from a cancellation refund. A complication is that some of them will be identical across the ticket price range and irrespective of the number of tickets bought [e.g. postage] while others [like credit card processing] will be a percentage of the total transaction cost.

I believe this a dubious and murky area of the law which would benefit from a legal test in the courts. An expert legal opinion from Which? would be appreciated.

It was a quote from the web, John, but it did confirm what I seemed to recollect from past reports.

Despite the awful search facility in Which? News I eventually found this ” These firms are required by the industry’s self-regulatory body, the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (Star), to refund the ticket’s face-value price when an event is cancelled. It’s unlikely you’ll get the delivery costs or booking fees back, though.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/07/viagogo-customers-face-fight-to-get-cancelled-and-postponed-event-refunds/ – Which?

Thanks, Malcolm.

I wonder whether the unlikelihood of getting the associated costs back is a legally justified position or just a trade custom and practice that isn’t worth challenging because of potential unintended consequences that would be even more damaging to consumers. Where booking fees [including delivery charges] are separately identified and excluded from refunds then I would agree they could be retained.

Thanks, Malcolm.

It would seem that they are Which?’s words. I am a little worried by the implication that refunds are due to the grace and favour of the trade body [STAR] rather than a legal requirement.

I would agree that where any booking fees [including delivery costs] are separately identified they could be excluded from refunds provided that is declared in the T’s-&-C’s. If that is not the case then I think customers have a valid claim to a full refund of all they have paid.

STAR’s policy is possibly a convenient confirmation of the trade’s long-standing custom and practice in respect of refunds and not worth challenging because of the potential for unintended consequences that could be more damaging to consumers.

Helena Forsyth says:
28 September 2021

Hi, Have been a member of Which? on and off. Main issue we have just now is our new Howdens kitchen – such poor quality – totally different standard from the one we bought from them 7 years ago. They are highly rated on this site for quality etc and am wondering how old the review is. Every single internal edge in our units is simply raw unfinished MDF – really unacceptable. Have checked with Howdens and this is how they come now (it is not that our fitter was cutting them up or anything like that). Would never buy from them again especially as you pay over the odds for ‘quality’.

A belated welcome to Which? Conversation, Helena.

I Agree that unfinished MDF is not acceptable and I do not recall seeing this on any fitted kitchen. I have friends who had a Howdens kitchen installed during the past year and they are happy with it. I was given a tour and I think I would have remembered if I had seen unfinished MDF.

You could ask a local kitchen fitter for their opinion. Legal advice is available at an affordable price from Which? Legal, whether or not you are a current Which? subscriber.

Helena, I agree. Any visible MDF edge should be properly finished. Was this apparent from their website? If not I would suggest you pursue it.

If you have no success then you could consider buying self-adhesive finishing strip and covering the edges. B&Q, Wickes, local timber merchant should stock or buy online; a variety of finishes are available. But you should not have to do this!

Phil says:
16 October 2021

MDF is simply not acceptable. Dreadful stuff and like chipboard not really suited for use as shelves.

MDF is very common in kitchen units, Phil. It’s easy to cut and machine, and does not warp like wood can. Possible the worst feature of MDF is that leakage of water from a sink, dishwasher or washing machine can quickly destroy it. Like chipboard, there are different qualities. I’m keeping my elderly kitchen, which does not look like MDF – but I don’t know.

How “elderly” is your kitchen? And more importantly what is it made from, is it made from older generation plywood, some of which was stuck together with glue made from animal products, like that also used for the casings of a good many old valve radios and TV sets for example, as well as other old appliances and furniture and it can be a very effective breeding ground for woodworm and when they infest such old plywood treating it is well nigh impossible because of the laminated construction. I thought I’d better mention this as I’ve recently looked into it. And some lab technicians even use the old style plywood for breeding woodworm when developing new poisons for killing them. And I know some old kitchen units were made from older plywood which sometimes falls victim to woodworm and in recent years I’ve seen one such old unit reduced to powder by the wretched bugs. And this is something to consider when thinking of buying any such old units or furniture or old appliances like some of those on ebay for example, and sometimes with old radios and TV’s etc. the bugs can be on the inside where you can’t see their evidence unless the whole thing is stripped down, so beware. And for this reason I now won’t accept any old wood or plywood cased appliances for repair.

I’ve got some MDF for bridging the gaps around my windows and some of it has a rough surface, and sanding it doesn’t really work very well unless you intend to paint it, when you should give it one coat first and let it dry and then sand it and then it tends to work better, so then it should be smoother for finishing the painting.

MDF is widely used in the construction of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, usually melamine faced both for cosmetic and protective reasons. Moisture resistant grades are normally used where there might be damp.

I used melamine faced chipboard 30 years ago for dividers and shelves when I made my kitchen units as that was all the board I could readily buy. It has lasted well, including shelves loaded with crockery.

In my experience MDF from the diy sheds has a “woolier” core than the better quality (and higher priced) one bought from a decent timber merchant. It is best to prime before painting to seal it. Some suggest using a diluted PVA adhesive on the edges and then sanding lightly but I haven’t tried that. I have used veneered MDF mainly and cut 3mm matching timber strips glued to the edges. You can buy very thin iron-on veneer strip in rolls to do the same job but I prefer the thicker material so I can take the sharpness off edges and corners. I’ve a large cupboard to make that will be painted and will trim the edges that way.

Best to machine MDF outside and wear a mask as the dust can damage your health.

Having now examined my kitchen cupboards and drawers, the doors and drawer fronts are wood with tongue & groove joints. The shelves are good quality MDF, judging by the fact that some of them have coped with heavy loads without distortion. I suspect the carcasses are veneered MDF but cannot be sure. Some of the hinges had worn or were making an ominous clicking noise but they were easy to replace with soft-close replacements.

Cocker – I discovered that woodworm love plywood years ago, when me and my father found woodworm-infested sheets stored in his garage. It had spread to some surrounding wood in storage but only the plywood was badly affected. I believe it is the glue in plywood that woodworm found attractive. I hope modern plywood uses different glue and I’ve never seen a problem with newer plywood stored in my garage/workshop or elsewhere. My kitchen is around 20 years old and I don’t believe there is any plywood.

I have a Cossor 500AC ‘Melody Maker’ valve radio dating from 1950 and that is free from worm, possibly because woodworm prefers an unheated environment to thrive. It’s sad to see old radios that have suffered woodworm damage.

I’ve got some soft close hinges for my old hygena kitchen units from the 80’s as they’re far more misophonia friendly and stop the doors from banging, which should also make them more neighbour friendly too. They have little tiny hydraulic dampers inside the hinges. And the old 1950’s plywood was bonded with some old glue called casein which woodworm do indeed thrive on and because it’s hidden in between the layers it’s near enough impossible to treat it. But the more modern plywood is made with formaldehyde glue which the bugs can’t eat, or so the experts say. And it’s generally only much older kitchen units up to the 60’s, I think, which were made with plywood, like the old “kitchenette” units with the two doors with their snap action catches and drawers and open shelves higher up, I’ve recently seen one of them totally destroyed by woodworm but luckily it was being stored in an old outbuilding well clear of the house.

If you have doors and drawers than close with an annoying bang, you can use small self-adhesive “rubber” pads, available in the diy sheds.

Mine are already fitted with soft plastic pads for this purpose but the soft-close hinges allow the doors to close silently. Small features like this tend to be standard on new kitchens but can be added to existing ones for little cost and without the hassle of replacing a kitchen.

Serge Guilbert says:
20 October 2021

Hello! My name is Serge and last July my flat was badly damaged by the floods and sewage water. My flat is being repaired and am about to buy new kitchen appliances. However my flat is a garden flat with 7 steps down to the entrance and I was rather shocked when a supplier ( Appliance Direct) told me they only deliver on a ground floor level for Health and Safety reasons! I wonder how much business they are losing by not having experienced delivery staff able to deliver down a few steps! Has anyone been refused delivery for this reason?

Hi Serge and welcome to Which? Conversation. I’m sorry to hear about your flooding and have friends who were out of their home for nine months after a major flood.

A company is allowed to set the rules. For example more companies are refusing cash these days, even if it costs them business. Some companies do ask questions in advance to check if their are stairs or other access problems that would cause them to decline an order. I hope that you had not paid for the goods before Appliances Direct refused to deliver.

I hope you are able to find what you need from a retailer prepared to negotiate your seven steps. No-one has refused to deliver furniture up a flight of stairs in my home.