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Take the Which? Conversation quiz of the year

It’s fair to say that quite a lot happened in 2020 – but do you remember all of it? Test your knowledge and your memory in the Which? Conversation quiz of the year.

From the pademic to product recalls, travel rights to sustainability and our campaigning work, Which? Conversation’s been there for it all in 2020.

But how closely were you following the news, our discussions and our polls? Take our quiz of 2020 this New Year’s Eve to find out!


 

Post your score in the comments and let us know how you got on, and which questions had you stumped (if any!).

And finally, on behalf of everyone involved in Which? Conversation and the wider world of Which?, we wish you the happiest possible new year.

Let’s hope for a more positive, prosperous 2021. We’ll see you there.

Comments

I confess to getting fewer than half the answers correct. Not owning a pet, I don’t know and don’t care what percentage of alarms are set off by pets, though I do know that choosing the right alarm system can avoid the problem.

All the best for the New Year from me too.

James Richmond says:
31 December 2020

12/20

Great quiz Which? convo and thanks for the great topics covered this year.

Thanks Dan 🙂

13/20 with some lucky guesses.

I didn’t know about the egg markings and got that question wrong. Afterwards I looked it up and think the choice of answers may not be correct.

Yes, according to Wikipedia:
0 = organic egg production
1 = free-range eggs
2 = deep litter indoor housing
3 = cage farming

I’m not sure about the ones from the local farms, which are unmarked.

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, thanks for the eggsplanation Jon (no more, please 🙁 ). I cannot say I am totally convinced though. However, it was an interesting quiz in reminding us of some issues that really need thinking about.

Do you know when Which? will be asking their experts to routinely answer questions raised by Convo contributors?

I managed 13/20 but a many were inspired (?) guesses.

This highlighted some interesting information that we should be taking further.
”34% of cordless vacuums stop working because of battery failure. ”. As with other cordless devices I think it important to press for economical replacement batteries to be available and user repairable; so you can open your battery casing easily and put in new cells if you wish. More important to the environment than moving to plant based milk?
”Only 1% of Black Friday deals cheaper..”. We should then stop the annual Which? promotion of this event and simply warn that 99% of offers are not bargains.
” 70% of our cars are imported from the EU” When the 30+ million motorists here are being exhorted to buy electric, surely a sensible response would be to develop a truly UK manufacturing industry of cars and commercial vehicles, and world-leading batteries. Solid state seems the next advance with twice the capacity and very rapid charging.
A Happy New Year 😀

“…so you can open your battery casing easily and put in new cells if you wish.” The cells in rechargeable battery packs are soldered in place to provide reliable low resistance connections. Not everyone can solder and lithium rechargeable batteries are potentially dangerous unless you understand the risks.

I think it would be more practical to standardise on battery packs so that all vacuum cleaners used one of a few types. For low power devices we have more or less standardised on AA and AAA cells.

Indeed. But the option is to have a local repair service do it, an industry that hopefully will be revived by the move to economically repairable household products. Isn’t this a principle that we should be supporting and finding ways of achieving it?
I agree that a standard fitting between battery and device would be sensible.
I think easily replaceable batteries are an essential move to a sustainable future, including mobile phones.

Right now, if I were planning to invest in a new electric car plant, I’d site in in the EU because that would give me unfettered access to markets in all of the EU and to Northern Ireland without needing to suffer the red tape of any customs barriers.

I fully support having repairable products, as we have discussed many times. It’s usually economic to carry out your own repairs but a repair shop needs to be economically viable to stay in business. As we discussed recently, many electrical goods have not increased much in price over the years. Perhaps we should continue in the right to repair Conversation.

Siting a new electric car plant in the EU would not seem to help the UK economy and I think there should be focus on developing UK industry. Helping employment and exports. As far as I can see, apart from form filling, little has changed and we will be trading tariff-free across the EU; with trade agreements already in place, we can also trade more easily elsewhere.

With an increasing home market for electric vehicles – and supposedly all new cars after 2030 – there will be a big home market as a base for mass production. Put our research, development and innovative abilities to profitable use by adding manufacturing.

I agree that siting a new electric car plant in the EU would not seem to help the UK economy, but if that is the will of UK people, then so be it.

Most of the trade agreements we now have with the rest of the work have been cut and pasted from we had whilst in the EU, so leaving the EU has not suddenly made it easier for us to trade elsewhere.

But now that we have left the EU, we can produce products for home consumption that need not be constrained by EU regulations. But given the importance of world-wide economies of scale in the car industry, I don’t think being outside the EU will help us to be more competitive their.

We can also deviate from EU policies in other ways. For example, then end of the “tampon tax” is being touted as a Brexit benefit today. However it reported elsewhere that we already had EU agreement for scrapping it anyway, see:-https://infacts.org/we-dont-need-to-leave-the-eu-to-scrap-the-tampon-tax/

But the European Commission still published proposals covering the abolition of the tampon tax in 2018. Although the earliest date for implementation is January 2022,”. Currently they require a minimum of 5%. They could have abolished this much sooner if hey were that concerned.

We even “make” electric taxis – but Chinese.

I presume we no longer have to advertise tenders for products and services above a certain value Europe-wide and accept the outcome. Like passports? But also other important contracts. Let’s keep what we can in-house and benefit our own workforce and businesses.

Some data on the UK sales of BEV’s and PHEV’s is given here:-https://www.leasefetcher.co.uk/blog/uk-electric-car-sales-in-2020

From that, it looks as though around 96% of the car market is still ICE sales. So that could be a big potential opportunity for a new enterprise.

That said, many existing competitors already have fairly mature products in the market, see:-https://www.electrichunter.com/electric-cars/top-10-best-electric-cars-2020-europe

I was disappointed with 10/20!

Now let’s have an automotive quiz….
1. When is a car not a car?
2. What’s the difference between a breakaway cable and a secondary coupling?
3. Why is it that towing equipment fitted to the rear of a vehicle has to be tested and type approved but towing equipment (A-Frames) fitted to the front is completely unregulated?
4. Why do bull bars have to be type approved and tested yet A-Frame brackets with dangerous projections don’t?
5. Why is it that neither The Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps nor anyone at the DfT have replied to my letters?

Tony, could you explain the problems that you see with the items you mention, and the harm they may have caused?

Is my reply working now?

Malcolm, here’s the gist of the letter I sent to the DfT and the Sec of State for Transport…. still waiting for replies!

It did include photos that have probably been redacted.

08 December 2020
DVSA/DoT

Ref: A-Frame Towing.

Dear Sirs,
I previously wrote (20.10.2020) to both the DoT and the DVSA regarding the issues surrounding A-Frames but to date, have received no response.
As a retired trailer and towbar manufacturer and a past director of the National Trailer and Towing association (NTTA), I have been aware of a major inconsistency regarding the regulation of towed and towing vehicles for over 30 years.

‘A’ frames are most commonly used in the leisure field, predominantly by Motorhomers to tow their ‘city cars’ behind them. Currently, there are in the region of 300,000 Motorhomes/Campers on UK Roads, well over a 1/3rd of which are equipped to tow cars, or ‘Toads’ as some of the users choose to refer to them.

There is an issue that this sector of the vehicle market is almost entirely unregulated and that over 75% of new product is still using outdated and incompatible technology, based purely on cost.

My concerns fall into two main categories, 1. Safety. 2. The legal/legislative aspect and the non regulation,

The current view of the DoT, according to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-frames-and-dollies/a-frames-and-dollies is that a car on an ‘A’ frame (a Toad) is classed temporarily, as a trailer. Only the UK accept that a car adapted for towing is classed as a trailer although the page referred to does state that a car/A-Frame combination must meet the technical requirements for trailers when used on British roads. This is a farcical situation when a trailer has to be capable of being auto-reversed yet no car/A-Frame combination using Inertia coupling technology can be. The systems are simply incompatible.

Additionally, the page refers to the Road Vehicles (C&U) regs 1986, SI1986/1078 (as amended) and specific regulations therein, the Road Vehicles Lighting Regs 1989, SI1989/1796 (as amended),plus European Directive 71/320EC. Added to the list should be:
European Directive 94/20EC
European Directive 98/12EC
The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, 8.12.68
and Regulation No 13 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UN/ECE) — Uniform provisions concerning the approval of vehicles of categories M, N and O with regard to braking [2016/194] in particular para 5.2.2.2

The.gov Guidance page clearly states “Since 1st October 1988 Inertia braking systems have been required to allow a trailer to be reversed by the towing vehicle without imposing a sustained braking drag. Devices used to fulfil this requirement must engage and disengage automatically. This applies to A-Frames that employ inertia over-run technology”. That quite simply is impossible to achieve as trailers have a dedicated auto-reverse mechanism built into each brake assembly and no car does. On the subject of brakes, most systems are relying on the vehicle’s service brake system with a ‘dead pedal’ connection where the vehicle’s servo is inoperative resulting in poor efficiency and, in the event of an emergency breakaway, all are relying on the car’s hydraulic braking system to park the car. NONE are utilising a fully mechanical, locked, parking brake.

The page goes on to say that “the A-frame itself is neither a vehicle nor a trailer, and is therefore outside the scope of type approval.”, however, a Tow-Bar is neither a vehicle nor a trailer either but has been subject to type approval since 1st August 1998. What is the logic that dictates that towing equipment fitted to the rear has to be ‘TYPE-APPROVED’ yet towing equipment fitted to the front doesn’t and is outside regulation?

Since 2012, all trailers on U.K. roads are required to be type approved but no car/‘A’ frame combination (Toad) is, nor can it be under the trailer regulations. Not one single vehicle manufacturer has mounting points they consider suitable for A-Frame towing.

The 25th May 2007 saw the outlawing of non type approved Bull Bars on the grounds of safety regarding pedestrians yet Towing A-Frames have as much potential for injury/death to a pedestrian and are unregulated. To attach an A-Frame to a car, a number of suppliers are undertaking a major alteration to the front of the towed vehicle by removing and discarding the crash/impact beam that the car was tested and approved with and replacing it with a heavy fabrication that is permanently fitted. Of the suppliers that don’t discard the crash/impact beam, they are modifying and reinforcing the original to accommodate the necessary additional mounting points and the increased stresses imposed by A-Frame towing.

These potentially have an effect on the crumple zones built into the car and even airbag deployment, with the knock on effect of risk to driver and passengers when the vehicle is used in ‘normal’ mode.
Moreover, a large number of these have projections from the front in the form of mounting points which are potentially hazardous to pedestrians involved in any accident.

Without any guidance or regulation to go by, the converters who are adapting vehicles for this purpose are using their own judgement as to what is acceptable. In many cases, the fabrication being attached to the front of the vehicle is at least as dangerous as a bull bar and certainly more dangerous than a tow-bar.

There is no sense whatsoever that Tow-Bars, Bull Bars etc. fitted to vehicles have to be type approved but ‘A’ frames have no such requirement for ‘e’ markings and more importantly, nor do their attachment brackets, which are permanently fixed to the car.

I would argue that removing the original crash/impact beam and replacing it with a much stronger welded fabrication amounts to the car being a ‘Radically Altered Vehicle’ as it affects the basic chassis construction. As such, it should be subject to a Vehicle Inspection Report and possibly re-registration. This is already successfully undertaken in New Zealand by the lvvta.org.nz

As recent correspondence with vehicle manufactures shows, there is not one single car manufacturer that has approved mounting points for these brackets. Of 15 letters written to leading manufacturers, after more than 4 months, 8 still have not responded.

In date order, the others are summarised here.

• 1.Vauxhall: I can advise that we do not have any mounting points for an A-Frame on any of our vehicle range.
• 2. Fiat (FCA): Any faults or issues relating to the fitment of an A-Frame would possibly render our manufacturers warranty void.
• 3. Honda: unable to advise, refer to dealer.
• 4. Hyundai: None of our vehicles are suitable to be towed on an A-Frame.
• 5. Toyota: we cannot recommend the use of an A-Frame with any of our vehicles.
• 6. Skoda: we are unable to advise.
• 7. Ford: refer to dealer.

A poll currently running among users of A-Frames suggests that the most popular cars to convert are Mercedes-Smart, Peugeot and Citroen yet to date, none of these have commented.

Under current legislation, the ONLY truly legal way to transport a vehicle is on a trailer, however, a properly constructed, tested and approved A-Frame has the potential to provide a safer, more stable way of vehicle transportation, bearing in mind it is quite a bit lighter than a trailer/car combination and also has a lower centre of gravity. For the end user it has the added advantage of being easier to store and arguably requires less skill/training. Far from trying to have A-Frames banned, what I hope to see, eventually, is a fully legal one that can be used with confidence.
,
If ‘Toads’ were reclassified as such rather than, temporarily, as a trailer, the A-Frame manufacturers would be able to comply with RELEVANT legislation, rather than trying to conform to something unfit for purpose. Equally, there would no need for any to attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the consumer, selectively quoting bits of legislation they think suits their purpose and confusing the end user into believing their product is ‘FULLY LEGAL’ as they all claim!

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

patrick taylor says:
2 January 2021

I am astonished that the egg question which appears to be wrong is uncorrected and unapologised for. That is incredibly disappointing.

egginfo.co.uk/egg-facts-and-figures/industry-information/egg-codes-and-quality

I have to confess to getting the jam and cream question wrong! 😀

It should be butter first then jam and finally a dollop of clotted cream, whatever they say. 🙂

Just a little butter for me, but the scones must be warm. Simple pleasures.

There are no right or wrong answers to that particular question, only a balance of opinion.

Personally. I like the jam and cream without the scone which can sometimes be stodgy or unpleasant in taste.