/ Discussions

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
Member

As a contributor to other sites I had just begun to accept the idea of putting a head above the parapet. My early experiences were not always pleasant and views often provoked personal attacks from others. I had been subscribing to Which for many years and immediately Which Conversation came into being, I put in a tentative contribution and found that the response was positive and friendly. I soon realised that there were many here who were well educated and worldly wise and I tried, and continue to try, to present an honest contribution, knowing that my limited knowledge and lesser status is not mocked and I can learn from those who really know what they are talking about, while, at the same time, posing an innocent question or two to dig a little further. I like to see things as they really are in a pragmatic way rather than take sides here. Thus I do hide some thoughts and leanings by discussing topics from a neutral view point, especially on political issues. I am still cautious about personal details though I dare say much of what I have written can identify me by compilation and analysis if anyone thought it worth their while. I hope I don’t rate that highly in any nefarious hierarchy to warrant the effort.
The Conversation site is well regulated – annoyingly buggy at times (I lost a contribution this afternoon and had to re-type it) and the members who contribute are – by and large – well mannered, polite and understanding. Differences are discussed and not fought over. The management steps in occasionally when someone mutters “you don’t know what you are talking about” Or are you accusing me of lying?”, and the protagonists agree to differ and move on. I have never found myself so confronted and hope I never will.
Some time ago, a kind contributor opened up a poetry conversation and I have taken advantage of that to indulge in verse when the muse hits. Since this is a hobby, I enjoy inflicting these offerings on others, but don’t expect anything in return. To an extent this is not strictly Which Conversation territory and by hijacking this space, I am misusing the Conversation site. No one has yet been worried enough to send a reprimand, and a few kind folk have encouraged further contributions. This is typical of the kindness and comradeship I value here; a site I find cathartic and therapeutic.
I enjoy composing, playing and singing classical music, and since retiring have been a governor of the special school that I once helped to lead. Now that caring duties are over I also have a modest boat that I use as a mobile water caravan when it is moored. Hence the odd verse about ducks! I enjoy walking and am a member of the National Trust. I have one -unpublished – novel and a shed full of short stories which languish in files. A dozen of these I submitted for an independent analysis, and was told that they were unique and enjoyable but I should continue writing for pleasure rather than look to being published. I do and have several projects on the go.
If you are tempted to join us here, then I believe you will receive the same welcome I did, and perhaps a fresh face or two might jog the rest of us out of our comfortable armchairs and smoking jackets.

Member

PS. As Which well knows my pet consumer gripe is the rip off on spectacles and on ink cartridges. This gripe extends to the fact that Which refuses to address this issue directly and simply sidesteps it in reference to how expensive a printer is to run. I don’t remember seeing anything with regard to the profits made on optical products.

I would also like to know Which’s view on connected appliances in the home -risks -infiltrations by outsiders – reliability – whether these are actually being bought and used – and how good the actual internet based parts of these things are when connected by voice, phone or tablet to the house router. Automated ordering is also something that I would like to have your opinion on.

Member

I stand in awe of your post Vynor , sincere ,inspiring , a credit to the human race , maybe in my next life I will be as nice as you , I dont know how you can put up with what goes on in this world and still rise above it .
It shows we are all put here for a purpose and my life has always been a battle of which I constantly fight against while fighting for a cause I think is right .
I have always been a bit warlike in body and soul but its helps me to survive and I still think you have to be that way as there are many bad people in this world . I am not content with the status quo as ,when I look around I see suffering -pain and war and say to myself -I will not accept this so I “war ” against war.
You must look outwards at the condition of others and ,as it says in the Bible- “take up your cross and follow Righteousness “.

Member

This was lovely to read – especially the positive and friendly response you had to an early contribution, and the kindness and comradeship that’s so valued. I know that @patrick will love hearing this as well 🙂

Member

I’ll do my best to see if our printers expert can give you an overview on ink cartridges, which I know we have done a lot of research into in the past.

With regards to connected appliances, this news story should help:

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/10/how-new-rules-on-smart-devices-will-help-protect-consumers-from-being-hacked/

And here’s what our managing director of home products and services, Alex Neill, had to say:

‘Which? tests many internet-connected products and has already improved security on devices in more than a million UK homes, including TVs, voice-activated assistants, smart thermostats, and wireless routers. ‘We welcome the government taking a lead in tackling the growing issue of security in internet-connected products. Manufacturers of these smart devices must now show that they are taking security seriously and sign up to the code to better protect consumers who use their products every day.’

Member

It was indeed a lovely post. Hoping you’re going to do one, Duncan 🙂

Member

Thankyou George. Overview is not the problem. Do Which know the difference between manufacture and marketing costs and the price we actually pay? Naturally a profit is expected but does this profit exist because the industry have decided they can pretty much charge what they wish and we, the consumer, can do very little about it, hence their anger at third parties offering cheaper ink? Spectacles seem to be unchallenged and one pays up or does without.

Your internet link suggests that most households have ten or so products linked to the internet. That is a staggering statistic since I don’t own any and have seen very few for sale anywhere, except the Amazon Alexa variety. Perhaps this needs to continue elsewhere, as it is drifting off topic here.

Member

Vynor here is a business website aimed at internet traffic with a lot of graphs including OFCOM to help businesses decide on the future of their advertising aims etc.-
https://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

Member
Ron Atkinson says:
15 December 2018

Regarding the cost of spectacle frames 2 points. When I lived in Egypt in the 1980s I could buy high quality frames for a 1/3 of the price of UK products. Now domiciled in the UK I have my frames reglazed as my prescription changes. Note that not all frames are suitable for this but, if they are, why throw good frames away?

Member

Thanks Duncan. Yes, lots of graphs and the desktop users are still alive and surfing – at work??

Member

Glad you spotted that Vynor it has taken the digital world by surprise that if you take it only in mobile-v-desktops , desktops are still up in the 47 % region ,and yes a lot of people put it down to businesses.
Its as much a surprise as MS ditching its own browsers for a version of Chromium ( Google ) .

Member
DerekP says:
14 December 2018

I’m sure “desktops” means all PC’s (i.e. including Macs) here – and thus includes laptops but not tablets or phones.

Member

It does include Macs Derek.

Member
DerekP says:
15 December 2018

I didn’t doubt that Duncan, but I’ve noticed some of our fruity fans here use “PC’s” to mean “Windows PC’s”, so I thought I’d clarify my use of PC’s to cover all home computers that aren’t non-Windows tablets or phones (i.e. “mobiles” in the context of all those cited data).

Devices like my Linx 12×64 W10 tablet PC could arguably count either as a tablet or as a laptop, but, given that it can access most (or all) internet services via a web browser, it (and other W10 tablets) probably qualify as “desktops” for the purposes of the presentations here.

Member

Let’s shift this chat over to Tech Talk 🙂 https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/which-computing-editor-tech-talk/

Looking forward to reading a few more intros!

Member

Great idea setting up this page, George. I’ve had interactions with many of you regulars over the past 8 months or so, but never properly said hello and introduced myself: so, hello!

I actually originally came to W? to cover after Lauren Deitz left, but have since remained helping George and Patrick with the Convo site – I’ve been here for about 8 months, and hope to stay even longer!

My background is mostly in freelance news journalism; both writing and photos. I’ve worked on various different stories, and for various different places, but, for example: in 2015 to 2017, I was working in Greece, Turkey and various Balkans countries (after driving there in my car), covering Europe’s refugee crisis mostly for The Telegraph. Since then, I’ve worked for the BBC’s Evan Davis as his researcher and assistant. I’ve also done quite a lot of writing on housing, politics and protests. And occasionally work as a wedding photographer!

In my free time, I’m a keen cook and can sometimes be found swimming in the Hampstead ponds (it’s a balmy 5°C at the moment!).

Member

It’s been a pleasure, Oscar! Can confirm that Oscar’s cooking skills are extremely good, but I won’t be joining in the Hampstead pond swims any time soon.

Member
DerekP says:
17 December 2018

I’m DerekP and I’ve been a regular contributor to Which? Conversation for the last few years. I was also a Which? subscriber from about 1985 until 2018, but I’m not currently subscribed.

I do still regularly read Which? though, because my local library provides it within their collection of newspapers and magazines.

My hobbies and interests include travel (including railways and heritage railways, walking and motorcycling), history (especially military history and firearms technology), industrial archeology, films (not least good science fiction), books, maps, the shooting sports and, of course, home computing.

Apart from posting on here, I also now help out in my local library as a “computer buddy”, where my job is to help folk get stuff done on the internet via either their own devices or via the libraries shared PC’s. I also do a lot of software and hardware maintenance on PC’s and enjoy upgrading old machines so they can carry on doing useful work.

As a now (mostly) retired engineer, work has also been a hobby for me, and I now have a “zero hours” contract with one of my former employers, so I can sometimes even get paid for doing that hobby too. A lot of my recent focus has been on safety principles and practices in high hazard industries and within that, on the training and mentoring of recent recruits to engineering roles.

One consumer issue that concerns me is the vulnerability of many consumers to “great deals” on the internet. Even where those are not illegal scams, I think quite often folk fall prey to the thrill of the chase and sign up for “amazing bargains” that then turn out to be anything but that. As the rise of internet shopping is reducing customer choice for those of us who prefer to shop in physical shops, it would be good to see our taxation system not giving undue advantages to any multinational corporations who are able to operate largely outside the UK, i.e. instead of providing jobs within the UK, and who also declare their profits outside the UK, so as to avoid paying UK taxes on them.

Member

Thanks for sharing, Derek. Good to hear you’re still able to read Which? despite no longer being subscribed. Does the library also offer Which? Computing?

Member

Brilliant post, VynorHill, I can’t hope to top that.

I’m known here as Sophie, or Sophie G. I have contributed to Which? Conversation for a few years now, since just about the beginning? I tend to participate less nowadays because topics return and I don’t always feel I have something new to add to what I have said before. The reasons I return to Which? Convo again is because it is generally interesting, polite, and very friendly.

I like to visit different places, they don’t have to necessarily be far flung. I have had lovely city breaks in Britain and cracking weeks away in the Highlands as well as glorious weekends in Paris and wonderful holidays in Greece. Culture, art, nature, geography, languages, all interest me.

I’m interested in politics and I can’t abide greed, selfishness and injustice, because they harm everything and everyone. I mention this because they affect us all as consumers. We can see for example how profit is put before service with trains and utilities, or profit before the environment and health, with what is basically tap water being sold in plastic bottles, and excessive sugar and salt being added to foods.

One of the consumer issues that drive me nuts is packaging. I mean, come on, “bottle – widely recycled, *sleeve – not yet recycled*”. What?????

Welcome to Which? Conversation! This is one of the places where all ye who enter here are given hope that things can get done, even if it can be d***ed difficult.

Cheers

Member

Glad you find Convo to be interesting, polite and friendly, Sophie – exactly what we want to see 🙂 If you could pick a topic for us to cover that we’ve never featured before, what would it be?

Member

I can think about it, but you’re the experts. 🙂

Member

I had to smile (sorry I have a perverse sense of humour ). We are told to welcome new posters in a polite and friendly manner but going by the posts by young people occurring now I dont think they need any reassurance.

Its obvious they are used to more open social networks and websites . Its certainly going to be entertaining and lively to say the least shortly.
I have a feeling though they might upset some here.

Member

Thanks Duncan. I’ve noticed you’ve been really great at responding to new posters on countless convos recently eg. the one on mobile signal — offering invaluable consumer advice and knowledge on a range of topics. Thanks for putting so much into welcoming new people into the community!

Member

Young people tend to get bad press in some media Oscar but I just signed a petition by a young food bank operative who is helping with the increase in work at Christmas .
He wants to highlight Sainsbury,s who have started an initiative /trial by labeling prominently items that food banks need .
I think this is a great cause . In case anybody thinks its being publicised in “Lefty news-media ” this link is from the Guardian and you will see a photo of a group of young people taking part in this charitable initiative . Well done !! –
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/26/sainsburys-launches-scheme-labelling-items-useful-to-food-banks

Member

Hello everyone, I’m Patrick! It’s great to be able to introduce myself in our brand new Welcome Lounge!

I joined Which? in 2010 and got busy working on the first version of Which? Conversation. We launched after about 8 weeks, and many of our most loyal community members who joined us back then are still active here today.

I used to work in the video game and technology journalism, building up communities around those fields. What interested me about Which? and growing a community around it was the variety of topics, meaning I could move away from the specialism I was in. Since I joined, I’ve written 423 conversations here, with my first being about misleading broadband speed advertising, which we’ve now won with new advertising rules announced by the regulator.

When I joined I wrote in my profile that I ‘believed in the power of the debate’ and I absolutely still do. In fact, it was discussing consumer problems here on Which? Convo that got me interested in campaigning and I soon started to work on digital campaigns related to the issues that came up here – misleading broadband ads, nuisance calls, mobile phone price rises, expensive customer service phone lines. You could say that this community has turned me into a digital campaigner, and it’s been great to develop in my career here with the support of our community.

I’m now lucky to head up a team of community, social media and digital campaigning experts – and I’m very excited about what the future holds with this team.

An amusing highlight for me is when my iPad painting of a cat in a post about iPad art was mistaken for a David Hockney original: http://mistertristan.blogspot.com/2015/04/cats-in-art-patrick-steens-cat-on.html Here’s the review… “Although my reading tells me that British artist Hockney was much more of a dog person, he really captures the essence of a blissful cat sleeping. Perched up off the floor, totally relaxed, paw dangling, warmed from below (cats are true connoisseurs of heat), what strikes me most is the kitty’s facial expression. The cat just looks happy, and Hockney nails it so well.”

Enough about my professional career – what am I interested in outside of work? I still like to play video games when I find the time, I love to travel, and I also like to take photographs of my escapades. I’m a big fan of music, and sing in the Which? choir – I used to play piano well but don’t currently have a piano in London where I live. Perhaps that’s a new years resolution for me…

As for something I keep questioning – I am always questioning letting agent fees. I think they are unfairly high, and most of the time completely unneeded. It does not cost £100 to renew a contract that is word for word the same, and so I always resist these fees and have rarely paid them.

Anyway, if you’re new to our Which? community – I’d love you to introduce yourself and we’ll give you a warm welcome!

Member
DerekP says:
1 January 2019

Patrick, thanks very much for that post.

I agree that letting fees are horrible.

I hated them so badly that I became a home owner, but I still feel for all those who have to suffer them.

Member

Thanks Patrick – love the iPad art. Steen nails it so well.

Your mentioning of letting agents reminded me of my other consumer issue that’s probably on a par with rail for me; onerous ground rent clauses for leaseholders. Property rental and ownership is in need of serious reform.