/ Home & Energy

Which? Convo in 2014 – what’s your stand-out debate?


It’s Which? Convo’s fifth Christmas! For some reason that makes me think of the joy of belting out ‘five gold rings!’ at the top of my lungs. Anyway, let’s get cracking with my look back at the past year.

First thing’s first – Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you’re all having a lovely day, whether you celebrate the occasion or not. There’s something about Christmas that makes me nostalgic, so I think it’s fitting to spend today gazing back through the past 12 months of Which? Convo.

Perhaps you’re taking a cheeky break from the family festivities, or you’re sipping a sherry (I’m a port man myself) after the Queen’s speech. Whatever the reason you’re reading this today, I want to thank you all for being here.

I think we made two major strides forward this year. Firstly, your voice is louder than ever, with your comments getting noticed beyond Which? – by companies, regulators and the Government. Secondly, there’s a much greater sense of community, with a huge amount of regular personalities. Credit to them for keeping this community as active and welcoming as it is – you all know who you are! Now on to the most popular debates of the year…

1. Turn it down will you? – 786 comments

It was Malcolm R who said he’s sometimes surprised by the debates that attract the most comments. For me, this just adds to the eccentricity of the site. And so it is with music in shops, where the volume of your disdain for songs in public places was turned up to 11. It’s not without notice – we’re flagging your comments with the shops mentioned.

2. We’re not fine with nuisance calls – 465 comments

Sadly nuisance calls are still here, but so are your comments. It’s due to the scale of your support that we’ve made so much progress on nuisance calls in 2014, including this debate about getting more cold calling firms fined.

3. We’re banking your comments – 458 comments

When the CMA announced a full investigation into the current account market you weren’t shy to share your experiences of the banks. We’ve now catalogued your comments by theme and bank/building society, meaning they can now inform our meetings with the banking industry and the CMA as it undergoes its investigation.

4. Your experiences with cracked Xperias – 428 comments

When I first brought the issue of mysteriously cracking Sony Xperia Z phones to the community, I was both pleased and disappointed at the trickle of cases that came in. Pleased because it seemed not many were affected, and disappointed because I was sure there were victims out there. Lo and behold, comments started to roll in. We’ve been on Sony’s case, and we won’t drop it in the new year.

5. Long live your washing machine – 372 comments

This is one of many debates related to faulty goods. It’s such a big bugbear of the community that Malcolm R wrote his very own Convo questioning whether the Sale of Goods Act was working for consumers. On this post, 96% of you said washing machines should be provided with a minimum lifespan.

6. What’s new copycat – 361 comments

Nothing annoys me more than people being fooled into wasting money on something they don’t need. Your comments about copycat websites not only aided our investigations, they helped us put pressure on the Government and search engines. What resulted was action from both – with Google joining us on the site to share the measures they’d taken.

7. Our survey says…

More than 20 polls surpassed 1,000 votes this year. And these polls aren’t just window dressing – we feature the results in our magazine, use them to inspire our policy and campaigning work, and we share them with decision makers. The top three polls enjoyed resounding results – you think the Food Crime Unit will give you greater confidence in the food you buy; Microsoft should give Windows 8 owners a free upgrade to Windows 10; and Brits are ripped off on tech products compared to US consumers.

8. How many guest posts?

2014 was the year Which? Convo became the place to be for guest authors. I’ll start with the abbreviations; FSA, FCA, FFA UK, ICO, TSB, SSE, FSB, FCO, CMA, RBS, OCU, Defra and BBA. Then the unabbreviated; Trading Standards, Google, Network Rail, Ofgem, Cabinet Office, PhonepayPlus, Age UK, Financial Ombudsman, Local Government Ombudsman and Sense About Science. And now some names; Sarah Beeny, Michael O’Leary, Ed Vaizey, Dr David Robert Grimes, Jo Swinson, Ros Altman, Prof. Chris Elliott, Earl Okin, Jane Bradley, Greg Barker, Vince Cable, Bernard Jenkin, Charles Campion and Frances Quinn. Phew.

9. You’re the stars of the show

As if that guest list wasn’t impressive enough, I’m even more happy that some of our guest authors were well-known community members! Malcolm R, John Ward, Socketman, Newt Beaumont, the 7-year-old Josh Gillingham and more. There are many more of those to look forward to in the new year!

10. Our comment of the year goes to…

Sophie Gilbert asked me whether we could award John Ward our comment of the year. With this being the comment in question, there’s no way I could refuse:

‘The Which? team certainly have something to be proud of this season and have undoubtedly disturbed a lot of cosy set-ups. I hope though, that the people whose corns you have trodden on and whose nerves you have set jangling, will not forsake the spirit of goodwill to all men and will remember you with fond greetings of hope for a prosperous and beneficent new year.’

We’ve got some big plans for the community in 2015 – from bringing you closer to the rest of Which?, to helping you show more of your personality. I’m very excited to share it with you, but in the meantime – have a Happy New Year and see you in 2015.


Happy Christmas to everyone, and to Which? for running such useful, informative and entertaining conversations.

I’m delighted to make a positive report on Christmas delivery services. Santa Claus came bang on time sometime last night, and managed to get lots of stuff down the chimney without a single breakage. Courier companies could do well to copy his business model.

Bread sauce is made, turkey has reached 70 deg C so should be free from campylobacter and, with luck, the dishwasher won’t break down.

Looking forward to a productive 6th year for Which Convo. 😀

Now that winter has at last arrived and brought its usual chaotic conditions to our shores and Santa has been and gone in Malcolm’s neck of the woods without impropriety, I would like to be the first to congratulate John Ward for attaining the Comment of the Year award and Sophie for her recommendation. I would also like to congratulate the Which? Conversation Team for their uncanny powers of perception and discernment in figuring out that my somewhat indistinct avatar was that of a Japanese Tea Lady which after a few minor adjustments has perhaps now become more apparent! (They will know what I mean!)

I too am surprised to see the ‘Keep It Down Campaign’ top of the list for consumer responses and would question why this topic has irked so many people taking priority over food banks and people faced with a choice of whether to eat or heat their homes. I hope that 2015 will see an end to the ongoing crisis in a very broken energy market and that something more positive will ensue from the Competition and Markets Authority when presenting their report due in the Spring.
That has to be top of my list for the year ahead.

The state of our NHS comes a close second with more services being transferred to the private sector. I have doubts about the quality of care currently administered by local GP Practices with Doctors refusing to make home visits to attend the ‘at risk’ vulnerable and utilising the new ‘triage system’ to diagnose over the ‘phone to prevent them doing so. A 2/3 weeks wait for a non urgent appointment and patients having to queue outside surgeries at 6.30am for an urgent appointment is totally unacceptable and only increases the burden on hospital A & E departments.

I would like to see a total revision of the Sale of Goods Act, introducing more clarity to both companies and consumers and management taking on more responsibility when dealing with customer complaints. I would also like to see the introduction of longer manufacturers warrantees particularly on larger white goods to prevent them churning out cheap products which should be of a more reliable and durable nature.

I could go on, but on a lighter note, I sincerely hope that ‘Mrs r’ in particular will enjoy good health during 2015 so that she will continue to top the list of Malcolm r’s ‘best gadgets’ so that he will be able to continue with his invaluable knowledge and input into Which? Conversations and that Wavechange will succeed in his attempts to stamp out the scourge of campylobacter in chickens and he will achieve his goal in silencing all background noise pollution disguised as music in stores without causing too much disruption in the process! I also hope that the Which? Team will continue to maintain some semblance of ‘law and order’ when consumer comments become a little heated, and, most of all, I hope they will also keep their good humour going that goes a long way to keeping things on an even keel and makes for a good and interesting debate.

A Happy New Year to one and all!

Paul from Brentwood says:
3 January 2015

I was disappointed to see the NHS mentioned ” … with more services being transferred to the private sector …” as if this is a bad thing.
I suggest that what matters to patients and their relatives is the effectiveness of treatment and quality of care. Few will care who employs the staff concerned, although Britons expect to receive the service free.
Of course there is a huge debate required regarding “free” health care. The current situation is hardly sustainable. Demand is increasing as new treatments become available, regulation expands and the median age rises. Although the current government has budgeted increased funding, the NHS claims it is insufficient to meet demand. Meanwhile the willingness of taxpayers and lenders to finance even the current projections is questionable.
So innovation in expectations is required, with some combination needed of improved productivity (at which private companies are normally better than public sector), reducing treatments (either by rationing or through increased payments by patients), transferring activity mostly or wholly to private provision (as is largely the case with dentistry and ophthalmology). And as Beryl notes, balance between GPs and Hospitals. I’m sure there are more.

Paul from Brentwood:

With more taxpayers money currently being injected into the NHS by the present government and subsequently partially lining the pockets of privately owned companies’ shareholders, if not a bad thing then is it to be considered a good thing? Lets face it, anyone (including myself) who is in need of urgent treatment and is contemplating an 18 week wait is bound to accept any offer available to reduce that time to ease their pain and discomfort, but there is a covert negative cycle operating in our health service which is compelling it to gradually increase its dependency on private practice in order to cope with ever increasing demand. The more public money is syphoned from the NHS creating commercial competition and used for profit, the less is available to fund our hospitals with potentially disastrous consequences, including a two tier system.

I would add I have no qualms about people opting for private practice if they are fortunate enough to be able to afford to pay for it or if they have private medical insurance cover.

It’s possibly because you haven’t taken your Christmas decorations down yet Patrick! Maybe the hat should go. 😀

……..and Santa has taken off into cyber space with my Tea Ceremony Lady!

……pleased to say she has now returned to my laptop but not my tablet

Happy New Year Patrick, and to all our regulars.

I think you will have to work overtime because Beryl’s avatar keeps coming and going. I wonder if Which? Conversation has been hit by a denial of (tea) service attack. 🙂

Are you sure a foreign power didn’t take exception to one of the conversations – perhaps the dodgy electrical goods one?
Incidentally, has anyone else lost the “email when a new comment is added” service. I seem to have – perhaps I’ve upset Which?

I received an email alert to a post made by Malcolm yesterday, so it might be that messages are being treated as spam.

Patrick, no luck. I’ll join a new conversation and see whether that generates new post notifications.

Patrtick, no email alerts from new conversations either. I note the “block notifications” button on “manage your subscriptions”. I haven’t touched this but wonder if something might have triggered its function when you were backing up?