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This week in comments – switching and reducing waste

With our launch of The Big Switch and planned improvements to how we switch telecoms providers, it’s been a week of switching. We’re also trying to reduce waste with ‘short date’ shopping and re-issuing medicines.

Join The Big Switch

If we join together we can get cheaper energy bills. That’s the ambition of The Big Switch and almost 60,000 of you have already signed up! Gerry comments:

‘Together we all have a lot of power and all it needs is organising. So I am excited to think that this group will be big enough to get a better deal. Companies can’t afford to lose large amounts of customers and will soon try and commit to a better group deal.’

However, Phil had a question for us:

‘I see the target is to get 100,000 people to sign up to this scheme. As that’s about the same number of people who switch energy supplier every week anyway does Which? seriously think it’ll be enough to lever a really good deal out of an energy supplier which already has millions of customers?’

Nikki Whiteman, our Consumer Action Producer, had this to say in response:

‘Yes, we do seriously think it’ll be enough to get a really good deal – we wouldn’t be doing it otherwise! I understand why you think it might be tricky, but we believe that with enough people we can secure a market-leading deal, meaning that everyone who has signed up should save money.

‘Although you might be skeptical about the numbers, don’t underestimate the power of group action. It’s not every day that energy companies have the opportunity to get so many new customers in one fell swoop, so we are confident that this will encourage them to offer something truly market-leading.’

Is this the end for rip-off extended warranties?

The OFT is clamping down on how extended warranties are sold. Commenter Jonas131415 explains how he thinks extended warranties should work:

‘Extended warranty providers should have to clearly state what their warranty provides over and above the protection given by existing laws. Customers could then make informed decisions about their value. I’ve never purchased an extended warranty and have never regretted my decision.’

Would you re-use medicines returned to the NHS?

Over £300m of NHS prescription medicines are thrownout each year, so would re-issuing unused medicines be a good solution? Alexcreed comments:

‘I would be too worried the re-issued pills weren’t what they said they were. Mix ups could be serious and even with the strictest checks not every individual pill could be tested to make sure it was as described.’

However, Richard thinks the NHS is missing a trick:

‘Many drugs now are individually sealed in strips – so I cannot see why such items cannot be re-issued if in date – particularly as some of them are VERY expensive (like £2,000 a month).’

Help make switching broadband and phone provider hassle-free

Caitlin shares her frustration of switching telecoms providers:

‘Switching seems to be a nightmare and is even more complicated with bundled contracts. My flatmate moved out and moved the internet/phone package to her new address, meaning that the provider disconnected our phone line. This was not presented as an optional decision. I then needed to get a new internet package, which meant having to pay £80 to have a phone line reconnected.

‘It’s beyond infuriating, especially for us renters who move somewhat regularly.’

Can ‘short date’ shopping seriously help you save?

Do you shop for food that’s just passed its best before date? Commenter Kermit does:

‘I’m always on the lookout for date-expiring bargains and reckon I save thousands a year. Sometimes they’re reduced by up to 90%, so the saving is significant. I buy multiple quantities when I can and freeze the excess. Sometimes it takes over a year till I get around to eating some things from the freezer, but they always taste fine and haven’t poisoned me (yet!).’

Par ailleurs, who gets our comment of the week, is also a savvy ‘short date’ shopper:

‘What on earth has happened to common sense? Look at it, smell it and eat it or not. We make a point of shopping in the stores that do a proper discount on fresh foods (M&S and Waitrose) which are on, or near, their sell-by date.

‘Result – perfectly good food which will either be eaten within a day or two, or frozen and used whenever convenient. The potential savings are huge, especially as with the cost reduction it means that we can buy the best free-range and/or organic produce too.

‘Furthermore, let’s not forget what will happen to the food the store doesn’t sell. It will end up in landfill. That’s bad for the environment and an insult to the farmer who produced it. It’s also an insult to any animal which died for food production.’

Comments have been edited due to length, so make sure to read them in full on their relevant Convos (by clicking on the red title link).


I have changed energy providers quite a few times but am still not sure whether I am getting the most advantageous rate. It is not easy to caculate this and I think there should be a legal duty for energy suppliers to offer the cheapest tarrif for each consumers situation. Fuel poverty is such an important issue that I do not think it should be a matter for the supplier’s discretion what tariff and payment plan is offered.