/ Home & Energy

Which? Trusted Traders: how we’re helping to improve standards

Tools

Whether it’s an emergency or a planned home improvement, you’ll want to hire someone trustworthy. But if you’re up against the clock or starting from scratch, who do you turn to?

That’s where Which? Trusted Traders comes in handy. But like Ant and Dec, Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, a double act never go out of fashion. Well we recently announced a pioneering partnership with Hertfordshire County Council.

Partner up to provide peace of mind

This partnership aims to provide people with the reassurance of knowing the helping hand they turn to has been thoroughly assessed and checked.

The success of the partnership is borne out of the two partners creating something bigger than themselves. Which? Trusted Traders is a free-to-use service that helps everyone, not just our members, find local, endorsed traders. And trading standards professionals assess and interview each trader face to face, and not all businesses that apply are endorsed.

We need to harness the power of partnerships in the trading standards arena to maintain and improve standards. It gives hardworking businesses the recognition that they deserve and provides reassurance to consumers. Anyone looking for a trader or seeking information about home improvements and motoring repairs can search the profiles of endorsed traders on the Which? Trusted Traders website.

Finding a local trader

So how do you decide which tradesperson to use? Would you find a scheme like this useful for helping you with your home improvements?

Comments

Having been recently looking for tradespeople, I was looking at a company’s portfolio and thought the photos looked rather good…. almost too good.

So I did a reverse image search and found the same pictures all over the internet even the world as the same person appeared to do the same job in Australia for a different company!!!

I fully support any initiative to improve trust in tradespeople. I did check Which? Trusted Traders, but 1 review is not a lot to go on.

I think Which? Trusted Traders is a good service in principle but it hasn’t yet got anywhere enough firms in the scheme. I have just repeated an exercise I did recently to find an electrician and a boiler servicing firm. First the postcode was not recognised even though it’s been in use for over four years now, then the nearest electrician was 37 miles away and the nearest boiler maintenance company was 18 miles away. There are plenty of good electricians and boiler maintenance firms in the local area but clearly they see no particular advantage in joining WTT – perhaps the entry requirements are a turn-off or maybe there is enough business available without getting involved in such a scheme. There are several other trader-finding websites one of which I have used successfully to find a good tiler.

I am intrigued to know how Hertfordshire Trading Standards will be able to carry out face-to-face interviews with firms all over the country. I would have appreciated a link to the announcement of the new partnership mentioned in the second para of the Intro.

Thanks for the clarification, David.

I tend to favour sole traders on personal recommendation and I doubt if they would wish to pay the fees and do the paperwork required to join WTT. Most of them have got an order book many months long. Another point that might disqualify them is that usually they will only do emergency call-outs for established clients.

John, this is a local scheme only. It doesn’t say anything about how much Trading Standards are involved in the selection of traders. The Which? scheme charges traders for inclusion – an application fee of £60 then from £480 a year upwards. This might put small businesses off, or those who have an established reputation and don’t need to pay to be publicised. Frankly, the latter are the businesses I would rather be recommended to so this scheme may well be limited in its usefulness. Part of the application requires customer references, so who selects these – a random choice from all recent jobs? Since you can join when you’ve only been going 6 months such references might be a little sparse.

“Find a trustworthy trader
Hertfordshire Trading Standards knows how important it is to use a good trader but also how hard it is to find one. Therefore in 2016 we partnered with Which? Trusted Traders to help local people find trustworthy traders and give hard working traders the recognition they deserve.

How to find a business
The Which? Trusted Traders and Hertfordshire Trading Standards scheme provides a list of businesses including electricians, plumbers, builders, handymen and many more that have passed an assessment before they became endorsed by the scheme. Only if all the requirements are met, will a business be able to join as an endorsed trader and the business will be monitored and reassessed every year.

We cannot promise that an endorsed trader’s work will be perfect every time, but you can expect any problems to be dealt with fairly by the business. Plus any business who fails to comply with the code of conduct can be suspended or removed and if something does go wrong, consumers also have the reassurance of an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution service.

Once a business is accepted onto the scheme they will feature on the Which? Trusted trader website and the list is available by following the following link – http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk

I am much obliged Malcolm. There was no indication in the Intro that this partnership was limited to Hertfordshire. Which? Trusted Traders covers the whole country so i am still at a loss to know how the face-to-face interviews are done everywhere else . Perhaps other trading standards departments do the same as Hertfordshire. I noticed on the WTT site that the involvement of Trading Standards in the evaluation process was stressed although both sides seem to be coy about what this actually involves. Norfolk County Council has had a Trusted Trader scheme for over seven years; it seems to be based heavily on references and it has similar limitations to other such schemes but at least it has a large number of entries.

I find limited-circulation ‘district’ magazines [like Norfolk’s Village People as recently exposed in the ‘missing words’ round on TV’s Have I Got News For You] quite good for advertising the better firms in the area – no selection process is involved but I have not found a duff one yet. I tend to notice the state of their vehicles, the turn-out of the operative(s), their general approach to work so far as can be seen from the street, and if the trader is available I ask for their business card and possibly have a chat about my requirements. Good, but not intense, supervision is the key to getting satisfaction.

As I wrote previously, I think it is a good scheme overall and at least has good credentials which none of the other trader-finding websites have.

As a matter of interest, does Which? meet the expenses of the local authorities whose TSO’s are involved with the assessments? We so often hear that Trading Standards are under-resourced and overstretched so it would be good if they were compensated for their contribution to Which? Trusted Traders to ensure that their statutory work was not affected.

@dquinton, David, it is good to have constructive responses to the questions raised. I am reassured that a selection of random customers have references examined before a trader is accepted. Can you tell me whether these references are gained directly from customers by Trusted Traders or Trading Standards, or are they provided by the trader?

You say Trading standards people cover the whole country for you. Are these County TS people?

Thanks David.

I am still a bit baffled. If the TSO’s are not employed by local authorities then they are not Trading Standards Officers. They might be former local authority officers who have obtained the trading standards qualifications but that is different. If my assumption is correct the description could be held to be misleading. If they are ex-TSO’s it would better to say so.

Having been responsible for using tradesman an multiple blocks of flats, and on using tradesmen when doing up my own properties I have taken an interest in finding quality tradesmen for some years.

I have done some research on this matter going back to the days of Which? Local . This still exists and in a sense competes with Which? Trusted Trader scheme but it is only for the use of Which? members.
local.which.co.uk/
Last year I found that those traders in Which? Local did not automatically appear when one searched for local traders using the Trusted Trader site – which was annoying where you knew they existed and were closer than those who paid to be included in the Which? Trusted Trader scheme. However the Trusted Trader Web site now provides a link to a list of Local Traders down the bottom of the results page which you can view if you are a member.

Last year I also spoke to the people running the Trusted Trader scheme for two Scottish cities which was illuminating on how strict they were on what Local meant. However it is no secret that Trading Standards departments are being cut and obviously departments are stretched throughout the country. Bear in mind that this WTT scheme is the same pretty much as any existing Trusted Trader scheme run by your local borough or county council. It is a useful service to make sure they have all the paperwork necessary and most importantly belong to some dispute resolution mechanism.

Most people can use carpet-cleaning firms, TV aerial installers etc as problems are easily visible but when it comes to extensions etc most people do not have a scoobydoo about the quality of work or what is required.

The article mentions home improvements and I my preference is to look at a body where the professionals checking up are people versed in the work rather than TSO’s . The Guild of Mastercraftsman body does actually require 20 jobs to be offered and ten are inspected before membership is approved. It took a friend of mine 7 months to be accepted simple because of the logistics of the necessary visits etc. He is quite entertaining on the numerous bodge jobs he sees or is asked to rectify.

I do have a concern over the Which? Trusted Trader logo being granted to Stannah Stairlifts as they actually sell and make and provide the product. I am worried that most people will assume that the Which? logo implies that the product/price is acceptable to Which?

This is not the case
” Businesses wishing to become endorsed as a Which? Trusted trader must undergo a rigorous assessment process. This includes credit and customer reference checks, and a visit from a Which? Trusted Traders assessor. The visit includes an assessment of various aspects of the business such as administrative processes, documentation and complaints procedures.
Only traders who satisfy this assessment process are awarded Which? Trusted trader status.”

I am also concerned that whatever Stannah paid, the basic charge is £400+VAT, they are perhaps benefitting too much from what is after all is paperwork exercise.

That last paragraph diesel , is that the standard Which charge to a company ? if so they are getting cheap publicity for the prestige of Which,s name have you checked out what advertising agencies charge or TV adverts ? . There should be an ascending scale on the companies worth £100,000 — several £100 million

Well the chart goes to £840 a year for up to 19 staff – which apparently includes subbies. Over that many employees you contact Which? for a special price. If you are a heavy national advertiser it must be manna.

I may be hallucinating but I am sure I saw a Stannah advert saying they were the only stairlift company to achieve the honour. I thought that is a little cheeky.

Well obviously Which is still not “Americanized ” the US equivalents know their own worth to the last red cent . No wonder the US website where I posted a good report of a company now wants me to do another —big bucks !

Firstly I was not hallucinating as it is a half-page advert in the Weekend section of the Saturday Daily Telegraph. It has been in several weeks running.

“Which TT logo Peace of Mind Guaranteed

As the first national stairlift
manufacturer to have gained
the Trusted Traders badge
you can put your trust in Stannah.”

My own understanding of Stannah is not favourable or unfavourable but I do have problems with the logic that – because they are the first to sign up you can put your trust in them.

More to the point the Which? name is linked to a manufacturer and any problems with the product is going to reflect on the charity mostly known for its product testing role. And generous salaries to its top executives.

I simply think this is not a trader in the accepted terms. Exports to 40 countries ….. what charge are they paying?

Try as I might I cant find anything really negative ,so far, on Stannah .Thats its a multi million £££ company there is no doubt , nor its International status in the US/Canada and elsewhere . It still seems to be owned -in house – by the family and is still based in England . No company is perfect but could you point out any negatives for me diesel ? as compared to many it doesnt seem too bad a company ,even endorsed by a Canadian medical organisation . There are many companies that Which “approve of ” , and I have criticised several on Which but this one seems “above board ” . Any comments ??

dieseltaylor says:
3 June 2016

I ama great fan of the charity RICA, once part of Which?, and this is what they say and note particularly the last sentence :
” 1. Contact more than one stairlift company
Prices vary a lot, so we recommend trying at least three companies. Different manufacturers offer different ranges of stairlifts, too, so you may have to try more than one to find the lift that works best for you and your home.
It’s best to contact firms that aren’t tied to any one make of stairlift, so you’ll have a wider choice. ”

So ask yourself the question whether the Which? logo on a site might give an elderly person a misplaced belief in a superior product /price offering and they will simply plump for Stannah.

BTW I do have two contacts who have purchased a stairlift in the last 18 months and neither AFAIR bought Stannah – on cost grounds. However I will check that out.

I am actually in favour of a white list approach and I would actually be much more supportive if Which? were a silent partner in establishing it widely and on a non-profit basis. The use of the charities name/reputation I strongly believe will mislead people into believing too much of the extent of the endorsement.

For instance I have lost some respect for JCB giving its name to batteries and workboots as one doubts the quality control over time.

diesel – are we talking ethics here ? its a lot to ask of an organisation that deals with consumer products as those products in some cases prove to be below par but you think ? that Which should not be so “deeply ” associated with them in case they prove to be not as kosher as they seem . It seems to me that Which is straddling two fences but it isnt an easy job in this day and age where commercialism rules there are not many organisations that could be granted Sainthood , its the “name of the game ” now . If you take my own experience most of the radical US websites I have visited in the past all have to be crowd funded as they get zero money from businesses and certainly not the US government because they show up the lies of their own country . Which needs money to survive so some comes from ,well, if not from fully endorsing a product , at least giving it an “approval rating ” many US equivalent companies do the same but what stands out is that Which is willing to shift its “approval ” after many negative posts by the public and a public clamor to condemn the product in which they contact the said company to complain and get their answer to the criticism which they relay back ,which is democratic . many in the US dont do that as they know it would lose revenue but just keep quiet on the subject . I know you are saying –its a charity so it should be the the “purest of the pure ” with highly idealist values but even churches have been highly criticised because of priests/ ministers behavior . I have more faith in the Salvation Army as it ,in practical terms does more to help the poor than many churches so Which ,not being “perfect ” in a charitable sense still does help the public even though the coat it wears might not be the colour or style you like.

It is open to any other stair-lift company or installer to seek Which? Trusted Trader endorsement. I don’t see it as product approval but as an acknowledgment of satisfactory business practices that the customer can take some comfort from. To the extent that it will encourage competitors to raise their game and qualify for the endorsement it is positive and, in my opinion, not in conflict with any charitable objectives.

I feel, Diesel, that you seek to put Which? on the skewer all the time when the enemy is elsewhere.

The vast majority of Which?’s income comes from its members through subscriptions. Its commercial activities seem to contribute little, or are loss-making. So Which? could do what it was originally set up to do – use members substantial subscriptions to fund its activities. It could also cooperate with European consumer organisations to share knowledge, costs and benefits without any necessity to risk an conflict of interest with the commercial or political sectors. Deiseltaylor is, in my opinion, quite fair in pointing out the difficulties in the current blurred line that exists between the charity and the business. We have seen how Age UK abused this. I do hope this will not happen with Which?

I suppose I don’t see Which? Trusted Traders as a commercial operation but as an extension of its consumer service role and a legitimate activity for a charity to participate in. I also don’t see my Which? subscription as much different in essence to our subscription to the Radio Times. All charities that make money out of charging for something are at risk of blurring the lines but thankfully the scope is broad and little harm is done in the overall scheme of things.

Age UK’s actions were controversial because its trading arm was acting as a front for big commercial businesses and its client base – the elderly – were particularly susceptible. I know of no evidence that Which? is in that position.

Thank you for your comments regarding the use of the Which? brand name. It is rare that we have a proper discussion !!

I fully appreciate the fact that other stair companies are able to acquire the logo. You may well consider that in fact that one of them acquiring perforce makes it a necessity for the others and this is a benefit to the community.

Neither of you has played with the idea that Which? anonymously facilitate /support a national programme that would unite all or most existing schemes. All the benefits without compromising/confusing the product testing USP [unique Selling point] of the charity

There are two interesting but minor points to this.
1. A problem that exists and has been discussed in Germany where the awards by Test.de are highly regarded is the disproportionate benefit gained by large firms versus small firms in the advertising spend field. If the charge was levied per job that would be an interesting counter.

2. We already have a legal system and it is almost that we users will pay the tradesman more so he can pay a fee for the logo and an arbitration system

John, maybe not but Which? Mortgage Advisers charge a fee at the beginning of negotiations (£399-£499) and then receive commission from the lender when a mortgage is completed. (I thought Which? were against financial advisers working off commission as it might give a conflict of interest). Trusted traders brings a regular annual income of £480 or more per business depending on its size. Which? Best Buys bring in substantial income. The danger is that the wish (and incentives) to try to raise income might endanger its impartiality. As Which? is our only accessible consumer voice (CAB is now part of BEUC but I don’t see them as a substitute) I want to see its impartiality and championing of consumers retained.

As far as my subscription goes I am classed as a “member” (ordinary one in my case) and not a customer. Only members can receive Which?’s publications, unlike the freely-available Radio Times. So when i joined I was led to believe I was contributing to an organisation for members that gave them information on, in those days, in-house tested products and so on. If it operated as a “business” I’d expect it to put its regular publications on the news stands for all to buy. No – it relies on members financial support in return for privileged information; I pay for its work. Has that ethos somewhat evaporated? I’d expect constructive dialogue between Which? and its supportive members but I find sometimes a little like walking through treacle 🙁 .

I agree it is a very fine line, Malcolm. I was not terribly happy with allowing products to be advertised as Best Buys and I thought that went against all the founding principles, but the world moves on. I see commercial sponsorship on BBC 4 TV programmes now. It seems there is a further, non-financial, price to be paid nowadays for the the things we like. So far, what Which? has done has not offended me deeply but that is because it is being reasonably careful with leveraging its franchise in order to enrich its overall output. I realise this is a creeping process with no defined finish line but it might not be all bad and much good could come of it.

At the end of the day the trustees are the guardians of Which?’s good name and reputation. If that becomes devalued the organisation is sunk and they know it. That to me is the chief inhibitor of wayward commercialisation. If Which? Mortgage Advisers start placing a lot of business in the wrong hands purely in pursuit of higher commission then that would be widely condemned and it would undermine the entire organisation. Perhaps I am naive, but I hope that thought is enough to keep things on the straight and narrow and enable Which? to continue to offer a model advisory service and responsible loan-finding facility for people who find the usual commercial pressures and behaviours not only unacceptable but, in many cases, impossible to negotiate. So long as Which? keeps the purpose of raising standards throughout commerce, and setting the test for proper business practices, as the paradigm I feel these extensions into new areas are justified. Most of our consumer issues will not be resolved by product testing so new directions need to be explored.

Hello Malcolm, I just want to clarify that Which? Mortgage Advisers are salaried members of staff, so like you said this means advice offered is impartial. As they don’t receive commission they will only recommend a mortgage that is right for the person they’re advising. Which? Mortgage Advisers is funded through the commissions received from mortgage lenders and the small administration fee for arranging mortgages. Any profit from our commercial operations is ploughed back into funding all the work we do on behalf of consumers.

Your feedback is very much valued, it’s member feedback that drives improvements to our products and services. So I’m sorry that it feels like dialogue with us is like walking through treacle – we try our very best to reply to as many comments on convo as we can, but we do also share your views with the relevant parts of the organisation. The member forum is also a great place to discuss feedback like this.

I share your optimism John with reservations. it just seems members have no influence over the way their organisation behaves and that might not be for the best.

Many of these Convos revolve around product deficiencies – glass doors on washing machines, fire risk in tumble driers, breaking screens on Sony phones, unsafe pushchairs and child car seats, poor quality domestic appliances, telephones tvs, LEDs that interfere, garden hoses, ………I could go on (you’ll be relieved I’ve stopped 🙂 ) so I think Which?’s role in product testing should be undiminished. It is, if I recall correctly, how it started and for me remains the only source of essential (and hopefully correct) information that allows me, as a consumer (literally) make a choice.

To become a social campaigner is an extension, I think, of its original activities and if it can do that without being at the expense of protecting us from dodgy products then fine.

I still maintain in consumers interests it should take an initiative and cooperate with other consumer organisations to bring us more, better reviews. I hope its commercial aspirations do not get in the way of achieving this.

” Most of our consumer issues will not be resolved by product testing so new directions need to be explored.”

Sorry I thought durability was a trigger for many consumers and I am not quite clear who you think will cover this area. Any number of sites will tell you it works wonderfully when new but and almost all reviews by “owners” are generally very early in the ownership cycle.

And even now “Which?” testing of sunscreens has brought out information not included in the articles such as a 10% allergy to a common sunscreen chemical. The alternatives. And that EU sunscreens are superior to US sunscreens. Perhaps you would like to reconsider that the extent of testing is actually not that important.

However if you have other areas where Which? might usefully be active please advise.

Malcolm and Diesel – I am sorry if my meaning was less than clear. I am not in favour of reducing any of the product testing at all; I agree that it is the staple around which the rest of Which?’s activities are structured. My view is, though, that there should be room in a consumer organisation of the 21st century to examine things other than consumer goods just as rigorously and to pioneer ways of developing and improving the markets for services by innovative interventions. I don’t wish to over-emphasise this as it would distort the fundamental focus which should be based on testing. One of the advantages of in-house testing is that it cultivates throughout the organisation an empirical approach to the observation and performance of articles and functions, and this culture should infuse all other forms of product or service examination. Which? must hang on to this so product testing must remain the core activity. Therefore mechanisms need to be in place, in my view, to ensure that when testing is outsourced [as is now routinely the case] the objective scientific approach to testing is still recognisable in the reports and conclusions that flow from it, and that the people who specify the research and testing are just as disciplined in their engagement to it as if they were in the laboratory or workshop themselves. Moreover, the analytical and investigative processes involved in product testing should be applied just as rigorously to the study of other consumer concerns albeit many of the deductions might be of a subjective nature.

Understood, John.
Back to Trusted Traders. I wonder if ongoing assessments of registered Trusted Traders will include customer experiences provided directly from randomly selected customers and, if so, will these results be published as a score of some kind for each trader? I don’t really like the 5 star system – a % is more useful. And at what point might a trader be removed from the register?

@ldeitz, Lauren thanks for a speedy reply. I’m not sure that because Which? Mortgage Lenders receives commission rather than its employees addresses the point about possible conflict of interest. Maximising the company’s income might well figure? Does commercial income not contribute to the bonus scheme for example? In the past I believe Which? has criticised financial Advisers (firms) receiving commission on the products it sells. Personally I would rather see the whole business done on a fee paying basis – the client ends up paying the commission indirectly anyway.

Sorry about the walking through treacle, but I have listed on a conversation elsewhere some of the questions I have raised over a longish period that simply required a factual response, where none had appeared. I know you and Patrick have your work cut out dealing with Convos, so no criticism there. But I do expect Which? to respond fairly promptly when facts, or expert opinion from their staff, can clear a point.

I do use the Members Forum, and emails, with mixed results. I have been fobbed off with standard-sounding replies in the past, and getting a view on a point of fact or a Which? opinion seems to take a long time. I am currently asking about the legal view on the Whirlpool fiasco, and I’ve had a long-running discussion about Which?’s campaigning on car emissions that they agreed was misleading – eventually – but have not altered appropriate text. It does seem sometimes that interested members are seen as a nuisance, rather than as entitled to reasoned responses when reasoned questions are asked.

Nil desperandum however. Keep up the good work!

You are right, Malcolm – there needs to be some form of ongoing customer satisfaction appraisal because, apart from anything else, and like athletics, one would expect one of the benefits of such a scheme is that standards are continuously improving across the competitor field such that last year’s winning performance is no longer good enough. It would be interesting to know how this theory is incorporated in the process [and communicated to the participants]. There is no doubt that consumers will increasingly regard the Trusted Trader scheme as the gold standard such is the reputation of Which? and what it stands for [notwithstanding our occasional personal disaffection].

One of the criticisms of quality assurance procedures [rather than quality control] is that it is all about process and not about the quality of the goods or service supplied. Not entirely true, of course, but if a company specifies and sets out to supply a cheap and basic product using poor materials and production processes then so long as it does that consistently it is compliant [and indeed any deviation from that specification in the form of an improvement in the product or service could be regarded as a non-conformity]. We must hope that the WTT assessment method does not concentrate on company processes to the detriment of knowing what the customer experiences and feels, and another aim as the scheme matures should be to ascertain the extent to which firms are researching and developing new ways of providing a better service based on feedback as well as their own innovations.

I agree with you that percentage scores are better than stars for indicating customer satisfaction, and encourage a more thoughtful and methodical approach by customers in their reviews.

Removal from the register? – Good question!

@ldeitz, Lauren – I have an email today from Which? Mortgage Advisers offering to find me the right mortgage. It says “Our adviser’s don’t get paid commission – so we only recommend a deal that’s right for you”. It does not mention that Which? Mortgage Advisers get paid a commission though. This really is a bit misleading, isn’t it? Would you like to take this up with them? I wouldn’t like to see Which? slip into some of the habits that they criticise in some other commercial operations.

I would much prefer to see the lender pay the whole cost due, both the amount for the consultation and what would be the commission from the lender. All transparent then, and you would no doubt get a slightly cheaper mortgage. And you could compare costs with companies that are only fee-charging.

Sean Skelton says:
2 June 2016

Membership is far to much for small businesses . For some one man businesses the fee could be a weeks wages .

Which ? Involving trading standards is a step forward .

However they should consult with Trading Standards in all areas when they receive an application from a business within the area .

I am looking for someone to replace a couple of small double glazed panels. I have had a recommendation for Cloudy2Clear and it was encouraging to see the company advertising that they are now a Which? Trusted Trader in a local magazine. Looking further, I see that this is operates as a franchise system rather than as a single company with branches round the country.

Looking at the Which? Trusted Trader website I see that work is guaranteed for 10 years, whereas Cloudy2Clear shows a guarantee of 25 years on its website. Though I have had very good experience with double-glazed windows in the past, offering a guarantee of 25 years seems too good to be true, given the number of failures that occur.

Is it a good idea to recommend a company that operates a franchise system?

Edit – On searching the Which? Trusted Trader website for a local agent for Cloudy2Clear, I see the work is guaranteed for 5 years. That’s 5, 10 and 25 years, depending on where you look. Would Which? like me to send the links?

Does that mean each individual franchisee is inspected?

Thanks David. I will send the links.

Cloudy2Clear has many branches around England, Scotland and Wales and I hope that that it has appropriate quality control measurements in place. The business seems to be largely replacement of failed double-glazed units so there is less to go wrong than where double-glazing companies tackle the replacement of all windows and doors in a house.

There are other, possibly smaller, independent [non-franchised] firms doing window replacements and repairs, for lower prices than Cloudy2Clear. A friend had a medium-sized double glazed unit and one d/g casement panel replaced for under £125 by a local firm that advertises in local magazines.

It depends how handy you are. I would find a local firm that manufactures double glazed units and have them make your replacements but refit them yourself – unless they are too large to handle.

I did this once. Removing the beading without damaging the plastic is a challenge and it took all my strength to refit the beading. Definitely not the most rewarding DIY job,

We had a couple of units replaced some time ago and thought the cost very reasonable. It is definitely worth doing if the frames are in good condition.

The idea that you select ten customers and then check they truly exist , seek comments, and may request sight of a bill I think very encouraging indeed. I was taken with that answer.

Where it is a franchise operation I can see that there is a practical difficulty in that it would seem unfair to seek ten satisfied customers from across a variety of franchisees . They may all have satisfactory paperwork and systems but the happy customer approach surely is specific to that franchisee’s area.

I mention it as it would seem that a sole trader would be disadvantaged by this approach as I am guessing that 100 franchisee pay a lot less than 100 sole traders.

David,
Could you please explain exactly how traders are checked and assessed? What is the process? How much of their work is inspected?

The problem I have with reviews on trusted trader type websites is knowing when they are genuine having been caught out by a roofer with glowing reviews.

Anamika says:
20 September 2016

Hi I
I am finding the same..trying to find a damp specialist in south west London and most of the companies have 1 review…

Anamika this isnt as straightforward as it sounds .I have checked out many , including London SW -ie- Wandsworth/Battersea and obviously they all give themselves a good write-up . This type of business is very tricky I have seen things go wrong in even so called “good ” companies , stripping down walls to see where the damp is coming from can damage electric cable/ telephone wiring / window frames –guttering can cost if scaffold required and once you check out water damage in plaster etc costs could rise dramatically and if I recommended one and you weren’t happy with it I would look bad in others eyes . If others want to comment and recommend on this so be it, but I will stick to other types of work like engineering of most sorts in which problems have more straight forward solutions . Which, I think has recommendations on this subject , to them I will leave their wisdom on this tricky subject.

Your local council’s environmental health or building control departments might have a list of satisfactory damp treatment specialists. Don’t expect them to recommend one, but at least they won’t give you details of an unsatisfactory one.

patrick taylor says:
21 September 2016

i doubt know how much Anamika has read up about damp but the eyeball and commonsense can explain a lot of what may be casuing dampness. I would think 90% of damp problems are logical results of poor maintenance and can be easily identified.

Blocked gutters causing water to overflow onto the wall and seep down, rotted dowpipes where cracks/ holes in the reverse side are shedding water into the wall, bridged cavities, damp-course bridged, ground level too high allowing splashing to dampen bricks above the dpc [not overly common] will cover most causes.

The other commonly confused cause is straightforward condensation caused by lack of ventilation and a thoughtless lifestyle. This is actually very common and leads to internal moulds which are very unhealthy.
I had cases where for instance a couple would shower and rush out in the morning leaving their basement flat securely sealed against burglars – and against an exchange of air. All that hot steamy vapour had to settlles somewhere and this would occur on the coldest available surface. They not being present would not see this occurring.

A humidistat fan in the shower would have worked wonders. And an air-exchange unit would be most sensible. In fact sensible for pretty much most of the UK housing stock as we edge to hermetically sealing houses.

Paul Allan says:
21 October 2016

We must be record holders!

We joined and resigned from Which Trusted Traders within a month, in protest.

Why?

Well we discovered that many of the “Checks” that Which? state they make are, at best, poorly carried out and, at worst, totally manipulated or not done. Furthermore many questions they don’t ask are really important and can leave consumers at risk.

The fact that they don’t enquire if traders are of good standing by:
a. Checking convictions, and
b. Checking various reviews for falsehoods and lies in order to mislead the public, and
c. Ensuring that they have a true and proper trading past, and
d. Checking the financial past behaviour of individuals, and
e. Whether they sub-contract their work to unchecked individuals.

[What is more is this “10 random customer checks” is not true. We were asked for a list that WE provided. (In our case they truly were randomly selected from the previous month) We then asked if they would allow us to give their details for review (ie. email addresses). Only three approved and that was the 10 checks!]

All this came to light when a “Competitor” that has been trying to leave us false reviews and who leave their own fake reviews, saw that we had joined the scheme. A couple of weeks later they were approved to the scheme.

When we asked how and provided incontrovertible independent proof WTT took 5 weeks to do precisely nothing.

Which? the charity has laudable aims but I cannot see how they can carry out the WTT as a commercial exercise as they end up putting sales/recruitment ahead of principles. In effect they become the worst of what they used to stand up against.

Finally, just for clarity, of course the vast majority of WTT members will not have reason to be doubted BUT WTT should at least not only ask the questions but check the answers are true.

MOST IMPORTANTLY they should act with urgency on information received to protect the Which? “Brand”.

Interesting Paul, I would like to hear from Which members on this ,especially the last sentence . The only problem I see is the staff involved in verifying all the statements made by applying businesses , maybe its “beyond ” Which,s ability ? but I look forward to an intelligent rebuttal.

Hello Paul, thanks for sharing your concerns about Which? Trusted Traders. The scheme has been running since 2013 and has proven a major benefit for traders and consumers alike. The scheme currently has around 6,500 Trusted traders registered with us (including those within our retail partnerships), who have served many thousands of customers. W?TT continues to grow, which means that even more consumers can benefit from using a local trader whose business has been fully assessed by the W?TT team – an assessment designed by a Trading Standards Officer with nearly 40 years experience.

Each assessment of an individual trader applying to join the scheme is carried out by a Trading Standards Professional and includes 30 different checks, including a random selection of customer references. If accepted to the scheme, traders must also then pass annual reassessments. We expect high standards from registered traders and so any trader who doesn’t follow the W?TT code of conduct is suspended or removed from the scheme. The robustness of this ongoing process is why W?TT is so valued by traders and consumers, and why the scheme continues to go from strength to strength.

Hopefully this will allay any concerns you have about the scheme, but if you have any specific issues that you would like us to investigate, or if you would like to report any problems then please email us at conversation.comments@which.co.uk.

Thank you for taking note Lauren.

Unfortunately the “idyll” that you describe bears little or no resemblance to my experience as a trader Nor of how your WTT self-policing and remedial action works.

My situation is still unresolved a after almost seven weeks now and weekly chasers from me. The silence from the powers that be is deafening!

WTT is behaving in the same manner as those that Which? usually would bring to book.

I know absolutely that your WTT do/did not carry out the adequate checks in cases to which I am related. I really feel that the public are being terribly misled by WTT.

Quite ironically if my businesses operated on the WTT service levels I am experiencing WTT would (what I now know to be theoretically) have thrown us off the scheme. (In fact WTT would have done sweet Fanny Adams!)

I will let you know if anything changes but I won’t hold my breath.

If Which? implement a commercial trusted traders scheme they should carry out all the checks they say in an independent way. The ability to do it is paramount, otherwise it would not meet its objective of giving us “trusted” traders.
@ldeitz, can’t see a link to David Quinton but perhaps he could reassure us given Paul Allan’s comments above.

Thanks for flagging to me @malcolm-r, I’ve posted a reply to Paul’s comment above.

All procedures with W? & W?TT have broken down now.

I have patiently waited for 3 months for them to investigate the situation and have been told that “False reviews………are not in the remit of W?TT.”

They did agree to pay back some of the money £48 they stole but not all.

Furthermore I have been accused of making “false allegations of dishonesty and misrepresentation by Which?”

I repeat that there is a wealth of written and 3rd party evidence of everything I have said.

I can only conclude that Which? and W?TT are loathe to see their commercial cash-cow questioned.

W?TT should stand for What Trusted Trader!!!!!

I never thought I would say that people were being conned by Which?

The cure has become the disease!

PS. I will let anybody see this issue and documentation who wishes.

Paul-By posting your criticism of Which , Which I think, is being even handed ,open and fair ,I think that if Which recommended a TT or its company or the TT organisation , which is worldwide and you find a trader has mis-represented their abilities /performance /honesty that Which has acted in GOOD FAITH , IE- it did it with no ill intent to deceive the public. As such they cannot be held liable for a “rogue dealer” -criticised maybe, but there was no criminal intent implied .There are some that turn out to be “bad apples ” on websites over the whole of Britain and abroad , you cannot hold any organisation be it town council/regional council to legal blame because they were deceived by another. Your claim would be against the “rogue dealer ” .

I’ve not said anything in this discussion thus far but you’re making some very serious allegations, Paul. From the perspective of the disinterested observer it seemed to originate as a spat between two local traders – yourself and an unnamed “Competitor” – against whom you also made allegations.

When you say “They did agree to pay back some of the money £48 they stole but not all” it’s not clear to whom you’re referring. And claiming someone ‘stole’ from you is a serious allegation, so I wonder why you don’t simply take that and any associated proof to the police? If this “wealth of written and 3rd party evidence” exists as you claim, why not simply document it all and publish it on your own blog?

Exactly Ian .

Certainly sounds interesting Paul. Perhaps your best course of action is to send the details to the Council of the charity Consumers’ Association which owns Which? Ltd.

I have had mixed feelings about the scheme. Recently because it has included large manufacturers who even if they do fit what they make would not fall into my category as tradesmen.

Afraid that your reply is wrong as you have not seen the evidence yet.

Which? have never dealt with this matter fairly and open/even-handedly.

They have only ever paid lip service to integrity but read my other replies to others shortly coming up that will, I hope, elucidate matters.

I agree that if a TT mis-repesented as you describe then so long as they acted once they were aware of the truth then there would not be an issue now.

Sadly W?TT mis-represented the scheme and the checks they do to gain pecuniary advantage.

Who would ever have thunk it of W?!

Ian my allegations are not allegations, they are clear Statement of Facts that have repeatedly been proven to W? Corporate Affairs Manager, Richard Anderson.

Anderson’s mostly partial and inadequate replies are shocking and very tardy.

I do take exception to the term “spat”. It is far from “a short argument, usually about something that is not important.” Whilst we were a W?TT this retail shop tried to leave a malicious and fake review with Trustpilot. They were caught out by them and TP have produced evidence to this effect to W?.

At the same time they tried to leave fake reviews with Trading Standards online. Contemporaneous to this they also posted fake negative reviews to us and positives to their own account on Yell.com & Google etc.

As an honest business we wrote to all bodies that we were affiliated to, including W?TT, to show that we were being maligned and there was no truth to the malicious attacks.

About a week later the business applied to become W?TT and also join our other affiliates.

As part of the checks they were turned down by all EXCEPT W?TT!!!

When we approached W?TT we were promised a vigorous checking procedure that we have to pass. We thought this was true so agreed to pay the application fee. Only when we discovered that they had allowed the “rogue” to join did we ask how.

After the “vigorous checking procedure” (VCP) how could they have passed!?

Well the answer was the VCP was about as vigorous as a raindrop is to a car wash.

W?TT allowed a convict, a liar and a cheat to join. the scheme. Ipso facto W?TT cannot be an absolutely Trusted Trader organisation.

As for the “They” and the £48 I mean W?TT not the “rogue”.

I know that many here love W? and it would be improper to accuse all W?TT of being untrustworthy. However I know absolutely that the checks carried out on us and again ipso facto the “rogue” must mean the system must be questionable if not broken.

See my reply. Unfortunately people are wont to put words or interpretations into what I have said, that I have not said.

I would love to know how.

I would happily, at my own expense, provide my evidence, yet again, to W? in person.

W? is too important an organisation to lose its credibilityon the back of poor management.

Sadly it seems that W? only defend themselves by bringing the shutters down and drawbridge up when some integrity would solve the problems.

Please tell me how to send the details to the Council of the charity Consumers’ Association which owns Which? Ltd.

You can write to Tim Gardam, Council chairman, at Which?

Publish your company name and the other “rogue ” one here and let the regulars here form an opinion, as we are quite capable of doing deep detective work into BOTH sides . Surely this is the way to go to “clear your name” as being above all reproach and condemn the “other party ” as “rogues ” , until you do we will not have all the facts placed before us .I am honest to my own determent and will say exactly like it is and I am sure other regulars here will put forward truthful points , unless of coarse , you have a “hidden motive ” in that you have already spoken to a lawyer and are about to take legal action and you don’t want to prejudice your case ?

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

My name is clear.

Only an ill informed rogue would say otherwise.

Just who are you Duncan Lucas?

Quite a ridiculous but not unsurprising reply.

Thank you this will happen.

I don’t think a Which? Convo is the place to debate grievances like this in detail. PaulAllan has pointed out what he regards as deficiencies in the Trusted Traders scheme and the way his complaint has been handled. To go into detail here would present a one sided case and we have no means to check the facts. It is a dispute between PaulAllan and Which? Trusted Traders and should be dealt with between them. As a Member of Which?, despite W?TT being part of “commercial” Which? and not the charity, I hope W?TT will be open in their examination of the complaints, make improvements to the scheme if necessary, and publish the outcome.

None other than my name Paul Allan ,whats stopping you divulging what Ian and I asked for unless you perceive some loss thereby ?

[This comment has been edited to align with community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

[This comment has been removed for breaking our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Publishing such information could be unfair to the other parties involved. This Convo is not a kangaroo court and I don’t think we should let this become personal 🙂 Just my opinion.

I support both of Malcolm’s preceding comments and agree this is not the proper place to resolve a grievance between a trader and the “Which? Trusted Traders” organisation. It appears to revolve around allegedly bogus [and possibly libellous] customer reviews and the full facts are never going to be in the public domain.

[This comment has been removed for being off-topic. Thanks, mods]

[This comment has been removed for breaking our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

It will come out, just not tonight.

I assure you that as soon as all is published it will appear here.

[This comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

[This comment has been removed for being off topic and against our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

I think it’s time to let the editors review this element of the conversation before any more unpleasant remarks are made.

Thank you Malcolm I agree absolutely.
[This comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

[This comment has been removed for breaking our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

[This comment has been removed for breaking our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

[This comment has been removed for breaking our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

PaulAllan, with respect I think this would be a good place to terminate this topic, and allow you to pursue your grievance directly with Which? as you propose. If the Convo continues to go down a more personal route the Convo moderators will put a stop to it anyway tomorrow.
I hope your problem is properly resolved.

Agreed Malcolm.

To all those that have positively contributed to the furtherance of my grievance – Many Thanks!

Au revoir ;D

[This comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Hello @paulallan, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having problems with Which? Trusted Traders, I raised your comments previously with the team and I understand that they have been in contact. As mentioned previously, you’re welcome to share anything with us at conversation.comments@which.co.uk, but I do understand that you already have a point of contact in Richard Anderson (as stated above). I’ll speak with the team and let them know that you’ve shared this feedback on Which? Conversation.

However, I would like to remind you (and the rest of the community) that we do not tolerate comments that are rude or offensive to others – this is clearly outlined in our Community Guidelines. As such, any comments that could be considered rude will be removed from this discussion. Please ensure that all comments are aligned to our commenting rules, continued breach of our rules could result in temporary suspension from Which? Conversation.

Thank you @malcolm-r, indeed we welcome a healthy discussion on relevant issues related to the conversation, but we will not tolerate personal and rude remarks. As such these comments will be removed for breaching community guidelines. Thanks

Sorry but I have not said anything that is rude or offensive to anyone.

However I will never allow people such a Lucas to threaten violence against my person.

I suggest you look again and in detail at what I said and in context.

I look forward to your reinstating my comments immediately.

It would be awful if what was really happening was that W? were stifling opinions that show its flaws wouldn’t it?

Please send me a full copy ofthe pre-moderated discussion here and you precise reeasoning for any deletions or edits as I will present it to Council as part of the larger picture.

Why delete the phrase “I have a ““Higher Moral Plane ” to catch?” Lauren Deltz?

PaulAllan, i see that most of the comments that could be regarded as slightly rude or offensive have been removed, but not those relevant to your problem. May I suggest that in the spirit of these Convos – essentially courteous discussions – you now leave this between you and Council to progress? Please keep us informed, and I hope Which? will do the same.

Your original complaint included the allegation that Which? Trusted traders were not assessing an applicant properly before giving them TT status. That is my greatest concern and I hope Which? will put our minds at rest. If they have in some instances not applied their checks properly then they should have the integrity to own up to that, put them right and, if necessary, remove unsuitable traders from the register.

Unfortunately not Malcolm.

I reviewed everything yesterday and in context and sequence I never made a rude or offensive comment.

However when I was threatened with physical violence I did comment, but again in context and time sequence there was nothing dis-proportionate.

The censor has however thrown the baby out with the bath water in some points and missed some of the antagonist’s offensive points.

I have raised this with them.

However it does lead me to conclude that W? should look at its self-control and policing systems.

Perhaps an Ombudsman would be a good start.

Unfortunately W? in all its forms seem sometimes rudderless, sometimes Captainless and heading for the rocks.

I am concerned that the Council may not exist or may be ruling ultra vires on this matter if indeed they can rule on it, according to others here.

The confusion of areas of control and remit between the charity (that incidentally W?TT think is a defence/ excuse) and the commercial profit arm that really is W? & W?TT is extremely disturbing.

Looks like this will be a long and painful slog for all concerned :'(

Paul: the council oversees the Consumers’ Association (the charity aspect) to ensure it remains within the appropriate guidelines. Day-to-day running is largely governed by Which? Ltd.

I request again that you give me a copy of the pre-censored convo here so I may present it as part of the picture of where W? is to Council.

If you cannot please state why either here or email me so that may be presented instead.

Great Ms. Deitz

Unfortunately as mentioned here before Richard Anderson refuses to communicate or investigate this matter.

It is his failures along with many others up and down the chain of command that have caused this situation.

It is Tim Gardam & Tim Gardam alone that can deal with this matter.

It is he that is kept in the dark by those wishing to stifle whistle-blowing!

Again please send my email details to him alone so that we can communicate without let or hindrance from w? employees!

Please answer my previous queries.

Also your interpretation of rude & offensive is beyond my comprehension (except for one statement I mentioned previously that I was justified in making but accept was meant to be rude). The fact that I find your, and W?’s in general, position Rude & Offensive does not mean that the man on the Clapham Omnibus would find it so and similarly with your interpretation!

The W? organisation is far worse than the worst Customer service”criminals” ever exposed by W? in the commercial world.

As a former W? Member and ex-client of W? I can state that you are heading for a major PR disaster that I will not let drop.

I expect that the next communication will be a private one from Mr. Gardam in person. Otherwise I cannot see that W? is doing the right thing!

PaulAllan states earlier above the basis of his allegations, which include lack of Which? checking and taking submitted, not random, customer reviews. All “endorsed” schemes will have failures when the necessary processes might not be followed. It is very important that such schemes, particularly ones operated by Which? because of the faith people have in the name, are as squeaky clean and scrupulously operated as possible.

Having made these allegations in public I think Which? should investigate them properly and make a public reply. I would rely on a Trusted Traders endorsement when choosing a rarely-used service of which I had no experience and expect to be confident in its integrity. If there are occasional failures and loopholes in the scheme then these need to be put right. I expect no one, and no scheme, to be perfect but respect those involved when they recognise deficiencies openly and set about putting them right.

I agree with Patrick T. PaulAllan should put his information the Which? and Which? should inform us of the outcomes.

While I accept Mr Allen has made some claims, there’s the potential for a dangerous precedent possible here, if anyone can make accusations and allegations without first offering evidence. I recognise the flaws inherent in any institution such as Which? but I’m somewhat disturbed that it’s possible to think that anyone can choose to make allegations without evidence to which Which? is then supposed to mount an investigation and report back to us.

Duncan has made the very sage point that by publishing these allegations Which? has exceeded what most companies or institutions would do in similar circumstances. But I suspect there may be more to this than meets the eye. We have heard only one side of the story from someone who clearly feels aggrieved and misrepresented. Mr Allen is able to publish his “wealth of written and 3rd party evidence” in here, so perhaps that should be the first step? After all, it’s easy to make unsubstantiated allegations.

I note your rather mischievous reply that actually reflects the level of administration and type of attitude that W? have displayed.

I am not an idiot nor do I have any malice except where I see injustice.

Just what would W? consider substantiated/

The evidence has been offered AND given repeatedly to Peter Vicery-Smith. Richard Anderson, Raj Kakar-Clayton, right down the chain of command.

It is W? that today said that, in effect, I am liar, through Richard Anderson yet have produced no proof of any investigation having taken part.

I can publish here and elsewhere my “wealth of written and 3rd party evidence” and such action is in progress. Though please understand this that I have no wish to damage W?.

As I have repeatedly said to W? and Richard Anderson all I ever wanted was:

1. An immediate refund of £130, being £72 application fee that we were mislead into and £48 monthly subscription taken against our agreement. (Finally after several vehement denials W? admitted that they would repay the £48 taken in “error” though in my view stolen.) The £72 is still outstanding, and
2. That W? instruct the “Rogue” Trader/retailer to remove ALL their own fake positive google reviews from their site and their fake negatives from other businesses sites (including ours) IMMEDIATELY, and
3. That W? instruct the “Rogue” Trader/retailer to remove their anonymous fake reviews from others reviews sites such as Facebook, Yell.com plus others and desist in future from acting like this.

After this I was more than happy to have nothing more to do with W? &W?TT.

How can This “Rogue” be a TRUSTED Trader?

Regrettably Richard Anderson does not think this reasonable.

It is impossible to list everything here but as I have said previously to Patrick Taylor. I would happily, at my own expense, provide my evidence, yet again, to W? in person.

I am not a liar and I will happily go very public.

[This comment has been removed for breaking our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

[This comment has been removed for breaking our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

If you can publish a full, frank and detailed account of the evidence available on a web site, perhaps you would give a link to that site? Like John, I’m not sure in here is the best place, since this could serve to distract from the day-to-day business, but a link to an outside site would, I believe, be acceptable.

I wasn’t being mischievous; I was trying to be constructive. It’s clear you’re very upset and you’ve made some allegations which ought to be investigated. If you have evidence of these being investigated and evidence that your competitor was refused admission to all schemes except for the WTT scheme then this should be in the public domain because, left uninvestigated and unaired, it could have damaging consequences for Which?.

I understand you may not have intended mischief but regrettably to assume that a sustained, unprovoked and malicious attack by a W?TT on another is something as derisory as a “spat” was incorrect. I am sorry if the word was, perhaps, inaccurate but the precise word escaped me at the time.

It has all been put to W? over the last 4 months!

I repeat that the Head of Corporate affairs, Richards Anderson has had 2 months to do absolutely nothing and is not prepared to discuss the matter! (I have this in writing).

W?TT has had almost 4 months to mess up the whole situation and ignore blatant, incontrovertible and much very public evidence.

As I said yesterday I will give W? a final chance to put their house in order by putting this up to Council.

If the standard of (In)action is the same as W?Ltd so far then I will place everything in the public forum as you correctly feel it should be.

Thank you for that. The real issue is that you have, yourself, introduced this grievance into a public forum (it’s not restricted to W? members), so I believe it makes eminent sense to post all the evidence you have on a site and provide the url.

I used the expression ‘spat’ because that was my perception of the original grievance. It all seemed to turn on the behaviour of one trader to another. I also appreciate your grievance was aggravated by the affording of WTT status to the other trader, but that is where things become less clear and it’s why we would need to see evidence of exactly what has occurred.

The business of fake reviews can be vexing in the extreme; it’s a major problem in the hotel industry, for instance, and even Trip Advisor hasn’t been able to eradicate the concern. So I understand where you’re coming from. And I can also assure you that the team on here hold Which? to the very highest standards, as do we.

Glad you see mostly where I am coming from.

Fake reviews are part of the issue (both the -ves on competitors and the self-inflating ones).

Equally if not more important is the fact that W?TT do not take the actions they say they do or vet TTs as they should. If so how did a convict and liar get in the scheme.

Upon investigation why if the “randomly” check 10 customers did they ask us for OUR list and why is the average review list for a TT about 3 long?

The idea of W?TT is great but it is obvious that as soon as they look to expand or have to “make a profit” that mistakes, errors and intentional “Nelson’s Eye” actions happen.

The investigation procedures when W? become aware should be robust. Sadly they don’t even exist!

One is met with an attitude of ” How dare amere mortal question the mighty God Which?!”

Still no doubt I will say more here if necessary in a few months.

I was proposing that PaulAllan’s allegations were put to Which? with supporting information and evidence so they could be properly considered.

One of the features of an informal Convo is unsubstantiated allegations and slurs can be made without substantiation, just as can factoids and misinformation, and “the mud sticks”. In my view if someone makes a claim, as opposed to simply offering an opinion, some support should accompany it.

This will be put before Council Malcolm.

I’ll let you know the outcome.

Just to clarify the matter regarding Which? and Council.

Despite the current misleading Web page there is no Which? Council. There is the Consumers’ Association Council which guides the charity Consumers’ Association Ltd and the charity owns Which? Ltd.

There has been a perception that Council under Mr Barwise the previous Chairman sidelined Council with a limited number of meetings each year whilst he attended all the Which? Ltd Board meetings. There was also the appointment of co-opteds to take the place of elected members in creating a quorum.

Under Mr Gardam thinks are looking brighter and after a gap of several years we will finally have the nine required elected members. However there is no doubt that the number of co-opteds and the new businesses suggests we need more and active elected Trustees.

Mr Gardam is going to convene a committee to look at governance in the Spring but in the meantime Ordinary Members are going to bring some Resolutions to the table.

In the 1990’s I notice that Council was considering appointing an Ombudsman and I wonder if that idea needs to be considered further. Where a reputation is concerned one has to err heavily on the side of caution compared to potential financial gain. Having a single CEO covering the charity and the commercial side seems wrong.

Patrick, for clarity I suggested PaulAllan write to the Council chairman, at Which? – meaning through Which? at their London address – 2, Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF (unless there is a more direct route).

I still regard “Consumers’ Association” as the correct title for the part (major part) that matters to me. It says what its existence is (or should be) about. When I see Which? – particularly in the inane (in my view) tv adverts on Drama etc, Which?Choice, Which?Switch etc with grinning faces, I wonder what all those marketing experts that sit in Which? positions of power are about. Or maybe I just live outside the real world. 🙁

You have to recall that we have had a marketing guru in charge for some years and sticking the same name on everything increases brand recognition which is taken to be a good thing.

I think it can also but you do run a danger that one part of the brand empire can seriously damage the whole. In a commercial company I suspect that people’s expectations of probity are low – not so with national icons and charities.

Also Which? suffers hugely because as a search term it is incredibly useless. Now when we go to CAwiki that will be unique : )

On a different tack the matter of rogue traders etc has occupied my mind off and on since the advent of Local Traders some years ago.

A couple of decades ago discovered that the TSO’s would not inform me of successful Court Cases against traders – this on the old standby excuse of Data Protection. The suggestion being I could go to Court and monitor these myself.

Having spoke to a body that runs a couple of Scottish town based Trusted Trading Schemes I can appreciate the ins and out of the matter and I that is what concerns me that this Trusted Trader system may not be the best possible.

Since then I have discovered the searchable Indian database of all cases which would seem an excellent way of providing consumers with a clearer picture of claims and results. I wish Which? would explore the benefits and potential downsides so we could know whether it was a viable system.

By rights it should be as a lot of Indian law will be based on old British law but improved for consumers since 1947.

In France they have the SIRET system to weed out rogues and that seems to have a lot to offer. Perhaps rather than spend money promoting a system with weaknesses we should see if something better exists and should be promoted.

Having worked for several small businesses I appreciate the amount of extra trade required to pay for the logo or trade body membership. I almost take a view that good honest tradesman will be discriminated against BECAUSE they do not pay for a Trusted Trader sign.

The charge made by WTT? I also suspect is lower for franchise operators than for the self-employed trader, let alone the big businesses with multiple outlets, so there is a certain unease that the charity is assisting the big boys by differential pricing.

A tricky ethical matter.

Which? has removed EnergySave from its list of Trusted Traders. See: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/crash-bandicoot-remastered-playstation/#comment-1490623

I have posted there asking Lauren for the date of suspension and where we my find a list of all traders, and the suspensions.

I should also ask when they were signed up.

Knowing that there action is being taken if traders are unsatisfactory would certainly encourage me to use Trusted Traders.

When I search for local tradesmen I am presented with a list of builders within a mile of my postcode or village, some of them are 50 miles or more away. It was the same when I was urgently looking for a plumber just before Christmas.

Wavechange – These people were way more than unsatisfactory. However I am unable to view the programme to see what the BB made of it.

Are you not curious as how they were signed up?. Personally signing up a £1 limited company that had traded for two years only. and had an ex-Director with an interesting past, as a Which? Trusted Trader I regard as culpably negligent.

But then I am not working on commission/target as I imagine the assessors were. Bear in mind the people who were misled by the Which? Trusted Trader logo may be rather aggrieved – I assume there was some comment.

It is important to understand that the Trusted Trader regime is essentially a tick-box process and in no way is a recommendation of value or trustworthiness which is what Which? is associated with.

We suspended EnergySave from the Which? Trusted Traders scheme while we conducted an investigation. This happened before Rogue Traders got in touch for information. Endorsed traders’ information is available on the website, including customer reviews and ratings.

We expect very high standards from endorsed traders and carry out multiple checks on them, both upfront and once they are part of the scheme. Should a problem become apparent we take immediate action to address the issue and suspend a trader where necessary.

And that last sentence is really the problem Patrick public perception , didnt Which go deep enough into the full publicity aspects of , at least , “showing approval ” therebye in the public’s minds eye- Trusted Traders is “equal ” to the moral standards of Which even though that might not be true . What with dubious broadband speed connections (business ) it looks to me like two down for Which, time the Which publicity machine got into proper gear and issue a statement thats what I would do . Companies make mistakes but by admitting they do and reforming their business philosophy they can win in the end .

I was making a general comment about unsatisfactory traders, Patrick. I know nothing about EnergySave and little about how the TT scheme operates. I’m glad that people like yourself investigate schemes that are intended to help ensure that we are treated fairly by tradesmen.

I have looked up local firms that offer double glazing and have been presented with a list of companies that operate within a mile of my home. One is in Exeter, and I live up north. For the time being, I think I will stick to personal recommendations and taking the opportunity to inspect workmanship.

William F Halley says:
2 May 2018

Why is there no search system similar to the abandoned Which Local system, or have I missed something? I can find no easy way of searching in my local area for a particular type of tradesperson. Without that or a similar facility I will not be making much further use the Trusted Trader scheme.

That’s my problem too, William. On at least six occasions in the past two years I have tried to find a local TT without success.

I haven’t used the Which? Trusted Traders, but putting in a category of trade and your postcode brings up a list of local traders. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood?

Matin Seffield says:
24 October 2018

Our church ( Yarm Methodist ) have just had our toilet re built by Nigel stoves ( plumping and heating ).
What can l say ,it is perfect. It is more like a 5 star hotel than a church now. Nigel also rebuilt the central heating in the church which was very old. That is also working great , it was a very old system and is now very neat to look at.

Nice to see the survival of churches and even members of the congregation in this day and age where churches are only used for weddings.

I am posting this under “Trusted Traders ” although its medical as I have just watched a new advert and in case Which takes it up and gives it a good write up .
The company is called Medichecks (UK ) and does remote testing of blood samples etc , my intuition advised me to check on the company and its owned by the parent company -Quest Diagnostics – New Jersey USA .
This company in checking has come up against US law for overcharging among other things but that isn’t my point , I have found its being heavily criticised by US clients in the good US website -Consumer Affairs who because of legal advise check out the posters and give them a green -verified reviewer sticker.
The latest post is today -here is a few of the latest complaints ( one star )
J. of CA Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 24, 2018
The Quest Diagnostics website is absolutely the worst of the worst, and Quest’s customer service is non-existent. It is obvious that Quest does not care about its customers/patients. Forget trying to contact Quest by telephone– that is, unless you want to pay a bill. Quest does not provide any customer service phone numbers. I had routine tests done on 10/18/2018, and I have been unable to get the results. The foregoing review solely provides my personal, subjective opinions, beliefs, and interpretations.

E. of NY Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 12, 2018
My over inflated bill for a blood panel as a wellness visit is well over a year now. Making partial payments with no help. I see that the payment online has the wrong insurance carrier and I had to question who they billed to. Just got an email back again with no answer. It is the typical nonanswer to my simple question. Avoidance!!!

N. of MA Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 5, 2018
Horrible! Calling to get help with bills is always painful. Their billing costs are ridiculously high and NEVER pay a bill unless you call and make sure you are being charged the correct amount. I cannot tell you how many times I have paid only to realize they charged the wrong amount, it wasn’t coded correctly, and even told me I have no insurance when it was really their issue with the billing. It is painful and if I had a choice I would NEVER use this lab. NEVER pay the first bill, ALWAYS call and don’t make the mistake I have paying in trust the bill is correct-it NEVER is.
It just goes on and on , I have book-marked the US website in case anybody questions me but the US Consumer Affairs is a reputable organisation.

Are there complaints about Medichecks (UK)? I don’t see what happens in the USA is necessarily relevant. I can see no reference to it doing NHS work, only private.

Malcolm Amazon has subsidiaries here but get their modus operandi from the USA , I am putting future customers in this country on their guard .
I would not like to see in a years time a convo on the company filled with irate British customers , its still doing medical tests malcolm regardless in this country and so is OE and look at complaints about them in regard to the same complaints about the parent company Quest in the USA – Money.