/ Community, Home & Energy

Which.net discussion area

Comment bubbles

We’ve had a number of comments about the closure of which.net on Which? Conversation, and so to make it easier for you to all share your thoughts, feedback and ask us questions about the closure, we’ve created this designated space for you.

Please do share your concerns with us about the which.net closure and we will reply to you as soon as we can. We are doing all we can to help users move to a new provider by 24 May with assistance from our dedicated which.net helpline team.

If you’re a which.net user and want technical assistance with the closure and help with the migration of your email account to a new provider, please speak to our specially trained which.net helpline team. You can book a time get specific help from a member of the team by calling the number that an be found in the guide we’ve recently sent to all which.net users.

As ever on Which? Conversation, we ask you all to make sure your comments adhere to you our community guidelines. We will respond to your questions as soon as we can, but please bear in mind that we work Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

If you’re new to Which? Conversation – this is a community from Which? for all consumers to debate the consumer issues that matter to them. You can find more help about getting started in our community in this guide.

If you’re a Which? member and would like to share feedback about Which? in relation to other issues other than which.net, you can do so in our ‘Help us shape the future of Which?‘ discussion area.

And if you want to talk about other issues that don’t fit into this topic or any other, please visit our off-topic area, The Lobby.

Indie Rai, Head of Member Services at Which?, commented on 19 April 2018:

The senior leadership team and I have been listening to what members and users of Which.net have been telling us about the closure, including reading the passionate comments you have been sharing here on Which? Conversation.

We appreciate from all the feedback that one of the main areas of concern is the inconvenience of updating email addresses with contacts, organisations and websites. We had been looking into providing a reliable automatic forwarding service – and I can now share that we will, therefore, be implementing auto forwarding for a period of six months following the closure on 24 May.

Comments

2018/05/14 at 5:11 pm

The end of the line for the “which.net” email service
I am in mourning. I will need bereavement counselling. The end of an era. The loss of my xxxxxx@which.net email address. I don’t think that two months notice is sufficient to change all the memberships and organisations I belong to and use this identity as my username. It wont be an easy process and will take time. But first I will need another e-mail address. I don’t know how many of us are left now of course and I don’t know how much it costs to run the service. Clearly which? has decided that it is a step too far to compete with others due to low membership and increased costs. I am sorry that I will no longer be able to write an e-mail of complaint to a retailer using the all powerful force of a which e-mail address. The fact that it is a paid for service convinced me that it would be more reliable and stable than a free service. I have enjoyed that for a long long time. I am in shock and will need time to come to terms with this.

2018/05/14 at 5:12 pm

When will which? stop taking my monthly subscription for the provision of the e-mail service? Can I suggest that as a goodwill gesture you don’t take any more money off members for the provision of this service with immediate affect. I hope I’m not the only one still paying. It will take some time to inform all the organisations I am signed up to about a change in my e-mail address.
2. Did I and other members ( and those 5000 members using the email service) miss an opportunity to comment on the abolition of this service earlier?
3. When was the decision taken not to promote this service amongst members. I don’t recall seeing any information about it in recent years or about the membership on-line forums. Was it never considered possible to provide members with an upgraded service by persuading more to sign up.
4. I take it that the service can just be abolished under the existing/ammended terms and conditions without any reference to the membership?
5. I personally feel that you have failed to sufficiently realise the value of having a which.net email address when dealing with retailers etc and have failed to maximise the opportuinities to fund such a service from amongst the membership. If I am wrong I would be grateful to know the historical timeline to abolition over the last ten years.

2018/05/14 at 5:13 pm

I am sorry if I have upset you but it is me who is upset here. The loss of this service after 22 years is a major disappointment to me. As far as I can see I have paid you a membership fee from August 1995 to date ranging from £11.75 to £18.75. From August 1998 I also paid whichonline £11.75 a month until June 1999 when it became £4.75 to date. So all this time I was paying not for my e-mail service but access to which articles etc on line? I can’t believe I was only paying for online content. Where did Which? Extra fit into this timeline? By the way for your information I check my which.net account on a daily basis and I have no record of any prior indication that the service was to be abolished just like that. It is a deep sadness to me that I am having a discussion with the consumer association, an organisation I have long supported, promoted and respected and yet here you are quoting terms and conditions to me like some of the disreputable retailers of the past which you have reported on. Sad sad times.
In Response to Re: The end of the line for the “which.net” email service:
Thank you for your further questions.
Which? has never taken payment for email services, all members have paid for is access to which.co.uk. Over a period of two months, we have emailed everyone who holds a which.net account and, where we are able to, also provided communications in print form. We have also updated the which.net web page and included information on our Which? Conversation forum. If you no longer check your which.net account, it is possible that you missed some or all of our emails.
Which.net was offered as a service between 1997 and 2004. Although we closed the Which? Online subscription in 2004, we continued to make which.net available to existing users. Over the 20 years that we’ve been running which.net, our terms and conditions have had to adapt to changes in technology and the law. We are therefore closing the service based on our current terms and conditions – hosted on the which.net web page (https://which.net/). These allow us to vary our terms and conditions at any time as long as we communicate the change to our users and publish them. We have communicated with users by email and published the revised terms and conditions on the web page.
Thanks,
Laura.


2018/05/14 at 5:14 pm

Hi doccolpol
I have started the enormous and annoying process of advising organisations of a change in my email addresses. For some where I use another username it is a mostly simple process of changing the email address. For others the username is the email address. Some organisations require a phone call others can be sorted on line. I have after checking, nearly 1000 locations to advise of a change of email address. This will take some time with the financial institutions first on the list. I managed to use the export to file process on outlook and delete duplicates to produce a list of the organisations that emailed me over the last five years. It is a big list and some I will ignore now. My ISP is BT and I already had some btinternet.com email addresses which I will be using now. To my mind which? should have started speaking to users of the service about a year ago. I understand that there are only 5000 members using the service and many of them automatically forward mail to other accounts. The staff at which? were only informed a few days before the announcement was made. I can see no evidence of email or forum activity relating to any discussions about the abolition of which.net. I am truly angered about the way which? has dealt with this decision. They are behaving like some retailers that they reported on in the past and labelled disreputable. I am seriously considering if once I have sorted all my email addresses out whether there is any reason to have a continuing relationship with the so called consumers association.
In Response to Re: The end of the line for the “which.net” email service:
My wife and I are also grieving. We’ve been Whichers as long as the service has been operating. This comes at a bad time for us during a big project where our email service is really crucial. It is not surprising to be honest as we have seen increasing server outages in the last few months that suggests the system is creaking. I agree 2 months is not long enough especially to wait for the ‘guidance’. I will want to set up new email addresses asap and double run them for a while. Will we see a drop in our monthly subscription to Which.co.uk? I bet we won’t.
I would be interested to know which providers people are going to go to – gmail, btinternet?? It’s weighing up quality vs security vs ease of use
The only good thing I can see coming out of this will be reducing my spam email that has risen significantly with using the same email address for a very long time.
But generally it is just one big bottom ache

2018/05/14 at 5:15 pm

Interesting article in the Express about which? https://www.express.co.uk/finance/city/940804/which-net-email-magazine-platform-internet-ISP-subscribers I am unconvinced by the reasons which? has given for closure. The original members are just no use to which? anymore.

2018/05/14 at 5:15 pm

Which? leads decrepit email service behind barn, single shot rings out over valley
Users fuming… if only they had a consumer champion to turn to . . .
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/04/03/which_to_shutter_ageing_email_service/

2018/05/14 at 5:16 pm

Which? leads decrepit email service behind barn, single shot rings out over valley
Users fuming… if only they had a consumer champion to turn to . . .
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/04/03/which_to_shutter_ageing_email_service/

2018/05/14 at 5:16 pm

There would appear to be so few of us left, as evidenced by the lack of comment in this forum, that we are to be lambs to the slaughter. Which? has behaved towards us (longterm members and supporters) in a way I could never have foreseen from a so called consumer champion. Changing the T&Cs to enable a short notice disposal of the mail service with very minimal consultation of members is as you say despicable.
In Response to Re: The end of the line for the “which.net” email service:
The short amount of notice that Which? has given for closing the which.net email service is despicable.
At the very least, Which? should offer to forward emails to an address set by the subscriber for at least one year after the main email service has closed. This would require no storage on the email servers, and so minimal cost for Which? It would allow irregular emails (such as a notice to submit a tax return) to be received and so remind the subscriber to inform the sender of the change of email address.
I pay £4.75 a month for the which.net service. Don’t subscribers count any more?

2018/05/14 at 5:17 pm

Better news has arrived from which?
Autoforwarding service available
“We wanted to let you know that we appreciate that, in many cases, the real inconvenience our members anticipate is changing your email address with contacts and websites. We have been looking into how we can help with that, and we will ensure that there is an autoforwarding service available for all users from the closure date of 24th May for a period of six months – which we hope will give you more time to let contacts and organisations know, and help with identifying any you might have missed. ”
I personally would have preferred an autoforwarding service for 13 months and for it to be proposed and instigated before I spent five days rushing around changing my email addresses and advising contacts. I thank which? for this late decision which I hope was instigated following the many comments made in response to industry media reports and general news reporting. which? has every reason to be embarassed by this whole sad and badly handled closure.

2018/05/14 at 5:17 pm

EMAIL AUTOFORWARDING/REDIRECTION IS NOT WORKING
As grateful as I was to hear that which? had a slight change of heart and decided to offer six months redirection of mail with the caveat ” Please note that, although we try to ensure the best possible autoforwarding service, we are unable to guarantee that all emails will arrive at their destination. This is due to a number of reasons, including how different services send emails, and the techniques used to reduce the number of unsolicited emails, such as spam filtering” I was worried.
So I set it up on my primary account e-mail address and secondary e-mail addresses and tested. Do you know what? So far it hasn’t actually worked!

2018/05/14 at 5:19 pm

In Response to EMAIL AUTOFORWARDING/REDIRECTION IS NOT WORKING:
As grateful as I was to hear that which? had a slight change of heart and decided to offer six months redirection of mail with the caveat ” Please note that, although we try to ensure the best possible autoforwarding service, we are unable to guarantee that all emails will arrive at their destination. This is due to a number of reasons, including how different services send emails, and the techniques used to reduce the number of unsolicited emails, such as spam filtering” I was worried.
So I set it up on my primary account e-mail address and secondary e-mail addresses and tested. Do you know what? So far it hasn’t actually worked!
Posted by davpar
Thank you for your email regarding Which.net mail forwarding.
The system is very glitchy and does not always work the first time. I advise going back to the account manager, toggle mail forwarding off and then on. Save it and send another test email. This could take a few attempts before it works.
Sorry for the inconvenience. Please let me know if there is anything more I can do.

[Hi davpar, these are all of your comments, including the timestamps of when you posted them on to Convo. Thanks, Alex.]

Sorry to have blitzed the forum but I was so pleased to know that I was not alone that I felt you should all have the benefit of seeing my comments posted on the Which? Member Community forum. You all talk a lot of sense. The members that is of course not the staff having to carry out the senior managers and executives wishes of course.

Looks like all my posts are awaiting moderation and there were many of them. They all have appeared on the Which? Member Community forum so if they never appear here, if you are a member you can see them there.

I have gone a bit mad and posted 16 comments. 17 including this one. Just in case which? censors any of them you just have to count how many got through. I would expect them all to get through as there was no swearing but a few jokes and links to other comments form the outside world which could embarrass which? So nothing too frightening then.

Apology not necessary davpar. This is the right place for you to let off steam.

Thanks for the welcome. I would have arrived earlier if anyone in which? had advised that this forum was discussing the matter of the destruction of 22 years of my use of the e-mail service. I have posted previously in what I thought was the right place for comments from members. Apparently I was wrong. Anyway as far as a summary of my previous comments goes I have no intention of doing that as I wish my new audience to see everything that I previously posted the way it was intended following betrayal and frustration.

You state that your goal is not to stop me saying what I’d like to say only to avoid the copy and pasting of past comments and you hope that makes sense. It does not make sense to me as each of my earlier comments stands alone at the time made. So please do not impose a block on my genuine views independently made over a period of time. Each comment should be allowed to reflect that time and as far as I can see contains no more repetition than already exists on this forum.

I’m confused Davpar. You say you are copying your posts from elsewhere in convo, yet your Convo profile suggest that until activity in the last 24 hours, posts are 3 years old. Is there some forum of which I am unaware?

Davpar: good to have you join us and if you visit the Lobby you will see many pages of comments regarding Which.net, made prior to the creation of this topic.

I’m eagerly looking forward to your comments, and – purely to expedite things, you could publish the comments in here but minus the links, which could be added once approved as an addendum. However, they ought to be approved quickly and I’m certain Patrick will do his best to expedite that.

The treatment of its loyal members and the behaviour of Which? over this issue has been nothing less than utterly deplorable and totally unbecoming an organisation that purports to represents the consumer. But then the writing (regarding Which?’s decline) has been on the wall for sometime.

The (as yet unappointed) new CEO might breathe new energy and life into the place, but if they don’t Which? risks becoming a complete irrelevance to the modern society of which it sees itself as a part.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’m not sure I would trust TrustPilot, Duncan. Have a look at these reviews of Miele: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.miele.co.uk The reviews must have been written by customers whose products did not last for the 20 years that accelerated product testing suggested. We are probably better listening to Which?

duncan, I fail to see what Soros and Hungary have to do with this. And who on earth is suggesting we overthrow an organisation? Most of us put constructive criticisms forward – things we think Which? could do better with suggestions as to how that might be accomplished. A positive approach from some of the people Which? represents – Members, and consumers. Good to have different points of view about this because then those analysing the comments might find them useful in planning the way forward. This is what Convos are for – expressions of diverse views – isn’t it?

Earlier a commenter suggested that if we are not careful with our “criticisms” – constructive presumably included which most are – Convos might be shut down. I don’t want freedom to express a view restricted in case the censors step in, do you?

However, this is off-topic. I am still waiting for the promised feedback from Which? on the closure of which.net.

Yes Roger there is. I thought you would know.
Click on “view account”
Then select “Which? member community” from left side
Then select “Which? member community” from first paragraph (it is highlighted)
You will then either get to the community forums directly or be confronted with a login request and maybe even a create username. If you persist you will get to the forums.

Thank you Davpar. I looked briefly in there several years ago – thought this had wholly subsumed it. How wrong I was.

The difference seems to be that convo is public and the member community is the old forums (re-born?) that we both used back in the day. It is really difficult to get to the member community as the system doesn’t initially identify logged in members even though you get to it via your account! So many members probably give up. Is this the basis for another conspiracy theory I wonder. Member forums that members can’t get to?

which? responses to enquiry about difficulty getting to member forums:-

Hello David,

Thanks for your email about publishing to the forums. I apologise for the delayed reply.

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had trouble getting into the forum pages and leaving posts. I also get asked to click a ‘Log in’ button again when visiting the member community forum, but it always moves me on to the forum. Please could you tell me what browser or browsers you’ve tried using and if you also have a screen print or two to show what appears for you, that would be useful information for me to take to our IT Team. Could you also please tell me where the post or posts that are missing should sit?

The member community is set to continue.

Best wishes and thanks for your time and assistance. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Kind regards,

David Blaxill
Which? Member Services

Hello David,

Thanks for your reply email. Apologies for the delayed reply.

I appreciate you sending in this detail. I’ve passed your comments on for the reference of our Digital Team. I know that the Team is working on user experiences and it’s useful to have your comments.

I’d generally recommend sticking to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for the best operation of which.co.uk.

Thanks again for your time and comments and please let me know if I can assist further.

Kind regards,

David Blaxill
Which? Member Services

Patrick, I hadn’t realised how easy it is to stray off topic. I of course blame Roger Pittock who it is impossible to ignore and I just had to reply to him. Sorry it won’t happen again. Actually it probably will.

The original forum – Dillo – was deserted and the signpost to the front door removed in ~2002. I remember Helen Parker advising me of the “new” forum – the one of which you’ve just kindly reminded me – but I somehow was still smarting from the loss of Dillo – and although I registered – and made a post or two way back when, I’d forgotten about it by the time “Convo” appeared. Thanks again for the alert.

Ooops – sorry all I am off topic yet again. Self admonishing – and yes Davpar you have found my largest Achilles heel!

Second edit – replying to your reply – I know I know. Truly sorry. I am the world’s worst…

Welcome Davpar to this exclusive enclave where comments and questions are collected and totally ignored by all staff unless seriously prompted to do so (or if you only need a simple answer).
In just nine working days which.net will be unceremoniously pushed off a proverbial cliff – but be assured management are truly sad at what they’ve done and thank you for your loyalty ha ha ha.
Still fuming!!!!!!!

Hi Neil, I’m sorry that you feel like the comments are being ignored. I want to assure you that we are listening to all of our community members’ concerns and when questions are asked I am actively seeking answers. I completely appreciate how frustrating it is when a question looks like it hasn’t been answered. In order for us to make sure we’re giving you the most accurate information, it may take a while to get answers posted.

Perhaps there is something I can do to help our community understand when questions are being chased?

@awhittle, Morning Alex. The problem is that Which? very rarely answer questions. I could produce a list as long as Norfolk Street of straightforward questions I have asked over the years that have never received an acknowledgement, let alone an answer. I conclude that Which? have no interest in interacting with Members.

Morning Malcolm 🙂 I am sorry to hear that so many of your questions have gone unanswered. As Which? covers such a wide range of subjects, finding the correct expert to answer a question can be a task in itself, and can sometimes mean that we have to liaise with a number of different departments to get an answer which covers all of your questions or points. So while you might be waiting a while for an answer, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re not actively looking into it for you. Hopefully, that gives you a bit of an insight into why it might take a bit of time to answer questions. I am really keen to be more transparent with the community on this and would love to discuss how we can improve this 🙂

However, for you not to be getting an answer at all to your questions is very concerning. Unfortunately, as you know we are a very small team at the moment, but we are growing in numbers and we are still hiring! @patrick is working hard on the new Community Strategy (which you’ve all helped with) – and we’re confident that we’re going in the right direction. It may be a case that your questions have been accidentally missed, which shouldn’t be the case and something we are working hard to improve on.

If there are questions which you would like answers to please can you either @ me, report the comment with a note or email me directly (alexandra.whittle@which.co.uk) – or all 3! I won’t mind.

Can we try and keep on the topic of which.net in this discussion – thank you.

There have been no proper responses to lists of questions posed on the previous page – some of which have been there for a long time.
“Taking a while to get answers posted” is fast running out of time – there are only 9 working days until closure – at your current pace of responses it seems we *might* get some answers in November when the autoforwarding plug is pulled too.
This is simply not good enough for the organisation you claim to be.
Stop the closure and do the right thing.

I think that the problem has existed for years. A professional member writes authoritavely about problems with new houses [twice] and receives no answer,no article, no nothing.

I don’tthink anyone feels that Conversation? staff are responsible for past [in]actions. It did make me consider whether the organisation itself was too big and that communications had broken down. I will look at how the minnows manage.

One thing to bear in mind if we sound generally peeved is that we can recall when this organisation was better and a truly a membership body.

Patrick Steen said at :09:20 today…

Hi Davpar, we created this section on 16 April after requests to do so.

From whom did those ‘requests’ originate Patrick? Certainly not from those of us affected by the which.net closure nor, as I remember, from any of the regulars, most of whom sensed it was merely a convenient way to ‘hide’ the ongoing critiques of Which? and make it far easier to dispose of the topic at a single button push.

I would wonder if those who asked privately were staff or users. It’s true we ‘are where we are’, Patrick, but if Which? adopted that attitude towards the work it has done over the past several decades nothing would have been accomplished.

What’s important to realise is that the which.net issue is central to Which? as an organisation, its ethos and its overall philosophy. Surely you can see that?

Hi Ian, the people who asked privately were community members.

Interesting.

Alex Whittle said Today at 09:12:

Hi Neil, I’m sorry that you feel like the comments are being ignored. Perhaps there is something I can do to help our community understand when questions are being chased?

The list I posted around five weeks ago didn’t need ‘chasing’ Alex; merely answering.

Hi Ian, we do need to answer these questions fully and accurately. We’re hoping to post the answers soon. I completely understand your frustration and this and I can only apologise that it has taken so long.

I just wish your “We’re hoping to post the answers soon.” would be this century please and ideally significantly before May 24th. 🙁

Andy says:
17 May 2018

Well that’s it – another one bites the dust! Just rang up and cancelled my subscription.
Spent at least a couple of weeks of my dedicated time since the notification of closure came through cleaning up emails, notifying the 200+ people,orgs etc. etc. of the email address change. Just hope that the promise of email auto forwarding is honoured despite no longer being a member – I’ll be checking periodically just to make sure! I’m sure there are still people I’ve missed.

Things have changed over the 20+ years I’ve been a member – it seems that you are now getting less & less for the fees. Originally when I extended my magazine membership to go online (from its inception) and got myself a nice snappy email address, you could look at the Gardening and Holiday magazines (without subscription), and could access the Good Food and B&B guides without cost (sold off by Which? of course). The basic magazine has now been diluted by spinning off financial, computing subjects into their own separate (chargeable) magazines. Quite often when I look at a best buy I find that they seem to reflect a significant number of end-of-line or non-available products. What is/isn’t included in the membership also seems to have changed without notice over the years, as I now discover that my monthly 4.75, which I thought was purely for Online access includes Legal Cover (which used to be separately subscribed and charged). I’ve also been paying for Legal Cover as an add-on to my home insurance!

Ah well at least the closure of my email account has triggered me out of my inertia to review my membership and take the decision to leave.

Malcolm mentioned Which? having 700 employees if I remember correctly.

What on earth do they all do? Couldn’t just one of those 700 employees have taken the time to answer the questions Ian asked over a month ago on 16th April?
https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/the-lobby/#comment-1528574
.

They are clearly carefully checking each and every one of those 700 employees to find the best one to saddle “we do need to answer these questions fully and accurately” with.
When he/she/it is found you can be sure we’ll have an answer – not a useful answer but an answer nevertheless.
Why doesn’t someone actually admit this was an utterly stupid decision and totally against all of Which’s guiding principles and at odds with their public statements.
Your silence is very revealing.
Still fuming!

There were 751 announced in the Accounts. AFAIR 125 working for Which? Financial Services. I have no idea how many work for Which? Trusted Trader but not many I guess.

I thought DavPar had asked that his posts be submitted as separate, for so many reasons?

I’m going to reply to the points Davpar has raised.

DavPar wrote 2. Did I and other members ( and those 5000 members using the email service) miss an opportunity to comment on the abolition of this service earlier?

The answer is no, Davpar. No consultation was launched at all and the decision was taken at the highest level that the 5000 accounts would simply be terminated on the 25th May, without any consultation.

You will appreciate the irony, when they’re busily attempting to gain members by berating the banks and others for removing ATMs, or when they’re condemning the actions of companies who cancel vital services without consulting the members. But I suppose they’re only behaving like every other commercial organisation does; just I suppose we were duped into believing they were somehow better. They’re not.

Davpar wrote: 3. When was the decision taken not to promote this service amongst members. I don’t recall seeing any information about it in recent years or about the membership on-line forums. Was it never considered possible to provide members with an upgraded service by persuading more to sign up.

The decision was announced to members on 28th March – the day just before Maunday Thursday and the start of the long Easter Bank holiday. Odd timing, really, since GDPR – one ostensible reason for the closure had been known about for 2 years…

They were faced with a couple of options:

1. Charge the users for the service (to which I would gladly have agreed)
2. Outsource the service to an external provider.
3. Behave as badly as any commercial company and simply announce it was closing. No – beay that: behave worse than a commercial company. Tesco closed their service a few weeks later but announced forwarding would continue for six months. It was only after lot of complaining, badgering and press overage that Which eventually and grudgingly conceded to forwarding at all.

In response to your last point, I posted a series of questions on the 2th March which, to this day, have not received the courtesy of a response. They were:

1. Why were the which.net user not notified many months in advance?
2. Why were the which.net users not offered the option of paying extra for the email service?
3. Why can’t the domain name be released to a member-led consortium to run?
4 What evidence exists that over the course of 22 years any which.net member has ever posed as a which? employee?

Davpar wrote: 4. I take it that the service can just be abolished under the existing/ammended terms and conditions without any reference to the membership?

Ha! It can’t. but now we come to the next master-stroke in the Which? primer on “How to Be a Consumer Rip-off Master.”

The original conditions contained no provision whatsoever for the service to be terminated. So, facing that rather glaring omission, what does a consumer-oriented organisation and charity do?

Easy: re-write the Terms and Conditions.

I do wonder how the CA council ddn’t resign en masse but since no one from the upper echelons has even deigned to post a response to the questions asked, I doubt we’ll ever know.

In short, Davpar, those of us who have been with Which? for many, many years have been treated worse by the so-called consumer champion than by many commercial companies. It’s unacceptable, bad business, extremely uncharitable and goes against the core values of what Which? once represented.

Alfa put it best of all:

<b<@patrick, why would you feel heartbroken? Are you heartbroken for the members whose lives are suddenly turned upside-down or heartbroken that we should dare to speak out at such a despicable decision by Which? Why should Lauren carry the can, yet again? Where are the nameless cowards who make these decisions? Are they the same overpaid individuals who thought it was ok to pay themselves obscene bonus amounts that would easily pay for keeping the service going? Then there are the millions wasted on failed ventures. Do those at the top of Which? have any conscience whatsoever, any genuine loyalty and belief in Which? and what it stands for, why it was formed in the first place? Is this any way to treat their long-standing supporters, some of who have spent their hard-earned cash for over half a century to line the pockets of those decision makers? So much for charity beginning at home.

I feel angry for all those affected and put in this impossible situation and the absolute betrayal by an institution purporting to standing up for consumer rights and their refusal to consider an alternative.

Davpar, the questions – to which we’ve had not a single answer, by the way continued…

1. Why wasn’t it maintained over the years so this would never have happened?
2. Why not pay to keep the system in house; after all, it’s not a lot compared with the £33m they’ve lost since PV-S has been at the helm
3. If the paltry sum required to keep it going is too much why not sell the domain to a member consortium? Because they won’t. They want to sit on it.
4. How can they justify the changing of the Ts enc Cs the day before they sent out the ending email? Is that the act of a ‘consumer charity?’ Is it even legal, I wonder?

Which? continued to shoot its corporate self in the foot by launching a new topic header:

Should ISPs be forced to redirect email?

The topic first came to our attention via a reader who had lost his email address after the closure of the ISP UK Online. And let’s just say, losing your main email account is beyond annoying – not only is it the email all your friends and families know, it’s the email you use for online banking, purchasing from online retailers and no doubt much more.

………maybe you think that ISPs should be forced to provide an email forwarding service?.

A number of us started a Facebook site and a blog has just opened, as well as a website. As I wrote several weeks ago

I’m rapidly discovering that if you perceive Which? not as an altruistic charity, with noble aims, but as a rather poorly-run business, it starts to make a lot more sense. There are pockets of excellence – such as Patrick Lauren and Co. but if only a fraction of the reviews on Glass Door are to be believed there’s little homogeneity of internal structure, so the really talented and decent folk can find themselves marginalised by political manoeuvring. Looking up the histories of some of the top people on LinkedIn is also highly informative. There seems to be a very pronounced soap powder connection, as in those who seem to have worked for Proctor and Gamble. All rather disturbing.

On the 16th April I posted these questions:

I have some questions about the threatened which.net closure. I’m posting them in here because I believe they should reach as wide an audience as possible.

These questions stem from the email sent out on the 27th March. They go directly to the root of the rationale Which? is using to justify the closure of the service.

1. The email from W? stated “We began running which.net before some of today’s established companies were in the market and at a time when the way in which email was provided was quite different. Our mission is to offer services, information and solutions to consumers that address needs and problems that are not met elsewhere. As technology has advanced in the last 20 years, other providers and services in the market have become stronger – to the extent that this is now a market where consumers are well served.

Q1. The which.net email – apart from needing more capacity and an improved spam filter, performs very well indeed, and the spam filter and greater space would cost almost nothing to implement. But the question is simple: given most email services such as Gmail monetise their customers, how are consumers well served going elsewhere?

2. We are mindful that keeping a service that is of the standard you’d expect from Which? will require major resource investment, not least to ensure your data is kept safe in an increasingly complex environment.

Q2, Assuming that the service requires 2 servers, these would typically cost £10k each and because they are a Capital expense, would be written down over 3 years. Typically maintenance would be 15% of capital, ie £3k per annum. The software maintenance would be subsumed into existing maintenance agreements and so is unlikely to significantly increase the cost of those. The question, therefore, is what is the ‘major resource investment’ you allege is needed?

3. we cannot justify this as part of our overall mission to empower consumers. Since we launched this service, the number of users has dropped significantly; it is now a very small proportion of our total membership base and many of the accounts are inactive.

Q3. At its peak there were only 14000 accounts, and there are still – some 22 years later – more than 5000 accounts. Considering the service was closed to new users in 2004 that’s a retention rate most organisations would be very proud of. So how is the word ‘significantly’ justified?

Q4. Is it, in fact, true that there is no hardware cost in providing the service as it requires a server and DNS service only?

Q5. Is it true that the which.net domain is still required for significant parts of Which? Digital? And presumably will be if the which.net closure goes ahead?

Q6. Is it true that the primary issue with regard to GDPR relates to the deletion of accounts and data stored. and that GDPR includes a clause allowing users the ‘right of erasure’? Is it not also the simplest of issues to erase a user account should such a request be made?

Q7. Is it not also true that access for mobile devices is simple; either through their own mail clients or through browsers?

Q8. Is it not also true that a senior Which? staffer noted that “the legal Ts&Cs currently displayed do not give us the ability to cancel the service, this may leave us open to challenge from observant users however our team believe we would be able to defend this”? Notwithstanding the rather poor level of literacy, what sort of a picture of the ‘Consumer Champion’ does this present to the world?

It is now the 17 May and there has been not one single reply to any of the questions posed.

And this is the Consumer Champion?

And if Which? does have 700 employees, it’s a pretty poor show that one of them can’t give you the courtesy of an answer after all this time.

Hello, HELLO err testing 1 2 3 tap tap is this thing broken?

I have to say that, compared with the Which member community this place is Nirvana. I’ve never understood the mindset of the senior manager (although I could make a guess) who ordered the member community to be hidden so effectively and manned so anonymously, and it baffles me why they did that – but of course it works,in the sense that it’s so incredibly difficult to find and enter that most simply give up.

As a ‘community’ forum it should be removed under the TDA alone. But to get to it – for those who don’t know, here’s the process:

1. Go to the main Which? landing page.
2. Locate the tiny, tiny words on the top RH side of the screen that say ‘My account’.
3. Click on My Account.
4. A drop down menu reluctantly appears. Click on “View Account” (although, since you got that menu by clicking on My Account wouldn’t it have been more intuitive to simply display the account?
5. Click on “Which? Member community” on the left hand side.
6. In the paragraph that appears, click on the first three words – tiny and barely visible and certainly not clearly hyperlinked – “Which? Member Community”

Yay. In a mere six steps you’ve navigated the mini-maze of miniscule minutiae to reach the forum, but don’t rejoice just yet. Finding somewhere to complain about the egregious behaviour of Which? in regard to the which/net saga is equally perplexing. But that’s entirely deliberate, of course.

In fact, if anything demonstrates the total contempt Which? holds its subscribers and OMs in, that ghost town of a forum is it. Does make you wonder why or how Which? is still relevant.

Ian, those of us who have recently cancelled our subscriptions have already voted with our feet on that issue.

It would be interesting to know how many in total have cancelled. I personally know of seven.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan, that said, you’re not actually a Member…

As a recently cancelled subscriber, I’ve been watching Which? gradually drift away from serving my main interests. I always used to read the magazine from cover but was now barely looking at it. Although I must have provided quite a lot of feedback via W?C and the recently closed Tech Forum, I didn’t see any evidence that any of the views posted by myself or others were being responded to in any meaningful ways.

The other point you’re missing, Duncan, is the tortuous technique required to get in to that ghost forum. It only accepts registered Which? members anyway, so they could easily make the entrance far more visible. But the way it’s been made as difficult as is humanly possible. even to find the place, speaks volumes about their regard – or lack of it – for those who pay their wages.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan, as with any other commercial publishing house, Which? need to steer the content of their magazine so that it attracts a viable base of subscriptions. From their basis of doing that, I no longer need to subscribe because the magazine articles no longer interest me. So I had been on the cusp of cancelling for a while. Then there was the demise of Which? Tech Daily, which I quite enjoyed, until finally the poor behavior of the organisation over the closure of which.net triggered me from apathy to action. After often enjoying the privilege of working for well behaved organisations (and individuals) I’m not able to find a lot of time to persist with badly behaved ones.)

As regards campaigning, I am quite capable of writing to MP’s and Government, or even visiting Parliament to lobby my MP, when so required. I confess I’ve only done the latter once, but I suspect that is once more than most folk here have ever done.

Much will depend upon the leadership and their agenda. We are coming to the end of one that seems to have reduced focus on the impartial and useful assessment of products and services into a rather adversarial approach; and one that seems to want to pursue publicity and commercial growth – the latter with some success but offset by very substantial failures.

I hope the new leader will bring a different style and return us to a proper consumers’ organisation.

I still support much of what Which? does. It cannot please all of us all of the time, of course, and Convos show the diverse views of its members. I am prepared to be constructively critical where I see things I don’t agree with, and still prepared to communicate with them where I feel something is worth saying. Does it have any effect? I don’t know. But it certainly would have even less effect if I left.

This comment was removed at the request of the user