/ 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

On Monday 14th May I received a survey from Which? itself, not Which? Connect, on the subject
“We’d love to hear what you think about your Which? membership”, with the subhead “Your opinion counts”. It asked detailed questions and provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate how the sudden closing of Which.Net and the dumbing down of reviews both in the magazine and online reduced the value of Which? to me.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan
Could you perhaps use a public computer in the library to do it?

Or keep a laptop just for looking at Which? Convo.

On topic – At one time I know who used which.net gave a talk last night. I asked him what he was doing and he said that he had stopped using it several years ago because he could receive but not send email. I presume that would be a simple problem with settings, but he had switched to a different email account.

Which.net has not been able to send – other than from webmail – for many years. The rack of dial-in modems was decommissioned and that was a casualty. However, it was telegraphed and the work-around of sending via SMTP from one’s broadband provider has served well ever since.

I presume my friend had the wrong SMTP setting. When I am away from home and using mobile broadband or a friend’s router I routinely switch the SMTP or switch to using an Exchange mail account for sending email. There are plenty of sites giving SMTP settings, for example: https://www.uksecurewebhosting.co.uk/other-services/smtp-email-details/

Hi Ian, sorry for the delay in our response to your comment. We’ve been working hard to answer all of your points as fully as possible.

As an organisation we have a number of different services which offer information and solutions to consumer issues. We believe that by encouraging the use of different email providers, we will have the resource to focus on our mission to serve consumers.

You’ve mentioned the hardware running costs. It’s not just hardware cost that we have to consider, there are also additional resourcing costs. You’ve asked if it is true that there are no hardware costs for the server. This is not true. We do pay leasing costs for the virtual servers, however, we can’t discuss the confidential details of this. The which.net domain is also not required for which.co.uk.

We appreciate how much the which.net users value the service and there are many who do use it on a regular basis. It’s important to take in to account that there are over 700,000 Which? members. The which.net users make up a very small portion of that number. You’re correct, there are still over 5,000 accounts, but the amount of these that are frequently used has drastically dropped.

All services will need to take a number of aspects of GDPR into account in light of the new regulation. Erasing data is just one aspect. However, the new General Data Protection Regulation is not a driving factor for the closure of the which.net service.
Many people choose to use mobile devices to access their emails. The which.net webmail interface is not a user-friendly experience on a mobile device and would be unable to serve users in that way.

I appreciate your frustration regarding the change of Ts & Cs. Our terms and conditions allowed us to vary the service but, in order to be transparent, we made the decision to amend clause 6 with two weeks’ notice.

We are aware of the frustrations voiced by the which.net regular users and we are continuing to monitor these comments and offer help where possible.

Hi @indierai – I have repeatedly asked why users of which.net have not been offered mail forwarding for a long period. I have never used the service but have practical experience of how inefficient personal contacts and organisations can be at registering a change in email address after being notified. Please could you explain why Which? is not offering automatic mail forwarding for at least a year after the closure of the service.

@indierai, I am, as I have said before, not a which.net user. My questions, also unanswered, concerned the precipitous was Which? dealt with the closure, 2 years from when GDPR was announced, the lack of help for users until they repeatedly complained, and the cynical change in Ts&Cs when they realised they had a contractual problem.

It is not the way many of us feel an organisation like Which? should conduct its business.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Indie, than you for your responses. I wold like to ask a couple of questions:

As an organisation we have a number of different services which offer information and solutions to consumer issues. We believe that by encouraging the use of a different email provider, we will have the resource to focus on our mission to serve consumers.

But doesn’t the comparatively small amount you will save not only incur a great deal of ill-feeling but also run counter to just about everything Which? claims to represent?

You’ve mentioned the hardware running costs. It’s not just hardware cost that we have to consider, there are additional resourcing costs. You’ve asked if it is true that there are no hardware costs for the server. This is not true. We pay the leasing costs for the virtual servers. Unfortunately, we can’t discuss the confidential details of this. The which.net domain is also not required for which.co.uk.

I agree that employing half a person will form a significant part of the costs and I believe my information took that into account. And leasing a virtual service to run 5000 accounts with the mall size limits Which? has always imposed doesn’t cost a great deal – and I imagine W? has managed to get that leasing at a very low cost.

In the long run, of course, this is about how Which? regards its members. The costs involved in maintaining the service are dwarfed by the monies lost over the past ten years, d’you not agree? And by the salaries and bonuses paid to the top people?

We appreciate how much the which.net users value the service and there are many who do use it on a regular basis. It’s important to take in to account that there are over 700,000 Which? members. The which.net users make up a very small portion of that number. You’re correct, there are still over 5,000 accounts, unfortunately, the amount of these that are frequently used has drastically dropped.

Particularly so in the past few weeks, I would imagine. But isn’t that the same argument that the banks are advancing for the closure of ATMs that W? is vigorously opposing? Can you not detect a bit of irony there?

All services will need to take a number of aspects of GDPR into account in light of the new regulation. Erasing data is just one aspect. However, the new General Data Protection Regulation is not a driving factor for closure of the which.net service.

But it was one of them, was it not? Along with poor performance in the past, all of which has now been rectified. In the end, is it money or simply that W? can’t be bothered supporting the service they used to entice people to become Which? ISP subscribers?

When I signed up – in 1995 – I noted carefully there were no provisions for termination .and – as a Which? OM – I trusted Which? to honour that.

Many people choose to use mobile devices to access their emails. The which.net webmail interface is not a user-friendly experience on a mobile device, and would be unable to serve users in that way.

They could use the webmail interface, and their own clients, as I’ve been doing for 23 years.

I appreciate your frustration regarding the change of Ts & Cs. Our terms and conditions allowed us to vary the service but, in order to be transparent, we made the decision to amend clause 6 with two weeks’ notice.

Doesn’t “in order to be transparent” translate to ‘There might be those who realise the Ts and Cs don’t allow for this, so we’d better change them – pronto and we might get away with it”?

Overall, this is exactly the sort of behaviour Which? would condemn in another organisation, such as the banks. And this has weakened Which? for any future campaigns. You might hope the media will forget about this, but you can be sure there are those of us who will remind them.

Duncan – Thanks, but the problem I keep raising is that if you change email address and notify friends, companies and other organisations they don’t all act on the information and may need to be reminded again. That’s a problem if contact is made only once a year.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Wouldn’t make the slightest difference to the issue Wavechange is describing.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan – That’s what I did for a charity, over 12 years ago. I pay for both web hosting and email and though it works fine I’m concerned that charges are being hiked. During the winter months I will probably look at getting my own domain for personal use because I fear that my ISP might withdraw email facilities as others have done and I might lose my old work email account.

@indierai So what happens to people who might have been away, maybe in hospital with a long-term illness?

As the notice period has been so short, they might not have been able to sort out their digital existence.

What plans are in place for these people?

I was never aware of the which.net email service when it was available. I wonder how many subscribers it would attract these days if it were brought “up to date” and properly promoted. Despite the fact we have plenty of independent mortgage advisers out there that didn’t stop Which? investing huge sums in their own version.

Indie:

Still unanswered are

1. Why were no consultations carried out prior to the closure being announced?
2. Why were members not allowed to say whether they would pay for the service as an additional premium?

Indie, you say “However, the new General Data Protection Regulation is not a driving factor for the closure of the which.net service.” so WHY are you using the GDPR trigger date as your closing date for which.net?
Why not 6 months hence … or better still … never?
Still fuming!!

An open – and semi-urgent question: Will Auto-reply continue to work during the six-month auto-forward window? I suspect not, but it would be very useful if it did allowing a pithy message to senders that email address had changed.

Hi Roger, we expect Auto Reply will continue to function as it uses a similar function to the auto forward. If you spot any issues with this though please do let us know.

That is excellent news Alex. Thank you.

I set up auto-forwarding and after a few false starts it appeared to be working. However since 18 April it has ceased to work. Of course currently I am still receiving emails addressed to my which.net accounts. I will set it up again and once which.net is closed if it fails again that will be it! Anyone else getting on OK with auto-forwarding?

Auto-forwarding is working fine for me. There are two things I’ve found which personally complicates it:
1) If you keep a local copy and mailbox goes oversize
2) If you have an auto-reply set, it sometimes messes with other things so you may need to re-affirm auto-forward after 10 minutes of settling time after setting an auto-reply.

If you have set up an Outlook address (or at least an address controlled under Outlook protocol), it is possible that forwarded mail may be coming under spoofing suspicion, which can cause delay and good mail wrongly being flagged as spam. Check your spam folder.

I’ve never found it to work reliably over any length of time. And when you do set it up for the secondary email addresses, it will have defaulted to the ‘off’ position by the next time you check.

The sheer stress this is inducing, even in those of us who are relatively confident with computers and emails, is unacceptable. One avenue Which? ought to have explored was offering the email service to all OMs and then perhaps to all members with more than five years tenure.

It never rains but it pours! I set up auto-reply to advise senders that the which.net account was closed and that anybody I wanted to stay in contact with will have my new e-mail address. Seemed to be working OK. Until this afternoon when I received 164 e-mails from The North Face Support ( one every minute until they stopped). This is what they stated:-

Thank you for contacting The North Face.

We will reply to your email within 2 business days. If you have any other questions, please visit our website at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Never Stop Exploring!

Sincerely,
The North Face Customer Service

Clearly I can’t cope with this repeatedly and since I can still access the account for a day I will have to turn off auto-reply now.

I’m afraid it also now shows that auto-forwarding has not worked since Tuesday afternoon as I received all these emails from The North Face directly to my which.net account via pop3 on outlook and not as redirected mail to another address I set up specifically for that purpose. I am resigned to the loss of any e-mails from any organisation or person who I have not informed of the change. Hope I haven’t missed anyone too important.

And so in just two days Which will kill 5000 members email accounts … and for what?
Because they could?
To win a bet?
To prove they are are like other vindictive companies that don’t give 2p for their paying customers?
To get 5000 annoying customers out of their hair?
Or all of the above?
And to think I actually thought Which cared about customers and more importantly members – looks like I was wrong about that – shame and they were doing so well up to a few months ago too. 🙁

Hi Davpar, Auto-forwarding has worked for me for the past week or two, most recently at 21.37 on 22 May. It is forwarding to my own domain that I setup after the planned demise was announced. Forwarded emails just appear in Outlook 2010, on which I have setup a rule so that forwarded emails are saved in a Which folder for evaluation.

Sadly it is busy since some organisations are highly resistant to updating their mailing lists. There is irony in that now the major traffic is from organisations sending GDPR emails seeking approval to carry on sending emails to Which.net!!

And the annoying fact with most of these latecomers with the GPDR messages is that they only seem to offer a “yes keep sending” link or possibly a blunt “unsubscribe” but no hint of a “change preferences or change email address” link?
On the other hand it is kind of useful they’re coming out in the “open” this way since it does give some sort of chance to dump some of them.

I’ve had a fair number of ‘Let’s keep in touch’ from companies I’ve never heard of before. One today even included an ‘order number’.

They will be ignored as we know never to click on links in unknown emails.

One thing I have decided routinely to do is to send a mail each morning to my two which net accounts to ensure both get forwarded ok. I rate that as particularly important for the first few days.

Been doing that. It worked – at first.

Are you saying it stopped of its own accord and not because of a full mail box?

Last day tomorrow (Thursday) because by close of play Which will throw the big switch and if forwarding arrangements have not been done (and proved working) by then you’re done for.
Big cheese will get his double-bonus and we get our marching orders.
So long and thanks for all the fish eh?
What was that film title? ah yes – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

I think this post deserves to be here:-

I mourn the loss of which.net but as a result I have discovered that in 2013 my monthly £4.75 payment for access to which? online changed to a reduced subscription for full access to the legal service. On-line access and consumer legal advice was included in the quarterly subscription. I was unaware of this change. Since I receive legal advice as part of my Home Insurance policy I would never have required the additional services from which?. As a consequence which? is refunding all payments made by me since 2013. If all current members of which.net were in a similar position that would cost which? over a million pounds. So please check you own personal circumstances and if necessary make the case for a refund to which? After all this organisation is transparent, fair, considerate and above all a champion of the consumer and it’s members. Isn’t it?

Very interesting 🙂

Hello 🙂 You should have been made aware that the subscription included legal advice as well, however, if people do find that they have this subscription then they can call 01992 822 800 and speak to member services who will be able to help you with this.

I hope I’ve managed to sort your issue for you davpar, as we discussed in another Convo but any other issues feel free to let me know. Can I kindly ask that this conversation is either moved to The Lobby or the Governance discussion area? Technically, this isn’t about which.net and is off-topic. Thank you

I must disagree, Alex; Davpar’s issue has resulted directly from two things: the change in the payments involved with regard to Which.net and the consequences of the termination of the service, both of which have combined to reveal the situation. It’s also highly relevant to others where a similar thing might have occurred.

Hi Ian, I understand that davpar’s situation has been highlighted as a result of the which.net service coming to an end. This is why the comment hasn’t been moderated in any way. However, any additional comments in regards to memberships would be off-topic from which.net and would need to be discussed either in The Lobby or the Governance discussion area.

It would not be fair to other community members who want to discuss which.net if we started filling up the comment section with membership queries. Thank you.

Oops…slip of the finger 🙄

Dates should read 1996 – 2018

Well the dirty deed is done – the webmail access to which.net has been turned off.
A moment of silence for our dear departed friend – the beancounters finally won out.
They have carried out their threat – just hope the poor bosses can make do with their soon to be reduced PAYING customers fees as many will be departing this sinking ship.
When Which? finally go down the drain will I still have to pay my 50p (as a bona-fide ordinary member) or can I unbolt myself completely from this sorry outfit?
RIP which.net

The new features on the status page are useful. Thanks for adding those.

We are now “customers”, where once we were “members”. This gives us a more arms length status. More “them and us”, which is what is intended.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

It’s a rather generalised piece, but I think it misses the point when it says “We seem obsessed with joining a side and pitting ‘us’ against ‘them’ in the hope we witness a fatal outcome not unlike that in a blood sport.“. I think reasoned debate will, indeed, present opposing views, some maybe with more vigour than the speaker really feels. In my view the objective should be to get all the relevant facts and views on the table so the issue can then be considered overall and a reasoned conclusion reached. Rarely is a problem black and whiter; it is which shade of grey is adopted as the pragmatic solution.

The loss of the which.net service seems to have been possible, in Which?’s eyes, by Which? Ltd changing their terms and conditions overnight when it suited them. I would have thought that when a contract is made between a customer – for which.net – and a supplier – Which Ltd. – the terms and conditions pertaining at the time of the contract would apply unless there were an agreement with the customer to vary them. Was Which?’s action illegal or just morally wrong?

And this is precisely the sort of shenanigans when brought to Which? attention would have them up in arms about unfair changes of terms detrimenting customers.
Didn’t seem to stop them doing it to us – probably illegally too or at the very least extremely unfair terms.
I thought I read somewhere there was supposed to be a 45-day “change period” between declaring any change and acting on that change – they only left it a few days between changing the rules to suit them then declaring closure.
Right bunch of handkerchiefs 🙁

This comment was removed at the request of the user

That’s not correct. The Ts and Cs come under Tort law, the ancient set of precepts governing contracts in general. All a company has to do is make provisions for changes at the outset.

In the case of Which?, however, the wording was “if we deem it necessary”; so changes could be made if the reason to make those changes was necessary. This is the crucial aspect.

If this was simply a whim on Which?’s part – to get rid of the service, which PV-S is on record as having said, publicly, some years ago – is that ‘necessary’?

It’s definitely underhanded, of course, and it goes without saying it’s an appalling way to treat anyone, let alone for the CA to treat its members, but the crucial word is ‘necessary’.

Now, we have had no information as to what made it so, and the answers Indie Rai gave the other day raised far more questions than answers, and so far we still don’t know the real reason.

We do know they’ve just appointed Dame Deirdre Hutton DBE to lead a governance review at Which? (and, presumably, the Consumers’ Association) and she’ll be accompanied by Julia Unwin CBE, previously Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing trust and the ostensible reason for this was given by Tim Gardam as “to ensure our governance and ordinary membership arrangements work to maximise our ability to achieve our desired charitable and commercial strategic objectives”, which leaves us no wiser as to exactly why there’s even being a review.

But the decision of PV-S to leave, the announcement of a governance review and the ending of the Which.net service might all be linked in some way, the obvious one being financial.

We know Which? doesn’t have a good track record as a business and the concern that there may be some very nasty surprises lurking in wait in financial terms isn’t far from some minds. But some of us have been saying for a while Which? needs to change and adapt far more than it has, and although it’s clear that many at the top fear both the internet and engaging directly with members, it has been done in the past and Which members in general are above average in intellect, so engaging directly with them shouldn’t be viewed in the same light as answering a twitter feed from Donald Trump.

But openness and frankness is what Which? lacks – in spades. All the talks I’ve had with those in the middle tier and even Hector (where, unforgivably, my conversation was monitored by at least one other Which? employee without my permission and without my even being warned) reveal that most simply stick to the party line and seem terrified to waiver from that in any degree.

We need honest answers to direct questions – but I wonder if that will ever happen. It used to, certainly, but no more. And evasiveness only make the recipient believe they’re hiding something…

This comment was removed at the request of the user

If customers sign up to Terms & Conditions that say [in as many words] “these T&C’s can be changed at any time if we deem it necessary” then they can take no action against the changes, other than quit their relationship. Debating which part of the law is involved is futile. Parliament legislates for all legal arrangements and the only limitation is unfairness in contract terms. The problem is that 99% of customers do not read the T&C’s and understand their implications but that in itself does not make them unfair. Since all firms supplying the same goods or services probably have the same kind of T&C’s, customers have nowhere else to go.

Something you’d think a decent consumer-oriented charity might notice in others. Of course, there is an option and that’s to go to court. But that’s not only expensive and time-consuming but the outcome is inevitably uncertain. However, the law does have unfair contractual terms legislation but above all any court would look to see if the organisation could justify their actions and specifically how the word ‘necessary’ was justified.

There’s an inherent irony here, too; to go to court requires money and without that can the consumer ever be as ‘powerful as the companies with whom they deal’? Sad days.

I did not see the press release from the Which? Ltd Press Office yesterday that said:
Which? Ltd changes its terms and conditions to deprive 5000 customers of their e-mail service that terminates today, causing great inconvenience “.
Did anyone else catch it?

A number of questions have been asked since the very start of this Convo (6 weeks ago) about the closure of the e-mail service, the reasons, possible alternatives, and suchlike. We have been promised answers, the last time being 10 days ago: “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.“. Now the fait is accompli can we expect a response?

Does any of this advice sound a little relevant?:

You’re sticking to your ISP account
Although many of us have more than one email account, we asked what you use as your main email service. We had 1,761 responses and 55% of the vote went to ISP emails.
Ceri advised everyone to use a web-based account, since it’s totally independent of your broadband ……………………….
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
……………..
However, many of you felt that even a webmail service could be closed down. I personally feel that my emails are secure with both Microsoft (Hotmail) and Google (Gmail), but your comments did tempt me to think about buying my own domain name
…………………
………….solely using your ISP’s email is risky business. Sure, it may be unlikely that they’ll suddenly close down, but don’t you want the freedom to switch providers? Or maybe you think that ISPs should be forced to provide an email forwarding service?

Selective extracts from:
4 JANUARY 2011 / TECHNOLOGY
“Our poll says you’re sticking to your ISP’s email

No replies from Which? have been received to many of the questions asked or points raised in this Convo, despite assurances to the contrary. It is now 12 days since the last contribution from Members so perhaps hoping it will all go away works.

I was resisting posting just to see if, by some shear fluke or if hell was freezing over somewhere, that someone from Which? might condescend to actually post something they’ve been promising for a month or so.

No such luck of course – too important for them to spend even a picosecond on us poor (because we’re still paying their wages) plebs. I think to all intents and purposes we’ve been given the royal two-finger salute by this supposed “caring” (dis)organisation. Really sad they’ve gone downhill so far.