/ Shopping

What’s your biggest purchase regret of 2011?

As 2011 comes to a close, here’s your chance to reflect on all the things you spent money on and weigh up whether they were worth all that dosh. What product do you wish you didn’t bother buying in 2011?

Personally, I don’t have any purchase regrets this year. That’s apart from when I bought it. My new smartphone, the HTC Incredible S, has well and truly pulled me out of the dark ages, but it also well and truly blew a hole in my pocket.

I decided to buy it outright, as I knew I’d get savings down the line with the pay-as-you-go deal I’m currently on. And who wants to be locked into a contract? However, I did spend over £300 on it. A month or so later? It was on sale for around £200. One hundred smackers down the drain. Serves me right, I guess.

Purchase regrets round-up

So what about others in Which? – what did they regret buying this year?

Jess Moreton, Advocacy Graduate: ‘When I moved into my flat with my ex last year, we bought a second-hand TV. We don’t live together anymore and so I bought my ex’s share last week and guess what?! Yesterday, it stopped working. I wish I hadn’t bothered to buy him out now and that I’d just gone for a new one.

‘Sometimes economising on second-hand products ends up being a false economy. Also, I bet it’s really energy inefficient anyway, so I’m probably better off with a swanky new one.’

Jack Turner, Technology Researcher: ‘It’s an easy one for me – the Nintendo 3DS. I picked up the Nintendo 3DS near launch, more through routine than desire, having had a long history of owning Nintendo handhelds. However, what I hadn’t accounted for was the lack of software at launch. As if this wasn’t disappointing enough, the price was dropped by £100 shortly after I purchased it.

‘Working for the Which? Tech team, I know full well the pitfalls of being an early adopter, and the Nintendo 3DS is a classic example of the perils of buying early!’

Joanna Pearl, Senior Health Researcher: ‘I bought some GHDs – the alleged Rolls Royce of hair straighteners – but they were so hot they frightened me! I used them once, and touched my hair immediately afterwards, nearly burning it! I immediately gave them to my mum who is made of sterner stuff than me.’

Liz Edwards, Home Editor: ‘I’ve again, but especially this year, regretted buying plastic party bags for kids and almost everything you put in them. At every party you give each guest a plastic bag full of sweets and plastic toys to take home. They’ll either put most of it in the bin, or hold on to the plastic trinkets for their own party, when their parents can wheel out the bits of plastic and redistribute them into plastic party bags etc.’

‘I had a friend who gave each child a cactus in a pot as a going-home present. I wish I had the courage to do that.’

Hannah Jolliffe, Conversation Editor: ‘We bought a king-size bed in Ikea without realising that Ikea has its own sizing system and doesn’t fit conventional sizes. So, when we put it together and placed our king-size mattress on top, there was a few inches gap on either side of the mattress!

‘Not only is the bed ugly, it’s also enormous, and things keep falling down the gaps (though this quite a good place to put my book!) Still, I’ll definitely be measuring up before buying anything from Ikea in future.’

So, there you have it – those are the products we wished money didn’t buy. Is there anything you’d like to add to the list?


Bought an expensive Panasonic based upon the recommendation of Which. Huge mistake, sound quality is appalling which Which should have picked up on. But it doesn’t end there;
Panasonic are not remotely interested in providing on-going s/ware updates so as Freesat release new features such as ITV player they are either very slow to make this available (circa 8 months behind Humax) or don’t support it at all.
The features such as streaming home video are of little use as the TV only recognises an obscure file format, or a limited range of photo formats. This feature relies on freeware that is volumtarily developed and appears to have no updates for several years.
The content of Viera Cast is so limited that it is virtually useless.
Disappointed with the TV but more disappointed with the Which review.

Talia says:
30 December 2011

Hi, I’ve tweeted this but so annoyed that I thought I’d post here as well. I bought a discounted “shop-soiled” rug from Habitat just before it closed. Got it for £60 instead of £85 due to the “light” soiling. But the dirt was too much for my ordinary vacuum to handle.

So I got a professional cleaner round to wet-clean it for £30, that’s £90 spent so far – more than the cost of the rug in the first place, but hey ho, thought I’d soon have a nice rug to lay out in my living room.

But even a professional clean didn’t budge much of the dirt – the rug had obviously been lying around longer than the shop staff let on! But I thought I’d live with it, it was a nice, big rug for my living room after all.

However, two weeks later, the rug was STILL damp – despite me leaving the heating on round the clock to try and dry it out thoroughly. Then I noticed there was mould growing on the back of it!

I had enough, rolled it up, and it’s now waiting in my hallway for the council to collect it and take it to the tip. Pffft. Serves me right for trying to buy something slightly less-than-perfect for a discount, when I should have just paid the full price for a perfect, read-to-use rug. Definitely my worst buy of 2011!

I will never buy a piece of equipment from PC World Curry’s again after buying a Laptop from a store in Huddersfield 2 years ago and buying extended warranty which they have not honoured either. It went faulty and they made it worse and were still fighting 4 months later to get it fixed. Originally the Partition was faulty and it wouldn’t show the Ethenet or keep the link on the Wireless it kept dropping out even though everything else running wireless in the house was fine. Anyhow we called KNOWHOW who took it and a week later brought it back claiming it was repaired. On turning it on it wasn’t repaired in fact there were more issues than it went away with, all the F keys weren’t working. It was also making popping noises which sounded like it was going to explode especially when logging on and off. So we rang again and sent it in again. It came back and although some of the keys were working the rest of the faults were there, so this time we took it down to the store in town to the customer services to let someone else get 1 to 1 view of it and she was surprised why after going in more than once it hadn’t been fixed. It got sent off yet again. This happened twice were still waiting this has been going on since Sept 2011 it’s still in their store. We’ve now been expected to spend £50 on a disc to put through it cos they’ve wiped the partition and they’re claiming it’s software. Our fault they’ve done that apparently, They’ve also dropped it down form 64 bit to 32 bit then wondering why it’s not working. Yet refusing to fix it saying it’s for us to replace these discs so they can repair it. We’ve now rung Trades and Standards who say were perfectly entitled to our money back.

Does it count if I say my Orange phone contract? 😀

maimai77 says:
30 December 2011

Bought a John Lewis 1609 washer dryer on-line earlier this year (a which best buy at the time) within 6 months it stopped working properly due to a manufacturing fault. By the time it broke it was no longer a which best buy and had been discontinued. John Lewis agreed to an exchange – after much deliberation went for a Bosch WVH28420 paid extra to upgrade, another recommended best buy. After about a month it started making very loud high pitched whining noises, We again exchanged for same model which had a smell of burning first time I tried to use it (appears it’s now no longer sold by John Lewis)…..stupidly exchanged it for the John Lewis 1610 the upgraded model of the 1609 I’ve had it since September there is now an odd smell of rubber when the dryer is operated…. I absolutely hate the machine it cost just under £700 and it’s rubbish! The customer service from John Lewis online varied wildly from brilliant to the most appalling service EVER (I am an ex John lewis employee and I was shocked!) phones being slammed down on myself and my husband failed deliveries and deliveries that tried to happen even though we had already received the new machine…..We were compensated in the end but it was very inconvenient missing days off work and being without a machine we were are a family of four expecting a visit from my father in-law, so all in all a bit of a 2011 night mare buy.

Longley Shopper says:
31 December 2011

I’m afraid I refuse to shop at John Lewis any more because thy are so rude and so over-priced, but I must admit that a fried bought me one of those Homedics Back Massager machines from Sheffield John Lewis. It wasn’t the model that I had hoped for but I wasn’t going to tell my friend this so I rang up the shop number and asked if I could change it for the correct (and more expensive) model. The lady never said she wasn’t in the shop but in a call centre but said there was no stock of the one I wanted but she’d order it and they’d phone when it arrived and I could just go and exchange and pay the extra £30.
No ‘phone call but a week later a letter, with the Sheffield address on, saying the item was in the warehouse and to call to arrange delivery. I rang the number (again the Sheffield shop number) and the young man listened to me explanation then said I needed to pay over the phone the full price of the new item so that they could “release” it, then take the incorrect one to the shop and get a refund. Still thinking I was talking to local shop staff I asked firstly why I could not just take the original to the store and pay the difference and secondly why the first lady I spoke to had said I could simply swap. The young man cited “company policy” but was apologetic. I said I was not prepared to pay over the ‘phone and he suggested I could take the original to the store and get a refund first, then the store could arrange for the item to be released for purchase. I thanked him for his suggestion, hung up and then re-dialled and asked to speak to the supervisor for the relevant department. This time the woman (she was no lady believe me!!!) who answered was curt, argumentative and aggressive but did say, promptly, that “the shops never answer the phone now, all calls come to the call centre in Bracknell”. I asked to be put through to the shop but she refused and said that was no longer possible.
So, I put the ‘phone down, wen to the sheffield John Lewis with my original item, saw a very helpful and pleasant young man and asked for a refund on the item. He gave this without any squabble and I then told him about the ordered item, showed him the letter and said I wanted to cancel it altogether. he didn’t ask why I was cancelling but I told him anyway that they had lost the sale due to the diabolical rudeness and stupidity of the call centre staff.
I doubt it will make much difference: JL are about the worst shop in the country these days.
So there you have it: not really a purchase regret as it wasn’t me that made the purchase; but certainly an order regret.
maimal77’s tale therefore doesn’t surprise me in the least I’m afraid, and I know who makes most of JL’s whitegoods for them so it doesn’t surprise me either that the machines maimal had were faulty: it’s not a brand that most people would rate as very good if they knew who made them, but I won’t name them here just in case the specific appliances maimal had were made by another company, which I think unlikely.

I bought a Medion desk top computer in May from Tesco Direct, I thought it was a good deal at around £300 advertised that it came with the screen, which it apparently didn’t however after discussion Tesco did allow me the cost of their cheapest screen to buy one which was fair. The computer has Windows 7 BUT when I changed to Wireless Broadband in November it wouldn’t work so I was advised by Sky, who’s tech department were very helpful as were the on line Medion people, to get an external wireless adapter, but this was slow. After advice which did not work I took the computer to an expert, who advised that it had no Wifi and no expansion port to install it, so I have to run the broadband by the Wireless Adapter, until I can afford a decent computer. I could not believe that a computer bought this year did not have Wifi. Next time I will ‘check the spec’.

Being in my 60s, and having used electric kettles for a few decades, I’d thought Russell Hobbs were the bee’s knees with them once having had the elite of kettles, but their “Buxton White, Model No 15075” purchased this year was such a let down. Boxed as “Switched on Style” (?) Kettles surely just need to do 2 things, don’t they ? – 1. boil water and 2. pour it out into whatever one is using for a drink. Requirement 1. – OK. Requirement 2 – forget it. Surely one shouldn’t need to mop the worktop after every use of a kettle, or resort to holding the kettle over the sink when pouring ! Closer analysis suggested that R.H.’s stylists got it sooooooo wrong when it came to designing the spout of Model 15075. Good news is that yesterday said kettle recurringly tripped the RCD on the consumer unit each time it was turned on. Obviously a major fault with product, 6 months almost to day since purchase, and today Tesco’s have given refund, and new kettle purchased, NOT R.H.s, and joy of joys, it pours exquisitely.

I sympathise RogerN.
My kettle is a 1976 Swan automatic that my Great Aunt bought and I inherited. It’s brilliant, thankfully, and does the 2 things that it needs to (as you outline). I did have a lovely Russell Hobbs K2 when I first moved in on my won in the mid-80’s, but that sadly long since demised and after that I had a nice RH one from Argos that was a normal kettle shape with a proper lead, not a daft cordless thing. That was also great but it was clearly a second (in hindsight I should have taken it back to Argos as soon a I opened the box) and after about 7 years is started to leak from a place where the base was not properly welded.
I bought a RH jug kettle after that and was horrified at the noise (it was like a tank!), the fact that it boiled and boiled and boiled and boiled and boiled but didn’t turn off and, as you say with your recent one, when it poured it piddled everywhere. I exchanged it once due to the switching off issue, but the replacement was o better so I took it back to the shop and used my Great Aunt’s instead, which is still going strong. That’s about 10 years ago now, certainly over 9, so I’m afraid RH have not been what you and I know they once were for a while.

Liz Mac says:
2 November 2012

Agree about the Russell Hobbs 15075 kettle – a load of junk. Ours has been leaking all over the place too and we have been unable to remove the filter to clean it. Looked on the Russell Hobbs website to see if I could purchase a new filter and found that this model is no longer listed despite it being sold on Amazon still. I wondered if it had been discontinued for safety reasons. Read the Amazon one star reviews!
Don’t buy one of these if you are looking for a kettle – they are lethal!
I believe it was a Which ‘Best Buy’ at one time. Perhaps Which should test some of the older products before recommending a safe buy!

I just want to say on reading all these posts it’s made me realise i’m not the only one in a pickle and it’s made me feel better. God these stores are so naughty and getting away with murder.