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The most frustrating flaws in everyday products

Angry man pulling hair out

‘Tumble dryers that don’t dry your clothes’. That was recently voted as the most frustrating flaw in an everyday product as uncovered by our tests. What else is grinding your gears?

Have you got an appliance at home that isn’t up to the task? Feel like throwing your latest gizmo at a wall?

The testing we do here at Which? doesn’t just rate how well different appliances stack up against each other. We also reveal flaws with products and expose the claims that really are too good to be true.

Thanks to our latest survey, we’ve identified which of those flaws wind people up the most.

Top frustrating flaws revealed

To find out which product flaws have proven to be the most irritating, we gathered 10 examples from our tests. These included smartphones that have less accessible memory than advertised, washing machines not reaching 60˚C on the cotton 60˚C program and advertised mile per gallon figures that aren’t reproducible in real life.

We then asked more than 1,000 Which? members to rate how frustrated they were with each flaw. This gave us the following top five frustrations:

1. Automatic tumble dryers not drying clothes.
2. Apps and services like LoveFilm disappearing from smart TVs.
3. Lightbulbs not as bright as they claim (as revealed by Which? tests).
4. Bagless vacs claim no loss of suction, but our tests show they do.
5. Mile per gallon figures not matching up to real life.

Soggy surprises from your tumble dryer

Automatic tumble dryers that leave clothes wet came in at number one. For those unsure what an automatic dryer is – it’s a tumble dryer that doesn’t require you to set how long you want the dryer to heat your clothes for. Instead, you set the dryer going and a sensor inside the drum should keep an eye on moisture levels of clothes. Once it detects clothes are dry, the dryer stops. A good sensor should tailor drying times to every load.

However, our tests show that quite a lot of automatic tumble dryers we’ve tested stop prematurely, leaving clothes wet.

You can read more about the issues we’ve uncovered, who the biggest culprits are and what Which? is doing about these flaws in the September issue of Which? magazine.

But we want to hear what’s getting on your nerves. Have you got a product, appliance or gizmo that isn’t up to scratch? Or have you been affected by one of the issues above? Go on, have a rant.


LED bulbs are often claimed to have lifetimes of up to 25 years, yet many people have found that their expensive new lamps have failed prematurely. The guarantee can be as little as two years. Any manufacturer that predicts a lifetime for a product should be obliged to guarantee it for at least half of that period.

LED bulbs have caused considerable radio interference problems, both on FM and DAB radios. There is a long running Conversation about this topic: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/led-bulb-radio-interference-dab-test/
The 12V lamps tend to cause a greater problem than mains voltage lamps. Many problems have related to cheap unbranded products sold by internet traders but even expensive lamps from respected manufacturers can cause problems. All these lamps sold to the public have to comply with regulations intended to ensure that they do not cause interference. This is a condition for using the CE mark.

I would like to use LED lamps but am not prepared to spend my money on products that may fail prematurely or cause radio interference.

Grahams says:
23 August 2014

A couple of things I do not like about LED lights (Bulb type) which limit their use

1) the light produces much harder edged shadows compared to incandescent bulbs.

2) used upright in a reading light they do not provide much downward light. This is because of the large moulding above the bayonet or screw base obscures the downward light.

Would like Which to test for these ‘features’.


Many LED lamps incorporate a diffuser (e.g. bulb-shaped ones with an opal envelope), which should avoid the shadow problem.

For a reading lamp a directional LED lamp (such as used in downlighters) will give maximum light in one direction.

It’s just a case of choosing the LED light to suit what you need it to do. They will become much more versatile than incandescent bulbs and CFLs.


Very pleasing effects can be obtained with LED “ropes”. These can be concealed in covings, under mantleshelves and window shelves, and concealed behind architraves in alcoves. This diffuse light eliminates unpleasant shadows.
The “designer” love of down lighters is a curse, because as previously said, they throw shadows from facial features, making the people look unhappy or even angry. An industrial study found that by incorporating uplighters into office lighting schemes, productivity increased by 25%, co-operation between people increased and friction was reduced.
We inherited down lighters in our breakfast room, where there is also a wall mounted television. I have to turn them off, if we watch TV in the evening and light the room with diffused light from under the cabinets, because the down light reflects off the back of my spectacle lenses!
All good lighting schemes incorporate diffuse background light, reflecting off wall surfaces, and task lighting, which illuminates the work surface from several down ward directions.
I recently purchased a new anglepoise desk lamp, designed to be used with a G10 LED light. The shade allows for the length of the base of the lamp so it throws a correct light beam.


Sky+ HD Box

My biggest gripe is Sky not sorting out Technical Fault 7 and recordings that are just a blue screen.

These are partly down to updates – it was Darwin a few years ago, then another one a few months ago meant all our recordings were screwed up.

The other problem is that Sky boxes cannot cope when they are nearly full.

In the Sky forums, staff try to be helpful by suggesting planner rebuilds, down to a complete reformat of the box, but this exercise is pointless. It might work again for a short time but then we are back to lost recordings and a box you cannot trust.

We record everything we want to see to watch at our convenience. It is very annoying when you lose whole series because of these problems.


My other Sky HD gripe:

I resent half of the hard drive being reserved for what Sky think you want to watch. When are they going to stop doing this especially now there is On Demand?


I’ve a pair of lawn edging shears, by a well-known maker, that trim very neatly – until they close against something tough, like a piece of wood or a stone hidden in the edge. The blades then bend apart slightly and no longer cut. The solution is to use a hammer to bend the blades back so they shear again – until the next time. I put up with that for long enough and splashed out on a reatively expensive pair made by CK. They just look more robust and cut like a dream. Usual moral – you often get what you opay for.


Unlike all the previous Apple laptops I have owned or used, my MacBook Pro does not have a replaceable battery. With earlier models I kept a spare battery ready to slot in case I had forgotten to charge the laptop or it ran down when I was away from home.

My battery has now done 1140 cycles, which is above the maximum of 1000 cycles that Apple regard as maximum life. It’s still working fine but I’m going to have to decide what to do when it needs replacement. Although I’m competent to replace the battery and it isn’t a big job, I doubt that I will be able to buy a genuine part and have no idea whether those sold online are safe or will be reliable.

It was so much easier when swapping the battery could be done in a matter of seconds. I’m picking on a single example but there are many other manufacturers of electronic goods without replaceable batteries.