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Which? Convo in 2013 – which debate stood out for you?

UK flag and speech bubble

Happy New Year! Another year over and another just begun. We provided the big debates of 2013 and you dutifully joined in. Here’s our round up of the top 10 most popular – what was your favourite debate of 2013?

Spare a thought for spare wheels

You’ve been driving us spare over the years (I’m too pleased with that double pun) with your comments about spare wheels. And almost 300 comments were made in 2013 about the lack of full-size spare wheels in new cars. Will manufacturers provide them in 2014?

Dialling up the pressure

Together we made a nuisance of ourselves in 2013, with record comments about nuisance calls and texts. Your stories helped launch our Calling Time campaign, which has now surpassed 100,000 signatures. Here on Which? Convo, 2,172 comments were made on our launch post, making it our most popular of all time.

Getting in a state over pensions

When we revealed our research comparing state pensions around the world, the debate took off in a big way. 603 comments discussed whether Britain was properly looking after its elderly population. Mike commented:

‘Our treatment of pensioners in terms of pension and social health care in later life is a national disgrace!’

Good reception for our LED research

The story of the LED bulb that switched off the radio lit up the website with examples of this phenomenon happening to you. Chris C made one of the 381 comments:

‘I purchased a Roberts Ecologic [DAB radio] at the same time that I replaced the bathroom lights with LEDs. I just accepted that there was no reception in the bathroom but following your article I tried with the lights OFF. The radio worked fine! Bathing in the dark from now on.’

Calling all commenters

In August, 99% of more than 6,000 of you told us companies should ditch high rate numbers for their helplines. So, in September, we launched our Costly Calls campaign. When we achieved our first win, nearly 1,000 celebratory comments were made. Comments like this one from Paganlady, make it my personal stand out moment of 2013:

‘Thank goodness we have a consumer group that actually fights for the people. Without Which? continually campaigning so many of us would have even less money.’

Imperial measurements rule

Here’s another familiar face. It seems 2012’s debate about imperial vs metric measurements only touched the surface. More than 450 comments were added to our 2013 Conversation about the potential return of imperial measurements to the classroom. Alex B commented:

‘In a country that decided to go metric in the 1960s […] we should be ending any education in imperial units and using the resources to complete the job properly.’

Baby, it’s cold outside

When we revealed that keeping your freezer in an unheated garage could void your warranty, the debate went off with 176 comments. 84% admitted they kept their freezer in a garage, and we heard many stories of long-living freezers, such as Graham’s:

‘I bought a BeeKay (Bauknecht) large chest freezer for my garage in 1971 and it’s still working well!’

Fixing the world one comment at a time

We enjoyed a big campaign win in 2013 when Ofcom announced that you’d be able to leave your mobile contract without penalty following price hikes. Our Fixed Means Fixed campaign was born from your comments, and you were there for us again when you made 171 comments to feed into Ofcom’s consultation.

Read more of Which?’s 2013 campaign wins in this New Year’s Eve post.

Empathy and apathy for homeopathy

Like nutritional therapy in 2012, homeopathy was the controversial talking point of 2013. The topic was so popular that it’s the only time we’ve published a round-up of a previous comment round-up, with 1,174 comments made across our three homeopathy posts. Even Ben Goldacre joined in!

Who’s on the guest list?

Sense About Science’s guest post on miracle cures also struck a nerve. With 760 comments, it was our most popular guest contribution. And we had many other guest posts – we’ve featured contributions from organisations including the Trading Standards, the RNIB, Co-op Energy, EDF, The Soil Association and Talk Talk. A whole host of MPs also came to Which? Conversation to hear your views, from Jo Swinson to Tim Yeo. And Jamie Oliver wrote for us too.

Then we heard from consumers themselves. Naomi Milward shared her battle with an insurance company, Skint Dad shared his experiences with payday loans, and Lee Beaumont‘s story of charging cold callers with his own 0871 number went global.

Thanks to every one of you for shaping Which? Convo’s debates in 2013. What was your most memorable Conversation from last year?

Comments
Member

I particularly enjoyed the Conversations about the Sale of Goods Act, and I hope we can continue to raise awareness of consumer rights in 2014.

It is enough of a challenge to go back to a shop to ask for faulty goods to be replaced or repaired, but the move to buying online has added another barrier. The Sale of Goode Act is not really up to the job and what we should be pushing for is longer warranties. I would like to see a Which? campaign for longer warranties and the length of warranty taken into account by Which? when rating products and selecting Best Buys.

Member

Hi Wavechange, I’ve let the Consumer Rights team that you enjoyed the SOGA Convo! Happy New Year 🙂

Member

I am with wavechange on this but would also add that Which? actually make a point about discussing replacement parts and batteries. Nothing is more annoying than electronic devices that have to be thrown away because the batteries are not replaceable easily or at all.

Looking at the Apple range its seems a quite expensive and laborious palaver – including losing data from the item so you need to back it all up. If you watch YouTube you can see how you might be able to do it but …..

A fan says
” I love apple but the battery has always been retarded sense the first gen iPhone. They should make a backplate that unscrews to replace the battery and discount on battery trade ins to insure that ppl don’t throw them in the trash. Just sayin”

Another thread of interest was the washing machine one which revealed things about Which?, EU regulation, and some washing machine manufacturers. All very disturbing.

Member

I very much agree with Dieseltaylor about the problem of batteries and other consumable parts that cannot easily be replaced by the user. I can see no reason why manufacturers should not be required to design products so that batteries etc can be replaced without the use of any tools. If I can swap the battery for my cheap Nokia phone, why can’t I do the same if I bought an iPhone? Perhaps the EU could legislate on this. They managed to stop Microsoft forcing Windows users in the EU to have a copy of Internet Explorer on their PC, so forcing Apple to introduce products with replaceable batteries should not be an insurmountable problem.

Even when batteries are easy to replace, the cost is often prohibitive. This is often the case with cordless power tools and it is sometimes very difficult to find replacement batteries for cameras.

Member

Replaceable batteries and other parts is something I also find very important. I can understand why Apple, for example, might avoid it (eg. form factor) but I would like to see more replaceable parts. This was a very popular concept in 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDAw7vW7H0c

Member

For me the Conversation on Balsamic Vinegar opened a little louvre and allowed a piquant peek into a gentler world far removed from the low-energy light bulbs and two-pin plugs that form the staple diet of many popular topics.

I feel sorry for the authors of the intro’s that didn’t generate a single response; perhaps the timing was wrong or the topic had been in competition with too many other urgent issues.

I hope everybody had a happy holiday and will enjoy an exciting new year.

Member

Thanks John, and Happy New Year to you! Yes, I feel sorry for them to – but we learn from the debates that don’t do well, and I appreciate when our super-commenters like you go in and get those debates started.

Member

I think we all know my best convo of 2013……..

But I have also leaned alot too this year. From other peoples comments and my life has changed so so much this year too, all thanks to Which? and Patrick.

I must also thank other people who leave comments. My spelling is not the best and as for there/their etc I have no idea the correct way to use them. So thank you for not pointing it out and understanding what I am trying to say 🙂