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2017’s best conversations – what were your highlights?

2017 graphic

Happy New Year all! We have a lot to look forward to in 2018, but before we do, it’s always wise to look back at what went on in the year before. Join me in my look back at the top conversations of 2017.

The conversations we had in 2017 were wide-ranging and more popular than ever. The most debated subjects ranged from bank transfer scams, an energy price cap, fire-risk tumble dryers and of course Brexit. The comments shared on those topics were not only insightful, they also provided essential support and evidence to help us make an impact with our campaigns. I’d now like to shine a light on some of my other favourite conversations of last year.

Chilling in the Lobby

8,000 comments. Eight. Thousand. Wow. When we came up with ‘The Lobby’, in collaboration with our top community members, we didn’t dream it’d reach so many comments in such a short space of time. This open discussion area is clearly a runaway success. Pop in, have a giggle at Ian’s daily jokes and stay a while.

Waxing lyrical in the Rhyming Room

When the world’s consumer problems become too much, in 2017 we said, let’s put them into verse. The brainchild of member Alfa, our Rhyming Room has become a jewel in our crown. Special mention goes to Vynor Hill for his dedication and obvious talent for poetry.

We were joined by…

What do Martin Lewis and Sherlock Holmes both have in common? They each wrote for Which? Convo in 2017… that’s not a fact I expected to state at the start of the year. Baroness Ros Altmann, Ofcom, the CMA and Google were other guests who joined us last year.

Our guest authors came through so thick and fast that many of them have become favourites in their own right, so I’m going to highlight a few more of them…

Our youngest guest author

Thomas Roberts, aged 10, questioned why everyone was so attached to Microsoft Office. Thomas’ visit to the Which? offices earlier in the year was a real highlight for me, and talking about him about technology, showed me he knew much more he knew than me! If there are more young people out there as talented as Thomas (I know there are!), then our future is in very safe hands.


When opera singer Christopher Gillett wrote about the volume of films in cinemas, the resounding response was almost deafening (so to speak). I suffer from Tinnitus, so I can relate to the problem, though I dare say that the gigs I’ve attended over the years has more to blame. Now, where did I put my earplugs?

Your care home stories

When we launched our care home campaign, we knew that the voices of those affected were key to painting the reality of the broken system. We were extremely lucky to be joined by Fred, Carol and PamS. Each of them bravely shared their stories and helped us make the case to the Competition & Markets Authority that the time for change was now.

Happy birthday to Which?

I’ve worked at Which? for eight years now – that’s a very short time when placed against the backdrop of Which?’s 60 years. It’s also just a blip compared to how long some of you have been Which? members. Both Wavechange and John Ward wrote about their memories of Which? after being along for the ride for a number of decades years.

To celebrate our diamond anniversary, we also rounded up our top 60 products of the past 60 years, and you threw hundreds more into the mix. My top product of the past 60 years has to be what I’m typing on right now – my laptop. My smartphone comes a close second. Being able to connect with you all (wherever you are) on a one-to-one level, is quite the modern miracle.

What’s your highlight?

So those are my highlights of Which? Conversation in 2017. Here’s to many more conversations with you in 2018! And many more jokes from Ian…

What’s your favourite conversation of 2017? Picturing your train travel heaven? Sharing your opinions on free cashpoints? Going the extra mile in a debate about ditching imperial distance measurements? Whatever it is, don’t be shy, share your highlight(s) in the comments below.


Wow what a year! 😲 I joined the Convo team in 2017 and it’s been great to see all of the different discussions throughout the year. What I love about Convo is that you can be discussing consumer rights one moment and the next moment be talking about how to safely de-stone an avocado.

My favourite Conversation from last year has to be “What should driving look like in 2040?”. I found this really interesting and informative. I think it’s great to see action being taken to reduce pollution, and as @wavechange points out, it’s not only great for the environment but also for people’s health and life quality.

I’ll encourage your efforts to give this topic a kick-start, Alex, by posting this.

It would be nice to correspond with real faces instead of an icon during 2018. It may induce a more amenable conversation if you have a real image instead of…………….well nothing really, except maybe an ego with an opinion. No offence intended.

If I knew how to put my face on you could stare at my ugly mug day and night Face on !! do you paint yours on like many ladies do ? I do not think you do that Beryl lovely lady you seem to be

Thank you bishbut, I think I can safely claim to be by far the oldest regular so it’s not what you paint on your face, it’s the smile that counts……….best face lift ever! We do have pictures of all the mods, so are the regulars too bashful to come out of their shells? Must say I preferred Patrick’s previous smiley picture with teeth 🙂

Nothing you wear is more important than your smile – Connie Stevens

Fire-risk appliances and care homes come to mind immediately. It will be nice in future when there aren’t any convos about that anymore because we’ve sorted the problems.

Happy 2018!

That will be great! 🙂 With everyone’s support I’m sure we can.

In what way has the “Care Home problem ” been sorted ?? Sophie.
I have followed the Which ? campaign from the beginning and all I can say that is that it was totally biased approach focussed against the Care Home Sector and has totally ignored the alternatives such as the NHS Trusts Elderly wards , Care at peoples own homes and Hospices etc. There are over 400000 (Four hundred thousand) people living in Care Homes and as far as I am aware none have them have been approached for their views.
I have been running Care Homes for over 30 years in all stratas of the Society and I am still trying to learn what is the perfect solution for all people all the time. Which has raised a few issues from a few people , but they have not dealt with the basic problem of funding. It is all very well having a wish list for 24/7 one to one care ,cruising around the Caribbean with P&O and all for £1000 a week . There are Hotels in Switzerland with wellness clinics integrated (but no cruises) which charge £6000 a day (£42000 a week) .
Just out of interest have which ever compared prices in the Hospitals Trusts etc with rates paid by local Authorities to Care Homes. surely they realise that all Care facilities charge different fees.

The Care Home issue will not go away until intervention by relatives or next-of-kin takes precedence over (a) the standard of care offered (b) the price of that care and (c) prevention of age related illness becomes available on the NHS through regular and/or periodic assessment and testing procedures, presently only available in the private sector. The technology is available which involves a simple blood sample which can reveal potential problems long before they become symptomatic, enabling the elderly to remain in their own homes for longer with outsourced care provided if required, reducing the need for care homes with their ever increasing and inflationary funding demands and dubious practices.

Hi Gerald, thank you for your comment about our campaign on care homes. Our campaign currently focuses on care homes because this is the part of the sector that the CMA focused its market study. Over the past year alone we have heard from thousands of who have shared their personal experiences of arranging care and going into care homes – amongst the stories we found struggles with contracts, erroneous fee structures, snap evictions, poor quality care and also shortages in care home accommodation. We’re aware that there are problems in other parts of the care sector too where people are also suffering from similar and other problems, and overall we believe that an urgent review and overhaul of the care market is required in order to improve standards, better protect care receivers and families and meet the ever-growing demand for social care support. Funding is one aspect of this, but we also know from the evidence we’ve seen that standards, processes and consumer protections also need addressing.

We’ve also heard stories of good care, and good care homes, experiences but rightly our campaign is focused on parts of the market where people are suffering to force change – if you’d like to share your own experiences and practices with us then we would be keen to know more.

On the face of it, health screening would seem a very sensible way to reduce medical and related costs – nipping a problem in the bud if that is possible – particularly in older people. However I wonder how effective it would be – both in diagnostic and monetary terms?:
The relatively high frequency of certain diseases often prompts screening programme initiatives to detect asymptomatic diseases in older people. However, few tests alone have sufficiently robust sensitivity and specificity to fully diagnose the conditions discussed above. Blood tests are far more cost effective when used alongside signs and symptoms.

It would be interesting (to me) to know just what the medical profession think is useful – worthwhile tests to carry out that would lead to mitigating the effects of a developing ailment.

The technology is available with written follow up advice including contact with your GP where necessary.

Many a heart attack or stroke for example can be prevented by prior warning through one blood sample analysis which can include as many as 20 + other tests.

The continued advancement in medical technology is already ongoing and available to anyone who can afford it, but understandably people with an aversion to the sight of blood or needles are almost bound to question its efficacy – an example being my phlebotomist nursing niece (now retired) who flatly refuses to have a ‘flu jab because she has an aversion to needles!

The medical profession also have their own coping mechanisms Malcolm – but that is not particularly relevant to nursing home care issues perhaps – or is it?

Dear Lauren,
the report you refer to as far as I am aware came to the conclusion that most of the problems which Care Homes are presented with are caused by Local Authority and Area Health Authorities under funding State financed Care . and also that NHS funded Care with the introduction of continually Eligibility Criterriors has now become means tested. I really do not feel you that you have made these serious funding issues clear to you readers and that you seem hell bent on rubbishing Care Homes by blaming them for all the problems involved, you seem to ignore the real important funding issues and expect the Care Home Sector to sort all this out. I always thought WHICH ? was above this sort of one sided reporting, unless you compare all Providers like for like the way that the Care Quality Commision is beginning to do (I still think a Five Star Hotel style rating is more easily understood by the Public) When WHICH? deals with other services and products it always recommends the Best Buys , the cost of the service/product surely is a deciding factor in this decisions. I cannot understand why WHICH has not stuck to its traditional methods and gone off on what I can only refer to as a WITCH ? Hunt.

My new year’s resolution is now to raise my Convo game and make @patrick ‘s 2018 list 😉

Dear Beryl,
I have been a pensioner now for a number of years and have often been referred by my GP for blood tests etc.I also am still involved in running Care Homes which are serviced by NHS Doctors and I can assure you that all Residents in our homes are treated exactly the same by the GPs concerned . All Residents of Nursing Homes are also entitled to “Free Care” irrespective of their financial status. NHS Care (as in Hospital ) is NOT means tested and anyone who has been denied this should refer that matter to their MP immediately.

Bye the way Beryl did you know all pensioners should get free Chiropody under the NHS (even in Care Homes) The law states that NHS Treatment is Free of Charge irrespective of Domicile. Some unscrupulous GP’s have tried to introduce fees to Residents of Care Homes and they have been dealt with.

The Department of Health took the trouble of clarifying this matter a couple of years ago and I represented Care Homes with two Area Health Authorities , it was quite an experience I can tell you , it was amazing how each Authority seemed to interpret the DofH very clear instructions in different ways, very often to the detriment of our Residents.Lack of funds or facilities is NOT an excuse according to the DofH.