/ Technology

Should products do what they say on the tin?

There’s pretty much a product out there for everything, and plenty that claim they can do everything too. But what we often find is their claims don’t add up. So, should we expect a product to do exactly what is says on the tin?

I’ve just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where I heard enough fantastical claims about new products to last a lifetime. But, the problem is that when we test out these fancy features in our lab, often the claims crumble like the sands of the nearby Mojave Desert.

Manufacturers are in business to get you to buy their products. They know that just one eye-catching claim could be the difference between you buying their goods or a competitor’s – but sometimes I feel that they’re pushing their luck too far in the pursuit of your cash.

Putting the claims to the test

Our testing is all about using products as you would do in the real world. We employ labs and technical instruments, but our approach always centres on real consumer scenarios. This testing often exposes that what’s claimed on the box just doesn’t stack up in reality.

You may be wowed by a printer that can supposedly print 1,000 sheets on just a single black ink cartridge. Yet in our testing we’ve found it could actually manage around 60% less than what was claimed.

Maybe you’ve spotted a fridge with a supposedly huge capacity to hold your groceries, yet we know that this has been taken with all the internal shelves and bits taken out. Our size measurements keep them all in, and in some cases that may actually give you 25% less usable space than you were expecting.

Our research has also revealed that some tablets, even from big brands like Apple and Microsoft, actually give you almost half the usable storage for your pictures, photos and music than was advertised.

And then when it comes to an energy rating, you’ll see official energy labels associated with products that give you an idea of how energy efficient they are. But we’re not convinced these are accurate. We’ve found that many Samsung TVs are being shipped with a poorer picture, which uses less power and gets a better energy rating.

Reality checks

In all these cases, manufacturers aren’t doing anything overtly wrong. They’re meeting the legal standards and requirements of them. But we feel that claims about products should reflect how you would use them in real life.

In sum, products shouldn’t only say what they do on the tin, but they should actually do it too.

So have you had any experiences with false fancy product claims?


A simple of misrepresentation is the life expectancy of low energy light bulbs (CFL and LED). The lifetime is often quoted as many years, in large print, but the small print reveals that this is based on use for 2.7 hours per day. Before low energy lighting came along, we had incandescent lamps that had an average life of 1000 hours.

If it was one manufacturer misrepresenting their products I would complain to the Advertising Standards Authority but they are all playing the same game.

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Wow,,,,,,,,,,,I have already written repeatedly about our out of date place here
Now I know that Malcolm is just around the corner somewhere with his whiter than white bulbs and yes we all know that once a filament is pushed to that level life will shorten just like my great Uncle who like 50% of our family did not know when to stop
MY uncle more or less killed himself trying to be all thing to all men as in shining so bright only to be cut down before his time
His slightly older sister died of a now quite easily rectified problem
Later as a Doctor is Canada and having worshiped his sisters memory so later he paid his due’s to his sister and perfected a procedure that transformed the operation from a marathon to a minutes procedure.
He went on and on and on a bit like I did with work but he started to self med using the common substance of the day and ended up destroying his body
One of the things he liked was bright light…..bright ,,,,,,,,,,,,bright and brighter…….He said it made life so much easier
When he was back home and I just about remember him he would say that Granda Willie was so miserable he wouldnt turn the heat up on the bulbs..
Willie was saving the bulbs……..Willie would say,,,,I’m not operating Billy boy,,, Thats your job and thanks be to God I have never needed you……..
The moral of this story is that later I would learn that running 60v bulbs on a 48v battery system would mean that bulbs would almost last forever.
No they were not as bright but we could see where we were going and for much longer

Ye Ha, Yes Wave,,,,,,,,,,,Bulbs,,,,,,,,,,,,I have some that I think are going to outlive me whilst others out of the same box have been and gone maybe several times over
I’d have to say the majority fall into to the gone box or is it bin
I replace around 10 bulbs per year of various sorts but all 2D or CFL
The 2D bu ratio are buy far worse than the CFLs
One of my local suppliers always tells me that 4 pin 2D units are better along with all the reasons which I get the mechanics of but I have grown to dislike 4 pin.
We have 2 very big brand 4pin 2D in our washing machine area and I feel like throwing things at them standing in the dark waiting on the things
We have a total of 4 x 4pin 2D units here all the same. Pain in the eye or your butt if you go down in the dark
I have taken the two most infuriating ones back and watched them being tested to be told they are fine. Must be in a cold place. Cold will slow them
We then have 3 x 2 pin units outside and 2 more indoors and these light in literally a flash and where are the 3,,,,,,they are,,,,,,outside
All seem to need the occasional tube but never together and in summer when it is not really needed as would be in winter one cannot help but notice that one has been out the entire summer while two others have lasted the summer
Now these three come on with a photocell and remain on until daylight so its all night hours. From one end of shorter evenings via summer to the other is rather a lot of hours difference.
Consistency is not the name of the game with these little tubular marvels

I’ve a selection of halogen and CFLs from mainstream manufacturers and own brands. The halogen show 2 years 2000h and the CFLs 10 years 10000h quite clearly in the same box on the packaging. Perhaps some manufacturers make it less obvious?

2.7 hr is the average daily usage recommended to be used to calculate the years. The life of incandescent lamps is greatly affected by supply voltage, which can vary by up to 10%. An increase of 5% will halve the life. So 1000h was a bit nominal.

I’d like to see ink cartridges for printers warn when ink is low much nearer the time they would run out. I used to replace mine near that warning time until I found out I was being stupid. I probably get a hundred or more sheets of print until they actually run out, which is when I now change them.

Why not just be honest and give the lifetime in total hours? If someone wants to work out how long the lamp will run based on 2.7 hours usage, let them do it.

All the HP inkjet and laser printers I have used have given a warning but allow me to carry on printing. On the other hand, I had a Lexmark colour laser printer in my office at work that stopped printing when the predetermined number of pages had been printed, even though the last sheet was perfect. The three colour toner cartridges cost £100 each and a high capacity black cartridge was £140. I soon replaced it win an HP printer. The computer should show the amount of ink remaining in each cartridge and many inkjet printers display the supply levels.

An early warning will help those who don’t keep spare cartridges but maybe it’s something that could be turned off or adjusted.

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Not so very long ago I seen a bit of software that circumnavigated this premature expiry of inkjet cartridges

“Why not just be honest and give the lifetime in total hours”. My lamps did. They gave both. Why is that not honest?

I always keep a set of spare cartridges but when replacing find it very annoying to be asked to pay, say, £5 a cartridge + £5 p&p – and pay the p&p for each cartridge even when they are posted together.

I was given a new dvd player with internet connectivity shown on the box – except that when inspecting more closely found I needed to buy another device that cost nearly as much as the dvd player. I actually only wanted to play dvds so it didn’t matter, but I found it deceitful.

I don’t see any need for giving the lifetime in anything other than hours. We managed fine with hours when we had old fashioned bulbs. Here’s an image of a different Osram bulb but the labelling is similar: osram.com/media/resource/imageM/350003/led-superstar-products-and-packaging.jpg
The most prominent text shows the number of years and the fact that this is based on use of 2.7 hours per day is hidden in teeny print.

Royal Mail charges £2.80 (business price will be less) to deliver the smallest parcel, but I can’t see why you are being charged a multiple of the individual carriage charge where items are posted together. I have been buying cartridges from Internet Ink. Ten cartridges (6 colour + 4 black), all high capacity, cost £24.99 with no carriage charge a couple of months ago. They work fine and being transparent, unlike the HP versions, you can see they are completely empty after use. Prior to that I have always bought manufacturer’s cartridges and had to do this when my printer was new because compatible cartridges. Back in the 90s I vowed never to buy compatible cartridges because I tried various versions in my printer at work and they were rubbish, but now we have moved on.

This link says, amongst other stuff “Lifespan of 15 to 20 years – this corresponds to an average lifespan of 15.000 to 20.000 hours with daily use of 2.7 hours”. Is this what you were pointing to?

Can anyone find me a house that burns a bulb any bulb for an average of 2.7 hours per day short of below the stairs or the bathroom
I’ve been to a lot of miserable sods houses in my time that didnt even offer me a cup of tea/coffee but when these guys went out they must’ve found Scrooge himself

Meant as a little humour to end the day!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe I should put my lamps on a timer. 🙂 I think the justification is that a year at 2.7 hours is approximately 1000 hours, the approximate life of an old fashioned bulb. To me it is simple misrepresentation that the marketing guys are good at. I’ve still got one or two of the old Philips choke ballast predecessors of the CFL and I will have a look to see what it says on the box.

Yes we need a bit of humour. Maybe an average of 2.7 humorous posts per day.

No. 2.7 hours a day is the average usage of bulbs. So a 1000 hour life bulb would, for what an average is worth, be about a year’s use. Providing of course you had a constant 240v supply to an incandescent lamp, which you were unlikely to have. So if your supply was 5% higher you’only get 500 hours of life. 5% less you’d get 16% less light. All a big conspiracy between the light bulb manufacturers and the energy supply company?

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We’ll see what we can do then as to humour
I think though I’ve probably overdone my 2.7 for today
Maison arrive here about 9pm and we’ve been having a one sided yarn ever since
cant understand it,,,,,he wont shut up

For anyone who does not know that the life of old fashioned light bulbs is prolonged if they are dim, search for ‘centennial light’.

Where is the research that provides evidence that the average usage of bulbs is 2.7 hours per day? Does it depend on the type of bulbs?

Perhaps it’s time to look at other products that don’t match their description.

Yes Wave,,,,,,,Where is the evidence that the average light bulb is switched on for 2.7 hours per day
Or the other way around that bulbs are switched on for 2.7 hours per day
My problem and Wave’s I think also is that we cannot see that an average daily burn time for a bulb is 2.7 hours
I’d say that the average burn time for per day for a bulb is at least twice that going on for 5 hours or more
Our wall lamps burn each night for at least 4 hours
Our landing does night hours so will be close to 12
Our kitchen in winter has to be 14 to 18 hours,,, summer 6 hours
There will always be those unused lamps that are little more than decoration but I’d not class them a lights but as ornaments

There has been various bits and bobs on Which about bulbs and this 10,000 hour or 10 year life expectancy always comes up but goes away unanswered
The bulbs may have design life of 10000 hours although I doubt many of mine make it that far and they are and always have branded
What really bugs me is that bulb manufacturers have for too long used this 100000 hr,2,7hr hence 10 years lifespan for too long to bluff people into thinking they are buying a product that will last for ten years when in the vast majority of applications the lifespan will be a fraction of that

We have 4 CFLs without shade in our kitchen. They have a glass kinda thing that I found that helps the appearance of them but does not cause heating as the air has a 4″ hole in the center and a 4″ gap around to edge to circulate. At a guess they may actually help direct the air at the bulb
I can say with certainty that I have changed all 4 bulbs several times over the past 11 years
Not once or twice but several times

My grid voltage is pretty good or as good as it gets. We run I’d say a nominal 227/230 according to a trace I done at one time but it fluctuates the same as everywhere but those fluctuations are no reason for shortening bulb life
We have our own dedicated transformer also
The bulbs are sold in the UK for use in the UK and mine are bayonet fittings so not much mistake about the country of intended use so they should be made to operate on our grid
Bulbs in my eye should be made to operate on “normal grid voltage”

Strange thing is that although I adopted CFLs and like the idea of LEDs etc I am not convinced that all is well with the theories surrounding their supposed benefits
We are given a comparator on the side of the box that suggests CFLs give of much more light per watt
That may be the case but I’ll be hard to convince that these numbers like the run time hours are correct
My father in law always had a 100w bulb in the middle of his living room
Old school dont like those modern slow thingys
He has as many bulbs as’ll last his lifetime because he really does not want to change his ways
I thought that I’d get him a couple of 25w CFLs
That theory did not work. Dont like those things,,,,,,,,,,Too slow and I cant read with them
Having a lux meter the next time I was there I noted the light level in the room from his seat and directly over the table at table height
I then swapped to the CFL
The initial light levels were about 1/4 that of the incandescent bulb and came up gradually over about 2 and a half minutes which is much longer than I expected
The eventual light levels did come near the incandescent but 75% is not near enough to be the direct comparison on the box
What I did notice that was perhaps more important
With the incandescent bulb they switch the light out every time they walk out of the room something I know we were all educated to do years ago but do not do now and I firmly believe that the reason looks like the brightening period of the CFLs
All CFLs we have no odds how quick the box says have a lower output when switched on,,,,,,,,,,I see the father in laws gripe about that but I also see that we used to switch lights out whereas now we leave everything on because we cannot be tolerant of waiting on seeing what we are doing
So has CFLs saved anything or do we just have light longer for the same energy or are we really using more energy by leaving the lights on near all of the time
Our kitchen lights are seldom switched off only either at bed time or when we leave the house

Then there is the heat thing
1600 lumens was in or about a 100w incandescent
24/28w CFL
18/22w LED
Certainly the CFL looks good on paper
I have not seen LEDs that do the job for me as far as good light up the room lighting.,,,,,,,,,Wall lights,,,,,,,,uplighters and such fine but no to light up a room properly I’m finding LED lighting a little dazzling maybe is the word
Not as friendly as incandescent of CFLs
To have light in every corner one seems to have a very bright white source
I find similar with halogen
Halogen is brighter than traditional lamps but again its not as friendly as incandescent of CFLs
So I’m at present stuck with CFLs or the ones we are not supposed to be able to get
Every time I go the the outlaws I cannot help but notice this big bulb.
The second you hit the switch it is on full brightness,,,,,,,no waiting
Walk out the room switch it off because he knows when he walks back in again it’ll come up full power right away

Anyhow my weird and wonderful thoughts and as I have near 20 years of CFL use below my belt plus we are fitting our cabin out I am on the lighting thoughts
Seeing literally as we dont need bright lights at all times and we or at least I like warm light I am messing around with low voltage lighting and operating at well below normal of the bulbs rated voltage
Now there are load of incandescent and halogen bulbs available in low voltages and neither give off near as much heat when running far from their limits
But I dont and never did have bulbs sent to hell simply because of their wasted heat
I didnt see the heat as wasted.,,,,,,,,,It might not have been the cheapest form of heat but wasted,,,,,no,,,,,,,,,,,,,The heat was right where I wanted heat
Summer time,,,,,,plenty of lumens from our star friend up there,,,,,come night and we need light and a little heat
So what I am currently doing is messing around with PSUs and bulbs.,,,,,,,,,,,,And I am pleased with what I see
background light good enough to get up and go tot he loo is only a few watts real time an is a most lovely colour
I also have a unique choice as we have a UPS supply. Much larger than a typical computer UPS
I can have 2 to 48vdc nominal very easily direct from there or I can make it complicated by using dc to dc converters which are a dime a dozen nowadays
That would negate the need for emergency lighting more or less because that is the source of our UPS and that is charged from solar/wind with generator back up

Dont be thinking I’m over the top
We’ve already had a few hours of outage and today is only the 20th day of the year and this is pretty normal

Bright full power for instant short term or reading use and i have no trouble getting wifey to switch it off because if she’s not moving she’d sit with tv only or the little light in the make believe fire place which is and always has been incandescent.
She really likes that little flickery thing
Thats brings me to another thought as I write this
Simply because I bought 3 more bulbs lately for that unit
That little 284mm bulb……30w of nothingness,,,,,,red glow,,,,,,,a foot long about 1″ od…………heat cannot be its killer
It doesnt last that long,,,,,,,,,it’s pretty expensive also
So to say that running a bulb near to white hot is not holding up with this one
It looks like its got a design life and has nothing to do with brightness

You could look at http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/corporate/our-calculations
which gives 2.6h/day. An American study gives from 1.5 to 2h/day. Another USA site quotes 3h/day.
From a practical point of view of course some lamps will clearly be on when others are not in use and some will be used more than others. But using 1000h/year is useful, for example, when calculating lighting energy costs.

I see it as worthless because usage depends on how an individual uses their lamps.

Osram does not even show a figure for the number of hours their lamps are estimated to last on the front of the pack. Reading the small print on the back it is 20,000 hours. If you must convert that into years, it is 2.25 years not 20 years.

averages are no more than what they say. Of course usage depends upon the individual – same as 10000 miles a year for an average car owner (you might do 25000 or 5000), average earnings (which many people do not get). Nothing that we should get hung up on. However 1000h a year is regarded as applicable to an average lamp used domestically, as I have referenced.

A lamp that is stated as lasting (typically) 20 000h in a situation where it is used 1000h a year should be expected to last 20 years. If you leave it switched on all day and night every day it should last 2.28 years. The figure given is its duration in use. It doesn’t suddenly stop working after 2.28 years if never used (well, hopefully not).

This rather pedantic discussion is really off topic. I’m sure there are many more products and services, both public and private, that could be contributed.

Looking at a 1980s Philips CFL predecessor there is no mention of life in years. The package gives a lifetime of 8000 hours for the lamp compared with 1000 hours for an incandescent bulb.

I agree that this is a pedantic discussion but I have given a perfectly good example of a product that does not do what it says on the tin.

I have one CFL and the print on it has faded but it hardly matters because they probably dont make them any longer
Its been burning 24/7 for years
However 10000hrs would be 416 days…………I dont think I have one bulb that has not been changed in the last 2 years and they are all branded from two different wholesalers so I agree Wave these do not do what they say on the tin

At least with filament bulbs one could but a box of 40 for buttons and it didnt matter if they failed but these CFLs are as good as it gets today and although I’d agree they are better on energy and lifespan,,,,,,,,,a bit than filament I am really beginning to wonder if the quality has fallen since ordinary bulbs were phased out
I’m still buying the big polystyrene boxes of CFLs to keep up

I have said before that CFLs seem to do very well not being switched
Our landing and kitchen are some of the best bulbs in the house and they both burn half the day or night accordingly
I have threatened to cut the string of the bathroom light as it is forever blowing in comparison to others and would if it were not for the fan
We’ve all been in the shower when the bulb went out over the last 11 years……….You wanna here wifey……………..Wow

I’m still tempted to use low voltage filament for at least background lighting in new cabin……..I have several 24v bulbs running at 18v (via psu) for around 2 years and although it started off as a bit of an experiment to see how much use they really were at dark they made it easy to go in the big workshop door and get to the light switches
The 55w seem to coming out about 30w and their halogen so still pretty yellow not like the 21w which appear to be coming out about 11w………They would make very nice wall light bulbs,,,,much nicer reddish/orange than CFLs for that job but they need just a few more lumens
I’ll maybe get some halogen in G4 or similar to play with as they are available in more domestic type units. At least if it was a wash out i can change the voltage and go for LEDs but I had low voltage years ago and got on well albeit it was a little red
They are actually quite good at this job and whilst the heat may be said to be wasted it’ll be inside so how can it be wasted…………..

” the life of old fashioned light bulbs is prolonged if they are dim”. This is simply because the filament operates at a lower temperature and will not evaporate and thin to failure as quickly. However it also produces light less efficiently. Doubling the life will result in around 16% less light than a normal life bulb. Therefore for the same amount of light as a normal life bulb it will need to be 19% higher wattage. Over its life a “long life” 100W bulb will cost around £4.50 more in electricity. As the bulb might only have cost 15 to 25p to replace it only makes sense in a difficult to reach situation, or if you have to pay someone to replace it (on minimum wage).

I think my biggest disappointment to far is Sainsburys Energy removing the Nectar bonuses from their current tariff mid-way through the contract.
I picked them as a provider because the “cashback” offered from the Nectar points for meter readings etc. made them the cheapest. However they recently changed their incentive scheme which means I won’t receive half the expected points now.

I wonder if the author is referring to the many many new washing machines that indicate a 60C wash but in fact get nowhere near 60C.

I know Which? is aware of this but they do not mention it on their website or in machine details. As readers may be aware a vast number of our NHS workers, especially nurses, are required to wash at high temperatures their uniforms. This is a health issue – but lets not worry about Europe’s leading consumer organisation pointing out this sort of detail.

Incidentally I see Bosch now have noticed that people are annoyed with long a nd longer washing cycles they now are giving owners the choice of doing washes quickly, or slowly and more economically. More economically actually means at a lower temperature and over several hours. I like the choice aspect but I wonder how the testing laboratory used by Which? is going to account for this.

This is an excellent example, Dieseltaylor. If a washing machine programme is labelled 60°C then it should reach that temperature. My machine does, but it’s very old. It is not entirely the manufacturers’ fault because washing machines are rated on cleaning performance, not the temperature they reach. Thanks to better detergents and changes in machine design, adequate cleaning can be achieved at lower temperatures. I do think the programmes should be described in a different way, rather than showing irrelevant temperatures.

Being realistic, I see very little chance of 60°C programmes being reintroduced. The majority of the population get on fine with low temperature washing, though it is essential to do a periodic high temperature ‘maintenance wash’ to prevent the innards becoming coated in smelly and potentially dangerous bacteria and other microorganisms.

My view is that nurses should not be laundering their own uniforms, particularly if they are working with patients with hospital-acquired infections. I wonder if a proper risk assessment has been done. For the rest of us, I have not seen evidence that UK washing machines are causing the spread of infections in the home. Even the cleanest home is contaminated with bacteria and we have evolved to cope with this. Common sense should be used and fabrics contaminated with faeces etc. should be disinfected with bleach or products sold to disinfect reusable nappies.

But I agree that the 60°C, 60 cotton, 60 etc. are all misleading and should not be used. I wonder if other figures shown on washing machines, such as 30°C, 40°C, 90°C and 95°C mean anything nowadays.

Wave,,,,,,,your on the money………….NHS staff should not be expected to wash their uniforms
The cant even their holidays now
My wife has just had her March leave refused an she cannot carry into next year……This is the 3rd time she has had this leave refused
If she can get it sorted this week I’m for the office

My machine which I’ve decided to fix for the daughter as she has said she is taking the house and yard over needs a new hot valve
The machine is made in the US but although quirky has outlived everything in the house and boy can wifey extinguish machines
The parts are cheap there but the PO and Gov fines you when they are coming in as she is in canada she can bring them home
Its does not heat water and never did
Without going into detail we use boiling water poured straight in since the coil on the water valve burned out
Our hot cylinder has various elements but for this purpose we have one near the top that boosts the temp……….I keep it well turned up when we have a valve that is
Our domestic hot water is via a blending valve that is fed from port a little further down the tank

Our next washroom does not have hot water for the feed so I’m not happy reading about these modern marvels

You realise that the logic behind using a fictitious 60C designation is to lower carbon emissions etc and I think we are all in favour of that, However it has been done in a dishonest way and rather embarrassingly BUEC was in on the process but no one considered how this might be fiddled.

The direct analogy is for all car builders to be told that the speedo should be overcalibrated so 60mph is somewhere below 50mph, and that miles per gallon are increased and emissions are reduced. Rather like your 60C wash takes longer so will your car journeys.

Splendid idea but dishonest.

Diesel,,,,,,,,,Was that post directed at me…………..
If so I agree with your thoughts
Decidedly dishonest,,,,,,indeed yes
No doubt someone will come forth and ask you where the evidence of this is or can you produce any………..
You may get told that these machines were made to a standard and that the standard cannot be wrong nor can the engineers/inspectors of the test houses most likely

Accurate temperatures are essential. Lower temperatures don’t kill off bacteria and aren’t good for a lot of washing machines, leading to black interiors and a stinky machine.

If washing machines get contaminated with bacteria it is because the user has not followed the instructions and done regular ‘maintenance washes’ at high temperature. Using washing powders or tablets helps keeps machines clean because these contain bleaches, which kill bacteria. Washing liquids and gels do not.

I agree,,,,,,,,,,machines do need a hot as in hot wash or in some cases bleach can be added which helps with some bad boys
A washing machine is an invitation to grow bugs
Soap may wash you but its pretty good food for a lot of critters combined with the organic stuff that comes off our clothes we give it all the conditions to start a family.

I quite agree with the author and while working for a test house 2 years ago now realised how important testing was. Personally I feel test houses like TUV-SUD should be more adopted and accepted as defacto standards and therefore not only should we look for the energy efficiency certificate but also where that certificate was produced and which test house actually did the tests. If that certificate Cannot be provided,….move on to the next product which Does have it. And not just a copy but an officially ‘Signed’ copy just like the Chinese used to do.
As for the bulbs issue, well, I must be the only person who is quite chuffed on here!! Why?! Because I will be getting my whole house fitted out with LED light bulbs for free and if they DO blow or fail, I will get them replaced for free as well. Wayhay!!!

[This comment has been tweaked to align with Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

“In all these cases, manufacturers aren’t doing anything overtly wrong. They’re meeting the legal standards and requirements of them. But we feel that claims about products should reflect how you would use them in real life.” (Sometimes I think I must be dreaming when I read things like this. I’m so naive.) Time to change the legal standards and requirements so that the claims about products reflect how you would use them in real life!

Sopie, this is quite right! Testing regimes should do exactly that otherwise they are not very meaningful. Car tests are a good topical example. I have to add that the industry in worked in had standards – British, European and ISO – that were very well constructed to reflect use under both the normal and abnormal conditions met in practice. Written by a spread of interested parties including users, manufacturers and statutory bodies.

Another thought: how can we ask for compensation when products don’t meet the claims if manufacturers are meeting the legal standards etc?…

Sophie, I don’t think it matters. If a product makes a claim that it does not meet then the retailer I believe is liable.

This is part of an OFT explanation to the retailers of their obligations under the Sale of Goods Act (and will also apply to its replacement the Consumer Rights Act):
“Your contract with the customer
Under the Sale of Goods Act, when you sell something to a customer you have an agreement or contract with them. A customer has legal rights if the goods they purchased do not conform to contract (are faulty). The Act says that to conform to contract goods should
• match their description
by law everything that is said about the product must not be misleading – whether this is said by a sales assistant, or written on the packaging, in-store, on advertising materials or in a catalogue”

I wonder then what happens when they turn round and say, “sorry, we are “meeting the legal standards and requirements” of us for the claims we make”, as per above.

This point is made in February Which? under the “dodgy claims” examples.
It cites fridge freezer capacity where shelves and containers less than 15mm thick are removed to calculate storage. This is what the International Standard requires them to do to state a figure. In effect it gives “relative capacity” to other fridge freezers. How many of us would know what the capacity of a fridge or freezer in cu. m related to in terms of the actual food we wanted to store. Do you (in general) calculate how much actual space you need? I guess many relate to what they already have. The answer surely is to amend the International (or European) Standard to include a measurement of usable storage space, but that would have to be using an agreed method. Do you fill all shelves with specified-size objects? How big, how many, how do you stack them. It is not simple. But Which? (BEUC) could try to instigate a standards revision and put in the necessary groundwork.

Another example they cite is the number of sheets a printer can produce from a set of cartridge. At present this is based on continuous running. I presume they use a standard page (print font, style, number of standard words). Clearly not what you and I do – intermittent printing (so cleaning cycles occur), pages with more or less print, different fonts and styles. To get a “realistic” page output this would need an additional standard test to represent an average user. So, for example, a standard text and style, run for single, small multiple, larger multiple print runs, switched off or left on between runs?, and so on. Again, let Which? promote its own testing process to see if it is widely accepted. It says it has “discussed…with British Standards”. Perhaps it should do more than just discuss?

We need standards to ensure as far as possible that results are comparable. Where we think those standards should be improved our consumer bodies should act on our behalf.

When products are tested, are companies asked to supply them or are they purchased anonymously?

Hi alfa, we purchase the products ourselves – all explained here http://www.which.co.uk/about-which/who-we-are/which-research/

Thanks Lauren. That is good to know.

Hi Lauren – Which? sometimes comes in for criticism because Which? uses test labs rather than doing testing in-house. Considering how many products are tested nowadays, this seems a sensible approach, since test labs can be selected on the basis of facilities and expertise. I think it would be helpful to let Which? subscribers know more about why you use test labs.

I also agree that providing test labs are properly selected for their facilities and expertise it is a realistic way of dealing with product evaluation. However I think it a shame that Which? seems to have no test facilities of its own to do particular product groups.

I was involved in test labs and one of the big advantages of having such a facility is you learn from the results, and how to interpret them to help, in this case, with useful consumer information, such as repairablity, durability and incipient faults. Simply asking for certain tests and looking at those results is not as useful as first hand experience of doing the tests. Those writing reports following testing benefit greatly from understanding and, preferably, taking part in the process.

Hi there Wavechange, yes it does come up every now and again. We have our own team of scientists that design our testing programmes and evaluate the results of the testing. We test over 3,500 products and services a year across over 300 product categories. So when it comes to lab testing, the reason we use external labs to carry out testing is, as you have pointed out, it allows us to select the appropriate expertise for the product we’d like to test. We have some info up on our main site about this: http://www.which.co.uk/about-which/who-we-are/which-research/lab-testing/

Thanks Lauren. My only criticism is the reference to ‘our labs’ in the linked page and elsewhere. I fully support using specialist labs but describing them as ‘our labs’ is rather misleading.

Lauren, a question I have asked before, but do not recall a proper answer. Many of the products “you test” are commonly used throughout the EU and tested by the 30 odd other national consumer groups under the BEUC umbrella. Do you usually collaborate with their testing to avoid unnecessary duplication and make the best use of the funds available for testing? Or is Which? testing done separately from any other consumer group?

Hi Malcolm, I know that there’s a lot of information sharing between us and our consumer group counterparts, but I’m not entirely sure how far this extends into product testing so I’m going to double check this with the research teams.

@ldeitz, thanks Lauren

Hi Malcolm, sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this. We do collaborate with our testing, but as part of the International Consumer Research and Testing. This umbrella group covers Europe and America. The collaboration allows us to make the best use of expertise in testing.

Lauren, thanks. Could you elaborate? For example, washing machines – do you collaborate with the German consumer association who seem to carry out extended endurance tests that, from memory, represent 10 years of use? These will be machines also sold in the UK but that information does not seem to be presented in your reports. Essential information to making an informed choice.

Perhaps Wich? could also publish an article on line or in their Mag explaining in detail just what their testing involves, how they cooperate and collaborate with other organisations, and how information that should be useful to all consumers is made available. It seems to me we should all benefit from membership of a Europe-wide consumer organisation.

Let me see if I can find the specifics behind the testing , I know that at the moment it’s across around 15 different testing groups. I should imagine that this does include appliances like washing machines, but I’ll find out.

I’ll certainly pass on your suggestion of an article or line. We do have some of this info on our website.

Hello Malcolm, my apologies for the delay in getting a response to you on this. The research team have confirmed that we don’t jointly test with our German partners on washing machines. But we’ve been taking a closer look at durability (last year we carried out a mag investigation on whether washing machines are built to fail) and we do carry out an annual reliability survey. I’m also pleased to tell you though that we are scoping out how best to address this issue in our reviews. I hope that helps.

Thanks Lauren, it seems a shame that testing results cannot be shared for the benefit of all consumer associations’ members. It would spread the cost of testing, allow more to be done, and help coordinate work throughout Europe. I had assumed that BEUC would have a part to play in this.

Can you explain why Which? has to “go it alone” in this way. What is the obstacle to cooperating with your continental cousins?

Hi Lauren – I am also uncomfortable with the references to “our test labs”. This question particularly exercised my mind when reading the article “Too good to be true: Dodgy claims debunked” in the February 2016 Which? magazine. In the first paragraph it said ” . . . when we get the same big-ticket electrical items into our test lab, we find that some claims are nothing but hot air . . .”. There were other references to “our labs” throughout the “dodgy claims” feature. I think you can appreciate the inconsistency there, and I think Which? should stop using that expression – it is not necessary and there are better ways of saying the same thing without misleading readers. There is nothing to be ashamed of in employing specialist professional testing houses and expert laboratories, in fact the converse – in my opinion it is better than trying to do it all in-house as once was the case in the early days when testing didn’t always have the scientific integrity that we require nowadays. Bigging-up Which?’s competence cuts no ice and it’s time to be more honest and open with the community.

Hello all, thank you for your feedback on this. I’m going to pass this feedback on to the relevant teams.

The German testing is much admired and their reports can be bought over the Net. I noticed over the weekend that they have tested around 300 mobile phones and around 240 are currently purchasable. Which$ has tested 104.

For over three years I have pointed out that A4 e-readers exist which is very useful for people with sight problems or who read documents presented in two columns like research papers and Accounts. I am not sure why Which has never mentioned them as existing, even if untested, for the benefit of subscribers.

Just to confirm that the German Stiftung Warentest do take three models of washing machines and runs them for 6 months solidly. This used to equate to 10 years use but now with longer wash cycles I think it is below 9.5years.

I understand from the Which? Community forum that Which instruct labs to test test single items such as A toaster. The Which 249 kettles is unduly confusing as many many kettles are the same model in different colours. It would be sooo much simpler to list the models and give a colour chart. Of the best buys one has 6 colour schemes and most have three or four so when you read 86 best buys there are probably actually only 30 or less models to read about — and then go for a colour.

You will appreciate that given multiple places to put review comments on each colour of kettle you may miss the important points. A couple of years ago the purple model Breville had no adverse comments whilst the other colours had quite serious faults. SO the question was : was the purple so awful a colour no one bought it so it never got reviewed OR was it really a better made model because of the colour.

One thing not tested is the taste of the water when boiled AND THAT is the commonest complaint by far that people have regarding kettles.

I was stupid enough to believe the info on Currys website last month and bought a Beko CF6004APW fridge/freezer because it was 20% bigger than my old Beko. It isn’t. The fridge is about the same but the freezer is much smaller than my old one and Currys ofcourse don’t want to know once they have your money; they just say their info is confirmed by the manufacturer. Customer service is non-existent at Currys and Beko, who I also contacted, quoting Consumer Rights Act, but neither were interested.

A Clark, 5 posts above here I replied to Sophie with an extract from a guide to the Sales of Goods Act (and this will also apply to the current Consumer Rights Act)). If a product is not as described the retailer is in breach of contract and you can obtain a refund. If it is quite clear that the cubic capacity of the freezer is less than Currys state then in my view you have a cast iron claim. If Currys then deny your rights then they are in breach of the law. Check your claim carefully and then go to them with your evidence would be my advice.

If you belong to Which? Legal then they will help, I am sure, if your approach fails.

I agree with you; I’ve emailed Currys rejecting goods, quoting both SoGA & CRA re goods not as described but they are refusing to even acknowledge these Acts. I don’t belong to Which? Legal unfortunately, but because it was an on-line purchase I now have my Credit card company looking into the matter. Fingers crossed.

The guidance also says “It is also against the law to mislead consumers about their legal rights – this could lead to a criminal prosecution under the
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008”

Threaten them this and either with the small claims court, or legal action under these regulations, if you are sure your fridge/freezer does not meet the advertised size. But please don’t give up! I’m sure we’d all like to know how you get on.

If this is yet another instance of Currys defying their legal obligations perhaps Which? might pursue it anyway. It is high time, I believe, that Which? saw to it that the Consumer Rights Act that is meant to protect consumers – also Which?’s job – was properly used. Maybe then delinquent retailers might revise their attitude.

There seems to be a marked reluctance for Which? to be bolshy compared to the Continental consumer groups who are quite happily getting tough with Samsung, Apple , and car firms.

I think this a grave failing as it getting harder and harder to take the concept that Which? Legal do anything more than a paid for version of Citizens Advice.

We think we are paying for a consumer champion but at the end the help is very limited. Could Which? provide a list of good and cheap consumer lawyers happy to act for consumers?

Here here Diesel,,,,,,,,,,

I will be difficult for anyone or thing from the UK to do anything there are so many busy sucking up to the system………….

Anyone stranger reading Which is more liable to go watch the soaps the posts are so predictable…………

The cars can go on fire,,,,,,,,,fail repeatedly due to supposed bad fuel,,,,,,,,,,,,,choke us to death and we’ll still be reading about a failed NEDC test being at fault and we’ll have to wait a few more years for the next very cheatable test to arrive

Give it some Sir

I had to get an independent report done to prove the freezer is smaller than stated for my credit card co. Currys were just as dismissive to them as they were to me, however Crt. card co. have now asked me to sell it and they will refund the difference to me. Must remember never to shop there again.

Ever since the old tungsten lights were banned for environmental reasons, bulb replacement has become a routine part of life. There are three waiting to go out in the recycle bin this week. In the old days, a bulb failure was quite a surprise. I have also had a halogen spot explode and scatter glass around the room. To be scrupulously fair, I don’t purchase the bulbs and the one that does sources them cheaply from suppliers abroad, which could explain part of the problem.
Manufacturers should match claims with actual performance. If they did this every time, part of the Which raison d’ etre would be redundant. If we rely on Which to expose shortcomings, they should be able to highlight these. However, “one of the best kettles we have ever tested” turns out to have an infuriating filter in the spout and likes to steam the user’s hand when pouring. “One of the best ovens” turns out to cook at 20 degrees colder than indicated and the digital controls turn themselves off if water goes anywhere near them when a pan boils over. There’s my “best buy” air fryer that is on it’s third paddle. I have yet to have an explanation of why ink cartridges cost so much or why opticians can charge what they do for frames and glasses.
There are stain removing products that don’t and the jury is still out on super diesel and petrol. Operating system and search engine companies claim great things for their products but keep remarkably quiet about their intrusion capabilities, buried in the small print. Talking of which, almost everyone buries things in small print and expects us to read pages of terms and conditions, couched in the most obscure language. If it doesn’t do what it says on the tin, it’s probably excluded somewhere. This is especially true of travel insurance and some holiday companies. Then there are the patent medicines and beauty products…..
It’s easy to become cynical and there are manufacturers who take a pride in providing the very best they can, as my 1980 Sharp Microwave and even older loudspeakers prove for me. When something is really good Which needs to shout about it, and when not it’s their job to find out. And.. when the tin is half empty, the maker should be held to account.

Vynor………….That was letting them have it……..all of them all at once
Good going………….I smile when I read a good honest rant and they are not unjustified,,,,,,,,quite the opposite they are very justified
Don’t worry about the bulbs
I am about to run out and I am buying similar as advised by a friend who knows his stuff in electronics
He and I were have a yarn last night and I brought the bulb subject up……..He thinks similar to me…….CFLS were good almost no odd’s where you bought them,,,,,,,both he and I worked together once and we bought from the same supply…………now,,simply rubbish,,,,,,,,He gave me a link to fleabay for ones he got and says the base temperature is low and so far so good for him…………phillips branding which is one of the two I’ve been operating on………Our electrical store only does those and Osram……..Apparently we bought the last two boxes just 18 months ago and I’m almost through the lot

Back to Duncan…………Wifey likes music,,,,,,I call it noise!!!!!!!!!!
Vynor mentions speakers……..What are our big 80s/90s speakers likely to be like on digital noise systems???
It’s something I’ve never tried but as I’m at the new cabin I can fit anything and those just entered my thoughts as I was writing this
You also gave me info on mobile broadband a few days ago but I either got disturbed or simply forgot to take note and copy the info……..If your memory is up to it can i have it again please

I bought a Microsoft Surface Laptop in July 2017 and it has now decided not to boot because the SSD drive has failed. This laptop was a Which best buy but I have subsequently learned that it is pretty much irreparable. Microsoft in their wisdom designed it so that it would be badly damaged if opened and even if you get that far the SSD is soldered onto the motherboard. https://www.techspot.com/news/69783-forget-about-repairing-or-upgrading-microsoft-surface-laptop.html
I don’t think this laptop is fit for purpose as it should be reparable and last longer than just over two years. I don’t think Microsoft Surface laptops deserve to be best buys.