The Lobby: Off-topic discussion

Hello and welcome to The Lobby! Your place to discuss subjects that just don’t fit in our other conversations. Make yourself at home!

Do you want to discuss an issue but can’t find the right place to post it? Or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to chat with your community pals? Well, you’ve come to the right place…

As with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so on some of our posts because of the precisely defined nature of each subject.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we created this off-topic discussion area – The Lobby.

Any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could generate new posts for debate and discussion on Which? Conversation, so you – our community members – are able to help shape the direction of our community.

What happened to the original Lobby?

Why do we have two Lobbies? Well, like all good franchises, we wanted to experiment with a sequel. But seriously, the original Lobby was so popular (with almost 13,000 comments), it was becoming hard to load the page.

So we’re starting fresh with what we’re affectionately calling “The Lobby 2”.

No comments from first Lobby have been deleted, and you can still link to comments, but you won’t be able to add new comments.


To ensure The Lobby remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings all of our Community Guidelines apply, with the exception of one:

You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby.  🙂

Looking for other areas to talk?

• Website feedback: Let us know about any technical issues, and share your ideas on the future of Which? Conversation closure: A discussion about the closure of

Which? Members: Discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance

Welcome to the Lobby!

So without further ado… welcome! What are you waiting for!?


The evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’, and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

Have you ever tried to eat a clock? It’s very time consuming.

It has just come to our attention that it is World Poetry Day and Cheerleading Safety Month.

So do people want to step into the rhyming room and discuss the safest way to dismount from a pyramid?

Are these “days” just like birthdays? We only have poetry one day a year? What are these days really for and do many take any notice? You can get saturated with some things, like the interminable adverts for charities on tv that ask for “just £3 a month”.

I’m a bit grumpy today because I neglected part of the garden last year and bindweed flourished. I am now digging up convolvulus root by the barrow load in penance. Does anyone know of a use for it? I’m trying to find a role for it as a superfood or a herbal remedy. Con and weed seem inappropriate so perhaps Morning Glory concentrate as a reviver? Any ideas.

Ouch. This might take some time, but I get the point.

That’s really not fun. Our neighbour’s bamboo is starting to take over the back of our garden. It hides the compost heap nicely atm but I know we are going to have to do something about it as some stage! Your bind weed might be useful if you’re constipated 😉 (things I really did not think I would say at Which?!).

On awareness days – they can actually be useful for social media planning. If a topic is ‘trending’ you can get your message out to more people by getting involved. It is getting a little out of hand though – every day is some awareness day or other! The cheerleader safety month amused me. It is probably on of the least relevant things to Convo! 😀

DISCLAIMER: Always seek medical advice before making home brewed constipation cures.

It’s a multitude of days, Abby, and the reason I didn’t choose Poetry day is simply because there are three of them throughout the year. Cheerleading safety month has little relevance outside of the US and if we’re going to choose months to recognise I’d have thought Social Work month and Haemophilia Awareness Month both merit greater publicity.

Just in passing. Today’s busy and I’ll be off air and on the road for a bit.

The top
Of a pyramid
One looks downward
To the triple equal sides
Spreading to the ground below.
The point at which this
Perspective is seen
Has been gained
By a struggle
And climb

That was my woeful attempt at humour – cheerleader safety is about the last thing I would say convo members would be interested in! Maybe my style is a bit too deadpan. 😉

One of many Flanders’ and Swann’s most enjoyable numbers. Sung with great clarity and with clever accompaniment (well. in my view).

Maybe I should plant a lot of honeysuckle and set up a dating agency…….

Perhaps we see a little too much of veering to the left and veering to the right? Let’s hope we don’t fall flat on our face.

The spiral growth of plants is under genetic control. I believe that there are mutants that grow the wrong way but have not seen them.

Much though I enjoy science, sometimes a little magic is worthwhile.

Here is a recording of Misalliance by Flanders and Swan:

I suspect that’s an early recording. I had the good fortune to meet Mike Flanders at a party in the ’70s. He was extremely nice, very modest and astonishingly good with words. One of the most natural people in the business, I suspect.

While listening to Flanders & Swan this afternoon I came across this reminder that you can overdo patriotic prejudice: Rather appropriate considering what’s in the news. 🙁

A very appropriate national song.

Which? might suggest how to deal with these consumer rights issues involved:

That was before Which? Trusted Traders came along.

So the question has been posed,
How the climb down is proposed,
Perched atop pyramidoid point.
The edges form an angular joint.
It is these that one should seek to cling
Sliding gracefully – downward bring.

If one speaks in metaphor
Then the point is sharp, for sure.
Stress must always be a factor.
Climb down gently, be reactor,
Delegate and share the load,
Travel together down that road.

It was interesting to see information about hand blenders in the April 2019 issue of Which? I thought that Which? had stopped reviewing them, but maybe I searched for stick blenders.

A friend bought a Russell Hobbs blender online and it stopped working after a few uses, so I was asked to have a look at it. The plastic coupling between the motor and the removable attachment had become chewed up because the plastic was too soft. I tried to get the owner to contact the retailer but that did not happen and the blender is in my garage, ready for the next trip to the recycling centre. I wonder how many of these blenders have failed prematurely because of use of unsuitable plastic for the coupling. My own blender uses what looks like tougher plastic but I did not know at the time of purchase.

Welcome to World Water Day, the day in 1832 when Parliament passed the Reform Act, increasing the electorate from about 500,000 voters to 813,000 and the day in 1963 on which Profumo denied any impropriety with Christine Keeler. Nil combustibus pro fumo.

A procrastinator’s work is never done.

I invented a new word today. Plagiarism.

I hope you were not claiming it was your own work.

I just let my mind wander, and it didn’t come back.

There are interesting articles about vitamins and supplements in the April 2019 magazine and on this page of the website: Anyone taking prescription medication should be aware of possible interactions.

On page 17 there is a response to a letter saying that low sodium salt (which contains potassium chloride in addition to sodium chloride) may be harmful to people with kidney problems.

Yes; the magazine article was quite interesting and worrying – in equal measure.

Also a little controversial, but I strongly believe that people should be looking beyond the marketing claims for these products.

The ubiquitous Verified By Visa system, which claims to make card payments more secure, is ending, shortly, and in its place is a new system which will seriously impact millions of consumers.

Instead of merely inputting characters from a password or number the new system will send a text to your mobile ‘phone. Easy, yes?

Well. not for the millions who

– don’t have a mobile ‘phone
– don’t have a mobile signal
– haven’t charged their mobile

The banks are claiming they have no choice, as it’s Visa that is bringing in the new regs. Visa Inc., a US company, is no stranger to controversy but this latest move will create serious problems for consumers who don’t intend to buy a mobile ‘phone at the very least.

The banks claim one of two things will happen: in the event a customer hasn’t got a mobile ‘phone, then they’ll have to ‘phone the bank each time they make an online purchase. Alternatively, the customer’s own bank will be able to make a “15 minute exception” for the purchase.

The obvious answer would be to use email but they say that’s insecure, so that won’t be happening.

If ever something needed examining in detail by Which?, I think this is it.

DerekP says:
22 March 2019

My debit card is with Visa but my credit card is a MasterCard, so I hope I won’t be too badly affected.

Mastercard are introducing the same process.

I’m familiar with the text messages because my bank and mobile phone provider use them. It’s a bit of a hassle to go and find the phone when trying to work online, so I hope the security benefits are worthwhile.

The main point here is what happens to those who don’t have access to a working phone, as Ian has said. Are we putting the wishes of business ahead of the needs of consumers?

It’s a little odd when we are so concerned about the security of electronic payments that when a further security step is introduced to benefit consumers (presumably) we suggest that the wishes of business are taking precedence. Security of electronic payments is surely a benefit to all of us.

Perhaps we could opt out of phone messages (how else could security be checked while we are out and about|) but take on the risk of insecure payments ourselves?

I think you’re missing the point. The current system works perfectly well. Visa is replacing it – not to create more security – but to make things more convenient for themselves. I found that out when I had a call from Malta today, and the caller advised me that the old system resulted in the banks getting a lot of calls.

This new process doesn’t help customers in any way whatsoever; but it does help the banks, poor things, and it will seriously inconvenience many customers.

Maybe Which? could explain this.

I’m going to have a chat with someone from Which? Money on this.

Malcolm – As I said, I am already making use of these text messages, and have been for a few years. I have not complained. If this system is more secure then that’s good.

Ian has made a valid point that those without access to a working mobile phone cannot use it. If for security reasons it is not practical to allow secure online transactions on the computer itself then perhaps there are other alternatives such as using messages or the display on a landline phone.

Thank you, Abby. It does need examining.

So this is something that has been covered by Which? Money. The most interesting part of it is the ability to ask your bank for alternative arrangements.

A Visa spokesperson said: ‘Although all Visa card-issuing banks will support this increased level of security, alternatives are available should customers feel uncomfortable or unable to use their bank’s first choice solution.’

I know my in laws will need to investigate alternatives as they have next to no mobile reception.

@abbysempleskipper, thanks for the link Abby. This seems to explain the proposals well. Which? seem to consider the security will be enhanced and that alternative for people without mobile phones a likely to be available. Which? do warn “However, one-time passcodes aren’t infallible as has been proven by the rise of spoof text scams, where fraudsters mimic text messages from banks and trick you into calling a number, and handing over genuine one-time passcodes to ‘protect your account’.

Thanks, Abby. I was disappointed to note that the researchers involved hadn’t identified the issue of those without mobiles or a mobile signal. My chat today with the representative from Visa did not mention a fingerprint scanner – something I’d be more than happy to use. Alternatively, a key card generating a random number would be equally acceptable.

I think W? needs to get Visa to look again at the situation with regard to the millions who won’t have either a mobile ‘phone or a signal.

I recently had to reset account authentication data as part of which a pass code had to be transmitted to me by phone. I had the option of receiving it either by a text message to a mobile phone or by a voice message on the landline. I think that would be almost as inclusive as you could get.

I certainly agree that e-mail is not a suitable channel for such secure information.

Most requirements for a pass code are in connection with on-line purchasing which, I would guess, is generally done at home where the on-line customer would normally have either a satisfactory mobile signal or a landline alternative so the banks should provide a service via either method. I am sure there will be certain exceptions and the banks will have to adapt to that.

You can do your online purchasing on your mobile phone – but then you would have no problem receiving an authentication message.

I agree – if you have the choice of a message by registered mobile or landline then it seems to be a sensible move.

Yes, Malcolm, but the point is that many people cannot do their on-line purchasing on a mobile phone for the reasons that Ian has set out above so a non-exceptional alternative process is required for payment authentication.

I think you misunderstood John. I was pointing out that people who have smart phones do order online and will receive authentication messages via their smart phone. Those who order online from home can either receive messages by smartphone or choose their landline. So, given these options, it seems a sensible move; both types of user are catered for.

Land line is currently not an option for our bank. Thus, both types of user are not catered for. And what about the deaf?

As the new system is not yet fully operational, I believe, I presume alternatives to mobile messages will be offered.

There are phones designed for the deaf and a bank I use has text phone for communication.

Malcolm: I put all these points to the bank representative on Friday and was told that it’s a text message or you ‘phone your bank. No alternatives are planned.

And the system is fully operational and has been for two months, I was told. This is why I posted what I have. Unless you have information this person did not? mentions that banks are being urged to find other ways to check a customer’s identity.

Long but useful perhaps
It suggests card readers provided by the PSU could be acceptable to demonstrate “possession”.

This is an EU regulation it seems – “Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is a new European regulatory requirement to reduce fraud and make online payments more secure……. Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

I know about the links, Malcolm. Sadly, and as I have said, there are currently no plans to make alternatives available to customers. And I’m afraid I don’t share your obvious faith and trust in our banking system.

If you have a mobile but no mobile signal at home, a possible solution if WiFi calling. That allows callers to use their mobile via their home router, but requires a modern mobile and a service provider that supports WiFi calling.

Three does, but many other don’t, but that’s not my main objection. I resent being told I will be required to purchase a mobile
‘phone simply to continue online shopping. Quite apart from having no signal, it seems patently absurd for owning a mobile to be a pre-requisite of being able to continue online shopping.

The banks have to be made to think again. I’ve no objection to 2FA – already use it for online banking, anyway – but if we’re being forced to use it for online shopping then the banks should provide us all with a keypad – just as they do for our online banking.

Malcolm has said that “people who have smart phones do order online and will receive authentication messages via their smart phone”. There was unfortunately some confusion between ‘mobile phone’ and ‘smart phone’, and I was referring to the former.

Using a smart phone only surely does not enable the authentication message to be received from the bank at the same time as submitting the order to the retailer. They will be two parallel transmissions, one outwards from the customer to the retailer and the other inwards from the bank or card issuer to the customer. Out of sight in the background is a communication link between the retailer and the banks or card issuers.

It is not possible to use an ordinary mobile phone [without an internet connection] to do on-line shopping but the intended route for the pass code from the bank or card issuer is to an ordinary or a smart mobile phone. The customer will, as currently, be logged onto the retailer’s website and while in the process of placing the order they will enter their card number and data. At present there is then a slight pause while the verification takes place between the retailer and the bank or card issuer following which the order is cleared [or not, as the case may be]. At no time does the customer need to leave the retailer’s website. As I understand it, in the future, after entering the card data, the customer will receive a call on their mobile/smart phone giving the numeric pass code which they will then need to enter into the retailer’s website for authentication purposes and to enable authorisation of the purchase order. This must require two separate devices to be used together [only one of which needs to be on an internet connection as the pass code comes as an SMS text] – it is surely not possible to be in the middle of placing an order on a smart phone and at the same time receiving a message from the bank giving the pass code.

It seems to me that to make this all work people will need to have both a good broadband service [predominantly via a landline] and a good mobile phone signal. A significant number of people with the broadband facility might not have the counterpart mobile phone facility. An authentication process that could supply the pass code via the landline as a non-exceptional alternative to the mobile phone SMS would appear to me to be likely to cover almost every eventuality for on-line purchasing.

Ian – I agree with what you have said, but WiFi calling might be useful for some. It’s high time that the needs of customers take priority in the case of essential services.

Another example we have been discussing is contactless cards, where some banks will not offer a non-contactless alternative.

I posted the links for anyone interested. I have no axe to grind for or against the banking system. Just looking at what information is available.

You may not feel the banks are less than satisfactory, but I harbour a deep and – I think – justified mistrust of banks in general. It is the banks who created the 2008 recession, which nearly wiped out the world’s financial markets, the banks, whose corporate malfeasance was responsible for 10 years of punishing austerity, the banks whose greed was responsible for some of the biggest financial scandals to hit the markets anywhere and the banks who continue to throw their hands up in horror claiming this is nothing to do with them.

It as also the banks who decided it was perfectly reasonable to levy extortionate interest charges on those who were forced to overdraw while attempting to manage finances decimated by the banks’ own criminal actions.

The banks have repeatedly shown that they cannot be trusted, neither will they implement reforms until sufficient pressure is brought to bear. Let’s not forget the ‘Verified by Visa’ system was introduced to protect the banks, not the customers.

In many ways the Banks represent the Currys of the financial world.

Don’t forget that the banks can charge punitive interest charges on those who are in debt, helping to provide others with free current account services. One more reason to distrust the banks.

I expressed no feelings about the banks being “satisfactory”. I’m just looking for information.

Certainly we can blame some of the banks for their lending practices, but governments did not discourage either the lending culture or the spiral in house prices. Nor did many borrowers think too hard about the consequences of their borrowing. I do not believe it was one sided.

However, that is not to reopen a discussion held a long time ago. More secure authentication seems to be a product of the EC through the second Payment Services Directive that stipulates what are, and are not, acceptable as methods of identification. I hope that all involved appreciate that some who buy online will not have the means to use smart phone or mobile as a means of receiving a message. I presume Which? are among those addressing this point? I use a card reader for my online banking to give a pass number. I wonder whether a similar system will be appropriate for credit cards.

A comment earlier admonished energy companies for their “lack of courtesy” in not telling us smart meters were not compulsory.

Perhaps people who use their bank accounts to overdraw show a similar lack of courtesy if they don’t bother to ask their bank if that is OK.

I believe we should pay for the services our banks offer – that would presumably include cash withdrawals from ATMs. What we should then expect in return would be a market interest rate on our deposits. Overdrafts – arranged or otherwise – should not bear such high costs unless administrative work justifies it – returned payments perhaps, for example. However, I’d expect to pay less if get the banks consent to overdraw than if I didn’t bother; I don’t see why a responsible borrower should make up for those who perhaps cannot repay.

Maybe some should mistrust some banks. I don’t mistrust mine and have had good service from them We can always change from banks we don’t like.

The banks are not obliged to offer overdrafts but offer them as a service. Some customers will not pay off their loans but overall it’s a lucrative service. Perhaps the banks should not permit overdrafts by default.

I’ve suggested that we should pay for the banking services we use. It seems odd to focus on ATMs and ignore other costs such as running online banking, direct debits, standing orders, cheques and so on. Banks must also make a profit to survive.

First, I agree that it might be better if unarranged overdrafts were not permitted as I’ve said before.

Regarding paid-for current accounts, I was pointing out as ATMs are topical that a charge would also no doubt apply to them. Would we want that? Or would we be selective about the services we wanted to pay for individually? All other transactions would, of course, attract a charge – the whole point of a paid-for banking service. However, it would be a brave bank that offered this as the only current account. I guess with many people their account distributes the money it takes in quite quickly, so not much interest would accrue.

As I’ve said before, I would prefer that we pay for all the banking services we use and an understanding of costs might encourage us to choose cheaper options.

I think we should get back to the topic that Ian introduced. If there is a need for introducing new security measures, there is a need provide customers with practical and convenient alternatives to sending codes via mobiles. I suggested that landlines could be used instead of mobiles to receive security codes when making online purchases, but it’s a case of finding out what alternatives best meet customers’ needs and are secure, and all banks implementing them.

On a related subject, two banks, including the one that runs my current account, have provided me with small card readers. When I’m away from home, I cannot set up a new payee without the card reader. It would be far more convenient for me to be able to be able to display the codes on my phone or carry out verification via the computer because I don’t always remember to take the card reader when I am away. (I have set up six new payees when I have been away from home in the past few months.) I accept that security must be a priority.

Welcome to Near Miss Day, the day in 1919 when the 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party re-established a five-member Politburo, the members of which included Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin and the day in 1981 on which the government banned all animal transport to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

The best part about working in an office is that if you ever forget that you got a haircut, someone will definitely point it out to you.

That’s why it’s so important to have a job with your own office.

This seems to be less of a problem in agricultural work.

Will glass coffins be a success? Remains to be seen.

Best joke of the week Ian, my kind of play upon words.

Now I’ve read the jokes I can go out for the day.

I work out almost every day. Friday I almost worked out, Saturday I almost worked out, Sunday I almost worked out…

Welcome to Tuberculosis Day, the day in 1882 German scientist Robert Koch discovered and described the tubercle bacillus which causes tuberculosis ( Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and the day in 1944 when 200 POWs attempted escape from Stalag Luft III. They were composed of British and Canadian escapees in the main, although the film – The Great Escape – significantly enhanced the role of US prisoners. Several German guards, who were openly anti-N**i, also willingly gave the prisoners items, and assistance in any way to aid their escape.

Then anti-N**i comment above should read “Anti – N A Z I “. Pity the filtering system is so prudish.

Children are the leading cause of old age.

Kids, don’t grow up… it’s a trap!

Fixing broken windows is a pane in the glass.

A Short History Lesson To A Well Known Tune.
One man went to know, how to exit Brussels.
One man and his diplomatic bag, went to Brexit Brussels.
Two men went to know, how to exit Brussels.
Two men, one man with his diplomatic bag and some civil servants went to Brexit Brussels.
Three men went —– (fill in the blanks as you go along.)
Three men, two men, one man and his diplomatic bag, civil servants, and a language translator went to Brexit Brussels.
Four men went… four three two one, dip bag, civil servants, language translator and a shopping list went to Brexit Brussels.
Five men…. and an E.U. visitors’ pass.
Six men … and another shopping list.
Seven men…. and several new ministers in short succession.
Eight men…and a restricted E.U. pass.
Nine men…. a white flag and an alarm clock.
Ten men… and several hundred pages of close typed paper labelled “The Deal.”

M.Ps came to parliament, came to exit Brexit, the P.M. and her deal came to exit Brexit.
M.Ps came to parliament, came to exit Brexit……
The P.M with her deal,
The E.R.G. with no deal,
The D.U.P. with backstop trouble,
The Lib Dems with a second referendum,
The T.I.Gs with despair,
The S.N.P. to de-exit Brexit.
The opposition leader with a compromise and a shifting stance.
Some Labour benchers with a second referendum
Some Labour brenchers with indicative votes,
And a Speaker holding Erskine May,
Came to exit Brexit.