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.

Guidelines

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

Which.net closure: A discussion about the closure of Which.net

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

Welcome to the Lobby!

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

Comments

Welcome to Disability Day, the day in 1967 when the first human heart transplant was performed in South Africa by Dr Christiaan Barnard and the day in 1989 on which Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush, declared the Cold War over.

I accidentally left my electric toothbrush on all night. I’ve never seen the bathroom look so clean.

Don’t know if you’ve heard but they’ve removed the word ‘gullible’ from the Oxford English Dictionary.

We often hear about new words being added to the dictionary, and here is a list for 2019: https://public.oed.com/updates/new-words-list-october-2019/ Here is one that makes me think of Brexit:

omnishambles, n.: Chiefly in political contexts: a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, or is characterized by a series of blunders and miscalculations…

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. Malvolio. ” …Kept in a dark house, visited by the priest and made the most notorious geck and gull that e’re invention play’d on? Tell me why.”
Hence gullible!

I spilt spot remover on my dog. Now he’s gone.

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From my experience elsewhere, I doubt that Which? Conversation would be a specific target. My experience would suggest that the kind of individuals who hack websites and spread malware do those things for their own satisfaction and not because they have any particular views on the sites that they can hack.

So I would distinguish between those kind of essentially random attacks and full on cyber warfare, in which a given organisation attacks a chosen enemy.

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Duncan, I agree we must agree to disagree here. Incidentally, my definition of a “good hacking job” would be one with no harmful outcomes but an “effective hacking job” would be one where intended target is successfully hacked and never realises this.

Welcome to International Cheetah Day, the day in 1791 when the Observer was first published and the day in 1829 on which Britain outlawed ‘suttee’ in India.

Every time I see the word ‘cheetah’ I think of scams. 🙁

A barking dog never bites. Well – at least not while it’s barking.

I’m opposed to the testing of dog food on animals

I lost my dog. I didn’t know what to do so I put an ad in the newspaper saying ‘Here, Boy!’

Just put down some dog food from the previous joke.

In the past few years I have become accustomed to automated messages about delays and very high call volumes when calling companies and other organisations. Recently I made calls to the registrar Equiniti at different times of day and each time had to listen to the same message. Despite these messages calls are sometimes answered promptly. It’s particularly annoying to have keyed in a customer number and then to be asked to give it when you do get to speak to someone. Most people have phone contracts these days but even if there is no cost, our time is valuable.

Thankfully some organisations do give an estimate of call waiting time or offer to call back.

My post is prompted by a recent Which? press release about the time it can take to get through to energy suppliers: https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/hanging-on-the-telephone-which-reveals-the-worst-energy-firms-for-call-waiting-times/

Kevin says:
4 December 2019

Is this another variant of the TV sales psychological trick – providing a phone number, but stating that ‘lines may be busy’ apparently generates more calls than saying ‘we are waiting for your call’. Something to do with people associating busy lines with a shortage or high demand for the item. Perhaps they’re trying to manipulate our experience so we feel grateful when the human answers reasonably quickly despite the ‘high volume of calls’.

These automated call systems can easily provide the number ahead in the queue, which is useful information, rather than the attitude ‘our time is more important than yours, so you’ll just have to wait until we’re ready’.

I’ve found online chat, if available, to be more convenient than hanging on a phone line, but make sure you keep the log at the end of the session.

It’s certainly better to thank someone for waiting than apologise. I learned that when representing a charity. What I have discovered is that people in call centres seem to have no idea of how long callers have been waiting or that they may have been subject to loud music.

I generally visit websites to see if I can sort out a problem without the need to phone. When I have tried online chat I’ve found it a tedious process, but it might have improved.

I don’t think it has, Wavechange, judging from a couple of recent experiences while trying to sort out some glitches and getting bored with waiting for a customer service representative to become available.

I also find nowadays that they want to check back with you afterwards by phone to see whether they solved your problem and how you would rate the experience. I see solving things as binary and absolute.

Thanks John. I guessed that I might not be the only one who is fed-up waiting for someone to respond.

The satisfactions surveys are another hassle. There is nothing worse than insisting that on no calls/emails/texts unless vital to running an account and then contacted to participate in a satisfactory survey following my last contact. 🙁 🙁 🙁

Kevin says:
4 December 2019

From my limited experience with call handling software, basic systems will have length of queue, call volume and queue trends, call handler stats, and typically a web based management interface (so easy to stick real time performance displays up in a call cente). Since they can route the calls via voice over IP, recording, monitoring and analysis of individual calls is simple.

Given this, long waits are either deliberately engineered into the system, incompetent management, or simple lack of concern about customers. Having worked in the public sector on this, the second two are likely culprits, but I suspect large corporations have teams of accountants and cost benefit analysts tuning their call centre to provide the best experience, for the company that is, ie profit, which may or may not align with the customer interest.

I have heard that insurance companies will sometimes deliberately deny a valid claim simply to gather data on customer behaviour metrics; to me this is plainly theft, but I have little confidence in the ethics of some businesses and their senior staff – when caught out “we let you down on this occassion, boo hoo…, have some flowers”.

Having said that, I try to be as patient as I can with the staff who have to man call centres, since they have little option but to follow their scripts. If there’s a satisfaction survey I’ll generally try to focus any criticism on the organisation rather than the frontline staff.

Welcome to World Soil Day, the day in 1928 when England defeated Australia by 675 runs at Brisbane and the day in 2005 The Civil Partnership Act came into effect.

My dog’s very obedient. Yesterday I said “Heel!” and he bit me on the ankle.

It would be short-sighted not to have his eyes tested.

My dog’s a great guard dog; first sign of an unexpected nose and he hides under the bed.

My dog has an ingrown tail. We have to have him x-rayed to find out if he’s happy.

Has anyone watched recent TV programs on China:

Reggie in China – BBC i-player or reshowing BBC2 12/12 12.55am
China’s Vision of the Future – showing on National Geographic

They are really interesting and eye-openers to the future.

Investment of $36 billion in 12000 miles of high-speed rail.
Facial recognition database of over 1.3 billion people
Commercial vehicle drivers permanently on camera.
Everything done on mobile phones – even giving money to a busker.
New cities for millions.
Unbelievable tech.
Drone food delivery.
People monitored on their phones and sent for re-education if necessary.

What China has achieved in not much more than the last 10 years is both amazing and rather scary.

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Those living in the West have helped the Chinese economy grow. China still has a long way to go to tackle environmental problems and provide their citizens with a safe living and working environment.

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I know this is the off topic lobby but could we steer away from graphic descriptions of violence?

We are trying to nurture a welcoming community here and this sort of comment will make a lot of people feel like Convo is not for them.

Thank you, Abby.

I question whether there should be any comments on other countries’ internal affairs in Which? Conversation unless they relate directly to UK consumer interests or products.

Every time we stray into these areas – where I suggest most of us are generally under-informed – the result is an unpleasant argument and disputatious comments.

I would agree with this and something that we are going to keep an eye on.

I’ll go along with what John says regarding unpleasant argument.

I don’t think we should ignore what happens in other countries regarding consumer issues. I feel that we have missed out on discussing the role of consumer associations and the opportunities to work together, particularly within Europe.

That last is a very good point, Wave.

Welcome to Miners’ Day, the day in 1975 of the Balcombe Street Siege and the day in 1996 when Mashonaland defeated England in a first-class tour match.

My Doctor said “Do you drink to excess?” I told him I’d drink to anything.

Some people drink to make other people interesting.

A pal told me his wife drives him to drink. I told him he was lucky; I’ve always had to walk.

It is hard not to feel quite negative with the quality of politicians asking for our votes next week, the irrelevance of Brexit in, or out, and the impending implosion of the world as we know it. NHS promises, more police, social care and new roads and rail, are all short term items to fix current problems they don’t address the need to grapple with a changing world that is rapidly demanding change. This overarching catastrophe will make any other planning redundant. The big question is how much time we have at our disposal to get on top of this situation. It doesn’t seem popular at the moment to discuss this publicly, and no government has openly told us what they are going to do and the time scale of doing it, other than give a 2050 target to make things better. Ian’s war footing is not unreasonable and the sooner we get used to making changes the better it will be. Of course we can’t do it alone and other countries will have to be working in the same way. In the meantime, roll on Christmas and enjoy what’s left of the status quo.

VynorHill says: It is hard not to feel quite negative with … the impending implosion of the world as we know it.

I perpetually attempt to remain optimistic but when I read the BBC news today it was difficult. The Joseph McCann and Jonty Bravery stories leapt out for their depiction of the worst of humankind. The thought of what the families of those affected so severely will go through for the remainder of their lives is truly heart rending and begs some serious questions about exactly how we assess the mental health of those who go on to commit such unbelievable savagery.

I’m with you on Christmas, Vynor, my favourite time of the year. I just hope that some of its spirit will remain long after New Year has passed.

And now, having read a selection of the uninformed rants considered comments that are currently pouring in I feel even more depressed.

Me too.

Vynor wrote: “It doesn’t seem popular at the moment to discuss this publicly, and no government has openly told us what they are going to do and the time scale of doing it, other than give a 2050 target to make things better.”

Absolutely. Any political party that tries to make us face up to reality will not be popular. Rescuing our planet from our current lifestyle, driven by consumerism, is too important to be left to any political party and should be tackled independently. We have our individual concerns about priorities but I feel that much of this is based on what changes would affect us least.

The large number of comments in the ‘consumer agenda’ Convo presumably represent concerns typical of the general public. Not surprisingly, some of them are poorly articulated, out of date or just plain wrong, but overall these comments demonstrate that many do not have a happy and healthy life that many of us take for granted.

It may well be that many people do not see how their individual efforts can affect this (otherwise we might, perhaps, see very different car buying statistics for example). It may also be that many people do not see how the UK can affect this in any significant way on its own and certainly not without detriment. I believe we will need to achieve some real and widespread international acknowledgement that the problem is so serious that action must be taken. Only a concerted international effort can deal with the measures necessary, and on a level playing field.

Individual efforts often seem to be not worthwhile if other people don’t make an effort. There is not a lot of government advice or incentive to live a sustainable lifestyle. I was born after WW2 but those who lived through it have said that the government did play an active role in promoting the common good.

One of the reasons I believe that the UK should remain in the EU is to help us work together – a concerted international effort as you put it.

I wonder just what it would take to form a World Government?

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Duck?

Many might prefer Vladimir, or some other potentate.

I like the idea of an independent body to deal with climate and pollution. It would have to have teeth and could well become the government of tomorrow if its recommendations are not taken up by number ten. Then, at last, we would have a government that represented us rather than a faction dedicated to party and not country. However evidence so far shows that hung parliaments dither and vacillate and individual members take their own journeys depending on which clique they belong to. Do we then have a dictatorial democracy? There will be many unpopular decisions to be made, and government would not be concerned about majorities and keeping seats in parliament and parliament would consist of members of the climate committee, all of whom there to concentrate on saving the planet and little else. There would have to be a sub committee to run the country, perhaps based in the House Of Lords. Interesting -er and interesting -er as Alice might have said.