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!?


Does anyone here listen to File on 4? Here is a link to a thought provoking documentary about care homes:

Welcome to World Bee Day, the day in 1927 when Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic to Paris, aboard Spirit of St Louis (1st non-stop flight) and the day in 1990 when the Hubble Space Telescope sent its first photographs.

Perhaps the Hubbles were also using Truprint. We used to have to wait an age for our holiday snaps to come back and there were always one or two missing plus one or more from somebody else’s film, but the free roll of film was handy. To any complaint it was always the same answer: “One day your prints will come”..

Were your Truprints in focus?

You should have used Bonusprint, John. I was impressed by their service, sometimes less so with the efforts of myself as photographer. Surprisingly, they still exist but 35mm film cassettes don’t get a mention.

I was actually quite impressed with my photographic abilities with my 35 mm SLR camera. I used to take my film into a nearby branch of Boots and rarely had a problem with the prints. I still have a box full of them – I mainly snapped buildings and places rather than people. They could be of documentary interest now as most of the buildings have gone and the places have changed out of recognition.

Although I later used a compact digital camera and always took it with me when we went on holiday I more or less lost interest in taking photos and rarely had enprints made. It must be over six years since I took a set of pictures and I only have three images on my smartphone. Friends seem to have thousands on theirs.

I bought a new compact camera before Christmas but I’ve not used it other than for test purposes. When normal holidays resume I will use it because it’s more convenient than using a phone when in frequent use.

One of the benefits of using a phone is that the photos are automatically available on computers. I’m one of those with thousands.

A major advantage of real cameras is that users don’t feel compelled to take selfies.

I’m trying to follow the development of the garden through the year with photos, on both phone and digital camera. Gardens change so quickly as different flowers come and go, plants grow, the pond develops, the frost does damage…….. Nice to be able to recapture events that are lost in the past. They have been particularly useful to regularly send to family and friends when they can’t visit and wander around.

It can also remind me where some plants have been planted but disappeared until next year – like bulbs – for when new plants need to be positioned.

I’ve been taking garden photos too. The first one was of a neighbour’s magnolia tree, when she was locked down many miles away. She was very grateful for it.

I find photos invaluable when doing repairs, helping me to put wires etc. back in the right place.

Progress is made by the lazy looking for an easier way to do things.

I read recipes the same way I read romance novels. I get to the end and I think, “Well, that’s not going to happen.”

At least romance novels often have a happy ending. You should not rely on the smoke detector to announce that cooking is complete.

The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.

To cheer us all up (Sung to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes)

They asked me how I knew
What I had was ‘flu,
I of course replied,
(Must not be too snide)
I am satisfied.

They said some day you’ll know,
All pandemics go
Through us in a flash,
Make a ruddy hash
Of our streaming eyes.

So I wrote to Trump and great Fox news,
And asked them for vaccine trials,
And now I find that only bleach is kind
Good to drink in vials,

Now, laughing, one time friends,
Think I’m round the bend.
I was trusting Trump,
I’m back down with a whump,
All he tells is lies.

Thanks for cheering us up, but I did not think the jokes were that bad.

So long as he keeps taking the hydroxychloroquine we should be alright.

Does it have any unpleasant ineraction with disinfectant?

I don’t know, Malcolm. I’m not a medical doctor, as they say in the White House. Unpleasant for the patient perhaps but a welcome relief for the rest of us. Don’t try this at home.

Brilliant, a usual, Ian.

Welcome to Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the day in 1932 when Amelia Earhart landed near Londonderry and the day in 1982 British troops landed on the Falkland Islands

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?

The best way to lie is to tell the truth, carefully edited truth.

I never understood the expression: “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it”. Why promote dishonesty?

One of very many allegorical statements which, taken literally, mean nothing much, but are easy to extrapolate and give a hidden meaning that has a much greater impact. That is because the reader has to make the jump from allegory to actuality and in so doing has paused enough to take note.

Every day, man is making bigger and better fool-proof things, and every day, nature is making bigger and better fools. So far, I think nature is winning.

“George Martin says:
Today 12:51
Hi all, let’s move the thumbs discussion over to the members area please:
It’s a subject that we’ve all discussed a number of times before and many explanations have been given. Jon is off this week but I will raise this with him again when he’s back for further attention.

The reason I started it there, George, was because it arose on comments posted there.

As you say, it has been discussed a number of times, over a long period, with suggestions of reform but no action. Rather like less-than-pleasant comments, the use of negative thumbs can impact on a contributor’s enjoyment of Convos and may contribute to their unwillingness to participate. I’m sure Which? do not want to see new contributors deterred.

Yes I know – my comment applied to all the discussion surrounding the thumbs in that thread and was addressed to everyone – there’s no need for it to be on the topic of driving rules, so I had to intervene at some stage.

Jon has provided a detailed response to the issue here:

That response itself was followed up by a number of questions, which he also addressed. I’m not sure if he set up the poll he referred to in that comment, but I can ask him that next week when he’s back from leave.

Has anyone noticed how some comments attract a single up thumb almost immediately they are posted?

Malcolm – That could be me! If I am catching up I sometimes signify my agreement as soon as a worthy comment appears. I am a bit liberal with up thumbs.

Why do we need the graphic ‘thumbs’? They suggest like or approval on the one hand and dislike or disapproval on the other, whereas their stated meaning is “I agree” or “I disagree” which are far less pejorative attitudes. It could be presented as –


AGREE – 1.

I think whilst agreement does not need explanation unless further information or opinion is provided, disagreement would benefit the Convo if the reasoning or contrary information were provided.

I don’t expect Convos to be a comment popularity contest but a source of useful input to explore particular topics. One reason I don’t like tsunami topics; they are unstructured and seem to achieve nothing apart ftom a place to deposit rants (in many cases).

Vynor’s suggestion of a competition to find a comment that attracts the most thumbs down has attractions. Perhaps we could have a Convo where we could only post credible comments that many might find unpopular. A permanent on holiday flights?

The thumbs have been a source of frequent anguish over the years and there is ample evidence of manipulation, sometimes in a deliberately unpleasant way.

If we are to keep the thumbs, I would like be able to see who is casting the votes, however they are represented. Many will be familiar with this system from using other sites.

This answers Malcolms 14.54 comment.

I noticed that someone had voted up one of my comments while I was away collecting groceries. Next time I looked it had gone. I hope it makes someone happy.

Maybe thumbs have a use to deal with rude comments that don’t deserve reporting but perhaps the best solution is to ignore these comments and say something positive.

I’m trying to find a quality home sound system which has the ability to read flash drives and allows me to scroll through albums/files and not just songs, I contacted Which hoping they could reach out to all Which members with my query but unfortunately they couldn’t oblige, its not something they do, instead they suggested trying Which conversation.
Has anyone got any idea ? My other option is contacting every manufacturer to ask them.

Hello and welcome.
This is a standard feature on car stereos but I don’t know about home sound systems. I suggest giving Richer Sounds a ring. Hopefully someone will be along with more advice soon.

David goodwin says:
21 May 2020

It depends on your budget I’ve got a Naim Uniti Star which is fantastic, I have music on Ext Hdd which I can scroll through. Make favourites play lists etc Through the app.
You can also stream music etc from various sources, Internet radio is on it. Or you can use a network drive.
It’s not cheap but sounds fantastic with a decent set of speakers.
Have a look at the Naim site plus which review

You hit the nail on the head, thats exactly the display I’m seeking, so if exits in cars then there must be some fancier sound systems that provide the same, lets check out David’s system. Thanks

We can forget the app feature as I use a very basic phone with no internet or texts, the closest you get to surfing is the calculator.
I can see you definitely enjoy your listening experience, that is some baby, enjoy it in good health, I’ll wait for some other offers. I’m looking at less then a thousand pounds, I didn’t even know they run that high.
Thanks a million anyway.

Pioneer, Sony and Cambridge all do excellent amps for less.

Sound quality is obviously important but if I was in the market for what Meyer is after I would look at ease of use for viewing and selecting music.

Thanks WaveChange, i’m waiting for a reply fromRicher Sounds

Welcome to Sherlock Holmes Day, the day in 1946 when the first rocket to reach edge of space was fired from White Sands Missile Range and the day in 2014 the Royal Thai Armed Forces staged a coup in Thailand, suspending the kingdom’s constitution and taking control of the government.

“I note that Ian was busy this morning. He typed his following three responses before submitting them. He was anticipating a hot beverage and there was a book beside his computer terminal. ”
“How do you know this Holmes?”
“Elementary my dear Watson (Something Holmes never actually said by the way.) Note the brevity of the texts. That indicates Ian was getting this done in a hurry. The timing of their submission within the same minute tells me that he had prepared them all before hand. The beverage? Just look at the time, who doesn’t enjoy a drink at this time of day? The book, possibly an almanac, would have been handy to check the facts for the day. ”
“You astound me Holmes. So he could have been at home this morning.”
“Precisely Watson, Precisely. “

I’m a great Holmes Enthusiast too; that was excellent, Vynor. As a child I read every Conan Doyle book I could find. Many were utterly bewitching. Until that is, his spiritualist phase. Then not so…

I lost interest in crime and detective stories and drama as soon as I realised they were written from back to front. The same is true of most fiction. When the end is in sight it is much easier to plot the journey. Nevertheless, some novels are quite absorbing.

The same applies to criticism of government. I presume some universities offer degrees in hindsight through their Eng Lit courses.
Vynor mentioned a competition on thumbs down………. 🙁

I needed Mr Holmes when trying to sort out a problem with my plumbing. It is quite a three pipe problem….

I don’t have a solution, but I do admire the problem.

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.

When faced with such options it’s best to do them in the right order.

Ready, aim, fire – or something like that.

People tend to make rules for others and exceptions for themselves.

“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of the wise”.
I wish I knew who first said that.

It was Harry Day, the Royal Flying Corps First World War fighter ace, according to the scriptwriters of Reach for the Sky.

Little did he know that it would be hijacked and appear in countless ‘signatures’ in posts on online discussion groups. 🙁

It must have been a good and apposite line in the immediate post-war era because it was premiered by Richard Todd as Wing Commander Guy Gibson in The Dam Busters film released in 1954, two years before Reach for the Sky.

It’s a sad day for the tourist industry. The collapse of Sheerings and Wallace Arnold mean that many, especially the older population who enjoy that kind of holiday, will find it harder to book one. The associated hotels will become real estate that is probably unsaleable and thousands of jobs will disappear into the ether. This was a very safe, comforting and stress free break for many and difficult to replicate elsewhere. I hope that the local coach firms can repair some of the damage to the industry.
Reading the copy of Which? that arrived today, I was intrigued by the idea of smart appliances -not science fiction- that one can buy now. As I read on, I noted the extra price for such smart technology and then I looked at what extra it could do. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t very much for quite a lot more. The security issues added to this view. Very much, it seems, an idea looking for a place to prosper. I think we shall all be looking for simpler lives when we come out of this crisis and the basics will matter more than the luxuries, especially as we shall all be a lot worse off financially.
I was also struck by the article on media streaming. Most of these are beginning to look like miniature broadcasting stations with their exclusive content and access to other broadcasters for sport and documentaries. The going rate at present seems to be around nine pounds a month to subscribe. I contrast this with Sky and Virgin where fees are typically anything up to fifty pounds monthly, and beyond that too. I wonder if this will become a problem for them? Interesting too, that some of these are owned by Sky as an off shoot to their satellite business.
The car section was enlightening, if limited. Some of these Hybrids had motorway consumption in the twenties to the gallon. The last time I had a car like that was my side valve Ford Popular. My dad’s Rover did about the same. How little has changed!

June hasn’t yet arrived I’m my part of the world, Vynor. PerhapsWhich? should reduce my subscription as the content is less fresh?

I have never been on a coach holiday but understand the attraction for many, particularly the older generation. I hope that we will be more attracted to UK holidays in the future particularly if our current weather is reliably repeated. A shortage of disposable income in the aftermath of COVID-19 might make UK packaged holidays much more popular, to the benefit of coach and hotel operators and the UK economy. The coaches, drivers and hotels will still be there when life begins to return to normal so I’d expect a revival but maybe with new owners.

It’s very sad for everyone involved.

I strongly suggest looking at company accounts before parting with money unless you know that a company is doing well. They show that the parent company was running at a loss.

My magazine arrived on Monday or Tuesday. I don’t see any mention of Convo. 🙁

Shearings et al seem to be owned by an American investment company Lone Star Funds who presumably abandoned them.

A pity, I think, that businesses like these become dependent upon overseas investors who may well take out more than is justified, just as with our care homes. We should get a culture of long term investment from UK individuals, but with proper controls to ensure such companies are allowed to trade sensibly and not bled dry by the greedy with, for example, silly interest rates and service charges. But that might also require oversight from accountancy firms with integrity.

Until a few years ago we used to have one or two week-long breaks in different regions of Britain with companies like Shearings and they were rather enjoyable and relaxing. No driving, and no fiddling about on the railways.

We were picked up from home and delivered back at the end of the trip; sometimes there was a change of coach at an interchange hub but it was all well-organised. It was good to be driven around and have a trouble free-holiday in this country with no worries about border controls, security checks, flight delays, and the other stresses of foreign travel. The hotels were quite good and the company was congenial being more or less in the same age group as us. There were always some spare seats on the coach so there was no feeling of mass travel. It would be a shame if this collapse spelled the end for this sort of holiday. The local coach companies do not offer such interesting breaks, being mainly focussed on day trips and excursions.

I expect another operator will fill the void because the demand is there and possibly growing as the population ages and going abroad becomes less appealing. I don’t suppose Shearings and their associated companies will be the last casualty of the boardroom misdirection that has ruined the travel trade and I echo Malcolm’s comments.

The June issue of the Which? magazine mentions BNPL or ‘Buy now pay later’, which could encourage people to pay for non-essential goods with money they don’t have. It seems that BNPL will not give consumers the protection afforded by credit and debit cards.

Is there a need to encourage consumers wait until they have saved enough to buy what they want, and avoid interest charges?

There certainly is such a need, Wavechange.

I was pleased that the Brighthouse rent-to-own trading model became unviable following government intervention on interest rates, but now BNPL has sprung up tempting people to enter into commitments that might turn out to be beyond their means over the course of the repayment period.

There are costs for retailers offering BNPL which will surely feed into prices.

I don’t understand the significance of BNPL, John. Some well known retailers advertise offers such ‘Buy now and pay nothing for for twelve months’. I presume that BNPL is offering credit on everyday purchases rather than larger purchases, but mail order catalogues did that years ago.

It is a practice going back decades in various forms. Generalised I suppose by credit cards that can charge high interest rates, and misused unauthorised overdrafts, Gaining the use of goods without the means, or desire, to pay up front is/has been common. Car leasing,Radio Rentals, Very…… Where it gets out of hand is when you add more and more goods without realising the lack of disposable income needed to support them. At least with outright purchases you see when your account is empty.

Self control and being aware of your finances are required. That is lacking in some who do not care about the consequences until they hit home.

You are right, Malcolm. I believe that parents could help their children learn that you will have more to spend if you save up and avoid interest charges. Waiting a bit can also avoid higher prices. My father taught me to save and invest I don’t recall my parents ever buying anything on credit. I don’t remember any advice on that but they led by example.

When I bought my last car I was pushed towards interest-free credit even though I assumed that paying cash would be the cheapest option. I turned down this offer and despite considerable effort I could not beat the price and then went back to the salesman and bought the car by monthly interest-free credit over ten or twelve months. The game became apparent when I was invited to trade in my car for a brand new one after twelve months and the payments would not be much more expensive. I politely told the main dealer to stop pestering me and that I might look at buying another car when mine was ten years old.

It’s absolutely appalling, in my view, that successive governments have effectively encouraged young people to live in debt, thanks to student loans. I have a great deal of respect for young people who delay application to university, earn some money and hopefully learn a little about financial perils in the meantime.

It is true that mail order catalogues were a popular way of buying now and paying later, but they seemed to function in a more responsible manner. Some of my relatives had a catalogue and there were people at work who earned a little commission on the side by acting as an ‘agent’.

The terms and the costs for purchases were fully declared with options for either 20 or 38 week’s repayment periods if full payment was not made up front, and the total final cost was clearly shown. There was a way of adding further purchases on credit as the repayments were made but the mail order company did supervise the expenditure patterns of its customers and not allow debts to get out of hand.

Running a mail order catalogue was quite a social experience with whole families involved going through the book and deciding what they wanted and could afford. The mothers seemed to exercise overall control. Catalogues were also shared with relatives, friends and neighbours so there was a collective sense of responsibility to make sure the payments were kept up and the goods were handed over after delivery – after all, you mustn’t let down your friends, neighbours and workmates.

I don’t know what sort of references and creditworthiness checks the catalogue companies carried out but there must have been some form of oversight as I was not aware of any serious debt problems. I would imagine there was some kind of crude socio-economic analysis according to housing type and occupation and some areas were possibly excluded. There was a different sort of moral code in those days with family and community values playing their part.

As a student I ran a Grattan’s Catalogue, so apart from giving them my home address they had no other background as far as remember. And I managed to get everything delivered to my term time address during M, H and T, so I could keep the customers satisfied.

You made very little, in fact, as I remember, but here was a certain fun element to it. Only did it for two years as an undergrad.

Living most of my life within easy access to shops, I have only used printed catalogues to order products that were not available locally or only at silly prices. I cannot remember if they offered easy terms.

The mail order terms were only ‘easy’ if you couldn’t afford to pay it all upfront but interest was charged and the overall cost was much higher than the price. I don’t think a deposit was required.

Another popular form of credit for furniture and household goods was hire purchase [HP] whereby you could buy something but didn’t own it until all the repayments had been made – a bit like the PCP [Personal Contract Purchase] car finance arrangements today. HP was the forerunner and was often referred to as ‘the easy plan’ although a deposit was payable. At least you became the owner after completing the payments.

PCP’s are far more complex and you can only become the owner after making the ‘balloon’ payment at the end of the contract. Most people don’t so enter another PCP ending up paying much more than through alternative methods. I suppose it’s called a ‘balloon’ payment because it’s highly inflated and just keeps rising as the car’s value depreciates.

All these deferred payment plans are problems if any financial insecurity comes along but most people need credit at some point so practical and manageable schemes are needed underpinned by ethical values of the lending institutions.

In the case of my car purchase, the price I paid was exactly what I expected and cheaper than buying it outright. I’m not convinced about the need for PCP etc for new cars because if you can’t afford a new one you are probably better going for a secondhand model with a decent warranty.

Many jobs are not secure and the current situation could push many into unsustainable borrowing.

Welcome to World Product Day, the day in 1785 when Benjamin Franklin announced his invention of bifocals and the day in 1949 West Germany was created out of the American, British and French occupation zones.