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!

This Lobby is closed to new comments

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.  🙂

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Welcome to the Lobby!

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


Welcome to the International Day of Sign Languages, the day in 1642 when Harvard (Massachusetts) opened its doors and the day in 1938 a Time capsule, to be opened in 6939, was buried at the World’s Fair in NYC (capsule contained a woman’s hat, man’s pipe & 1,100′ of microfilm)

I really hope the capsule is hermetically sealed and filled with an inert gas in a temperature controlled environment. If not, it’s already probably useless.

Squirrels always behave as though it’s their first day of being a squirrel.

Nuts, isn’t it?

Once the red squirrels get older they seem to turn grey.

My daughter told me she wants to be a secret agent. Based on that alone, I don’t think she’d be a good secret agent.

There was a school kid who wanted to work in a chemistry lab but did not tell his friends or parents. I think he was a secret reagent.

As I get older and remember all the people I’ve lost along the way. I think to myself maybe a career as a tour guide wasn’t for me.

Given the continuing economic impact of coronavirus and the mitigation measures in force, is it not time to question the promotion and purchase of foreign-made products in markets where there are home-made equivalents or substitutes? There are good cars made in the UK so why should anyone consider buying a German or Korean one at this time? The same is true for many domestic products and Which? could use its influence to guide people more to the UK-made alternatives where they are available. I realise this is difficult because we have lost so much manufacturing capacity over the last few decades and buying a British brand is no guarantee of a British product, but we have to start somewhere.

The whole concept of ‘fast fashion’ has to be challenged and replaced by an emphasis on style with durability and a reduction in cheap imports. Somehow we have to change consumers’ attitudes.

We have the people and we have the intelligence [because many foreign products are based on UK design work] so should it be impossible to provide the capacity?

I almost forgot – we also have the Brexit implications to contend with which should be another spur to developing our self-sufficiency.

A recent press release from Which?

Which? comments on First Minister urging Scottish families not to travel abroad over October break
22 September 2020
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said:

“While the advice for people in Scotland not to book holidays abroad over the October break may be sensible to prevent further spread of the virus, it does not help those who have already booked a holiday, many of whom will have done so several months ago. These people face losing out as airlines remain free to ignore the advice and pocket customers’ money.

“There cannot be one rule for holidaymakers and another for airlines. If people are being asked not to travel, then airlines should be made to provide rebooking at no additional cost or refund options to their customers, to prevent them from being left out of pocket or putting public health at risk by taking a holiday they can’t afford to cancel.”

Fair enough, but I hope that Boris will follow the example of Nicola Sturgeon.

Those who booked holidays abroad should have been aware that travel restrictions could be imposed at any time but, more importantly, should have known that they were exposing themselves (that’s fair enough) but also others (that is not fair enough) to health risks that may prove fatal. A responsible approach would have been to avoid overseas holidays.

I returned from the derelict house today with two out of date cartons of fruit juice. I decided it would be unwise to drink them and consigned them to the sink in the boat. Wondering whether this was also unwise, I looked out of the window to discover the small fry outside having a field day, or a watery equivalent of one. It would seem that fish have a liking for sweet things, even if they can’t have a sweet tooth.

Yesterday I spent most of the day defrosting the fridge freezer with bowls of hot water which turned cold in seconds and dripping towels draped all over the floor which needed periodic wrenching out at regular intervals. The remaining food was placed in a cool bag and left outside in a shady spot but I finished up throwing it all away so as not to risk food poisoning. I resisted a quick fix with the hair dryer until near the end when the last chunk of ice showed it’s reluctance to melt.

Due to its age I have today been searching for a replacement on Which? Best Buys that doesn’t need defrosting, but there are so many it’s hard to choose. It has to support a metal fire retardant back and it won’t be made by Whirlpool.

Hi Vynor – I hope your ‘derelict house’ starts to look better soon. It’s very sensible to move out when there is a lot of dust in the air.

Beryl: we’re just buying a new, metal-backed FF. The almost top best buy we’re getting is an LG, but the one we wanted wasn’t available as stocks had run out country-wide and the pandemic had caused a drop in supplies from Korea. The one we’re getting is 204cm high and a little wider than the previous model but we can fit it in.

All our FFs and Freezers are self-defrosting, and defrosting them manually is something we don’t miss one bit.

We had very good service from an LG fridge freezer at our previous home. We couldn’t bring it with us when we moved, as we would have liked, because, being an American-style appliance, it was too wide for the space available. We bought a Samsung which has also proved to be very satisfactory and appears to accommodate just as much food.

Defrosting freezers was certainly a bit of a bind, especially if the interval between defrosts was too long. We used to start running down the food stocks some time ahead, so this was a diarised exercise. It was alright in a cold winter when they could be kept outside overnight using icepacks and coolboxes, but the whole process of unloading, cleaning and restocking was one of the worst household chores.

I suggest you order as soon as possible, Beryl. Back in March, freezers were either unobtainable or prices had been pushed up, thanks to people wanting to store more food. Fridge-freezers were in short supply too. Having been told that people are stocking up on toilet rolls again, there could be another shortage of appliances.

Appliances increasingly have ‘smart’ features, especially more expensive models. That’s fine if you want your phone to communicate with them but it adds to price and might not help reliability.

Many thanks. Yes dust everywhere but I have had fun planning new kitchens and bathrooms this week. Roofing starts soon, all the joists are in place.

Welcome to International Happiness at Work Week, the day in 1930 when Noël Coward’s Private Lives premiered in London and the day in 1952 when American fast food restaurant chain KFC opened its first franchise in Salt Lake City, Utah

Chaos, panic, & disorder – my work here is done.

In your dreams. There’s always room for incompetence to flourish when things start to go well again.

I don’t mean to brag but I’m helping a Nigerian Prince with a pretty serious financial matter. I can’t really talk about it.

Let me know if you want any references. I am in contact with someone who has a selection of recommendations suitable for most circumstances. He is well known to all the banks and authorities so is guaranteed to serve you right. Our fees will be recovered secretly without you even noticing.

No doubt at a decent price, John. It’s a steal.

One day I’ll look up from my phone and realise my children have put me in a nursing home.

If you had followed their posts on social media you could have known sooner.

Make sure you ask your solicitor to draw up the new kind of ‘Payback Time’ will. Keep it secret and your offspring will be sure of a nice surprise for which you will be forever in their memory.

Something odd happening with pointers. In the All Recent Activity list, clicking on comments from Beryl and Malcolm lead to nowhere.

Ian – Beryl has managed to create a wandering comment that has a mind of its own on where to stand. Not joking, but I am sure I first saw it near Canada underneath one of your witty aperçus, although it can pop up anywhere now.

I have reported this comment. It’s possible that it was a reply to a post that was removed.

You are right, Wavechange. The post to which it was linked has been removed. I suppose to a certain audience it could be presumed to give rise to possible offence if untouched by humour. It was a quasi-political comment on the American mentality which is, I might suggest, a universal truth. Satire is one of the cornerstones of British humour and it is a shame to see it suppressed.

Or in other words it’s all down to Ian 😉

Good grief. The only people that joke could possibly offend are Trump supporters or those whose sense of humour was extracted surgically at birth. This place is becoming absurdly precious.

I don’t remember the post, otherwise I might have made a better joke.

Spot on John, my comment was part joke with a little, I hope, discretionary innuendo thrown in. Trouble is it should have been removed as it continues to unrelate to any other comment added above it.

Spot on John, my comment was part joke with a little, I hope, discretionary innuendo thrown in. It should have been removed as it unrelated to any other comment appearing above it.

I received what I assume to be a scam mentioning both the Office of Fair Trading and National Trading Standards. The caller evaded the question when I asked for some details of the role of NTS so I ended the call.

Since the Office of Fair Trading was closed over six years ago it is a fairly ignorant scam but no doubt catches some people out.

Yes, but I don’t think it would help to educate scammers. Maybe last year I had a call about my British Telecom shares. 🙁

Packet racket – Two-thirds of branded grocery packaging not fully recyclable.

I have not seen much evidence of packaging improvements but was pleased to receive paper towels wrapped in paper rather than plastic.

Sadly, some of the contents of the unrecyclable packaging are not particularly good for us either, but that’s a different problem.

We have a tall pedal bin in the kitchen which is used almost entirely for unrecyclable food packaging – metallised paper, plastic film, black trays, etc – and it fills up every fortnight in line with the general rubbish bin emptying, for which it is the major component. Most of the products mentioned by Which? in the press release are not on our shopping list but those that are give rise to too much waste material.

Why can toothpaste tubes not be made of metal instead of plastic? And why do they have to be in a box [albeit made from recycled paper – it all adds weight]. Years ago breakfast cereals like Shredded Wheat and Weetabix did not come wrapped in paper inside the box; they were loose – so why was that changed?

Now that Which? has drawn attention to this issue, the next logical step is to help consumers to make sense of the TerraCycle system which, in my view, is distinctly not consumer-friendly.

I noticed reference to TerraCycle on the foil outer packaging for Fairy dishwasher pouches [“Bag recyclable when returned to TerraCycle”]. The TerraCycle website address was given on the back of the packet so I looked it up

Perhaps it works well for the more enthusiastic recycler but I was not impressed; I consider myself dedicated to the cause yet found that the TerraCycle website was not easy to navigate, it does not give clear and easily assimilated information on how the system works, and I could not find out where their 300 recycling collection points were. Maybe with many more clicks the relevant information would be revealed but exploring the options on the website to find the recycling solutions is a time-consuming process. Unless I have misunderstood, it would seem that users have to register and log-in, which is a further barrier to uptake.

Buying a special cardboard box for each different kind of unrecyclable waste that could then be taken to a collection point seems like a good idea but it is unlikely to attract the less committed householder. Some special items arise so infrequently in the average household that the process is very inefficient and will not meet people’s needs which, at the basic level, is to dispose of their household waste. Since most people have limited storage capacity for such receptacles we must continue to strive to get the regular municipal collection more comprehensive and with less separation requirements in order to maximise participation.

I would suggest that, in the light of its exposé, Which? now works with TerraCycle to improve its presentation, de-mystify its process, explore a cheap and easy way to achieve its purpose, make it easier to find and access outlets, and publicise its existence to improve its popularity.

Which? also needs to keep the pressure up on manufacturers to reduce the amount of unrecyclable packaging. At the moment they seem to be concentrating on making as few changes to their existing material as they can rather than thoroughly re-engineering it to make it more recyclable and less profligate in the use of resources of all types. An annual statement from Which? on what they have achieved in that direction in the previous period would be welcome.

Which? continues to highlight our problems with waste, as does BEUC. I am not optimistic about making significant progress until legislation is in place to dictate to businesses what packaging alternatives must be used for different classes of products. It is important that we put products in the correct bin to avoid recyclable materials becoming contaminated with others and the whole lot being sent for incineration or landfill.

While on the subject of consumer waste, we came across a dreadful example the other day. Our fortnightly Sainsbury’s delivery came and, for the first time in our memory, there were no unavailable items and no substitutions [perhaps we have learned what not to ask for]. But there were things we certainly did not order and did not want: 52 unspeakably ugly little picture cards that were something to do with Lego. They came in 13 packets of four kept together in a single-use plastic carrier bag [most of the rest of the shopping was loose and unbagged]. There were no clues why they had been sent, what they were for or what you were supposed to do with them. Each card had an individual partly-comic image of a character, very crudely illustrated and supposedly made out of Lego parts, followed by a few lines of ‘explanatory’ text. One in every packet of four was printed on unrecyclable reflective metallic-surfaced card, the rest on ordinary card. The metallised paper packet was not recyclable.

I could not work out who these playthings were aimed at: the images were possibly suitable for infant school children, but the text was complicated prose with long words that would baffle many eleven-year olds – and I don’t think that age group would be collecting them and swapping them [if indeed that was their purpose – it remains a mystery to me]. The text was reasonably literate even if utterly pointless. Needless to say, these things – possibly designed by Lego as a sort of advertising gimmick – were made in you-know-where and imported for distribution by Sainsburys to their customers.

What a deplorable waste of resources! While not individually heavy or bulky [you could probably get ten million packets inside one shipping container] it is nonetheless entirely unnecessary as well as being completely unwanted by many of the recipients I should expect. Consumerism! I despair!

I agree that It is important to put products in the correct bin to avoid recyclable materials becoming contaminated with others and the whole lot being sent for incineration or landfill. But some councils require too much separation between the recyclables and do not recycle items that other councils seem to have no problems with. There is little consistency of process.

We can use the same bin to recycle anything that is normally recyclable , including glass bottles and jars, plastic spray bottles with their triggers in place, paper shreddings, and nearly all forms of plastic. We can also put out every week, alongside whatever waste category is being collected and in any condition, small electrical items [except lamps and vehicle batteries], shoes, clothes, shoes, boots and hats, and other textiles. There is also a weekly food waste collection. This is comparatively very good but there is still room for improvement.

I do not see why we cannot have a national policy for waste and recycling that all councils work to, with specialist recyclers available to all councils. That might require transporting waste some distance, probably best done at night by rail. Maybe a good use for HS2.

”Which? continues to highlight our problems with waste,
Really? But I can’t say I‘ve seen any real evidence of it attempting to tackle the issue. It may have reported on supermarket packaging in each of the last three years but I have seen no initiatives proposed that would reduce it or make it more recyclable, despite suggestions made in waste Convos by some commenters. Nor do a recall a campaign to tackle packaging waste. Perhaps I’ve missed something.

Welcome to World Dream Day, the day in 1066 of the Battle of Stamford Bridge, when the English army under King Harold II defeated invading Norwegians led by King Harald Hardrada who died, probably from terminal confusion, and the day in1820 when François Arago announced the discovery of electromagnetism when he noted that a copper wire between the poles of a voltaic cell could laterally attract iron filings to itself

You win some, you lose some. Three weeks later King Harold got shot in the eye at Hastings when the Normans invaded and that was the end of Viking rule in England.

Eye am told that the roll call in France immediately prior to the invasion of the Normans was one of the most confusing in history..

. . .whereas in England it was mostly a case of Harold be thy name.

I exercise vigorously almost every day. Friday I almost exercised vigorously, Saturday I almost exercised vigorously, Sunday I almost exercised vigorously..

My mother used to make me walk the plank when I was young. Well, we couldn’t afford a dog.

Can you imagine the embarrassment of mum asking you to walk the hamster?

Cats are a great pet if you’ve ever wanted convenient access to a friend that hurts your feelings.

Well, I see chaos is rampant once again. And all because someone, somewhere thought someone might, just possibly, be mildly offended by a joke about the USA. I trust Which? will now pursue this curse (not an error) of action and campaign vigorously to get Spitting Image removed, Have I Got bit More News For you, removed and any TV programme that might in any way cast the mildest aspersion on the sensitivities of the British Public.

The huge irony of all this is that yesterday, someone emailed me to say they hoped W?Cs would continue, but were unsure if it would, because of the consistent criticism of W? within the forum. W?Cs seems to be dong a good job of terminating itself.

Perhaps Which? could look at Private Eye which is not shy of telling it as it is ( as they see it) and publishing irreverent cartoons and spoofs.

Incidentally they do get a mention in “Keeping the lights on” by branding the Together energy supplier as the 2020 worst supplier for customer satisfaction. The piece once again draws attention to ill-conceived energy suppliers created and subsidised by incompetent local authorities, and their demise. Robin Hood Energy and Bristol Energy. Why local authorities are allowed to play around with council tax payers money in ventures outside their abilities beats me. They should just provide services and leave risky ventures to private capitalists.

Which? would, perhaps, do itself a favour if it actually took part in the Forum.

Here are some serious thoughts from Rowan Atkinson:-

To gain a sense of perspective on this sensitive subject; if you of English heritage were residing in the USA and a participant of an American consumer association made a similar comment about the people residing in the north and south of the United Kingdom, albeit in jest, would you not be a little offended by it?

There are many Americans living in this country who could be offended by this and are slightly perplexed by the satirical humour broadcasted on national TV.

I have always regarded W/C as a forum for debate about consumer issues with a view to finding a solution to the many problems that occur on a daily basis and not so much as a means of entertainment.

On the other hand, I think the dedicated few regular participants provide an excellent service, free of charge, 7 days a week which, to all extent and purposes, is quite a lot to cope with without a little humorous relief from time to time, to lighten the mood, which, in turn, will benefit not just themselves, the consumers they help and, perhaps more importantly, Which? Itself.

Well found, DerekP, and I recommend watching it to the end.
There is a sickness in parts of our society that this sums up, where people look for offence, and I like the term the “outrage industry”. What is worrying is the fear in the police and other authorities that unless they take action they will be taken to task – by that (very) minority industry. I don’t want my life governed by an unrepresentative small minority who would rather use suppression than present a reasoned argument in response.

It would not bother me in the slightest, Beryl. Suppression of speech and opinion is a great peril, and we must ask who has the greater right to impose their views on others?

I was listening to a programme on R4 yesterday about an activist and the tools she (as it happens) used to manipulate people to act in the way she wanted. No proper debate involved, just a view that she was right and therefore others should submit. The argument is not about whether someone is right or wrong but the concept that they have a greater right to have their view respected rather than to engage in reasoned argument, a more protracted process with an uncertain outcome of course.

There is no right not to be offended in law, and the root problem is that everyone can take offence at something.

Hear! Hear! Malcolm.

Which?’s abstention from participation and dialogue is probably what get’s my goat more than anything else.

I think it’s fair to say that any criticism is levelled in a polite and intelligent manner in keeping with the etiquette of this site.

The October issue of Which? magazine has arrived. At a first glance, there is no mention of the opportunity to discuss consumer issues on Convo.

Welcome to Rabbit Day, the day in 1665 that saw the peak of the Great Plague of London as 7,165 people died in one week and the day in 1835 when Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor isa first performed in Naples