/ Motoring, Technology

This week in comments – DVDs, bananas and being throttled

Close up shot of a bunch of bananas

Is it right that a loophole’s been closed that may put an end to cheap DVDs? Should it be easier to calculate the cost of a banana or see exactly what broadband speed we’re getting? Here’s what you’ve been saying…

Can you rely on Tripadvisor?

Many of you shared good advice for people who haven’t used TripAdvisor before, like Polly:

‘I use TripAdviser and post on it a lot. Never been disappointed yet but you do need to treat it with care. Look for reviews that are balanced, cross check against other sites, and lookout for the obvious posts by friends or rivals. Use caution over people who only post once, and check out reviews of regular reviewers – are they happy or discontented with everywhere?’

GD Kent had more to add:

‘TripAdvisor can only be considered as a guide – at the end of the day it is up to the person concerned to use common sense and make the final decision. As a test I take the total number of reviews and then work out as a percentage the number of good, terrible and excellent reviews. If the excellent fall below 50% of the total number of reviews, I may look more closely and see if there’s a reason.’

Tax loophole closed – the end of cheap DVDs?

The government is closing a loophole which helps online retailers sell cheap DVDs bought from the Channel Islands. J-P says it’s long overdue:

‘As public libraries are being closed, how can Amazon have spent so long using this loophole to avoid paying tax, while claiming in publicity blurb that the Kindle means it’s dedicated to improving people’s literacy? The whole principle of taxation is that the functioning of essential local and national state services is more important than the purchasing of cut-price non-essential consumer goods.’

Les D isn’t bothered either:

‘I don’t think it will make too much difference. Sainsbury’s is already selling Harry Potter part two for £9 and that’s in store with VAT paid. So this step won’t help the high street – but as you rightly say more VAT in the government’s coffers.’

Why’s it so hard to work out the cost of a banana?

Seven mini bananas cost 99p for the bunch (or 14.1p each); loose bananas cost 68p per kg – can you work out what’s cheapest? Terry can, but he still agrees unit pricing should be clearer:

‘I’m a Chartered Accountant so I feel comfortable with numbers and I’ve noticed this ‘marketing scam’ by Tesco’s, Sainbury’s and Asda of late. I normally can’t be bothered to calculate what is the best deal. So well done Which? for highlighting this!’

Ex-maths teacher Richard, on the other hand, thinks we just need to make a bit more effort when shopping:

‘To me it’s simple – take the mini bananas and weigh them on the scales usually provided – then you will have the price per kg for both items – the choice is easy. At least it was when I taught everyday maths at school – has the standard of sums dropped that low? I don’t think so, though the level of laziness has grown.’

Is your broadband speed being ‘throttled’?

When our deputy tech editor Andy Vandervell said ISPs should be more upfront about their ‘traffic management practices’, John Ward was quick to defend the practice of ‘throttling’:

‘Calm down Andy – it’s only a communications system. Roads are busy in the peaks, so are trains and buses. Surprise, surprise! Broadband is busy in the peaks. No big problem really – we don’t need to get stressed out over milliseconds.

‘Oh yes – let’s get all ISPs to standardise their definitions and then let’s audit them and publicise the results; and who’s going to take a blind bit of notice? Fewer than 1% in my opinion.’

But many, like Wavechange, felt put-out by the practice:

‘I disagree, John. Until we all put pressure on the ISPs they will continue to misrepresent what they are providing. My ISP provides up to 24Mbps service and I usually achieve a 5Mbps download speed, sometimes up to 7Mbps. If they marketed this as 5Mbps or less I would be happy, but ‘up to’ represents little more than dishonest marketing.’

When should we follow ‘dry clean only’ labels?

How much should we follow clothes labels that tell us to ‘dry clean only’? Sammshine’s advice has earned her this week’s commenter of the week accolade!

‘I studied textiles at university and it was a known fact that many retailers put ‘dry clean only’ on their labels to avoid the expensive fabric testing process. Checking the content of the fabric and using my common sense has always saved on large dry cleaning bills. If all else fails hand wash gently in a special handwash detergent in cool/cold water. Hang to dry on a good hanger (or woollens lie flat on rack over bath) out of direct sunlight.’

Comments have been edited due to length, so make sure to read them in full on their relevant Convos (by clicking on the red title link).