/ Which? Membership

Live Discussion: get more involved with Which?

On Tuesday, 29 October, join us for a live conversation over lunch where we’ll be talking about how you can get involved at the AGM, and more generally, to help shape the future of Which?.

For the first time at this year’s AGM we will be hosting workshops for ordinary members prior to the meeting.

Starting at 11am on Saturday, 23 November, these workshops will give you the chance to:

  • Learn about how we test our products
  • find out more about our campaigns
  • hear about our Which? Connect panel, and how you can help contribute to researching consumer insight.

If you’d like to attend the AGM and workshops, please email agm@which.co.uk with your name, membership number, and what workshops you’d like to be involved with.

Joining in the discussion are:

  • Tamsin Larcombe, Head of Member and Supporter Engagement.  She is keen to hear more about how members want to get involved, as well as share an insight into how we’re planning on working with members in the future.
  • Mark Allan, Manager of our Data and Analysis Team, who will talk more about getting involved with the Which? Connect panel, and
  • Representatives of the team organising this year’s AGM.

Are you planning on attending the 2019 AGM on 23 November?
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If you have any questions in these areas, please feel free to join us from 1:30 to 2:30 pm on Tuesday, 29 October. Comments will be open from 9am.

Comments

From the intro ….to help shape the future of Which?
This is starting to sound like a stuck record !!!

Two years ago next month, we put a lot of effort into a convo : Help us shape the future of Which?
This is your space to discuss all things related to Which?, including our governance. Together with other Which? Members and our Ordinary Members you can discuss our past, present and help shape our future.

18 pages and 1415 comments that have seen little practical response from Which?

There have been many offers of help from the regulars here on the convos e.g. test run surveys, create avatars for posters. Will these offers ever be accepted?

Hi Alfa, I am really keen that you continue to let us know your ideas and suggestions for ways that members and supporters can get involved in what we test and campaign on, so please do keep them coming in. We have been running several small tests over the past few months – some of which you may have seen such as asking what members would like us to test first and we’ve also invited members to come and see how we test printers, and we’d love to do lots more of this going forwards. This year’s AGM is also taking a more interactive format, so there will be lots of opportunity here to get more hands on and see how we test. For Ordinary Members we also launched ‘The Insider’ programme this year to try and bring more behind-the-scenes content forward. This has included a series of regular emails and one printed supplement. We have received really valuable feedback from members on this and will continue to evolve this based on hearing from members. If you aren’t receiving these emails, and are an Ordinary Member we can add you.

Tamsin and Jessica: I have a very simple question: why will Which? not make use of volunteers? I don’t mean simply filling out surveys, but actively taking on some of the roles within Which?.

Hi, Jessica. We have, in fact volunteered to do several things. As for examples…

1. Proof and dry-run connect surveys. That would catch any unintended faux pas before they were released

2. Assist with out of hours and weekend moderation duties. We could rota ourselves and – with training – catch any undesirable phrases or sneaked adverts.

3. Help develop ideas and topics for W? Cs.

4. Work with the testing teams on long term reliability trials. That’s something W? badly needs to address.

They’re just four examples. There are many others.

I would like to see a huge improvement in product reviews.

If you haven’t read them, I have brought up:
Spiralizer Reviews
Bathroom Scales
Food Processors

I found those Which? reviews next to useless in helping me make an informed purchase choice.

I want reviews to include images of ‘What’s inside the box’ and results of tests. Food processors did start showing images after I suggested it, but stopped again. Stars out of 5 are meaningless. Where reviews are based on test results I want to see those results.

Are there any plans to improve Which? reviews?

I envisage that this sort of information could be provided online and include short videos as well as the photos you suggest, Alfa.

When we complain about other on line facilities it often revolves around people who do not have online access or are not good at using it. Sometimes it is suggested many lie in the more elderly age group. I suspect many Which? members might be in that category.

It may not, of course, be that significant – or it may be. That is why I want reasonably comprehensive test reports in print, for those who just have to reach for the magazine. I am all for having a lot more comprehensive results on line – the space is available. But key information, stand alone information, should not be thus restricted with just brief tasters in the mag. We have the space – just restore the 8 missing pages. 8 missing pages?? This time last year there were 84 pages – so we seem to have lost 16 🙁 . Really? Is there a bit of hoodwinkery here?

Incidentally, Private Eye packs a huge amount into its 52 pages, each page weighing just 78% of Which? Sad to examine such things, I know. But perhaps we could save a little bit more of the planet by taking a leaf out of their mag?

Thanks wavechange, I forgot to mention videos of products in action during testing.

I agree with malcolm on product testing and also think it should be restored to the missing pages.

I hope that readers will come to recognise the opportunity to have detailed information online. It’s quick and easy to take multiple photos and informative videos. I would prefer to help readers see the advantage of looking online. For example, if you are specifically looking for a product with specific features it is easy to use the filters on the Which? website, making it easy to exclude those products of no interest. Many of the older people I know have good computer skills and there are plenty who can help the others to get up to speed. Perhaps it would be useful to include an article showing the benefits of using the website reviews and introducing the Which? Reviews app to those who have not used it.

I’m for quality not quantity in the magazine.

I’m for an informative magazine.

I don’t want a glossy for a casual coffee table read; it is not something occasional people pick up on a bookstall. I want a useful reference magazine – journal would be the word in professional communities.

I do not think it right that we should exclude those who do not have, or like, online or do not have a suitable smart phone. Just as with online banking – great for the many who want to use it, not for those who don’t. Supplementary information and useful facilities on line are fine but keep the essentials – and they can be quite comprehensive – in a proper size print publication.

Please can we have the opportunity to help improve Which? Connect surveys? Since these surveys are used to provide Which? with information that is used to assess product reliability, etc. it is important that the information is trustworthy.

Hi wavechange,

Thank you very much for sharing your feedback with us. We are ever striving to improve our surveys and if you are referring to anything in particular please email connecthelpdesk@which.co.uk and one of our researchers would be happy to discuss in more detail.

With regards to our reliability surveys, we survey thousands of our members whilst trying to capture as much product reliability information as possible in order to obtain the most comprehensive and robust results as possible.

How would you like to get involved in helping to improve our surveys?

Thanks for your prompt reply, Mark. I will give this some thought and be in touch soon.

Reliability surveys are too vague as model numbers are needed to give meaningful results. Nearly every brand has good and bad products.

We have offered to test-run surveys on several occasions. One major problem is they have no back button. I was interrupted during my last survey and didn’t realise until too late that I had given wrong answers, but there was nothing I could do about it.

Some questions are badly worded or missing what could be important answers. The online supermarket shopping survey missed out asking questions about Ocado so my answers gave a false impression.

Test runs could put surveys right before they go out live.

Thanks for sharing this alfa.

It is a good point regarding model numbers in that it would be more accurate, however we are concerned that it would be very challenging for members to find model numbers for products they had owned in the past.

We are aware that some individuals would like a back-button, however it is standard practice in market research to not include one as we want to obtain initial responses and for respondents to not to change their response. If you email our Helpdesk we can reset your responses which will enable you to start the survey again.

The online supermarket survey would not include Ocado as the criteria stated “”Please do not include any food or grocery purchases as these are included in our annual supermarket survey”” so we would have included it in the annual supermarket survey.

We have quality assurance processes in place to ensure the surveys contain as few errors as possible, however if you can think of alternate ways to help, we’d be happy to hear it. Again, email connecthelpdesk@which.co.uk and we will get back in touch.

I agree, Alfa. When completing a survey it’s essential to know what information will be needed, so that we can check dates. There needs to be the opportunity to go back to correct errors or move information to a more relevant page.

As you say, most brands have both good and bad products. Clear evidence comes from the same brand having both ‘Best Buy’ and ‘Don’t Buy’ products.

Hi Mark,

The September survey was on grocery shopping.

A question was:
Which, if any, of the following online supermarkets have you bought groceries from in the last 6 months?
I ticked Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
I selected ‘About once a week’ for shopping at Ocado, much less for the others.

The questions were then:
We would now like to ask you about shopping for groceries online with Asda / Sainsbury’s / Tesco online…

But no Ocado where I do most of my online grocery shopping.

Hi all,

Thank you for sparing the time to get involved with our webchat. I’m Mark and I head up the Data & Analysis Team that are responsible for producing and analysing the surveys on Connect. If you have any questions on Connect, or the research we conduct please get in touch.

You will also find me at the AGM running a stand on the research we deliver – from undercover investigations on Car Hire companies to mince pie taste testing. If you can make it, please do come down and get involved; it’s always great to meet our members.

The Which Connect Surveys seem to have an unusual compilation of questions, which you might understand posing but which we puzzle over. A basic description of what any Which? Survey will achieve and how this feeds into your testing would be useful. The magazine usually gives a brief opinion -sometimes a small paragraph and a picture of something. This has no connection with anything you have asked us about. The one major test does have a chart at the end, but, again the link between it and any survey is unclear. How do you decode surveys into magazine text?
Would you agree that the focus of the magazine is now on information and not on testing? Would you agree that this is easier to produce and that your finances are unable to cope with rigorous testing on any scale now? Would you also agree that your facility to test is now less than it was and you look elsewhere for it?

Hi VynorHill,

This is useful feedback you’re sharing, thank you. If you’re referring to our Combo surveys then I agree, it does look like an unusual compilation of questions however the purpose of these questions is to help target appropriate members and not send multiple surveys to them if they do not qualify – for example, we do not want to email people questions about gardening if they do not have a garden. The suggestion of how the survey data feeds into the testing feedback is a good suggestion, I’ll suggest that to our reearchers and editors.

We have conducted research into what members would like to see in the magazines and it was clear that members would like to hear more insightful, long-read pieces with some testing information. The main testing details can be found online.

Our testing programme has not changed, we still invest heavily in testing our products and our scientists develop comprehensive programmes to measure their reliability / usability etc. We are not always able to test all products ourselves and in these instances we do contract laboratories to test them for us, although programmes are still designed by our expert scientists.

Thankyou Mark.

Thinking about what you have said, it would seem that you are now separating the magazine from product testing in its detailed form, allowing one such test per copy. Your tests are now almost exclusively on line. I appreciate many of your “inciteful” articles and, as noted elsewhere read these with interest. It is useful to understand your intentions for the magazine, but regret that the brief tests, where you highlight products, are not that informative and I do miss the full tests that Alfa has talked about.
On another subject, there are many examples – daily- where comments in this Convo site might produce an informed reply from any one of you. This seldom happens. I outlined a recent eye appointment and hoped someone might look at the financial implication of this. Others have regularly raised issues and provided answers among themselves, almost in a vacuum. This hour -far too short and sudden – is an example of ways in which we can interact with you. Let’s have a few more.

I second a few more of these sessions Vynor. Perhaps one specifically on product testing?

Hi everyone, thanks for tuning into our latest live convo. I’m Jessie and I’m an Event Manager here at Which? (and a Convo novice). As you will know, we are hosting the AGM at our London HQ on 23rd November. This year, the AGM is changing. Before the formal meeting, we will be running workshops to give you the inside scoop on our research and testing, as well as hosting sessions on our campaigning work. We hope this new format will enable more of you to get involved and learn more about our organisation. If you’re planning on joining us on the 23rd November, please email your Ordinary Member number and name to agm@which.co.uk. If you have any questions about the event, please fire away!

Hi everyone, great to have you involved in our Convo. I’m Tamsin and I head up the newly formed Member & Supporter Engagement team here at Which?. I’m really looking forward to the new format AGM this year as it will offer a great opportunity for members to get even more involved than ever before, so I hope to see you all there.

There have been many suggestions over the recent past, and indeed before, as to the willingness of Members to get involved and what they could offer, constructively, to Which?. One way to see how we might “to help shape the future of Which?” could be to review and respond to these suggestions.

Personally, I see Which? as a Members association which implies that there should be a real role for Members in “helping” Which? in its ordinary work, not just governance. I believe, for example, Which? would benefit, as would subscribers, from asking (an appropriate group of) them to comment on some matters before they are released – campaigns, more controversial articles, surveys for example. There is no wish to control what Which? does but some of what might be seen as “less than balanced” matters could be avoided.

Connect is picked out by others for attention. It should be a huge source of information but many see its questions as sometimes too general to be useful. We want to see – most of us – durable products and yet the surveys, as is said above does not readily lead to this evaluation. It is not an easy job, but needs to be tackled.

I am, so far, reserving judgement on the new magazine format until have have seen a couple more issues. I just hope that the ed. is listening to the constructive comments made.

I am hoping that, at the AGM, the commitment to engage more with Members and involve them in the CA’s affairs will be more than just a recurring promise. It will, I believe, be to the benefit of both Which? and its subscribers.

I’ll finish by suggesting three topics that should be top of the list for real attack;
1. Setting up a proper product recall system
2. Campaigning for proper policing, and penalties, for the marketing of unsafe and harmful product – as through amazon, for example.
3. Striving not just to recycle plastic, but to focus more on minimising its use in non-reusable and unnecessary, packaging.

Thanks Malcolm, this is really useful feedback, and all of this has definitely come up in discussions here at HQ. Hope to see you at the AGM.

I have a few questions and comments

Is it necessary for paid members only to be allowed to attend the workshops, or can unpaid forum regulars like myself go too?

When Which product reviewers find a flaw or see something needing improvement, do they ever get in touch with the product design team at the manufacturer and ask for design changes? If not, why not?

Will unpaid forum regulars ever be allowed to join the Which Connect panel?

It often seems that Which including the staff overseeing the Conversation part of the website, are willing to open conversations about all sorts of things, but not really do anything substantial to follow them up with the people who matter, namely the companies where companies are involved, and also MPs where legislation and consumer protection needs improving. Why is that?

Wavechange for example has been talking for a long time about Trading Standards needing improving, and I myself have seen how ineffective the Advertising Standards Authority and Action Fraud are. Which has not once tried to involve MPs in a campaign to change them, prefering instead to concentrate on single issue campaigns like nuisance calls. It’s not enough. You can’t open a campaign for every problem in the country, so why not just focus on improving the things that will help everyone with their problems?

Hi Wev, thank you for your comment. I’ll take your question about opening up the workshop element of our AGM to our forum regulars. The AGM is only open to our Ordinary Members but we are looking at ways to engage with our supporters through other events next year. We are also going to be based in London train stations next week, talking to members of the public about the variety of work Which? does. If you’re in the area and want to come along for a chat, we will be at Victoria all day on Tuesday, Fenchurch Street all day on Wednesday and Charing Cross all day on Thursday.

Thanks for the chat everyone!

I have to sign-off and head to some meetings but I’ll check back in later this week and respond to your additional comments.

If you want to have more discussions about Connect or Which? research, you can find me at the AGM on the 23rd.

A question for when you return, Mark: some time ago a few of us were discussing some fairly dire Connect surveys and we made the following offer. Several of us were more than willing to dry-run each survey and provide feedback before they went live for the connect panels. We never heard anything more.

Q: Were you ever told about the offer and, if so, why have you not accepted it?

On surveys………

The Monthly Combo Survey arrived on 25th October. I have just gone to do it but found it closed yesterday. Only available for 3 days? Not really long enough is it?

The previous survey on vegetables arrived on 18th October and is available until 1st November.