/ Which? Membership

Have your say: what should Which? campaign on?

We’re keen to hear which areas of consumer detriment are a key concern for you: what do you think Which? should be campaigning on?

Over the past year we’ve been asking groups of members for their views to shape and prioritise our work. This has helped inform what products we test, the issues we investigate and what supplements are supplied alongside the magazine.

We currently prioritise our work based on the issues we’ve identified as causing the most harm to consumers. These issues include the prevalence of scams, holiday protections, the freedom to pay by cash and combating fake reviews online.

We’re keen to hear what areas are a key concern for you and what you would like us to campaign on. We’re asking you to vote on one of the four topics below to help us prioritise our work:

Product lifespan: Products don’t always last as long as consumers would expect. Should we ask manufacturers to create products such as smart tech and washing machines with longer lifetimes, therefore making them more sustainable?

Electric vehicles: The government has brought the phase out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans forward to 2030. Do you have concerns over the ease and cost of the transition to electric vehicles?

Buy Now Pay Later: Postponed payment schemes are being offered by many retailers. Do you think it’s wrong that shoppers are encouraged to take on credit payment plans by being offered discounts or even being offered pay later options by default at the checkout?

Customer service: The pandemic severely impacted businesses’ capacity and ability to serve their customers. Some companies adapted and innovated well, but complaints on poor customer service have risen across sectors. Do you feel the pandemic is still having an impact on customer service? And is this a priority for you?

Which of these areas should Which? campaign on?
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Would you rather we campaigned on a different topic? You can suggest an alternative here.

Cast your vote and let us know your views in the comments.


How about campaigning for better enforcement of the so-called “equality” act which in my long hard and far too often brutal experience is nothing but a total sham, a total waste of space as it’s far too widely and openly flouted by both public authorities and private service providers alike, with stupid all open plan multiple unit trains and buses with full length skylights and skylights on all manner of public buildings, all too often with little or no effective solar control, causing a BRUTAL greenhouse effect in the summer sun making the place totally INaccessible for some folk and there’s all manner of shops with constant intolerable so-called “music” playing which once again makes them inaccessible for some severely disabled folk which makes a total mockery of any so-called “equality” legislation. And it’s the same with some less essential places too like libraries for instance, some of which now have a rowdy cafe in the same room as the books with absolutely NO segregation which is absolutely essential for anyone suffering from far more severe misophonia. All these breaches mentioned here are in serious breach of the clause in the “equality” act which states that “service providers are REQUIRED to anticipate IN ADVANCE what disabled people will need”, but it’s being routinely ignored which is totally unacceptable in 21st century Britain. And there’s no excuses for any service providers or authorities “not knowing” about the more severe hidden disorders as we’re now in the “information age”. Why should a whole section of society be kept locked out of so many essential services and facilities and made to live more like “plebs” in the roman times? And people suffering like me should be consulted when any new buildings or transport are designed, or existing ones altered and “upgraded” etc. but they never are and instead are routinely ignored which MUST change.

My top priority would be for Which? to campaign about dangerous products being sold via online marketplaces, since Which? has periodically provided examples. Which? put in a great deal of effort to raise awareness of the problem nuisance calls and – for me – I no longer have a problem. I do hope that Which? will push government to take action against the owners of online marketplaces since at present they seem to have no legal responsibility for the goods sold by their traders.

Meanwhile, looking at the four problems that Jess has has suggested as possible campaign topics….

PRODUCT LIFESPAN – One of the problems is the cost of having products repaired, meaning that it may cost little more to buy a new product. The Right to Repair initiative has required manufacturers to make spares available for certain products, but that is not much help if these are unreasonably expensive.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES – I hoped to replace my car next year but prices of battery electric vehicles and hybrids with a decent range on electric power are still very expensive.

BUY NOW PAY LATER – Just today I read an example of how BNPL can push people into debt: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58423924

CUSTOMER SERVICE – A good start would be an investigation of the way that Currys has treated customers. There have been many complaints about this on Which? Conversation.

These are all worthwhile topics that Which? could help consumers.

I can’t help but agree about dodgy and downright dangerous products being sold here, especially anything like dangerous toys for kids or dodgy pills or medicines or dangerous electrical goods not made to our required standards and in serious danger of catching fire or electrocuting someone, who could be a CHILD! And some chargers can not only catch fire themselves or leak live dangerous current to their output but can also cause batteries to explode if the wrong charging process is used.

Although I have never used ‘buy now pay later’ I wonder how much we non-users are paying to provide free credit for those who do.

The price of credit for those who pay in full is factored into the price everyone pays and is typically less than 1%.

Anyone paying by credit card is getting up to 56 days interest free, which is a form of “buy now pay later”. Do you not use credit cards @wavechange?

Credit card companies and companies like Klarna, then charge hefty interest or late payment fees to those who abuse the free credit period which is, of course, exactly what they are relying on to make their profits.

I’m glad that I’m not paying more than 1% for others to enjoy free credit, Em.

Yes I use credit cards, a better established way of making it easy for customers to get into debt. I pay my credit card bills by direct debit and perhaps if this was the default it might protect some customers from the interest charges.

I want to see longer lasting products, but I also want to see a proper recall system set up so that as many owners as possible of defective or dangerous products can be contacted.

Electric vehicles – if these are to progress sensibly we need a proper charging network at sensible prices and a tax – probably on mileage – to replace the duty and vat lost on fossil fuel purchases. I do not believe the general taxpayer should fund private vehicle use by making up the loss of this tax from elsewhere, nor subsidise the purchase cost of electric vehicles.

BNPL – well, using credit cards does the same thing. Do you want to stop all credit?

Customer service – consumers can, where there is competition, shop where they get decent service and watch the warnings in others, like Currys.

I would like to see far more emphasis on necessary products and establishing real value for money. This includes durability, repairability and warranty as well as functionality and price. And, at the same time, far less emphasis on promoting consumerism – we need to make existing products last and not replace them just because something newer arrives, whether a mobile phone, a tv or a “smart” version of a perfectly good product. And stop promoting products just because they are cheap, unless they are likely to do a job properly and last a reasonable time; we need to reduce the amount of products that fail early and are thrown out.

One last thing – although there are more on my list. Campaign to remove all unnecessary plastic packaging, replace plastic where possible with genuinely recyclable materials, and promote the sale of more loose groceries and other stuff that can be put into a customer’s permanent storage containers.

Out of the four options, product lifespan gets my vote. Mobile phones and laptops especially, both from a software perspective and battery lifespan.

I agree, Dan. We should be able to replace batteries in phones and laptops ourselves and be able to buy genuine replacement batteries.

I was able to replace the battery easily in my Lenovo laptop but I don’t think it will be possible to do so with the HP machine because the casing appears to be completely sealed all round. This should be outlawed.

Water resistance has been given as a reason why phones no longer have a user-replaceable battery but that will not apply with laptops. Consumers are often expected to fit in with the wishes and it’s about time for us to put them in their place.

Well, I agree! This water pressure against user-replaceable batteries definitely needs to be tanked before it is too lake. But resistance is growing rapidly and laptops will be next. WARBLE (Water Against Removable Batteries in Laptops and other consumer Electronics) is becoming a concerted movement and springing up in some unlikely places. 🙂

Whatever campaign you choose, PLEASE CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES of the campaign and remember compensation doesn’t grow on trees, it has to be paid for and will result in other people footing the ‘big win’.

Past consequences:
– Low-paid workers using public transport would have been hit hard when fares were raised to cover compensation for their bus, train or tube being late. I was in that position once and would rather have got up half an earlier than pay higher fares so those who can afford annual season tickets can get compensation when they are already paying less than someone who at most can afford a weekly ticket.
– How much has air travel gone up by to cover compensation?
– Up-to broadband has been replaced by too-low guaranteed speeds and now providers refuse to look at why your speed has dropped. I can get 40 Mbps but am now only guaranteed 27Mbps so thanks Which? Sky now won’t acknowledge a problem unless it drops below 27Mbps whereas before the campaign they were happy to help if it dropped below 35Mbps. ‘It’s the new rules’ I have been told. I live at the maximum distance from the exchange, have had quite a few providers who have never promised more than I can get and have always managed to help me get the maximum speed available. There are many reasons why customers couldn’t get their advertised speeds and the campaign should have looked at those reasons and helped people get the speeds they should have been able to get.
– Bank compensation will be paid for by higher mortgage rates and lower interest rates for savers. It will hit those with less money and those struggling to buy their first homes.

Instead of a survey that will give you the answers you need to justify the campaign, invite Which? members and regulars to discuss the merits and consequences here on a convo before starting another ill-thought campaign.

There is far too much of ‘Something needs to be done’ and leaving it up to others to solve those problems. The UK’s consumer association should be running campaigns suggesting solutions to problems, not just emotive moaning about them.

When Which? is aiming to change a part of how society works, campaigns must be HONEST and above reproach.

Every campaign convo has invited a deluge of supporters that is unnatural – the way the names are formulated, the rate of reply, the one-sided views, the similar vitriol, unregistered posters who don’t post anywhere else on the convos, until recently none of the regular convo posters had been invited – it all just screams of being fake.

I recently noticed a link in a Which? Scam alert went to www .e-activist.com, that probably explains where these “supporters” come from. Researching e-activist and following links led me to Money Rebellion activists who smashed the windows of HSBC and Barclays banks. Which? should not be linked to these kinds of organisations.

Which? has over 600,000 paying members and this is where support should come from not activist sites. Presumably all members receive Which? magazines which is where a campaign should start by inviting members to register, comment or vote on the convos. If Which? members don’t support a campaign, then there is probably good reason.

All campaign support needs to come from registered users. A genuine supporter would be happy to register and post if they wanted to help. It might not be total proof of honesty but at least it’s a start.

Hey @alfa,

I think we’ve addressed quite a few of these points befefore elsewhere on W? Conversation (the broadband one comes to mind from last year), so I’ll focus on the latter part of your comment.

Regarding the link to “e-activist,” this is generated automatically as part of Engaging Networks, the software platform Which? uses to email people about our campaigns. Quite a few organisations use Engaging Networks for similar purposes, and that we use the same software doesn’t imply any sort of affiliation. The links you’re seeing from e-activist direct people to the Which? website and allow us to measure the amount of traffic each email generates. In case you’re wondering if an email from Which? is genuine, you can check this in our FAQ: https://www.which.co.uk/help/faqs#headline_3

The support you’re seeing is coming from Which? Members, people who support Which?’s campaigns and advocacy work, and the general public. All of these are 100% real.

Like Which? Conversation, Which?’s campaign and advocacy work is part of the Consumers’ Association rather than Which? (more on this in our Who we are page. This work is open and available to all as part of this charitable remit.

Anyone (Which? member or not) can elect to receive these emails when they opt to support a Which? Campaign, for example on: https://campaigns.which.co.uk/travel/

We’ve explained before that campaign discussions are emailed to people who have opted into receiving them, and this can lead to a large number of comments on particular subjects. We’ve heard your feedback on these waves, and we’re working more with our email teams to ensure that the traffic flow to Which? Conversation results in a more readable comment flow, and will continue to do so.

Not everyone who wants to support a campaign has the time or inclination to take part in a full debate though. The views and opinions of those that do, as members of the UK public, are just as valid, regardless of how they have reached the site or choose to engage.

Our aim is to meet them where they are and offer them a way to engage and learn more – be it by starting a conversation, signing a petition, or even just reading what others have to say and learning more about the topic.

Jon, you can fob me off as many times as you like, but I know what I see. Perhaps you should have a look at the Which? advice on how to spot fake reviews and note the similarities.

From Engaging Networks:

How is targeting a specific audience an honest way to run a campaign? It is not the way the Which? should operate and is dishonest support. But it is now clear why these deluges of vitriol were a complete surprise to long-standing members and participants here on the convos.

This is not how I want my Which? subscription spent.

Targeting is likely to get the answer you want. I’d prefer to see honest and unbiased research with balanced and fair reporting.

I would like Which? to become more involved with social media websites and their terms and conditions, which not many people read because of the confusing and ambiguous wording, making it hard to understand exactly what they are signing up for. For example:

Instagram.com – Terms of Use

“You give us permission to show your user name, profile picture, and information about your actions, (such as likes) or relationships (such as follows) next to or In connection with accounts, ads, offers, and other sponsored content that you follow or engage with that are displayed on Facebook Products, without any compensation to you. For example, we may show that you liked a sponsored post created by a brand that has paid us to display its ads on Instagram. As with actions on other content and follows of other accounts, actions on sponsored content and follows of sponsored accounts can be seen only by people who have permission to see that content or follow.”

Interpretation by alpha.com (who states he is not a solicitor) Posting Content Online

As you can see, you retain the copyright of any picture you post on Instagram or anywhere else, but you also give permission for the networks to use your content for their own gain. So you own the picture you post to Instagram, but when signing up you gave them permission to use it as they see fit. One other thing you need to be aware of is when your picture features other people. While you, as the photographer retain the copyright for the work, if the people within the image are identifiable, you likely need their permission to post it online. The exception here is if you are paid as a photographer to take those pictures. Then the copyright is with the client and not of the photographer.

My daughter was recently approached by a distant relative who persuaded her to open an Instagram account, which she did and in good faith forwarded holiday photographs to him. About the same time, she was also approached by the father of this relative requesting he could add her to his list of Facebook contacts. As they were related, my daughter again agreed, but felt it was a little odd at the time.

It transpired her holiday photographs were passed on to the father without her permission, who then contacted me with news that I preferred not to know. This was a clear invasion of both her privacy and mine which has also upset my daughter who was unaware when she opened her Instagram account her holiday photographs could be used and passed on without her permission.

Facebook et al, are exploiting their members by using terminology that is difficult to understand when signing up and using the information gained to sell to advertisers or anyone they choose, and you have little or no redress when your privacy has been invaded.

Edit: I would add I am not a member of Facebook and have no plans to become one.

I must admit I thought everybody knew that the whole raison d’être of Facebook, Instagram, and similar was sharing and propagating personal stuff. I don’t find the Instagram terms of use that obscure. They are written in reasonably plain English without much legalese but it presumes an understanding of terms like a “follow” and a “like” which are not common usage in noun form [except within the social media generation, I suppose]. I’m afraid, with all internet content, once it’s out there it’s all over the place.

It seems to me that the fault lies with the distant relative who abused your daughter’s trust and then again with the father of that person who contacted you inappropriately. That is despicable conduct, the more so by being in a family context, but Instagram was just the means, not the instigator, of the dishonourable behaviour. Unfortunately you and your daughter have no idea what further circulation the pictures and any other information have been given.

These problems stem from the tendency for people to sign up to social media for social reasons [understandably enough], and usually under some form of persuasion, in order not to feel left out. The exclusively inclusionist [if that makes sense] character of Facebook et al cultivates that propensity. Nobody had any idea when it started that its long term aim was to commercialise and monetise personal interactions by harvesting and disseminating private and personal information.

We are constantly being urged to join our local Facebook group so that we can “keep up to date with what’s going on in the community and participate in local activities”, and it is a fact that that form of communication has become a substitute for all other channels of news and information which people used to pass on in person, or display on their frontage, or deliver through letterboxes. With people using false names and pseudonyms, and not giving their addresses, there isn’t a clue who is behind some of this. It also emanates from the schools which seem to think they are in charge of the entire community at times, and the local authorities think they need to be smart and tap into these sources whenever they wish to consult, not realising that the groups are not really representative and often have inappropriate connexions.

Certainly some cautionary action by Which? — which is no stranger to social media, of course, but hopefully in a benign way — would not come amiss.

It’s worth exploring the settings. Accounts can be set to private and anyone already down as a ‘follower’ can be removed: https://help.instagram.com/116024195217477 That could help Beryl and her daughter. I’m not a user.

“I must admit I thought everybody knew that the whole raison d’être of Facebook, Instagram, and similar was sharing and propagating personal stuff.”

I suspect the entire raison d’être of those apps is to monetise the users. By whatever means.

My occasional visit to Facebook is to look at wildlife photos taken at a Site of Special Scientific Interest. I recently posted on behalf of someone studying the spread of terrapins. A knife can be dangerous but also has its uses.

A lot depends upon the strength of the ‘herd instinct’. Humans essentially are social beings.

See: YouTube – Herding Behaviour- How following the crowd leads us astray. (5 mins)

You wouldn’t think humans were essentially social beings the way they go around self-absorbed in their devices ignoring all other forms of human contact and hardly speaking other than into their phones. The lack of social engagement in public is quite remarkable these days with little in the way of recognition or greeting in face-to-face situations.

With the entire UK in the grip of coronavirus, perhaps less human contact is desirable at present. We have more than 40k known new cases per day and possibly many mild cases that will not be recorded.

Humans are also essentially tribal, John. They fling their faeces at those not members of their tribe all too often. Sometimes I suspect we’re really not that evolved.

Yes, we are certainly an unnatural selection of abominable types.

You wouldn’t think so in my neck of the woods Wavechange.

The wearing of masks, since it is no longer obligatory, seems to have been totally abandoned both inside and out here. People are under the impression that being doubly vaccinated will provide total immunity from the virus, and with the effects of the vaccine now beginning to wear off from the first people to be vaccinated, and a fresh roll out of booster jabs still awaited, protection is still advisable for people with compromised immune systems.

There’s hope for us yet guys! Humans, love ‘em or hate ‘em are a combination of two groups, the conscious or the unconscious.

“The best indicator of your level of consciousness is how you deal with life’s challenges when they come. Through those challenges, an already unconscious person tends to become more deeply unconscious, and a conscious person more intensely conscious. You can use a challenge to awaken you, or you can allow it to pull you into even deeper sleep. The dream of ordinary unconsciousness then turns into a nightmare.”
Eckhart Tolle

Dealing with unconscious people and the challenges they present is no mean task, but like unrequited love, failure to deal with a challenge allows it to fester and eat away at one’s mind, causing resentment, vexation, annoyance and even physical pain in some people.

Beryl – In the present circumstances, those of us with a compromised immune system and those like me with respiratory problems have to keep away from others, especially indoors. I think the government was wrong in scrapping most restrictions but maybe that was better than retaining them and most of the population ignoring the rules.

I agree Wavechange, the government was stuck between a rock and a hard place and in danger of tipping a delicate balance between government and dictatorship.

Unfortunately in any democracy there are always going to be people who are not sufficiently ‘awake’ to be consciously aware of the dangers and the consequences of ignoring the guidance given to them by specialist advisers.

I am afraid there is little we can do to change people, whose mindsets have been conditioned to think and act the way they do, to redress this societal imbalance, and the only way forward for people like you and I, whose very existence probably depends upon not contracting covid, is to continue to protect ourselves from unconscious people who ignore the rules.

I am grateful for the opportunity to still be able to converse with intelligent people from different walks of life and backgrounds on Which? Conversation, and that our experience and inevitable differences are put to good use by helping others in need of help and advice. Long may it continue 🙂

Many people ignored the legal restrictions throughout the epidemic – beaches, street parties, vigils, Christmas markets, weddings……. . and those who went on overseas holidays when it was not adviseable. Generally the rest could decide to take more sensible proportions and can continue to do so. We can protect ourselves but the non-believers in precautions and vaccination not only continue to put themselves at risk but use valuable NHS resources.
However I don’t really see, given such a widespread vaccination programme, another way forward. At least all 4 nations have agreed and taken a similar approach.

Beryl – I don’t think there is much risk of Covid infection if you are outdoors, providing that you can keep a reasonable distance from others. I frequently help out a local society but it’s on my terms and if I have to go indoors I do my bit on a day when others are not around. One of the reasons that I’m not here as much as before is that I have been taking the opportunity to get out and about locally.

I’m not surprised by public behaviour following the relaxing of the rules. Unless you, family members or close friends are at risk there is not much incentive to think of others.

I am very happy to say I am still very much out and about Wavechange. I have recently reluctantly traded my lovely old Astra convertible for a small Vauxhall Adam Glam, which gets me where I need to go, (which is not very far) but it serves the purpose and it is more economical on the pursestrings to run. There is still life after covid, as you say, you have to adapt to your own circumstances and make the most of it.

Malcolm if you watched the social debate live at The Commons today you will be aware of new tax increases necessary to support the NHS following covid, and to assist with the backlog of operations caused by it.

We are very fortunate to have such a system, but I think it can encourage some people, and particularly the elderly, to rely upon it too much, to the extent that they fail to follow the advice recommended by health professionals to exercise daily and eat healthy food. I am convinced many hip and other joint operations could be avoided if people kept a sensible weight.

I’m glad you now have a new car, Beryl, and hopefully you won’t be victim of any other drivers this time. I am continuing to stay local. Much has been said about switching to using public transport but there is still a need for cars. Perhaps the focus should be on reducing commuting and long distance travel.

I’ve stopped f’book altogether years ago as I found it FAR too elitist and it didn’t empower me one bit, it was a complete waste of time. It doesn’t work if you’re on your own and you haven’t got loads of friends and/or family with accounts on the same site. The one thing I do like about f’book is the market place. I managed to find a good gas cooker on there and I managed to sell an unwanted carpet too.

Thanks for the speedy replies everyone.

I must confess I do find the interpretation must easier to understand as it sets it out in a manner most people can understand. The first, as with most legislative documents, the terms and conditions will present the bare bones, often the balance directed in a company’s favour, using legal terminology that is difficult to understand, but easy if you have a legal degree. I have never heard the words ‘followers’ or ‘like’ used in a legal context before despite quite a lot of contact with various solicitors in the past. Both are essentially generic non specific terms that could refer to a multitude of things.

My daughter is inclined to be quite extravert and friendly, but a little too trusting, rendering her an easy target to be exploited and used by people, unfortunately to her own detriment. .

I have some idea of what these terms mean but the detailed information is easy to find, for example for ‘follow’: https://www.facebook.com/about/follow

I have today turned off Facebook notifications, something I’ve been meaning to do for years. I never looked at the email reminders anyway.

I would prefer if features were turned off by default and we could turn them on if we wish, but that might not suit the owners of Facebook etc.

If a service is free, whether you have registered for it or not, there is no enforceable legal contract between you and the service provider, because you have not provided a consideration. They can promise you whatever they like in the Terms and Conditions; it means practically nothing. You cannot sue for breach of contract or negligence, because there is no contract.

This is why I generally pay for services and I don’t use Gmail, free anti-virus, free password managers, free cloud storage and I generally keep free software off my phone and computers.

Thanks for the link Wavechange. This prompted me into donning my psychology hat and delving a little deeper into the addictive effects of ‘likes and followers’ pertaining to social media on the brains neurological system.

There are quite a few to choose from, but here’s the first which explains the link between ‘thumbs up or down’ and ‘likes’ used on social media websites. It demonstrates how once addicted, how susceptible people can be coerced into doing something they may later regret.

psychologicalscience.org – Psychological Research is Turning
Thumbs Down on Facebook ‘Likes.’

Jon Stricklin-Coutinho, please note.

Em, does that repudiate the T&Cs when signing on to a ‘free’ service or entity? Which? Convo is moderated most of the time, but everybody knows it’s not difficult for some clever clogs to invent loopholes, using ambiguity to confuse and obfuscate the rules.

When you campaign on the transition to electric vehicles, you need to focus on the transition part as much as the final outcome. You need to have ideas to campaign with as well as slogans. This should be an orderly transition and, at present it seems to be anything but. Climate change proposals should also be high on your campaign list with the same criteria of ideas and methodology above slogans and rhetoric. Invite Greta for lunch sometime.

Cladding scandal

Dee Ireland says:
7 September 2021

Would love you to help us with the fire safety scandal on residential buildings

London London says:
7 September 2021

Please campaign on the building safety crisis that’s destroying the lives of millions of leaseholders. They are trapped in unsafe buildings they don’t own but can’t leave, with the constant threat of not only bankruptcy but burning to death.

Hi London London – You might be interested in these discussions on Which? Conversation: https://conversation.which.co.uk/?s=ews1&cat=0

One aspect of customer service on the part of companies in the UK that badly needs investigation is the invisibility cloak.

I will explain… increasingly, companies are ensuring they cannot be contacted easily and they’re often using Covid as the excuse.

Ikea is one example: they have a cunning system which forces you to wait up to 15 minutes listening to ABBA tracks, before then going dead. They routinely ignore emails, no matter to what address they’re sent.

The ‘phone number they do provide is menu-driven, and they have carefully ensured any realistic options are excluded.

Hermes is another case. They will often claim to be unable to find the address, they rarely (never, in our experience) leave a card, they ensure the ‘phone numbers for their local depots are treated like nuclear launch codes and, unlike most decent companies, the ‘estimated’ delivery time and date might well have been penned by Enid Blyton.

These are just two examples; there are are many many more. In stark contrast, Amazon provides a two-hour slot, .to which they faithfully adhere and, in the rare case they don’t
accurate and detailed updates are posted, along with apologies.

It’s really long overdue for an investigation of the dreadful service offered by some UK outfits,.

But then Amazon provide atrocious customer service by inveigling people unwittingly into Prime and by supplying hazardous and dangerous products under the cloak of fulfilment on its marketplace. Not all good.

On Saturday I ordered some perennials on special offer from Thompson and Morgan then realised they would be despatched while I was away for a few days. I emailed customer services and, although it was the weekend, had an immediate reply offering to divert them to another address. I did and confirmation was immediate.

We have Currys as, seemingly, a prime exponent of poor customer service. Consumers are asked to comment on them specifically in Convos. They come out in the next to bottom group in Which?’s league table so there appear to be many worse. I wonder just how bad they really are, given the number of transactions they process? What if we invited people to just relate good experiences – how long, or short, a Convo might that produce?

I share your concerns, Ian. I have been having difficulties trying to communicate sensibly with a number of major consumer serving organisations recently. Not providing telephone numbers, not answering the phone for ages, cutting off calls, wilfully misunderstanding my enquiry and closing it down because it does not fit their set menu, forcing the use of a useless and time consuming chat bot, and a lack of continuity in dealing with a problem. This has applied to virtually all the utility services and other service providers. It seems to be a scandal for which there is no remedy. These organisations no longer have any physical presence and their substitute — an on-line website of limited functionality — is an insult.

I am always intrigued to know how often the “Frequently Asked Questions” are actually checked to see if they really are the most frequently asked ones or are merely the most convenient ones.

I have no experience of Amazon’s customer services. Their sales and delivery services are adequate and satisfactory for us unlike most of the essential public utilities which are making an art form out of their spectral existence.

George woods says:
14 September 2021

I would like to campaign for a fair state pension we have a two tier system old system and new system the new system does not pay in any more than I have yet they get £50 pounds a week more yie thanks

Thanks for your suggestion George! Just so you're aware, we've moved your comment into this discussion from its original spot in the Fake Reviews discussion so that the team sees it.

George — People receiving the Basic State Pension can get up to £137.60 a week subject to their qualifying years of National Insurance contributions. The full amount is paid to those with 30 qualifying years.

The extra weekly amount payable to younger pensioners [a man born on or after 6 April 1951
or a woman born on or after 6 April 1953] on the New State Pension is £42 taking it to £179.60 but the number of qualifying years is 35 so such pensioners will have to pay more in and wait longer to draw out.

Whether this is fair or not is a matter of opinion.

The government has announced that the earnings element of the triple lock on State Retirement Pensions will be suspended for next year so the next state pension increase [payable from April 2022] will be either (a) based on prices [the percentage growth in prices in the UK as measured by the Consumer Prices Index], or (b) 2.5%, whichever is the higher level.

The Scandal of the Deactivation of Savings Accounts

I received a letter from Post Office Money this morning informing me my Online Saver account opened in 2018 had been deactivated.

Firstly, I have received no notification this was going to happen.

I have also checked my emails. The last statement notification I received was May 2020, with no statement this year. I have received just one email from the Post Office in June this year entitled Looking after you and your money informing me I am covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), giving me some valuable peace of mind.

I can ask for my account to be reactivated by filling in a form and providing a document from each of the following 2 groups.
ID Verification
– Current signed Valid Passport – not more than 10 years old
– Current full UK/EU Photocard Driving Licence
Address Verification
– Utility bill e.g. gas, electricity, water, telephone (not mobile) Cable services, Satellite TV e.g. Sky (dated within the last 6 months)
– A statement from either your Bank/Building Society current account, credit union/mortgage or credit card (dated within the last 6 months)
– The most recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender ( less than 6 months old)
– Letter from solicitors confirming recent house purchase within the last 3 months.

My passport is out of date and I don’t have a photocard driving licence. None of our utility bills are in my name and I haven’t purchased a house within the last 3 months or have a mortgage.

The only verification I can provide is a Bank/Building Society statement.

I phoned the Post Office and luckily they have reactivated my account as I was able to answer their security questions.

But many people won’t find it that easy, especially those who get a bit forgetful as they get older, loss of a partner and those who don’t drive or travel abroad. Not all customer services will be as helpful as the person I just spoke to.

For many years now, every time we move money to get a better rate elsewhere, we leave a minimum amount in an account to save us going through the hassle of becoming a new customer again some time in the future. Many banks and building societies have stopped sending annual paper statements and we are losing touch with what accounts we still have. Periodically transferring just 1p keeps them active as long as you remember or are notified. A bank account can be considered dormant after just one year of inactivity like our joint account that is only used rarely as a safety net.

It strikes me there will be millions of pounds lost to deactivated accounts. Once they are deactivated, you receive no more statements or other correspondence. To anyone helping an older person with their finances it will appear an account has been closed. I presume most will come to light after you die, but depriving you of your money while you are still living is just plain wrong.

It is the current government who brought in these dormant account rules. Accounts are being declared dormant far too quickly and I would like a campaign to stop deactivating our accounts.

For anyone affected, some useful sites to help you reclaim your money:

I think we need to campaign hard for market place hosts to be made responsible for all the products they sell, and social media sites for the advertisements they publish.

It is heartening to see that many people have little or no trust in these places. I wonder if that translates into not using them for purchases or not responding to adverts?

The consumer champion’s latest research, a survey of 2,000 UK adults, shows trust among consumers in the ability of tech giants like Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google to protect them from either scams, unsafe products or fake reviews is shockingly low – with two thirds (68%) of people saying they have little or no trust that online platforms are taking effective steps to do so.
Perhaps the Which? Campaign should be to persuade people to avoid buying off marketplaces until the hosts take full responsibility for what they sell?

However, if the bank is to be believed, with some – maybe many – people there will be an uphill struggle to protect them from fraudsters and themselves.

David*, in his seventies, lost over £20,000 in an investment clone scam last year. After a Google search for the ‘best rate of interest for savings of £15,000’, he clicked on what he believed to be a legitimate website, and filled in his personal details.

“We have the utmost sympathy for all those who fall victim to the criminals who carry out these scams. Despite [David] being shown multiple investment scam warnings that cautioned against ‘spoof companies’; receiving an SMS to check the payment was genuine; and a Confirmation of Payee match to a different company name from who he was investing in, he unfortunately continued to make the payment.”
“When reviewing a claim under the Contingent Reimbursement Model, we always consider whether a customer was vulnerable at the time they fell victim to a scam. In this case, we have closely reviewed his case and do not consider him as vulnerable.”


Anything we can do to automatically block payments to fraudsters will be a step forward but we need to examine how such an objective can be realistically achieved. Meantime we must campaign to ensure the public are generally educated about how to avoid being scammed.

Building safety / cladding scandal.