/ Which? Membership

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.

For those of you new to Which? Conversation, welcome! Our community website is your space to discover and debate the burning consumer issues of the day.

While our community enjoys getting down to the nitty-gritty details of big issues like stopping nuisance callers or exposing the wider risks of product safety, we also want our Ordinary Members* to be able to connect with one another and have their say on the governance of Which?. If you want to have a say in how we’re run and help to shape the future of Which?, you can become an ‘Ordinary’ (or voting) Member.

We’ve just celebrated the 60th anniversary of Which?. The views and support of our members have been key to helping us get this far, and so your views will also help shape our next 60 years.

Which? discussion

So we’ve created this space for you. Here you can connect with other members and discuss all things Which?, including governance, feedback about our organisation and issues you want our Council to consider.

To keep things running smoothly, we have a few simple rules specific to this area for you to follow:

  • Keep comments relevant to this area – sharing your thoughts about Which? and its governance
  • If you have something off-topic to share, please share it in ‘The Lobby‘ or find a relevant conversation to join. If you’d like to talk about the closure of Which.net, we’ve created a dedicated discussion area for you here.
  • Before you share a resolution, please check to see if another member has shared something similar and add your support to it by replying
  • Please be polite and speak to others as you’d like to be spoken to, whether that’s with other members or Which? staff.
  • Keep personal contact details private (eg email, phone number or address) – whether they’re yours or someone else’s.
  • We’re here to listen to your feedback about Which?, and we’ll try to answer any questions as soon as we can, but please be patient with us and mindful that we don’t work weekends

These guidelines are here to keep things running smoothly, so if you spot a comment that breaks these rules, please bring them to our attention by using the ‘Report’ button.

It’s easy to register on Which? Conversation, just click this Sign in/Register link and click the ‘Register’ tab. Our ‘Help getting started’ guide should explain any questions you may have about getting involved in Which? Conversation. Now, it’s over to you.

*If you aren’t already an Ordinary Member and are interested in finding out more, you can read about how to become an Ordinary Member right here.

Becoming an Ordinary Member means you can:

  • Vote in the annual Council election – the Council is the ultimate governing body of our charity, the Consumers’ Association, and oversees our whole organisation. We’ll send you the ballot booklets every November.
  • Come along to our AGM – meet our chairman, chief executive and team. You can find out more about what we’re doing and why, hear from our teams and ask your questions, and see how Which? works from the inside.
  • Stand for election to the Council – you can nominate yourself and ask for support from other ordinary members.
  • Nominate other ordinary members who want to stand for Council – to help make sure we have the right people governing.
  • Get our annual and interim reports and accounts – we’ll keep you up to date with all that’s going on, so you’re always in the loop.

Read the 2017 AGM Q&A here.

Read the 2018 AGM Q&A here.

 

Comments

I wonder what experience others have had with using Member Services.

I have had prompt help with changing my contact details a couple of times when I could not persuade the system to accept my updates and when I wanted to know how long I had subscribed this information was obtained easily.

My problem has been when I have tried to obtain more information about products. I have never obtained any information than is in product reviews on the website, so there seems little point in suggesting we call if we want more information. I may have been unlucky and I certainly don’t ask for help very often but wonder if others have managed to obtain more product information over the phone. I wonder if Alfa could have obtained information about headphone sizes, for example.

I didn’t think to ask wavechange and assume all their testing results are on the website. Perhaps someone will come and tell us if that information is available if they are asked.

I’m hoping that others will give examples of how they have been helped over product information. I may have been offered the contact details for a manufacturer but not much more. I suppose that for those who are not accustomed to looking up information contacting Member Services could be useful. An outline of what we can expect would be very useful.

For many products, Which? is the only source of comparative information. Ringing round all the manufacturers, or looking up their websites, could be very time consuming and not necessarily comprehensive.

To take Alfa’s headphones enquiry as an example, it might not have occurred to anyone setting the test specification and reporting template to consider whether head size was a critical choice parameter. A ‘comfort’ ranking will only apply to a standard head and at least half the population does not have one of those. The other half possibly does but some of them at least will be empty.

For tech products, cameras, and motor cars there are alternative publications that test and rank products but when I have looked at them they do not give much information on the non-technical aspects that contribute critically to practical usability.

For Which? to be able to provide such information – not necessarily immediately over the phone – could be an advantageous selling point.

When I last contacted Member Services I wanted to know which compact cameras come with a decent quality close fitting case that attaches to a belt. They did not have this information. I had already called Panasonic because my previous camera was this brand, but they could not help. There are many camera cases available but most are larger with space for accessories. I have a decent camera if I want to take better photos and I have a phone for everyday use, but a compact camera is handy to carry around when on holidays and is easier to use than a phone camera. It may be odd to choose a camera primarily on the basis of whether it comes with a case, but that was my priority. Alfa is also looking for information that might not be of interest to everyone.

What I want to know is what additional product information Member Services can offer beyond what is on the website.

You are dead right that contacting manufacturers and looking at websites is time consuming, John.

We have a Canon compact and wanted a hard case so I took it into a photography store and they found the perfect fit – a Lumix case.

Some of things I think should be standard on reviews are photos of ‘what’s in the box’, and test results. To me, those are basic requisites of a review.

I have never found ‘stars out of 5’ useful because there can be so much behind them that may or may not be relevant to a prospective buyer. A food processor marked down because it can’t grate cheese will be totally irrelevant to many and give a false impression of the capabilities of the machine if that is the only downfall.

I eventually found a Canon compact camera that fitted in my old Lumix case well, despite its rather large-format dimensions of 57 x 95 x 24 cm, according to the Which? website: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/compact-cameras/canon-ixus-190/technical-specifications I did report this for action and nothing has happened.

I tried to link it to my computer but had no joy, but have had fun with Canon instructions before.

I agree about the value of photos when providing reviews. The space in the magazine might be limited but that’s not the case on the website. eBay adverts often contain numerous photos.

Patrick Taylor says:
22 June 2020

I know that Which? did an excellent piece on stoves and pellet heating but I am pretty sure that they never mentioned this aspect, outlined below, which surely is highly relevant. This I know does not help stove sales, and of course Which? can benefit financially from traffic sent from its site, however I think overall people would prefer a trustworthy charity that gives a more complete picture.

Domestic wood -burningstoves have come increasingly under fire as they were fou d to be respon sible for 50%of a recent London pollution spike and doctors are warning of the health impacts of increased wood -burning in the U K, particularly due to PM2 . 5. Dr DorothyRobinson , a senior statistician writing in the British Medical Journal , wri tes
“Revised figures show domestic wood burning to be the UK’s largest single source of PM2.5emissions, 2.4 times greater than all PM2.5emissions from traffic. The new information (33% of PM2.5emissions in 2013-2014 from domestic wood burning, twice the previous estimate of 17%) highlights the extremely misguided nature of current policies….The disproportionate amount of PM2.5pollution from domestic wood burning continues to escape attention. Few people who install wood stoves are likely to understand that a single log-burning stove permitted in smokeless zones emits more PM2.5per year than 1,000 petrolcars and has estimated health costs in urban areas of thousands of pounds per year.”

My son is having a house built and the local authority insist on a secondary source of heating, apart from gas and electricity. A wood burning stove is what they suggest and approve.

We seem totally unconnected when it comes to the real issues of the day. They have not required solar panels or ground source heat pumps.

Hi Patrick – I am hoping that Which? will be doing a report on stoves following the forthcoming changes in the rules for burning solid fuels in the UK.

The emissions from burning wood vary enormously according to the design of the stove and moisture content and type of wood. I’m not impressed by the information from the BMJ because it does not reflect these variations. Maybe they are intended to be averages.

Our council does not have any smokeless zones and a few people including one of my neighbours sometimes burns coal. Roll on the ban. It’s sulphur dioxide rather than particulates that affects me.

Malcolm – As we have discussed elsewhere the best time to install ground source heat pumps is during construction of buildings. Likewise new builds offer the opportunity of a solar roof, which is more attractive than attached solar panels. Hopefully the house is orientated to make best use of the sun.

I don’t know what to make of the council’s requirements for a third source of heating.

Patrick Taylor says:
22 June 2020

Which council ? Seems a little bizarre unless the property is isolated. Scottish?

I have a neighbour who is a chimney sweep and he says the problem for most people is that there stoves even if new efficient ones require a decent fire for combustion and most stoves are actually banked and inefficient as they produce too much heat when operating maximally.

In the village where I live I have a neighbour where the wooden fire is lit daily, it is about 30 metres from me but we are pretty sure it is an old inefficient stove. With wood commonly available I cannot see them changing. There is a lot of propaganda about roaring fires etc but a lack of warnings on the byproducts. I bet there will be some peed-off parents with asthmatic children who are unaware of this “particular matter”

As you probably know, Which? has a series of articles about wood-burning stoves: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/wood-burning-stoves/article/guides

As so often happens, these are undated but there are usually some clues in the text.

I’m familiar with what you have said about efficiency.

Not everyone behaves sensibly and burns dry wood, which minimises particulate production. I found a friend who would take wood from my recent minor deforestation exercise. I had suggested that it was kept dry for a. year but it was burned within two weeks.

Quite a few television programmes highlight wood burning stoves when touring houses and these are seen as a good selling point by nearly every participant in the show. These are, clearly, a desirable asset in many minds. The fact that they can be misused, by burning wet wood, cheaply gathered, is overlooked. Short of legislation, the attraction of owning a wood burner might outweigh the pollution it causes. It needs a public awareness campaign and a change in attitude to alter the situation. People enjoy the sight, sound and heat of a real fire.

Estate agents’ blurbs always feature a wood-burner where there is one and it probably adds a few thousand to the asking price. We acquired one when we bought our present house but have never used it. We have a wood-store that is half full of timber and I have added some recently cut tree trunks and branches to it which can just sit there and dry out. Some of the logs are incredibly heavy and dense so would probably keep the fire going for a long time. I have posed the question whether to remove the wood-burner and make a more useful feature of the recess and hearth but a policy decision has been made that it will be kept in case of a prolonged power failure in the winter that shuts down the central heating – whether a pan of water on top of the burner would ever boil would be an early experiment. Our stove is a multi-fuel type but we don’t have any alternative fuel to wood so after a few days we’d have to start chopping up the furniture.

I have an open fire fire that is no more than decoration. It could be used if necessary. I have some wood that my predecessors had kept for emergency.

It seems likely that the sale of coal will be banned and householders allowed to use existing stocks, but I have no idea how any government will stop the use of wet wood. Education only works if people are receptive. Maybe the number of people who suffer from some degree of asthma may help.

The installation of new gas boilers is to be phased out within a few years.

I use my “old” (I have two 14 year old phones that still work) Galaxy S4 to make calls, message, photos, look on the net, but I do not use it to make purchases nor payments, nor for internet banking, nor to access any of my accounts that involve payment.

To advise me to stop using such a useful phone because I am open to a serious security issue seems, on the face if it to the uninitiated, to be an extreme suggestion. Perhaps someone can explain what I have missed and what threats I am exposed to.

I don’t think there is a problem with the old phones since they are not smartphones. Presumably the S4 is about five or six years old.

I would be very interested to know the answer because I have friends that use old phones for the limited purposes you describe and, in one case, email.

I would be concerned about the risks of synchronising an insecure old phone with computers etc. but that does not apply if you don’t use this feature. I do not know if this is the right Convo to get useful advice.