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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

So which one of these blocked trackers prevents me from looking at Which? product reviews?
ajax.googleapis.com
aax-eu.amazon-adsystem.com
bat.bing.com
cdnjs.cloudflare.com
t.contentsquare.net
google-analytics.com
google.com
cdn.loop11.com
amplify.outbrain.com
ct.pinterest.com
which.resultspage.com
s3.amazonaws.com

This doesn’t sound good Alfa but I’m not sure why. A sentence or two for the untechnical might be useful if you have time. In the meantime I hope you’ve found a way round or Which? has sorted out the problem for you.

I run Privacy Badger to block trackers Vynor.

On Which? product reviews, blocking trackers does several things: no product images, filters don’t work, and ‘help me choose’ doesn’t work.

Turning off Privacy Badger does make everything work again, but when you pay for access to Which?, I don’t believe you should be forced into allowing trackers.

The image below shows firstly what I get instead of product images then the Privacy Badger trackers.

Kevin says:
8 November 2019

I use it too, but generally leave it at the defaults (the undo arrows on your graphic are non-default settings I think?). Which? appears to work with the default settings, tfwrail won’t bring up the credit card option with it , but that’s the only site I had a problem with.
As far as the trackers go, it depends on what they’re being used for – website performance and management I’m happy with, I’d be concerned with the data they collect if it was being provided to 3rd parties or stored as personally identifiable data.
It’s interesting to review browser info with panopticlick on the EFF site, for the ‘geeks’ (pardon for any offence) amongst us…

Just about the whole western world has –
1-ajax.googleleapis.com
2-www.google-analytics.com
3-www.google.com

Then to a lessor degree –
4-(but upcoming)-cdnjs.cloudflare.com
5-ct.pininterest.com
Which ? uses Amazon servers and most people in the coming years will be on Cloudflare .
What PB doesn’t show is First party trackers and that’s where “it falls down ” its the third party trackers that would be more of a concern .
All Which ? trackers/cookies are first party blocking them stops you posting as does blocking JScripts and -sorry I am afraid PB doesn’t show all the other Google trackers/cookies and bat.bing.com is your own Windows 10 browser not related to Which ? that’s why I don’t have Windows 10 nor Bing as a search engine .
Amazon S3 is a storage system which can block public access to things .
The two Google trackers your PB doesn’t show are using 12 assorted cookies .
Yes Alfa I allow Which ? to track me I think that’s fair as I post on it.
And yes again blocking Which ? recognition of you will block you its a fact of life .
There are much worse websites than Which ? most UK newspaper can have 100 + tracking you.
If I was you I would be really worried about Bing its tracking you round the web which is much worse than anything Which ? is doing –get rid of it.
Its Google “safe browsing ” but don’t let that fool you it still gathers ALL your data and uses it that’s why I block it in Waterfox and yes if you can put up with a technical explanation I can tell you how it does it.

You are right Kevin, I have changed it from the default settings. I don’t trust Which? since they could tell I had opened emails on my computer. I requested they stop but no confirmation was forthcoming.

I use Windows 7 not 10 Duncan.

Kevin says:
8 November 2019

I think the email tracking may be using embedded graphics in the email messages. If you can see the image and it’s not an attachment, then it’s come from a server somewhere directly to your browser (or email client), this enables them to monitor access to the image files on the server, acting as a notification you opened the message, and potentially gathering other system data about your computer.

Thanks Alfa, much clearer now!

Folks,for further information, as a non-subscriber, I was able to access all the public facing parts of the Which? Reviews yesterday. I was using Google Chrome on Windows 10. Adding Privacy Badger did not stop the site from working, even after I manually turned off all the trackers that it could find.

So none of that explains the source of alfa’s problems. I noticed I didn’t have the which.resultspage.com tracker, so possibly that one controls the review pages if you are a logged in Which? subscriber.

Like Kevin, I usually install Privacy Badger and let it choose for me the cookies to be blocked.

With regards to tracking and spam, it may also be significant to report that I do not sign up for any email notifications from Which?

Derek, does this page work for you with all 12 trackers blocked?
https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/televisions/find-the-best-television

Hi alfa, just trying it quickly from my main desktop PC, using Chrome (Version 78.0.3904.97 (Official Build) (64-bit)) via Linux Mint 19 the page seems to work fine with all 22 of these blocked:

ajax.googleapis.com
aax-eu.amazon-adsystem.com
apps.apple.com
app.appsflyer.com
bat.bing.com
cdnjs.cloudflare.com
t.contentsquare.net
googleads.g.doubleclick.net
securepubads.g.doubleclick.net
http://www.facebook.com
http://www.google-analytics.com
adservice.google.co.uk
adservice.google.com
play.google.com
http://www.googleadservices.com
cdn.loop11.com
bam.nr-data.net
amplify.outbrain.com
ct.pinterest.com
analytics.twitter.com

As far as I know, I’m running Chrome with no 3rd party extensions other than Privacy Badger. The only other installed extensions are those supplied for Google Docs.

I have just completed a Which? survey that has left me feeling quite annoyed and cheated.

The email says:
Are you interested in helping inform Which? on how we should prioritise product testing? If so, please complete this survey!

Our product testing team are interested in which product features are most and least important to you. The results from this survey will be used to inform lab testing parameters when analysing products.

The first question asked if I had ever bought a selection of 25 products of which I could tick 19 boxes.

Then a statement:
In this section, we are interested in finding out what features are most important to you when buying the following product: Air Conditioner

By understanding what is important to the consumer, we can better know what features to prioritise in our Which? lab testing?

You will be asked to rate the features that are most and least important to you. On the next page you will be asked the same question with different feature combinations on each page. The repetition isn’t a mistake; we do this to make sure we really understand what’s important to you.

There then followed 9 pages of groups of four statements where I was asked to indicate which was the most and least important of each group.

– That it’s energy efficient
– That any smart controls are secure
– That it cools some but not all of your room
– That it’s easy to use the controls

– That it can be used with more than one type of window
– That it has smart controls and they work well
– That it’s not too loud
– That it cools the entirety of your room

– That it cools the entirety of your room
– That it’s not too loud
– That it has smart controls and they work well
– That it cools some but not all of your room

– That it cools some but not all of your room
– That it’s easy to use the controls
– That it cools the entirety of your room
– That any smart controls are secure

– That it’s easy to set up
– That it can be used with more than one type of window
– That any smart controls are secure
– That it’s not too loud

– That it’s not too loud
– That it’s easy to set up
– That it’s energy efficient
– That it can be used with more than one type of window

– That it has smart controls and they work well
– That it cools the entirety of your room
– That it’s easy to use the controls
– That it’s easy to set up

– That any smart controls are secure
– That it cools some but not all of your room
– That it’s easy to set up
– That it’s energy efficient

– That it’s easy to use the controls
– That it’s energy efficient
– That it can be used with more than one type of window
– That it has smart controls and they work well

And that was it !!!

Why couldn’t you just ask what features were important to me?

We acquired an air conditioner second hand, so the equally most important features to me would be that it actually works, the length of the hose, how the hose fits in the window and room size. Also, if filters are used whether they need replacing, how often and their cost. The next equally important features would be easy controls, loudness, drainage/collection tray and maintenance of the unit. Energy efficiency doesn’t really come into air-con and why would you need smart controls? The answers I gave in the survey certainly won’t reflect these points.

It must have taken hours to devise such a complicated survey. I hate these types of survey because you have no idea what questions are going to be asked so you can easily give answers you regret at the end, and they don’t reflect what you really think. There was no back button.

Product testing certainly needs improving and if only certain features are going to get tested, reviews are not going to improve.

I did the same survey, Alfa, and was somewhat disappointed that of all the products I had ever bought – yes, ever! – the one the survey wanted to deal with was mobile phones, which must be one of the most studied devices on the planet.

The same type of idiot questions which seemed like going round and round in ever-decreasing circles because the same important or unimportant criteria came up time and time again, and most of it was the blinding obvious. I can see the theoretical methodological advantage of structuring a survey in this way to improve analysis and counteract bias, but since the responses given are fallible and conditional on individual circumstances I question its value.

The survey didn’t take long to complete but it still felt like a big waste of time. I have been thinking of disconnecting from Which? Connect for a little while now and this might propel me to act.

You were only asked about one product as well John? What a pointless exercise. Does a survey structured as above really improve results? I get very frustrated with them especially when statements have equal value in my mind, so one of the items gets left behind. And I agree, it felt like a waste of time.

I would have liked to see the survey more like this:

Each feature can be marked according to importance and there are several spaces to insert features that might have been missed. Also more products could have been covered.

I no longer receive these surveys, probably because I changed my email address registered with Which? I cannot say I miss the surveys, which I found rather frustrating.

Although few would want to respond to surveys about a large number of products, it would make sense to let the survey user choose which products to comment on. Knowing John’s views of mobile phones, I can see why he was not impressed to be selected to provide feedback!

The curious groupings in the sets of questions, which Alfa has reproduced, is a recognised way of ranking preferences, though I cannot remember the name. I first encountered this many years ago and questioned why not just let the user rank their preferences. I understand this approach is better, though anyone who is not familiar with it is likely to be baffled. If this approach is to be used in future it would be worth explaining the reason for using it.

I have highlighted what I think are the most important in each group.

– That it’s energy efficient
– That any smart controls are secure
– That it cools some but not all of your room
– That it’s easy to use the controls

– That it can be used with more than one type of window
– That it has smart controls and they work well
– That it’s not too loud
– That it cools the entirety of your room

– That it cools the entirety of your room
– That it’s not too loud
– That it has smart controls and they work well
– That it cools some but not all of your room

– That it cools some but not all of your room
– That it’s easy to use the controls
– That it cools the entirety of your room

– That any smart controls are secure

– That it’s easy to set up
– That it can be used with more than one type of window

– That any smart controls are secure
– That it’s not too loud

– That it’s not too loud
– That it’s easy to set up
– That it’s energy efficient
– That it can be used with more than one type of window

– That it has smart controls and they work well
– That it cools the entirety of your room

– That it’s easy to use the controls
– That it’s easy to set up

– That any smart controls are secure
– That it cools some but not all of your room
– That it’s easy to set up

– That it’s energy efficient

– That it’s easy to use the controls
– That it’s energy efficient
– That it can be used with more than one type of window

– That it has smart controls and they work well

The product has a job to do and must be capable of doing it, so cooling the entirety of the room and usable with more than one type of window have to get chosen as most important. They get chosen in 7 out of 9 questions, leaving 2 other questions to give different answers. Loudness and ease of use should rate about the same, but loudness cannot be chosen. Energy efficiency and air-con don’t exactly go together, but it should matter slightly but again cannot be chosen.

So how exactly does this method prove anything?

Perhaps we could have a Convo about Which? surveys, hosted by a member of their team, Alfa. We have repeatedly asked to have the opportunity to make an input.

Notwithstanding my attitude to mobile phones, Wavechange, I did answer the survey as conscientiously as I could but had the same reservations as Alfa.

This not the first time that this form of survey has been used by Which? Connect and I think an explanation of the revolving comparison system [that’s not its proper description] was given on the first occasion. It is somewhat frustrating because it presumes that the options are exhaustive – that is, that no other criterion could be more important than those offered. In the case of mobile phones it could be for a number of users that large keys are the most important feature but this is not available.

I can see the point of having a method of surveying that is more systematic, gives greater consistency and tests each option against all the others but at the end of the exercise I wonder whether the results are worth that additional granularity, especially given the fallibility I referred to previously. I think many respondents might start to get fed up with the process about half way through. I suppose it achieves its purpose of helping to define the parameters of the laboratory testing of products [incidentally, products are tested – not analysed as stated in the blurb; it is the results of the tests that are analysed for reporting purposes. Sorry, getting a bit pedantic here].

It would be interesting to know whether the exercise will be repeated for the next time that air conditioners or mobile phones, or whatever other products emerged from the survey, are tested. It is debatable whether using the same scale of important features next time to see how different products score against a historic benchmark would be more useful than producing a new ranking of importance possibly containing features omitted from the present one. How much do we really need to drill down into this aspect of product testing? It could all get very academic and cause delays in the testing output.

Good idea, Wavechange.

Which? Connect does feed back more nowadays to participants in a periodical round-up of the outcomes of surveys but it would be good to learn more and be able to make a contribution. I believe a number of us suggested taking part in pilot survey testing to improve their performance.

I’m not defending the use of this system, John. I well remember being annoyed when responding to a survey of this style which to gather users’ priorities for all the services offered by our university library. I asked for an explanation and that was forthcoming.

I do not think it is wise for Which? to use this style of survey, especially without any explanation for the repetition. As you say, users may get fed-up and fail to complete the survey.

I expect that the software Which? uses for surveys would allow users to see how their responses compare with statistics for the those who have responded so far.

This discussion has encouraged me to sign up for Connect surveys again.

Seems I’m not the only one to dislike these types of surveys.

It is only after you have seen all the statements you can look at them more objectively.

I answered That it cools some but not all of your room as most important for the first question.

At this point you have no idea what other statements you are going to be presented with and none of them were most important to me. That it cools the entirety of your room might not have been given as an option then I would have had no chance to indicate that cooling was most important to me. So I was really annoyed to see it as an option in the second question.

Once you get annoyed with a survey, I’m not sure you answer questions as conscientiously as should.

This survey does highlight the need for trial runs before general release and I do think a discussion could be in order wavechange.

When we use one of the simple Which? polls we immediately see our own response and statistics for everyone who has responded, and these are updated when more people respond. The same could be done with Connect surveys, unless the software does not have this functionality.

I don’t have an air conditioner, but if I did the length of the guarantee would be a consideration, and that is not even mentioned.

There’s a lot about survey construction here, and it does seem that what might seem baffling can be a tried and tested way to discern response accuracy.

We have air con throughout the house, and years ago we bought the stand-alone unit with the hose. That was noisy – very noisy, heavy and didn’t work that well. The current, professionally fitted system which has the noisier components outside the house, works like a dream. It’s almost silent, yet cools or heats each room rapidly, despite our rooms being fairly large.

I’ve not had that survey, yet, so can’t really comment, but I would always go for the efficiency of the system first and foremost, noise level secondly and then appearance, since ours sit on the wall permanently.

Patrick Taylor says:
19 February 2020

Did they ask if you wanted a reversible unit? No : )

Here is what a good report on a single unit heater looks like.

“The mobile air conditioner BA 212 H from Beko offers a cooling power of 3.5 kW, suitable for rooms ranging from 30 to 37 m2, according to the manufacturer. This model also allows to heat (with a heating power of 2 950 W), ventilate and dehumidify. It has 3 ventilation rates and an oscillation function. Its zonefollow remote control acts as a thermostat (to adjust the temperature according to its location) and allows to schedule the stop or the departure over 24 hours. Its refrigerant gas, R290, is less polluting than R410. The manufacturer announces a noise level of 65 dB (a). The energy class of this freezer is rated A. The Unit, made in China, weighs approximately 36 kg. Provide a width of 45 cm, a depth of 39 cm and a height of 78 cm. This model is also available in air conditioner version only under the reference BA 212 C.

On the test side, the cooling is fast, precise and the air diffusion is well distributed in the room. The zonefollow remote control is convenient. Our jury found this mobile air conditioner easy to handle (despite its 36 kg) and store.

Our measurements confirm the cooling power of 3.5 kW.

The fresh air is blown with a flow rate of 360 m3 / h and a temperature of 16 °C. Like all mobile air conditioners, this one consumes a lot, but it is less noisy than other models.

The unit comes with an oblong head that reduces the space between the window and the hot air outlet tube. This reduces the amount of space to caulk.”

and you may want to know that
“Single-unit mobile air conditioners are always noisier than split units, which have the engine located outside the House. This is one of the main defects of monoblocs : imagine a refrigerator with its engine running constantly, with a fan in addition… monobloc air conditioners usually announce a noise of between 60 and 70 dB (while splits can go down to 40 or even 30 dB). However, some have a “night” function (also called “sleep” or ” silence “) for a more discreet operation. It consists in gradually reducing the power of the air conditioner : this certainly increases the temperature, but allows to fall asleep.”