/ 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

https://conversation.which.co.uk/discussion/which-discussion/#comment-1559628
“Your comment is awaiting moderation – we’ll get to it as soon as we can”. Why was this?

Hi Malcolm, I think a part of the problem was the two comments that were posted here and in the lobby were flagged as duplicates.

@abbysempleskipper, Abby – thanks. :-). There are sometimes Convos that run similar topics, and the same comment is appropriate to both.

A little feedback for you all –

We have just had a really productive meeting about how Convo is going to facilitate these conversations. You can expect more comments from us on up coming member developments, more staff answering your questions and more feedback on how we have taken forward your suggestions.

@abbysempleskipper, Thanks Abby.

Hi all. The next meeting of the Member Governance Committee is taking place on 30 April 2019. The deadline for an OM to submit a proposal in writing for consideration at that meeting, and which must be supported by five other OMs, is 8 April 2019.

More info here: https://www.which.co.uk/about-which/company-info/2385/member-governance-committee

Hi everyone. I'm looking for feedback, and I know that the community here on Which? Conversation will be able to help.

We know that when it comes to high standards you most probably expect more from Which? than any other company you engage with. And so you should. We pride ourselves on our independence, our research and our reputation. We want to push those standards and create a more personal experience for Which? members using our site, whether you’ve been with us one month, one year or 10 years.

We openly accept that our current online experience is not as good as it should be. So, we’re undertaking a programme of work to ensure you get the most from your logged in experience with us. Our product reviews are of course central to this, but we ask that on this occasion you put our reviews to one side and tell us how else we could help you manage your account and look after your products and services.

Services to shortlists

For instance, when you log into your Which? account, what do you expect to see? Are you looking for somewhere you can see what benefits and services you’ve subscribed to, for a shortlist of the products you’ve compared, or a history of the purchases you’ve made. Do you want to be able to manage your subscription. Or would you like all of the above?

We naturally have some of our own ideas, but believe these should first and foremost come from you.

The personal touch

We’re also interested to hear about other companies that do this well, whether that’s a retailer, membership organisation or other related site. How do theses sites tailor the experience for you. What key features do they offer that you deem valuable. Are there similar experiences you’d like Which? to offer you? And more generally, what kind of relationship would you like with Which?.

This project is not a small undertaking. Please feel free to be both ambitious and modest with your suggestions. We’ll be compiling a key list of experiences that you’d like and will validate those through some beta tests and research.

Thank you!

Thanks for the invitation, Charlotte.

I find it annoying to be logged into the Which? website and then having to log in again to look at the magazine archive. I assume that there are technical or historical reasons for this but I suggest a single login for all services.

Thanks Wavechange. I think many others would agree with you. Single login is certainly on the to do list and has been a challenge due to the reasons you state. Please do let me know if you think of anything else.

It is very lacking for an organisation such as Which? to withhold details of subscriptions and payments.

When you log into your account, you should be able to see exactly what you are subscribed to, how much it is costing you and what payments have been made or are due.

Thanks Charlotte. At the university I worked in we had to log in to use various services, but following complaints from users we moved to single sign-in years ago.

Another suggestion that some of us have made is to provide additional information on the website for selected product reviews. The website regularly invites us to call for additional information but when I have done this it has not proved useful.

By far my greatest criticism of the website is that many of the articles are undated. Which? does a great job in providing useful information but it cannot all be up to date, so dating of articles is, in my view, vital.

Absolutely agree this should be there Alfa, thank you.

We – some – have suggested that we would like Which? to have real “engagement” with its (interested) Members – to be seen to listen to their views, respond to what they ask and say, and to accept that they can provide real help, expertise and constructive input to their work. It would be useful if Which? decided whether it was prepared to commit to this or carry on at arms length. While the details of login and such are of interest, the ethos of a Consumers Organisation is of much greater importance.

I see Which?’s great deficiency as being unrepresented, in numbers, of the population (membership about 1.5% of those 16 years old and over) and probably unrepresentative demographically. To become a more representative body, representing all consumers, with weight requires, in my view, a radical rethink of how Which? attracts a much greater membership. I doubt a subscription model on the present lines, costing £129 a year, is presented – marketed – sufficiently persuasively to convince potential members that it will actually save them money; something that is not the only benefit of Which? but would make a membership decision easier.

As the only consumer representative of note Which? is in a unique position but one it does not seem to properly exploit. Diversions into other “revenue streams” – India, mortgages – have failed but, more importantly I believe, absorbed financial and human resources that would have been much better employed in developing the core product. There is real strength in numbers and my belief is that Which? needs to tackle that to be a real champion for consumers – that is, all the population.

One way of raising awareness of Which? could be to allow non-subscribers to buy access to product reviews, for example ones on washing machines, computers or cars. At the present cost of membership I’m not surprised that most subscribers are older and can afford to pay.

Some other consumer organisations do offer individual reports for a price. However I wonder how many they sell. Perhaps Which? has looked at this. I am not sure that many would visit the Which? website to do this, without extensive and perhaps costly repeat marketing. I’d much rather see the Which? product made more attractive to many more people and build up a real body of regular subscribers.

I expect that Which? has looked at the economics of producing individual reports but wonder if this has been considered as a way of raising awareness and the potential of gaining new subscribers, particularly younger people.

Which? has tried numerous ventures over the years and I miss the books on topics such as buying and selling houses, but realise that there is now plenty of information available and much of it is free. I’m very glad that Which? stopped their prize draws.

Most people are aware of Which? reviews but maybe they would save more money by and hassle by learning about their consumer rights.

Thanks Malcolm, you make some very good points. You’re right, our interest in the logged in experience of our members is just scratching the surface of getting our members more involved in how we support you and grow as a business. Interestingly, certain aspects of what we do – particularly our consumer rights advice – has greater use by younger audiences. But as you say, our core customer base isn’t necessarily representative of all UK consumers. We have been testing the concept of a tiered membership package (digital only / digital + Mag / digital + Mag + legal advice) as we understand that the price point isn’t accessible to all and the package of benefits might not be needed by all. These have been some exciting tests for us and when we can provide more detail on this we certainly will.

Wavechange, we’ve looked at this type of pay-as-you go model too which has typically had less appeal/business viability but will be something we continue to revisit. Out of interest, was it the physical book form that you enjoyed in relation to our guides, or do you more generally like the idea of having this knowledge base? I’m sure you’re already aware that the guides we’ve produced are available in the ‘My Account’ section (admittedly they could be better organised/indexed).

@charlotte-slayford, thanks Charlotte.
I do hope Which? can attract substantially more subscribers / members from a much wider audience.
I like paper mags to flick through but I think many would be happier accessing online material, particularly by smartphone. Indeed, for product reviews to people out shopping this would be far more useful. You might see an appealing product or two and want to know there and then just how well rated they are. Swiping in a barcode, QR or inputting the product model number that went straight to the relevant Which? review(s) might appeal.

Charlotte – It was the printed books I was referring to. In the days of the internet I can understand that they are unlikely to be economically viable. I do like the guides you refer to, which remind me of the free leaflets that were provided as an incentive for joining. I suspect that the guides would be used more if links were provided on the website and we did not have to log in to access them if we were already logged into the website.

It does not surprise me that the pay-as-you-go model does not work well, but I feel that there needs to be some way of generating interest among younger members of the public, who could go on to become to become supporters in the future.

With my March magazines came a 36 page booklet entitled “Planning home improvements”. All the articles were pretty general, but with web addresses to more information from Which? As this went to subscribers only, presumably, I’m really not sure of its value. They would, I would have thought, know where to look for detailed information. As it assumed access to the internet I’d have thought the document could have been placed there instead of sending 700 000 (did it really go to all subscribers?) paper copies out.

Personally for something I’m directly interested in I would much rather have a paper copy but I’m quite prepared to read on screen and print off what I find necessary.

The guides mentioned by Charlotte are in pdf format and can be printed easily, unlike some web pages. The supplement is an example of the useful material produced by Which? but I’m quite happy to hit the print button if I want a paper copy.

I don’t know how many people look at the annual car guide but as someone who has kept new cars for between 8 and 10 years, I’m not very interested and passed the last one on to a friend who is considering replacing her car. When my car comes up for replacement I will be very interested in reading the guide.

Perhaps paper guides in which we are interested could be requested from Which? to be delivered with our next magazine – that is, if we don’t want to print them ourselves. Print on demand perhaps.

My understanding is that this would be difficult and not cost effective, but I do not know for sure. To save other subscribers having to pay the cost of printing and posting guides to individuals, perhaps they could be made available at cost.

Hello everyone. You should now all have received your interim review in the post. A digital version is available on our website:

https://www.which.co.uk/about-which/company-info/which-annual-reports

You'll also find here both a summary and video clip of the 'Future of Good Governance' event that we hosted in February.

We will be in touch again shortly. Thank you.

I presume this message, and the Interim Review, are addressed chiefly to Ordinary Members. As a subscriber, I have not received it and the legions of non-members who enter this site presumably will not get it.

Possibly. However, anyone can become an Ordinary Member. It costs nothing except a little of your time.

Becoming a Member is a fairly quick formality. It would demonstrate a particular interest in Which?’s affairs. Which? could publicise their wish to get more such people on board…….?

Which? ordinary members
If you want to have a say in how we’re run and help to shape the future of Which? you can get more involved by becoming an ‘ordinary’ (or voting) member. This means you can:

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 reports and accounts – we’ll keep you up to date with all that’s going on, so you’re always in the loop.

How to become an ordinary member
Just fill in the ordinary membership application form below,
(see https://www.which.co.uk/about-which/get-involved/304/become-a-voting-member )
and post it to us. The address is on the form. Our Council is in charge of approving applications, and once it’s approved yours, we’ll get in touch to tell you that you’re officially an ordinary member. It usually takes about two to three weeks, and then you’ll be on board.

Interestingly, in 1998 they did just that and brought an entire raft of new members on board. Just one of the ways in which the original forum was groundbreaking.

I know how easy it is to become an Ordinary Member but personally I am not interested since none of the opportunities listed appeals to me. I was just wondering why Which? Conversation was being used to carry an announcement to Ordinary Members. Is there not a dedicated channel for such communications?

There used to be – the Members’ forum – but that’s now closed.

The Members’ forum was difficult to use whereas the new Which? membership section will, I hope, be used to separate governance from other topics: https://conversation.which.co.uk/topic/which-membership/ At the moment it includes just this Convo but we could have ones discussing the latest magazine, product testing, our thoughts on strategy and of governance. I suspect we will see many more contribute.

The Member Community forum gave a place where Ordinary Members only could, in principle, openly discuss with Which? staff a large number of issues, from governance, membership, policy, criticisms, that might be better done there than in a public forum. That is relevant if we regard Which? as an association of members who finance, almost totally, their work and therefore, should have a say in its operation, as they do at AGMs for example.

However, if we regard subscribers as simply public benefactors who have no interest in what Which? does and how it operates but just buy a monthly mag then having Ordinary Members is rather pointless.

I hope we will have a place where only Members who have shown an interest in the operation and wellbeing of Which? can have constructive dialogues with the Which? staff. The 2017 AGM rather suggested this was Which?’s intent.

Governance, of all topics, is surely a matter for the Members, not the public.There is a Member Governance Committee. As far as I know it has received no proposals of any consequence; there seems little interest.

I agree malcolm.

This area is currently open to all. Surely there should be a flag on your login/registration that allows members/subscribers to read and post here.

Should these posts be appearing under Latest comments on the front page of W?C ?

I think a separate front page is required.

In purely technical terms what’s needed is for the relevant heading only to be visible to registered members. Now, that’s a doddle in any forum, using MySql tables to determine who sees what, but this place is still using WordPress, which lacks a lot of the functionality of a forum.

Thinking a little more about it, PV-S, in order to marginalise the Council and its say in matters, made the council electable by every subscriber, thus effectively rendering the status of Member largely irrelevant.

The thinking I’m certain, was that by expanding the numbers of those eligible to vote in council elections effectively diluted the power of those concerned enough about the Consumers’ Association to register as members and thus tacitly increased the power of the CEO and his closest allies to make decisions.

So it’s possible that this is not an accident.

My impression is that if an organisation puts their recommendation to support or reject a motion at an AGM, say, the vast majority of voters will go along with them, mainly because most of them are not sufficiently acquainted with the workings of the organisation and the ramifications of the proposal.

This seems to happen at Which? AGMs where, rather perversely, although only Ordinary Members (those who go the extra bit to take a bigger interest, have more knowledge of Which?, only they receive the official papers including annual reports and accounts) can speak, any subscriber of over 1 years standing can vote. Another way, I suspect, Which? avoid proper engagement with and influence from the Membership.

I think it would help if those elected onto Council could be encouraged to show their face here join in with discussions. As far as I can recall, only Roger Pittock has done this, though it’s possible that others look at the Convos.

Each year we are invited to vote for people standing for a place on the Council and it is not always easy to find out more than the brief information provided about the candidates. An active participant here might help us decide whether or not they might be deserving of our vote.

I endorse your comment, Wavechange.

I have rarely participated in elections to the CA Council because I have no knowledge of the people standing for election. So far as I was concerned they had no public presence. If I did vote, I just chose the requisite number from the youngest upwards.

I was interested in Ian’s explanation of how subscribers came to have a vote. In practical terms I am indifferent to whether or not subscribers should also have a vote alongside Ordinary Members, but I cannot see the necessity for it and its concomitant expense. I agree that it does render Ordinary Membership somewhat irrelevant except for the opportunity to receive the documents for and to attend AGM’s [always in London I presume]. This does devalue the position of Ordinary Members and it might restore some credibility to Ordinary Membership [and appeal to more subscribers to upgrade to that status] if there was a clearer distinction between the two classes of ‘membership’.

As a subscriber I have a passing interest in the governance of Which? but no desire to get involved in it, but I do agree that there should be a representative body to exert some influence over the executive on behalf of those who support and contribute to Which?’s public activities. Having a self-appointed group – Ordinary Members – with an entitlement to elect that representative body would seem to be a sensible way of proceeding. It would ensure that any subscriber who wished to could participate without the organisation incurring significant expenditure on organising elections for the large number who are not particularly interested. It would then appear to be proper for the Ordinary Membership to be serviced administratively and to have its own communication channels.

It is disappointing if the Ordinary Members feel they have little influence over the executive; no wonder there is little uptake of that class of membership. Perhaps that is the first thing that needs to change.

Perhaps we should be discussing how we get to know more about those we are invited to vote for, John. I’ve made a suggestion and no doubt others will have different ideas.

I don’t see much difference between subscribers and Ordinary Members other than that the latter have expressed an interest in making an input into the organisation. Opting-in to receiving communications makes more sense than opting-out and saves costs if documents are to be sent by mail. As long as subscribers are reminded from time to time that they can have a say in running of the organisation then I am not sure what else should be done. I have no problem with OMs having private discussion, though that might be counterproductive if the intention is to get more people taking an interest in governance issues.

Eyebrows have been raised about Which? Ltd and hopefully we will more control in expenditure in the near future.

I would like all members being invited to have more of an input. Even if a subscribers have no interest in governance they might like to be asked to prioritise what products should be tested in the coming year. OMs might be invited to vote for what should become Which? campaigns in the coming year.

I agree. I certainly think those who chiefly pay for the magazines, the subscribers, should have the opportunity to influence its contents. This seems to be anathema at the moment.

If I wish to buy a magazine in the newsagents I can have a quick flick through and decide whether to or not or choose an alternative title. Subscribers have to put up with what they get and their only option is to cancel the subscription when it elapses.

There are pluses and misuses on both sides but I would appreciate a bit more recognition that the readers are customers and might have some views on what’s in the magazines.

The publications are a by-product of research and testing programmes which start some time before any ink hits the page, so any input needs to be in advance of that point in the process; perhaps choices of research and testing could be offered and prioritised by the subscribers, or a Connect survey could find out what issues are most in demand for coverage.

Perhaps we should look be looking at this sort of issues, John. At present this Convo can be used to debate anything to do with Which? but hopefully product testing etc. will be separated from governance issues soon.

Although some of us believe that Connect surveys could be greatly improved for collecting information about product reliability, they would be a very good way of collecting information about what we would like to see in the magazine.

Sorry for the delay in getting responses to these comments. I’ve spoken to the team – they are really busy ATM with fielding queries about the upcoming nominations and elections and have asked me to post this on their behalf:

On the point around council elections and not knowing who you are really voting for, I think that is valid and we are looking at the council election process as part of the governance review. We are also looking at way that Convo can facilitate this.

The benefit of having all members (and not just ordinary members) being able to vote for council is it means we have a stronger and more representative base for which we can seek to influence and make change happen. It’s worth adding, OMs are the only group that can vote on the AGM. On John’s point around clearer distinction being needed between the two classes of membership, we have acknowledged this point and are looking at our membership model as part of the ongoing governance review. We will publishing the second stage governance review report later in the spring and hope to be able to engage with members online at that point.

We would encourage all who are eligible to become an OM in order to receive governance related communications including our annual report and updates on the governance review. It’s an easy process which you can start here https://www.which.co.uk/about-which/get-involved/become-a-voting-member

Where, and at what time of day, do Annual General Meetings take place? This has a bearing on whether people who are eligible actually have the opportunity to participate as Ordinary Members.

Hi John, The annual general meeting will be held on Saturday 23rd November at our Which? London office. We are yet to confirm a start time but it is likely to start late morning.

Having it on a Saturday at the offices is a trail this year to see if this widens it out to as many people as possible. Our offices are well located with good facilities to host it so is a sensible choice.

Thanks Abby.

I was hoping the AGM’s would take place in regional locations so that people in the provinces could attend occasionally without having to spend a night in London or have expensive journeys.

I expect the majority of Ordinary Members are in London and the Home Counties which dictates a London meeting place.

I think the Midlands would be a decent location that enables Members who are really interested the opportunity to attend. Somewhere near a rail station and with a large car park.

It would be interesting to know the geographic distribution of Members.

I do think much more time needs to be devoted to a discussion of topics, and Members questions raised and published in advance. I would not be averse to a longish day if it were used constructively; at the moment it starts about 11:00 and finishes for lunch with much time given to Which? staff. It is good to meet Which? people afterwards but the AGM business is a priority.

I’ll pass on your thoughts about the format of the day.

All these things were considered when deciding on where to hold it. With having it in the diary so far in advance people should be able to book tickets at a more reasonable price.

But London is a long way to come for some (many) and that may well deter them, so I would think a more central location, or one that moves each year, might be better.

Can you tell us the geographic distribution of Members?

I can get to London and back easily in a day, and with advance train tickets travel very cheaply, but I am also thinking about those from the West Country, Wales, the north of England and Scotland. Birmingham is very well connected and so it would be a good alternative to London providing far greater opportunities for members from other UK cities to meet. London is comparatively poorly connected to Britain’s major cities which is why many Which? members feel that a consumer organisation concentrated on London is insufficiently representative and needs to get out more!

Another advantage of dispersed locations is that the overnight accommodation is usually much cheaper than in London for those who would need to come on the day before the AGM.

Of course, all this assumes that attending the AGM is a day well-spent.

You are right about our member base. I obviously can’t go into a lot of detail but London and the South East of England are where the largest portion of our members are from. For a the largest portion of our members they would have to go through London to get to Birmingham.

Looking around the office – yes we all live in the London or the South East but the majority of us are from different areas across the UK. Being from Northern Ireland I know exactly how frustrating it is to feel disconnected from where a lot of national activity takes place but pragmatically speaking it makes sense to have it in the London office.

I’m not planning to attend any AGM in London and in the 21st century there must be more environmentally acceptable alternatives to driving or using public transport to attend distant meetings.

I would like to see Which? to get input from all its members and not just those who come to the AGM.

We are keen to get input from members across the country as well and are looking at ways to do this.

>>they would have to go through London to get to Birmingham
There are direct and frequent-ish trains from Bournemouth, Reading, Oxford etc in the south: Norwich, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leicester etc in the Far East: Aberdeen Glasgow, Edinburgh etc in North Britain; Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield etc. up (down?) that way; Carlisle, Preston, Manchester, Liverpool, Stoke etc in the north-west: Holyhead, Chester, Aberystwyth, Shrewsbury etc, Wales-ish; Cardiff, Plymouth, Torquay, Bristol and other places where they don’t speak English **grin** south & west. Concerning God’s Own People in London and the south-east, hard luck: 1/4 mi walk from HS1 at St Pancras to Euston (choice of 2 carriers) or – preferably, my view – aim your palanquin at Marylebone and get Chiltern Trains.
Equally serious, it’s time you Southerners abandoned your view that for anything good to happen it has to be on the Marylebone Road (or the Ritz Hotel).
My vote is for shunting the AGM around. Equal subs for equal inconvenience?
Or, for lower carbon footprint, everybody’s kitchen tables for internet conferencing which the Phone Coop can mediate.
JRR

I am not planning to become an Ordinary Member and attend an AGM until Which? engages better with the regions and stops thinking that everyone works in an office and commutes by train.

Until Which?’s campaign succeeds in obtaining better broadband coverage and speed throughout this tiny landmass, running the AGM on-line would not be satisfactory.

The Which.net service debacle has reared its head again in a comment today. This, surely, is quite a good example of where Which? “engaging” with its Members could have discussed the proposals and discovered both Members’ feelings and their advice, such as extending the time the service remained open, before they plunged into a very badly handled axing. The Convos contained a good deal of sensible and constructive comment. A pity to avoid using such a resource.

I just wanted to confirm with everyone that we are working on how this area is going to work. We felt it was a priority to get this area up to make this convo easier to find for members following the closure of the forum. We will be splitting things out soon and if it makes sense I’ll move comments across to the new convo.

Afternoon all,

Just a reminder that council election applications are open. Council members are at the heart of shaping the direction of Which?

If you are (or someone you know is) interested in standing in this election, please get in touch by emailing council.election@which.co.uk. The application process closes on 14 June 2019.

As a matter of interest, are employees of the Consumers’ Association allowed to be Ordinary Members?

That’s a very good question that I am going to have to come back to you on!

We have checked the Articles of Association and employees are not prohibited from becoming ordinary members providing they have a paid subscription.

Interesting. Can such OM’s therefore be elected to governing positions?

No – they can’t. It’s a bit like if you work for a local authority you can’t stand for election to be a Councillor for that Council.

Valerie Sabir Ali says:
25 March 2019

Re: your April article entitled “Spotting A Scam”.

Dear Which? Magazine,
It was with a wry smile that I read the article on being suspicious of unsolicited phone calls. I never respond to them even if it’s “BT” or “Microsoft”. So when I had a call from “HSBC Bank” asking me to answer questions to prove who I was, obviously I asked them for proof that it was actually HSBC. The caller absolutely refused to do so until I proved who I was first! We had a ridiculous conversation demanding each other’s details until I hung up.
As banks are so insistent that we do not divulge anything to anybody over the phone, they should have some method of proving that their phone call is genuine and the same rules should apply to them as to other suspicious calls. They do not need to supply any confidential information, they just need to say for example that they were phoning about a certain transaction I had made a few hours earlier on and I would then have been able to recognize that it was a genuine call.
I have taken this up with the bank and complained and also about the fact that I should have been informed immediately if there were cause for suspicion. Banks need to change their approach and give people some proof identity before they expect their customers to give them any details.

.

I remember the days when you would get a letter from your bank manager the next day as follows –

Dear Mr Ward

I am writing respectfully to advise you that our Chief Cashier has been made aware of an irregularity in a cheque you have presented for payment into your current account.

We should be most obliged if you would make arrangements to call at this Branch as soon as it is convenient in order that we can apprise you of the details and take your further instructions. In the meantime it has not been possible to credit the funds to your account so we should also be pleased to advise you on the best way to manage the consequences of any balance shortfall.

I trust this can be dealt with promptly to your entire satisfaction. We endeavour to provide our highest standard of service to our long-standing customers, and I remain

Yours sincerely

G. C. Eccles
Branch Manager

Those days will not return.

P.S. I should have mentioned that such a letter would have led to a standard charge to my account for the letter and a discretionary fee for the subsequent consultation. In those days there were quarterly charges for running a current account and there was no interest on credit balances. Today the account is free of charge, has a pre-authorised overdraft limit, and pays a smidgeon of interest on a credit balance.