When I wrote my very first Which? Conversation profile page – back in 2010 – I said that ‘I believe in the power of debate’. I absolutely still do. Especially the power of the Which? community.
The collective voices of many in our online community can not only change the opinion of the author – they can change the opinion of businesses and the government.
Your voices can make change happen. And they have.
The power of your voices
Take the scourge of nuisance calls as an example. This issue wasn’t even on the radar of the government, the regulators, or the telecoms industry. But we knew it was on your mind.
Thousands of you shared your frustration with the daily calls right here – and you clearly wanted action.
This directly influenced our decision to launch our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls & Texts campaign.
When we combine your voices with Which?’s incredible ability to make an impact – that’s where change happens.
I look back with pride at what we were able to achieve together on this campaign. I personally had the pleasure of building the campaign website and ensuring we gathered support. And support we did gather.
More than half a million signatures later, and concerted campaigning, the issue very squarely landed on the agenda of the then government, with an action plan announced, new laws passed and huge fines hitting cold calling companies and their bosses.
It all started here, from the stories you shared with Which? in our community of thousands.
Every comment counts
But it’s not only about volume. Sometimes it’s just one comment that alerts us to a new scam or a shady piece of business practice.
Or someone who shares their personal story about a dangerous product setting fire to their home. Or one individual revealing their smart way to solve a consumer problem for themselves.
My favourite example of the latter is the cheeky Lee Beaumont. He shared with us that he had set up a premium rate phone number to charge nuisance callers, making a tasty profit every year.
His story soon became of national interest, appearing on TV and papers across the country (and even abroad).
Change takes time
Of course, Which? can’t campaign on every issue or investigate every example of bad practice. But when we know we can change laws and lives, and deliver impact for millions of UK consumers, we will.
I know it can sometimes feel frustrating that it can be years before the change you want actually comes through – but campaigning is complicated.
Take Whirlpool as an example. We’ve been hearing about the company’s fire-risk dryers for years. Only now has the government taken the unprecedented step of demanding a recall, and that’s only the modified dryers, when we don’t have confidence in the safety modification program.
Change takes time, and so it’s important that you continue to talk about these issues, and for Which? to continue putting pressure on our targets.
If we stop talking, the issue can slowly disappear and companies are let off the hook. Let’s not let that happen. Keep talking. Keep sharing your stories.
Keep debating even when you disagree – it’s only when we explore questions, ideas and opinions together in a constructive way that we can discover the answers and make change happen.
Keep on talking
This is my very last conversation at Which?. I’ve laughed many times at the exchanges we’ve had. And some of the stories you’ve shared have even brought tears to my eyes.
You have all been a tremendous support to me over the years, and you’ve kept the community I helped create stay alive.
I know it will continue to thrive, with a fantastic team who will be working with you to meet the potential of what we’ve created together.
I believe in the power of community, I hope you do too.
All the very best, Patrick.