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The first decade in Which? Conversation

(Nearly) 10 years on, we look back at the decade that launched more than 5,000 conversations.

It all started with a question about whether you’re being conned over your broadband speed.

Since April 2010 and some 5,359 conversations, 287,000+ comments and a substantial redesign later, Which? Conversation is still where people are coming to find answers and question the issues that matter to them.

Here are a few highlights from the first decade:

Dealing with scams and nuisance calls

Top of the tables as the most viewed and most commented-on topic was 2013’s ‘Have you been called by a ‘BT Technical Support’ phone scam?

It’s been viewed more than 220,000 times and gathered 3,091 comments. Even six years on, people continue to report receiving this scam phone call as many as 40 times in the month.

We’re continuing to warn people about this dangerous scam, as well as make BT aware when new or similar fraud pops up in its name.

The response to this and other scam calls was tremendous, with more than half a million people signing our petition to end nuisance calls and texts.

We also launched our Nuisance Calls and Texts reporting tool, which flags the calls you receive directly to the regulator.

Helping others

The experiences you share here often form the basis of campaigning actions Which? takes on behalf of consumers, including:

Campaigns, such as 2017’s Care Needs Care campaign in which hundreds of people shared their story of how difficult finding later-life care can be;

Investigations, including Which?’s investigation into homeopathic medicine back in 2013

Super complaints, such as 2015’s action on dodgy supermarket pricing

Your story

These conversations start with you, and we continue in our aim of welcoming all and highlighting everyday challenges alongside those of guests with specific areas of expertise.

Be it starting the conversation on sustainability, outlining your beliefs on the future of money, sharing your experience of owning an electric vehicle, fighting your parking ticket in court, or even profiting off of spam calls.

All of these experiences help us to identify areas of consumer harm and and try to create the change you want to see.

Here’s to the next decade!

Thank you to everyone who’s joined in on Which? Conversation over the last ten years.

Whether it’s a background browse or a daily essential, we’re grateful to have the pleasure of your company over this past decade. Here’s to many more!

A lot’s happened in the decade and we’d love to hear what stood out for you.

In the mean time, stay well, have a very happy start to the new year, and we’ll speak more in 2020!

Comments

JS-C said Top of the tables as the most viewed and most commented-on topic was 2013’s ‘Have you been called by a ‘BT Technical Support’ phone scam?‘ It’s been viewed more than 220,000 times and gathered 3,091 comments…

I thought the original Lobby garnered far more than that? What are the figures for the original and extension Lobbies?

From the Extension lobby’s preamble:

the original Lobby was so popular (with almost 13,000 comments), it was becoming hard to load the page.

There’s a serious point, here; the original Lobby was created to act as a place where everyone could (virtually) meet and discuss almost anything. But it also became a place to which off-topic conversations elsewhere could be re-routed, and, even more importantly, became fertile ground for proposals and ideas, many of which evolved into topics of their own.

It seems a shame that this wasn’t included in the header information for this topic.

Lobby Mark 2 has >10k comments (even taking yours out, Ian, it exceeds 3,091 😉 )

🙂

I thought it might.

I wondered when we would celebrate the tenth birthday of Which? Convo. Maybe we can spread this over 2020.

Looking back at all the wrangling about broadband speed, most of the problems have been resolved by getting rid of the misleading ‘up to’ claims, replacing them with an average speed, and customers can get a good idea of what to expect by contacting their ISP. This could have been done years ago.

I missed this when it first arrived -my fault not yours. I am glad to learn that Which? uses this site as a data base, though there is little evidence of that in any printed material. I have yet to see an honest appraisal of what Which? Conversation means to Which?. What purpose it ascribes to us who write here; how much data gathering it can usefully garner from our comments and specifically how much credence it gives to our views. This last is the subject of many comments. We happily talk among ourselves, we put forward ideas, possible actions, give accurate explanations for technical topics and suggest courses of action for Which? to follow. These things may not be ignored, but there is no evidence to suggest otherwise and everyone (except our managers) is too busy to use our space for a reply or even a recognition of a good idea. Thus we see an ambivalence: let them get on with it and give them space to write, but keep out of the way. Obviously Which? has a structure and a business plan, and that has to go forward logically to make the company survive. There doesn’t seem to be a place in that structure to include us in any meaningful way. We have suggested forums and specific meetings and our willingness to be part of the team but Which? ignores this and doesn’t say why, even if the “why” is to tell us it is too difficult or expensive to do. At least we would know the status of Which Conversation within the organisation. Currently this is defined by Which?’s silence in this matter. Here we are on a long limb at the edge of the tree but the branch is a delicate one and little nutrient passes along it.Just enough to keep it from falling off.

Some of the Convos ask specific questions. For example the most recent one asks: “Have you ever been asked to make a payment by bank transfer after an order has gone through on a website? What happened?” The most useful to Which? in this and many Convos is likely to be that supplied by contributors with relevant experience of the problem in question. The general debate may be useful or may just dilute the useful comments but I doubt that many would look at the site if there was no social networking element.

In debates about scams we sometimes see requests from Which? staff for copies of emails or screen captures, which presumably inform Which? research.

We have asked to be involved, even in a small way, but that offer has not been taken up. I am now resigned to that. What really disappoints me is that the Connect surveys still remain in need of improvement and that problems (e.g. two pin plugs and third party ink cartridges) identified by Which? several years ago don’t seem to have moved on.

It is very encouraging that members of the Which? Legal team keep dropping in to answer some of the challenging questions that are posed on these pages.

Like Vynor, I missed this topic. I can’t remember what I was doing on 31 December but obviously not paying attention.

I am not surprised that scams have generated the most comments. They are a particularly irritating and in some cases distressing experience whether they are telephone-based or via e-mails, and there doesn’t seem to be any practical relief from telephone scams other than buying a particular type of call-handling equipment. I really would like to see a more vigorous attempt by Which? to deal with this intrusion and criminal activity rather than merely passing correspondents’ reports to Action Fraud.

Parking enforcement on private land is another hot topic that does not go away and the consumer’s voice does not seem to get a fair hearing any more than the victims of unfair enforcement and punishment for trivial misdemeanours do. Greater effort needed, Which?, please.

Meanwhile we worry about the composition of a scone or the contents of a pancake. I remain perplexed.