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Which consumer issues helped shape the decade?

As we say farewell to 2019, I’ve taken a look back at some of the biggest consumer-related moments of the last decade. Which ones stood out most to you?

With a new decade beginning on Wednesday, how will we look back on the previous one? What are the moments that stood out?

I’ve attempted to round-up some (but not all!) of them below. What would your list look like?

The 2010s get underway

The decade began with the launch of the iPad in 2010. The tablet’s launch helped change the way people went about their online shopping, interacted with brands and navigated the internet.

There are now hundreds of tablets to choose from, including child-friendly options. Do you own one?

In 2012, Which? held a reverse auction, known as The Big Switch, with energy suppliers to try to secure better gas and electricity deals for thousands of consumers.

More than 36,000 people switched their supplier following Co-operative Energy’s winning bid!

Scandals, data breaches and closures

Moving into 2013, the UK was rocked by the horsemeat scandal. The discovery left people questioning what was really in their food. Did it change your shopping habits?

The following year saw eBay suffer a data breach which resulted in millions of customer details stolen by hackers.

Millions were advised to update their log-in details, but eBay did advise that PayPal accounts were not compromised.

More sad news arrived in 2016 as the high street said goodbye to BHS. 11,000 jobs and 22,000 pensions were affected by the department store’s collapse, which launched a parliamentary inquiry.

Campaign wins, Facebook and PPI

With the help of more than 500,000 supporters, new laws came into place in 2018 to make company directors accountable for plaguing people with nuisance calls.

The action came after thousands of you shared your frustration with daily calls right here on Which? Conversation. It’s a campaign we can all be proud of working on together.

And then came the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed the dark side of how our data is treated.

Facebook received a £500,000 fine for its role in the scandal, with the ICO saying that it broke the law by failing to protect its users’ information, and not being transparent about how the data was being harvested. Did you delete your Facebook account as a result?

Back to the good news; 2018 also saw another campaign win for Which? with the arrival of the Rail Ombudsman. Finally, people with unresolved rail complaints have somewhere to go to help find a solution.

Seeing the decade out

It’s been difficult to avoid seeing or hearing mentions of PPI claims for a long time now, but even that went up a notch in 2019 as the deadline approached in August.

Our PPI tool helped people find out if they’d been mis-sold – were you affected?

The final year of the decade also saw one of its biggest news stories with the collapse of Thomas Cook. Hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers were affected, with many still waiting for refunds as we head into the new year.

Speaking of heading into the new year, it also looks like the issues with Whirlpool will continue into the 2020s after it announced another recall on 17 December.

What stood out to you most this decade? Were you affected by any of the issues mentioned above? How will you look back on the 2010s?


The built-in obsolescence of so many products fuels our throw-away society to the detriment of our planet and the lives of our children and all future generations. Think of almost all plastic products. Think of our mobile phones which are only updated for a very few years. Think of the food waste.

I absolutely agree. It is a society of greed, but everyone will have a high price to pay ultimately. Retain and re-use over and over is the only answer.