/ Home & Energy, Money, Technology

2016’s top conversations – what was your highlight?

2016

As the curtains close on 2016, I thought it was about time we looked back on the top conversations of the year. And I’d love to hear your highlights too.

Usually I stuff these round-ups with the year’s most commented conversations, but many of these relate to our campaigns which Pete Moorey has already rounded up nicely. So instead I’ll canter through these, before taking you for a stroll past my personal highlights.

Popular campaign conversations

The launch of our Better Banks campaign amassed 1,572 comments (hint hint for our quiz), which we pored through to share with the banks themselves. 1,046 comments were made on the CMA’s energy market changes, which helped drive forward our Fair Energy Prices campaign. Broadband woes attracted more than 1,000 comments, with significant announcements from Ofcom being the reward.

As our super-complaint on misleading supermarket prices developed into action from the CMA, you continued to share examples of dodgy special offers in a conversation stretching 678 comments.

Nuisance calls continued to drive debate. 505 comments added volume to our calls for directors to be made personally accountable, which was soon followed by the government announcing just that.

The launch of our scams campaign brought in 902 comments – there’s no underestimating how important these stories have been at highlighting the human reality of scams.

1,191 comments reported the companies which were still using pricey 084 and 087 customer service lines. We’ve scoured through these with a fine tooth comb to pull up the offending companies.

Brexit and Theresa May

As Britain voted to leave the EU and the government had a changing of the guards, we called on the new Prime Minister to put consumers at the heart of her agenda. What followed were 600 (slightly heated) comments about the future of the country.

Appliance fires

Throughout the year more than 1,000 comments were made about exploding tumble dryers. The stories shared armed us with invaluable evidence in our calls on Whirlpool and Peterborough Trading Standards.

Shrinking Toblerone’s

One of my highlights was watching the story of shrinking Toblerone’s unfold. I was on the other side of the world, working at the Australian consumers’ association, CHOICE, and the US election was in the throws of voting in Donald Trump. The UK? We were down in the dumps about Toblerone’s missing humps. (Thanks Beryl for the rhyme!)

Aliens in our food

Plastic, staples and paper – those are just a few of the things I’ve found in restaurant food. Weevils, ceramic and caterpillars – those are some of the things you’ve found in shop bought food. My story of finding a staple in my crème brûlée prompted Jennifer to share her story of swallowing a staple from a tin of tuna. She spent nine gruelling days in hospital being fed through a tube after the staple was surgically removed. I feel lucky, to say the least.

Commander Chris Greany

Soon after 97% of 29,000 people voted that banks should reimburse victims of fraud, we were joined by Commander Chris Greany. The Police Coordinator for Economic Crime wrote about the rising challenge of cybercrime, and what followed was an impressive question and answer session. It’s a post I now hold up as a shining of example of how to successfully hold a conversation.

We were also joined by

As has become tradition, we invited a number of guest authors to Which? Convo, such as Gloria Hunniford opening up about her harrowing experience of having £120k stolen from her bank account.

We were also joined by the CMA, Action on Hearing Loss, Sasha Rodoy, TalkTalk, Baroness Neville-Rolf, the ICO, SSE, Co-op Insurance, Andy Slaughter MP, Friends Against Scams, Keith Brown MSP, Ben Preston, the Featured Artists Coalition and many more.

Community members pick up the pen

What was even more exciting for me was to see more of you lot writing for us. Malcolm R quizzed the Food Standards Agency about Campylobacter tests; Roger Pittock bemoaned packaging redesigns; Duncan Lucas shared his thoughts on the extinction of red phone boxes; Dan French wrote a letter to his younger self; and Ian (née Carneades) has been dazzling us with his poetry throughout the year. We’ll be leaning on you even more to author original conversations in 2017.

Anonymous online dater

There is one guest conversation I don’t think got nearly enough attention. Written anonymously, the author opened up about how he had fallen in love with a Russian woman called Olga on a dating website. Alarm bells started ringing when Olga begged for money due to visa troubles. Heartbroken, our author realised he’d been duped and he endeavoured to unmask who ‘Olga’ really was. I highly recommend the read.

Your conversation highlights

Before I hand over to you, I wanted to say that one of the (many) things I like about our community is that it’s a safe place for anyone to share their experiences. And I’ve seen some amazing support given by community members to those in need over the year; whether to those whose homes have been damaged by exploding appliances or in support of people who’ve been personally damaged by scams. I’d love to see this supportive spirit blossoming even further in 2017.

What were your Which? Convo highlights in 2016? Whether conversations, comments or community members, let’s celebrate them all here!

Comments
Profile photo of Ian
Member

I think the best topic was Commander Chris Greany’s. It was, as you say, Patrick, an extraordinarily well constructed topic, which Chris managed for quite a while, dropping in and tirelessly answering questions. For me, anyway, he gets the gong 🙂

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Glad to hear that Ian!

Profile photo of alfa
Member

It was one of the better topics and I hope this year more authors wil continue to participate with their convos.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Feels a tad lonely in here…

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Feel lonely no longer although this is only a fleeting visit.

I did like your poetry convo although I think it would be good to have a current theme to work with this year.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

It feels like we had a bumper year on convo. A highlight for me was seeing how many convo regulars expertly helped out newcomers with their Consumer Rights Act queries – you all proved yourselves to be masterminds in the field of consumer rights… to the point that Adam’s well put together (and challenging to most) shopping rights quiz was a tad on the easy side for you 😛

Profile photo of Sophie Gilbert
Member

I’m not sure highlight is the word, but one convo that sticks in my mind is Avril Samuel’s “Carbon monoxide: the cause for alarm”. Hats off to her.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Absolutely Sophie, that was a very brave conversation to write. Here’s a link for others: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/carbon-monoxide-the-cause-for-alarm/

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

It was a valuable Conversation because it prompted me, and hopefully some others, to install CO alarms.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I have been preoccupied with the Christmas break but very much agree that Avril’s Convo was brave and useful. I already had carbon monoxide alarms in the rooms with gas appliances but the discussion encouraged me to replace old smoke alarms that were not loud enough.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

It’s quite difficult to pinpoint one particular topic as most were of special importance, but I have to go with Ian and pick Commander Greanys excellent and informative responses into banking scams.

A close second would be Ambers, Concerns over Brexit which attracted 311 comments with quite a plethora of up and down thumbs for each individual comment, representing very strong feelings for a subject that potentially affects all aspects of everyone’s future.