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The power of the Which? community

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.

Comments

Sorry to hear you are going Patrick, you will be missed. I wish you all the best for the future.

Thanks for your support, Patrick. Best wishes for the future and I hope you will look in from time to time.

You are going to have to do a routine check-up for new comments in your recent Convo about NHS and private dentistry. Whatever life brings, humour should be part of it.

malcolm r says:
5 August 2019

@patrick, cheers Patrick. Sorry you’re leaving but good luck in what you do.

Gosh, the end of an era! All the best, Patrick, and thank you for everything. X

Grace says:
5 August 2019

Ahhh this is such a lovely piece Patrick, sad to hear it will be your last. You’ve made a huge difference to W? and the W? Community, you’ll be missed!

It seems more appropriate to write a best wishes message to @patrick here rather than a card!
I am really going to miss Patrick – from his boundless energy and optimism to his genuine love of this community via the fact he wrote on my interview notes “hilarious” (complete with quote marks). I have worked in many teams but none that have worked so well together and that is down to Patrick. He’s a true superstar.
I’m now going to sort out my leaking eyes and leave Patrick with a gif that sums us up…

Patrick – I am sorry to see you go. It hope it wasn’t something I said about teeth. May your future be exciting and enjoyable and free from mayonnaise.

Ah. I join the well wishers in wishing you well. In creating Which Conversation you and the team have given a voice to many who might not have come on line. Here has been a civilised place for civilised discussion among civilised people- civilised here at least and most probably elsewhere too, since it seems to go with the territory. Good luck for the future. Come back and tell us what you are doing or, even better, join us and ginger up the new Which team from our side. Who is now in charge?
Ps. I didn’t ask this post to double space each line. I will find out if this is how it gets published in a few moments.

Well, it didn’t, but I can’t edit anything either.

I guess that most of us are familiar with team building activities. They can involve putting employees together in challenging activities unrelated to normal work. I’m sure this was not intended as a team building exercise but it’s something nice to look back on: https://conversation.which.co.uk/food-drink/eating-insects-would-you-eat-edible-bugs/ Watch the video in the intro.

wev says:
6 August 2019

I’m sorry to see you go, Patrick. Where are you moving to?

I wonder if you can still remember the huge homeopathy debate from 5 years ago? What did you think of it?

I have to disagree a bit with you. You mentioned the nuisance calls campaign. I would say the campaign failed. It did persuade the government to put fines on cold call companies if they called too many times, but that’s not what we wanted. We wanted cold calling to stop entirely. Our personal phone numbers shouldn’t be in the hands of strangers. It leaves too much chance for scammers calling, pretending to be real companies. And we shouldn’t be disturbed by companies we’ve never heard of, that bought our personal details from companies we do use or marketing data companies that collect personal info to sell

The decline in nuisance calls has been very welcome, but I think it would be better to focus attention on fines that have been paid rather than the fine itself, since there are cases of companies going out of business rather than paying up.

As far as I can recall, one of the homeopathy Convos and the dodgy one on dampness problems have been the only ones that were closed. That’s not bad for ten years.