At our very first meeting in 2011, MP John McDonnell advised me to contact Which? magazine as they had published a report on the laser eye surgery industry in 2009.
For two years I bombarded Which? staff with countless phone calls and emails, begging them to investigate!
I'd almost given up, until late last year when Which? Principal Health Researcher (Joanna Pearl) called to tell me they were going to look at the industry again - I honestly don’t know how I kept the news quiet for as long as I did!
Knowing many Which? subscribers would be receiving the magazine through their letter boxes this morning, I decided to do some advertising and wore my OERML T shirt to a meeting with my barrister in central London,
Returning home on the crowded underground I was very happy to find a seat - then ecstatic when an attractive woman in her mid 30s sat next to me and pulled out an unopened copy of Which? magazine!
Of course I couldn’t keep quiet, I had to explain my connection to the article and showed her my T shirt.
She told me her name was Lucy (a solicitor) and she'd been considering laser eye surgery herself, against the advice of her optician.
People assume their local optician will badmouth laser eye surgery because they don't want you to stop buying specs from them, but in fact these are the ones who are more likely to actually care about the health of your eyes.
Of course there are some opticians who have a financial 'arrangement' with a specific clinic and will encourage you to consider surgery even if you'd only gone in for an eye test.
NB: I recently discovered that Specsavers are disappointingly amongst those who have an 'arrangement' with a large eye surgery chain. I will be detailing more on that story at a later date.
Optometrists working for OE and other high street chains leave their ethics at the bank, along with their sales commissions, meeting unreasonable monthly targets by selling surgery to reluctant patients, hoping the (very tired) surgeon will notice unsuitable ones minutes before they operate.
These optoms work hand in hand with the 'refractive technician' (sales staff) to make as many sales at the highest price they can persuade the customer to pay.
At this point I promise you OE senior management are holding their breath wondering when I'm going to publish my 'good nugget', a document they do NOT want publicising.
Yes boys, I really do have it - all ten beautiful pages
Back to Lucy: she finished reading the report and told me she was shocked by its content, and that surgery was no longer a consideration!
I gave her my card, and an OERML flyer, and know she will be reading this - Lucy, you made my day!
An hour later, a woman approached me in Tesco and said she’d seen me on TV. She too had been considering surgery until she saw the BBC London News story.
While we were talking, another woman noticed my T shirt and came over to tell me she would never risk eye surgery herself, but had friends who were considering it. She took my card to warn them not to.
A good day became a great day!
"Which? magazine maintains its independence by not accepting advertising and the organisation receives no government funding. The Consumers' Association is the largest consumer organisation in the UK, with over 1 million subscribers to its magazine."