MoneySavingExpert is 15 years old this week – and to celebrate, we've had a look back at some of our best moments.
The site was officially launched on 22 February 2003 and quickly became the UK's biggest consumer website. As Martin says in his video below, MSE's been hailed as "one of the biggest causes of social change in Britain in the last decade" – and up to 18 million users now visit the site each month.
Over the last decade and a half we've helped people save week in, week out on everything from mortgages to groceries, while our campaigning journalism has won notable victories on topics such as council tax and student loans.
We led the charge in the campaign for banks to repay customers for PPI mis-selling – which has subsequently seen people reclaim over £20 billion – and were also a key player in the fight against unfair bank charges, for which consumers have reclaimed over £1 billion.
While our ethos has remained the same throughout – to fight the consumer's corner – we've undergone some pretty radical changes including the launch of our Cheap Energy Club and MSE Credit Club, and the website itself has had a fair few facelifts. We've even featured in a Top 40 chart hit...
MoneySavingExpert founder and executive chair Martin Lewis said: "Happy birthday MoneySavingExpert. I can't believe my web baby is now 15 – with pimples, talking back to those in authority and fighting for its independence, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
"This site, it was once said to me by a senior journalist at the BBC, has been one of the biggest causes of social change in Britain in the last decade, empowering people to take action, take on big corporates, take on companies. It could be up to £10 billion of PPI alone has been reclaimed – many billions more have been saved."
Watch Martin's full birthday message below:
How it all began
Martin started working as the Money Saving Expert in 2000, using the title when on TV and writing a newspaper column. On the side he'd send his 'Martin's Money Tips' to friends and family, alerting them to short-lived deals and ways to save.
He said: "I didn't think much of it until, after a couple of months, I was at a party and people I'd never met before were thanking me for the emails. My friends had been forwarding it to their friends. I thought I'd make it easier and set up an email list built around a basic homepage so anyone could get the info."
In February 2003 he decided to launch the website properly, which cost just £100 thanks to a web designer in Uzbekistan. Here's how it looked back then:
In May 2004 MSE got its first official employee, and within another two years, a million people a month were visiting the site and we'd expanded it somewhat. Here's another blast from the past:
Fast forward to 2014, when the weekly email hit 10 million sign-ups, and you can see the site was heading towards how it looks today:
MoneySavingExpert by the numbers
It's not all about the stats of course, but to give you an idea of just how big MSE has become, here are a few key figures:
- 43.4 million – number of posts to date in the MSE Forum
- 13 million – number of people now opted in to receive the weekly email
- 7.1 million – number of bank charge template letters downloaded to help consumers claim
- 6.7 million – number of PPI reclaim letters downloaded
- 3.2 million – number of Cheap Energy Club members
- 453,000 – number of delayed-flight reclaim letters downloaded
- £153,000 – biggest PPI reclaim success via MSE that we've heard of
- 780ish – total number of weekly emails sent (give or take)
- 6 – number of MoneySaving weddings – ie, weddings after MoneySavers first met in the forum. (That's the number we're aware of, but let us know if you know of more.)
Our biggest campaign successes
From the very beginning we've always aimed to protect consumers and give them the tools they need to fight back, and we're proud to say this has been at the heart of everything we've done. Here are a few highlights:
- 2005 onwards – Our long-running battle against unfair bank charges began, eventually reaching the Supreme Court. It is thought to have helped consumers save almost a billion pounds a year in lower fees.
- 2006 onwards – We started our campaign highlighting PPI mis-selling.
- Jan 2007 – MSE launched its council tax rebanding system to stop millions overpaying each year.
- Jul 2008 – Carol Vorderman quit doing secured loan adverts, two years after MSE was at the forefront of a petition to ask her to stop doing them.
- May 2011 – After a long slog, the banks threw in the towel on PPI mis-selling claims and since then we've been inundated with successes from users who've reclaimed PPI for free.
- Oct 2011 – Then Prime Minister David Cameron and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne chose to reveal their plans to tackle rising energy costs by writing exclusively for MSE.
- Feb 2013 – We launched our Cheap Energy Club, which monitors the best deals for you and tells you when to switch.
- Sep 2013 – We finally won our campaign to make financial education compulsory in English schools.
- Jun 2014 – Martin was awarded an OBE for services to consumer rights and his charitable work.
- Sep 2016 – The MSE Credit Club was launched to show you your credit score for free and tell you if you're likely to be accepted for credit.
- Oct 2017 – We won a notable victory for graduates after years of campaigning when Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to raise the student loan repayment threshold.
- Nov 2017 – MSE delivered its landmark report Sharper teeth: The consumer need for ombudsman reform after being commissioned by a cross-party group of MPs to investigate the effectiveness of ombudsmen.
Share your MSE memories with us on Twitter using the #MSE15 hashtag.
Yep, it really happened. In January 2008 the bank charges protest song I Fought The Lloyds, featuring Martin in the video and the unforgettable instruction to "Open up Mozilla and go to MoneySavingExpert.com", entered the Top 40 chart at number 25.
Surely the first-ever chart entry to feature lyrics about "sexy little template letters", the song has become part of the MSE legend. Read the full story here, and watch below. Enjoy...