Which? turns 60 this year. To help us celebrate, each week we’ll be featuring a post from a Which? Conversation community member on what Which? means to them. This week, Convo regular John Ward shares his memories…
I was too young to remember the birth of Which?, but my father soon became a subscriber and I would read his magazine from cover to cover.
At 17, in 1964, I became a subscriber in my own right and have been so ever since, without interruption.
In the 1960s, families were starting to equip their homes with modern appliances, rent televisions, run modest motor cars, and embark on DIY projects.
Back then, there was no other independent and objective source of information on what was available, how much it would cost, and whether it would be good value. The concept of a ‘Best Buy’ was a novelty and it enabled customers to speak on equal terms to sales assistants.
The original test reports in the magazine were more technical by today’s standards and had a necessary air of formality and scientific rigour. There were lots of tables, fewer images, and very little light relief. It was very much a set of reports rather than a coffee-table magazine.
I enjoyed reading the early Which? magazines and learnt a lot about how things were made, how they worked and how they were sold.
These days, I only dip in and out of the magazine because I spend more time keeping in touch on the internet.
I became a keen participant on Which? Conversation seven years ago and they now call me a ‘regular’.
Not many days go by without me wanting to put in my two-penn’orth and there are a number of fellow contributors who have a wealth of knowledge who are only too eager to pass it on and help people with their consumer problems.
I’m less concerned nowadays about the comparisons between individual products. That’s not to say I won’t do my homework before I buy anything important or expensive though.
Over the years, I’ve become more committed to consumer rights and consumer protection. Although products have generally improved due to new technology and the influence of Which?, the standards of commerce still leave a lot to be desired in terms of honesty, fairness, and customer support.
In the past decade, buying or doing business online has opened up a whole new set of pitfalls and constant vigilance is required.
Which? has come a long way in 60 years and it has achieved an enviable reputation. It isn’t without its critics, but I still think it commands respect.
So Happy Diamond Anniversary, Which? Long may you flourish and progress.
This is a guest contribution by community member John Ward.
What are your memories of Which?