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The Which? Awards – what do you think of our winners?

Which? award

Today’s a big day for companies – it’s their chance to get hold of a Which? Award. Here we reveal the winners. What do you think of them, and do the awards make a difference to the products and services you use?

The Which? Awards are to companies what the Oscars are to actors – a chance to puff up with pride at their achievements and walk away with a shiny trophy for the mantelpiece (or in this case, the company cabinet).

But winning a Which? Award isn’t just about a lavish ceremony – companies get to shout about it for a whole year, using the logo in their marketing materials so consumers can see just how good they are. That’s gold dust to companies – and we’re happy about that – but we’re even happier about the benefits it has for consumers.

We know, from many conversations with companies over the five years we’ve been running the awards, that they are desperate to get their hands on one. Many quiz us about how we judge them – and act on what we tell them, which means a better product or service for everyone.

Some of this year’s winners, for example, showed that they had improved their price ratings, making their products better value for money than in previous years. Others had clearly upped their game with more Best Buys than before.

So how do we decide the winners?

In all but two categories, the awards are determined by Which? experts, who pore over the results of our own investigations, surveys and test results to select a shortlist and overall winner in each category.

The Which? Local Business of the Year and The Good Food Guide Reader’s Restaurant of the Year are judged slightly differently. We ask the public to vote (we’ve had over 250,000 for the best restaurant and over 100,000 for best business) and then The Good Food Guide and Which? Local choose the overall winner for their categories.

And the winners are…

Drum roll please, as we reveal this year’s winners:

  • Best financial services provider – First Direct
  • Best online retailer – Liz Earle
  • Best home audio-visual brand and best portable media brand – Samsung
  • Best large home appliance brand – Bosche
  • Best high street retailer – Richer Sounds
  • Best photography brand – Canon
  • Best small home appliance brand – Philips
  • Best travel company – Trailfinders
  • Best supermarket – Waitrose
  • Best mobile service provider – Tesco Mobile
  • Best car manufacturer – Hyundai
  • Which? Local business of the year: Mand Made Electricians in Sheffield
  • Good Food Guide’s restaurant of the year – Orwells, in Henley-on-Thames

And there are some new awards this year, too, including two special ones – the Positive Change Award, which went to Barclays for consistently working to improve customer experience, particularly offering to pay out PPI on a no-quibble basis. They also reworked their staff incentive structure after it became clear that customers weren’t happy with sales tactics in banking.

And the Consumer Action Award was won by Co-operative Energy, a new player in the energy market who have pledged to put customers first, giving the energy market a well-needed shake-up.

So what do you think of our winners – would you have picked these companies or are there others that top your personal list? And do you take notice of the Which? Awards icon when you’re out and about?


I’m glad to see that Sony and Panasonic don’t feature. A lot of their products are technically good but the controls are poorly thought out. They could do with hiring someone from Apple for advice (but not charging Apple prices).

Waitrose certainly deserves the award for best supermarket, but it is expensive and is catering for those prepared to pay for quality. Most of us are going to use supermarkets that offer better value for money.

Hi Rebecca here from the first direct Media Relations team 🙂

We just wanted to say that we’re over the moon to have won the ‘Best Financial Services Provider’ award for the second year running! Because of it’s independent nature an award from Which? really means something to both us, our customers and our potential customers.

We also want to say ‘well done’ to any of our people reading this – you’re the ones who make it happen.

Deneice Harwin says:
24 June 2011

Just to say thank you to Which? from everyone at Philips for our ‘Best Small Home Appliance Brand’ award!

We are thrilled to win this award, it means a great deal coming from a respected independent body like Which? and we know our consumers and retailers value it as much as we do.

We look forward to bringing more great products out in the future!

Co-operative Energy says:
28 June 2011

Thank you to everybody at Which? for our Consumer Action Award.

We are very proud to already be recognised by Which? for offering customers a fair and honest deal.

Jane Catton says:
3 August 2011

I’m really glad to see Liz Earle has won an award. I have used her products for several years now having been introduced to them by an enthusiastic friend who has been a fan for even longer. I don’t shop on-line but like to go up to the Sloane Street shop. The assistants are always friendly, helpful knowledgable and patient!!! I do have friends who shop on line, however and are very pleased with the products and the service

Ellie G says:
2 January 2012

Great to see Aldi & Lidl shortlisted for supermarket awards. I have used both stores for 10 years now and found product quality to be at least equal to the bigger stores at a much better price. The staff in my local stores are so cheerful and helpful and you get genuine offers which are useful instead of BOGOFs on things I don’t need. I must have save a bucket load of cash over the years – long may it continue.

Paul Crook says:
16 January 2012

I’m not all surprised that Trailfinders won the best Travel Company award. Truly well deserved. We’ve used them for about 20 years and have never been anything other than 100% satisfied with every aspect of their service. The High Street Kensington branch is just superb. So good to see them being recognised in this way.

We (couple) have also used Trailfinders for many years, flying to the far east and Australia. Last October we asked at our local Birmingham branch about a holiday in Vancouver. I was interested to see the best travel company award posted in the front window, as I have been a Which? subscriber for many years as well. We told the rep we wanted to avoid Heathrow if possible. He investigated various options via mainland Europe but the cheapest was Air Transat from Manchester. We had never heard of them but he assured us they were fine. There was a quite a lot of pressure to book quickly (“these flights get booked up quickly etc.”). So we booked and paid, 8 months before travel, and thought no more about it until early March, when Trailfinders rang to say that our flight time had been changed from 13.30 to 10.00, which would mean being at Manchester airport at 7.00 a.m. So we booked a hotel near Manchester airport to be sure of being on time. In late April they rang again to say our flight was being changed to 12.00 noon. And two weeks ago they rang to say it was being changed for a third time, to 13.00, which is almost the time it was originally. All these changes made me worry about this airline, so I went online to find out more, and the reviews were very discouraging indeed regarding comfort and other aspects of service. We haven’t experienced it yet, so it remains to be seen whether it really is as bad as many say, but at no point did Trailfinders give any warning about them. Is it not part of the job of a travel agent to point out what you are getting for your money and what you are not getting? And in making my own further enquiries, I learnt that it is possible, in fact advisable, to reserve a seat on this flight (for an extra cost of course), whereas my Trailfinders receipt clearly states that seats will be allocated at check-in. When I tried to reserve, I found that all the better seats were already reserved, but I doubt they would have been last October. Moreover, I also now see that there is a flight with this same airline departing the next day which is £80 cheaper per passenger, which we could easily have taken had we been told about it last October. We asked Trailfinders if they would buy us a different ticket (e.g. from Birmingham with Air France via Amsterdam), which would cost us more, but they turned us down flat on the grounds that our Air Transat ticket is completely non-refundable. Doubtless they are right about this and as we cannot afford to forfeit our first tickets and buy completely new ones, we know we have no hope of redress and will accept our fate. Perhaps we will get to Vancouver and back in one piece – who knows? Will we use Trailfinders again? They have let us down badly in several ways, failing to tell us about a cheaper flight on a following day, failing to tell us about seat reservations and failing to point out the very mixed reputation of Air Transat. With short-haul travel I always make my own arrangements, and we only went to Trailfinders as we had had good service before and we assumed we would get the best advice. We made all these points to the rep, and we even told him we would be posting a report to Which?, but he had been trained to deal with people like us summarily, and that is precisely what he did. He was not only completely unmoved, but completely unapologetic. So no, we won’t use them again, and I would advise anyone to do a lot of homework first before using them, which will probably mean you don’t need to use them.

jones says:
14 December 2017

Hi. I too had never heard of Air Transat but had to fly with them to come home from Calgary to Manchester after being hospitalised in Canada and having to abandon all plans. The food was basic but enough, the flight was on time and on board service was as expected. A comfortable flight which I really needed – so NO complaints from me for this one flight, and would rebook with them if I decide to return. Never used Trailfinders – posted as Air transat was mentioned.

LRT says:
14 March 2012

A lot more awards that you could do next year. Like best online service from a bank… for both personal and businesses…?

Brian Desmond says:
30 May 2013

We have used Trailfinders on several occasions when booking our flights abroad and with no complaints, but on this occasion I used them this year for a single flight for myself and partner abroad as we were emigrating, but for a serious medical condition for my partners mother we had to delay our planes until my girlfriend felt it was a good time.

I needed to change the tickets and was told as they were singles this could not be done the airline we booked the tickets through we’re putting the onus back on Traifinders and to use the refunds policy, life has a way of throwing you curve balls but Trailfinders were unsympathetic to my case I do not want their sympathy I would like them to use some discretion and look on our case on a individual basis and find us an alternative or a better refund on our £1214 which have payed out for our tickets, they are looking to only give us back through the airline company £214 with another £70 administration charge.
I have been emailing both companies but the only answer from Trailfinders is you should have taken out insurance, in my experience the insurance industry has gone very Americanised and has gone crazy which drives up the price of policies through the roof.
Needless to say the issues mentioned are still ongoing but I am very disappointed with Trailfinders for a global service provider voted by Which magazine as best travel agent 2011 are not in my opinion living up to their accolades.