/ Travel & Leisure

Wavechange: ‘Why I’ve been reading Which? since the late 1950s’

Which? March 1987

Which? turns 60 this year. To celebrate, each week we’ll be featuring a post from a Conversation community member on what Which? means to them. This week, it’s Convo regular Wavechange’s turn…

I was first introduced to Which? as a child, when my aunt and uncle moved to the next village to our family home in the late 1950s.

My uncle was a great enthusiast of the Which? magazine and would often produce a pile of issues for me and my parents to read.

I recall him explaining how his choice of cine camera, radio and TV had been influenced by what he read in the magazine. He once wanted to buy a modern washing machine for my aunt, but she insisted on keeping her ancient, but reliable, Servis machine and wringer.

At work, colleagues often left copies of recent Which? magazines in the coffee room and, according to Member Services, I eventually joined in 1987.

Campaigning

Although product reviews are useful, I find the other content more interesting, especially when I can relate to particular consumer issues.

It was encouraging when Which? campaigned to stop electrical retailers from pushing customers to buy very expensive extended warranties, sometimes by claiming that products were likely to fail prematurely.

More recently, I am very grateful for the long-running Which? campaign to put an end to nuisance calls.

Product testing

Over the years, Which? has identified many safety issues affecting consumers, including poor car and boiler servicing.

Product testing has revealed many unsatisfactory or downright dangerous items on sale. Years ago, I learned from the magazine that I had an unsatisfactory smoke alarm in my home and more recently, Which? has identified poorly performing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Removing poor products from the market is vital and I would like to see Which? pushing for the restoration of Trading Standards as an effective organisation for dealing with unsafe products and other problems that consumers encounter.

I recall Which? magazine covers showing a small 4×4 car on the point of rolling over when cornering and an iron with a melted metal soleplate. I would like to see regular use of similar memorable images. The current covers are attractive, but unlikely to be remembered.

Joining the Conversation

I started contributing to Which? Conversation in 2010. Initially, I saw it as a way of keeping up with changing technology and learning about new developments. I have enjoyed the variety of topics and, thanks to the help from the moderators when needed, it has remained a friendly environment for informal debate – unlike some discussion forums that I have used in the past.

It is good to see more input from Which? staff, particularly those who provide the Conversation topics. The inclusion of some light-hearted topics is a vital feature, without which we might spend all our time putting the world to rights!

Congratulations to Which? on its 60th anniversary, and best wishes for the future.

This is a guest contribution by community member, Wavechange.

What are your memories of Which? What have been your favourite front covers?

Comments
Member

I am very pleased Wavechange is here , I am able to bounce ideas off of him without it turning into an argument . He has a steadying influence on me and he has actually changed my outlook on some things , a near impossible feat in itself because of his calmness, rationality and down to earth thinking processes. To me he is a cornerstone of Which and I value his opinion greatly . I cant say more than that except, if he doesn’t mind being called “an institution ” .

Member

Thanks Duncan. I would like to point out that I did not write the title for the Convo. I simply looked at other people’s copies of Which? magazine for a long time before I became a subscriber. I’m very impressed by how long John Ward has been a supporter.

Member

I can only echo Duncan’s comments. I think JW joined a year or so before I did.

Member

Hear, hear duncan!

Member
Pilgrim says:
1 October 2017

I was also a subscriber to ‘Which’ from the early sixties and despite travelling a lot and not being a regular subscriber over the years, have always had access to the magazines and advice. I have been pleased to have some impartial advice to rely on.
I regret to say that of late I have become to a large extent disappointed in the Consumers Association ethics as a charity now that I understand that Senior Executives take home extraordinary sums of money, out of all proportion to their responsibilities, the man at the top having been awarded well over £500.000 in one year. I was also astonished to realise that ‘Which’ acts as intermediary and accepts payment from companies that it recomends. For example, I relied on advice to use a firm to act for me in a property sale and purchase and then discovered that the firm paid ‘Which’ £200 for the introduction.
Maybe age is making me naive and I am assured that all this information is freely available but this is not the organisation that I was pleased to support in the past. Will someone take sides with ‘Which’ and argue their side?

Member

Hi Pilgrim, I’m very sorry for the delay in responding to you. It’s great to see you on here and I hope you do stick around for longer.

I wanted to share that we’ve brought our commercial and advocacy activity closer together this year in order to increase our overall impact. This is also means that our old longer-term incentive schemes, which focused primarily on commercial growth, are being replaced by a new approach that considers both our commercial and charitable aims. So that means we’ve now closed the old schemes.

Also, on your comment about receiving referral payments. It’s really important to share that these referrals do not affect our recommendations in anyway. We will always recommend what’s best for you (and all consumers) whether or not a payment is received. This has and will not change. I hope that helps.

As you’ve known of Which? for many years, I’d love to hear about your memories of Which? if you have any you’d like to share.

Member
Pilgrim says:
8 October 2017

Patrick,
Thank you for taking the trouble to reply, I’m not entirely sure what this copied paragraph means.

‘I wanted to share that we’ve brought our commercial and advocacy activity closer together this year in order to increase our overall impact. This is also means that our old longer-term incentive schemes, which focused primarily on commercial growth, are being replaced by a new approach that considers both our commercial and charitable aims. So that means we’ve now closed the old schemes’.

Are you referring to incentive schemes offered to management to increase subscriptions? I have nothing against incentives, my politics are slightly to the right of Ghengis Khan, my complaint is that obscene sums of money being extracted by a few people in management of what I always understood to be a ‘Charity’ working on behalf of its members, the consumers.

Good business requires the best management but there is a limit to what is a reasonable reward. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, a fairly responsible position, earns less than £300.000 per annum. Are you saying that your top management is worth more?

Member

I too was a subscriber for many years, but have become disenchanted with various aspects of the current setup. Edited highlights for instance would be the way more and more of the subject matter has moved / is stored online, anyone who remembers the heft of the annual car reviews, which contained every aspect of motor related topics from tyres to insurance etc ,all in one magazine which could be saved and used as a ready source of info throughout the year, along with many other one-off large ticket ticket items. The move to online reviews may seem logical in current use, but, like a subscription to SKY you only retain access while you subscribe. This is just one example, another would be the reviews of products by the same manufacturer where the only difference is the colour, and yet many other similar products are omitted through lack of space.