11 JANUARY 1963, Page 26

Consuming Interest

More Help for Buyers

By LESLIE ADRIAN The striking typographical improvement in the 9+ in. by 5 in. pages of CAT's magazine is not the only welcome sign that the consumer weapon is sharp and shining. These oblong pages are printed on tinted papers, colour-coded into groups— orange for hardware and household goods, blue for services (which are not often dealt with by Which?), yellow for food and pharmaceuticals, and so on—and capable of being detached and used as filing cards in the special boxes supplied by CAT for 5s.

A point that will appeal to those who look for a short cut to best buys: the new Shopper's Guide gives its selection under the tag 'Our Choice.' In the January issue, of which 1 was privileged to be given a sneak preview (it should be available the day after this issue of the Spec- tutor is published), does a very thorough arid timely survey of fan heaters, The most efficient are illustrated and described in detail. The Guide picked nine out of twenty-three that were tested, and the three found to have 'no faults at all were the Philips Phantom (£8 19s. 6d.), the Creda, Convair (£9 9s.) and the Ultra Heatwave! (il 1 15s.), though the width of their heat-beanO, varies, the Creda being narrow, the others wide'.

The cheapest, with a wide heat-beam, wtO found to be Woolworth's Winfield, which is onlY £4 19s. 6d., although it is rather unstable and maY easily be damaged. One criticism of the arrange' ment of information on these pages: under cacti, picture the heater's safety, design and perfor- mance are described, but the price is not given, which means that one has constantly to turu back to an earlier page to consult a table. With all the space that is available under the illustra- tions, why not list the price in the caption, No? Midwinter slush equivalent of the bikini that could not stand strong sunlight and suntan oil— the galoshes from Brazil that must not be walked over gravel, nor pulled on over sharp-edged heels. The run on galoshes caused by our worst snow- fall since 1881 brought some exotic products to the market, including Galocha Moderna made in Brazil 'from pure Para rubber.' Soft and flexible, they come in a tartan case, and cost 32s. 6d. a Pair (including purchase tax: the Revenue even makes something out of the weather). But they are delicate and might be cut by fingernails or Shoe-heels, damaged by heat, or attacked by chemicals, oil gas (sic), sharp objects and, of course, gravel. And they must be put on over dry Shoes. As the leaflet tells us, They are uncondi- tionally guaranteed against defects' but not against 'breaks or cuts resulting from failure to follow recommended care.' Anyway, who needs galoshes in Brazil?

.Two mysteries in the shaving business. The disappearing acts performed by Wilkinson Sword razor blades and the Morphy-Richards -dry Shaver claimed my attention last week. Wilkin- son's have been rather embarrassed by the sudden success of their blades, which has led to waiting lists and under-the-counter sales in chemists' and barbers' shops. They've been in production for four years now, but have only recently caught on. Unfortunately for Wilkin- son's these blades are made one at a time, not in strips like Gillette. This year, l'm told, Gil- lette are going into the stainless-steel-blade busi- ness, to see if they can get back some of the market they have lost to Wilkinson's.

The price given for the Morphy-Richards electric razor in the December Which? is £2 14s., but the price is no longer fixed. A wander round London stores and chemists' shops to see how this unmaintained price was faring brought the discovery that there are no Morphy- Richards shavers to be bought. A telephone call to the company brought the answer that as far as they knew it was on sale. I spent four hours trying to buy one without success, but they had no comment to make. As it is now the cheapest, if not the best. on the market, demand has also apparently ou:run supply here as well.

There was a recent exhibition called 'Time and the Doctor,' organised in London by Nicholas Laboratories, that had one good idea that could make life easier. Instead of the patients being eternally patient, sitting around in gloomy, draughty waiting-rooms swapping germs in whis- pers, they help themselves to a plastic disc from the waiting-room table. On each disc is marked the time of the next appointment (the suggested time-interval is five minutes, but it always seems like eternity to me) at which the patient can return and find the doctor available.

The doctor gains—he hardly needs a Waiting- room or a receptionist—and the patients can go and do the shopping or bath the baby, or even take their swollen finger to work for an hour or two. And what a blessed relief from back numbers of Punch and Country Life.

The first question about companies in the news these days is 'who do they belong to?' This is what the constant merging of well- known companies has done to our thinking. I sinned in this way last month by handing over Wright's Coal Tar, Soap to the Unilever Group, who already have enough soaps of their own. My apologies to the one-hundred-year-old busi- ness of Wright, Layman and Umney. They also complained to me that I overpriced their soap at Is. when it sells at lid. As I was required to pay Is. for the piece that I bought in a department store, readers may appreciate know- ing that here and there they stand to save 1d.