Shannen Findlay

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The “worst of the worst” products that are “ripping off and misleading” Aussie shoppers

The “worst of the worst” products that are “ripping off and misleading” Aussie shoppers

Consumer group Choice has called out some of the “worst-of-the-worst” products being sold to Aussies in their 14th annual Shonky Awards. 

Choice CEO Alan Kirkland said in a statement the award aims to highlight the items Australian consumers should avoid as they are “ripping off” and misleading” shoppers. 

“Choice’s job is to stand up against companies doing the wrong thing. The Shonkys draw upon our unique testing, reviews and advocacy to help you identify the worst-of-the-worst,” Mr Kirkland said.

“In a time of fake reviews, cash for comment, salespeople and lobbyists everywhere, it’s more important than ever for independent voices to tell the truth.

“Following the banking royal commission, it’s no surprise that financial services businesses are such a feature of this year’s Shonkys.”

2019 Shonky Winners 

Kogan

The online retailer has earnt themselves a shonky award this year for their “poor” customer service. 

Topping the NSW Fair Trading complaint register, the retailer has clocked over 300 complaints from January to July in 2019. 

Mr Kirkland says Kogan should “stop beating around the bush when its products are defective”.

“Kogan must simplify the process for refunds, repairs and replacements to meet community expectations and the law”. 

He also mentioned the company must improve its customer service, and their refunds and returns policy. 

Medicare 

Medicare has been called out by Choice for their “basic” cover health insurance actually costing more than the cheapest “bronze” cover in NSW, the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Mr Kirkland said: “2019 is the first year that private health insurance has topped the list of financial worries in Choice’s regular national surveys, and it’s easy to see why.

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“A new system that was meant to make things simpler has turned into a mess.

Medibank’s ‘basic’ junk cover costs more than many higher-cover bronze policies. Medibank deserves a Shonky for failing at the basics — simple and affordable health insurance.”

IKEA

The Swedish furniture retailer has taken a spot on the 2019 Shonky Awards list for their Nedkyld fridge after it's score came in at just 35 per cent for food and freshness, and further failing an energy test. 

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The Ikea Nedkyld is one of the worst fridges we’ve ever tested,” Mr Kirkland said.

“Not only is it terrible at keeping your food cold, when Choice tested the Nedkyld’s energy use against its star rating, it failed the test.

“It’s hard to understand how this fridge is still on sale in Ikea stores, especially with a misleading energy label.”

AMP superannuation

Choice has given AMP superannuation a Shonky award for their being over one million “zombie” super accounts eating away at the retirements of Aussies. 

Based on APRA  data: “AMP received some of the strongest criticism from the banking royal commission — and it was deserved. If your superannuation is with AMP, chances are you’ve had your retirement leeched off of to fund its executives’ lifestyles,” Mr Kirkland said.

“Choice has partnered with the new consumer group — Super Consumers Australia — and found that AMP holds the largest number of zombie accounts of any other super fund — accounts that sit there being wasted away by fees and insurance.

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“For AMP, it’s money for doing nothing. Managing people’s retirement funds isn’t your average business — there’s a higher moral standard to meet when it comes to people’s security and comfort in older age, and AMP have failed this standard.”

An AMP spokeswoman told news.com.au it “can be difficult to draw accurate comparisons and conclusions in relation to inactive accounts due to the varied characteristics of products within trusts and across superannuation providers.”

“For example: a large proportion of the AMP accounts classified in APRA’s data as inactive receive a capital guarantee. It is often in members’ best interests to maintain these accounts given the future benefit they will provide.

“AMP supports legislative measures that identify and aim to reduce duplicate or inactive accounts.”

Freedom Foods XO Crunch

The XO Crunch cereal received a Shonky after having 22.2 per cent sugar in their product that they claimed was “a fun and nutritious way to start your kids’ day”. 

“Freedom Foods proudly displays four health stars on this bag of sugar. Choice says it should be one-and-a-half if health star ratings accurately reflected the amount of added sugar in a product — something that industry groups have lobbied to prevent,” Mr Kirkland said. 

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“This Shonky shows why the food industry needs to be kicked out of (the) room when it comes to health star ratings. The food industry has gamed the health star system to make a big bag of sugar look like a healthy choice for your kids — and that’s a disgrace.”