An IKEA product ‘bad at its one job’ and a four-star children’s breakfast cereal full of sugar are among the biggest product fails of the year.
Australian consumer watchdog CHOICE has named and shamed brands and businesses at the 2019 Shonky Awards.
The entire pet insurance industry, major superannuation and private health firms, and a retail giant has been targeted.
The organisation said they wanted to expose businesses and industries which have ‘ripped off, misled and treated customers like cash cows’ with false claims.
‘Choice’s job is to stand up against companies doing the wrong thing,’ Choice CEO Alan Kirkland said.
‘The Shonkys draw upon our unique testing, reviews and advocacy to help you identify the worst-of-the-worst.
‘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.’
Choice found the IKEA Nedkyld, retailed at $799, was ‘bad at its one job’ after completely failing energy tests
CHOICE’s Shonky Awards 2019
Kogan – for dodgy customer care
Medibank ‘Basic’ Cover Health Insurance – for failing at the ‘basics’
IKEA Nedkyld Fridge – for failing energy tests and being bad at its one job
AMP Superannuation – for ruined retirements
Freedom Foods XO Crunch – for telling us a bag of sugar is healthy
Pet insurance – for bad insurance riddled with exclusions
Choice score: 39 per cent
Food freshness score: 35 per cent
Energy test: FAILED
Choice found the IKEA Nedkyld, retailed at $799, was ‘bad at its one job’ after completely failing energy tests.
‘The IKEA Nedkyld is one of the worst fridges we’ve ever tested,’ Mr Kirkland claimed.
‘Not only is it terrible at keeping your food cold, when Choice tested the fridge’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.’
Lab expert Ash Iredale said: ‘I’d rather trust my lunch with penguins than stored in the IKEA Nedkyld.’
Despite claiming a 22.2 per cent sugar cereal is ‘a fun and nutritious way to start your kids’ day’, Choice found Freedom Foods XO Crunch has misled shoppers with false advertising
Freedom Foods XO Crunch cereal
Despite claiming a 22.2 per cent sugar cereal is ‘a fun and nutritious way to start your kids’ day’, Choice found Freedom Foods XO Crunch has misled shoppers with false advertising.
‘Every year it seems there’s a new shonk in the food industry trying to pass off junk as ‘healthy’. This year, Freedom Foods XO Crunch earns a well deserved Shonky for health washing and marketing a big bag of sugar towards our kids,’ Mr Kirkland said.
‘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.
‘This shonky shows why the food industry needs to be kicked out of 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.’
Choice has slammed the entire pet insurance industry for riddling with exclusions and technicalities, and the organisation refused to recommend any policy
The entire pet insurance industry
Of the 86 pet insurance policies reviewed, Choice recommended zero.
Choice slammed the entire pet insurance industry for riddling with exclusions and technicalities, and the organisation refused to recommend any policy.
‘Pet insurance is the insurance a business sells when it wants to make money without providing any service at all. Riddled with exclusions and technicalities, pet insurance is one of this country’s worst value insurance products. It relies on emotionally manipulating your love of your pet to sell you worthless insurance.
‘This year Choice found this industry so bad we refused to recommend any policy. There was not a single policy that we could in good conscience suggest that pet owners consider buying.
‘This also highlights why insurance companies shouldn’t be exempt from laws against unfair contract terms – it’s vital this special loophole for insurers is closed.’
Australia’s online shopping website Kogan received more than 300 complaints to NSW Fair Trading between January and July 2019
Australia’s online shopping website Kogan received more than 300 complaints to NSW Fair Trading between January and July 2019.
‘Kogan is a serial offender when it comes to consumer rights,’ Mr Kirkland said.
‘Kogan needs to improve its customer service and 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.’
Medibank ‘Basic’ Cover Health Insurance
Choice found Medibank’s ‘basic’ cover health insurance was more expensive than those of their competitors
Choice found Medibank’s ‘basic’ cover health insurance was more expensive than those of their competitors, including Bronze private hospital insurance.
‘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,’ Mr Kirkland claimed.
‘A new system that was meant to make things simpler has turned into a mess thanks to rip-offs like those from Medibank. 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.’
AMP Superannuation landed themselves a gong for ‘ruined retirements’, with Choice claiming it held the largest number of ‘zombie’ accounts that sat there being wasted away by fees and insurance
AMP Superannuation landed themselves a gong for ‘ruined retirements’, with Choice claiming it held the largest number of ‘zombie’ accounts that sat there being wasted away by fees and insurance.
‘AMP received some of the strongest criticism from the Banking Royal Commission – and it was deserved,’ Mr Kirkland said.
‘If your superannuation is with AMP, chances are you’ve had your retirement leeched off of to fund its executives’ lifestyles. Choice has partnered with 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.
‘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.’