The 2008 CHOICE Shonky Awards

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  • Updated:13 Sep 2008

03.More Shonkiness

The CHOICE Shonky for Just Too Much Hot Air

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Airobe Luxury Body Dryer

Airobe body dryerImagine a device that lets you dry yourself “in minutes” after a shower. But wait – you’re saying you already have one? No, we don’t mean a towel. We’re talking about the Airobe Luxury Body Dryer – a 9kW heater and fan installed in the bathroom ceiling (think really big hair dryer) that creates an “envelope of rapidly moving warm air” in which you can immerse your wet body. And don’t forget to take the remote control with you, so you can switch between full and half-blast.

This is no April Fool’s Day gag; it’s real, and it can be yours for $995, plus about $350 installation. But it gets better; according to the marketing material the Airobe is in fact a money-saving green product, because you won’t have to wash any more towels. The creative calculations used to prove this assume two washes of towels only per week (none if you have an Airobe), the use of a tumble dryer and include fixed water supply fees.

Even using those figures, the break-even time for an Airobe is about 10 years. Without deducting the water supply fee (after all, you may still want to use water for other purposes), it will take 20 years. And if you use a clothesline instead of a dryer, the Airobe uses a lot more energy than you do washing towels – part of which is about 10W of standby energy it draws all day, every day.

We could go on. But for us that’s enough hot air already to deserve a Shonky.

The CHOICE Shonky for Betrayed Love

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You’ll Love Coles Steam Iron

IronYou may fall in love with this iron on your first date for its relatively cheap price ($33) and the hot guy on the box talking about his ironing experiences. So you take it home and give it some water (which it sometimes leaks, but you don’t mind because it’s just water) and one thing leads to another, and before you know it it’s all over your shirt, and doing your jeans, and even touching your finest synthetics. And that’s when you realise it doesn’t love you back! Not one bit.

There isn’t the sensual glide you were hoping for – it rudely sticks to and roughly drags over your clothing as if it’s always too hot or too cold. And does it fulfil your deepest desire to remove life’s wrinkles and creases from the fabric of your fabrics? No, it doesn’t. When you ask it to, it just laughs in your face and grabs the fabric and creates additional creases instead.

The You’ll Love Coles steam iron is the most hated iron we sent on dates with our trialists this millennium, with an overall score of just 19%. To avoid a broken heart, we suggest you search for love elsewhere.

The CHOICE Shonky for Premium Rip-off*

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Premium Mobile Services Industry

Mobile phoneThis one’s for all you faceless companies who deliberately trick consumers (including kids) into costly content or even subscriptions they never wanted. The Telecommunications Ombudsman receives more than 2000 complaints a month about mobile premium services – ringtones, games, horoscopes, chat services, age-restricted and other content you can access by calling numbers starting with 19.

However, the fine print* usually reveals that these messages can cost several dollars a pop, or that by accessing one you’re automatically signed up for a subscription, and may be sent further unsolicited messages at additional charges.

Unsubscribing, or contacting the provider is often very difficult, with recorded messages and auto-reply emails instead of customer service. Children and teens are prolific users of these services, and have been signed up for subscriptions costing hundreds of dollars, or been exposed to inappropriate content.

That’s why an honourable mention goes to the telco industry association, the Communications Alliance for failing to set up proper consumer protection. While there’s a code of practice, the number of complaints shows it’s not working – a very shonky case of industry self-regulation.

* Individual Shonkys are provided with maximum outrage. Accepting this Award constitutes a subscription to all future Shonky Awards.

The CHOICE Shonky for Customer Care Excellence

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Citibank pig riding carWe love the banks. They’re so creative in taking consumers for a ride – we couldn’t make up half the stuff if we tried. Take this one. If you have a Citibank credit card, you’ll get a maximum of 55 interest-free days – to start with. If you then refuse to reward the bank by paying interest on your purchases, but pay off your credit card bill in full by the due date for 10 out of 12 months, Citibank reduces the maximum interest-free period to 44 days.

They penalise you for paying them in full and on time. Having fewer days to pay will make it more likely that some customers will then struggle to pay on time – and be subjected to Citibank’s late payment fee of $40, one of the highest on the market.

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. Customer care? More a case of: customers – who cares?

The CHOICE Shonky for Storm In A Teacup

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Hurricane Planet Green

Hurricane Planet Green multipurpose cleanerThe environment is hot, and not only because of the changing climate – it’s a hot topic. Consumer awareness of green issues has increased, and products can get a marketing edge by being greener than others – or being perceived as greener.

Enter greenwash, the art of making vague, irrelevant or unsubstantiated environmental claims. One of the finest examples we found was this Colgate-Palmolive multipurpose cleaner. There’s not only the bold name. Under “Caring for our environment”, the label lists the product’s green credentials:

  • Phosphate-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Australian made

We say: Irrelevant  False impression  Why?

  • Phosphates aren’t a common ingredient in multipurpose cleaners.
  • The biodegradability relates only to the cleaning agents, not the whole product – which is no different from a range of cleaners and not as good as some.
  • While the Hurricane’s bottle is recyclable, its trigger isn’t. There are other cleaners whose bottle and trigger head are recyclable.
  • Being Australian-made is no indicator of a product’s green performance.

Bottom line: Hurricane doesn’t green the planet as its name and claims try to make you believe. If you want a really green cleaner, there are better options on the shelf. 


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Video: The Blow Me! body dryer

A parody advert for the Blow Me! body dryer from the Hot Air Corporation.

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