The 2011 Shonky Awards

CHOICE's awards for the shoddiest services and the shonkiest products.
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01.The 2011 Shonky Awards


CHOICE's Shonky Awards name and shame the shonkiest rip-offs and and shoddiest products being sold in Australia.

The winners

The event is now in its 6th year and while you’d think most companies would be doing their best to keep their heads low and travel the well-worn path of the straight and narrow, it sometimes seems they’re begging for a lemon gong.

Video: The 2011 Shonky Awards

The 2011 Shonky Awards.

CH1111_Shonkys_flood2 Shonky for Calamity after the storm goes to ...

The insurance industry

As the 2011 Queensland, NSW and Victorian floodwaters receded, thousands of homeowners were left high and dry by insurance companies that rejected their claims. In some cases, policyholders failed to read their policies carefully.

In numerous others, insurers made it all but impossible to know whether they were covered for flood or not – or exactly what a “flood” is.

In April 2011, when the claims denials began to roll in, RACQ topped the list, followed by NRMA, CGU, AAMI, Allianz, QBE, and Comminsure, according to Queensland Legal Aid. More...

Shonky for $murfberry $urprise goes to ...

Smurfs' Village (Beeline Interactive, Inc.)

Shonkys_Smurfs_Tablet_WEB Countless parents have been stung for hundreds of dollars playing Smurfs’ Village, a ‘free’ game app for iPad and iPhone, and now the Android platform. The idea of the game is to build up a village, which includes constructing buildings and bridges, growing gardens, and playing mini-games to create things like potions and cookies. The sting lies in the substantial cost of in-app purchases.

True, there’s a disclaimer pointing out "Smurfs' Village is free to play but charges real money for additional in-app content," and additional warnings every time a purchase is offered. Trouble is, kids ignore it and parents are oblivious to it. So when little Johnny first asked for dad’s iTunes password for a ‘free’ app, he thought ‘why not?’ and handed it over. When Johnny runs out of Smurfberries, required for in-game currency, he buys a truckload of them and dad wonders why his iTunes account is suddenly clocking up massive bills for a free game. More...

Shonky for Making snake oil look good goes to ...

SensaSlim (and friends)

CH1111_Shonkys_sensaslim_WEBIt all started the usual miracle weight loss product way: some positive plugs on prime time current affairs TV, a reference to a clinical trial, an endorsement by a white-coated doctor, a jockey suing for too much weight loss and “testimonials” from satisfied customers all ensuring the SensaSlim Solution weight loss spray raced off the shelves.

But some of the more contentious breaches of the therapeutic goods advertising code caught the eye of Dr Ken Harvey, a public health physician and consumer representative for CHOICE. So he lodged a complaint with the regulatory authority, the TGA’s Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP). More...

Shonky for Blinded by bling goes to ...

CH1111_Shonkys_dummies_WEBBlinged-up babies via the Internet

For the baby with everything, there’s a bling dummy encrusted with “genuine Swarovski crystals”.

They’re mostly standard dummies and chains from major brands which have been decorated after-market by small businesses. No doubt many well-meaning friends and relatives bought them for little Taylah or Kaydee, not realising they were veritable minefield of questionable safety - and good taste, but that’s another story. More...

CH1111_Shonkys_peachpants_ES_WEBShonky for Spinning out of control briefs goes to...

Peachy Pink

Infused with green tea, peaches and caffeine, wearing Peachy Pink shapewear eight hours a day for 21 days is claimed to micro-massage the. skin, helping you reduce cellulite and lose inches! Peachy Pink claims to be “the ONLY clinically proven anti cellulite shapewear on the market”.

Clinically proven, eh? Well, now that changes things. It was starting to sound a little too good to be true. So which well-respected, independent laboratory did these tests? Turns out it was “Spincontrol Laboratories” – which naturally sent our Shonky radar into meltdown mode.

We checked the lab’s website, which proudly proclaims: “2 doses of accuracy, 1 dose of creativity and a touch of audacity… Since its creation, our team of researchers works with the intention to offer you more and more creative techniques to prove your marketing claims.” More...

Shonky for Chery with a Shonky on top goes to ...

CH1111_Shonkys_Chery5_WEBThe Chery J1

If you haven’t heard of Chery, it’s a brand of cheap Chinese-made cars that have hit the Australian market in the last 12 months, with its J1 hatchback model one of the first available.

Granted we were never going to expect a lot from a car that costs only $11,990. It looks kind of cute, and seems to go.

The three-star ANCAP crash test rating isn’t too flash, but it could have been a lot worse (Proton Jumbuck, we’re looking at you). The ACCC recall might have rung a few more alarm bells, as well as their initial ban in Victoria due to an absence of compulsory electronic stability control. But none of this is why we’re giving them a Shonky. More...

Shonky for Green hogwash goes to ...

Go4Green EnergySmart

go-for-greenTalk of a carbon tax has seen a flurry of activity among entrepreneurs keen to cash in on community paranoia, whipped up by talkback radio and tabloid media.

Go4Green EnergySmart claims you'll save 10% on energy bills with its plug-in power saving device. And, at a mere $299 a pop, it will pay for itself in six months.

So why wouldn't you buy one? With the government pledging compensation for increased electricity bills, any power savings you make will be money for jam. The trouble is, it doesn't work. More...

Shonky for Quack (or “chirp”) medicine goes to...

Quail Kingdom

CH1111_Shonkys_quail_WEBOne of our readers drew our attention to Quail Kingdom quail eggs, a health food with “huge benefits”. According to its website, quail eggs treat everything from:

  • high cholesterol
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • Tuberculosis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Chernobyl-style excessive radiation
  • Kidney stones
  • Excess weight
  • Hair loss
  • Wrinkles
  • Male potency issues
  • plus more

Frankly, we were astounded. After years of writing about health and medicine, how on earth did this miracle elixir pass us by? More...



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