Water filters: do you need one?

A water filter may improve the taste or smell of your tap water, but be aware of the problems and cost involved.
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 
  • Updated:19 Oct 2008
 

01 .Introduction

Running water

In brief

  • Following a simple checklist can help you avoid spending your cash on a water filter you may not need.
  • If you do decide on a water filter, choose one based on what you want to filter out.

If you’ve ever turned on the tap and wondered about the quality of the water coming out, you can be reasonably confident it’s been thoroughly tested before it reaches your tap.

In fact, your water supplier’s website more than likely carries regular reports on its water quality. Safe drinking water requires additives you can often smell or taste, such as chlorine, a disinfectant widely used by Australian water suppliers.

Filtering the water at the tap is one way of removing the taste of additives. But first you must decide what you want to filter out, what filtering device to use and how much the different options cost. And you need to be confident the one you choose actually does the job. CHOICE looks at the pros and cons of purchasing a water filter.

Please note: this information was current as of October 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


 
 

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Recently we published an article on brands disappearing, when hundreds of people contacted us to complain that their favourite brands and products had recently disappeared from the shelves of the big two supermarkets. It was surprising how passionate they were about the topic, and it got me thinking. Or should I ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 22 Aug 2012 09:24:37 GMT
Flying no frills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Flying no frills.aspx

Last year, I went on holiday to Europe. When I was deciding which airline to fly with, I had a tough choice to make. I could fly Air China, which I'd never flown before and knew very little about. Their website was stuck in the dark ages (seriously - it ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 Aug 2012 12:53:39 GMT
Don't be ripped off on IT goods http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Dont-be-ripped-off-on-IT-goods.aspx

Would you rather pay $88 or $61 for a video game? I think I could hazard a guess at what your answer might be. Although this seems like somewhat of an absurd question, it is one that we are nevertheless asked on a daily basis. What is really absurd is ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:53:42 GMT
Webcams for Security http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Webcams for Security.aspx

Some time ago I purchased a webcam for Skype reasons. It doesn't get a lot of use, so I entertained the thought of using it as a security camera.CHOICE hasn't tested this, as there are plenty of options out there for dedicated security camera setups. But I went ahead and ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:46:55 GMT
Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government.aspx

Free-range eggs are being sold in increasing numbers around Australia and it comes as no great surprise that animal welfare is the main driver for consumers. Cartons carrying images of happy hens roaming on green fields lead many of us to believe it is worth paying extra for free-range. But for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 29 Jun 2012 11:14:38 GMT
Who pays who for what http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/who-pays-who-for-what.aspx

I recently came across an article on the website Money Management, which made me reflect on the ongoing debate about conflict of interest in the financial advice world. Entitled "Fund manager payments breed skepticism", the article said research conducted with financial planners suggests that "64 per cent of respondents (financial ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:56:27 GMT
An experiment in people power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/choice-big-bank-switch-an-experiment-in-people-power.aspx

“Knowledge must come through action,” observed a very wise man about 2,500 years ago. While Sophocles was not referring to the Australian banking sector, the ancient Greeks did know a thing or two about people power. The CHOICE Big Bank Switch is an experiment in people power. Although not quite ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:35:09 GMT
Environment and the economy – what are your choices? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/economy-and-environment.aspx

Our national economic backbone, mining, has found itself at odds with another area of financial importance – The Great Barrier Reef. Put aside your feelings on any environmental debate for the moment, because there is no denying that we are relying on the mining industry to carry our country’s bank ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:21:57 GMT
It's good to talk http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/its-good-to-talk.aspx

It takes a lot more than a few days to bring about lasting change; in fact a lifetime may not be enough when it comes to taking on the big end of town.But for the very few days the CHOICE Better Banking Campaign has been up and running we are beginning to ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:19:43 GMT
CHOICE Baby Safety Week http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Baby Safety Week.aspx

It’s the most wonderful time of your life. But it can also be the most fearful.Caring for a baby is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation. Am I doing the right thing? What if something happens? Where’s the rule book?I remember – like it was yesterday – bringing home my precious ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 16:11:30 GMT
The big four banks are just not that into us http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/The big four banks are just not that into us.aspx

Australians need to take a reality check on our relationship with the big four banks. If we asked our friends, they would say we are showing signs of unhealthy co-dependency.That we are worth so much more than out-of-cycle interest rate increases and record profits, but still we stick around.If our ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:16:35 GMT
Rolling the dice on daily deals http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Rolling the dice.aspx

Daily deals – the cut-price temptations that land in my inbox multiple times each day promising magical experiences and indulgent treats. On paper, the deals are usually fairly fantastic, and I enjoy entertaining new experiences or products I might not otherwise consider.However, there’s a vast difference between a great daily ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:14:38 GMT
Into the interest rate maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Into the interest rate maze.aspx

Financial literacy is not great in Australia. Worryingly, the latest research by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows that there are also many obstacles that make it even harder for people to make good financial decisions. However this may all be about to change thanks largely to the work ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:13:53 GMT
Adding up the Costco savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Costco experience.aspx

It all started with the fact that I wanted a cup of tea and we'd run out of decaffeinated tea - a small thing that grew into something much bigger: a trip to Costco.As I grabbed my keys to go to the supermarket, my wife mentioned that we had to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:12:51 GMT
Costco vs Cash 'n' carry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/costco-v-cash-n-carry.aspx

After some months of procrastinating we finally made it to the newish Costco store in Auburn in Sydney. We’d tried before but when we couldn't find a parking spot after 20 mins or so, we gave up. To give you an idea of how busy Costco was when we managed ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:07:55 GMT
Creating a comfortable home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/creating-a-comfortable-home.aspx

On a sweltering summer afternoon my house is hotter inside than out. To solve the problem, I've been researching a few solutions that wont run up a huge energy bill. Adequate insulation is really important. Unfortunately, the government has axed its home insulation scheme, following all the adverse publicity. It will be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 May 2012 11:57:40 GMT
Why we try not to put photographers in their place http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/classifying-cameras.aspx

Heroditus was a Greek tourist (and some say historian) who lived around 490 to 430BC. He didn't have a camera and we can't be sure if he wore a bumbag, but he did try to describe some of the places he visited. He used a simple classification of people: if ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 04 May 2012 12:55:47 GMT
Why pay full price? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/fullsociety.aspx

I keep seeing lots of hype about low confidence in Australia; low confidence in the retail sector; low confidence in finance. Despite being one of the few economies in the world that made it through the GFC with barely scraped knees, we seem worried about what’s going to happen. Whether ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:36:42 GMT
Behind the scenes: Electric blanket test http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/Behind the scenes electric blanket test.aspx

Sometimes I take a moment to remember just how lucky I am to work at CHOICE. During the several years I’ve worked here I’ve managed to go through three or four departments to try my hand at a bunch of different tasks to help members get the facts they need ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 07:25:37 GMT
The calorie/kilojoule/cardio/counting conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/kilojoule-calorie-conundrum.aspx

If you live in NSW, Queensland, SA or the ACT chances are you’ll have seen or will start seeing kilojoule (kJ) counts next to items on fast and snack food menus. That’s because state and territory governments are introducing or have passed legislation making kilojoule labelling mandatory for most larger chains ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:39:43 GMT
Consider all costs when buying from overseas http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/buying-online-not-always-cheaper.aspx

Normally I buy shoes in Australia but I was buying a present for my sister, and a shoe she really likes is only found in Canada. Seeing as the Aussie dollar is doing so well, it seemed logical to buy a pair from overseas and have them sent over. Turns ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 27 Mar 2012 10:16:21 GMT
Reading food labels is a fishy business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/frozen-fish.aspx

I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my waking hours scrutinising food labels. Granted, my job writing about food and nutrition for CHOICE predisposes me to reading the odd label or two (or 100!). Now, as a mother of two young children, the time spent perusing nutrition information panels ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:08:23 GMT
Wanted: ideas to get seniors active http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/wanted-ideas-to-get-seniors-active.aspx

If someone invented an exercise pill, it would be the medical breakthrough of the century. Regular exercise mitigates against coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and high cholesterol. It’s also good for psychological wellbeing and can help prevent cognitive decline, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 10:37:51 GMT
Will you take on old age fighting fit or lying down? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/will-you-take-on-old-age-fighting-fit-or-lying-down.aspx

Hitting our 60s should mean finally having the time to travel, take up hobbies, get involved in community and interest groups and socialise more with friends and family. And these days we expect to be living independently in our own home as we get older, rather than living with family ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:11:17 GMT
The consumer movement turns 50 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/50-years-of-the-consumer-movement.aspx

Margaret Thatcher reflected – ‘if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman’. The consumer movement has certainly been a movement defined by strong women - from the founder of CHOICE ‘Red’ Ruby Hutchison, to firebrand Sheila McKechnie, who helped make Which?, the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 15:54:13 GMT
Twitter to the rescue for Citibank customer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/twits-to-the-rescue-at-citibank.aspx

Some years ago we needed to take out a personal loan with Citibank. Fast forward three years and we were ready to pay off the loan completely.So back in November 2011, we sought the cost of exiting the loan - which took numerous phone calls to Citibank.Eventually we paid the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:25:09 GMT
Testing smartphone developments http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/test-method-will-respond-to-phone-developments.aspx

While attending the CeBit conference in Hanover, I had the opportunity to visit the BBM Mueller labs in Munich to discuss the latest batch of phones to appear in the CHOICE smartphone test in the coming months. Apart from our yearly NextG test, all our smartphone tests are carried out ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:50:19 GMT
The case of the missing hot water http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/beijing-airport.aspx

On a recent return trip home from a European holiday my partner and I were in transit for almost 30 hours. Mid way through the trip, we were stuck waiting in Beijing Airport. We cleared customs and wandered dazedly into the vast transit terminal, and were greeted by the sweetest ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:32:41 GMT
Don't get mad – get moving http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/dont-get-mad---get-moving.aspx

Campaigning for better banking is a bit like the start of the footy season. We begin as optimists, trying to forget the disappointments of last year, the unfair penalties and questionable free kicks, hoping instead for some healthy competition.That is where the similarities end. While other national sports have salary ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:54:43 GMT
Making a Bosch of it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/making-a-bosch-of-it.aspx

In early December last year, my expensive Bosch induction cooktop, still covered under warranty, broke. This is one of those “I had to wait for seven weeks and be home six times for it to finally get fixed” stories – but it comes with some juicy twists.TWIST 1 The tale ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Mar 2012 08:30:05 GMT
Consumers and commissions - opening up the business of switching http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/bigbankswitch.aspx

CHOICE has partnered with One Big Switch to help 1,000 Aussies get better home loan deals with our eyes wide open – and focused squarely on the benefits for consumers. There is nothing new about consumers switching to get a better deal, or about banks paying commissions to sign up ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 18 Feb 2012 11:53:38 GMT
Superior service is good PR http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/superior-service-is-good-pr.aspx

Recently a friend got the run around from a major consumer electronics company after downloading a game and finding out that it wouldn’t play on his gaming console which was made by the same company. All he asked for was a refund after the company confirmed that the game was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 14 Feb 2012 15:00:57 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: Sustainability requirements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/knockdown-rebuild-part-3.aspx

While we were looking at display homes before beginning our build, we often heard BASIX mentioned – though we had no idea what it was at the time. We eventually discovered that it related to the NSW government regulations regarding sustainability. We were concerned about the environmental and anticipated increases ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 13 Feb 2012 09:33:04 GMT
The childcare conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/the-childcare-conundrum.aspx

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time, who did we call first to share the news? Family? No. Close friends? No. The first place we called was a childcare centre to try and get on a waiting list.I thought I was ahead of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:29:00 GMT
Airline horror stories http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/flight-troubles.aspx

My partner recently had to fly from Newcastle, NSW to the Gold Coast in Queensland. It all began going wrong when a traffic accident delayed our drive to the airport. She was flying with Jetstar, which closes its check in counter 30 minutes before departure (around 2:30pm in this case).With ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Feb 2012 11:36:31 GMT
Optus upsell attempt ends in tears - for Optus http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/optus-upsell-attempt-ends-in-tears.aspx

On a recent stop at my mailbox to collect the few letters that usually turn out to be promotional materials or bills, I found a lone letter from Optus promising ‘NEW PLANS FOR THE FUTURE’. Now, Optus and I have had a rocky relationship over the years. But things seemed ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:22:08 GMT
Is SOPA a threat to internet freedom? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/internet-blackout.aspx

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, has triggered one of the biggest industry-based protests in history to hit the World Wide Web. Most notably, the popular Wikipedia site closed down in protest, and there was action from other heavyweights such as Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. In the US, a petition ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jan 2012 22:10:04 GMT
Video tip #1 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/video-tip-number-1.aspx

Well this is a fine state of affairs. Only my second blog and already I find myself breaking promises. If you read my last post, you'll most likely be expecting to see a video walk-through showing you some of the techniques I used to put the new site promo video ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:13:48 GMT
A fee-fueled world gone mad http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/a-fee-fueled-world-gone-mad.aspx

Fees are frustrating. Those little acknowledged, overly annoying additions to everyday purchases that, over time, add up. What’s even more irritating is the fact that they've become particularly prevalent in Australian society (yes, banks, I am looking directly at you – and while I’m in a staring mood, you too ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:42:11 GMT
Live events going cheap http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/live-events-going-cheap.aspx

It’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy live entertainment, if you can afford the ticket prices. Additional fees and surcharges bump up already considerable costs, and if you have to purchase tickets for an entire family, going to a live show can be downright unaffordable. For ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 11:54:10 GMT
Streaming music services in Australia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/streaming-music-services.aspx

Retailer JB Hi-Fi has recently released a streaming facility called JB Hi-Fi NOW. While currently in beta at time of writing, they display pricing at $25/month, $50/6 months and $80/year.What does it get you? For this amount you’ll have access to over 100,000 artists, and millions of songs, that you ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 09 Jan 2012 16:32:26 GMT
Credit cards - Which one should you choose? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/credit-cards-which-one-should-you-choose.aspx

Credit cards can be a useful tool - and when you pick the right one they can even be a cost effective way to access a loan or additional features. However, if you have the wrong credit card for your needs, it could end up costing you big time. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:46:43 GMT
Make your charity donations count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/make-your-charity-donations-count.aspx

Giving is a part of the Christmas tradition for many of us, and this includes making charitable donations where we can. However, how charities handle our donations can sometimes be the cause of confusion and controversyThe amount spent on administration costs is one such area, and for big organisations, these ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Dec 2011 14:43:22 GMT
A penalty by any other name is still a penalty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/penalty-fees.aspx

Throughout CHOICE’s long campaign against unfair bank fees we have always called the odd $45 the banks charged you for being late for a credit card repayment a ‘penalty’ fee.The same applied for other high fees around being overdrawn on a transaction account or presenting a bouncing cheque - we ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Dec 2011 13:18:22 GMT
Pet dental health - don't brush it off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/pet-dental-health.aspx

Pet insurance is one way you can manage the cost of owning a pet. It’s not the only alternative, but it can save you in the long run, especially in the face of hefty vet bills. We looked into the nuances of pet insurance earlier in the year, and one area ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 07 Dec 2011 17:12:36 GMT
It's the season to be cynical about bank profits http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/bank-profits.aspx

There is something predictable about Australia's bank reporting season. As surely as our minds turn to office Christmas parties, days at the beach and cricket on the TV, we will witness a parade of record profits and executive remuneration packages.These announcements seem to exist in a parallel universe to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:21:55 GMT
Unit pricing still has room for improvement http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/unit-pricing.aspx

It’s more than 50 years since CHOICE first suggested that displaying unit prices (UP) – the price per unit of measure - in supermarkets could help consumers compare value and save money by changing their buying habits.It was a long campaign with retailers resisting and delaying the introduction of unit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Dec 2011 09:35:16 GMT
The long path to VoIP satisfaction http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/voip.aspx

Recently we changed mobile providers to Amaysim; with that change came a dip in coverage. Neither one of us (one on Optus, one on Telstra) had issues prior to swapping, but since the change we’ve had to walk outside of the house to get any decent coverage, despite Amaysim using ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Nov 2011 11:23:47 GMT
Car recall leaves owner out of pocket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/car-recall.aspx

A couple of months ago I received a recall notice for our car in the mail. Like all CHOICE staff, when I see a recall notice, I tend to think of safety issues. The recall notice explained that there was a possibility that if the steering wheel was locked with force, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 09 Nov 2011 14:25:24 GMT
Customer service matters if traditional retail is to thrive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/bricks-and-mortar-retail.aspx

I had the unfortunate but necessary experience of having to visit a major department store a couple of time over the past few weeks. The first thing that took me by surprise was the emptiness of the store - plenty of stuff to buy - but no-one there to buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Nov 2011 21:27:59 GMT
Bumpy road to diagnosing milk, soy protein intolerance http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/milk-soy-protein-intolerance.aspx

My two children are milk and soy protein intolerant, MSPI. Most people stare at me blankly when I tell them this. My daughter, Stella, was a relaxed baby for the first week. Then she began to sleep less, feed more and cry, a lot. I was told that she was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:24:07 GMT
Does your contents insurance fully cover theft? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/does-your-contents-insurance-fully-cover-theft.aspx

Home and contents insurance is a mandatory purchase for many home owners, and lately there has been a lot of interest in flood cover in particular following the Queensland disaster at the beginning of the year. However, a recent letter from a CHOICE member George* has highlighted another area of ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 08:28:05 GMT
No refunds for Rewind festival-goers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/rewind-australia-blog.aspx

Picture this – for three days the musical heroes of my youth were to belt out cheesy 80s pop classics under an azure Illawarra sky. A little paunchier and a little balder perhaps, like me, but at least they’ve made the effort to come all the way to Wollongong. Children ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 15:26:08 GMT
Girl racer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/girl-racer.aspx

In an effort to save money and be a teensy bit nicer to the environment, earlier this year I decided it was time to trade in my much loved car – Doris, a 1959 Morris Minor. I live close to the city and work, and figured a combination of car ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:49:03 GMT
Hanging on the telephone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/hanging-on-the-telephone.aspx

Telstra posts $4.07 billion profit and yet 82 year old Doug Tancred can’t use his pensioner discount. Shame! Members write letters and email CHOICE daily. Some want things fixed, or specific products tested in our Marrickville labs, others just want to get a bad experience off their chest — like Doug Tancred ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:17:12 GMT
Discount grocery shopping online doesn't stack up, yet http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/online-grocery-shopping.aspx

I recently saw that Catch of the Day launched a sister operation called Grocery Run. I’m not new to buying online, however aside from the odd overseas grocery item that I couldn’t get in Australia, I’ve never ordered groceries online locally in Australia. There are options out there from the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Oct 2011 11:25:11 GMT
Piracy common but people still paying for music http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/music-piracy.aspx

Music has been a gift of choice for consumers for some time. Throughout the 20th century, new technology continually changed the face of the industry, from the gramophone to the LP record, cassette tape, CD and eventually – digital. The last trend could be the most influential factor to hit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 06 Oct 2011 20:06:46 GMT
Next generation travelling http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/next-generation-travelling.aspx

Ten years of travel A little under a decade ago I booked my first solo overseas holiday. It was a blustery May day – rainy, cold, miserable. Full-time university and part-time work were eating up my social life. But there was hope on the seemingly all-too-distant horizon - three months ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:58 GMT
Picture perfect http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/just-going-for-a-stroll.aspx

I like travelling. I've done a lot of it, but mostly in my own time and at my own cost – so I appreciate the very rare occasions when CHOICE decides I need to be somewhere other than at my desk in Marrickville. Brussells is a very long way from ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:36 GMT
Pet insurance gives paws for thought http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/pet-insurance.aspx

Growing up on a farm gives you a pretty good idea of the ups and downs of pet ownership. From our cigarette-stealing sheep (no more leaving them in the glove compartment after that) to miniature horses and donkeys running alongside the dogs in the backyard, I’ve had pets in all ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:03:07 GMT
Bad customer service? Try none at all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/no-customer-service.aspx

Poor customer service sucks. Dealing with rude, incompetent or unhelpful staff who refuse to abide by the “customer is always right” mantra can leave you feeling angry, dejected and utterly undervalued. But when it happens, you at least have some means of recourse. You can threaten to take your business ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 26 Sep 2011 14:47:58 GMT
More money for retirement on the way http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/more-money-for-retirement-on-the-way.aspx

Earlier this week, the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten announced some important reforms to the way we build our superannuation. CHOICE has made several submissions to Cooper Review and many of our recommendations were considered in the reforms, which will begin to take effect in July 2013. This includes the possibility ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 22 Sep 2011 20:46:55 GMT
My journey from disposable to cloth nappies http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/nappy-journey.aspx

When I was pregnant with my daughter I started thinking about which products I wanted to use and, of course, nappies were on that list. There are so many different options: disposables, biodegradable disposable, partly biodegradable disposables and many, many different types of cloth nappies. We considered using cloth nappies ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 15 Sep 2011 07:46:32 GMT
Struggling families? Better than before, says ABS http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/household-spending.aspx

Recent household spending statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that we have more money and better living standards since the last survey in 2003-04. While prices of goods and services have risen by 19%, the mean household income has increased by 50%. In short, costs are on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Sep 2011 18:55:34 GMT
Questioning your phone bill can pay off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/questioning-your-phone-bill-can-pay-off.aspx

The recent experience of a friend is a timely reminder to give your phone bill a once-over before you pay it. After noticing that his monthly mobile bill was higher than normal, my mate Marty took a closer look and saw a section he’d never seen on previous bills. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Sep 2011 10:49:54 GMT
Comparison websites confusion sparks warning http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/comparison-websites-confusion-sparks-warning.aspx

Comparison websites have been given a warning to act in a fair and transparent manner after the ACCC launched legal action last Friday against EnergyWatch.com.au. The ACCC is alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and making false representations in its advertising. This marks a line in the sand that comparison sites ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:50:52 GMT
Has cash lost its crown? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/has-cash-lost-its-crown.aspx

There are now many ways to pay for goods and services without cash – EFTPOS, PayPass, payWave, BPAY, PayPal, Paymate, credit card, debit card, POLi, online transfer and mobile payments. As a nation, we’re increasing our use of all of these, perhaps in part because it can be difficult or ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:47:09 GMT
Magic money savers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/magic-money-savers.aspx

You might not be able to pull money out of a hat, but with these unique money saving tips, you can magically boost the content of your piggy bank. We’ve all heard about unplugging our appliances at the wall, shopping around to save and the importance of planning a budget, and if ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:33:33 GMT
Mobile internet changing the marketplace http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/mobile-internet-changing-the-marketplace.aspx

There’s no doubt that internet on the go is becoming much more common. Nearly 12 million Australians now have an internet-capable mobile phone, and over half of those are smartphones, according to Nielsen’s Australian Online Consumer Report. Tablet computer sales are on the rise too and web developers are creating ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 20:24:46 GMT
The colour of money http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-colour-of-money.aspx

Once upon a time having a Gold or Silver credit card in your wallet was a sign of affluence and success for some people — a little plastic status symbol. And in the music world it seems that tradition continues — former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher can be seen on YouTube boasting, tongue ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 17:56:07 GMT
Children's product testing at CHOICE http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/childrens-product-testing-at-choice.aspx

Here at CHOICE we take our work in the Babies and Kids area very seriously. It can be quite difficult to tell whether a product is safe or not and parents and carers need information they can trust. To the untrained eye a product may look safe enough but there may ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 16 Aug 2011 16:27:24 GMT
Ten minutes work saves $126 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/ten-minutes-work-saves-$126.aspx

My comprehensive car insurance is up for renewal this month, so I did the usual thing of shopping around for quotes. AAMI came up with a price of $127 less than my current insurer, NRMA. I called NRMA and said I'd received a much cheaper quote, and asked if there ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Practical steps to slashing your power bills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/slash-your-power-bills.aspx

We’ve all noticed our power bills creeping up over time, in part due to the increased number and types of goods and appliances we all have, but also due to increasing energy costs. To date most of these costs are related to increased commercial and infrastructure costs, as well as ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Shonkys reveal some real lemons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/shonkys-reveal-some-real-lemons.aspx

The excitement was palpable as the stage was being set for this year’s CHOICE Shonky Awards ceremony. The question on everyone’s lips: who will be the ignominious winners of the shiny Shonkys this year? Hobnobbing in the Art Gallery of NSW with a who’s who of consumer media, sipping champagne and ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Are fridges cool? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/are-fridges-cool.aspx

I must be very strange: I love fridges. Well I don’t actually love fridges, but I find them really interesting. The messages I pick up from most people is that fridges are just there. A fridge just does its job of keeping stuff cold and that’s it. What’s to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 13:59:58 GMT
Putting ideals into practice http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/putting-ideals-into-practice.aspx

This week CHOICE launched the first ever group mortgage switch, aiming to give every consumer who takes part the negotiating power of more than a thousand people. We’re calling it the CHOICE Big Bank Switch. With this campaign, CHOICE is putting itself at the forefront of a next-generation consumer campaign; ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:03:51 GMT
Super and stocks in the current economic climate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/super-and-financial-markets.aspx

If you’re wondering what to do with your super and investments in the current financial market, you’re not alone. Stockmarkets in Australia have been bouncing up and down as debt fears in the US and Europe fuel global speculation, and investors and fund managers worldwide have been riding a rollercoaster ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 12 Aug 2011 07:40:33 GMT
Consumer action matters http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/why-consumer-action-matters.aspx

Whether it’s planning approvals or palm oil, fair trade or fair bank fees, everywhere you turn consumers and citizens are taking action to achieve change. People organise community action groups and sign email petitions, call talkback radio and write letters to companies demanding change. Action like this is the lifeblood ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:59:53 GMT
Testing PayPal's guarantee http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/testing-paypal-guarantee.aspx

We recently purchased a product for a CHOICE review but never received it. We had paid for the item via PayPal, so we pursued PayPal’s guarantee of coverage through their internal resolution centre. Even though we were disappointed we didn't get the product - we pay for them anonymously with ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 08 Aug 2011 14:25:16 GMT
What the Census means for consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/census-data.aspx

Census night allows the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to gather vital data for planning and infrastructure, but plenty of people don’t mind having a joke when filling out their question sheets. After all, according to the 2001 Census there were around 70,000 Jedi in Australia at the time, but ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 05 Aug 2011 13:26:36 GMT
Energy audit shines light on savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/energy-audit-shines-light-on-savings.aspx

Saving energy is all the rage these days, which is no surprise given rising energy prices. A little while ago my wife and I took part in a voluntary government study which measured the standby power and lighting in 150 Australian households. You will have heard of energy audits before, where some ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Aug 2011 08:22:52 GMT
Big Bank Switch - why group switching is here to stay http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/big-bank-switch.aspx

Try this. You gather a group of people together who want the same thing and negotiate a better price than even the best solo haggler could achieve. You might even get the kind of discounts normally reserved for big spenders like millionaire business people or celebrities. It’s called group buying ...

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CHOICE Blog Sun, 31 Jul 2011 10:09:20 GMT
Telco complaints reach tipping point http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/telco-complaints.aspx

Frustration at our telecommunications providers has been allowed to grow to Hulk-like proportions due to years of customer service incompetence and confusing pricing plans that are impossible to calculate. With the number of consumers frequently facing bill shock, it’s no wonder people are angry. The Australian Communications and Media Authority ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:17:15 GMT
eBooks going to the library http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/ebooks-at-the-library.aspx

A few weeks ago, CHOICE Technology team leader, Steve Duncombe, and I visited the Bowen Library in Maroubra (Randwick City Library Service) in New South Wales to give a talk on eBooks and eBook readers. Steve’s talk was well-received and there was a lot of discussion on eBooks and eBook ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Jul 2011 11:31:22 GMT
It’s time to end excessive credit card surcharging http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/excessive-surcharging.aspx

Whenever you pay for something using your credit card, it costs businesses money. Typically, it costs more for stores to accept credit cards than other payment methods like debit or EFTPOS. In 2003, the RBA decided to allow those costs to be passed on to consumers in the form of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:33:01 GMT
Committing to winter exercise http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/exercise-bike-or-trainer.aspx

I recently decided to put some thought into getting more exercise. The weather was getting colder, and while I love winter, the part I love about it is getting warm. I generally cycle to work, so I thought about how I could get some more exercise without having to spend ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:55:11 GMT
Censorship - too much, not enough or just right? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/control-freaks.aspx

Australia has a long history of censorship. At our foundations, we have no constitutional protection of free speech, and some claim ours are among the most restrictive censorship policies in the Western world. Some notable examples of censorship in Australia include: The banning of Lady Chatterley’s Lover until the mid-20th ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:53:28 GMT
Bullying beyond the schoolyard http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/bullying.aspx

What happens in the playground can stay with us for a long time. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it comes to bullying, it’s hard to see any good in being picked on relentlessly. Combine this sentiment with easy access to online mediums like YouTube, and it’s not ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:49:14 GMT
Reduce the stress of moving house http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/moving-house.aspx

Having read a couple of blogs from my colleagues on their experiences with real estate agents and the challenges of buying, I thought that I'd share my experiences of the next step: moving. Without question, the seemingly never-ending inspections and negotiations in purchasing or renting a property can be very stressful, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 12:33:14 GMT
Your privacy is in the fine print http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/your-privacy-is-in-the-fine-print.aspx

The unravelling of the News of the World scandal has put the tenuous right to privacy into the spotlight over the last week. As the extent of the News phone hacking operation has become clearer, people are asking questions about the safety of personal information. But while the revelations of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 11:46:52 GMT
Steep learning curve follows switch to HTC Sensation http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/htc-sensation.aspx

Some time ago, I was made aware that I had given some bad advice. My wife took great enjoyment, given where I work, that my advice on her phone had been rushed. Enjoyment turned to annoyance as she had to deal with a texting system that took nine clicks just ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 08:49:22 GMT
Dental health - the silent epidemic http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/dental-health-the-silent-epidemic.aspx

What’s worse than going to the dentist? Not having the option – like the 650,000 Australians who were on public dental waiting lists at last check in 2009. While many people can afford to seek treatment if they need it, those without the means to pay the high costs of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Jul 2011 09:08:07 GMT
Ten tips to navigate the banking maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/banking-maze.aspx

Just like changing the oil on your car, your finances also often need maintenance to run smoothly. Here are 10 fast and effective ways to ensure your accounts are in order. Home loans 1 Pay your mortgage fortnightly It’s an old trick, but can save you big bucks. If you ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 05 Jul 2011 08:49:40 GMT
Think big or our progress will be small http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/think-big-or-our-progress-will-be-small.aspx

Having worked at the heart of government I have some insight into how the daily morass of stuff can obscure the bigger picture and the ambitions that drive people into politics in the first place. It has made me feel more passionate that, for the sake of human development, ambition ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 02 Jul 2011 14:30:27 GMT
United Airlines brings me back to earth http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/united-airlines.aspx

I have just returned from Silicon Valley in the US where I spent a week inside some of the most impressive companies to emerge in recent times: Zappos, a company that sells shoes and clothes, but in reality sells great customer service where goods arrive the next day and they ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:21:11 GMT
Complaints about bad service http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/complaints-about-bad-service.aspx

A few days ago I had an expensive degustation dinner at a restaurant in Sydney’s north shore. I’ve been there several times before, and have recommended it to many friends and family members. But this particular night, while the food was not memorable, the service will forever be imprinted in ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 27 Jun 2011 11:05:35 GMT
Five ways to save on your home loan http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/five-ways-to-save-on-your-home-loan.aspx

With interest rates and the cost of living set to rise over the coming year, it may be time to re-examine your budget and identify a few areas where you can save money. For many people, a mortgage represents a large part of the budget, so it makes sense that ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 09:56:28 GMT
Comfortable travel is a tall order http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/tall-consumers.aspx

What’s not to love about travelling overseas? The journey, the hotels, different cultures, food and modes of transport all combine for an experience you won’t forget. But there is one thing that makes travelling a little less enjoyable than it should be - being tall. I’m just over 6 foot ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 08:58:13 GMT
Mail order madness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mail-order-madness.aspx

My dad was after some in-shoe supports for a pair of shoes that couldn’t accommodate his regular orthotics, and was convinced by an ad in Seniors magazine for some Foot Cradles. They promised pain relief for everything from neck to toes, but that was neither here nor there, he was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 17:10:54 GMT
Sleeping with Tony Abbott http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/ceo-sleepout.aspx

Sleeping with Tony Abbott and Ralph Norris was not an idea that had ever crossed my mind - which will no doubt come as a relief to them and my wife - but for a good cause it was worth that morning after feeling. Last night Ralph, Tony and I, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:50:52 GMT
15 things I wish I had known before buying my first home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/advice-for-first-home-buyers.aspx

Buying your first home can be a daunting prospect. The thought of entering into a new realm of finance, solicitors, reports and negotiations is a little overwhelming, to say the least. In order to assist potential buyers with this process I've complied a checklist of 15 things you’ll need to consider ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Jun 2011 11:00:48 GMT
Tablet, eBook reader or plain old paperback? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/ebook-readers.aspx

When CHOICE started testing eBook readers a few years ago, there was nothing like the iPad out there. But since its inception and inclusion in our second test, the question we get asked most regarding eBook readers is: why bother with an eBook reader when I can get a tablet? For ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 25 May 2011 21:26:45 GMT
A tale of two airlines - good service v. cheap fares http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/a-tale-of-two-airlines.aspx

Picture it: Narita Airport, Tokyo, April 2011, 23:00. Two Aussie travellers sprinting behind a petite but very speedy Japan Airlines (JAL) paperwork-laden staff member as she ushers us through airport security, customs and other blurred bureaucrats onto a shuttle cable to take us to another terminal, rushes us past what ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 May 2011 10:52:53 GMT
Real estate: mistake or misrepresentation? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/misleading-real-estate-agent.aspx

Real estate agents get a really bad wrap. As a journalist, who in the past has been on the receiving end of some rather offensive professional generalisations, I have always been conscious of avoiding the tarring of an entire profession with the one brush. I’m also somewhat sympathetic to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 11:33:55 GMT
Roam around to avoid bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/data-roaming-bill-shock.aspx

Disclaimer: I am an idiot. I’ve been working for a fine consumer organisation for almost three years now, during which time I’ve come across several bill shock horror stories from members stung by exorbitant global and data roaming charges for postpaid mobile phones. So what’s the one simple step I didn’t ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 10:34:36 GMT
What the big four banks can learn from Apple http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/applebanking.aspx

This week’s media has been full of news about the four big banks’ latest record-making profits - $12 billion in profit over the past six months. One article that got my attention however was Business Spectator’s Apple can bank its winnings by Charis Palmer. Given Apple’s significant cash pools, she ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 06 May 2011 11:16:43 GMT
The great Aussie beer glass dilemma http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/varying-beer-sizes.aspx

A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’d like a beer, please.” The bartender replies: “Sure, mate. What size?” “What sizes have you got?” “We’ve got pots, ponies, middies, schooners, pints, butchers, sevens, eights, tens, handles…” Ahh, the dilemma of ordering a beer in an Aussie ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 May 2011 09:56:20 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: project home pros and cons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/knockdown-rebuild-part-2.aspx

We’d finally chosen our house. It wasn’t quite our dream house – who can afford that – but we felt we could make changes that would bring it close. Even on project homes, you can make changes to the floor plan within certain constraints and usually at extra cost, so ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 03 May 2011 14:20:23 GMT
Foreign flowers for Valentine's Day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/foreign-blooms-for-valentines-day.aspx

My love is like a red, red rose… but I haven’t a clue where she comes from. This is the conundrum facing those of us buying cut flowers this Valentine's Day. There’s currently no requirement for country of origin labelling (read our article on chocolates and flowers), despite the large ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 02 May 2011 09:08:15 GMT
Mobile phones: one size doesn’t fit all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mobile-phone-testing.aspx

Cat people and dog people, people who think Sean Connery is the only James Bond and those who can only consider Roger Moore. Lady Ga Ga fans and people who just don’t get it. The world is full of divided camps and mobile phones are yet another area where people have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Apr 2011 11:56:50 GMT
Breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/breastfeeding-difficulties.aspx

Breastfeeding is perfectly natural and the absolute best thing you can do for your baby. At least that was what I was told during my pregnancy countless times: early parenting classes, pre-natal visits and all the literature I was reading trumpeted the benefits of breastfeeding. But what none of them ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Apr 2011 10:20:49 GMT
Don't settle for a bad haircut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/bad-haircut.aspx

Have you ever had a bad haircut? What about a really bad haircut? One so bad that when you got home and looked in the mirror you had to fight back the tears? Or, one that required you to wear a hat day and night for the next month? I ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:49:12 GMT
Reduce energy consumption and pocket the savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/energy-prices.aspx

1985 was a very different place to 2011. Nelson Mandela was sitting in a South African jail cell, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as US president, and a man wearing a chicken suit trespassed into the Australian Parliament and sat on the government’s front bench. But electricity prices…well, they were ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Apr 2011 09:18:04 GMT
Is your email account at risk from hackers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/email-hack.aspx

I was awoken on Friday with an early morning phone call from a friend. She told me she’d received a strange email from me saying that I was in Spain and that I had been robbed and asking if she could help by sending me some money. This was the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 11 Apr 2011 10:25:35 GMT
When an insurance claim just isn't worth it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/small-insurance-claim.aspx

I've owned a laptop for about five years now. I bought it at the top of the range, upgraded it and use it constantly for education, business trips and at home almost every day. It really has served its purpose and I cannot complain about it at all. It's gone ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Apr 2011 09:23:50 GMT
What is social business and why does it matter? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/social-business.aspx

Something profound is happening to the way some of us do business – so fundamental that the old left and right might even seek to claim it as their own but in truth it happened despite them, and certainly doesn’t need them. And in any case it’s a phenomenon that ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:39:29 GMT
Freeview labelling - do we need it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/freeview.aspx

Digital TV is already being broadcast across much of Australia. By 2014, remaining analogue TV broadcasts will be shut down, and you’ll have no choice but to watch digital TV. The federal government is doing a pretty good job of educating Australians about the transition to digital, and what consumers ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Mar 2011 08:41:53 GMT
Consumers are banking on reform http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/consumers-are-banking-on-reform.aspx

Today the government released emails containing advice on banking reform given to the Treasurer Wayne Swan last October. The advice from officials repeats banking industry concerns about proposals to scrap exit fees and introduce portable bank account numbers - two key reforms strongly supported by CHOICE. The concerns state that scrapping exit ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:41:02 GMT
Carbon price: households shouldn't carry the cost for industry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/carbon-price-details-still-to-come.aspx

The federal government has announced a plan to implement a carbon price in Australia from 1 July 2012. This is a welcome step because a carbon price is the least-costly way of tackling climate change, and studies show the sooner we act, the lower the cost, so this is potentially ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:40:50 GMT
Taking your call for better banking to Canberra http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/better-banking.aspx

Today we’re in Canberra handing a new CHOICE report on banking to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and to members of the Senate Committee that’s carrying out an inquiry into banking. The report, packed full of consumer views on banking gathered by CHOICE over recent months, won’t bring a smile to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:38:32 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild - how it all began http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/knockdown-and-rebuild.aspx

When I mention to people that we’re building a house, the most common reaction is that we’ve temporarily gone insane and will wake up to regret it. That may yet happen but so far we’re still ok with it. We had a house, but it was too small. Seriously, it ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:05:02 GMT
The most savvy and active consumers in the world! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/the-most-savvy-and-active-consumers-in-the-world.aspx

I’d like to personally welcome you to the new site. All the improvements have been based on your feedback and we will continue to make changes that work for you. Please let me know what you think of the site — the good, the bad and the ugly. From the day ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:38 GMT
Shaky Foundations http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/shaky-foundations.aspx

Makeup and I go way back. From that first lip-gloss I bought from the Avon lady at the grand old age of10, it’s been a love affair that’s seen me through several decades. Now I’m on the wrong side of 35, with a toddler who likes to start the working ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:25 GMT
Radio radio http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/radio-radio.aspx

It's been a long time since I listened to the radio on my regular trips from Sydney to Newcastle. CDs were a godsend and now I follow the trend and carry an iPod with hundreds of hours of music and podcasts. In the car I've a little transmitter that wirelessly ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:13 GMT
Pst ... wanna buy a used option? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/pst-wanna-buy-a-used-option.aspx

Around the same time that I was researching ways to recession-proof your finances, some prominent newspaper adverts caught my eye. They were for investment seminars that promised to reveal how to make money regardless of whether share markets were going up, down or sideways. Better still, the system was supposed to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:00 GMT
One more for the road? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/one-more-for-the-road.aspx

Heard the one about the man who walked into a pub with a pocketful of breathalyzers? We had tested out these devices in strict laboratory conditions but what happens when you let them loose among some real life boozers? For starters you get another view of how people both use ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:45 GMT
Grand designs http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/grand-designs.aspx

If you’ve checked my bio you’ll know I’m Neill and I work in the laundry lab here. Actually I will be working in it once the renovations it’s currently undergoing come to an end — we’re promised we can move in this Thursday. A fortnight ago it was going to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:20 GMT
An extra large medium http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/an-extra-large-medium.aspx

As most people who know me will admit (often with an unseemly amount of enthusiasm), it's not often that I'm lost for words. But starting a blog on video production for CHOICE presents me with something of a challenge. You're obviously interested in video, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:53 GMT
The yarn about thread count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-yarn-about-thread-count.aspx

Bed sheets are on sale again. But before you rush out and grab the first one with the highest thread count, even if it was 50% off its usual price, do yourself a favour and shop around. Last weekend, while I was shopping at House, a home and kitchenware store, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:09 GMT
The unexpected should make you stronger http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-unexpected-should-make-you-stronger.aspx

Tough times hit people all the time. It’s why this year we didn’t put up our prices because we know people have been feeling the pinch; it’s also why CHOICE investigates solutions to the most challenging aspects of consumer life, so that we can take the hassle out of your ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:56 GMT
Something to put a sparkle in the day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/something-to-put-a-sparkle-in-the-day.aspx

Well yesterday was a change from the usual work in the laundry lab: evaluating washing machines and dishwashers. Choice usually publishes a story on sparkling wines coming up to the festive season. To score the wines we have a panel of experts do a blind tasting. And as a follow-up we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:29 GMT
Just do it - just doesn't cut it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/just-do-it--just-doesnt-cut-it.aspx

I’ve often thought of doing exercise as being bit like cleaning one’s teeth. It’s something I know I should do, and sometimes it feels good, while at other times I just do it, knowing I’ll feel better for it afterwards. And the long term benefits of both are absolutely worth ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:03 GMT
Into the mouths of babes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/into-the-mouths-of-babes.aspx

Some days it seems that retailers think that my daughter is an alien. While I’ll admit my toddler behaves like she’s from another planet at times, I’m fairly sure she’s a human, albeit a small one. But in the supermarket it seems many product marketers are keen to convince me ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:52 GMT
Foxtel's price increase - less for more http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/foxtels-price-increase---less-for-more.aspx

Five years ago I broached the subject of subscribing to Foxtel Pay TV, primarily so I could watch (even) more sport. While my love of English football isn’t shared by everyone in my household, the “Digital Basic” package included UK TV and the Lifestyle channel. I'm not sure I ever ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:25 GMT
Fighting fines with fire http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fighting-fines-with-fire.aspx

Parking fines are one of the main bugbears of any motorist, especially when they’ve been wrongly issued. However, I'm interested in why consumers aren't more proactive in challenging unfair fines when the success rate is actually quite high. As we were conducting our research for our article on parking fines, we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:13 GMT
Fares fair http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fares-fair.aspx

A few weeks ago I caught a taxi to the airport for a flight to Canberra. I was on my way to visit the National Information Centre On Retirement Investments (NICRI - a really useful organisation that provides free financial information to consumers), and they'd kindly given me a cabcharge to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:01 GMT
Escalator action proves goal is achieveable http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/escalator-action-proves-goal-is-achieveable.aspx

I’m just back from a week on Boomerang beach. What a great place even if the sun didn’t shine! I’m realising that come rain or shine the Aussie outdoor spirit is contagious and I even felt compelled to take off my rain jacket each day for a dip in the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:48 GMT
Don't touch that dial http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/dont-touch-that-dial.aspx

I think the time is fast approaching when free-to-air TV is going to become almost entirely irrelevant in most peoples lives. Its not that I've any empirical evidence for its demise, nor is it something I would wish to happen, but the major networks in Australia seem to have a ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:35 GMT
CHOICE Insights http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/choice-insights.aspx

I’m just heading off for a week’s holiday to north of Newcastle at Boomerang Beach. I’m sure many of you are used to the beauty of Australia but being new to the country, it’s a great treat for me and my family to spend holidays in a place we also ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:22 GMT
A Wii game of tennis, anyone? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-wii-game-of-tennis-anyone.aspx

If it’s too hot or too wet to go outside, there’s always exergaming. We’re always hearing about kids getting fatter and fatter due to too much junk food and not enough exercise. In the ideal world kids would be outside playing cricket with the other kids on the street, kicking ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:09 GMT
A moral duty to act in the interests of consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-moral-duty-to-act-in-the-interests-of-consumers.aspx

I’ve spent most of the day on the phone to members which is a great way to understand some of the issues that affect people every day. The issues are wide ranging and some are very heartfelt. One of my callers spoke about a very expensive medicine that he purchased ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:56 GMT
Ask what more we can do http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/ask-what-more-we-can-do.aspx

Organisations like CHOICE have nothing to fear from transparency, it’s what we tell others, it’s what we practice ourselves. The last few weeks have been difficult for CHOICE because of the credit card issue (mentioned in my last two blogs), but we are more focused now than ever before on ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:40 GMT
Tough decisions are tough on everyone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/tough-decisions-are-tough-on-everyone.aspx

Emotional commitment to a cause and to the people affected by any tough decisions is in my DNA and one that I think has to sit well with a modern CEO. It’s also why this week has been the hardest I’ve had since starting at CHOICE and perhaps the most ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:27 GMT
Never buy the foot spa http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/never-buy-the-foot-spa.aspx

My track record with buying gifts is, at best, mixed. There have been some unqualified successes - ranging from the 30th birthday scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef that I organised, to the book of nursery rhymes and songs I bought in the ABC Shop for my one ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:13 GMT
A goal for the level playing field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/making-the-grocery-market-competitive.aspx

On Wednesday evening the report by the Senate Economics Committee into Grocery CHOICE was published. The Inquiry recommendations are important to CHOICE in vindicating our position and re-affirming the need for change in the grocery sector. CHOICE wants a more competitive grocery market; in truth it would be hard for ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:00 GMT
Convenience comes at a cost http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/convenience-comes-at-a-cost.aspx

The old adage that convenience comes at a cost rang true when I paid for my car insurance today. What I usually do when I get my policy renewal notice is get a few quotes from other insurers and then come to the conclusion that once again my existing insurer is still the cheapest. ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:41 GMT
Confessions of a food label addict http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/confessions-of-a-food-label-addict.aspx

Hi, my name is Rachel, and I’m a food label addict. But I haven’t always been quite so obsessed, and I blame my job for that. As a food and health content producer for CHOICE I spend hours scrutinising nutrition information panels, ingredients lists and the claims made on food ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:29 GMT
A disturbing letter from my bank http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/a-disturbing-letter-from-my-bank.aspx

Last week I got a letter from my lender, instead of the expected notice about an interest rate increase, the message was rather more disturbing: my lender is withdrawing from the market. While they will continue to service me and their other customers they won’t provide any new loans. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:17 GMT
Use it or lose it! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/trying-the-alternatives.aspx

The challenge was as blunt, immediate as it was unambiguous. Can you go for a week without darkening the doors of Coles or Woolworths?   After all CHOICE will be asking others to consider switching more often to independent grocers, fruitologists, butchers and bakers and even fishmongers for their grocery ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:01 GMT
Access to airtime http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/chance-to-get-some-real-airtime.aspx

Being captive to lousy service is everyone’s bugbear, especially when you know you could’ve got a better deal elsewhere. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Two days ago, I tried to change the flight dates with a major airline here and was told I had to pay $62.50 to do so, which was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:25 GMT
Acoustic foamy goodness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/acoustic-foamy-goodness.aspx

I’ve always found it rather ironic that poor video with goodaudio always comes across as a lot more professional than good video with pooraudio. And frankly, getting a decent audio recording at CHOICE is a real painin the proverbials - particularly since the recent renovation replaced thetatty old sound-absorbing carpet ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:08 GMT
Knowing me, knowing you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/knowing-me-knowing-you.aspx

Welcome to 2010 and a red letter year for CHOICE, as we mark our 50th anniversary. It’s a significant milestone and provides a moment to reflect on past achievements. I stress that this is a moment of reflection and not a time for complacency, for the challenges that consumers face ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:20 GMT
'You cannot be serious' http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/you-cannot-be-serious.aspx

The Australian Open has re-fueled my love of tennis (as well as reminding me that Britain is good at coming second!). It also made me think how the quality of tennis today is infinitely better than it was many years ago. Nostalgia and sentiment take you back to the joys ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:06 GMT
There's somebody at the door http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/somebody-is-at-the-door.aspx

Last year an official looking man called to my house and said that due to deregulation of the electricity industry in NSW, he needed to check my energy meter and bill. Of course, something about this introductory spiel wasn't quite right. In fact, I was under no obligation to show ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:53 GMT
Naked tales http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/naked-tales.aspx

Recently I moved and decided to do without a very large national communications network. You know who I’m talking about: Telstra. I started the process of Naked DSL activation. I’d briefly been with Internode at my previous address and hadn’t had any issues, so decided to go with them again. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:24 GMT
Putting the 'super' back into supermarket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/march/putting-the-super-back-into-supermarket.aspx

I have made no secret of my views on the state of the supermarket sector in Australia over the past year. And talking to consumers, farmers, independent grocers and others about the problem has only strengthened our resolve here at CHOICE to do something about it. They confirm that all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:58 GMT
A language for bad business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/april/a-language-for-bad-business.aspx

Over the last few weeks I have been openly discussing the need to create a new consumer culture in Australia (see my comment piece in the Sydney Morning Herald): http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/consumers-must-stop-accepting-second-best-20100315-q9id.html I have received a very positive response from people right across the country. Many feel and have felt for years, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:44 GMT
Remember the customer has the last word http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/may/remember-the-customer-has-the-last-word.aspx

Following my last blog on the language of bad business, a colleague in the consumer movement sent me the clip below. It’s a great example of where the new media age allows customers to fight back and hit companies where it hurts - their reputation! The YouTube clip below came ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:31 GMT
Take two tablets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/take-two-tablets.aspx

Samsung is hoping to give Apple a real headache with its new tablet. The Galaxy Tab, unveiled early in September, is a smaller, lighter rival for Apple’s highly successful iPad and one of the first of what is expected to be a flood of tablet-style devices to hit the market ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:04 GMT
Now focus on the people who elected you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/now-focus-on-the-people-who-elected-you.aspx

So, two and a half weeks after the federal election, we have a result.  And now that the politicians have stopped trying to woo each other, perhaps they’ll start trying to woo us again. During this peculiar political hiatus, when Ministers and MPs have been horse trading behind closed doors, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:50 GMT
Choose your own adventure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/choose-your-own-adventure.aspx

Being a geek and gadget lover I read all about Android and the promise it held (though I must admit I was tempted by the iPhone 4). So patiently I awaited a mobile phone that ticked all the boxes for me. Some people can make snap purchasing decisions and buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:14 GMT
2010 Shonkys - A stark reminder of why we exist http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/october/2010-shonkys---a-stark-reminder-of-why-we-exist.aspx

After a 23-hour flight from the US, I stepped straight off a plane and into CHOICE’s Shonky Awards ceremony today - and instantly my jetlag evaporated. Nothing could have revived me more than being reminded of our vision in action – to make Australians the most active and savvy consumers in ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:57 GMT
GST threshold - join the debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/gst-threshold---join-the-debate.aspx

It’s the hot button issue about tax, technology and competition that has provoked a fiery debate about online shopping versus bricks and mortar retailers. At present, Australians can buy goods online from overseas and not pay GST for products under $1000. CHOICE’s position of arguing to retain the $1000 GST-free threshold has ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:07 GMT
Book store woes highlight gift voucher risks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/book-store-woes-highlight-gift-voucher-traps.aspx

This current situation with the parent company of the Borders and Angus and Robertson bookstore chains going into voluntary administration highlights one of the risks involved in buying gift vouchers; you’re giving money that could potentially never give a return. When a company goes into administration, people holding gift vouchers ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:37:00 GMT
Baby buying brain http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/pregnancy-and-shopping.aspx

Something happens to a woman when she becomes pregnant. Before you get up in arms about that statement, I’ll clarify. I’m not saying pregnant women get crazy, just cautious - very cautious. I can say that because I was one of them. Suddenly everything matters. Everything is potentially dangerous. You ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:35:44 GMT
Join us in our push for better banks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/join-us-in-our-push-for-better-banks.aspx

During the worldwide GFC, the public stood by the banks in their time of need and financial markets are now fortunately more stable. The collapse of the financial system would have benefited no one and that’s why the public gave the green light to any action deemed necessary to stabilise ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:15:19 GMT
A Level Playing Field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/a-level-playing-field.aspx

It’s not every day that Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman fame gets on the blower to challenge my position on globalization and internet buying, but that’s what he did the other day. Gerry has set himself up as the lightning rod of discontent for local traders who are feeling the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:14:08 GMT
CHOICE Blogs http://www.choice.com.au/blog.aspxmetadata description Copyright 2014 www.choice.com.auen-au http://www.choice.com.au/img/logo_choice.gif www.choice.com.au http://www.choice.com.auWed, 01 Oct 2014 03:46:09 GMTIs a Thermomix really worth it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/Buying-a-thermomix.aspx

With a hefty $1939 price tag, adding a Thermomix to your kitchen collection is no impulse buy. And like plenty of people, my partner and I did a lot of reading and research before deciding to bite the bullet. (Getting a relative to buy one for us in France for ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:28:59 GMT
Call Centre Anguish http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Call-Centre-Anguish.aspx

When moving house recently, I was assigned the duty of coordinating our utility connections. I consider myself a sociable person with a finesse for negotiation skills, so I like to deal with such tasks with that great interpersonal tool known as the internet. However, my internet research soon revealed that ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:11:35 GMT
Consumer needs must take priority in financial advice debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/July/Consumer-needs-must-take-priority-in-financial-advice-debate.aspx

Senators will make a decision this week that might just save homes and help to people retire with dignity. Because when people get financial advice that’s not in their best interest, or advice that is driven by sales incentives instead of responsibility, they risk losing everything. This week the Senate will ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:39:59 GMT
Click here for stuff you don't want http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/dark-patterns.aspx

The other day, after getting a ‘reminder’ from LinkedIn that I still hadn’t responded to a friend’s invitation to, well, link in, I sent her an email apologising and said I didn’t have a LinkedIn account. A few minutes later she walked over (yep, I actually emailed someone sitting a ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:49:02 GMT
School of false hopes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/June/school-of-false-hopes.aspx

The 2014 Federal Budget has drastically changed the education landscape, with universities free to charge whatever they like for courses, while the income at which your HECS repayments kick in has been lowered and interest rates on debt increased. So now, more than ever, consumers need to make sure they ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:45:04 GMT
Greater price transparency needed at supermarkets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/unit-pricing-supermarkets.aspx

The forecasts of a tough Budget, rising unemployment, and higher interest rates, mean that more and more Australians are going to find it harder to make ends meet.But there is one thing we can all do that can make a big difference every week if not every day - try ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 May 2014 11:33:33 GMT
Infomercial weight loss - hot or not? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/infomercial-mania.aspx

I love TV home shopping shows - for about 30 seconds. After that I vacillate between fleeting credulity, overwhelming incredulity and coma-inducing boredom. However, since I'm always on the lookout for interesting consumer products, I suffer through them.The latest gizmo to catch my eye was Hot Shapers. These tight fitting ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 May 2014 11:28:55 GMT
Cleaning the dishwasher http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/washing-the-dishwasher.aspx

Over the past three years, you may have noticed a new product on the market - detergents for cleaning your dishwasher.  Now, you might be thinking that this idea is a little redundant. A dishwasher is supposed to be the thing that cleans other things, right? Well, right. And if ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:23:54 GMT
Bring your Windows PC back from the dead http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/recovery-media.aspx

The only thing worse than a computer that won’t boot up is realising you’ll have to pay to get it fixed. But before you reach for your wallet, there are a few things you can do that will help your PC recover from almost any system software problem, and the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:23:31 GMT
Hands on with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/Hands-on-with-the-PlayStation-4-and-Xbox-One.aspx

The next generation of games consoles are almost here. The Xbox One hits the shelves on 22nd November and the PlayStation 4 (PS4) one week later. Should you be stuffing one into your stocking this Christmas? I recently compared each one at the EB Games Expo in Sydney.Playtime was all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:59:53 GMT
Why is watching Game of Thrones in Australia so hard? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/watching-game-of-thrones-in-australia.aspx

Foxtel, you know nothing - nothing about how and when I want to watch TV, and nothing about what would make me renew my Foxtel subscription to watch Season Four of Game of Thrones. And honestly, I am here to be convinced.I was willing to pay you $44.50 a month, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:27:08 GMT
China dreaming http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/March/China-Dreaming.aspx

We recently went to China for a bit of a holiday, to see all the amazing growth that is going on in that country. And to get yet another lesson in the old adage, "you get what you pay for".There are a lot of cheap goods in China, in particular ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:26:15 GMT
The DVD and Blu-Ray region coding conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/February/dvd-players.aspx

I’m a Gen X, so I find myself straddling between the tried and trusted way of doing things, and attempting to orientate towards the "new way". Central to this predicament is technology, or more specifically, how to watch movies and TV shows.My favourite TV shows warrant buying DVD box sets ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Feb 2014 08:48:49 GMT
Extended warranty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Extended Warranty.aspx

Like many people I know, sometimes I just can’t be bothered reading the terms and conditions that are included with virtually every website, product and service that I sign up for. The thought just bores me silly. Delving into the lawyer speak, weasel words and down-right obfuscating terminology is not ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:49 GMT
Man shopping http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-disciplined-shopper.aspx

The way I take my revenge on the bewildering market for everyday goods is to grab the first thing I see in the lower price range. Companies spend countless hours and billions of dollars on packaging, promos and product placement; I spend three seconds making a decision. Take that, I ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:15 GMT
Help menu reboot http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/December/Help-menu-reboot.aspx

I’m no software designer or usability expert, but I use computers almost every day for work as well as general life management. It also just so happens that I spend most of my working life writing about computing - which probably explains why I’m writing about help menus.When it comes ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:38:55 GMT
The trouble with ebook pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/The-trouble-with-ebook-pricing.aspx

Amazon has just launched its local ebook store in Australia. This comes shortly after a US trial involving Apple that focused on ebook pricing. Time will tell how will Australian ebook retailers respond as Amazon seeks to cement its position in the market. The court case put the spotlight on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 17:11:39 GMT
White coat hypertension http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/white-coat-hypertension.aspx

Last time I went to the doctor for a check-up, my blood pressure was 140 over something. I was shocked - I’ve always been a 110, 120 kinda gal. She took two more readings and it went down - into the 130s. Reluctant to let me leave with this sort ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:14:53 GMT
Where's our digital revolution? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Wheres-our-digital-revolution.aspx

Australia is a peculiar country. We are wealthy, isolated, large in size but small in population. These features have conspired for some time to deny Australian consumers access to the newest media. Our release windows for film, music and televisions shows have been later, our range sparser and our prices, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 31 Oct 2013 15:17:10 GMT
CHOICE Computer goes to PAX http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/CC-goes-to-PAX.aspx

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) came to Australia this year for the first time, bringing with it a gigantic celebration of all things nerdy, video games in particular. We joined thousands of geeks in Melbourne to get some hands-on time with upcoming games and new technology, as the Melbourne Showgrounds ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:05:54 GMT
Charitable consumption http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/Charitable consumption.aspx

I'm a casual gamer. This means that I’ve reached a point in life where there are other things competing for my time on a fairly regular basis, so games are something that I'll do once in a blue moon - mostly when there is something I've been looking forward to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:07:23 GMT
How to get a refund on SimCity http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/How-to-get-a-refund-on-Sim-City.aspx

When it comes to getting refunds on faulty goods, Australian consumers are quite well protected under Australian Consumer Law. As a consumer advocacy organisation we are often informing consumers of their rights with handy guides and cards. The unmitigated disaster that is Electronic Art’s (EA) SimCity has been so great ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:06:17 GMT
You're going to be a dad! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/A-Dads-reaction-to-fatherhood.aspx

When I was growing up there were certain life moments I tried to imagine experiencing. Admittedly, in the early years they didn't go much beyond wanting to be Marco van Basten (Dutch footballer, played for AC Milan in the '90s. Genius. Never mind!), but as I got older I began ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:41:49 GMT
Baby bills - the unexpected purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Unexpected-parental-purchases.aspx

The financial shocks for first-time parents probably won’t be as bad as some of the less tangible parenting challenges that will come in later years, but it’s important to understand that baby goods marketers have gotten better than ever at getting you to buy stuff. It’s almost impossible to avoid making ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:42:20 GMT
The value of in-app purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-value-of-in-app-purchases.aspx

I have mixed feelings about in-app purchases. On the one hand, they can expand the lifecycle of a program with special updates and expansions suited to specific consumer needs. On the other they can capitalise on a desire for instant gratification. It's the latter that are currently making headlines all ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 16:42:40 GMT
Direct debits: good or bad for consumers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Direct-debits-Good-or-Bad-for-Consumers.aspx

Many consumers use direct debits to pay bills, and most of the time they probably work well. However, it is still worth asking a very fundamental question: are they really of net benefit to all consumers?Direct debits certainly benefit businesses in many ways. For example, direct debit gives a higher ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 10:35:14 GMT
Why the milk debate isn't clear-cut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/milk-prices.aspx

Hands up if you want cheap milk? Actually, let’s try rephrasing that - hands up if you want to rip off farmers? Many consumers could be forgiven for feeling slightly confused about which side to take in the recent “milk war” between Australia’s major supermarkets. The debate that started with $1-a-litre ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Behind the scenes of the CHOICE Awards http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/choice-awards.aspx

Planning the CHOICE Awards is a little like planning a wedding. No bride, sure, but a similar amount of organisation and hard work: book a venue, tee up an MC, invite guests, select a menu, prepare speeches, make seating plans – and then there’s the little thing about choosing awards and ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Where TV is going http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/where-tv-is-going.aspx

There's a lot of hype around at present over 3D TV. I'm not convinced it'll be as big a seller as the manufacturers are claiming — but we'll definitely test some when they're in the market and there's something 3D to watch on them. My thinking is that it'll be ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Heart Foundation ticked off at Coles logo http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/heart-foundation-ticked-off-at-coles-logo.aspxEarlier this week we heard that the Heart Foundation was unhappy with Coles using a red tick in the logo of their generic Smart Buy range, arguing that it could give shoppers the impression that Coles Smart Buy products met some kind of nutrition or health criteria which made them healthier choices. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:14 GMT
CHOICE heads to the IFA Berlin http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/IFA-CES-Berlin.aspx

The Consumer Electronics Show (IFA – or Internationale Funkausstellung) is held once a year inMesse Berlin - in a massive sprawling conference centre five times larger than any conference centre wehave in Australia. There are over 27 halls of various products ranging from fully formed household items from brands we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 10 Sep 2013 14:40:52 GMT
The price you could pay for a free PC http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/The price you could pay for a free PC.aspx

I was bored with Windows. But after a torrid weekend of tussling with Linux I’m almost looking forward to more boredom. It’s not that moving to Linux is a bad idea – far from it – but I fell into a trap that made for a less than smooth transition. ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:02:36 GMT
Lab dryers lead to energy savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/Lab-dryers-lead-to-energy-savings.aspx

CHOICE wants to reduce the amount of energy we use on site - along with implementing monitor turn off policies or timers, replacing every other fluorescent tube pair rather than every one, plus many other smaller changes that whittle away at electricity usage, we've been looking at the laboratories as ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:43:29 GMT
Sham-not-so-Wow http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/sham-not-so-wow.aspx

After seeing the infomercial and watching a video posted by our sister organisation ConsumerReports about the ShamWow, I was given the task of having a play around with this "wonder" cloth to see if it wowed me or not. I got a special offer for $59.90 - buy one set, get one ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Aug 2013 09:48:07 GMT
Insurance is seriously entertaining http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/insurance-is-seriously-entertaining.aspx

We are now in the middle of our home and contents insurance project – it’s been fascinating to see the different questions insurers ask in order to calculate how much they should charge you for insuring your home or contents. For example, it matters how many people you are living with, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:47:41 GMT
Volkswagen recall http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Volkswagen-recall.aspx

A few years ago my partner and I decided to buy a new car. While our faithful old bomb was okay, with a baby and a toddler we decided to bite the bullet and buy something newer.We settled on a Volkswagen Passat diesel wagon - a great looking car, just ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Jun 2013 10:44:38 GMT
Keep track of online tracking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Keep track of online tracking.aspx

I have an uneasy relationship with Facebook. Like most users, I love peering into the lives of friends for a few minutes a day. This peephole lets me stay in touch with rants, happy events and random thoughts.  As for myself, I like to post updates and links to stories ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Jun 2013 13:50:46 GMT
Arrested Development, Netflix and geo-blocking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/Arrested-Development-Netflix-and-geo-blocking.aspx

On 26 May, season four of the cult-comedy series Arrested Development was released on the internet-streaming website, Netflix.However, Netflix - which has exclusive broadcast rights to the show after its seven-year hiatus - is not available to Australian consumers. This means that Australians cannot officially access the show at all. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 30 May 2013 17:15:30 GMT
Borrowing from Peter - P2P lending http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/P2P-lending.aspx

It’s been a while since uni, but I’m pretty sure it was Shakespeare who said neither a lender nor a borrower be. And that was back in the 1500s or so. Well, there’s been a whole lot of lending and borrowing going on since then. In fact, entire industries have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 May 2013 09:36:38 GMT
Six months with an electric car http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/six-months-with-an-electric-car.aspx

Last year, CHOICE took a first look at the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle). I've had the interesting experience of driving the car for the last six months. In the process, I have been stopped at intersections, interrogated in parking lots and questioned at work. Everybody wants to know: ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 May 2013 16:13:38 GMT
Help, my baby won't sleep! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/baby-sleeping-aids.aspx

Whoever came up with the saying “sleeping like a baby” must have had one of those one-in-a-million textbook babies who slept way more than mine do.The perennial problem of babies and toddlers who either won’t fall asleep or won’t stay asleep was recently thrown into the spotlight through Adam Mansbach’s ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:25:58 GMT
The Sunday of three returns http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-sunday-of-three-returns.aspx

One Sunday this summer, I tried to return three items to three different shops. Two of the stores restored my faith in bricks and mortar shopping. The third demonstrated that some retailers have a long way to go if they plan on stemming the online shopping tide.First stop: Myer, where ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Apr 2013 18:18:16 GMT
Buy now, pay forever http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Buy-now-pay-forever.aspx

I think there’s a word missing from the English vocabulary. It would describe a product that lures you in with the promise of fulfilling a need relatively cheaply, but once purchased it applies a siphon to your finances to keep it running. I’m open to suggestions, but for now I’m ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:13:07 GMT
Will consumers win on excessive surcharges? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Will-consumers-win-on-excessive-surcharges.aspx

Today should bring good news for consumers as the Reserve Bank’s reforms to credit card surcharging come into effect. These reforms are designed to end the practice of retailers hitting consumers with excessive surcharges for paying by credit card – such as the $7.70 charged by Qantas and Virgin or ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:25:12 GMT
Consumers reap benefits of the social web http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/consumers-and-the-social-web.aspx

The phenomenal growth of social networking combined with continuing technological advances, like mobile internet connectivity, has brought new opportunities across the social spectrum – and consumers are one of the biggest winners. It seems relevant then that this is one of the reoccurring topics of discussion at the Consumers International ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Mar 2013 15:42:08 GMT
Cutting my paper ties http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Paperless.aspx

After reading a review of David Sparks’ ebook on the whys and wherefores of going paperless on The Mac Observer, I realised going paperless was something that I was interested in doing - and it wouldn’t be too difficult. Mac users may know David Sparks from his Mac Power Users ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:22:15 GMT
Consumer rights across borders http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/global-consumer-rights.aspx

In 1985, two pretty significant things happened for consumers around the world. There was the controversial release of ‘new recipe’ Coke. And then, there was also the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.Things didn't fare so well for the ‘New Coke’. After just three months, and a massive public ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 08 Mar 2013 09:06:37 GMT
Making the switch to a solid state drive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/SSD.aspx

Solid state drives (SSDs), have been around tech circles for a while, but they’ve only entered the consumer vernacular in the last 12 – 18 months. Promising faster boot and data transfer times, improved energy efficiency and greater system stability over hard disk drives (HDD), SSDs are gradually becoming an ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:04:54 GMT
Health insurance extras http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/health-insurance-in-an-online-age.aspx

Like many Australians over 30, I have private health insurance. Although I’m healthy, the tax man’s arm-twisting makes a compelling argument for me to have it. I’m on a comparatively cheaper “young singles” plan, but even that’s a pretty hefty drain on my wallet.(Yeah, yeah – I know I’m no longer ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:22:20 GMT
Taxi alternatives http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Taxi Alternatives.aspx

Taxi AlternativeGiven our recent Shonky given to Cabcharge for their surcharge that's not a surcharge, I thought it would be interesting to find ways around the monopoly rather than just resigning myself to the fact that Cabcharge has me temporarily over a barrel. Unfortunately, to truly get around the monopoly, ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Jan 2013 15:26:20 GMT
Do sales people influence you? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Retail-experience.aspx

One thing I've noticed in the last few years since starting at CHOICE is how salespeople can affect a purchasing decision.When I go into a retail store, I naturally go to a sales person because I want to buy something. What is the effect of asking that sales person for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:02:32 GMT
Why buying a DSLR might not be a good idea http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Buying-a-DSLR.aspx

There’s no shortage of camera reviewers on the internet. Some are competent and detailed in their assessments and some are not, but most make a simple assumption that appears to be incorrect for a significant portion of their audience. They assume the camera will be used in a variety of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:41:49 GMT
No festive cheer in bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/no-festive-cheer-in-bill-shock.aspx

The festive season invariably means travel for many of us. I’ve travelled a lot over the years myself, and lugged many a brick-size travel guide in my daypack. I’ve also been writing about travel and technology for many years and, as both a write and traveller, it’s exciting to realise ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:39:39 GMT
Something to write home about http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Something-to-write-home-about.aspx

If I had been born sixty years earlier, a matronly and god fearing teacher would have rapped my knuckles with a ruler for picking up a pen with my left hand. Fortunately, I was born in 1985 and was free to settle into the comforts of being left handed, unchallenged.This ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 09:25:50 GMT
Weight Watchers 360 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/weight-watchers-360.aspx

Some weeks ago CHOICE Food & Health was invited by Weight Watchers to participate in a ‘live social experiment’ involving lunch and information about the 2013 Weight Watchers program. We were told we’d be picked up from the office and taken to the event, and taken back afterwards. Who said ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 18 Dec 2012 12:17:09 GMT
Still more work to do on unit pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Still-more-work-to-do-on-unit-pricing.aspx

Since late 2009 large supermarkets have had to show the unit price (price per unit of measure) of packaged grocery items on shelf labels so that shoppers can easily compare prices and values.This was a major for victory for consumers that took nearly 50 years to achieve.However the current system ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:23:47 GMT
Piracy and market failure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Piracy-and-market-failure.aspx

Trying to understand, predict and influence consumer decision making is multi-billion dollar industry and an imperative for businesses and governments alike.A failure to predict not only what goods and service consumers choose to buy, but how they choose to buy them, can have some pretty drastic consequences. Consumers have shown ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:27:37 GMT
Fully charged http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Fully charged.aspx

My mum recently transferred some frequent flyer points to my Qantas Frequent Flyer account. Great, I thought – I can take my 18-month-old daughter on a trip to Adelaide to visit her auntie. A visit to the Qantas website informed me I had enough points to book the trip via the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Dec 2012 12:12:09 GMT
Retirement village contracts http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Retirement-village-contracts.aspx

There is something downright misleading with the way retirement village contracts work in Australia. For far too long, contract terms have weighed heavily in favour of the operators, and many residents discover they’re liable for higher costs than they anticipated when it’s too late to do anything about them.It means some ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:25:01 GMT
The new Facebook algorithm http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-new-Facebook-algorithm.aspx

Since its initial public offering in May this year, revenue has become a key priority for Facebook, and this is having consequences for users, businesses, and non-profits alike. Facebook has implemented a new algorithm to control what people see in their newsfeed, so not all their friends or pages' posts will ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 Nov 2012 15:36:02 GMT
Pester Power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Pester Power.aspx

I bought my two little daughters new toothbrushes the other day – not an uncommon occurrence in my house as my kids have a magical ability to make small items disappear into thin air (think a never ending roll call of vanishing hair clips, socks, hair bands, toothbrushes, etc.).So while ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:48:47 GMT
Celebrity endorsements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Celebrity endorsements.aspx

Kim Kardashian and ABC Television: it’s not very often you would imagine seeing the two together in the same sentence. Last week, however, Jonathan Holmes and Media Watch decided it was time to acquaint the two.  The topic of discussion: Kardashian’s commitment to the Quick Trim detox that joins the ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Oct 2012 12:35:21 GMT
Choosing a GP for your child http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/choosing-kids-GP.aspx

Someone asked me the other day how to go about choosing a GP for her newborn baby. This immediately brought back memories of the medical merry-go-round we went through in my kids’ early years. With recurrent ear infections and conjunctivitis and the usual scary spots and coughs all kids seem ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:53:43 GMT
The decline and fall of the big screen experience http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/Ads-in-theatres.aspx

Since when have cinema owners been given free rein to assault moviegoers with 20 minutes of soul-crushing commercials before the main feature starts? Since a while ago, I know, but lately matters seem to have gotten worse. These ads can take you right out of the movie mood.Last time I ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:13:10 GMT
Food nostalgia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Food nostalgia.aspx

Recently we published an article on brands disappearing, when hundreds of people contacted us to complain that their favourite brands and products had recently disappeared from the shelves of the big two supermarkets. It was surprising how passionate they were about the topic, and it got me thinking. Or should I ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 22 Aug 2012 09:24:37 GMT
Flying no frills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Flying no frills.aspx

Last year, I went on holiday to Europe. When I was deciding which airline to fly with, I had a tough choice to make. I could fly Air China, which I'd never flown before and knew very little about. Their website was stuck in the dark ages (seriously - it ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 Aug 2012 12:53:39 GMT
Don't be ripped off on IT goods http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Dont-be-ripped-off-on-IT-goods.aspx

Would you rather pay $88 or $61 for a video game? I think I could hazard a guess at what your answer might be. Although this seems like somewhat of an absurd question, it is one that we are nevertheless asked on a daily basis. What is really absurd is ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:53:42 GMT
Webcams for Security http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Webcams for Security.aspx

Some time ago I purchased a webcam for Skype reasons. It doesn't get a lot of use, so I entertained the thought of using it as a security camera.CHOICE hasn't tested this, as there are plenty of options out there for dedicated security camera setups. But I went ahead and ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:46:55 GMT
Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government.aspx

Free-range eggs are being sold in increasing numbers around Australia and it comes as no great surprise that animal welfare is the main driver for consumers. Cartons carrying images of happy hens roaming on green fields lead many of us to believe it is worth paying extra for free-range. But for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 29 Jun 2012 11:14:38 GMT
Who pays who for what http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/who-pays-who-for-what.aspx

I recently came across an article on the website Money Management, which made me reflect on the ongoing debate about conflict of interest in the financial advice world. Entitled "Fund manager payments breed skepticism", the article said research conducted with financial planners suggests that "64 per cent of respondents (financial ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:56:27 GMT
An experiment in people power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/choice-big-bank-switch-an-experiment-in-people-power.aspx

“Knowledge must come through action,” observed a very wise man about 2,500 years ago. While Sophocles was not referring to the Australian banking sector, the ancient Greeks did know a thing or two about people power. The CHOICE Big Bank Switch is an experiment in people power. Although not quite ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:35:09 GMT
Environment and the economy – what are your choices? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/economy-and-environment.aspx

Our national economic backbone, mining, has found itself at odds with another area of financial importance – The Great Barrier Reef. Put aside your feelings on any environmental debate for the moment, because there is no denying that we are relying on the mining industry to carry our country’s bank ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:21:57 GMT
It's good to talk http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/its-good-to-talk.aspx

It takes a lot more than a few days to bring about lasting change; in fact a lifetime may not be enough when it comes to taking on the big end of town.But for the very few days the CHOICE Better Banking Campaign has been up and running we are beginning to ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:19:43 GMT
CHOICE Baby Safety Week http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Baby Safety Week.aspx

It’s the most wonderful time of your life. But it can also be the most fearful.Caring for a baby is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation. Am I doing the right thing? What if something happens? Where’s the rule book?I remember – like it was yesterday – bringing home my precious ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 16:11:30 GMT
The big four banks are just not that into us http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/The big four banks are just not that into us.aspx

Australians need to take a reality check on our relationship with the big four banks. If we asked our friends, they would say we are showing signs of unhealthy co-dependency.That we are worth so much more than out-of-cycle interest rate increases and record profits, but still we stick around.If our ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:16:35 GMT
Rolling the dice on daily deals http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Rolling the dice.aspx

Daily deals – the cut-price temptations that land in my inbox multiple times each day promising magical experiences and indulgent treats. On paper, the deals are usually fairly fantastic, and I enjoy entertaining new experiences or products I might not otherwise consider.However, there’s a vast difference between a great daily ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:14:38 GMT
Into the interest rate maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Into the interest rate maze.aspx

Financial literacy is not great in Australia. Worryingly, the latest research by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows that there are also many obstacles that make it even harder for people to make good financial decisions. However this may all be about to change thanks largely to the work ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:13:53 GMT
Adding up the Costco savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Costco experience.aspx

It all started with the fact that I wanted a cup of tea and we'd run out of decaffeinated tea - a small thing that grew into something much bigger: a trip to Costco.As I grabbed my keys to go to the supermarket, my wife mentioned that we had to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:12:51 GMT
Costco vs Cash 'n' carry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/costco-v-cash-n-carry.aspx

After some months of procrastinating we finally made it to the newish Costco store in Auburn in Sydney. We’d tried before but when we couldn't find a parking spot after 20 mins or so, we gave up. To give you an idea of how busy Costco was when we managed ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:07:55 GMT
Creating a comfortable home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/creating-a-comfortable-home.aspx

On a sweltering summer afternoon my house is hotter inside than out. To solve the problem, I've been researching a few solutions that wont run up a huge energy bill. Adequate insulation is really important. Unfortunately, the government has axed its home insulation scheme, following all the adverse publicity. It will be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 May 2012 11:57:40 GMT
Why we try not to put photographers in their place http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/classifying-cameras.aspx

Heroditus was a Greek tourist (and some say historian) who lived around 490 to 430BC. He didn't have a camera and we can't be sure if he wore a bumbag, but he did try to describe some of the places he visited. He used a simple classification of people: if ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 04 May 2012 12:55:47 GMT
Why pay full price? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/fullsociety.aspx

I keep seeing lots of hype about low confidence in Australia; low confidence in the retail sector; low confidence in finance. Despite being one of the few economies in the world that made it through the GFC with barely scraped knees, we seem worried about what’s going to happen. Whether ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:36:42 GMT
Behind the scenes: Electric blanket test http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/Behind the scenes electric blanket test.aspx

Sometimes I take a moment to remember just how lucky I am to work at CHOICE. During the several years I’ve worked here I’ve managed to go through three or four departments to try my hand at a bunch of different tasks to help members get the facts they need ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 07:25:37 GMT
The calorie/kilojoule/cardio/counting conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/kilojoule-calorie-conundrum.aspx

If you live in NSW, Queensland, SA or the ACT chances are you’ll have seen or will start seeing kilojoule (kJ) counts next to items on fast and snack food menus. That’s because state and territory governments are introducing or have passed legislation making kilojoule labelling mandatory for most larger chains ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:39:43 GMT
Consider all costs when buying from overseas http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/buying-online-not-always-cheaper.aspx

Normally I buy shoes in Australia but I was buying a present for my sister, and a shoe she really likes is only found in Canada. Seeing as the Aussie dollar is doing so well, it seemed logical to buy a pair from overseas and have them sent over. Turns ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 27 Mar 2012 10:16:21 GMT
Reading food labels is a fishy business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/frozen-fish.aspx

I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my waking hours scrutinising food labels. Granted, my job writing about food and nutrition for CHOICE predisposes me to reading the odd label or two (or 100!). Now, as a mother of two young children, the time spent perusing nutrition information panels ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:08:23 GMT
Wanted: ideas to get seniors active http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/wanted-ideas-to-get-seniors-active.aspx

If someone invented an exercise pill, it would be the medical breakthrough of the century. Regular exercise mitigates against coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and high cholesterol. It’s also good for psychological wellbeing and can help prevent cognitive decline, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 10:37:51 GMT
Will you take on old age fighting fit or lying down? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/will-you-take-on-old-age-fighting-fit-or-lying-down.aspx

Hitting our 60s should mean finally having the time to travel, take up hobbies, get involved in community and interest groups and socialise more with friends and family. And these days we expect to be living independently in our own home as we get older, rather than living with family ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:11:17 GMT
The consumer movement turns 50 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/50-years-of-the-consumer-movement.aspx

Margaret Thatcher reflected – ‘if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman’. The consumer movement has certainly been a movement defined by strong women - from the founder of CHOICE ‘Red’ Ruby Hutchison, to firebrand Sheila McKechnie, who helped make Which?, the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 15:54:13 GMT
Twitter to the rescue for Citibank customer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/twits-to-the-rescue-at-citibank.aspx

Some years ago we needed to take out a personal loan with Citibank. Fast forward three years and we were ready to pay off the loan completely.So back in November 2011, we sought the cost of exiting the loan - which took numerous phone calls to Citibank.Eventually we paid the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:25:09 GMT
Testing smartphone developments http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/test-method-will-respond-to-phone-developments.aspx

While attending the CeBit conference in Hanover, I had the opportunity to visit the BBM Mueller labs in Munich to discuss the latest batch of phones to appear in the CHOICE smartphone test in the coming months. Apart from our yearly NextG test, all our smartphone tests are carried out ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:50:19 GMT
The case of the missing hot water http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/beijing-airport.aspx

On a recent return trip home from a European holiday my partner and I were in transit for almost 30 hours. Mid way through the trip, we were stuck waiting in Beijing Airport. We cleared customs and wandered dazedly into the vast transit terminal, and were greeted by the sweetest ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:32:41 GMT
Don't get mad – get moving http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/dont-get-mad---get-moving.aspx

Campaigning for better banking is a bit like the start of the footy season. We begin as optimists, trying to forget the disappointments of last year, the unfair penalties and questionable free kicks, hoping instead for some healthy competition.That is where the similarities end. While other national sports have salary ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:54:43 GMT
Making a Bosch of it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/making-a-bosch-of-it.aspx

In early December last year, my expensive Bosch induction cooktop, still covered under warranty, broke. This is one of those “I had to wait for seven weeks and be home six times for it to finally get fixed” stories – but it comes with some juicy twists.TWIST 1 The tale ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Mar 2012 08:30:05 GMT
Consumers and commissions - opening up the business of switching http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/bigbankswitch.aspx

CHOICE has partnered with One Big Switch to help 1,000 Aussies get better home loan deals with our eyes wide open – and focused squarely on the benefits for consumers. There is nothing new about consumers switching to get a better deal, or about banks paying commissions to sign up ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 18 Feb 2012 11:53:38 GMT
Superior service is good PR http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/superior-service-is-good-pr.aspx

Recently a friend got the run around from a major consumer electronics company after downloading a game and finding out that it wouldn’t play on his gaming console which was made by the same company. All he asked for was a refund after the company confirmed that the game was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 14 Feb 2012 15:00:57 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: Sustainability requirements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/knockdown-rebuild-part-3.aspx

While we were looking at display homes before beginning our build, we often heard BASIX mentioned – though we had no idea what it was at the time. We eventually discovered that it related to the NSW government regulations regarding sustainability. We were concerned about the environmental and anticipated increases ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 13 Feb 2012 09:33:04 GMT
The childcare conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/the-childcare-conundrum.aspx

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time, who did we call first to share the news? Family? No. Close friends? No. The first place we called was a childcare centre to try and get on a waiting list.I thought I was ahead of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:29:00 GMT
Airline horror stories http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/flight-troubles.aspx

My partner recently had to fly from Newcastle, NSW to the Gold Coast in Queensland. It all began going wrong when a traffic accident delayed our drive to the airport. She was flying with Jetstar, which closes its check in counter 30 minutes before departure (around 2:30pm in this case).With ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Feb 2012 11:36:31 GMT
Optus upsell attempt ends in tears - for Optus http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/optus-upsell-attempt-ends-in-tears.aspx

On a recent stop at my mailbox to collect the few letters that usually turn out to be promotional materials or bills, I found a lone letter from Optus promising ‘NEW PLANS FOR THE FUTURE’. Now, Optus and I have had a rocky relationship over the years. But things seemed ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:22:08 GMT
Is SOPA a threat to internet freedom? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/internet-blackout.aspx

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, has triggered one of the biggest industry-based protests in history to hit the World Wide Web. Most notably, the popular Wikipedia site closed down in protest, and there was action from other heavyweights such as Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. In the US, a petition ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jan 2012 22:10:04 GMT
Video tip #1 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/video-tip-number-1.aspx

Well this is a fine state of affairs. Only my second blog and already I find myself breaking promises. If you read my last post, you'll most likely be expecting to see a video walk-through showing you some of the techniques I used to put the new site promo video ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:13:48 GMT
A fee-fueled world gone mad http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/a-fee-fueled-world-gone-mad.aspx

Fees are frustrating. Those little acknowledged, overly annoying additions to everyday purchases that, over time, add up. What’s even more irritating is the fact that they've become particularly prevalent in Australian society (yes, banks, I am looking directly at you – and while I’m in a staring mood, you too ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:42:11 GMT
Live events going cheap http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/live-events-going-cheap.aspx

It’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy live entertainment, if you can afford the ticket prices. Additional fees and surcharges bump up already considerable costs, and if you have to purchase tickets for an entire family, going to a live show can be downright unaffordable. For ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 11:54:10 GMT
Streaming music services in Australia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/streaming-music-services.aspx

Retailer JB Hi-Fi has recently released a streaming facility called JB Hi-Fi NOW. While currently in beta at time of writing, they display pricing at $25/month, $50/6 months and $80/year.What does it get you? For this amount you’ll have access to over 100,000 artists, and millions of songs, that you ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 09 Jan 2012 16:32:26 GMT
Credit cards - Which one should you choose? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/credit-cards-which-one-should-you-choose.aspx

Credit cards can be a useful tool - and when you pick the right one they can even be a cost effective way to access a loan or additional features. However, if you have the wrong credit card for your needs, it could end up costing you big time. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:46:43 GMT
Make your charity donations count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/make-your-charity-donations-count.aspx

Giving is a part of the Christmas tradition for many of us, and this includes making charitable donations where we can. However, how charities handle our donations can sometimes be the cause of confusion and controversyThe amount spent on administration costs is one such area, and for big organisations, these ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Dec 2011 14:43:22 GMT
A penalty by any other name is still a penalty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/penalty-fees.aspx

Throughout CHOICE’s long campaign against unfair bank fees we have always called the odd $45 the banks charged you for being late for a credit card repayment a ‘penalty’ fee.The same applied for other high fees around being overdrawn on a transaction account or presenting a bouncing cheque - we ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Dec 2011 13:18:22 GMT
Pet dental health - don't brush it off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/pet-dental-health.aspx

Pet insurance is one way you can manage the cost of owning a pet. It’s not the only alternative, but it can save you in the long run, especially in the face of hefty vet bills. We looked into the nuances of pet insurance earlier in the year, and one area ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 07 Dec 2011 17:12:36 GMT
It's the season to be cynical about bank profits http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/bank-profits.aspx

There is something predictable about Australia's bank reporting season. As surely as our minds turn to office Christmas parties, days at the beach and cricket on the TV, we will witness a parade of record profits and executive remuneration packages.These announcements seem to exist in a parallel universe to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:21:55 GMT
Unit pricing still has room for improvement http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/unit-pricing.aspx

It’s more than 50 years since CHOICE first suggested that displaying unit prices (UP) – the price per unit of measure - in supermarkets could help consumers compare value and save money by changing their buying habits.It was a long campaign with retailers resisting and delaying the introduction of unit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Dec 2011 09:35:16 GMT
The long path to VoIP satisfaction http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/voip.aspx

Recently we changed mobile providers to Amaysim; with that change came a dip in coverage. Neither one of us (one on Optus, one on Telstra) had issues prior to swapping, but since the change we’ve had to walk outside of the house to get any decent coverage, despite Amaysim using ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Nov 2011 11:23:47 GMT
Car recall leaves owner out of pocket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/car-recall.aspx

A couple of months ago I received a recall notice for our car in the mail. Like all CHOICE staff, when I see a recall notice, I tend to think of safety issues. The recall notice explained that there was a possibility that if the steering wheel was locked with force, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 09 Nov 2011 14:25:24 GMT
Customer service matters if traditional retail is to thrive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/bricks-and-mortar-retail.aspx

I had the unfortunate but necessary experience of having to visit a major department store a couple of time over the past few weeks. The first thing that took me by surprise was the emptiness of the store - plenty of stuff to buy - but no-one there to buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Nov 2011 21:27:59 GMT
Bumpy road to diagnosing milk, soy protein intolerance http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/milk-soy-protein-intolerance.aspx

My two children are milk and soy protein intolerant, MSPI. Most people stare at me blankly when I tell them this. My daughter, Stella, was a relaxed baby for the first week. Then she began to sleep less, feed more and cry, a lot. I was told that she was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:24:07 GMT
Does your contents insurance fully cover theft? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/does-your-contents-insurance-fully-cover-theft.aspx

Home and contents insurance is a mandatory purchase for many home owners, and lately there has been a lot of interest in flood cover in particular following the Queensland disaster at the beginning of the year. However, a recent letter from a CHOICE member George* has highlighted another area of ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 08:28:05 GMT
No refunds for Rewind festival-goers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/rewind-australia-blog.aspx

Picture this – for three days the musical heroes of my youth were to belt out cheesy 80s pop classics under an azure Illawarra sky. A little paunchier and a little balder perhaps, like me, but at least they’ve made the effort to come all the way to Wollongong. Children ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 15:26:08 GMT
Girl racer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/girl-racer.aspx

In an effort to save money and be a teensy bit nicer to the environment, earlier this year I decided it was time to trade in my much loved car – Doris, a 1959 Morris Minor. I live close to the city and work, and figured a combination of car ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:49:03 GMT
Hanging on the telephone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/hanging-on-the-telephone.aspx

Telstra posts $4.07 billion profit and yet 82 year old Doug Tancred can’t use his pensioner discount. Shame! Members write letters and email CHOICE daily. Some want things fixed, or specific products tested in our Marrickville labs, others just want to get a bad experience off their chest — like Doug Tancred ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:17:12 GMT
Discount grocery shopping online doesn't stack up, yet http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/online-grocery-shopping.aspx

I recently saw that Catch of the Day launched a sister operation called Grocery Run. I’m not new to buying online, however aside from the odd overseas grocery item that I couldn’t get in Australia, I’ve never ordered groceries online locally in Australia. There are options out there from the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Oct 2011 11:25:11 GMT
Piracy common but people still paying for music http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/music-piracy.aspx

Music has been a gift of choice for consumers for some time. Throughout the 20th century, new technology continually changed the face of the industry, from the gramophone to the LP record, cassette tape, CD and eventually – digital. The last trend could be the most influential factor to hit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 06 Oct 2011 20:06:46 GMT
Next generation travelling http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/next-generation-travelling.aspx

Ten years of travel A little under a decade ago I booked my first solo overseas holiday. It was a blustery May day – rainy, cold, miserable. Full-time university and part-time work were eating up my social life. But there was hope on the seemingly all-too-distant horizon - three months ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:58 GMT
Picture perfect http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/just-going-for-a-stroll.aspx

I like travelling. I've done a lot of it, but mostly in my own time and at my own cost – so I appreciate the very rare occasions when CHOICE decides I need to be somewhere other than at my desk in Marrickville. Brussells is a very long way from ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:36 GMT
Pet insurance gives paws for thought http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/pet-insurance.aspx

Growing up on a farm gives you a pretty good idea of the ups and downs of pet ownership. From our cigarette-stealing sheep (no more leaving them in the glove compartment after that) to miniature horses and donkeys running alongside the dogs in the backyard, I’ve had pets in all ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:03:07 GMT
Bad customer service? Try none at all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/no-customer-service.aspx

Poor customer service sucks. Dealing with rude, incompetent or unhelpful staff who refuse to abide by the “customer is always right” mantra can leave you feeling angry, dejected and utterly undervalued. But when it happens, you at least have some means of recourse. You can threaten to take your business ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 26 Sep 2011 14:47:58 GMT
More money for retirement on the way http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/more-money-for-retirement-on-the-way.aspx

Earlier this week, the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten announced some important reforms to the way we build our superannuation. CHOICE has made several submissions to Cooper Review and many of our recommendations were considered in the reforms, which will begin to take effect in July 2013. This includes the possibility ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 22 Sep 2011 20:46:55 GMT
My journey from disposable to cloth nappies http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/nappy-journey.aspx

When I was pregnant with my daughter I started thinking about which products I wanted to use and, of course, nappies were on that list. There are so many different options: disposables, biodegradable disposable, partly biodegradable disposables and many, many different types of cloth nappies. We considered using cloth nappies ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 15 Sep 2011 07:46:32 GMT
Struggling families? Better than before, says ABS http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/household-spending.aspx

Recent household spending statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that we have more money and better living standards since the last survey in 2003-04. While prices of goods and services have risen by 19%, the mean household income has increased by 50%. In short, costs are on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Sep 2011 18:55:34 GMT
Questioning your phone bill can pay off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/questioning-your-phone-bill-can-pay-off.aspx

The recent experience of a friend is a timely reminder to give your phone bill a once-over before you pay it. After noticing that his monthly mobile bill was higher than normal, my mate Marty took a closer look and saw a section he’d never seen on previous bills. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Sep 2011 10:49:54 GMT
Comparison websites confusion sparks warning http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/comparison-websites-confusion-sparks-warning.aspx

Comparison websites have been given a warning to act in a fair and transparent manner after the ACCC launched legal action last Friday against EnergyWatch.com.au. The ACCC is alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and making false representations in its advertising. This marks a line in the sand that comparison sites ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:50:52 GMT
Has cash lost its crown? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/has-cash-lost-its-crown.aspx

There are now many ways to pay for goods and services without cash – EFTPOS, PayPass, payWave, BPAY, PayPal, Paymate, credit card, debit card, POLi, online transfer and mobile payments. As a nation, we’re increasing our use of all of these, perhaps in part because it can be difficult or ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:47:09 GMT
Magic money savers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/magic-money-savers.aspx

You might not be able to pull money out of a hat, but with these unique money saving tips, you can magically boost the content of your piggy bank. We’ve all heard about unplugging our appliances at the wall, shopping around to save and the importance of planning a budget, and if ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:33:33 GMT
Mobile internet changing the marketplace http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/mobile-internet-changing-the-marketplace.aspx

There’s no doubt that internet on the go is becoming much more common. Nearly 12 million Australians now have an internet-capable mobile phone, and over half of those are smartphones, according to Nielsen’s Australian Online Consumer Report. Tablet computer sales are on the rise too and web developers are creating ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 20:24:46 GMT
The colour of money http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-colour-of-money.aspx

Once upon a time having a Gold or Silver credit card in your wallet was a sign of affluence and success for some people — a little plastic status symbol. And in the music world it seems that tradition continues — former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher can be seen on YouTube boasting, tongue ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 17:56:07 GMT
Children's product testing at CHOICE http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/childrens-product-testing-at-choice.aspx

Here at CHOICE we take our work in the Babies and Kids area very seriously. It can be quite difficult to tell whether a product is safe or not and parents and carers need information they can trust. To the untrained eye a product may look safe enough but there may ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 16 Aug 2011 16:27:24 GMT
Ten minutes work saves $126 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/ten-minutes-work-saves-$126.aspx

My comprehensive car insurance is up for renewal this month, so I did the usual thing of shopping around for quotes. AAMI came up with a price of $127 less than my current insurer, NRMA. I called NRMA and said I'd received a much cheaper quote, and asked if there ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Practical steps to slashing your power bills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/slash-your-power-bills.aspx

We’ve all noticed our power bills creeping up over time, in part due to the increased number and types of goods and appliances we all have, but also due to increasing energy costs. To date most of these costs are related to increased commercial and infrastructure costs, as well as ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Shonkys reveal some real lemons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/shonkys-reveal-some-real-lemons.aspx

The excitement was palpable as the stage was being set for this year’s CHOICE Shonky Awards ceremony. The question on everyone’s lips: who will be the ignominious winners of the shiny Shonkys this year? Hobnobbing in the Art Gallery of NSW with a who’s who of consumer media, sipping champagne and ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Are fridges cool? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/are-fridges-cool.aspx

I must be very strange: I love fridges. Well I don’t actually love fridges, but I find them really interesting. The messages I pick up from most people is that fridges are just there. A fridge just does its job of keeping stuff cold and that’s it. What’s to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 13:59:58 GMT
Putting ideals into practice http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/putting-ideals-into-practice.aspx

This week CHOICE launched the first ever group mortgage switch, aiming to give every consumer who takes part the negotiating power of more than a thousand people. We’re calling it the CHOICE Big Bank Switch. With this campaign, CHOICE is putting itself at the forefront of a next-generation consumer campaign; ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:03:51 GMT
Super and stocks in the current economic climate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/super-and-financial-markets.aspx

If you’re wondering what to do with your super and investments in the current financial market, you’re not alone. Stockmarkets in Australia have been bouncing up and down as debt fears in the US and Europe fuel global speculation, and investors and fund managers worldwide have been riding a rollercoaster ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 12 Aug 2011 07:40:33 GMT
Consumer action matters http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/why-consumer-action-matters.aspx

Whether it’s planning approvals or palm oil, fair trade or fair bank fees, everywhere you turn consumers and citizens are taking action to achieve change. People organise community action groups and sign email petitions, call talkback radio and write letters to companies demanding change. Action like this is the lifeblood ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:59:53 GMT
Testing PayPal's guarantee http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/testing-paypal-guarantee.aspx

We recently purchased a product for a CHOICE review but never received it. We had paid for the item via PayPal, so we pursued PayPal’s guarantee of coverage through their internal resolution centre. Even though we were disappointed we didn't get the product - we pay for them anonymously with ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 08 Aug 2011 14:25:16 GMT
What the Census means for consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/census-data.aspx

Census night allows the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to gather vital data for planning and infrastructure, but plenty of people don’t mind having a joke when filling out their question sheets. After all, according to the 2001 Census there were around 70,000 Jedi in Australia at the time, but ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 05 Aug 2011 13:26:36 GMT
Energy audit shines light on savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/energy-audit-shines-light-on-savings.aspx

Saving energy is all the rage these days, which is no surprise given rising energy prices. A little while ago my wife and I took part in a voluntary government study which measured the standby power and lighting in 150 Australian households. You will have heard of energy audits before, where some ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Aug 2011 08:22:52 GMT
Big Bank Switch - why group switching is here to stay http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/big-bank-switch.aspx

Try this. You gather a group of people together who want the same thing and negotiate a better price than even the best solo haggler could achieve. You might even get the kind of discounts normally reserved for big spenders like millionaire business people or celebrities. It’s called group buying ...

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CHOICE Blog Sun, 31 Jul 2011 10:09:20 GMT
Telco complaints reach tipping point http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/telco-complaints.aspx

Frustration at our telecommunications providers has been allowed to grow to Hulk-like proportions due to years of customer service incompetence and confusing pricing plans that are impossible to calculate. With the number of consumers frequently facing bill shock, it’s no wonder people are angry. The Australian Communications and Media Authority ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:17:15 GMT
eBooks going to the library http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/ebooks-at-the-library.aspx

A few weeks ago, CHOICE Technology team leader, Steve Duncombe, and I visited the Bowen Library in Maroubra (Randwick City Library Service) in New South Wales to give a talk on eBooks and eBook readers. Steve’s talk was well-received and there was a lot of discussion on eBooks and eBook ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Jul 2011 11:31:22 GMT
It’s time to end excessive credit card surcharging http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/excessive-surcharging.aspx

Whenever you pay for something using your credit card, it costs businesses money. Typically, it costs more for stores to accept credit cards than other payment methods like debit or EFTPOS. In 2003, the RBA decided to allow those costs to be passed on to consumers in the form of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:33:01 GMT
Committing to winter exercise http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/exercise-bike-or-trainer.aspx

I recently decided to put some thought into getting more exercise. The weather was getting colder, and while I love winter, the part I love about it is getting warm. I generally cycle to work, so I thought about how I could get some more exercise without having to spend ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:55:11 GMT
Censorship - too much, not enough or just right? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/control-freaks.aspx

Australia has a long history of censorship. At our foundations, we have no constitutional protection of free speech, and some claim ours are among the most restrictive censorship policies in the Western world. Some notable examples of censorship in Australia include: The banning of Lady Chatterley’s Lover until the mid-20th ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:53:28 GMT
Bullying beyond the schoolyard http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/bullying.aspx

What happens in the playground can stay with us for a long time. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it comes to bullying, it’s hard to see any good in being picked on relentlessly. Combine this sentiment with easy access to online mediums like YouTube, and it’s not ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:49:14 GMT
Reduce the stress of moving house http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/moving-house.aspx

Having read a couple of blogs from my colleagues on their experiences with real estate agents and the challenges of buying, I thought that I'd share my experiences of the next step: moving. Without question, the seemingly never-ending inspections and negotiations in purchasing or renting a property can be very stressful, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 12:33:14 GMT
Your privacy is in the fine print http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/your-privacy-is-in-the-fine-print.aspx

The unravelling of the News of the World scandal has put the tenuous right to privacy into the spotlight over the last week. As the extent of the News phone hacking operation has become clearer, people are asking questions about the safety of personal information. But while the revelations of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 11:46:52 GMT
Steep learning curve follows switch to HTC Sensation http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/htc-sensation.aspx

Some time ago, I was made aware that I had given some bad advice. My wife took great enjoyment, given where I work, that my advice on her phone had been rushed. Enjoyment turned to annoyance as she had to deal with a texting system that took nine clicks just ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 08:49:22 GMT
Dental health - the silent epidemic http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/dental-health-the-silent-epidemic.aspx

What’s worse than going to the dentist? Not having the option – like the 650,000 Australians who were on public dental waiting lists at last check in 2009. While many people can afford to seek treatment if they need it, those without the means to pay the high costs of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Jul 2011 09:08:07 GMT
Ten tips to navigate the banking maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/banking-maze.aspx

Just like changing the oil on your car, your finances also often need maintenance to run smoothly. Here are 10 fast and effective ways to ensure your accounts are in order. Home loans 1 Pay your mortgage fortnightly It’s an old trick, but can save you big bucks. If you ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 05 Jul 2011 08:49:40 GMT
Think big or our progress will be small http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/think-big-or-our-progress-will-be-small.aspx

Having worked at the heart of government I have some insight into how the daily morass of stuff can obscure the bigger picture and the ambitions that drive people into politics in the first place. It has made me feel more passionate that, for the sake of human development, ambition ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 02 Jul 2011 14:30:27 GMT
United Airlines brings me back to earth http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/united-airlines.aspx

I have just returned from Silicon Valley in the US where I spent a week inside some of the most impressive companies to emerge in recent times: Zappos, a company that sells shoes and clothes, but in reality sells great customer service where goods arrive the next day and they ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:21:11 GMT
Complaints about bad service http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/complaints-about-bad-service.aspx

A few days ago I had an expensive degustation dinner at a restaurant in Sydney’s north shore. I’ve been there several times before, and have recommended it to many friends and family members. But this particular night, while the food was not memorable, the service will forever be imprinted in ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 27 Jun 2011 11:05:35 GMT
Five ways to save on your home loan http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/five-ways-to-save-on-your-home-loan.aspx

With interest rates and the cost of living set to rise over the coming year, it may be time to re-examine your budget and identify a few areas where you can save money. For many people, a mortgage represents a large part of the budget, so it makes sense that ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 09:56:28 GMT
Comfortable travel is a tall order http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/tall-consumers.aspx

What’s not to love about travelling overseas? The journey, the hotels, different cultures, food and modes of transport all combine for an experience you won’t forget. But there is one thing that makes travelling a little less enjoyable than it should be - being tall. I’m just over 6 foot ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 08:58:13 GMT
Mail order madness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mail-order-madness.aspx

My dad was after some in-shoe supports for a pair of shoes that couldn’t accommodate his regular orthotics, and was convinced by an ad in Seniors magazine for some Foot Cradles. They promised pain relief for everything from neck to toes, but that was neither here nor there, he was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 17:10:54 GMT
Sleeping with Tony Abbott http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/ceo-sleepout.aspx

Sleeping with Tony Abbott and Ralph Norris was not an idea that had ever crossed my mind - which will no doubt come as a relief to them and my wife - but for a good cause it was worth that morning after feeling. Last night Ralph, Tony and I, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:50:52 GMT
15 things I wish I had known before buying my first home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/advice-for-first-home-buyers.aspx

Buying your first home can be a daunting prospect. The thought of entering into a new realm of finance, solicitors, reports and negotiations is a little overwhelming, to say the least. In order to assist potential buyers with this process I've complied a checklist of 15 things you’ll need to consider ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Jun 2011 11:00:48 GMT
Tablet, eBook reader or plain old paperback? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/ebook-readers.aspx

When CHOICE started testing eBook readers a few years ago, there was nothing like the iPad out there. But since its inception and inclusion in our second test, the question we get asked most regarding eBook readers is: why bother with an eBook reader when I can get a tablet? For ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 25 May 2011 21:26:45 GMT
A tale of two airlines - good service v. cheap fares http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/a-tale-of-two-airlines.aspx

Picture it: Narita Airport, Tokyo, April 2011, 23:00. Two Aussie travellers sprinting behind a petite but very speedy Japan Airlines (JAL) paperwork-laden staff member as she ushers us through airport security, customs and other blurred bureaucrats onto a shuttle cable to take us to another terminal, rushes us past what ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 May 2011 10:52:53 GMT
Real estate: mistake or misrepresentation? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/misleading-real-estate-agent.aspx

Real estate agents get a really bad wrap. As a journalist, who in the past has been on the receiving end of some rather offensive professional generalisations, I have always been conscious of avoiding the tarring of an entire profession with the one brush. I’m also somewhat sympathetic to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 11:33:55 GMT
Roam around to avoid bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/data-roaming-bill-shock.aspx

Disclaimer: I am an idiot. I’ve been working for a fine consumer organisation for almost three years now, during which time I’ve come across several bill shock horror stories from members stung by exorbitant global and data roaming charges for postpaid mobile phones. So what’s the one simple step I didn’t ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 10:34:36 GMT
What the big four banks can learn from Apple http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/applebanking.aspx

This week’s media has been full of news about the four big banks’ latest record-making profits - $12 billion in profit over the past six months. One article that got my attention however was Business Spectator’s Apple can bank its winnings by Charis Palmer. Given Apple’s significant cash pools, she ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 06 May 2011 11:16:43 GMT
The great Aussie beer glass dilemma http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/varying-beer-sizes.aspx

A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’d like a beer, please.” The bartender replies: “Sure, mate. What size?” “What sizes have you got?” “We’ve got pots, ponies, middies, schooners, pints, butchers, sevens, eights, tens, handles…” Ahh, the dilemma of ordering a beer in an Aussie ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 May 2011 09:56:20 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: project home pros and cons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/knockdown-rebuild-part-2.aspx

We’d finally chosen our house. It wasn’t quite our dream house – who can afford that – but we felt we could make changes that would bring it close. Even on project homes, you can make changes to the floor plan within certain constraints and usually at extra cost, so ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 03 May 2011 14:20:23 GMT
Foreign flowers for Valentine's Day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/foreign-blooms-for-valentines-day.aspx

My love is like a red, red rose… but I haven’t a clue where she comes from. This is the conundrum facing those of us buying cut flowers this Valentine's Day. There’s currently no requirement for country of origin labelling (read our article on chocolates and flowers), despite the large ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 02 May 2011 09:08:15 GMT
Mobile phones: one size doesn’t fit all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mobile-phone-testing.aspx

Cat people and dog people, people who think Sean Connery is the only James Bond and those who can only consider Roger Moore. Lady Ga Ga fans and people who just don’t get it. The world is full of divided camps and mobile phones are yet another area where people have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Apr 2011 11:56:50 GMT
Breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/breastfeeding-difficulties.aspx

Breastfeeding is perfectly natural and the absolute best thing you can do for your baby. At least that was what I was told during my pregnancy countless times: early parenting classes, pre-natal visits and all the literature I was reading trumpeted the benefits of breastfeeding. But what none of them ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Apr 2011 10:20:49 GMT
Don't settle for a bad haircut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/bad-haircut.aspx

Have you ever had a bad haircut? What about a really bad haircut? One so bad that when you got home and looked in the mirror you had to fight back the tears? Or, one that required you to wear a hat day and night for the next month? I ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:49:12 GMT
Reduce energy consumption and pocket the savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/energy-prices.aspx

1985 was a very different place to 2011. Nelson Mandela was sitting in a South African jail cell, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as US president, and a man wearing a chicken suit trespassed into the Australian Parliament and sat on the government’s front bench. But electricity prices…well, they were ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Apr 2011 09:18:04 GMT
Is your email account at risk from hackers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/email-hack.aspx

I was awoken on Friday with an early morning phone call from a friend. She told me she’d received a strange email from me saying that I was in Spain and that I had been robbed and asking if she could help by sending me some money. This was the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 11 Apr 2011 10:25:35 GMT
When an insurance claim just isn't worth it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/small-insurance-claim.aspx

I've owned a laptop for about five years now. I bought it at the top of the range, upgraded it and use it constantly for education, business trips and at home almost every day. It really has served its purpose and I cannot complain about it at all. It's gone ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Apr 2011 09:23:50 GMT
What is social business and why does it matter? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/social-business.aspx

Something profound is happening to the way some of us do business – so fundamental that the old left and right might even seek to claim it as their own but in truth it happened despite them, and certainly doesn’t need them. And in any case it’s a phenomenon that ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:39:29 GMT
Freeview labelling - do we need it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/freeview.aspx

Digital TV is already being broadcast across much of Australia. By 2014, remaining analogue TV broadcasts will be shut down, and you’ll have no choice but to watch digital TV. The federal government is doing a pretty good job of educating Australians about the transition to digital, and what consumers ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Mar 2011 08:41:53 GMT
Consumers are banking on reform http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/consumers-are-banking-on-reform.aspx

Today the government released emails containing advice on banking reform given to the Treasurer Wayne Swan last October. The advice from officials repeats banking industry concerns about proposals to scrap exit fees and introduce portable bank account numbers - two key reforms strongly supported by CHOICE. The concerns state that scrapping exit ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:41:02 GMT
Carbon price: households shouldn't carry the cost for industry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/carbon-price-details-still-to-come.aspx

The federal government has announced a plan to implement a carbon price in Australia from 1 July 2012. This is a welcome step because a carbon price is the least-costly way of tackling climate change, and studies show the sooner we act, the lower the cost, so this is potentially ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:40:50 GMT
Taking your call for better banking to Canberra http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/better-banking.aspx

Today we’re in Canberra handing a new CHOICE report on banking to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and to members of the Senate Committee that’s carrying out an inquiry into banking. The report, packed full of consumer views on banking gathered by CHOICE over recent months, won’t bring a smile to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:38:32 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild - how it all began http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/knockdown-and-rebuild.aspx

When I mention to people that we’re building a house, the most common reaction is that we’ve temporarily gone insane and will wake up to regret it. That may yet happen but so far we’re still ok with it. We had a house, but it was too small. Seriously, it ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:05:02 GMT
The most savvy and active consumers in the world! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/the-most-savvy-and-active-consumers-in-the-world.aspx

I’d like to personally welcome you to the new site. All the improvements have been based on your feedback and we will continue to make changes that work for you. Please let me know what you think of the site — the good, the bad and the ugly. From the day ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:38 GMT
Shaky Foundations http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/shaky-foundations.aspx

Makeup and I go way back. From that first lip-gloss I bought from the Avon lady at the grand old age of10, it’s been a love affair that’s seen me through several decades. Now I’m on the wrong side of 35, with a toddler who likes to start the working ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:25 GMT
Radio radio http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/radio-radio.aspx

It's been a long time since I listened to the radio on my regular trips from Sydney to Newcastle. CDs were a godsend and now I follow the trend and carry an iPod with hundreds of hours of music and podcasts. In the car I've a little transmitter that wirelessly ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:13 GMT
Pst ... wanna buy a used option? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/pst-wanna-buy-a-used-option.aspx

Around the same time that I was researching ways to recession-proof your finances, some prominent newspaper adverts caught my eye. They were for investment seminars that promised to reveal how to make money regardless of whether share markets were going up, down or sideways. Better still, the system was supposed to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:00 GMT
One more for the road? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/one-more-for-the-road.aspx

Heard the one about the man who walked into a pub with a pocketful of breathalyzers? We had tested out these devices in strict laboratory conditions but what happens when you let them loose among some real life boozers? For starters you get another view of how people both use ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:45 GMT
Grand designs http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/grand-designs.aspx

If you’ve checked my bio you’ll know I’m Neill and I work in the laundry lab here. Actually I will be working in it once the renovations it’s currently undergoing come to an end — we’re promised we can move in this Thursday. A fortnight ago it was going to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:20 GMT
An extra large medium http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/an-extra-large-medium.aspx

As most people who know me will admit (often with an unseemly amount of enthusiasm), it's not often that I'm lost for words. But starting a blog on video production for CHOICE presents me with something of a challenge. You're obviously interested in video, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:53 GMT
The yarn about thread count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-yarn-about-thread-count.aspx

Bed sheets are on sale again. But before you rush out and grab the first one with the highest thread count, even if it was 50% off its usual price, do yourself a favour and shop around. Last weekend, while I was shopping at House, a home and kitchenware store, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:09 GMT
The unexpected should make you stronger http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-unexpected-should-make-you-stronger.aspx

Tough times hit people all the time. It’s why this year we didn’t put up our prices because we know people have been feeling the pinch; it’s also why CHOICE investigates solutions to the most challenging aspects of consumer life, so that we can take the hassle out of your ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:56 GMT
Something to put a sparkle in the day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/something-to-put-a-sparkle-in-the-day.aspx

Well yesterday was a change from the usual work in the laundry lab: evaluating washing machines and dishwashers. Choice usually publishes a story on sparkling wines coming up to the festive season. To score the wines we have a panel of experts do a blind tasting. And as a follow-up we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:29 GMT
Just do it - just doesn't cut it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/just-do-it--just-doesnt-cut-it.aspx

I’ve often thought of doing exercise as being bit like cleaning one’s teeth. It’s something I know I should do, and sometimes it feels good, while at other times I just do it, knowing I’ll feel better for it afterwards. And the long term benefits of both are absolutely worth ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:03 GMT
Into the mouths of babes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/into-the-mouths-of-babes.aspx

Some days it seems that retailers think that my daughter is an alien. While I’ll admit my toddler behaves like she’s from another planet at times, I’m fairly sure she’s a human, albeit a small one. But in the supermarket it seems many product marketers are keen to convince me ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:52 GMT
Foxtel's price increase - less for more http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/foxtels-price-increase---less-for-more.aspx

Five years ago I broached the subject of subscribing to Foxtel Pay TV, primarily so I could watch (even) more sport. While my love of English football isn’t shared by everyone in my household, the “Digital Basic” package included UK TV and the Lifestyle channel. I'm not sure I ever ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:25 GMT
Fighting fines with fire http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fighting-fines-with-fire.aspx

Parking fines are one of the main bugbears of any motorist, especially when they’ve been wrongly issued. However, I'm interested in why consumers aren't more proactive in challenging unfair fines when the success rate is actually quite high. As we were conducting our research for our article on parking fines, we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:13 GMT
Fares fair http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fares-fair.aspx

A few weeks ago I caught a taxi to the airport for a flight to Canberra. I was on my way to visit the National Information Centre On Retirement Investments (NICRI - a really useful organisation that provides free financial information to consumers), and they'd kindly given me a cabcharge to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:01 GMT
Escalator action proves goal is achieveable http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/escalator-action-proves-goal-is-achieveable.aspx

I’m just back from a week on Boomerang beach. What a great place even if the sun didn’t shine! I’m realising that come rain or shine the Aussie outdoor spirit is contagious and I even felt compelled to take off my rain jacket each day for a dip in the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:48 GMT
Don't touch that dial http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/dont-touch-that-dial.aspx

I think the time is fast approaching when free-to-air TV is going to become almost entirely irrelevant in most peoples lives. Its not that I've any empirical evidence for its demise, nor is it something I would wish to happen, but the major networks in Australia seem to have a ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:35 GMT
CHOICE Insights http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/choice-insights.aspx

I’m just heading off for a week’s holiday to north of Newcastle at Boomerang Beach. I’m sure many of you are used to the beauty of Australia but being new to the country, it’s a great treat for me and my family to spend holidays in a place we also ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:22 GMT
A Wii game of tennis, anyone? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-wii-game-of-tennis-anyone.aspx

If it’s too hot or too wet to go outside, there’s always exergaming. We’re always hearing about kids getting fatter and fatter due to too much junk food and not enough exercise. In the ideal world kids would be outside playing cricket with the other kids on the street, kicking ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:09 GMT
A moral duty to act in the interests of consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-moral-duty-to-act-in-the-interests-of-consumers.aspx

I’ve spent most of the day on the phone to members which is a great way to understand some of the issues that affect people every day. The issues are wide ranging and some are very heartfelt. One of my callers spoke about a very expensive medicine that he purchased ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:56 GMT
Ask what more we can do http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/ask-what-more-we-can-do.aspx

Organisations like CHOICE have nothing to fear from transparency, it’s what we tell others, it’s what we practice ourselves. The last few weeks have been difficult for CHOICE because of the credit card issue (mentioned in my last two blogs), but we are more focused now than ever before on ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:40 GMT
Tough decisions are tough on everyone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/tough-decisions-are-tough-on-everyone.aspx

Emotional commitment to a cause and to the people affected by any tough decisions is in my DNA and one that I think has to sit well with a modern CEO. It’s also why this week has been the hardest I’ve had since starting at CHOICE and perhaps the most ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:27 GMT
Never buy the foot spa http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/never-buy-the-foot-spa.aspx

My track record with buying gifts is, at best, mixed. There have been some unqualified successes - ranging from the 30th birthday scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef that I organised, to the book of nursery rhymes and songs I bought in the ABC Shop for my one ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:13 GMT
A goal for the level playing field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/making-the-grocery-market-competitive.aspx

On Wednesday evening the report by the Senate Economics Committee into Grocery CHOICE was published. The Inquiry recommendations are important to CHOICE in vindicating our position and re-affirming the need for change in the grocery sector. CHOICE wants a more competitive grocery market; in truth it would be hard for ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:00 GMT
Convenience comes at a cost http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/convenience-comes-at-a-cost.aspx

The old adage that convenience comes at a cost rang true when I paid for my car insurance today. What I usually do when I get my policy renewal notice is get a few quotes from other insurers and then come to the conclusion that once again my existing insurer is still the cheapest. ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:41 GMT
Confessions of a food label addict http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/confessions-of-a-food-label-addict.aspx

Hi, my name is Rachel, and I’m a food label addict. But I haven’t always been quite so obsessed, and I blame my job for that. As a food and health content producer for CHOICE I spend hours scrutinising nutrition information panels, ingredients lists and the claims made on food ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:29 GMT
A disturbing letter from my bank http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/a-disturbing-letter-from-my-bank.aspx

Last week I got a letter from my lender, instead of the expected notice about an interest rate increase, the message was rather more disturbing: my lender is withdrawing from the market. While they will continue to service me and their other customers they won’t provide any new loans. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:17 GMT
Use it or lose it! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/trying-the-alternatives.aspx

The challenge was as blunt, immediate as it was unambiguous. Can you go for a week without darkening the doors of Coles or Woolworths?   After all CHOICE will be asking others to consider switching more often to independent grocers, fruitologists, butchers and bakers and even fishmongers for their grocery ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:01 GMT
Access to airtime http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/chance-to-get-some-real-airtime.aspx

Being captive to lousy service is everyone’s bugbear, especially when you know you could’ve got a better deal elsewhere. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Two days ago, I tried to change the flight dates with a major airline here and was told I had to pay $62.50 to do so, which was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:25 GMT
Acoustic foamy goodness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/acoustic-foamy-goodness.aspx

I’ve always found it rather ironic that poor video with goodaudio always comes across as a lot more professional than good video with pooraudio. And frankly, getting a decent audio recording at CHOICE is a real painin the proverbials - particularly since the recent renovation replaced thetatty old sound-absorbing carpet ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:08 GMT
Knowing me, knowing you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/knowing-me-knowing-you.aspx

Welcome to 2010 and a red letter year for CHOICE, as we mark our 50th anniversary. It’s a significant milestone and provides a moment to reflect on past achievements. I stress that this is a moment of reflection and not a time for complacency, for the challenges that consumers face ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:20 GMT
'You cannot be serious' http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/you-cannot-be-serious.aspx

The Australian Open has re-fueled my love of tennis (as well as reminding me that Britain is good at coming second!). It also made me think how the quality of tennis today is infinitely better than it was many years ago. Nostalgia and sentiment take you back to the joys ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:06 GMT
There's somebody at the door http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/somebody-is-at-the-door.aspx

Last year an official looking man called to my house and said that due to deregulation of the electricity industry in NSW, he needed to check my energy meter and bill. Of course, something about this introductory spiel wasn't quite right. In fact, I was under no obligation to show ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:53 GMT
Naked tales http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/naked-tales.aspx

Recently I moved and decided to do without a very large national communications network. You know who I’m talking about: Telstra. I started the process of Naked DSL activation. I’d briefly been with Internode at my previous address and hadn’t had any issues, so decided to go with them again. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:24 GMT
Putting the 'super' back into supermarket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/march/putting-the-super-back-into-supermarket.aspx

I have made no secret of my views on the state of the supermarket sector in Australia over the past year. And talking to consumers, farmers, independent grocers and others about the problem has only strengthened our resolve here at CHOICE to do something about it. They confirm that all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:58 GMT
A language for bad business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/april/a-language-for-bad-business.aspx

Over the last few weeks I have been openly discussing the need to create a new consumer culture in Australia (see my comment piece in the Sydney Morning Herald): http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/consumers-must-stop-accepting-second-best-20100315-q9id.html I have received a very positive response from people right across the country. Many feel and have felt for years, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:44 GMT
Remember the customer has the last word http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/may/remember-the-customer-has-the-last-word.aspx

Following my last blog on the language of bad business, a colleague in the consumer movement sent me the clip below. It’s a great example of where the new media age allows customers to fight back and hit companies where it hurts - their reputation! The YouTube clip below came ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:31 GMT
Take two tablets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/take-two-tablets.aspx

Samsung is hoping to give Apple a real headache with its new tablet. The Galaxy Tab, unveiled early in September, is a smaller, lighter rival for Apple’s highly successful iPad and one of the first of what is expected to be a flood of tablet-style devices to hit the market ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:04 GMT
Now focus on the people who elected you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/now-focus-on-the-people-who-elected-you.aspx

So, two and a half weeks after the federal election, we have a result.  And now that the politicians have stopped trying to woo each other, perhaps they’ll start trying to woo us again. During this peculiar political hiatus, when Ministers and MPs have been horse trading behind closed doors, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:50 GMT
Choose your own adventure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/choose-your-own-adventure.aspx

Being a geek and gadget lover I read all about Android and the promise it held (though I must admit I was tempted by the iPhone 4). So patiently I awaited a mobile phone that ticked all the boxes for me. Some people can make snap purchasing decisions and buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:14 GMT
2010 Shonkys - A stark reminder of why we exist http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/october/2010-shonkys---a-stark-reminder-of-why-we-exist.aspx

After a 23-hour flight from the US, I stepped straight off a plane and into CHOICE’s Shonky Awards ceremony today - and instantly my jetlag evaporated. Nothing could have revived me more than being reminded of our vision in action – to make Australians the most active and savvy consumers in ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:57 GMT
GST threshold - join the debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/gst-threshold---join-the-debate.aspx

It’s the hot button issue about tax, technology and competition that has provoked a fiery debate about online shopping versus bricks and mortar retailers. At present, Australians can buy goods online from overseas and not pay GST for products under $1000. CHOICE’s position of arguing to retain the $1000 GST-free threshold has ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:07 GMT
Book store woes highlight gift voucher risks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/book-store-woes-highlight-gift-voucher-traps.aspx

This current situation with the parent company of the Borders and Angus and Robertson bookstore chains going into voluntary administration highlights one of the risks involved in buying gift vouchers; you’re giving money that could potentially never give a return. When a company goes into administration, people holding gift vouchers ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:37:00 GMT
Baby buying brain http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/pregnancy-and-shopping.aspx

Something happens to a woman when she becomes pregnant. Before you get up in arms about that statement, I’ll clarify. I’m not saying pregnant women get crazy, just cautious - very cautious. I can say that because I was one of them. Suddenly everything matters. Everything is potentially dangerous. You ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:35:44 GMT
Join us in our push for better banks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/join-us-in-our-push-for-better-banks.aspx

During the worldwide GFC, the public stood by the banks in their time of need and financial markets are now fortunately more stable. The collapse of the financial system would have benefited no one and that’s why the public gave the green light to any action deemed necessary to stabilise ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:15:19 GMT
A Level Playing Field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/a-level-playing-field.aspx

It’s not every day that Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman fame gets on the blower to challenge my position on globalization and internet buying, but that’s what he did the other day. Gerry has set himself up as the lightning rod of discontent for local traders who are feeling the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:14:08 GMT
CHOICE Blogs http://www.choice.com.au/blog.aspxmetadata description Copyright 2014 www.choice.com.auen-au http://www.choice.com.au/img/logo_choice.gif www.choice.com.au http://www.choice.com.auWed, 01 Oct 2014 03:46:09 GMTIs a Thermomix really worth it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/Buying-a-thermomix.aspx

With a hefty $1939 price tag, adding a Thermomix to your kitchen collection is no impulse buy. And like plenty of people, my partner and I did a lot of reading and research before deciding to bite the bullet. (Getting a relative to buy one for us in France for ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:28:59 GMT
Call Centre Anguish http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Call-Centre-Anguish.aspx

When moving house recently, I was assigned the duty of coordinating our utility connections. I consider myself a sociable person with a finesse for negotiation skills, so I like to deal with such tasks with that great interpersonal tool known as the internet. However, my internet research soon revealed that ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:11:35 GMT
Consumer needs must take priority in financial advice debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/July/Consumer-needs-must-take-priority-in-financial-advice-debate.aspx

Senators will make a decision this week that might just save homes and help to people retire with dignity. Because when people get financial advice that’s not in their best interest, or advice that is driven by sales incentives instead of responsibility, they risk losing everything. This week the Senate will ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:39:59 GMT
Click here for stuff you don't want http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/dark-patterns.aspx

The other day, after getting a ‘reminder’ from LinkedIn that I still hadn’t responded to a friend’s invitation to, well, link in, I sent her an email apologising and said I didn’t have a LinkedIn account. A few minutes later she walked over (yep, I actually emailed someone sitting a ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:49:02 GMT
School of false hopes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/June/school-of-false-hopes.aspx

The 2014 Federal Budget has drastically changed the education landscape, with universities free to charge whatever they like for courses, while the income at which your HECS repayments kick in has been lowered and interest rates on debt increased. So now, more than ever, consumers need to make sure they ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:45:04 GMT
Greater price transparency needed at supermarkets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/unit-pricing-supermarkets.aspx

The forecasts of a tough Budget, rising unemployment, and higher interest rates, mean that more and more Australians are going to find it harder to make ends meet.But there is one thing we can all do that can make a big difference every week if not every day - try ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 May 2014 11:33:33 GMT
Infomercial weight loss - hot or not? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/infomercial-mania.aspx

I love TV home shopping shows - for about 30 seconds. After that I vacillate between fleeting credulity, overwhelming incredulity and coma-inducing boredom. However, since I'm always on the lookout for interesting consumer products, I suffer through them.The latest gizmo to catch my eye was Hot Shapers. These tight fitting ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 May 2014 11:28:55 GMT
Cleaning the dishwasher http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/washing-the-dishwasher.aspx

Over the past three years, you may have noticed a new product on the market - detergents for cleaning your dishwasher.  Now, you might be thinking that this idea is a little redundant. A dishwasher is supposed to be the thing that cleans other things, right? Well, right. And if ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:23:54 GMT
Bring your Windows PC back from the dead http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/recovery-media.aspx

The only thing worse than a computer that won’t boot up is realising you’ll have to pay to get it fixed. But before you reach for your wallet, there are a few things you can do that will help your PC recover from almost any system software problem, and the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:23:31 GMT
Hands on with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/Hands-on-with-the-PlayStation-4-and-Xbox-One.aspx

The next generation of games consoles are almost here. The Xbox One hits the shelves on 22nd November and the PlayStation 4 (PS4) one week later. Should you be stuffing one into your stocking this Christmas? I recently compared each one at the EB Games Expo in Sydney.Playtime was all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:59:53 GMT
Why is watching Game of Thrones in Australia so hard? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/watching-game-of-thrones-in-australia.aspx

Foxtel, you know nothing - nothing about how and when I want to watch TV, and nothing about what would make me renew my Foxtel subscription to watch Season Four of Game of Thrones. And honestly, I am here to be convinced.I was willing to pay you $44.50 a month, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:27:08 GMT
China dreaming http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/March/China-Dreaming.aspx

We recently went to China for a bit of a holiday, to see all the amazing growth that is going on in that country. And to get yet another lesson in the old adage, "you get what you pay for".There are a lot of cheap goods in China, in particular ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:26:15 GMT
The DVD and Blu-Ray region coding conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/February/dvd-players.aspx

I’m a Gen X, so I find myself straddling between the tried and trusted way of doing things, and attempting to orientate towards the "new way". Central to this predicament is technology, or more specifically, how to watch movies and TV shows.My favourite TV shows warrant buying DVD box sets ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Feb 2014 08:48:49 GMT
Extended warranty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Extended Warranty.aspx

Like many people I know, sometimes I just can’t be bothered reading the terms and conditions that are included with virtually every website, product and service that I sign up for. The thought just bores me silly. Delving into the lawyer speak, weasel words and down-right obfuscating terminology is not ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:49 GMT
Man shopping http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-disciplined-shopper.aspx

The way I take my revenge on the bewildering market for everyday goods is to grab the first thing I see in the lower price range. Companies spend countless hours and billions of dollars on packaging, promos and product placement; I spend three seconds making a decision. Take that, I ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:15 GMT
Help menu reboot http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/December/Help-menu-reboot.aspx

I’m no software designer or usability expert, but I use computers almost every day for work as well as general life management. It also just so happens that I spend most of my working life writing about computing - which probably explains why I’m writing about help menus.When it comes ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:38:55 GMT
The trouble with ebook pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/The-trouble-with-ebook-pricing.aspx

Amazon has just launched its local ebook store in Australia. This comes shortly after a US trial involving Apple that focused on ebook pricing. Time will tell how will Australian ebook retailers respond as Amazon seeks to cement its position in the market. The court case put the spotlight on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 17:11:39 GMT
White coat hypertension http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/white-coat-hypertension.aspx

Last time I went to the doctor for a check-up, my blood pressure was 140 over something. I was shocked - I’ve always been a 110, 120 kinda gal. She took two more readings and it went down - into the 130s. Reluctant to let me leave with this sort ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:14:53 GMT
Where's our digital revolution? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Wheres-our-digital-revolution.aspx

Australia is a peculiar country. We are wealthy, isolated, large in size but small in population. These features have conspired for some time to deny Australian consumers access to the newest media. Our release windows for film, music and televisions shows have been later, our range sparser and our prices, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 31 Oct 2013 15:17:10 GMT
CHOICE Computer goes to PAX http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/CC-goes-to-PAX.aspx

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) came to Australia this year for the first time, bringing with it a gigantic celebration of all things nerdy, video games in particular. We joined thousands of geeks in Melbourne to get some hands-on time with upcoming games and new technology, as the Melbourne Showgrounds ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:05:54 GMT
Charitable consumption http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/Charitable consumption.aspx

I'm a casual gamer. This means that I’ve reached a point in life where there are other things competing for my time on a fairly regular basis, so games are something that I'll do once in a blue moon - mostly when there is something I've been looking forward to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:07:23 GMT
How to get a refund on SimCity http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/How-to-get-a-refund-on-Sim-City.aspx

When it comes to getting refunds on faulty goods, Australian consumers are quite well protected under Australian Consumer Law. As a consumer advocacy organisation we are often informing consumers of their rights with handy guides and cards. The unmitigated disaster that is Electronic Art’s (EA) SimCity has been so great ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:06:17 GMT
You're going to be a dad! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/A-Dads-reaction-to-fatherhood.aspx

When I was growing up there were certain life moments I tried to imagine experiencing. Admittedly, in the early years they didn't go much beyond wanting to be Marco van Basten (Dutch footballer, played for AC Milan in the '90s. Genius. Never mind!), but as I got older I began ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:41:49 GMT
Baby bills - the unexpected purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Unexpected-parental-purchases.aspx

The financial shocks for first-time parents probably won’t be as bad as some of the less tangible parenting challenges that will come in later years, but it’s important to understand that baby goods marketers have gotten better than ever at getting you to buy stuff. It’s almost impossible to avoid making ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:42:20 GMT
The value of in-app purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-value-of-in-app-purchases.aspx

I have mixed feelings about in-app purchases. On the one hand, they can expand the lifecycle of a program with special updates and expansions suited to specific consumer needs. On the other they can capitalise on a desire for instant gratification. It's the latter that are currently making headlines all ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 16:42:40 GMT
Direct debits: good or bad for consumers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Direct-debits-Good-or-Bad-for-Consumers.aspx

Many consumers use direct debits to pay bills, and most of the time they probably work well. However, it is still worth asking a very fundamental question: are they really of net benefit to all consumers?Direct debits certainly benefit businesses in many ways. For example, direct debit gives a higher ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 10:35:14 GMT
Why the milk debate isn't clear-cut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/milk-prices.aspx

Hands up if you want cheap milk? Actually, let’s try rephrasing that - hands up if you want to rip off farmers? Many consumers could be forgiven for feeling slightly confused about which side to take in the recent “milk war” between Australia’s major supermarkets. The debate that started with $1-a-litre ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Behind the scenes of the CHOICE Awards http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/choice-awards.aspx

Planning the CHOICE Awards is a little like planning a wedding. No bride, sure, but a similar amount of organisation and hard work: book a venue, tee up an MC, invite guests, select a menu, prepare speeches, make seating plans – and then there’s the little thing about choosing awards and ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Where TV is going http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/where-tv-is-going.aspx

There's a lot of hype around at present over 3D TV. I'm not convinced it'll be as big a seller as the manufacturers are claiming — but we'll definitely test some when they're in the market and there's something 3D to watch on them. My thinking is that it'll be ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Heart Foundation ticked off at Coles logo http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/heart-foundation-ticked-off-at-coles-logo.aspxEarlier this week we heard that the Heart Foundation was unhappy with Coles using a red tick in the logo of their generic Smart Buy range, arguing that it could give shoppers the impression that Coles Smart Buy products met some kind of nutrition or health criteria which made them healthier choices. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:14 GMT
CHOICE heads to the IFA Berlin http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/IFA-CES-Berlin.aspx

The Consumer Electronics Show (IFA – or Internationale Funkausstellung) is held once a year inMesse Berlin - in a massive sprawling conference centre five times larger than any conference centre wehave in Australia. There are over 27 halls of various products ranging from fully formed household items from brands we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 10 Sep 2013 14:40:52 GMT
The price you could pay for a free PC http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/The price you could pay for a free PC.aspx

I was bored with Windows. But after a torrid weekend of tussling with Linux I’m almost looking forward to more boredom. It’s not that moving to Linux is a bad idea – far from it – but I fell into a trap that made for a less than smooth transition. ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:02:36 GMT
Lab dryers lead to energy savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/Lab-dryers-lead-to-energy-savings.aspx

CHOICE wants to reduce the amount of energy we use on site - along with implementing monitor turn off policies or timers, replacing every other fluorescent tube pair rather than every one, plus many other smaller changes that whittle away at electricity usage, we've been looking at the laboratories as ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:43:29 GMT
Sham-not-so-Wow http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/sham-not-so-wow.aspx

After seeing the infomercial and watching a video posted by our sister organisation ConsumerReports about the ShamWow, I was given the task of having a play around with this "wonder" cloth to see if it wowed me or not. I got a special offer for $59.90 - buy one set, get one ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Aug 2013 09:48:07 GMT
Insurance is seriously entertaining http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/insurance-is-seriously-entertaining.aspx

We are now in the middle of our home and contents insurance project – it’s been fascinating to see the different questions insurers ask in order to calculate how much they should charge you for insuring your home or contents. For example, it matters how many people you are living with, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:47:41 GMT
Volkswagen recall http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Volkswagen-recall.aspx

A few years ago my partner and I decided to buy a new car. While our faithful old bomb was okay, with a baby and a toddler we decided to bite the bullet and buy something newer.We settled on a Volkswagen Passat diesel wagon - a great looking car, just ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Jun 2013 10:44:38 GMT
Keep track of online tracking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Keep track of online tracking.aspx

I have an uneasy relationship with Facebook. Like most users, I love peering into the lives of friends for a few minutes a day. This peephole lets me stay in touch with rants, happy events and random thoughts.  As for myself, I like to post updates and links to stories ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Jun 2013 13:50:46 GMT
Arrested Development, Netflix and geo-blocking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/Arrested-Development-Netflix-and-geo-blocking.aspx

On 26 May, season four of the cult-comedy series Arrested Development was released on the internet-streaming website, Netflix.However, Netflix - which has exclusive broadcast rights to the show after its seven-year hiatus - is not available to Australian consumers. This means that Australians cannot officially access the show at all. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 30 May 2013 17:15:30 GMT
Borrowing from Peter - P2P lending http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/P2P-lending.aspx

It’s been a while since uni, but I’m pretty sure it was Shakespeare who said neither a lender nor a borrower be. And that was back in the 1500s or so. Well, there’s been a whole lot of lending and borrowing going on since then. In fact, entire industries have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 May 2013 09:36:38 GMT
Six months with an electric car http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/six-months-with-an-electric-car.aspx

Last year, CHOICE took a first look at the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle). I've had the interesting experience of driving the car for the last six months. In the process, I have been stopped at intersections, interrogated in parking lots and questioned at work. Everybody wants to know: ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 May 2013 16:13:38 GMT
Help, my baby won't sleep! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/baby-sleeping-aids.aspx

Whoever came up with the saying “sleeping like a baby” must have had one of those one-in-a-million textbook babies who slept way more than mine do.The perennial problem of babies and toddlers who either won’t fall asleep or won’t stay asleep was recently thrown into the spotlight through Adam Mansbach’s ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:25:58 GMT
The Sunday of three returns http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-sunday-of-three-returns.aspx

One Sunday this summer, I tried to return three items to three different shops. Two of the stores restored my faith in bricks and mortar shopping. The third demonstrated that some retailers have a long way to go if they plan on stemming the online shopping tide.First stop: Myer, where ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Apr 2013 18:18:16 GMT
Buy now, pay forever http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Buy-now-pay-forever.aspx

I think there’s a word missing from the English vocabulary. It would describe a product that lures you in with the promise of fulfilling a need relatively cheaply, but once purchased it applies a siphon to your finances to keep it running. I’m open to suggestions, but for now I’m ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:13:07 GMT
Will consumers win on excessive surcharges? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Will-consumers-win-on-excessive-surcharges.aspx

Today should bring good news for consumers as the Reserve Bank’s reforms to credit card surcharging come into effect. These reforms are designed to end the practice of retailers hitting consumers with excessive surcharges for paying by credit card – such as the $7.70 charged by Qantas and Virgin or ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:25:12 GMT
Consumers reap benefits of the social web http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/consumers-and-the-social-web.aspx

The phenomenal growth of social networking combined with continuing technological advances, like mobile internet connectivity, has brought new opportunities across the social spectrum – and consumers are one of the biggest winners. It seems relevant then that this is one of the reoccurring topics of discussion at the Consumers International ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Mar 2013 15:42:08 GMT
Cutting my paper ties http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Paperless.aspx

After reading a review of David Sparks’ ebook on the whys and wherefores of going paperless on The Mac Observer, I realised going paperless was something that I was interested in doing - and it wouldn’t be too difficult. Mac users may know David Sparks from his Mac Power Users ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:22:15 GMT
Consumer rights across borders http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/global-consumer-rights.aspx

In 1985, two pretty significant things happened for consumers around the world. There was the controversial release of ‘new recipe’ Coke. And then, there was also the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.Things didn't fare so well for the ‘New Coke’. After just three months, and a massive public ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 08 Mar 2013 09:06:37 GMT
Making the switch to a solid state drive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/SSD.aspx

Solid state drives (SSDs), have been around tech circles for a while, but they’ve only entered the consumer vernacular in the last 12 – 18 months. Promising faster boot and data transfer times, improved energy efficiency and greater system stability over hard disk drives (HDD), SSDs are gradually becoming an ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:04:54 GMT
Health insurance extras http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/health-insurance-in-an-online-age.aspx

Like many Australians over 30, I have private health insurance. Although I’m healthy, the tax man’s arm-twisting makes a compelling argument for me to have it. I’m on a comparatively cheaper “young singles” plan, but even that’s a pretty hefty drain on my wallet.(Yeah, yeah – I know I’m no longer ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:22:20 GMT
Taxi alternatives http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Taxi Alternatives.aspx

Taxi AlternativeGiven our recent Shonky given to Cabcharge for their surcharge that's not a surcharge, I thought it would be interesting to find ways around the monopoly rather than just resigning myself to the fact that Cabcharge has me temporarily over a barrel. Unfortunately, to truly get around the monopoly, ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Jan 2013 15:26:20 GMT
Do sales people influence you? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Retail-experience.aspx

One thing I've noticed in the last few years since starting at CHOICE is how salespeople can affect a purchasing decision.When I go into a retail store, I naturally go to a sales person because I want to buy something. What is the effect of asking that sales person for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:02:32 GMT
Why buying a DSLR might not be a good idea http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Buying-a-DSLR.aspx

There’s no shortage of camera reviewers on the internet. Some are competent and detailed in their assessments and some are not, but most make a simple assumption that appears to be incorrect for a significant portion of their audience. They assume the camera will be used in a variety of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:41:49 GMT
No festive cheer in bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/no-festive-cheer-in-bill-shock.aspx

The festive season invariably means travel for many of us. I’ve travelled a lot over the years myself, and lugged many a brick-size travel guide in my daypack. I’ve also been writing about travel and technology for many years and, as both a write and traveller, it’s exciting to realise ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:39:39 GMT
Something to write home about http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Something-to-write-home-about.aspx

If I had been born sixty years earlier, a matronly and god fearing teacher would have rapped my knuckles with a ruler for picking up a pen with my left hand. Fortunately, I was born in 1985 and was free to settle into the comforts of being left handed, unchallenged.This ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 09:25:50 GMT
Weight Watchers 360 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/weight-watchers-360.aspx

Some weeks ago CHOICE Food & Health was invited by Weight Watchers to participate in a ‘live social experiment’ involving lunch and information about the 2013 Weight Watchers program. We were told we’d be picked up from the office and taken to the event, and taken back afterwards. Who said ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 18 Dec 2012 12:17:09 GMT
Still more work to do on unit pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Still-more-work-to-do-on-unit-pricing.aspx

Since late 2009 large supermarkets have had to show the unit price (price per unit of measure) of packaged grocery items on shelf labels so that shoppers can easily compare prices and values.This was a major for victory for consumers that took nearly 50 years to achieve.However the current system ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:23:47 GMT
Piracy and market failure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Piracy-and-market-failure.aspx

Trying to understand, predict and influence consumer decision making is multi-billion dollar industry and an imperative for businesses and governments alike.A failure to predict not only what goods and service consumers choose to buy, but how they choose to buy them, can have some pretty drastic consequences. Consumers have shown ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:27:37 GMT
Fully charged http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Fully charged.aspx

My mum recently transferred some frequent flyer points to my Qantas Frequent Flyer account. Great, I thought – I can take my 18-month-old daughter on a trip to Adelaide to visit her auntie. A visit to the Qantas website informed me I had enough points to book the trip via the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Dec 2012 12:12:09 GMT
Retirement village contracts http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Retirement-village-contracts.aspx

There is something downright misleading with the way retirement village contracts work in Australia. For far too long, contract terms have weighed heavily in favour of the operators, and many residents discover they’re liable for higher costs than they anticipated when it’s too late to do anything about them.It means some ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:25:01 GMT
The new Facebook algorithm http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-new-Facebook-algorithm.aspx

Since its initial public offering in May this year, revenue has become a key priority for Facebook, and this is having consequences for users, businesses, and non-profits alike. Facebook has implemented a new algorithm to control what people see in their newsfeed, so not all their friends or pages' posts will ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 Nov 2012 15:36:02 GMT
Pester Power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Pester Power.aspx

I bought my two little daughters new toothbrushes the other day – not an uncommon occurrence in my house as my kids have a magical ability to make small items disappear into thin air (think a never ending roll call of vanishing hair clips, socks, hair bands, toothbrushes, etc.).So while ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:48:47 GMT
Celebrity endorsements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Celebrity endorsements.aspx

Kim Kardashian and ABC Television: it’s not very often you would imagine seeing the two together in the same sentence. Last week, however, Jonathan Holmes and Media Watch decided it was time to acquaint the two.  The topic of discussion: Kardashian’s commitment to the Quick Trim detox that joins the ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Oct 2012 12:35:21 GMT
Choosing a GP for your child http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/choosing-kids-GP.aspx

Someone asked me the other day how to go about choosing a GP for her newborn baby. This immediately brought back memories of the medical merry-go-round we went through in my kids’ early years. With recurrent ear infections and conjunctivitis and the usual scary spots and coughs all kids seem ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:53:43 GMT
The decline and fall of the big screen experience http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/Ads-in-theatres.aspx

Since when have cinema owners been given free rein to assault moviegoers with 20 minutes of soul-crushing commercials before the main feature starts? Since a while ago, I know, but lately matters seem to have gotten worse. These ads can take you right out of the movie mood.Last time I ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:13:10 GMT
Food nostalgia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Food nostalgia.aspx

Recently we published an article on brands disappearing, when hundreds of people contacted us to complain that their favourite brands and products had recently disappeared from the shelves of the big two supermarkets. It was surprising how passionate they were about the topic, and it got me thinking. Or should I ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 22 Aug 2012 09:24:37 GMT
Flying no frills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Flying no frills.aspx

Last year, I went on holiday to Europe. When I was deciding which airline to fly with, I had a tough choice to make. I could fly Air China, which I'd never flown before and knew very little about. Their website was stuck in the dark ages (seriously - it ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 Aug 2012 12:53:39 GMT
Don't be ripped off on IT goods http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Dont-be-ripped-off-on-IT-goods.aspx

Would you rather pay $88 or $61 for a video game? I think I could hazard a guess at what your answer might be. Although this seems like somewhat of an absurd question, it is one that we are nevertheless asked on a daily basis. What is really absurd is ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:53:42 GMT
Webcams for Security http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Webcams for Security.aspx

Some time ago I purchased a webcam for Skype reasons. It doesn't get a lot of use, so I entertained the thought of using it as a security camera.CHOICE hasn't tested this, as there are plenty of options out there for dedicated security camera setups. But I went ahead and ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:46:55 GMT
Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government.aspx

Free-range eggs are being sold in increasing numbers around Australia and it comes as no great surprise that animal welfare is the main driver for consumers. Cartons carrying images of happy hens roaming on green fields lead many of us to believe it is worth paying extra for free-range. But for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 29 Jun 2012 11:14:38 GMT
Who pays who for what http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/who-pays-who-for-what.aspx

I recently came across an article on the website Money Management, which made me reflect on the ongoing debate about conflict of interest in the financial advice world. Entitled "Fund manager payments breed skepticism", the article said research conducted with financial planners suggests that "64 per cent of respondents (financial ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:56:27 GMT
An experiment in people power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/choice-big-bank-switch-an-experiment-in-people-power.aspx

“Knowledge must come through action,” observed a very wise man about 2,500 years ago. While Sophocles was not referring to the Australian banking sector, the ancient Greeks did know a thing or two about people power. The CHOICE Big Bank Switch is an experiment in people power. Although not quite ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:35:09 GMT
Environment and the economy – what are your choices? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/economy-and-environment.aspx

Our national economic backbone, mining, has found itself at odds with another area of financial importance – The Great Barrier Reef. Put aside your feelings on any environmental debate for the moment, because there is no denying that we are relying on the mining industry to carry our country’s bank ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:21:57 GMT
It's good to talk http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/its-good-to-talk.aspx

It takes a lot more than a few days to bring about lasting change; in fact a lifetime may not be enough when it comes to taking on the big end of town.But for the very few days the CHOICE Better Banking Campaign has been up and running we are beginning to ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:19:43 GMT
CHOICE Baby Safety Week http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Baby Safety Week.aspx

It’s the most wonderful time of your life. But it can also be the most fearful.Caring for a baby is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation. Am I doing the right thing? What if something happens? Where’s the rule book?I remember – like it was yesterday – bringing home my precious ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 16:11:30 GMT
The big four banks are just not that into us http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/The big four banks are just not that into us.aspx

Australians need to take a reality check on our relationship with the big four banks. If we asked our friends, they would say we are showing signs of unhealthy co-dependency.That we are worth so much more than out-of-cycle interest rate increases and record profits, but still we stick around.If our ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:16:35 GMT
Rolling the dice on daily deals http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Rolling the dice.aspx

Daily deals – the cut-price temptations that land in my inbox multiple times each day promising magical experiences and indulgent treats. On paper, the deals are usually fairly fantastic, and I enjoy entertaining new experiences or products I might not otherwise consider.However, there’s a vast difference between a great daily ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:14:38 GMT
Into the interest rate maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Into the interest rate maze.aspx

Financial literacy is not great in Australia. Worryingly, the latest research by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows that there are also many obstacles that make it even harder for people to make good financial decisions. However this may all be about to change thanks largely to the work ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:13:53 GMT
Adding up the Costco savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Costco experience.aspx

It all started with the fact that I wanted a cup of tea and we'd run out of decaffeinated tea - a small thing that grew into something much bigger: a trip to Costco.As I grabbed my keys to go to the supermarket, my wife mentioned that we had to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:12:51 GMT
Costco vs Cash 'n' carry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/costco-v-cash-n-carry.aspx

After some months of procrastinating we finally made it to the newish Costco store in Auburn in Sydney. We’d tried before but when we couldn't find a parking spot after 20 mins or so, we gave up. To give you an idea of how busy Costco was when we managed ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:07:55 GMT
Creating a comfortable home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/creating-a-comfortable-home.aspx

On a sweltering summer afternoon my house is hotter inside than out. To solve the problem, I've been researching a few solutions that wont run up a huge energy bill. Adequate insulation is really important. Unfortunately, the government has axed its home insulation scheme, following all the adverse publicity. It will be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 May 2012 11:57:40 GMT
Why we try not to put photographers in their place http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/classifying-cameras.aspx

Heroditus was a Greek tourist (and some say historian) who lived around 490 to 430BC. He didn't have a camera and we can't be sure if he wore a bumbag, but he did try to describe some of the places he visited. He used a simple classification of people: if ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 04 May 2012 12:55:47 GMT
Why pay full price? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/fullsociety.aspx

I keep seeing lots of hype about low confidence in Australia; low confidence in the retail sector; low confidence in finance. Despite being one of the few economies in the world that made it through the GFC with barely scraped knees, we seem worried about what’s going to happen. Whether ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:36:42 GMT
Behind the scenes: Electric blanket test http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/Behind the scenes electric blanket test.aspx

Sometimes I take a moment to remember just how lucky I am to work at CHOICE. During the several years I’ve worked here I’ve managed to go through three or four departments to try my hand at a bunch of different tasks to help members get the facts they need ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 07:25:37 GMT
The calorie/kilojoule/cardio/counting conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/kilojoule-calorie-conundrum.aspx

If you live in NSW, Queensland, SA or the ACT chances are you’ll have seen or will start seeing kilojoule (kJ) counts next to items on fast and snack food menus. That’s because state and territory governments are introducing or have passed legislation making kilojoule labelling mandatory for most larger chains ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:39:43 GMT
Consider all costs when buying from overseas http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/buying-online-not-always-cheaper.aspx

Normally I buy shoes in Australia but I was buying a present for my sister, and a shoe she really likes is only found in Canada. Seeing as the Aussie dollar is doing so well, it seemed logical to buy a pair from overseas and have them sent over. Turns ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 27 Mar 2012 10:16:21 GMT
Reading food labels is a fishy business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/frozen-fish.aspx

I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my waking hours scrutinising food labels. Granted, my job writing about food and nutrition for CHOICE predisposes me to reading the odd label or two (or 100!). Now, as a mother of two young children, the time spent perusing nutrition information panels ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:08:23 GMT
Wanted: ideas to get seniors active http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/wanted-ideas-to-get-seniors-active.aspx

If someone invented an exercise pill, it would be the medical breakthrough of the century. Regular exercise mitigates against coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and high cholesterol. It’s also good for psychological wellbeing and can help prevent cognitive decline, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 10:37:51 GMT
Will you take on old age fighting fit or lying down? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/will-you-take-on-old-age-fighting-fit-or-lying-down.aspx

Hitting our 60s should mean finally having the time to travel, take up hobbies, get involved in community and interest groups and socialise more with friends and family. And these days we expect to be living independently in our own home as we get older, rather than living with family ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:11:17 GMT
The consumer movement turns 50 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/50-years-of-the-consumer-movement.aspx

Margaret Thatcher reflected – ‘if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman’. The consumer movement has certainly been a movement defined by strong women - from the founder of CHOICE ‘Red’ Ruby Hutchison, to firebrand Sheila McKechnie, who helped make Which?, the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 15:54:13 GMT
Twitter to the rescue for Citibank customer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/twits-to-the-rescue-at-citibank.aspx

Some years ago we needed to take out a personal loan with Citibank. Fast forward three years and we were ready to pay off the loan completely.So back in November 2011, we sought the cost of exiting the loan - which took numerous phone calls to Citibank.Eventually we paid the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:25:09 GMT
Testing smartphone developments http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/test-method-will-respond-to-phone-developments.aspx

While attending the CeBit conference in Hanover, I had the opportunity to visit the BBM Mueller labs in Munich to discuss the latest batch of phones to appear in the CHOICE smartphone test in the coming months. Apart from our yearly NextG test, all our smartphone tests are carried out ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:50:19 GMT
The case of the missing hot water http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/beijing-airport.aspx

On a recent return trip home from a European holiday my partner and I were in transit for almost 30 hours. Mid way through the trip, we were stuck waiting in Beijing Airport. We cleared customs and wandered dazedly into the vast transit terminal, and were greeted by the sweetest ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:32:41 GMT
Don't get mad – get moving http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/dont-get-mad---get-moving.aspx

Campaigning for better banking is a bit like the start of the footy season. We begin as optimists, trying to forget the disappointments of last year, the unfair penalties and questionable free kicks, hoping instead for some healthy competition.That is where the similarities end. While other national sports have salary ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:54:43 GMT
Making a Bosch of it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/making-a-bosch-of-it.aspx

In early December last year, my expensive Bosch induction cooktop, still covered under warranty, broke. This is one of those “I had to wait for seven weeks and be home six times for it to finally get fixed” stories – but it comes with some juicy twists.TWIST 1 The tale ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Mar 2012 08:30:05 GMT
Consumers and commissions - opening up the business of switching http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/bigbankswitch.aspx

CHOICE has partnered with One Big Switch to help 1,000 Aussies get better home loan deals with our eyes wide open – and focused squarely on the benefits for consumers. There is nothing new about consumers switching to get a better deal, or about banks paying commissions to sign up ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 18 Feb 2012 11:53:38 GMT
Superior service is good PR http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/superior-service-is-good-pr.aspx

Recently a friend got the run around from a major consumer electronics company after downloading a game and finding out that it wouldn’t play on his gaming console which was made by the same company. All he asked for was a refund after the company confirmed that the game was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 14 Feb 2012 15:00:57 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: Sustainability requirements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/knockdown-rebuild-part-3.aspx

While we were looking at display homes before beginning our build, we often heard BASIX mentioned – though we had no idea what it was at the time. We eventually discovered that it related to the NSW government regulations regarding sustainability. We were concerned about the environmental and anticipated increases ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 13 Feb 2012 09:33:04 GMT
The childcare conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/the-childcare-conundrum.aspx

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time, who did we call first to share the news? Family? No. Close friends? No. The first place we called was a childcare centre to try and get on a waiting list.I thought I was ahead of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:29:00 GMT
Airline horror stories http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/flight-troubles.aspx

My partner recently had to fly from Newcastle, NSW to the Gold Coast in Queensland. It all began going wrong when a traffic accident delayed our drive to the airport. She was flying with Jetstar, which closes its check in counter 30 minutes before departure (around 2:30pm in this case).With ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Feb 2012 11:36:31 GMT
Optus upsell attempt ends in tears - for Optus http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/optus-upsell-attempt-ends-in-tears.aspx

On a recent stop at my mailbox to collect the few letters that usually turn out to be promotional materials or bills, I found a lone letter from Optus promising ‘NEW PLANS FOR THE FUTURE’. Now, Optus and I have had a rocky relationship over the years. But things seemed ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:22:08 GMT
Is SOPA a threat to internet freedom? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/internet-blackout.aspx

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, has triggered one of the biggest industry-based protests in history to hit the World Wide Web. Most notably, the popular Wikipedia site closed down in protest, and there was action from other heavyweights such as Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. In the US, a petition ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jan 2012 22:10:04 GMT
Video tip #1 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/video-tip-number-1.aspx

Well this is a fine state of affairs. Only my second blog and already I find myself breaking promises. If you read my last post, you'll most likely be expecting to see a video walk-through showing you some of the techniques I used to put the new site promo video ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:13:48 GMT
A fee-fueled world gone mad http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/a-fee-fueled-world-gone-mad.aspx

Fees are frustrating. Those little acknowledged, overly annoying additions to everyday purchases that, over time, add up. What’s even more irritating is the fact that they've become particularly prevalent in Australian society (yes, banks, I am looking directly at you – and while I’m in a staring mood, you too ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:42:11 GMT
Live events going cheap http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/live-events-going-cheap.aspx

It’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy live entertainment, if you can afford the ticket prices. Additional fees and surcharges bump up already considerable costs, and if you have to purchase tickets for an entire family, going to a live show can be downright unaffordable. For ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 11:54:10 GMT
Streaming music services in Australia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/streaming-music-services.aspx

Retailer JB Hi-Fi has recently released a streaming facility called JB Hi-Fi NOW. While currently in beta at time of writing, they display pricing at $25/month, $50/6 months and $80/year.What does it get you? For this amount you’ll have access to over 100,000 artists, and millions of songs, that you ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 09 Jan 2012 16:32:26 GMT
Credit cards - Which one should you choose? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/credit-cards-which-one-should-you-choose.aspx

Credit cards can be a useful tool - and when you pick the right one they can even be a cost effective way to access a loan or additional features. However, if you have the wrong credit card for your needs, it could end up costing you big time. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:46:43 GMT
Make your charity donations count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/make-your-charity-donations-count.aspx

Giving is a part of the Christmas tradition for many of us, and this includes making charitable donations where we can. However, how charities handle our donations can sometimes be the cause of confusion and controversyThe amount spent on administration costs is one such area, and for big organisations, these ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Dec 2011 14:43:22 GMT
A penalty by any other name is still a penalty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/penalty-fees.aspx

Throughout CHOICE’s long campaign against unfair bank fees we have always called the odd $45 the banks charged you for being late for a credit card repayment a ‘penalty’ fee.The same applied for other high fees around being overdrawn on a transaction account or presenting a bouncing cheque - we ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Dec 2011 13:18:22 GMT
Pet dental health - don't brush it off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/pet-dental-health.aspx

Pet insurance is one way you can manage the cost of owning a pet. It’s not the only alternative, but it can save you in the long run, especially in the face of hefty vet bills. We looked into the nuances of pet insurance earlier in the year, and one area ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 07 Dec 2011 17:12:36 GMT
It's the season to be cynical about bank profits http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/bank-profits.aspx

There is something predictable about Australia's bank reporting season. As surely as our minds turn to office Christmas parties, days at the beach and cricket on the TV, we will witness a parade of record profits and executive remuneration packages.These announcements seem to exist in a parallel universe to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:21:55 GMT
Unit pricing still has room for improvement http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/unit-pricing.aspx

It’s more than 50 years since CHOICE first suggested that displaying unit prices (UP) – the price per unit of measure - in supermarkets could help consumers compare value and save money by changing their buying habits.It was a long campaign with retailers resisting and delaying the introduction of unit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Dec 2011 09:35:16 GMT
The long path to VoIP satisfaction http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/voip.aspx

Recently we changed mobile providers to Amaysim; with that change came a dip in coverage. Neither one of us (one on Optus, one on Telstra) had issues prior to swapping, but since the change we’ve had to walk outside of the house to get any decent coverage, despite Amaysim using ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Nov 2011 11:23:47 GMT
Car recall leaves owner out of pocket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/car-recall.aspx

A couple of months ago I received a recall notice for our car in the mail. Like all CHOICE staff, when I see a recall notice, I tend to think of safety issues. The recall notice explained that there was a possibility that if the steering wheel was locked with force, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 09 Nov 2011 14:25:24 GMT
Customer service matters if traditional retail is to thrive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/bricks-and-mortar-retail.aspx

I had the unfortunate but necessary experience of having to visit a major department store a couple of time over the past few weeks. The first thing that took me by surprise was the emptiness of the store - plenty of stuff to buy - but no-one there to buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Nov 2011 21:27:59 GMT
Bumpy road to diagnosing milk, soy protein intolerance http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/milk-soy-protein-intolerance.aspx

My two children are milk and soy protein intolerant, MSPI. Most people stare at me blankly when I tell them this. My daughter, Stella, was a relaxed baby for the first week. Then she began to sleep less, feed more and cry, a lot. I was told that she was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:24:07 GMT
Does your contents insurance fully cover theft? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/does-your-contents-insurance-fully-cover-theft.aspx

Home and contents insurance is a mandatory purchase for many home owners, and lately there has been a lot of interest in flood cover in particular following the Queensland disaster at the beginning of the year. However, a recent letter from a CHOICE member George* has highlighted another area of ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 08:28:05 GMT
No refunds for Rewind festival-goers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/rewind-australia-blog.aspx

Picture this – for three days the musical heroes of my youth were to belt out cheesy 80s pop classics under an azure Illawarra sky. A little paunchier and a little balder perhaps, like me, but at least they’ve made the effort to come all the way to Wollongong. Children ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 15:26:08 GMT
Girl racer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/girl-racer.aspx

In an effort to save money and be a teensy bit nicer to the environment, earlier this year I decided it was time to trade in my much loved car – Doris, a 1959 Morris Minor. I live close to the city and work, and figured a combination of car ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:49:03 GMT
Hanging on the telephone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/hanging-on-the-telephone.aspx

Telstra posts $4.07 billion profit and yet 82 year old Doug Tancred can’t use his pensioner discount. Shame! Members write letters and email CHOICE daily. Some want things fixed, or specific products tested in our Marrickville labs, others just want to get a bad experience off their chest — like Doug Tancred ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:17:12 GMT
Discount grocery shopping online doesn't stack up, yet http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/online-grocery-shopping.aspx

I recently saw that Catch of the Day launched a sister operation called Grocery Run. I’m not new to buying online, however aside from the odd overseas grocery item that I couldn’t get in Australia, I’ve never ordered groceries online locally in Australia. There are options out there from the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Oct 2011 11:25:11 GMT
Piracy common but people still paying for music http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/music-piracy.aspx

Music has been a gift of choice for consumers for some time. Throughout the 20th century, new technology continually changed the face of the industry, from the gramophone to the LP record, cassette tape, CD and eventually – digital. The last trend could be the most influential factor to hit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 06 Oct 2011 20:06:46 GMT
Next generation travelling http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/next-generation-travelling.aspx

Ten years of travel A little under a decade ago I booked my first solo overseas holiday. It was a blustery May day – rainy, cold, miserable. Full-time university and part-time work were eating up my social life. But there was hope on the seemingly all-too-distant horizon - three months ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:58 GMT
Picture perfect http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/just-going-for-a-stroll.aspx

I like travelling. I've done a lot of it, but mostly in my own time and at my own cost – so I appreciate the very rare occasions when CHOICE decides I need to be somewhere other than at my desk in Marrickville. Brussells is a very long way from ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:36 GMT
Pet insurance gives paws for thought http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/pet-insurance.aspx

Growing up on a farm gives you a pretty good idea of the ups and downs of pet ownership. From our cigarette-stealing sheep (no more leaving them in the glove compartment after that) to miniature horses and donkeys running alongside the dogs in the backyard, I’ve had pets in all ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:03:07 GMT
Bad customer service? Try none at all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/no-customer-service.aspx

Poor customer service sucks. Dealing with rude, incompetent or unhelpful staff who refuse to abide by the “customer is always right” mantra can leave you feeling angry, dejected and utterly undervalued. But when it happens, you at least have some means of recourse. You can threaten to take your business ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 26 Sep 2011 14:47:58 GMT
More money for retirement on the way http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/more-money-for-retirement-on-the-way.aspx

Earlier this week, the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten announced some important reforms to the way we build our superannuation. CHOICE has made several submissions to Cooper Review and many of our recommendations were considered in the reforms, which will begin to take effect in July 2013. This includes the possibility ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 22 Sep 2011 20:46:55 GMT
My journey from disposable to cloth nappies http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/nappy-journey.aspx

When I was pregnant with my daughter I started thinking about which products I wanted to use and, of course, nappies were on that list. There are so many different options: disposables, biodegradable disposable, partly biodegradable disposables and many, many different types of cloth nappies. We considered using cloth nappies ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 15 Sep 2011 07:46:32 GMT
Struggling families? Better than before, says ABS http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/household-spending.aspx

Recent household spending statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that we have more money and better living standards since the last survey in 2003-04. While prices of goods and services have risen by 19%, the mean household income has increased by 50%. In short, costs are on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Sep 2011 18:55:34 GMT
Questioning your phone bill can pay off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/questioning-your-phone-bill-can-pay-off.aspx

The recent experience of a friend is a timely reminder to give your phone bill a once-over before you pay it. After noticing that his monthly mobile bill was higher than normal, my mate Marty took a closer look and saw a section he’d never seen on previous bills. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Sep 2011 10:49:54 GMT
Comparison websites confusion sparks warning http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/comparison-websites-confusion-sparks-warning.aspx

Comparison websites have been given a warning to act in a fair and transparent manner after the ACCC launched legal action last Friday against EnergyWatch.com.au. The ACCC is alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and making false representations in its advertising. This marks a line in the sand that comparison sites ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:50:52 GMT
Has cash lost its crown? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/has-cash-lost-its-crown.aspx

There are now many ways to pay for goods and services without cash – EFTPOS, PayPass, payWave, BPAY, PayPal, Paymate, credit card, debit card, POLi, online transfer and mobile payments. As a nation, we’re increasing our use of all of these, perhaps in part because it can be difficult or ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:47:09 GMT
Magic money savers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/magic-money-savers.aspx

You might not be able to pull money out of a hat, but with these unique money saving tips, you can magically boost the content of your piggy bank. We’ve all heard about unplugging our appliances at the wall, shopping around to save and the importance of planning a budget, and if ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:33:33 GMT
Mobile internet changing the marketplace http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/mobile-internet-changing-the-marketplace.aspx

There’s no doubt that internet on the go is becoming much more common. Nearly 12 million Australians now have an internet-capable mobile phone, and over half of those are smartphones, according to Nielsen’s Australian Online Consumer Report. Tablet computer sales are on the rise too and web developers are creating ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 20:24:46 GMT
The colour of money http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-colour-of-money.aspx

Once upon a time having a Gold or Silver credit card in your wallet was a sign of affluence and success for some people — a little plastic status symbol. And in the music world it seems that tradition continues — former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher can be seen on YouTube boasting, tongue ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 17:56:07 GMT
Children's product testing at CHOICE http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/childrens-product-testing-at-choice.aspx

Here at CHOICE we take our work in the Babies and Kids area very seriously. It can be quite difficult to tell whether a product is safe or not and parents and carers need information they can trust. To the untrained eye a product may look safe enough but there may ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 16 Aug 2011 16:27:24 GMT
Ten minutes work saves $126 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/ten-minutes-work-saves-$126.aspx

My comprehensive car insurance is up for renewal this month, so I did the usual thing of shopping around for quotes. AAMI came up with a price of $127 less than my current insurer, NRMA. I called NRMA and said I'd received a much cheaper quote, and asked if there ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Practical steps to slashing your power bills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/slash-your-power-bills.aspx

We’ve all noticed our power bills creeping up over time, in part due to the increased number and types of goods and appliances we all have, but also due to increasing energy costs. To date most of these costs are related to increased commercial and infrastructure costs, as well as ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Shonkys reveal some real lemons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/shonkys-reveal-some-real-lemons.aspx

The excitement was palpable as the stage was being set for this year’s CHOICE Shonky Awards ceremony. The question on everyone’s lips: who will be the ignominious winners of the shiny Shonkys this year? Hobnobbing in the Art Gallery of NSW with a who’s who of consumer media, sipping champagne and ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Are fridges cool? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/are-fridges-cool.aspx

I must be very strange: I love fridges. Well I don’t actually love fridges, but I find them really interesting. The messages I pick up from most people is that fridges are just there. A fridge just does its job of keeping stuff cold and that’s it. What’s to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 13:59:58 GMT
Putting ideals into practice http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/putting-ideals-into-practice.aspx

This week CHOICE launched the first ever group mortgage switch, aiming to give every consumer who takes part the negotiating power of more than a thousand people. We’re calling it the CHOICE Big Bank Switch. With this campaign, CHOICE is putting itself at the forefront of a next-generation consumer campaign; ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:03:51 GMT
Super and stocks in the current economic climate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/super-and-financial-markets.aspx

If you’re wondering what to do with your super and investments in the current financial market, you’re not alone. Stockmarkets in Australia have been bouncing up and down as debt fears in the US and Europe fuel global speculation, and investors and fund managers worldwide have been riding a rollercoaster ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 12 Aug 2011 07:40:33 GMT
Consumer action matters http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/why-consumer-action-matters.aspx

Whether it’s planning approvals or palm oil, fair trade or fair bank fees, everywhere you turn consumers and citizens are taking action to achieve change. People organise community action groups and sign email petitions, call talkback radio and write letters to companies demanding change. Action like this is the lifeblood ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:59:53 GMT
Testing PayPal's guarantee http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/testing-paypal-guarantee.aspx

We recently purchased a product for a CHOICE review but never received it. We had paid for the item via PayPal, so we pursued PayPal’s guarantee of coverage through their internal resolution centre. Even though we were disappointed we didn't get the product - we pay for them anonymously with ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 08 Aug 2011 14:25:16 GMT
What the Census means for consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/census-data.aspx

Census night allows the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to gather vital data for planning and infrastructure, but plenty of people don’t mind having a joke when filling out their question sheets. After all, according to the 2001 Census there were around 70,000 Jedi in Australia at the time, but ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 05 Aug 2011 13:26:36 GMT
Energy audit shines light on savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/energy-audit-shines-light-on-savings.aspx

Saving energy is all the rage these days, which is no surprise given rising energy prices. A little while ago my wife and I took part in a voluntary government study which measured the standby power and lighting in 150 Australian households. You will have heard of energy audits before, where some ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Aug 2011 08:22:52 GMT
Big Bank Switch - why group switching is here to stay http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/big-bank-switch.aspx

Try this. You gather a group of people together who want the same thing and negotiate a better price than even the best solo haggler could achieve. You might even get the kind of discounts normally reserved for big spenders like millionaire business people or celebrities. It’s called group buying ...

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CHOICE Blog Sun, 31 Jul 2011 10:09:20 GMT
Telco complaints reach tipping point http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/telco-complaints.aspx

Frustration at our telecommunications providers has been allowed to grow to Hulk-like proportions due to years of customer service incompetence and confusing pricing plans that are impossible to calculate. With the number of consumers frequently facing bill shock, it’s no wonder people are angry. The Australian Communications and Media Authority ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:17:15 GMT
eBooks going to the library http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/ebooks-at-the-library.aspx

A few weeks ago, CHOICE Technology team leader, Steve Duncombe, and I visited the Bowen Library in Maroubra (Randwick City Library Service) in New South Wales to give a talk on eBooks and eBook readers. Steve’s talk was well-received and there was a lot of discussion on eBooks and eBook ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Jul 2011 11:31:22 GMT
It’s time to end excessive credit card surcharging http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/excessive-surcharging.aspx

Whenever you pay for something using your credit card, it costs businesses money. Typically, it costs more for stores to accept credit cards than other payment methods like debit or EFTPOS. In 2003, the RBA decided to allow those costs to be passed on to consumers in the form of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:33:01 GMT
Committing to winter exercise http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/exercise-bike-or-trainer.aspx

I recently decided to put some thought into getting more exercise. The weather was getting colder, and while I love winter, the part I love about it is getting warm. I generally cycle to work, so I thought about how I could get some more exercise without having to spend ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:55:11 GMT
Censorship - too much, not enough or just right? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/control-freaks.aspx

Australia has a long history of censorship. At our foundations, we have no constitutional protection of free speech, and some claim ours are among the most restrictive censorship policies in the Western world. Some notable examples of censorship in Australia include: The banning of Lady Chatterley’s Lover until the mid-20th ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:53:28 GMT
Bullying beyond the schoolyard http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/bullying.aspx

What happens in the playground can stay with us for a long time. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it comes to bullying, it’s hard to see any good in being picked on relentlessly. Combine this sentiment with easy access to online mediums like YouTube, and it’s not ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:49:14 GMT
Reduce the stress of moving house http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/moving-house.aspx

Having read a couple of blogs from my colleagues on their experiences with real estate agents and the challenges of buying, I thought that I'd share my experiences of the next step: moving. Without question, the seemingly never-ending inspections and negotiations in purchasing or renting a property can be very stressful, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 12:33:14 GMT
Your privacy is in the fine print http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/your-privacy-is-in-the-fine-print.aspx

The unravelling of the News of the World scandal has put the tenuous right to privacy into the spotlight over the last week. As the extent of the News phone hacking operation has become clearer, people are asking questions about the safety of personal information. But while the revelations of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 11:46:52 GMT
Steep learning curve follows switch to HTC Sensation http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/htc-sensation.aspx

Some time ago, I was made aware that I had given some bad advice. My wife took great enjoyment, given where I work, that my advice on her phone had been rushed. Enjoyment turned to annoyance as she had to deal with a texting system that took nine clicks just ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 08:49:22 GMT
Dental health - the silent epidemic http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/dental-health-the-silent-epidemic.aspx

What’s worse than going to the dentist? Not having the option – like the 650,000 Australians who were on public dental waiting lists at last check in 2009. While many people can afford to seek treatment if they need it, those without the means to pay the high costs of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Jul 2011 09:08:07 GMT
Ten tips to navigate the banking maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/banking-maze.aspx

Just like changing the oil on your car, your finances also often need maintenance to run smoothly. Here are 10 fast and effective ways to ensure your accounts are in order. Home loans 1 Pay your mortgage fortnightly It’s an old trick, but can save you big bucks. If you ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 05 Jul 2011 08:49:40 GMT
Think big or our progress will be small http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/think-big-or-our-progress-will-be-small.aspx

Having worked at the heart of government I have some insight into how the daily morass of stuff can obscure the bigger picture and the ambitions that drive people into politics in the first place. It has made me feel more passionate that, for the sake of human development, ambition ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 02 Jul 2011 14:30:27 GMT
United Airlines brings me back to earth http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/united-airlines.aspx

I have just returned from Silicon Valley in the US where I spent a week inside some of the most impressive companies to emerge in recent times: Zappos, a company that sells shoes and clothes, but in reality sells great customer service where goods arrive the next day and they ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:21:11 GMT
Complaints about bad service http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/complaints-about-bad-service.aspx

A few days ago I had an expensive degustation dinner at a restaurant in Sydney’s north shore. I’ve been there several times before, and have recommended it to many friends and family members. But this particular night, while the food was not memorable, the service will forever be imprinted in ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 27 Jun 2011 11:05:35 GMT
Five ways to save on your home loan http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/five-ways-to-save-on-your-home-loan.aspx

With interest rates and the cost of living set to rise over the coming year, it may be time to re-examine your budget and identify a few areas where you can save money. For many people, a mortgage represents a large part of the budget, so it makes sense that ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 09:56:28 GMT
Comfortable travel is a tall order http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/tall-consumers.aspx

What’s not to love about travelling overseas? The journey, the hotels, different cultures, food and modes of transport all combine for an experience you won’t forget. But there is one thing that makes travelling a little less enjoyable than it should be - being tall. I’m just over 6 foot ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 08:58:13 GMT
Mail order madness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mail-order-madness.aspx

My dad was after some in-shoe supports for a pair of shoes that couldn’t accommodate his regular orthotics, and was convinced by an ad in Seniors magazine for some Foot Cradles. They promised pain relief for everything from neck to toes, but that was neither here nor there, he was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 17:10:54 GMT
Sleeping with Tony Abbott http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/ceo-sleepout.aspx

Sleeping with Tony Abbott and Ralph Norris was not an idea that had ever crossed my mind - which will no doubt come as a relief to them and my wife - but for a good cause it was worth that morning after feeling. Last night Ralph, Tony and I, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:50:52 GMT
15 things I wish I had known before buying my first home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/advice-for-first-home-buyers.aspx

Buying your first home can be a daunting prospect. The thought of entering into a new realm of finance, solicitors, reports and negotiations is a little overwhelming, to say the least. In order to assist potential buyers with this process I've complied a checklist of 15 things you’ll need to consider ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Jun 2011 11:00:48 GMT
Tablet, eBook reader or plain old paperback? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/ebook-readers.aspx

When CHOICE started testing eBook readers a few years ago, there was nothing like the iPad out there. But since its inception and inclusion in our second test, the question we get asked most regarding eBook readers is: why bother with an eBook reader when I can get a tablet? For ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 25 May 2011 21:26:45 GMT
A tale of two airlines - good service v. cheap fares http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/a-tale-of-two-airlines.aspx

Picture it: Narita Airport, Tokyo, April 2011, 23:00. Two Aussie travellers sprinting behind a petite but very speedy Japan Airlines (JAL) paperwork-laden staff member as she ushers us through airport security, customs and other blurred bureaucrats onto a shuttle cable to take us to another terminal, rushes us past what ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 May 2011 10:52:53 GMT
Real estate: mistake or misrepresentation? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/misleading-real-estate-agent.aspx

Real estate agents get a really bad wrap. As a journalist, who in the past has been on the receiving end of some rather offensive professional generalisations, I have always been conscious of avoiding the tarring of an entire profession with the one brush. I’m also somewhat sympathetic to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 11:33:55 GMT
Roam around to avoid bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/data-roaming-bill-shock.aspx

Disclaimer: I am an idiot. I’ve been working for a fine consumer organisation for almost three years now, during which time I’ve come across several bill shock horror stories from members stung by exorbitant global and data roaming charges for postpaid mobile phones. So what’s the one simple step I didn’t ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 10:34:36 GMT
What the big four banks can learn from Apple http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/applebanking.aspx

This week’s media has been full of news about the four big banks’ latest record-making profits - $12 billion in profit over the past six months. One article that got my attention however was Business Spectator’s Apple can bank its winnings by Charis Palmer. Given Apple’s significant cash pools, she ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 06 May 2011 11:16:43 GMT
The great Aussie beer glass dilemma http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/varying-beer-sizes.aspx

A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’d like a beer, please.” The bartender replies: “Sure, mate. What size?” “What sizes have you got?” “We’ve got pots, ponies, middies, schooners, pints, butchers, sevens, eights, tens, handles…” Ahh, the dilemma of ordering a beer in an Aussie ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 May 2011 09:56:20 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: project home pros and cons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/knockdown-rebuild-part-2.aspx

We’d finally chosen our house. It wasn’t quite our dream house – who can afford that – but we felt we could make changes that would bring it close. Even on project homes, you can make changes to the floor plan within certain constraints and usually at extra cost, so ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 03 May 2011 14:20:23 GMT
Foreign flowers for Valentine's Day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/foreign-blooms-for-valentines-day.aspx

My love is like a red, red rose… but I haven’t a clue where she comes from. This is the conundrum facing those of us buying cut flowers this Valentine's Day. There’s currently no requirement for country of origin labelling (read our article on chocolates and flowers), despite the large ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 02 May 2011 09:08:15 GMT
Mobile phones: one size doesn’t fit all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mobile-phone-testing.aspx

Cat people and dog people, people who think Sean Connery is the only James Bond and those who can only consider Roger Moore. Lady Ga Ga fans and people who just don’t get it. The world is full of divided camps and mobile phones are yet another area where people have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Apr 2011 11:56:50 GMT
Breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/breastfeeding-difficulties.aspx

Breastfeeding is perfectly natural and the absolute best thing you can do for your baby. At least that was what I was told during my pregnancy countless times: early parenting classes, pre-natal visits and all the literature I was reading trumpeted the benefits of breastfeeding. But what none of them ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Apr 2011 10:20:49 GMT
Don't settle for a bad haircut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/bad-haircut.aspx

Have you ever had a bad haircut? What about a really bad haircut? One so bad that when you got home and looked in the mirror you had to fight back the tears? Or, one that required you to wear a hat day and night for the next month? I ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:49:12 GMT
Reduce energy consumption and pocket the savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/energy-prices.aspx

1985 was a very different place to 2011. Nelson Mandela was sitting in a South African jail cell, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as US president, and a man wearing a chicken suit trespassed into the Australian Parliament and sat on the government’s front bench. But electricity prices…well, they were ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Apr 2011 09:18:04 GMT
Is your email account at risk from hackers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/email-hack.aspx

I was awoken on Friday with an early morning phone call from a friend. She told me she’d received a strange email from me saying that I was in Spain and that I had been robbed and asking if she could help by sending me some money. This was the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 11 Apr 2011 10:25:35 GMT
When an insurance claim just isn't worth it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/small-insurance-claim.aspx

I've owned a laptop for about five years now. I bought it at the top of the range, upgraded it and use it constantly for education, business trips and at home almost every day. It really has served its purpose and I cannot complain about it at all. It's gone ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Apr 2011 09:23:50 GMT
What is social business and why does it matter? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/social-business.aspx

Something profound is happening to the way some of us do business – so fundamental that the old left and right might even seek to claim it as their own but in truth it happened despite them, and certainly doesn’t need them. And in any case it’s a phenomenon that ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:39:29 GMT
Freeview labelling - do we need it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/freeview.aspx

Digital TV is already being broadcast across much of Australia. By 2014, remaining analogue TV broadcasts will be shut down, and you’ll have no choice but to watch digital TV. The federal government is doing a pretty good job of educating Australians about the transition to digital, and what consumers ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Mar 2011 08:41:53 GMT
Consumers are banking on reform http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/consumers-are-banking-on-reform.aspx

Today the government released emails containing advice on banking reform given to the Treasurer Wayne Swan last October. The advice from officials repeats banking industry concerns about proposals to scrap exit fees and introduce portable bank account numbers - two key reforms strongly supported by CHOICE. The concerns state that scrapping exit ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:41:02 GMT
Carbon price: households shouldn't carry the cost for industry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/carbon-price-details-still-to-come.aspx

The federal government has announced a plan to implement a carbon price in Australia from 1 July 2012. This is a welcome step because a carbon price is the least-costly way of tackling climate change, and studies show the sooner we act, the lower the cost, so this is potentially ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:40:50 GMT
Taking your call for better banking to Canberra http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/better-banking.aspx

Today we’re in Canberra handing a new CHOICE report on banking to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and to members of the Senate Committee that’s carrying out an inquiry into banking. The report, packed full of consumer views on banking gathered by CHOICE over recent months, won’t bring a smile to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:38:32 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild - how it all began http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/knockdown-and-rebuild.aspx

When I mention to people that we’re building a house, the most common reaction is that we’ve temporarily gone insane and will wake up to regret it. That may yet happen but so far we’re still ok with it. We had a house, but it was too small. Seriously, it ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:05:02 GMT
The most savvy and active consumers in the world! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/the-most-savvy-and-active-consumers-in-the-world.aspx

I’d like to personally welcome you to the new site. All the improvements have been based on your feedback and we will continue to make changes that work for you. Please let me know what you think of the site — the good, the bad and the ugly. From the day ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:38 GMT
Shaky Foundations http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/shaky-foundations.aspx

Makeup and I go way back. From that first lip-gloss I bought from the Avon lady at the grand old age of10, it’s been a love affair that’s seen me through several decades. Now I’m on the wrong side of 35, with a toddler who likes to start the working ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:25 GMT
Radio radio http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/radio-radio.aspx

It's been a long time since I listened to the radio on my regular trips from Sydney to Newcastle. CDs were a godsend and now I follow the trend and carry an iPod with hundreds of hours of music and podcasts. In the car I've a little transmitter that wirelessly ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:13 GMT
Pst ... wanna buy a used option? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/pst-wanna-buy-a-used-option.aspx

Around the same time that I was researching ways to recession-proof your finances, some prominent newspaper adverts caught my eye. They were for investment seminars that promised to reveal how to make money regardless of whether share markets were going up, down or sideways. Better still, the system was supposed to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:00 GMT
One more for the road? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/one-more-for-the-road.aspx

Heard the one about the man who walked into a pub with a pocketful of breathalyzers? We had tested out these devices in strict laboratory conditions but what happens when you let them loose among some real life boozers? For starters you get another view of how people both use ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:45 GMT
Grand designs http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/grand-designs.aspx

If you’ve checked my bio you’ll know I’m Neill and I work in the laundry lab here. Actually I will be working in it once the renovations it’s currently undergoing come to an end — we’re promised we can move in this Thursday. A fortnight ago it was going to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:20 GMT
An extra large medium http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/an-extra-large-medium.aspx

As most people who know me will admit (often with an unseemly amount of enthusiasm), it's not often that I'm lost for words. But starting a blog on video production for CHOICE presents me with something of a challenge. You're obviously interested in video, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:53 GMT
The yarn about thread count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-yarn-about-thread-count.aspx

Bed sheets are on sale again. But before you rush out and grab the first one with the highest thread count, even if it was 50% off its usual price, do yourself a favour and shop around. Last weekend, while I was shopping at House, a home and kitchenware store, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:09 GMT
The unexpected should make you stronger http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-unexpected-should-make-you-stronger.aspx

Tough times hit people all the time. It’s why this year we didn’t put up our prices because we know people have been feeling the pinch; it’s also why CHOICE investigates solutions to the most challenging aspects of consumer life, so that we can take the hassle out of your ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:56 GMT
Something to put a sparkle in the day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/something-to-put-a-sparkle-in-the-day.aspx

Well yesterday was a change from the usual work in the laundry lab: evaluating washing machines and dishwashers. Choice usually publishes a story on sparkling wines coming up to the festive season. To score the wines we have a panel of experts do a blind tasting. And as a follow-up we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:29 GMT
Just do it - just doesn't cut it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/just-do-it--just-doesnt-cut-it.aspx

I’ve often thought of doing exercise as being bit like cleaning one’s teeth. It’s something I know I should do, and sometimes it feels good, while at other times I just do it, knowing I’ll feel better for it afterwards. And the long term benefits of both are absolutely worth ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:03 GMT
Into the mouths of babes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/into-the-mouths-of-babes.aspx

Some days it seems that retailers think that my daughter is an alien. While I’ll admit my toddler behaves like she’s from another planet at times, I’m fairly sure she’s a human, albeit a small one. But in the supermarket it seems many product marketers are keen to convince me ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:52 GMT
Foxtel's price increase - less for more http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/foxtels-price-increase---less-for-more.aspx

Five years ago I broached the subject of subscribing to Foxtel Pay TV, primarily so I could watch (even) more sport. While my love of English football isn’t shared by everyone in my household, the “Digital Basic” package included UK TV and the Lifestyle channel. I'm not sure I ever ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:25 GMT
Fighting fines with fire http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fighting-fines-with-fire.aspx

Parking fines are one of the main bugbears of any motorist, especially when they’ve been wrongly issued. However, I'm interested in why consumers aren't more proactive in challenging unfair fines when the success rate is actually quite high. As we were conducting our research for our article on parking fines, we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:13 GMT
Fares fair http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fares-fair.aspx

A few weeks ago I caught a taxi to the airport for a flight to Canberra. I was on my way to visit the National Information Centre On Retirement Investments (NICRI - a really useful organisation that provides free financial information to consumers), and they'd kindly given me a cabcharge to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:01 GMT
Escalator action proves goal is achieveable http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/escalator-action-proves-goal-is-achieveable.aspx

I’m just back from a week on Boomerang beach. What a great place even if the sun didn’t shine! I’m realising that come rain or shine the Aussie outdoor spirit is contagious and I even felt compelled to take off my rain jacket each day for a dip in the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:48 GMT
Don't touch that dial http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/dont-touch-that-dial.aspx

I think the time is fast approaching when free-to-air TV is going to become almost entirely irrelevant in most peoples lives. Its not that I've any empirical evidence for its demise, nor is it something I would wish to happen, but the major networks in Australia seem to have a ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:35 GMT
CHOICE Insights http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/choice-insights.aspx

I’m just heading off for a week’s holiday to north of Newcastle at Boomerang Beach. I’m sure many of you are used to the beauty of Australia but being new to the country, it’s a great treat for me and my family to spend holidays in a place we also ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:22 GMT
A Wii game of tennis, anyone? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-wii-game-of-tennis-anyone.aspx

If it’s too hot or too wet to go outside, there’s always exergaming. We’re always hearing about kids getting fatter and fatter due to too much junk food and not enough exercise. In the ideal world kids would be outside playing cricket with the other kids on the street, kicking ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:09 GMT
A moral duty to act in the interests of consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-moral-duty-to-act-in-the-interests-of-consumers.aspx

I’ve spent most of the day on the phone to members which is a great way to understand some of the issues that affect people every day. The issues are wide ranging and some are very heartfelt. One of my callers spoke about a very expensive medicine that he purchased ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:56 GMT
Ask what more we can do http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/ask-what-more-we-can-do.aspx

Organisations like CHOICE have nothing to fear from transparency, it’s what we tell others, it’s what we practice ourselves. The last few weeks have been difficult for CHOICE because of the credit card issue (mentioned in my last two blogs), but we are more focused now than ever before on ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:40 GMT
Tough decisions are tough on everyone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/tough-decisions-are-tough-on-everyone.aspx

Emotional commitment to a cause and to the people affected by any tough decisions is in my DNA and one that I think has to sit well with a modern CEO. It’s also why this week has been the hardest I’ve had since starting at CHOICE and perhaps the most ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:27 GMT
Never buy the foot spa http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/never-buy-the-foot-spa.aspx

My track record with buying gifts is, at best, mixed. There have been some unqualified successes - ranging from the 30th birthday scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef that I organised, to the book of nursery rhymes and songs I bought in the ABC Shop for my one ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:13 GMT
A goal for the level playing field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/making-the-grocery-market-competitive.aspx

On Wednesday evening the report by the Senate Economics Committee into Grocery CHOICE was published. The Inquiry recommendations are important to CHOICE in vindicating our position and re-affirming the need for change in the grocery sector. CHOICE wants a more competitive grocery market; in truth it would be hard for ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:00 GMT
Convenience comes at a cost http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/convenience-comes-at-a-cost.aspx

The old adage that convenience comes at a cost rang true when I paid for my car insurance today. What I usually do when I get my policy renewal notice is get a few quotes from other insurers and then come to the conclusion that once again my existing insurer is still the cheapest. ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:41 GMT
Confessions of a food label addict http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/confessions-of-a-food-label-addict.aspx

Hi, my name is Rachel, and I’m a food label addict. But I haven’t always been quite so obsessed, and I blame my job for that. As a food and health content producer for CHOICE I spend hours scrutinising nutrition information panels, ingredients lists and the claims made on food ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:29 GMT
A disturbing letter from my bank http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/a-disturbing-letter-from-my-bank.aspx

Last week I got a letter from my lender, instead of the expected notice about an interest rate increase, the message was rather more disturbing: my lender is withdrawing from the market. While they will continue to service me and their other customers they won’t provide any new loans. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:17 GMT
Use it or lose it! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/trying-the-alternatives.aspx

The challenge was as blunt, immediate as it was unambiguous. Can you go for a week without darkening the doors of Coles or Woolworths?   After all CHOICE will be asking others to consider switching more often to independent grocers, fruitologists, butchers and bakers and even fishmongers for their grocery ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:01 GMT
Access to airtime http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/chance-to-get-some-real-airtime.aspx

Being captive to lousy service is everyone’s bugbear, especially when you know you could’ve got a better deal elsewhere. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Two days ago, I tried to change the flight dates with a major airline here and was told I had to pay $62.50 to do so, which was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:25 GMT
Acoustic foamy goodness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/acoustic-foamy-goodness.aspx

I’ve always found it rather ironic that poor video with goodaudio always comes across as a lot more professional than good video with pooraudio. And frankly, getting a decent audio recording at CHOICE is a real painin the proverbials - particularly since the recent renovation replaced thetatty old sound-absorbing carpet ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:08 GMT
Knowing me, knowing you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/knowing-me-knowing-you.aspx

Welcome to 2010 and a red letter year for CHOICE, as we mark our 50th anniversary. It’s a significant milestone and provides a moment to reflect on past achievements. I stress that this is a moment of reflection and not a time for complacency, for the challenges that consumers face ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:20 GMT
'You cannot be serious' http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/you-cannot-be-serious.aspx

The Australian Open has re-fueled my love of tennis (as well as reminding me that Britain is good at coming second!). It also made me think how the quality of tennis today is infinitely better than it was many years ago. Nostalgia and sentiment take you back to the joys ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:06 GMT
There's somebody at the door http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/somebody-is-at-the-door.aspx

Last year an official looking man called to my house and said that due to deregulation of the electricity industry in NSW, he needed to check my energy meter and bill. Of course, something about this introductory spiel wasn't quite right. In fact, I was under no obligation to show ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:53 GMT
Naked tales http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/naked-tales.aspx

Recently I moved and decided to do without a very large national communications network. You know who I’m talking about: Telstra. I started the process of Naked DSL activation. I’d briefly been with Internode at my previous address and hadn’t had any issues, so decided to go with them again. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:24 GMT
Putting the 'super' back into supermarket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/march/putting-the-super-back-into-supermarket.aspx

I have made no secret of my views on the state of the supermarket sector in Australia over the past year. And talking to consumers, farmers, independent grocers and others about the problem has only strengthened our resolve here at CHOICE to do something about it. They confirm that all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:58 GMT
A language for bad business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/april/a-language-for-bad-business.aspx

Over the last few weeks I have been openly discussing the need to create a new consumer culture in Australia (see my comment piece in the Sydney Morning Herald): http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/consumers-must-stop-accepting-second-best-20100315-q9id.html I have received a very positive response from people right across the country. Many feel and have felt for years, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:44 GMT
Remember the customer has the last word http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/may/remember-the-customer-has-the-last-word.aspx

Following my last blog on the language of bad business, a colleague in the consumer movement sent me the clip below. It’s a great example of where the new media age allows customers to fight back and hit companies where it hurts - their reputation! The YouTube clip below came ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:31 GMT
Take two tablets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/take-two-tablets.aspx

Samsung is hoping to give Apple a real headache with its new tablet. The Galaxy Tab, unveiled early in September, is a smaller, lighter rival for Apple’s highly successful iPad and one of the first of what is expected to be a flood of tablet-style devices to hit the market ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:04 GMT
Now focus on the people who elected you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/now-focus-on-the-people-who-elected-you.aspx

So, two and a half weeks after the federal election, we have a result.  And now that the politicians have stopped trying to woo each other, perhaps they’ll start trying to woo us again. During this peculiar political hiatus, when Ministers and MPs have been horse trading behind closed doors, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:50 GMT
Choose your own adventure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/choose-your-own-adventure.aspx

Being a geek and gadget lover I read all about Android and the promise it held (though I must admit I was tempted by the iPhone 4). So patiently I awaited a mobile phone that ticked all the boxes for me. Some people can make snap purchasing decisions and buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:14 GMT
2010 Shonkys - A stark reminder of why we exist http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/october/2010-shonkys---a-stark-reminder-of-why-we-exist.aspx

After a 23-hour flight from the US, I stepped straight off a plane and into CHOICE’s Shonky Awards ceremony today - and instantly my jetlag evaporated. Nothing could have revived me more than being reminded of our vision in action – to make Australians the most active and savvy consumers in ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:57 GMT
GST threshold - join the debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/gst-threshold---join-the-debate.aspx

It’s the hot button issue about tax, technology and competition that has provoked a fiery debate about online shopping versus bricks and mortar retailers. At present, Australians can buy goods online from overseas and not pay GST for products under $1000. CHOICE’s position of arguing to retain the $1000 GST-free threshold has ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:07 GMT
Book store woes highlight gift voucher risks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/book-store-woes-highlight-gift-voucher-traps.aspx

This current situation with the parent company of the Borders and Angus and Robertson bookstore chains going into voluntary administration highlights one of the risks involved in buying gift vouchers; you’re giving money that could potentially never give a return. When a company goes into administration, people holding gift vouchers ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:37:00 GMT
Baby buying brain http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/pregnancy-and-shopping.aspx

Something happens to a woman when she becomes pregnant. Before you get up in arms about that statement, I’ll clarify. I’m not saying pregnant women get crazy, just cautious - very cautious. I can say that because I was one of them. Suddenly everything matters. Everything is potentially dangerous. You ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:35:44 GMT
Join us in our push for better banks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/join-us-in-our-push-for-better-banks.aspx

During the worldwide GFC, the public stood by the banks in their time of need and financial markets are now fortunately more stable. The collapse of the financial system would have benefited no one and that’s why the public gave the green light to any action deemed necessary to stabilise ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:15:19 GMT
A Level Playing Field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/a-level-playing-field.aspx

It’s not every day that Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman fame gets on the blower to challenge my position on globalization and internet buying, but that’s what he did the other day. Gerry has set himself up as the lightning rod of discontent for local traders who are feeling the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:14:08 GMT
CHOICE Blogs http://www.choice.com.au/blog.aspxmetadata description Copyright 2014 www.choice.com.auen-au http://www.choice.com.au/img/logo_choice.gif www.choice.com.au http://www.choice.com.auWed, 01 Oct 2014 03:46:09 GMTIs a Thermomix really worth it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/Buying-a-thermomix.aspx

With a hefty $1939 price tag, adding a Thermomix to your kitchen collection is no impulse buy. And like plenty of people, my partner and I did a lot of reading and research before deciding to bite the bullet. (Getting a relative to buy one for us in France for ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:28:59 GMT
Call Centre Anguish http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Call-Centre-Anguish.aspx

When moving house recently, I was assigned the duty of coordinating our utility connections. I consider myself a sociable person with a finesse for negotiation skills, so I like to deal with such tasks with that great interpersonal tool known as the internet. However, my internet research soon revealed that ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:11:35 GMT
Consumer needs must take priority in financial advice debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/July/Consumer-needs-must-take-priority-in-financial-advice-debate.aspx

Senators will make a decision this week that might just save homes and help to people retire with dignity. Because when people get financial advice that’s not in their best interest, or advice that is driven by sales incentives instead of responsibility, they risk losing everything. This week the Senate will ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:39:59 GMT
Click here for stuff you don't want http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/dark-patterns.aspx

The other day, after getting a ‘reminder’ from LinkedIn that I still hadn’t responded to a friend’s invitation to, well, link in, I sent her an email apologising and said I didn’t have a LinkedIn account. A few minutes later she walked over (yep, I actually emailed someone sitting a ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:49:02 GMT
School of false hopes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/June/school-of-false-hopes.aspx

The 2014 Federal Budget has drastically changed the education landscape, with universities free to charge whatever they like for courses, while the income at which your HECS repayments kick in has been lowered and interest rates on debt increased. So now, more than ever, consumers need to make sure they ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:45:04 GMT
Greater price transparency needed at supermarkets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/unit-pricing-supermarkets.aspx

The forecasts of a tough Budget, rising unemployment, and higher interest rates, mean that more and more Australians are going to find it harder to make ends meet.But there is one thing we can all do that can make a big difference every week if not every day - try ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 May 2014 11:33:33 GMT
Infomercial weight loss - hot or not? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/infomercial-mania.aspx

I love TV home shopping shows - for about 30 seconds. After that I vacillate between fleeting credulity, overwhelming incredulity and coma-inducing boredom. However, since I'm always on the lookout for interesting consumer products, I suffer through them.The latest gizmo to catch my eye was Hot Shapers. These tight fitting ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 May 2014 11:28:55 GMT
Cleaning the dishwasher http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/washing-the-dishwasher.aspx

Over the past three years, you may have noticed a new product on the market - detergents for cleaning your dishwasher.  Now, you might be thinking that this idea is a little redundant. A dishwasher is supposed to be the thing that cleans other things, right? Well, right. And if ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:23:54 GMT
Bring your Windows PC back from the dead http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/recovery-media.aspx

The only thing worse than a computer that won’t boot up is realising you’ll have to pay to get it fixed. But before you reach for your wallet, there are a few things you can do that will help your PC recover from almost any system software problem, and the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:23:31 GMT
Hands on with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/Hands-on-with-the-PlayStation-4-and-Xbox-One.aspx

The next generation of games consoles are almost here. The Xbox One hits the shelves on 22nd November and the PlayStation 4 (PS4) one week later. Should you be stuffing one into your stocking this Christmas? I recently compared each one at the EB Games Expo in Sydney.Playtime was all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:59:53 GMT
Why is watching Game of Thrones in Australia so hard? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/watching-game-of-thrones-in-australia.aspx

Foxtel, you know nothing - nothing about how and when I want to watch TV, and nothing about what would make me renew my Foxtel subscription to watch Season Four of Game of Thrones. And honestly, I am here to be convinced.I was willing to pay you $44.50 a month, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:27:08 GMT
China dreaming http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/March/China-Dreaming.aspx

We recently went to China for a bit of a holiday, to see all the amazing growth that is going on in that country. And to get yet another lesson in the old adage, "you get what you pay for".There are a lot of cheap goods in China, in particular ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:26:15 GMT
The DVD and Blu-Ray region coding conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/February/dvd-players.aspx

I’m a Gen X, so I find myself straddling between the tried and trusted way of doing things, and attempting to orientate towards the "new way". Central to this predicament is technology, or more specifically, how to watch movies and TV shows.My favourite TV shows warrant buying DVD box sets ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Feb 2014 08:48:49 GMT
Extended warranty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Extended Warranty.aspx

Like many people I know, sometimes I just can’t be bothered reading the terms and conditions that are included with virtually every website, product and service that I sign up for. The thought just bores me silly. Delving into the lawyer speak, weasel words and down-right obfuscating terminology is not ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:49 GMT
Man shopping http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-disciplined-shopper.aspx

The way I take my revenge on the bewildering market for everyday goods is to grab the first thing I see in the lower price range. Companies spend countless hours and billions of dollars on packaging, promos and product placement; I spend three seconds making a decision. Take that, I ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:15 GMT
Help menu reboot http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/December/Help-menu-reboot.aspx

I’m no software designer or usability expert, but I use computers almost every day for work as well as general life management. It also just so happens that I spend most of my working life writing about computing - which probably explains why I’m writing about help menus.When it comes ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:38:55 GMT
The trouble with ebook pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/The-trouble-with-ebook-pricing.aspx

Amazon has just launched its local ebook store in Australia. This comes shortly after a US trial involving Apple that focused on ebook pricing. Time will tell how will Australian ebook retailers respond as Amazon seeks to cement its position in the market. The court case put the spotlight on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 17:11:39 GMT
White coat hypertension http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/white-coat-hypertension.aspx

Last time I went to the doctor for a check-up, my blood pressure was 140 over something. I was shocked - I’ve always been a 110, 120 kinda gal. She took two more readings and it went down - into the 130s. Reluctant to let me leave with this sort ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:14:53 GMT
Where's our digital revolution? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Wheres-our-digital-revolution.aspx

Australia is a peculiar country. We are wealthy, isolated, large in size but small in population. These features have conspired for some time to deny Australian consumers access to the newest media. Our release windows for film, music and televisions shows have been later, our range sparser and our prices, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 31 Oct 2013 15:17:10 GMT
CHOICE Computer goes to PAX http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/CC-goes-to-PAX.aspx

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) came to Australia this year for the first time, bringing with it a gigantic celebration of all things nerdy, video games in particular. We joined thousands of geeks in Melbourne to get some hands-on time with upcoming games and new technology, as the Melbourne Showgrounds ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:05:54 GMT
Charitable consumption http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/Charitable consumption.aspx

I'm a casual gamer. This means that I’ve reached a point in life where there are other things competing for my time on a fairly regular basis, so games are something that I'll do once in a blue moon - mostly when there is something I've been looking forward to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:07:23 GMT
How to get a refund on SimCity http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/How-to-get-a-refund-on-Sim-City.aspx

When it comes to getting refunds on faulty goods, Australian consumers are quite well protected under Australian Consumer Law. As a consumer advocacy organisation we are often informing consumers of their rights with handy guides and cards. The unmitigated disaster that is Electronic Art’s (EA) SimCity has been so great ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:06:17 GMT
You're going to be a dad! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/A-Dads-reaction-to-fatherhood.aspx

When I was growing up there were certain life moments I tried to imagine experiencing. Admittedly, in the early years they didn't go much beyond wanting to be Marco van Basten (Dutch footballer, played for AC Milan in the '90s. Genius. Never mind!), but as I got older I began ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:41:49 GMT
Baby bills - the unexpected purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Unexpected-parental-purchases.aspx

The financial shocks for first-time parents probably won’t be as bad as some of the less tangible parenting challenges that will come in later years, but it’s important to understand that baby goods marketers have gotten better than ever at getting you to buy stuff. It’s almost impossible to avoid making ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:42:20 GMT
The value of in-app purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-value-of-in-app-purchases.aspx

I have mixed feelings about in-app purchases. On the one hand, they can expand the lifecycle of a program with special updates and expansions suited to specific consumer needs. On the other they can capitalise on a desire for instant gratification. It's the latter that are currently making headlines all ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 16:42:40 GMT
Direct debits: good or bad for consumers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Direct-debits-Good-or-Bad-for-Consumers.aspx

Many consumers use direct debits to pay bills, and most of the time they probably work well. However, it is still worth asking a very fundamental question: are they really of net benefit to all consumers?Direct debits certainly benefit businesses in many ways. For example, direct debit gives a higher ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 10:35:14 GMT
Why the milk debate isn't clear-cut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/milk-prices.aspx

Hands up if you want cheap milk? Actually, let’s try rephrasing that - hands up if you want to rip off farmers? Many consumers could be forgiven for feeling slightly confused about which side to take in the recent “milk war” between Australia’s major supermarkets. The debate that started with $1-a-litre ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Behind the scenes of the CHOICE Awards http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/choice-awards.aspx

Planning the CHOICE Awards is a little like planning a wedding. No bride, sure, but a similar amount of organisation and hard work: book a venue, tee up an MC, invite guests, select a menu, prepare speeches, make seating plans – and then there’s the little thing about choosing awards and ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Where TV is going http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/where-tv-is-going.aspx

There's a lot of hype around at present over 3D TV. I'm not convinced it'll be as big a seller as the manufacturers are claiming — but we'll definitely test some when they're in the market and there's something 3D to watch on them. My thinking is that it'll be ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Heart Foundation ticked off at Coles logo http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/heart-foundation-ticked-off-at-coles-logo.aspxEarlier this week we heard that the Heart Foundation was unhappy with Coles using a red tick in the logo of their generic Smart Buy range, arguing that it could give shoppers the impression that Coles Smart Buy products met some kind of nutrition or health criteria which made them healthier choices. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:14 GMT
CHOICE heads to the IFA Berlin http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/IFA-CES-Berlin.aspx

The Consumer Electronics Show (IFA – or Internationale Funkausstellung) is held once a year inMesse Berlin - in a massive sprawling conference centre five times larger than any conference centre wehave in Australia. There are over 27 halls of various products ranging from fully formed household items from brands we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 10 Sep 2013 14:40:52 GMT
The price you could pay for a free PC http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/The price you could pay for a free PC.aspx

I was bored with Windows. But after a torrid weekend of tussling with Linux I’m almost looking forward to more boredom. It’s not that moving to Linux is a bad idea – far from it – but I fell into a trap that made for a less than smooth transition. ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:02:36 GMT
Lab dryers lead to energy savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/Lab-dryers-lead-to-energy-savings.aspx

CHOICE wants to reduce the amount of energy we use on site - along with implementing monitor turn off policies or timers, replacing every other fluorescent tube pair rather than every one, plus many other smaller changes that whittle away at electricity usage, we've been looking at the laboratories as ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:43:29 GMT
Sham-not-so-Wow http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/sham-not-so-wow.aspx

After seeing the infomercial and watching a video posted by our sister organisation ConsumerReports about the ShamWow, I was given the task of having a play around with this "wonder" cloth to see if it wowed me or not. I got a special offer for $59.90 - buy one set, get one ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Aug 2013 09:48:07 GMT
Insurance is seriously entertaining http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/insurance-is-seriously-entertaining.aspx

We are now in the middle of our home and contents insurance project – it’s been fascinating to see the different questions insurers ask in order to calculate how much they should charge you for insuring your home or contents. For example, it matters how many people you are living with, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:47:41 GMT
Volkswagen recall http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Volkswagen-recall.aspx

A few years ago my partner and I decided to buy a new car. While our faithful old bomb was okay, with a baby and a toddler we decided to bite the bullet and buy something newer.We settled on a Volkswagen Passat diesel wagon - a great looking car, just ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Jun 2013 10:44:38 GMT
Keep track of online tracking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Keep track of online tracking.aspx

I have an uneasy relationship with Facebook. Like most users, I love peering into the lives of friends for a few minutes a day. This peephole lets me stay in touch with rants, happy events and random thoughts.  As for myself, I like to post updates and links to stories ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Jun 2013 13:50:46 GMT
Arrested Development, Netflix and geo-blocking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/Arrested-Development-Netflix-and-geo-blocking.aspx

On 26 May, season four of the cult-comedy series Arrested Development was released on the internet-streaming website, Netflix.However, Netflix - which has exclusive broadcast rights to the show after its seven-year hiatus - is not available to Australian consumers. This means that Australians cannot officially access the show at all. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 30 May 2013 17:15:30 GMT
Borrowing from Peter - P2P lending http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/P2P-lending.aspx

It’s been a while since uni, but I’m pretty sure it was Shakespeare who said neither a lender nor a borrower be. And that was back in the 1500s or so. Well, there’s been a whole lot of lending and borrowing going on since then. In fact, entire industries have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 May 2013 09:36:38 GMT
Six months with an electric car http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/six-months-with-an-electric-car.aspx

Last year, CHOICE took a first look at the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle). I've had the interesting experience of driving the car for the last six months. In the process, I have been stopped at intersections, interrogated in parking lots and questioned at work. Everybody wants to know: ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 May 2013 16:13:38 GMT
Help, my baby won't sleep! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/baby-sleeping-aids.aspx

Whoever came up with the saying “sleeping like a baby” must have had one of those one-in-a-million textbook babies who slept way more than mine do.The perennial problem of babies and toddlers who either won’t fall asleep or won’t stay asleep was recently thrown into the spotlight through Adam Mansbach’s ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:25:58 GMT
The Sunday of three returns http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-sunday-of-three-returns.aspx

One Sunday this summer, I tried to return three items to three different shops. Two of the stores restored my faith in bricks and mortar shopping. The third demonstrated that some retailers have a long way to go if they plan on stemming the online shopping tide.First stop: Myer, where ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Apr 2013 18:18:16 GMT
Buy now, pay forever http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Buy-now-pay-forever.aspx

I think there’s a word missing from the English vocabulary. It would describe a product that lures you in with the promise of fulfilling a need relatively cheaply, but once purchased it applies a siphon to your finances to keep it running. I’m open to suggestions, but for now I’m ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:13:07 GMT
Will consumers win on excessive surcharges? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Will-consumers-win-on-excessive-surcharges.aspx

Today should bring good news for consumers as the Reserve Bank’s reforms to credit card surcharging come into effect. These reforms are designed to end the practice of retailers hitting consumers with excessive surcharges for paying by credit card – such as the $7.70 charged by Qantas and Virgin or ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:25:12 GMT
Consumers reap benefits of the social web http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/consumers-and-the-social-web.aspx

The phenomenal growth of social networking combined with continuing technological advances, like mobile internet connectivity, has brought new opportunities across the social spectrum – and consumers are one of the biggest winners. It seems relevant then that this is one of the reoccurring topics of discussion at the Consumers International ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Mar 2013 15:42:08 GMT
Cutting my paper ties http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Paperless.aspx

After reading a review of David Sparks’ ebook on the whys and wherefores of going paperless on The Mac Observer, I realised going paperless was something that I was interested in doing - and it wouldn’t be too difficult. Mac users may know David Sparks from his Mac Power Users ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:22:15 GMT
Consumer rights across borders http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/global-consumer-rights.aspx

In 1985, two pretty significant things happened for consumers around the world. There was the controversial release of ‘new recipe’ Coke. And then, there was also the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.Things didn't fare so well for the ‘New Coke’. After just three months, and a massive public ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 08 Mar 2013 09:06:37 GMT
Making the switch to a solid state drive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/SSD.aspx

Solid state drives (SSDs), have been around tech circles for a while, but they’ve only entered the consumer vernacular in the last 12 – 18 months. Promising faster boot and data transfer times, improved energy efficiency and greater system stability over hard disk drives (HDD), SSDs are gradually becoming an ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:04:54 GMT
Health insurance extras http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/health-insurance-in-an-online-age.aspx

Like many Australians over 30, I have private health insurance. Although I’m healthy, the tax man’s arm-twisting makes a compelling argument for me to have it. I’m on a comparatively cheaper “young singles” plan, but even that’s a pretty hefty drain on my wallet.(Yeah, yeah – I know I’m no longer ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:22:20 GMT
Taxi alternatives http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Taxi Alternatives.aspx

Taxi AlternativeGiven our recent Shonky given to Cabcharge for their surcharge that's not a surcharge, I thought it would be interesting to find ways around the monopoly rather than just resigning myself to the fact that Cabcharge has me temporarily over a barrel. Unfortunately, to truly get around the monopoly, ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Jan 2013 15:26:20 GMT
Do sales people influence you? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Retail-experience.aspx

One thing I've noticed in the last few years since starting at CHOICE is how salespeople can affect a purchasing decision.When I go into a retail store, I naturally go to a sales person because I want to buy something. What is the effect of asking that sales person for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:02:32 GMT
Why buying a DSLR might not be a good idea http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Buying-a-DSLR.aspx

There’s no shortage of camera reviewers on the internet. Some are competent and detailed in their assessments and some are not, but most make a simple assumption that appears to be incorrect for a significant portion of their audience. They assume the camera will be used in a variety of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:41:49 GMT
No festive cheer in bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/no-festive-cheer-in-bill-shock.aspx

The festive season invariably means travel for many of us. I’ve travelled a lot over the years myself, and lugged many a brick-size travel guide in my daypack. I’ve also been writing about travel and technology for many years and, as both a write and traveller, it’s exciting to realise ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:39:39 GMT
Something to write home about http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Something-to-write-home-about.aspx

If I had been born sixty years earlier, a matronly and god fearing teacher would have rapped my knuckles with a ruler for picking up a pen with my left hand. Fortunately, I was born in 1985 and was free to settle into the comforts of being left handed, unchallenged.This ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 09:25:50 GMT
Weight Watchers 360 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/weight-watchers-360.aspx

Some weeks ago CHOICE Food & Health was invited by Weight Watchers to participate in a ‘live social experiment’ involving lunch and information about the 2013 Weight Watchers program. We were told we’d be picked up from the office and taken to the event, and taken back afterwards. Who said ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 18 Dec 2012 12:17:09 GMT
Still more work to do on unit pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Still-more-work-to-do-on-unit-pricing.aspx

Since late 2009 large supermarkets have had to show the unit price (price per unit of measure) of packaged grocery items on shelf labels so that shoppers can easily compare prices and values.This was a major for victory for consumers that took nearly 50 years to achieve.However the current system ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:23:47 GMT
Piracy and market failure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Piracy-and-market-failure.aspx

Trying to understand, predict and influence consumer decision making is multi-billion dollar industry and an imperative for businesses and governments alike.A failure to predict not only what goods and service consumers choose to buy, but how they choose to buy them, can have some pretty drastic consequences. Consumers have shown ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:27:37 GMT
Fully charged http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Fully charged.aspx

My mum recently transferred some frequent flyer points to my Qantas Frequent Flyer account. Great, I thought – I can take my 18-month-old daughter on a trip to Adelaide to visit her auntie. A visit to the Qantas website informed me I had enough points to book the trip via the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Dec 2012 12:12:09 GMT
Retirement village contracts http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Retirement-village-contracts.aspx

There is something downright misleading with the way retirement village contracts work in Australia. For far too long, contract terms have weighed heavily in favour of the operators, and many residents discover they’re liable for higher costs than they anticipated when it’s too late to do anything about them.It means some ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:25:01 GMT
The new Facebook algorithm http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-new-Facebook-algorithm.aspx

Since its initial public offering in May this year, revenue has become a key priority for Facebook, and this is having consequences for users, businesses, and non-profits alike. Facebook has implemented a new algorithm to control what people see in their newsfeed, so not all their friends or pages' posts will ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 Nov 2012 15:36:02 GMT
Pester Power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Pester Power.aspx

I bought my two little daughters new toothbrushes the other day – not an uncommon occurrence in my house as my kids have a magical ability to make small items disappear into thin air (think a never ending roll call of vanishing hair clips, socks, hair bands, toothbrushes, etc.).So while ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:48:47 GMT
Celebrity endorsements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Celebrity endorsements.aspx

Kim Kardashian and ABC Television: it’s not very often you would imagine seeing the two together in the same sentence. Last week, however, Jonathan Holmes and Media Watch decided it was time to acquaint the two.  The topic of discussion: Kardashian’s commitment to the Quick Trim detox that joins the ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Oct 2012 12:35:21 GMT
Choosing a GP for your child http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/choosing-kids-GP.aspx

Someone asked me the other day how to go about choosing a GP for her newborn baby. This immediately brought back memories of the medical merry-go-round we went through in my kids’ early years. With recurrent ear infections and conjunctivitis and the usual scary spots and coughs all kids seem ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:53:43 GMT
The decline and fall of the big screen experience http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/Ads-in-theatres.aspx

Since when have cinema owners been given free rein to assault moviegoers with 20 minutes of soul-crushing commercials before the main feature starts? Since a while ago, I know, but lately matters seem to have gotten worse. These ads can take you right out of the movie mood.Last time I ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:13:10 GMT
Food nostalgia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Food nostalgia.aspx

Recently we published an article on brands disappearing, when hundreds of people contacted us to complain that their favourite brands and products had recently disappeared from the shelves of the big two supermarkets. It was surprising how passionate they were about the topic, and it got me thinking. Or should I ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 22 Aug 2012 09:24:37 GMT
Flying no frills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Flying no frills.aspx

Last year, I went on holiday to Europe. When I was deciding which airline to fly with, I had a tough choice to make. I could fly Air China, which I'd never flown before and knew very little about. Their website was stuck in the dark ages (seriously - it ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 Aug 2012 12:53:39 GMT
Don't be ripped off on IT goods http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Dont-be-ripped-off-on-IT-goods.aspx

Would you rather pay $88 or $61 for a video game? I think I could hazard a guess at what your answer might be. Although this seems like somewhat of an absurd question, it is one that we are nevertheless asked on a daily basis. What is really absurd is ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:53:42 GMT
Webcams for Security http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Webcams for Security.aspx

Some time ago I purchased a webcam for Skype reasons. It doesn't get a lot of use, so I entertained the thought of using it as a security camera.CHOICE hasn't tested this, as there are plenty of options out there for dedicated security camera setups. But I went ahead and ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:46:55 GMT
Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government.aspx

Free-range eggs are being sold in increasing numbers around Australia and it comes as no great surprise that animal welfare is the main driver for consumers. Cartons carrying images of happy hens roaming on green fields lead many of us to believe it is worth paying extra for free-range. But for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 29 Jun 2012 11:14:38 GMT
Who pays who for what http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/who-pays-who-for-what.aspx

I recently came across an article on the website Money Management, which made me reflect on the ongoing debate about conflict of interest in the financial advice world. Entitled "Fund manager payments breed skepticism", the article said research conducted with financial planners suggests that "64 per cent of respondents (financial ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:56:27 GMT
An experiment in people power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/choice-big-bank-switch-an-experiment-in-people-power.aspx

“Knowledge must come through action,” observed a very wise man about 2,500 years ago. While Sophocles was not referring to the Australian banking sector, the ancient Greeks did know a thing or two about people power. The CHOICE Big Bank Switch is an experiment in people power. Although not quite ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:35:09 GMT
Environment and the economy – what are your choices? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/economy-and-environment.aspx

Our national economic backbone, mining, has found itself at odds with another area of financial importance – The Great Barrier Reef. Put aside your feelings on any environmental debate for the moment, because there is no denying that we are relying on the mining industry to carry our country’s bank ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:21:57 GMT
It's good to talk http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/its-good-to-talk.aspx

It takes a lot more than a few days to bring about lasting change; in fact a lifetime may not be enough when it comes to taking on the big end of town.But for the very few days the CHOICE Better Banking Campaign has been up and running we are beginning to ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:19:43 GMT
CHOICE Baby Safety Week http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Baby Safety Week.aspx

It’s the most wonderful time of your life. But it can also be the most fearful.Caring for a baby is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation. Am I doing the right thing? What if something happens? Where’s the rule book?I remember – like it was yesterday – bringing home my precious ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 16:11:30 GMT
The big four banks are just not that into us http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/The big four banks are just not that into us.aspx

Australians need to take a reality check on our relationship with the big four banks. If we asked our friends, they would say we are showing signs of unhealthy co-dependency.That we are worth so much more than out-of-cycle interest rate increases and record profits, but still we stick around.If our ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:16:35 GMT
Rolling the dice on daily deals http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Rolling the dice.aspx

Daily deals – the cut-price temptations that land in my inbox multiple times each day promising magical experiences and indulgent treats. On paper, the deals are usually fairly fantastic, and I enjoy entertaining new experiences or products I might not otherwise consider.However, there’s a vast difference between a great daily ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:14:38 GMT
Into the interest rate maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Into the interest rate maze.aspx

Financial literacy is not great in Australia. Worryingly, the latest research by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows that there are also many obstacles that make it even harder for people to make good financial decisions. However this may all be about to change thanks largely to the work ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:13:53 GMT
Adding up the Costco savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Costco experience.aspx

It all started with the fact that I wanted a cup of tea and we'd run out of decaffeinated tea - a small thing that grew into something much bigger: a trip to Costco.As I grabbed my keys to go to the supermarket, my wife mentioned that we had to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:12:51 GMT
Costco vs Cash 'n' carry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/costco-v-cash-n-carry.aspx

After some months of procrastinating we finally made it to the newish Costco store in Auburn in Sydney. We’d tried before but when we couldn't find a parking spot after 20 mins or so, we gave up. To give you an idea of how busy Costco was when we managed ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:07:55 GMT
Creating a comfortable home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/creating-a-comfortable-home.aspx

On a sweltering summer afternoon my house is hotter inside than out. To solve the problem, I've been researching a few solutions that wont run up a huge energy bill. Adequate insulation is really important. Unfortunately, the government has axed its home insulation scheme, following all the adverse publicity. It will be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 May 2012 11:57:40 GMT
Why we try not to put photographers in their place http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/classifying-cameras.aspx

Heroditus was a Greek tourist (and some say historian) who lived around 490 to 430BC. He didn't have a camera and we can't be sure if he wore a bumbag, but he did try to describe some of the places he visited. He used a simple classification of people: if ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 04 May 2012 12:55:47 GMT
Why pay full price? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/fullsociety.aspx

I keep seeing lots of hype about low confidence in Australia; low confidence in the retail sector; low confidence in finance. Despite being one of the few economies in the world that made it through the GFC with barely scraped knees, we seem worried about what’s going to happen. Whether ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:36:42 GMT
Behind the scenes: Electric blanket test http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/Behind the scenes electric blanket test.aspx

Sometimes I take a moment to remember just how lucky I am to work at CHOICE. During the several years I’ve worked here I’ve managed to go through three or four departments to try my hand at a bunch of different tasks to help members get the facts they need ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 07:25:37 GMT
The calorie/kilojoule/cardio/counting conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/kilojoule-calorie-conundrum.aspx

If you live in NSW, Queensland, SA or the ACT chances are you’ll have seen or will start seeing kilojoule (kJ) counts next to items on fast and snack food menus. That’s because state and territory governments are introducing or have passed legislation making kilojoule labelling mandatory for most larger chains ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:39:43 GMT
Consider all costs when buying from overseas http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/buying-online-not-always-cheaper.aspx

Normally I buy shoes in Australia but I was buying a present for my sister, and a shoe she really likes is only found in Canada. Seeing as the Aussie dollar is doing so well, it seemed logical to buy a pair from overseas and have them sent over. Turns ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 27 Mar 2012 10:16:21 GMT
Reading food labels is a fishy business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/frozen-fish.aspx

I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my waking hours scrutinising food labels. Granted, my job writing about food and nutrition for CHOICE predisposes me to reading the odd label or two (or 100!). Now, as a mother of two young children, the time spent perusing nutrition information panels ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:08:23 GMT
Wanted: ideas to get seniors active http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/wanted-ideas-to-get-seniors-active.aspx

If someone invented an exercise pill, it would be the medical breakthrough of the century. Regular exercise mitigates against coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and high cholesterol. It’s also good for psychological wellbeing and can help prevent cognitive decline, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 10:37:51 GMT
Will you take on old age fighting fit or lying down? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/will-you-take-on-old-age-fighting-fit-or-lying-down.aspx

Hitting our 60s should mean finally having the time to travel, take up hobbies, get involved in community and interest groups and socialise more with friends and family. And these days we expect to be living independently in our own home as we get older, rather than living with family ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:11:17 GMT
The consumer movement turns 50 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/50-years-of-the-consumer-movement.aspx

Margaret Thatcher reflected – ‘if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman’. The consumer movement has certainly been a movement defined by strong women - from the founder of CHOICE ‘Red’ Ruby Hutchison, to firebrand Sheila McKechnie, who helped make Which?, the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 15:54:13 GMT
Twitter to the rescue for Citibank customer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/twits-to-the-rescue-at-citibank.aspx

Some years ago we needed to take out a personal loan with Citibank. Fast forward three years and we were ready to pay off the loan completely.So back in November 2011, we sought the cost of exiting the loan - which took numerous phone calls to Citibank.Eventually we paid the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:25:09 GMT
Testing smartphone developments http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/test-method-will-respond-to-phone-developments.aspx

While attending the CeBit conference in Hanover, I had the opportunity to visit the BBM Mueller labs in Munich to discuss the latest batch of phones to appear in the CHOICE smartphone test in the coming months. Apart from our yearly NextG test, all our smartphone tests are carried out ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:50:19 GMT
The case of the missing hot water http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/beijing-airport.aspx

On a recent return trip home from a European holiday my partner and I were in transit for almost 30 hours. Mid way through the trip, we were stuck waiting in Beijing Airport. We cleared customs and wandered dazedly into the vast transit terminal, and were greeted by the sweetest ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:32:41 GMT
Don't get mad – get moving http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/dont-get-mad---get-moving.aspx

Campaigning for better banking is a bit like the start of the footy season. We begin as optimists, trying to forget the disappointments of last year, the unfair penalties and questionable free kicks, hoping instead for some healthy competition.That is where the similarities end. While other national sports have salary ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:54:43 GMT
Making a Bosch of it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/making-a-bosch-of-it.aspx

In early December last year, my expensive Bosch induction cooktop, still covered under warranty, broke. This is one of those “I had to wait for seven weeks and be home six times for it to finally get fixed” stories – but it comes with some juicy twists.TWIST 1 The tale ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Mar 2012 08:30:05 GMT
Consumers and commissions - opening up the business of switching http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/bigbankswitch.aspx

CHOICE has partnered with One Big Switch to help 1,000 Aussies get better home loan deals with our eyes wide open – and focused squarely on the benefits for consumers. There is nothing new about consumers switching to get a better deal, or about banks paying commissions to sign up ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 18 Feb 2012 11:53:38 GMT
Superior service is good PR http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/superior-service-is-good-pr.aspx

Recently a friend got the run around from a major consumer electronics company after downloading a game and finding out that it wouldn’t play on his gaming console which was made by the same company. All he asked for was a refund after the company confirmed that the game was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 14 Feb 2012 15:00:57 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: Sustainability requirements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/knockdown-rebuild-part-3.aspx

While we were looking at display homes before beginning our build, we often heard BASIX mentioned – though we had no idea what it was at the time. We eventually discovered that it related to the NSW government regulations regarding sustainability. We were concerned about the environmental and anticipated increases ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 13 Feb 2012 09:33:04 GMT
The childcare conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/the-childcare-conundrum.aspx

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time, who did we call first to share the news? Family? No. Close friends? No. The first place we called was a childcare centre to try and get on a waiting list.I thought I was ahead of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:29:00 GMT
Airline horror stories http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/flight-troubles.aspx

My partner recently had to fly from Newcastle, NSW to the Gold Coast in Queensland. It all began going wrong when a traffic accident delayed our drive to the airport. She was flying with Jetstar, which closes its check in counter 30 minutes before departure (around 2:30pm in this case).With ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Feb 2012 11:36:31 GMT
Optus upsell attempt ends in tears - for Optus http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/optus-upsell-attempt-ends-in-tears.aspx

On a recent stop at my mailbox to collect the few letters that usually turn out to be promotional materials or bills, I found a lone letter from Optus promising ‘NEW PLANS FOR THE FUTURE’. Now, Optus and I have had a rocky relationship over the years. But things seemed ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:22:08 GMT
Is SOPA a threat to internet freedom? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/internet-blackout.aspx

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, has triggered one of the biggest industry-based protests in history to hit the World Wide Web. Most notably, the popular Wikipedia site closed down in protest, and there was action from other heavyweights such as Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. In the US, a petition ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jan 2012 22:10:04 GMT
Video tip #1 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/video-tip-number-1.aspx

Well this is a fine state of affairs. Only my second blog and already I find myself breaking promises. If you read my last post, you'll most likely be expecting to see a video walk-through showing you some of the techniques I used to put the new site promo video ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:13:48 GMT
A fee-fueled world gone mad http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/a-fee-fueled-world-gone-mad.aspx

Fees are frustrating. Those little acknowledged, overly annoying additions to everyday purchases that, over time, add up. What’s even more irritating is the fact that they've become particularly prevalent in Australian society (yes, banks, I am looking directly at you – and while I’m in a staring mood, you too ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:42:11 GMT
Live events going cheap http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/live-events-going-cheap.aspx

It’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy live entertainment, if you can afford the ticket prices. Additional fees and surcharges bump up already considerable costs, and if you have to purchase tickets for an entire family, going to a live show can be downright unaffordable. For ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 11:54:10 GMT
Streaming music services in Australia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/streaming-music-services.aspx

Retailer JB Hi-Fi has recently released a streaming facility called JB Hi-Fi NOW. While currently in beta at time of writing, they display pricing at $25/month, $50/6 months and $80/year.What does it get you? For this amount you’ll have access to over 100,000 artists, and millions of songs, that you ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 09 Jan 2012 16:32:26 GMT
Credit cards - Which one should you choose? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/credit-cards-which-one-should-you-choose.aspx

Credit cards can be a useful tool - and when you pick the right one they can even be a cost effective way to access a loan or additional features. However, if you have the wrong credit card for your needs, it could end up costing you big time. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:46:43 GMT
Make your charity donations count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/make-your-charity-donations-count.aspx

Giving is a part of the Christmas tradition for many of us, and this includes making charitable donations where we can. However, how charities handle our donations can sometimes be the cause of confusion and controversyThe amount spent on administration costs is one such area, and for big organisations, these ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Dec 2011 14:43:22 GMT
A penalty by any other name is still a penalty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/penalty-fees.aspx

Throughout CHOICE’s long campaign against unfair bank fees we have always called the odd $45 the banks charged you for being late for a credit card repayment a ‘penalty’ fee.The same applied for other high fees around being overdrawn on a transaction account or presenting a bouncing cheque - we ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Dec 2011 13:18:22 GMT
Pet dental health - don't brush it off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/pet-dental-health.aspx

Pet insurance is one way you can manage the cost of owning a pet. It’s not the only alternative, but it can save you in the long run, especially in the face of hefty vet bills. We looked into the nuances of pet insurance earlier in the year, and one area ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 07 Dec 2011 17:12:36 GMT
It's the season to be cynical about bank profits http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/bank-profits.aspx

There is something predictable about Australia's bank reporting season. As surely as our minds turn to office Christmas parties, days at the beach and cricket on the TV, we will witness a parade of record profits and executive remuneration packages.These announcements seem to exist in a parallel universe to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:21:55 GMT
Unit pricing still has room for improvement http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/unit-pricing.aspx

It’s more than 50 years since CHOICE first suggested that displaying unit prices (UP) – the price per unit of measure - in supermarkets could help consumers compare value and save money by changing their buying habits.It was a long campaign with retailers resisting and delaying the introduction of unit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Dec 2011 09:35:16 GMT
The long path to VoIP satisfaction http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/voip.aspx

Recently we changed mobile providers to Amaysim; with that change came a dip in coverage. Neither one of us (one on Optus, one on Telstra) had issues prior to swapping, but since the change we’ve had to walk outside of the house to get any decent coverage, despite Amaysim using ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Nov 2011 11:23:47 GMT
Car recall leaves owner out of pocket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/car-recall.aspx

A couple of months ago I received a recall notice for our car in the mail. Like all CHOICE staff, when I see a recall notice, I tend to think of safety issues. The recall notice explained that there was a possibility that if the steering wheel was locked with force, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 09 Nov 2011 14:25:24 GMT
Customer service matters if traditional retail is to thrive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/bricks-and-mortar-retail.aspx

I had the unfortunate but necessary experience of having to visit a major department store a couple of time over the past few weeks. The first thing that took me by surprise was the emptiness of the store - plenty of stuff to buy - but no-one there to buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Nov 2011 21:27:59 GMT
Bumpy road to diagnosing milk, soy protein intolerance http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/milk-soy-protein-intolerance.aspx

My two children are milk and soy protein intolerant, MSPI. Most people stare at me blankly when I tell them this. My daughter, Stella, was a relaxed baby for the first week. Then she began to sleep less, feed more and cry, a lot. I was told that she was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:24:07 GMT
Does your contents insurance fully cover theft? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/does-your-contents-insurance-fully-cover-theft.aspx

Home and contents insurance is a mandatory purchase for many home owners, and lately there has been a lot of interest in flood cover in particular following the Queensland disaster at the beginning of the year. However, a recent letter from a CHOICE member George* has highlighted another area of ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 08:28:05 GMT
No refunds for Rewind festival-goers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/rewind-australia-blog.aspx

Picture this – for three days the musical heroes of my youth were to belt out cheesy 80s pop classics under an azure Illawarra sky. A little paunchier and a little balder perhaps, like me, but at least they’ve made the effort to come all the way to Wollongong. Children ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 15:26:08 GMT
Girl racer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/girl-racer.aspx

In an effort to save money and be a teensy bit nicer to the environment, earlier this year I decided it was time to trade in my much loved car – Doris, a 1959 Morris Minor. I live close to the city and work, and figured a combination of car ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:49:03 GMT
Hanging on the telephone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/hanging-on-the-telephone.aspx

Telstra posts $4.07 billion profit and yet 82 year old Doug Tancred can’t use his pensioner discount. Shame! Members write letters and email CHOICE daily. Some want things fixed, or specific products tested in our Marrickville labs, others just want to get a bad experience off their chest — like Doug Tancred ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:17:12 GMT
Discount grocery shopping online doesn't stack up, yet http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/online-grocery-shopping.aspx

I recently saw that Catch of the Day launched a sister operation called Grocery Run. I’m not new to buying online, however aside from the odd overseas grocery item that I couldn’t get in Australia, I’ve never ordered groceries online locally in Australia. There are options out there from the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Oct 2011 11:25:11 GMT
Piracy common but people still paying for music http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/music-piracy.aspx

Music has been a gift of choice for consumers for some time. Throughout the 20th century, new technology continually changed the face of the industry, from the gramophone to the LP record, cassette tape, CD and eventually – digital. The last trend could be the most influential factor to hit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 06 Oct 2011 20:06:46 GMT
Next generation travelling http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/next-generation-travelling.aspx

Ten years of travel A little under a decade ago I booked my first solo overseas holiday. It was a blustery May day – rainy, cold, miserable. Full-time university and part-time work were eating up my social life. But there was hope on the seemingly all-too-distant horizon - three months ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:58 GMT
Picture perfect http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/just-going-for-a-stroll.aspx

I like travelling. I've done a lot of it, but mostly in my own time and at my own cost – so I appreciate the very rare occasions when CHOICE decides I need to be somewhere other than at my desk in Marrickville. Brussells is a very long way from ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:36 GMT
Pet insurance gives paws for thought http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/pet-insurance.aspx

Growing up on a farm gives you a pretty good idea of the ups and downs of pet ownership. From our cigarette-stealing sheep (no more leaving them in the glove compartment after that) to miniature horses and donkeys running alongside the dogs in the backyard, I’ve had pets in all ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:03:07 GMT
Bad customer service? Try none at all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/no-customer-service.aspx

Poor customer service sucks. Dealing with rude, incompetent or unhelpful staff who refuse to abide by the “customer is always right” mantra can leave you feeling angry, dejected and utterly undervalued. But when it happens, you at least have some means of recourse. You can threaten to take your business ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 26 Sep 2011 14:47:58 GMT
More money for retirement on the way http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/more-money-for-retirement-on-the-way.aspx

Earlier this week, the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten announced some important reforms to the way we build our superannuation. CHOICE has made several submissions to Cooper Review and many of our recommendations were considered in the reforms, which will begin to take effect in July 2013. This includes the possibility ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 22 Sep 2011 20:46:55 GMT
My journey from disposable to cloth nappies http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/nappy-journey.aspx

When I was pregnant with my daughter I started thinking about which products I wanted to use and, of course, nappies were on that list. There are so many different options: disposables, biodegradable disposable, partly biodegradable disposables and many, many different types of cloth nappies. We considered using cloth nappies ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 15 Sep 2011 07:46:32 GMT
Struggling families? Better than before, says ABS http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/household-spending.aspx

Recent household spending statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that we have more money and better living standards since the last survey in 2003-04. While prices of goods and services have risen by 19%, the mean household income has increased by 50%. In short, costs are on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Sep 2011 18:55:34 GMT
Questioning your phone bill can pay off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/questioning-your-phone-bill-can-pay-off.aspx

The recent experience of a friend is a timely reminder to give your phone bill a once-over before you pay it. After noticing that his monthly mobile bill was higher than normal, my mate Marty took a closer look and saw a section he’d never seen on previous bills. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Sep 2011 10:49:54 GMT
Comparison websites confusion sparks warning http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/comparison-websites-confusion-sparks-warning.aspx

Comparison websites have been given a warning to act in a fair and transparent manner after the ACCC launched legal action last Friday against EnergyWatch.com.au. The ACCC is alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and making false representations in its advertising. This marks a line in the sand that comparison sites ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:50:52 GMT
Has cash lost its crown? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/has-cash-lost-its-crown.aspx

There are now many ways to pay for goods and services without cash – EFTPOS, PayPass, payWave, BPAY, PayPal, Paymate, credit card, debit card, POLi, online transfer and mobile payments. As a nation, we’re increasing our use of all of these, perhaps in part because it can be difficult or ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:47:09 GMT
Magic money savers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/magic-money-savers.aspx

You might not be able to pull money out of a hat, but with these unique money saving tips, you can magically boost the content of your piggy bank. We’ve all heard about unplugging our appliances at the wall, shopping around to save and the importance of planning a budget, and if ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:33:33 GMT
Mobile internet changing the marketplace http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/mobile-internet-changing-the-marketplace.aspx

There’s no doubt that internet on the go is becoming much more common. Nearly 12 million Australians now have an internet-capable mobile phone, and over half of those are smartphones, according to Nielsen’s Australian Online Consumer Report. Tablet computer sales are on the rise too and web developers are creating ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 20:24:46 GMT
The colour of money http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-colour-of-money.aspx

Once upon a time having a Gold or Silver credit card in your wallet was a sign of affluence and success for some people — a little plastic status symbol. And in the music world it seems that tradition continues — former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher can be seen on YouTube boasting, tongue ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 17:56:07 GMT
Children's product testing at CHOICE http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/childrens-product-testing-at-choice.aspx

Here at CHOICE we take our work in the Babies and Kids area very seriously. It can be quite difficult to tell whether a product is safe or not and parents and carers need information they can trust. To the untrained eye a product may look safe enough but there may ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 16 Aug 2011 16:27:24 GMT
Ten minutes work saves $126 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/ten-minutes-work-saves-$126.aspx

My comprehensive car insurance is up for renewal this month, so I did the usual thing of shopping around for quotes. AAMI came up with a price of $127 less than my current insurer, NRMA. I called NRMA and said I'd received a much cheaper quote, and asked if there ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Practical steps to slashing your power bills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/slash-your-power-bills.aspx

We’ve all noticed our power bills creeping up over time, in part due to the increased number and types of goods and appliances we all have, but also due to increasing energy costs. To date most of these costs are related to increased commercial and infrastructure costs, as well as ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Shonkys reveal some real lemons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/shonkys-reveal-some-real-lemons.aspx

The excitement was palpable as the stage was being set for this year’s CHOICE Shonky Awards ceremony. The question on everyone’s lips: who will be the ignominious winners of the shiny Shonkys this year? Hobnobbing in the Art Gallery of NSW with a who’s who of consumer media, sipping champagne and ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Are fridges cool? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/are-fridges-cool.aspx

I must be very strange: I love fridges. Well I don’t actually love fridges, but I find them really interesting. The messages I pick up from most people is that fridges are just there. A fridge just does its job of keeping stuff cold and that’s it. What’s to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 13:59:58 GMT
Putting ideals into practice http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/putting-ideals-into-practice.aspx

This week CHOICE launched the first ever group mortgage switch, aiming to give every consumer who takes part the negotiating power of more than a thousand people. We’re calling it the CHOICE Big Bank Switch. With this campaign, CHOICE is putting itself at the forefront of a next-generation consumer campaign; ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:03:51 GMT
Super and stocks in the current economic climate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/super-and-financial-markets.aspx

If you’re wondering what to do with your super and investments in the current financial market, you’re not alone. Stockmarkets in Australia have been bouncing up and down as debt fears in the US and Europe fuel global speculation, and investors and fund managers worldwide have been riding a rollercoaster ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 12 Aug 2011 07:40:33 GMT
Consumer action matters http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/why-consumer-action-matters.aspx

Whether it’s planning approvals or palm oil, fair trade or fair bank fees, everywhere you turn consumers and citizens are taking action to achieve change. People organise community action groups and sign email petitions, call talkback radio and write letters to companies demanding change. Action like this is the lifeblood ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:59:53 GMT
Testing PayPal's guarantee http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/testing-paypal-guarantee.aspx

We recently purchased a product for a CHOICE review but never received it. We had paid for the item via PayPal, so we pursued PayPal’s guarantee of coverage through their internal resolution centre. Even though we were disappointed we didn't get the product - we pay for them anonymously with ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 08 Aug 2011 14:25:16 GMT
What the Census means for consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/census-data.aspx

Census night allows the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to gather vital data for planning and infrastructure, but plenty of people don’t mind having a joke when filling out their question sheets. After all, according to the 2001 Census there were around 70,000 Jedi in Australia at the time, but ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 05 Aug 2011 13:26:36 GMT
Energy audit shines light on savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/energy-audit-shines-light-on-savings.aspx

Saving energy is all the rage these days, which is no surprise given rising energy prices. A little while ago my wife and I took part in a voluntary government study which measured the standby power and lighting in 150 Australian households. You will have heard of energy audits before, where some ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Aug 2011 08:22:52 GMT
Big Bank Switch - why group switching is here to stay http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/big-bank-switch.aspx

Try this. You gather a group of people together who want the same thing and negotiate a better price than even the best solo haggler could achieve. You might even get the kind of discounts normally reserved for big spenders like millionaire business people or celebrities. It’s called group buying ...

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CHOICE Blog Sun, 31 Jul 2011 10:09:20 GMT
Telco complaints reach tipping point http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/telco-complaints.aspx

Frustration at our telecommunications providers has been allowed to grow to Hulk-like proportions due to years of customer service incompetence and confusing pricing plans that are impossible to calculate. With the number of consumers frequently facing bill shock, it’s no wonder people are angry. The Australian Communications and Media Authority ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:17:15 GMT
eBooks going to the library http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/ebooks-at-the-library.aspx

A few weeks ago, CHOICE Technology team leader, Steve Duncombe, and I visited the Bowen Library in Maroubra (Randwick City Library Service) in New South Wales to give a talk on eBooks and eBook readers. Steve’s talk was well-received and there was a lot of discussion on eBooks and eBook ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Jul 2011 11:31:22 GMT
It’s time to end excessive credit card surcharging http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/excessive-surcharging.aspx

Whenever you pay for something using your credit card, it costs businesses money. Typically, it costs more for stores to accept credit cards than other payment methods like debit or EFTPOS. In 2003, the RBA decided to allow those costs to be passed on to consumers in the form of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:33:01 GMT
Committing to winter exercise http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/exercise-bike-or-trainer.aspx

I recently decided to put some thought into getting more exercise. The weather was getting colder, and while I love winter, the part I love about it is getting warm. I generally cycle to work, so I thought about how I could get some more exercise without having to spend ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:55:11 GMT
Censorship - too much, not enough or just right? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/control-freaks.aspx

Australia has a long history of censorship. At our foundations, we have no constitutional protection of free speech, and some claim ours are among the most restrictive censorship policies in the Western world. Some notable examples of censorship in Australia include: The banning of Lady Chatterley’s Lover until the mid-20th ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:53:28 GMT
Bullying beyond the schoolyard http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/bullying.aspx

What happens in the playground can stay with us for a long time. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it comes to bullying, it’s hard to see any good in being picked on relentlessly. Combine this sentiment with easy access to online mediums like YouTube, and it’s not ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:49:14 GMT
Reduce the stress of moving house http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/moving-house.aspx

Having read a couple of blogs from my colleagues on their experiences with real estate agents and the challenges of buying, I thought that I'd share my experiences of the next step: moving. Without question, the seemingly never-ending inspections and negotiations in purchasing or renting a property can be very stressful, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 12:33:14 GMT
Your privacy is in the fine print http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/your-privacy-is-in-the-fine-print.aspx

The unravelling of the News of the World scandal has put the tenuous right to privacy into the spotlight over the last week. As the extent of the News phone hacking operation has become clearer, people are asking questions about the safety of personal information. But while the revelations of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 11:46:52 GMT
Steep learning curve follows switch to HTC Sensation http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/htc-sensation.aspx

Some time ago, I was made aware that I had given some bad advice. My wife took great enjoyment, given where I work, that my advice on her phone had been rushed. Enjoyment turned to annoyance as she had to deal with a texting system that took nine clicks just ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 08:49:22 GMT
Dental health - the silent epidemic http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/dental-health-the-silent-epidemic.aspx

What’s worse than going to the dentist? Not having the option – like the 650,000 Australians who were on public dental waiting lists at last check in 2009. While many people can afford to seek treatment if they need it, those without the means to pay the high costs of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Jul 2011 09:08:07 GMT
Ten tips to navigate the banking maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/banking-maze.aspx

Just like changing the oil on your car, your finances also often need maintenance to run smoothly. Here are 10 fast and effective ways to ensure your accounts are in order. Home loans 1 Pay your mortgage fortnightly It’s an old trick, but can save you big bucks. If you ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 05 Jul 2011 08:49:40 GMT
Think big or our progress will be small http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/think-big-or-our-progress-will-be-small.aspx

Having worked at the heart of government I have some insight into how the daily morass of stuff can obscure the bigger picture and the ambitions that drive people into politics in the first place. It has made me feel more passionate that, for the sake of human development, ambition ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 02 Jul 2011 14:30:27 GMT
United Airlines brings me back to earth http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/united-airlines.aspx

I have just returned from Silicon Valley in the US where I spent a week inside some of the most impressive companies to emerge in recent times: Zappos, a company that sells shoes and clothes, but in reality sells great customer service where goods arrive the next day and they ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:21:11 GMT
Complaints about bad service http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/complaints-about-bad-service.aspx

A few days ago I had an expensive degustation dinner at a restaurant in Sydney’s north shore. I’ve been there several times before, and have recommended it to many friends and family members. But this particular night, while the food was not memorable, the service will forever be imprinted in ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 27 Jun 2011 11:05:35 GMT
Five ways to save on your home loan http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/five-ways-to-save-on-your-home-loan.aspx

With interest rates and the cost of living set to rise over the coming year, it may be time to re-examine your budget and identify a few areas where you can save money. For many people, a mortgage represents a large part of the budget, so it makes sense that ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 09:56:28 GMT
Comfortable travel is a tall order http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/tall-consumers.aspx

What’s not to love about travelling overseas? The journey, the hotels, different cultures, food and modes of transport all combine for an experience you won’t forget. But there is one thing that makes travelling a little less enjoyable than it should be - being tall. I’m just over 6 foot ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 08:58:13 GMT
Mail order madness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mail-order-madness.aspx

My dad was after some in-shoe supports for a pair of shoes that couldn’t accommodate his regular orthotics, and was convinced by an ad in Seniors magazine for some Foot Cradles. They promised pain relief for everything from neck to toes, but that was neither here nor there, he was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 17:10:54 GMT
Sleeping with Tony Abbott http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/ceo-sleepout.aspx

Sleeping with Tony Abbott and Ralph Norris was not an idea that had ever crossed my mind - which will no doubt come as a relief to them and my wife - but for a good cause it was worth that morning after feeling. Last night Ralph, Tony and I, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:50:52 GMT
15 things I wish I had known before buying my first home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/advice-for-first-home-buyers.aspx

Buying your first home can be a daunting prospect. The thought of entering into a new realm of finance, solicitors, reports and negotiations is a little overwhelming, to say the least. In order to assist potential buyers with this process I've complied a checklist of 15 things you’ll need to consider ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Jun 2011 11:00:48 GMT
Tablet, eBook reader or plain old paperback? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/ebook-readers.aspx

When CHOICE started testing eBook readers a few years ago, there was nothing like the iPad out there. But since its inception and inclusion in our second test, the question we get asked most regarding eBook readers is: why bother with an eBook reader when I can get a tablet? For ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 25 May 2011 21:26:45 GMT
A tale of two airlines - good service v. cheap fares http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/a-tale-of-two-airlines.aspx

Picture it: Narita Airport, Tokyo, April 2011, 23:00. Two Aussie travellers sprinting behind a petite but very speedy Japan Airlines (JAL) paperwork-laden staff member as she ushers us through airport security, customs and other blurred bureaucrats onto a shuttle cable to take us to another terminal, rushes us past what ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 May 2011 10:52:53 GMT
Real estate: mistake or misrepresentation? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/misleading-real-estate-agent.aspx

Real estate agents get a really bad wrap. As a journalist, who in the past has been on the receiving end of some rather offensive professional generalisations, I have always been conscious of avoiding the tarring of an entire profession with the one brush. I’m also somewhat sympathetic to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 11:33:55 GMT
Roam around to avoid bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/data-roaming-bill-shock.aspx

Disclaimer: I am an idiot. I’ve been working for a fine consumer organisation for almost three years now, during which time I’ve come across several bill shock horror stories from members stung by exorbitant global and data roaming charges for postpaid mobile phones. So what’s the one simple step I didn’t ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 10:34:36 GMT
What the big four banks can learn from Apple http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/applebanking.aspx

This week’s media has been full of news about the four big banks’ latest record-making profits - $12 billion in profit over the past six months. One article that got my attention however was Business Spectator’s Apple can bank its winnings by Charis Palmer. Given Apple’s significant cash pools, she ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 06 May 2011 11:16:43 GMT
The great Aussie beer glass dilemma http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/varying-beer-sizes.aspx

A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’d like a beer, please.” The bartender replies: “Sure, mate. What size?” “What sizes have you got?” “We’ve got pots, ponies, middies, schooners, pints, butchers, sevens, eights, tens, handles…” Ahh, the dilemma of ordering a beer in an Aussie ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 May 2011 09:56:20 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: project home pros and cons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/knockdown-rebuild-part-2.aspx

We’d finally chosen our house. It wasn’t quite our dream house – who can afford that – but we felt we could make changes that would bring it close. Even on project homes, you can make changes to the floor plan within certain constraints and usually at extra cost, so ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 03 May 2011 14:20:23 GMT
Foreign flowers for Valentine's Day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/foreign-blooms-for-valentines-day.aspx

My love is like a red, red rose… but I haven’t a clue where she comes from. This is the conundrum facing those of us buying cut flowers this Valentine's Day. There’s currently no requirement for country of origin labelling (read our article on chocolates and flowers), despite the large ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 02 May 2011 09:08:15 GMT
Mobile phones: one size doesn’t fit all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mobile-phone-testing.aspx

Cat people and dog people, people who think Sean Connery is the only James Bond and those who can only consider Roger Moore. Lady Ga Ga fans and people who just don’t get it. The world is full of divided camps and mobile phones are yet another area where people have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Apr 2011 11:56:50 GMT
Breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/breastfeeding-difficulties.aspx

Breastfeeding is perfectly natural and the absolute best thing you can do for your baby. At least that was what I was told during my pregnancy countless times: early parenting classes, pre-natal visits and all the literature I was reading trumpeted the benefits of breastfeeding. But what none of them ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Apr 2011 10:20:49 GMT
Don't settle for a bad haircut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/bad-haircut.aspx

Have you ever had a bad haircut? What about a really bad haircut? One so bad that when you got home and looked in the mirror you had to fight back the tears? Or, one that required you to wear a hat day and night for the next month? I ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:49:12 GMT
Reduce energy consumption and pocket the savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/energy-prices.aspx

1985 was a very different place to 2011. Nelson Mandela was sitting in a South African jail cell, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as US president, and a man wearing a chicken suit trespassed into the Australian Parliament and sat on the government’s front bench. But electricity prices…well, they were ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Apr 2011 09:18:04 GMT
Is your email account at risk from hackers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/email-hack.aspx

I was awoken on Friday with an early morning phone call from a friend. She told me she’d received a strange email from me saying that I was in Spain and that I had been robbed and asking if she could help by sending me some money. This was the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 11 Apr 2011 10:25:35 GMT
When an insurance claim just isn't worth it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/small-insurance-claim.aspx

I've owned a laptop for about five years now. I bought it at the top of the range, upgraded it and use it constantly for education, business trips and at home almost every day. It really has served its purpose and I cannot complain about it at all. It's gone ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Apr 2011 09:23:50 GMT
What is social business and why does it matter? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/social-business.aspx

Something profound is happening to the way some of us do business – so fundamental that the old left and right might even seek to claim it as their own but in truth it happened despite them, and certainly doesn’t need them. And in any case it’s a phenomenon that ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:39:29 GMT
Freeview labelling - do we need it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/freeview.aspx

Digital TV is already being broadcast across much of Australia. By 2014, remaining analogue TV broadcasts will be shut down, and you’ll have no choice but to watch digital TV. The federal government is doing a pretty good job of educating Australians about the transition to digital, and what consumers ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Mar 2011 08:41:53 GMT
Consumers are banking on reform http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/consumers-are-banking-on-reform.aspx

Today the government released emails containing advice on banking reform given to the Treasurer Wayne Swan last October. The advice from officials repeats banking industry concerns about proposals to scrap exit fees and introduce portable bank account numbers - two key reforms strongly supported by CHOICE. The concerns state that scrapping exit ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:41:02 GMT
Carbon price: households shouldn't carry the cost for industry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/carbon-price-details-still-to-come.aspx

The federal government has announced a plan to implement a carbon price in Australia from 1 July 2012. This is a welcome step because a carbon price is the least-costly way of tackling climate change, and studies show the sooner we act, the lower the cost, so this is potentially ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:40:50 GMT
Taking your call for better banking to Canberra http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/better-banking.aspx

Today we’re in Canberra handing a new CHOICE report on banking to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and to members of the Senate Committee that’s carrying out an inquiry into banking. The report, packed full of consumer views on banking gathered by CHOICE over recent months, won’t bring a smile to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:38:32 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild - how it all began http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/knockdown-and-rebuild.aspx

When I mention to people that we’re building a house, the most common reaction is that we’ve temporarily gone insane and will wake up to regret it. That may yet happen but so far we’re still ok with it. We had a house, but it was too small. Seriously, it ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:05:02 GMT
The most savvy and active consumers in the world! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/the-most-savvy-and-active-consumers-in-the-world.aspx

I’d like to personally welcome you to the new site. All the improvements have been based on your feedback and we will continue to make changes that work for you. Please let me know what you think of the site — the good, the bad and the ugly. From the day ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:38 GMT
Shaky Foundations http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/shaky-foundations.aspx

Makeup and I go way back. From that first lip-gloss I bought from the Avon lady at the grand old age of10, it’s been a love affair that’s seen me through several decades. Now I’m on the wrong side of 35, with a toddler who likes to start the working ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:25 GMT
Radio radio http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/radio-radio.aspx

It's been a long time since I listened to the radio on my regular trips from Sydney to Newcastle. CDs were a godsend and now I follow the trend and carry an iPod with hundreds of hours of music and podcasts. In the car I've a little transmitter that wirelessly ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:13 GMT
Pst ... wanna buy a used option? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/pst-wanna-buy-a-used-option.aspx

Around the same time that I was researching ways to recession-proof your finances, some prominent newspaper adverts caught my eye. They were for investment seminars that promised to reveal how to make money regardless of whether share markets were going up, down or sideways. Better still, the system was supposed to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:00 GMT
One more for the road? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/one-more-for-the-road.aspx

Heard the one about the man who walked into a pub with a pocketful of breathalyzers? We had tested out these devices in strict laboratory conditions but what happens when you let them loose among some real life boozers? For starters you get another view of how people both use ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:45 GMT
Grand designs http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/grand-designs.aspx

If you’ve checked my bio you’ll know I’m Neill and I work in the laundry lab here. Actually I will be working in it once the renovations it’s currently undergoing come to an end — we’re promised we can move in this Thursday. A fortnight ago it was going to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:20 GMT
An extra large medium http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/an-extra-large-medium.aspx

As most people who know me will admit (often with an unseemly amount of enthusiasm), it's not often that I'm lost for words. But starting a blog on video production for CHOICE presents me with something of a challenge. You're obviously interested in video, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:53 GMT
The yarn about thread count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-yarn-about-thread-count.aspx

Bed sheets are on sale again. But before you rush out and grab the first one with the highest thread count, even if it was 50% off its usual price, do yourself a favour and shop around. Last weekend, while I was shopping at House, a home and kitchenware store, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:09 GMT
The unexpected should make you stronger http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-unexpected-should-make-you-stronger.aspx

Tough times hit people all the time. It’s why this year we didn’t put up our prices because we know people have been feeling the pinch; it’s also why CHOICE investigates solutions to the most challenging aspects of consumer life, so that we can take the hassle out of your ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:56 GMT
Something to put a sparkle in the day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/something-to-put-a-sparkle-in-the-day.aspx

Well yesterday was a change from the usual work in the laundry lab: evaluating washing machines and dishwashers. Choice usually publishes a story on sparkling wines coming up to the festive season. To score the wines we have a panel of experts do a blind tasting. And as a follow-up we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:29 GMT
Just do it - just doesn't cut it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/just-do-it--just-doesnt-cut-it.aspx

I’ve often thought of doing exercise as being bit like cleaning one’s teeth. It’s something I know I should do, and sometimes it feels good, while at other times I just do it, knowing I’ll feel better for it afterwards. And the long term benefits of both are absolutely worth ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:03 GMT
Into the mouths of babes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/into-the-mouths-of-babes.aspx

Some days it seems that retailers think that my daughter is an alien. While I’ll admit my toddler behaves like she’s from another planet at times, I’m fairly sure she’s a human, albeit a small one. But in the supermarket it seems many product marketers are keen to convince me ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:52 GMT
Foxtel's price increase - less for more http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/foxtels-price-increase---less-for-more.aspx

Five years ago I broached the subject of subscribing to Foxtel Pay TV, primarily so I could watch (even) more sport. While my love of English football isn’t shared by everyone in my household, the “Digital Basic” package included UK TV and the Lifestyle channel. I'm not sure I ever ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:25 GMT
Fighting fines with fire http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fighting-fines-with-fire.aspx

Parking fines are one of the main bugbears of any motorist, especially when they’ve been wrongly issued. However, I'm interested in why consumers aren't more proactive in challenging unfair fines when the success rate is actually quite high. As we were conducting our research for our article on parking fines, we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:13 GMT
Fares fair http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fares-fair.aspx

A few weeks ago I caught a taxi to the airport for a flight to Canberra. I was on my way to visit the National Information Centre On Retirement Investments (NICRI - a really useful organisation that provides free financial information to consumers), and they'd kindly given me a cabcharge to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:01 GMT
Escalator action proves goal is achieveable http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/escalator-action-proves-goal-is-achieveable.aspx

I’m just back from a week on Boomerang beach. What a great place even if the sun didn’t shine! I’m realising that come rain or shine the Aussie outdoor spirit is contagious and I even felt compelled to take off my rain jacket each day for a dip in the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:48 GMT
Don't touch that dial http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/dont-touch-that-dial.aspx

I think the time is fast approaching when free-to-air TV is going to become almost entirely irrelevant in most peoples lives. Its not that I've any empirical evidence for its demise, nor is it something I would wish to happen, but the major networks in Australia seem to have a ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:35 GMT
CHOICE Insights http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/choice-insights.aspx

I’m just heading off for a week’s holiday to north of Newcastle at Boomerang Beach. I’m sure many of you are used to the beauty of Australia but being new to the country, it’s a great treat for me and my family to spend holidays in a place we also ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:22 GMT
A Wii game of tennis, anyone? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-wii-game-of-tennis-anyone.aspx

If it’s too hot or too wet to go outside, there’s always exergaming. We’re always hearing about kids getting fatter and fatter due to too much junk food and not enough exercise. In the ideal world kids would be outside playing cricket with the other kids on the street, kicking ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:09 GMT
A moral duty to act in the interests of consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-moral-duty-to-act-in-the-interests-of-consumers.aspx

I’ve spent most of the day on the phone to members which is a great way to understand some of the issues that affect people every day. The issues are wide ranging and some are very heartfelt. One of my callers spoke about a very expensive medicine that he purchased ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:56 GMT
Ask what more we can do http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/ask-what-more-we-can-do.aspx

Organisations like CHOICE have nothing to fear from transparency, it’s what we tell others, it’s what we practice ourselves. The last few weeks have been difficult for CHOICE because of the credit card issue (mentioned in my last two blogs), but we are more focused now than ever before on ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:40 GMT
Tough decisions are tough on everyone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/tough-decisions-are-tough-on-everyone.aspx

Emotional commitment to a cause and to the people affected by any tough decisions is in my DNA and one that I think has to sit well with a modern CEO. It’s also why this week has been the hardest I’ve had since starting at CHOICE and perhaps the most ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:27 GMT
Never buy the foot spa http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/never-buy-the-foot-spa.aspx

My track record with buying gifts is, at best, mixed. There have been some unqualified successes - ranging from the 30th birthday scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef that I organised, to the book of nursery rhymes and songs I bought in the ABC Shop for my one ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:13 GMT
A goal for the level playing field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/making-the-grocery-market-competitive.aspx

On Wednesday evening the report by the Senate Economics Committee into Grocery CHOICE was published. The Inquiry recommendations are important to CHOICE in vindicating our position and re-affirming the need for change in the grocery sector. CHOICE wants a more competitive grocery market; in truth it would be hard for ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:00 GMT
Convenience comes at a cost http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/convenience-comes-at-a-cost.aspx

The old adage that convenience comes at a cost rang true when I paid for my car insurance today. What I usually do when I get my policy renewal notice is get a few quotes from other insurers and then come to the conclusion that once again my existing insurer is still the cheapest. ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:41 GMT
Confessions of a food label addict http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/confessions-of-a-food-label-addict.aspx

Hi, my name is Rachel, and I’m a food label addict. But I haven’t always been quite so obsessed, and I blame my job for that. As a food and health content producer for CHOICE I spend hours scrutinising nutrition information panels, ingredients lists and the claims made on food ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:29 GMT
A disturbing letter from my bank http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/a-disturbing-letter-from-my-bank.aspx

Last week I got a letter from my lender, instead of the expected notice about an interest rate increase, the message was rather more disturbing: my lender is withdrawing from the market. While they will continue to service me and their other customers they won’t provide any new loans. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:17 GMT
Use it or lose it! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/trying-the-alternatives.aspx

The challenge was as blunt, immediate as it was unambiguous. Can you go for a week without darkening the doors of Coles or Woolworths?   After all CHOICE will be asking others to consider switching more often to independent grocers, fruitologists, butchers and bakers and even fishmongers for their grocery ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:01 GMT
Access to airtime http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/chance-to-get-some-real-airtime.aspx

Being captive to lousy service is everyone’s bugbear, especially when you know you could’ve got a better deal elsewhere. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Two days ago, I tried to change the flight dates with a major airline here and was told I had to pay $62.50 to do so, which was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:25 GMT
Acoustic foamy goodness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/acoustic-foamy-goodness.aspx

I’ve always found it rather ironic that poor video with goodaudio always comes across as a lot more professional than good video with pooraudio. And frankly, getting a decent audio recording at CHOICE is a real painin the proverbials - particularly since the recent renovation replaced thetatty old sound-absorbing carpet ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:08 GMT
Knowing me, knowing you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/knowing-me-knowing-you.aspx

Welcome to 2010 and a red letter year for CHOICE, as we mark our 50th anniversary. It’s a significant milestone and provides a moment to reflect on past achievements. I stress that this is a moment of reflection and not a time for complacency, for the challenges that consumers face ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:20 GMT
'You cannot be serious' http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/you-cannot-be-serious.aspx

The Australian Open has re-fueled my love of tennis (as well as reminding me that Britain is good at coming second!). It also made me think how the quality of tennis today is infinitely better than it was many years ago. Nostalgia and sentiment take you back to the joys ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:06 GMT
There's somebody at the door http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/somebody-is-at-the-door.aspx

Last year an official looking man called to my house and said that due to deregulation of the electricity industry in NSW, he needed to check my energy meter and bill. Of course, something about this introductory spiel wasn't quite right. In fact, I was under no obligation to show ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:53 GMT
Naked tales http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/naked-tales.aspx

Recently I moved and decided to do without a very large national communications network. You know who I’m talking about: Telstra. I started the process of Naked DSL activation. I’d briefly been with Internode at my previous address and hadn’t had any issues, so decided to go with them again. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:24 GMT
Putting the 'super' back into supermarket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/march/putting-the-super-back-into-supermarket.aspx

I have made no secret of my views on the state of the supermarket sector in Australia over the past year. And talking to consumers, farmers, independent grocers and others about the problem has only strengthened our resolve here at CHOICE to do something about it. They confirm that all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:58 GMT
A language for bad business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/april/a-language-for-bad-business.aspx

Over the last few weeks I have been openly discussing the need to create a new consumer culture in Australia (see my comment piece in the Sydney Morning Herald): http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/consumers-must-stop-accepting-second-best-20100315-q9id.html I have received a very positive response from people right across the country. Many feel and have felt for years, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:44 GMT
Remember the customer has the last word http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/may/remember-the-customer-has-the-last-word.aspx

Following my last blog on the language of bad business, a colleague in the consumer movement sent me the clip below. It’s a great example of where the new media age allows customers to fight back and hit companies where it hurts - their reputation! The YouTube clip below came ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:31 GMT
Take two tablets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/take-two-tablets.aspx

Samsung is hoping to give Apple a real headache with its new tablet. The Galaxy Tab, unveiled early in September, is a smaller, lighter rival for Apple’s highly successful iPad and one of the first of what is expected to be a flood of tablet-style devices to hit the market ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:04 GMT
Now focus on the people who elected you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/now-focus-on-the-people-who-elected-you.aspx

So, two and a half weeks after the federal election, we have a result.  And now that the politicians have stopped trying to woo each other, perhaps they’ll start trying to woo us again. During this peculiar political hiatus, when Ministers and MPs have been horse trading behind closed doors, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:50 GMT
Choose your own adventure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/choose-your-own-adventure.aspx

Being a geek and gadget lover I read all about Android and the promise it held (though I must admit I was tempted by the iPhone 4). So patiently I awaited a mobile phone that ticked all the boxes for me. Some people can make snap purchasing decisions and buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:14 GMT
2010 Shonkys - A stark reminder of why we exist http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/october/2010-shonkys---a-stark-reminder-of-why-we-exist.aspx

After a 23-hour flight from the US, I stepped straight off a plane and into CHOICE’s Shonky Awards ceremony today - and instantly my jetlag evaporated. Nothing could have revived me more than being reminded of our vision in action – to make Australians the most active and savvy consumers in ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:57 GMT
GST threshold - join the debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/gst-threshold---join-the-debate.aspx

It’s the hot button issue about tax, technology and competition that has provoked a fiery debate about online shopping versus bricks and mortar retailers. At present, Australians can buy goods online from overseas and not pay GST for products under $1000. CHOICE’s position of arguing to retain the $1000 GST-free threshold has ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:07 GMT
Book store woes highlight gift voucher risks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/book-store-woes-highlight-gift-voucher-traps.aspx

This current situation with the parent company of the Borders and Angus and Robertson bookstore chains going into voluntary administration highlights one of the risks involved in buying gift vouchers; you’re giving money that could potentially never give a return. When a company goes into administration, people holding gift vouchers ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:37:00 GMT
Baby buying brain http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/pregnancy-and-shopping.aspx

Something happens to a woman when she becomes pregnant. Before you get up in arms about that statement, I’ll clarify. I’m not saying pregnant women get crazy, just cautious - very cautious. I can say that because I was one of them. Suddenly everything matters. Everything is potentially dangerous. You ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:35:44 GMT
Join us in our push for better banks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/join-us-in-our-push-for-better-banks.aspx

During the worldwide GFC, the public stood by the banks in their time of need and financial markets are now fortunately more stable. The collapse of the financial system would have benefited no one and that’s why the public gave the green light to any action deemed necessary to stabilise ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:15:19 GMT
A Level Playing Field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/a-level-playing-field.aspx

It’s not every day that Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman fame gets on the blower to challenge my position on globalization and internet buying, but that’s what he did the other day. Gerry has set himself up as the lightning rod of discontent for local traders who are feeling the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:14:08 GMT
CHOICE Blogs http://www.choice.com.au/blog.aspxmetadata description Copyright 2014 www.choice.com.auen-au http://www.choice.com.au/img/logo_choice.gif www.choice.com.au http://www.choice.com.auWed, 01 Oct 2014 03:46:09 GMTIs a Thermomix really worth it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/Buying-a-thermomix.aspx

With a hefty $1939 price tag, adding a Thermomix to your kitchen collection is no impulse buy. And like plenty of people, my partner and I did a lot of reading and research before deciding to bite the bullet. (Getting a relative to buy one for us in France for ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:28:59 GMT
Call Centre Anguish http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Call-Centre-Anguish.aspx

When moving house recently, I was assigned the duty of coordinating our utility connections. I consider myself a sociable person with a finesse for negotiation skills, so I like to deal with such tasks with that great interpersonal tool known as the internet. However, my internet research soon revealed that ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:11:35 GMT
Consumer needs must take priority in financial advice debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/July/Consumer-needs-must-take-priority-in-financial-advice-debate.aspx

Senators will make a decision this week that might just save homes and help to people retire with dignity. Because when people get financial advice that’s not in their best interest, or advice that is driven by sales incentives instead of responsibility, they risk losing everything. This week the Senate will ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:39:59 GMT
Click here for stuff you don't want http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/dark-patterns.aspx

The other day, after getting a ‘reminder’ from LinkedIn that I still hadn’t responded to a friend’s invitation to, well, link in, I sent her an email apologising and said I didn’t have a LinkedIn account. A few minutes later she walked over (yep, I actually emailed someone sitting a ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:49:02 GMT
School of false hopes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/June/school-of-false-hopes.aspx

The 2014 Federal Budget has drastically changed the education landscape, with universities free to charge whatever they like for courses, while the income at which your HECS repayments kick in has been lowered and interest rates on debt increased. So now, more than ever, consumers need to make sure they ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:45:04 GMT
Greater price transparency needed at supermarkets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/unit-pricing-supermarkets.aspx

The forecasts of a tough Budget, rising unemployment, and higher interest rates, mean that more and more Australians are going to find it harder to make ends meet.But there is one thing we can all do that can make a big difference every week if not every day - try ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 May 2014 11:33:33 GMT
Infomercial weight loss - hot or not? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/infomercial-mania.aspx

I love TV home shopping shows - for about 30 seconds. After that I vacillate between fleeting credulity, overwhelming incredulity and coma-inducing boredom. However, since I'm always on the lookout for interesting consumer products, I suffer through them.The latest gizmo to catch my eye was Hot Shapers. These tight fitting ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 May 2014 11:28:55 GMT
Cleaning the dishwasher http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/washing-the-dishwasher.aspx

Over the past three years, you may have noticed a new product on the market - detergents for cleaning your dishwasher.  Now, you might be thinking that this idea is a little redundant. A dishwasher is supposed to be the thing that cleans other things, right? Well, right. And if ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:23:54 GMT
Bring your Windows PC back from the dead http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/recovery-media.aspx

The only thing worse than a computer that won’t boot up is realising you’ll have to pay to get it fixed. But before you reach for your wallet, there are a few things you can do that will help your PC recover from almost any system software problem, and the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:23:31 GMT
Hands on with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/Hands-on-with-the-PlayStation-4-and-Xbox-One.aspx

The next generation of games consoles are almost here. The Xbox One hits the shelves on 22nd November and the PlayStation 4 (PS4) one week later. Should you be stuffing one into your stocking this Christmas? I recently compared each one at the EB Games Expo in Sydney.Playtime was all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:59:53 GMT
Why is watching Game of Thrones in Australia so hard? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/watching-game-of-thrones-in-australia.aspx

Foxtel, you know nothing - nothing about how and when I want to watch TV, and nothing about what would make me renew my Foxtel subscription to watch Season Four of Game of Thrones. And honestly, I am here to be convinced.I was willing to pay you $44.50 a month, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:27:08 GMT
China dreaming http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/March/China-Dreaming.aspx

We recently went to China for a bit of a holiday, to see all the amazing growth that is going on in that country. And to get yet another lesson in the old adage, "you get what you pay for".There are a lot of cheap goods in China, in particular ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:26:15 GMT
The DVD and Blu-Ray region coding conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/February/dvd-players.aspx

I’m a Gen X, so I find myself straddling between the tried and trusted way of doing things, and attempting to orientate towards the "new way". Central to this predicament is technology, or more specifically, how to watch movies and TV shows.My favourite TV shows warrant buying DVD box sets ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Feb 2014 08:48:49 GMT
Extended warranty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Extended Warranty.aspx

Like many people I know, sometimes I just can’t be bothered reading the terms and conditions that are included with virtually every website, product and service that I sign up for. The thought just bores me silly. Delving into the lawyer speak, weasel words and down-right obfuscating terminology is not ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:49 GMT
Man shopping http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-disciplined-shopper.aspx

The way I take my revenge on the bewildering market for everyday goods is to grab the first thing I see in the lower price range. Companies spend countless hours and billions of dollars on packaging, promos and product placement; I spend three seconds making a decision. Take that, I ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:15 GMT
Help menu reboot http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/December/Help-menu-reboot.aspx

I’m no software designer or usability expert, but I use computers almost every day for work as well as general life management. It also just so happens that I spend most of my working life writing about computing - which probably explains why I’m writing about help menus.When it comes ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:38:55 GMT
The trouble with ebook pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/The-trouble-with-ebook-pricing.aspx

Amazon has just launched its local ebook store in Australia. This comes shortly after a US trial involving Apple that focused on ebook pricing. Time will tell how will Australian ebook retailers respond as Amazon seeks to cement its position in the market. The court case put the spotlight on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 17:11:39 GMT
White coat hypertension http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/white-coat-hypertension.aspx

Last time I went to the doctor for a check-up, my blood pressure was 140 over something. I was shocked - I’ve always been a 110, 120 kinda gal. She took two more readings and it went down - into the 130s. Reluctant to let me leave with this sort ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:14:53 GMT
Where's our digital revolution? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Wheres-our-digital-revolution.aspx

Australia is a peculiar country. We are wealthy, isolated, large in size but small in population. These features have conspired for some time to deny Australian consumers access to the newest media. Our release windows for film, music and televisions shows have been later, our range sparser and our prices, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 31 Oct 2013 15:17:10 GMT
CHOICE Computer goes to PAX http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/CC-goes-to-PAX.aspx

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) came to Australia this year for the first time, bringing with it a gigantic celebration of all things nerdy, video games in particular. We joined thousands of geeks in Melbourne to get some hands-on time with upcoming games and new technology, as the Melbourne Showgrounds ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:05:54 GMT
Charitable consumption http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/Charitable consumption.aspx

I'm a casual gamer. This means that I’ve reached a point in life where there are other things competing for my time on a fairly regular basis, so games are something that I'll do once in a blue moon - mostly when there is something I've been looking forward to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:07:23 GMT
How to get a refund on SimCity http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/How-to-get-a-refund-on-Sim-City.aspx

When it comes to getting refunds on faulty goods, Australian consumers are quite well protected under Australian Consumer Law. As a consumer advocacy organisation we are often informing consumers of their rights with handy guides and cards. The unmitigated disaster that is Electronic Art’s (EA) SimCity has been so great ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:06:17 GMT
You're going to be a dad! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/A-Dads-reaction-to-fatherhood.aspx

When I was growing up there were certain life moments I tried to imagine experiencing. Admittedly, in the early years they didn't go much beyond wanting to be Marco van Basten (Dutch footballer, played for AC Milan in the '90s. Genius. Never mind!), but as I got older I began ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:41:49 GMT
Baby bills - the unexpected purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Unexpected-parental-purchases.aspx

The financial shocks for first-time parents probably won’t be as bad as some of the less tangible parenting challenges that will come in later years, but it’s important to understand that baby goods marketers have gotten better than ever at getting you to buy stuff. It’s almost impossible to avoid making ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:42:20 GMT
The value of in-app purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-value-of-in-app-purchases.aspx

I have mixed feelings about in-app purchases. On the one hand, they can expand the lifecycle of a program with special updates and expansions suited to specific consumer needs. On the other they can capitalise on a desire for instant gratification. It's the latter that are currently making headlines all ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 16:42:40 GMT
Direct debits: good or bad for consumers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Direct-debits-Good-or-Bad-for-Consumers.aspx

Many consumers use direct debits to pay bills, and most of the time they probably work well. However, it is still worth asking a very fundamental question: are they really of net benefit to all consumers?Direct debits certainly benefit businesses in many ways. For example, direct debit gives a higher ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 10:35:14 GMT
Why the milk debate isn't clear-cut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/milk-prices.aspx

Hands up if you want cheap milk? Actually, let’s try rephrasing that - hands up if you want to rip off farmers? Many consumers could be forgiven for feeling slightly confused about which side to take in the recent “milk war” between Australia’s major supermarkets. The debate that started with $1-a-litre ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Behind the scenes of the CHOICE Awards http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/choice-awards.aspx

Planning the CHOICE Awards is a little like planning a wedding. No bride, sure, but a similar amount of organisation and hard work: book a venue, tee up an MC, invite guests, select a menu, prepare speeches, make seating plans – and then there’s the little thing about choosing awards and ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Where TV is going http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/where-tv-is-going.aspx

There's a lot of hype around at present over 3D TV. I'm not convinced it'll be as big a seller as the manufacturers are claiming — but we'll definitely test some when they're in the market and there's something 3D to watch on them. My thinking is that it'll be ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Heart Foundation ticked off at Coles logo http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/heart-foundation-ticked-off-at-coles-logo.aspxEarlier this week we heard that the Heart Foundation was unhappy with Coles using a red tick in the logo of their generic Smart Buy range, arguing that it could give shoppers the impression that Coles Smart Buy products met some kind of nutrition or health criteria which made them healthier choices. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:14 GMT
CHOICE heads to the IFA Berlin http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/IFA-CES-Berlin.aspx

The Consumer Electronics Show (IFA – or Internationale Funkausstellung) is held once a year inMesse Berlin - in a massive sprawling conference centre five times larger than any conference centre wehave in Australia. There are over 27 halls of various products ranging from fully formed household items from brands we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 10 Sep 2013 14:40:52 GMT
The price you could pay for a free PC http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/The price you could pay for a free PC.aspx

I was bored with Windows. But after a torrid weekend of tussling with Linux I’m almost looking forward to more boredom. It’s not that moving to Linux is a bad idea – far from it – but I fell into a trap that made for a less than smooth transition. ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:02:36 GMT
Lab dryers lead to energy savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/Lab-dryers-lead-to-energy-savings.aspx

CHOICE wants to reduce the amount of energy we use on site - along with implementing monitor turn off policies or timers, replacing every other fluorescent tube pair rather than every one, plus many other smaller changes that whittle away at electricity usage, we've been looking at the laboratories as ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:43:29 GMT
Sham-not-so-Wow http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/sham-not-so-wow.aspx

After seeing the infomercial and watching a video posted by our sister organisation ConsumerReports about the ShamWow, I was given the task of having a play around with this "wonder" cloth to see if it wowed me or not. I got a special offer for $59.90 - buy one set, get one ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Aug 2013 09:48:07 GMT
Insurance is seriously entertaining http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/insurance-is-seriously-entertaining.aspx

We are now in the middle of our home and contents insurance project – it’s been fascinating to see the different questions insurers ask in order to calculate how much they should charge you for insuring your home or contents. For example, it matters how many people you are living with, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:47:41 GMT
Volkswagen recall http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Volkswagen-recall.aspx

A few years ago my partner and I decided to buy a new car. While our faithful old bomb was okay, with a baby and a toddler we decided to bite the bullet and buy something newer.We settled on a Volkswagen Passat diesel wagon - a great looking car, just ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Jun 2013 10:44:38 GMT
Keep track of online tracking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Keep track of online tracking.aspx

I have an uneasy relationship with Facebook. Like most users, I love peering into the lives of friends for a few minutes a day. This peephole lets me stay in touch with rants, happy events and random thoughts.  As for myself, I like to post updates and links to stories ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Jun 2013 13:50:46 GMT
Arrested Development, Netflix and geo-blocking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/Arrested-Development-Netflix-and-geo-blocking.aspx

On 26 May, season four of the cult-comedy series Arrested Development was released on the internet-streaming website, Netflix.However, Netflix - which has exclusive broadcast rights to the show after its seven-year hiatus - is not available to Australian consumers. This means that Australians cannot officially access the show at all. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 30 May 2013 17:15:30 GMT
Borrowing from Peter - P2P lending http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/P2P-lending.aspx

It’s been a while since uni, but I’m pretty sure it was Shakespeare who said neither a lender nor a borrower be. And that was back in the 1500s or so. Well, there’s been a whole lot of lending and borrowing going on since then. In fact, entire industries have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 May 2013 09:36:38 GMT
Six months with an electric car http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/six-months-with-an-electric-car.aspx

Last year, CHOICE took a first look at the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle). I've had the interesting experience of driving the car for the last six months. In the process, I have been stopped at intersections, interrogated in parking lots and questioned at work. Everybody wants to know: ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 May 2013 16:13:38 GMT
Help, my baby won't sleep! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/baby-sleeping-aids.aspx

Whoever came up with the saying “sleeping like a baby” must have had one of those one-in-a-million textbook babies who slept way more than mine do.The perennial problem of babies and toddlers who either won’t fall asleep or won’t stay asleep was recently thrown into the spotlight through Adam Mansbach’s ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:25:58 GMT
The Sunday of three returns http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-sunday-of-three-returns.aspx

One Sunday this summer, I tried to return three items to three different shops. Two of the stores restored my faith in bricks and mortar shopping. The third demonstrated that some retailers have a long way to go if they plan on stemming the online shopping tide.First stop: Myer, where ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Apr 2013 18:18:16 GMT
Buy now, pay forever http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Buy-now-pay-forever.aspx

I think there’s a word missing from the English vocabulary. It would describe a product that lures you in with the promise of fulfilling a need relatively cheaply, but once purchased it applies a siphon to your finances to keep it running. I’m open to suggestions, but for now I’m ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:13:07 GMT
Will consumers win on excessive surcharges? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Will-consumers-win-on-excessive-surcharges.aspx

Today should bring good news for consumers as the Reserve Bank’s reforms to credit card surcharging come into effect. These reforms are designed to end the practice of retailers hitting consumers with excessive surcharges for paying by credit card – such as the $7.70 charged by Qantas and Virgin or ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:25:12 GMT
Consumers reap benefits of the social web http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/consumers-and-the-social-web.aspx

The phenomenal growth of social networking combined with continuing technological advances, like mobile internet connectivity, has brought new opportunities across the social spectrum – and consumers are one of the biggest winners. It seems relevant then that this is one of the reoccurring topics of discussion at the Consumers International ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Mar 2013 15:42:08 GMT
Cutting my paper ties http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Paperless.aspx

After reading a review of David Sparks’ ebook on the whys and wherefores of going paperless on The Mac Observer, I realised going paperless was something that I was interested in doing - and it wouldn’t be too difficult. Mac users may know David Sparks from his Mac Power Users ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:22:15 GMT
Consumer rights across borders http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/global-consumer-rights.aspx

In 1985, two pretty significant things happened for consumers around the world. There was the controversial release of ‘new recipe’ Coke. And then, there was also the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.Things didn't fare so well for the ‘New Coke’. After just three months, and a massive public ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 08 Mar 2013 09:06:37 GMT
Making the switch to a solid state drive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/SSD.aspx

Solid state drives (SSDs), have been around tech circles for a while, but they’ve only entered the consumer vernacular in the last 12 – 18 months. Promising faster boot and data transfer times, improved energy efficiency and greater system stability over hard disk drives (HDD), SSDs are gradually becoming an ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:04:54 GMT
Health insurance extras http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/health-insurance-in-an-online-age.aspx

Like many Australians over 30, I have private health insurance. Although I’m healthy, the tax man’s arm-twisting makes a compelling argument for me to have it. I’m on a comparatively cheaper “young singles” plan, but even that’s a pretty hefty drain on my wallet.(Yeah, yeah – I know I’m no longer ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:22:20 GMT
Taxi alternatives http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Taxi Alternatives.aspx

Taxi AlternativeGiven our recent Shonky given to Cabcharge for their surcharge that's not a surcharge, I thought it would be interesting to find ways around the monopoly rather than just resigning myself to the fact that Cabcharge has me temporarily over a barrel. Unfortunately, to truly get around the monopoly, ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Jan 2013 15:26:20 GMT
Do sales people influence you? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Retail-experience.aspx

One thing I've noticed in the last few years since starting at CHOICE is how salespeople can affect a purchasing decision.When I go into a retail store, I naturally go to a sales person because I want to buy something. What is the effect of asking that sales person for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:02:32 GMT
Why buying a DSLR might not be a good idea http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Buying-a-DSLR.aspx

There’s no shortage of camera reviewers on the internet. Some are competent and detailed in their assessments and some are not, but most make a simple assumption that appears to be incorrect for a significant portion of their audience. They assume the camera will be used in a variety of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:41:49 GMT
No festive cheer in bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/no-festive-cheer-in-bill-shock.aspx

The festive season invariably means travel for many of us. I’ve travelled a lot over the years myself, and lugged many a brick-size travel guide in my daypack. I’ve also been writing about travel and technology for many years and, as both a write and traveller, it’s exciting to realise ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:39:39 GMT
Something to write home about http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Something-to-write-home-about.aspx

If I had been born sixty years earlier, a matronly and god fearing teacher would have rapped my knuckles with a ruler for picking up a pen with my left hand. Fortunately, I was born in 1985 and was free to settle into the comforts of being left handed, unchallenged.This ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 09:25:50 GMT
Weight Watchers 360 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/weight-watchers-360.aspx

Some weeks ago CHOICE Food & Health was invited by Weight Watchers to participate in a ‘live social experiment’ involving lunch and information about the 2013 Weight Watchers program. We were told we’d be picked up from the office and taken to the event, and taken back afterwards. Who said ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 18 Dec 2012 12:17:09 GMT
Still more work to do on unit pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Still-more-work-to-do-on-unit-pricing.aspx

Since late 2009 large supermarkets have had to show the unit price (price per unit of measure) of packaged grocery items on shelf labels so that shoppers can easily compare prices and values.This was a major for victory for consumers that took nearly 50 years to achieve.However the current system ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:23:47 GMT
Piracy and market failure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Piracy-and-market-failure.aspx

Trying to understand, predict and influence consumer decision making is multi-billion dollar industry and an imperative for businesses and governments alike.A failure to predict not only what goods and service consumers choose to buy, but how they choose to buy them, can have some pretty drastic consequences. Consumers have shown ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:27:37 GMT
Fully charged http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Fully charged.aspx

My mum recently transferred some frequent flyer points to my Qantas Frequent Flyer account. Great, I thought – I can take my 18-month-old daughter on a trip to Adelaide to visit her auntie. A visit to the Qantas website informed me I had enough points to book the trip via the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Dec 2012 12:12:09 GMT
Retirement village contracts http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Retirement-village-contracts.aspx

There is something downright misleading with the way retirement village contracts work in Australia. For far too long, contract terms have weighed heavily in favour of the operators, and many residents discover they’re liable for higher costs than they anticipated when it’s too late to do anything about them.It means some ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:25:01 GMT
The new Facebook algorithm http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-new-Facebook-algorithm.aspx

Since its initial public offering in May this year, revenue has become a key priority for Facebook, and this is having consequences for users, businesses, and non-profits alike. Facebook has implemented a new algorithm to control what people see in their newsfeed, so not all their friends or pages' posts will ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 Nov 2012 15:36:02 GMT
Pester Power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Pester Power.aspx

I bought my two little daughters new toothbrushes the other day – not an uncommon occurrence in my house as my kids have a magical ability to make small items disappear into thin air (think a never ending roll call of vanishing hair clips, socks, hair bands, toothbrushes, etc.).So while ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:48:47 GMT
Celebrity endorsements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Celebrity endorsements.aspx

Kim Kardashian and ABC Television: it’s not very often you would imagine seeing the two together in the same sentence. Last week, however, Jonathan Holmes and Media Watch decided it was time to acquaint the two.  The topic of discussion: Kardashian’s commitment to the Quick Trim detox that joins the ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Oct 2012 12:35:21 GMT
Choosing a GP for your child http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/choosing-kids-GP.aspx

Someone asked me the other day how to go about choosing a GP for her newborn baby. This immediately brought back memories of the medical merry-go-round we went through in my kids’ early years. With recurrent ear infections and conjunctivitis and the usual scary spots and coughs all kids seem ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:53:43 GMT
The decline and fall of the big screen experience http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/Ads-in-theatres.aspx

Since when have cinema owners been given free rein to assault moviegoers with 20 minutes of soul-crushing commercials before the main feature starts? Since a while ago, I know, but lately matters seem to have gotten worse. These ads can take you right out of the movie mood.Last time I ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:13:10 GMT
Food nostalgia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Food nostalgia.aspx

Recently we published an article on brands disappearing, when hundreds of people contacted us to complain that their favourite brands and products had recently disappeared from the shelves of the big two supermarkets. It was surprising how passionate they were about the topic, and it got me thinking. Or should I ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 22 Aug 2012 09:24:37 GMT
Flying no frills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Flying no frills.aspx

Last year, I went on holiday to Europe. When I was deciding which airline to fly with, I had a tough choice to make. I could fly Air China, which I'd never flown before and knew very little about. Their website was stuck in the dark ages (seriously - it ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 Aug 2012 12:53:39 GMT
Don't be ripped off on IT goods http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Dont-be-ripped-off-on-IT-goods.aspx

Would you rather pay $88 or $61 for a video game? I think I could hazard a guess at what your answer might be. Although this seems like somewhat of an absurd question, it is one that we are nevertheless asked on a daily basis. What is really absurd is ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:53:42 GMT
Webcams for Security http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Webcams for Security.aspx

Some time ago I purchased a webcam for Skype reasons. It doesn't get a lot of use, so I entertained the thought of using it as a security camera.CHOICE hasn't tested this, as there are plenty of options out there for dedicated security camera setups. But I went ahead and ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:46:55 GMT
Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government.aspx

Free-range eggs are being sold in increasing numbers around Australia and it comes as no great surprise that animal welfare is the main driver for consumers. Cartons carrying images of happy hens roaming on green fields lead many of us to believe it is worth paying extra for free-range. But for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 29 Jun 2012 11:14:38 GMT
Who pays who for what http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/who-pays-who-for-what.aspx

I recently came across an article on the website Money Management, which made me reflect on the ongoing debate about conflict of interest in the financial advice world. Entitled "Fund manager payments breed skepticism", the article said research conducted with financial planners suggests that "64 per cent of respondents (financial ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:56:27 GMT
An experiment in people power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/choice-big-bank-switch-an-experiment-in-people-power.aspx

“Knowledge must come through action,” observed a very wise man about 2,500 years ago. While Sophocles was not referring to the Australian banking sector, the ancient Greeks did know a thing or two about people power. The CHOICE Big Bank Switch is an experiment in people power. Although not quite ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:35:09 GMT
Environment and the economy – what are your choices? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/economy-and-environment.aspx

Our national economic backbone, mining, has found itself at odds with another area of financial importance – The Great Barrier Reef. Put aside your feelings on any environmental debate for the moment, because there is no denying that we are relying on the mining industry to carry our country’s bank ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:21:57 GMT
It's good to talk http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/its-good-to-talk.aspx

It takes a lot more than a few days to bring about lasting change; in fact a lifetime may not be enough when it comes to taking on the big end of town.But for the very few days the CHOICE Better Banking Campaign has been up and running we are beginning to ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:19:43 GMT
CHOICE Baby Safety Week http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Baby Safety Week.aspx

It’s the most wonderful time of your life. But it can also be the most fearful.Caring for a baby is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation. Am I doing the right thing? What if something happens? Where’s the rule book?I remember – like it was yesterday – bringing home my precious ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 16:11:30 GMT
The big four banks are just not that into us http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/The big four banks are just not that into us.aspx

Australians need to take a reality check on our relationship with the big four banks. If we asked our friends, they would say we are showing signs of unhealthy co-dependency.That we are worth so much more than out-of-cycle interest rate increases and record profits, but still we stick around.If our ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:16:35 GMT
Rolling the dice on daily deals http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Rolling the dice.aspx

Daily deals – the cut-price temptations that land in my inbox multiple times each day promising magical experiences and indulgent treats. On paper, the deals are usually fairly fantastic, and I enjoy entertaining new experiences or products I might not otherwise consider.However, there’s a vast difference between a great daily ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:14:38 GMT
Into the interest rate maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Into the interest rate maze.aspx

Financial literacy is not great in Australia. Worryingly, the latest research by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows that there are also many obstacles that make it even harder for people to make good financial decisions. However this may all be about to change thanks largely to the work ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:13:53 GMT
Adding up the Costco savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Costco experience.aspx

It all started with the fact that I wanted a cup of tea and we'd run out of decaffeinated tea - a small thing that grew into something much bigger: a trip to Costco.As I grabbed my keys to go to the supermarket, my wife mentioned that we had to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:12:51 GMT
Costco vs Cash 'n' carry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/costco-v-cash-n-carry.aspx

After some months of procrastinating we finally made it to the newish Costco store in Auburn in Sydney. We’d tried before but when we couldn't find a parking spot after 20 mins or so, we gave up. To give you an idea of how busy Costco was when we managed ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:07:55 GMT
Creating a comfortable home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/creating-a-comfortable-home.aspx

On a sweltering summer afternoon my house is hotter inside than out. To solve the problem, I've been researching a few solutions that wont run up a huge energy bill. Adequate insulation is really important. Unfortunately, the government has axed its home insulation scheme, following all the adverse publicity. It will be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 May 2012 11:57:40 GMT
Why we try not to put photographers in their place http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/classifying-cameras.aspx

Heroditus was a Greek tourist (and some say historian) who lived around 490 to 430BC. He didn't have a camera and we can't be sure if he wore a bumbag, but he did try to describe some of the places he visited. He used a simple classification of people: if ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 04 May 2012 12:55:47 GMT
Why pay full price? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/fullsociety.aspx

I keep seeing lots of hype about low confidence in Australia; low confidence in the retail sector; low confidence in finance. Despite being one of the few economies in the world that made it through the GFC with barely scraped knees, we seem worried about what’s going to happen. Whether ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:36:42 GMT
Behind the scenes: Electric blanket test http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/Behind the scenes electric blanket test.aspx

Sometimes I take a moment to remember just how lucky I am to work at CHOICE. During the several years I’ve worked here I’ve managed to go through three or four departments to try my hand at a bunch of different tasks to help members get the facts they need ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 Apr 2012 07:25:37 GMT
The calorie/kilojoule/cardio/counting conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/kilojoule-calorie-conundrum.aspx

If you live in NSW, Queensland, SA or the ACT chances are you’ll have seen or will start seeing kilojoule (kJ) counts next to items on fast and snack food menus. That’s because state and territory governments are introducing or have passed legislation making kilojoule labelling mandatory for most larger chains ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Apr 2012 12:39:43 GMT
Consider all costs when buying from overseas http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/buying-online-not-always-cheaper.aspx

Normally I buy shoes in Australia but I was buying a present for my sister, and a shoe she really likes is only found in Canada. Seeing as the Aussie dollar is doing so well, it seemed logical to buy a pair from overseas and have them sent over. Turns ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 27 Mar 2012 10:16:21 GMT
Reading food labels is a fishy business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/frozen-fish.aspx

I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my waking hours scrutinising food labels. Granted, my job writing about food and nutrition for CHOICE predisposes me to reading the odd label or two (or 100!). Now, as a mother of two young children, the time spent perusing nutrition information panels ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:08:23 GMT
Wanted: ideas to get seniors active http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/wanted-ideas-to-get-seniors-active.aspx

If someone invented an exercise pill, it would be the medical breakthrough of the century. Regular exercise mitigates against coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and high cholesterol. It’s also good for psychological wellbeing and can help prevent cognitive decline, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 21 Mar 2012 10:37:51 GMT
Will you take on old age fighting fit or lying down? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/will-you-take-on-old-age-fighting-fit-or-lying-down.aspx

Hitting our 60s should mean finally having the time to travel, take up hobbies, get involved in community and interest groups and socialise more with friends and family. And these days we expect to be living independently in our own home as we get older, rather than living with family ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:11:17 GMT
The consumer movement turns 50 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/50-years-of-the-consumer-movement.aspx

Margaret Thatcher reflected – ‘if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman’. The consumer movement has certainly been a movement defined by strong women - from the founder of CHOICE ‘Red’ Ruby Hutchison, to firebrand Sheila McKechnie, who helped make Which?, the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 15:54:13 GMT
Twitter to the rescue for Citibank customer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/twits-to-the-rescue-at-citibank.aspx

Some years ago we needed to take out a personal loan with Citibank. Fast forward three years and we were ready to pay off the loan completely.So back in November 2011, we sought the cost of exiting the loan - which took numerous phone calls to Citibank.Eventually we paid the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:25:09 GMT
Testing smartphone developments http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/test-method-will-respond-to-phone-developments.aspx

While attending the CeBit conference in Hanover, I had the opportunity to visit the BBM Mueller labs in Munich to discuss the latest batch of phones to appear in the CHOICE smartphone test in the coming months. Apart from our yearly NextG test, all our smartphone tests are carried out ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:50:19 GMT
The case of the missing hot water http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/beijing-airport.aspx

On a recent return trip home from a European holiday my partner and I were in transit for almost 30 hours. Mid way through the trip, we were stuck waiting in Beijing Airport. We cleared customs and wandered dazedly into the vast transit terminal, and were greeted by the sweetest ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:32:41 GMT
Don't get mad – get moving http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/dont-get-mad---get-moving.aspx

Campaigning for better banking is a bit like the start of the footy season. We begin as optimists, trying to forget the disappointments of last year, the unfair penalties and questionable free kicks, hoping instead for some healthy competition.That is where the similarities end. While other national sports have salary ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:54:43 GMT
Making a Bosch of it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/march/making-a-bosch-of-it.aspx

In early December last year, my expensive Bosch induction cooktop, still covered under warranty, broke. This is one of those “I had to wait for seven weeks and be home six times for it to finally get fixed” stories – but it comes with some juicy twists.TWIST 1 The tale ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Mar 2012 08:30:05 GMT
Consumers and commissions - opening up the business of switching http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/bigbankswitch.aspx

CHOICE has partnered with One Big Switch to help 1,000 Aussies get better home loan deals with our eyes wide open – and focused squarely on the benefits for consumers. There is nothing new about consumers switching to get a better deal, or about banks paying commissions to sign up ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 18 Feb 2012 11:53:38 GMT
Superior service is good PR http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/superior-service-is-good-pr.aspx

Recently a friend got the run around from a major consumer electronics company after downloading a game and finding out that it wouldn’t play on his gaming console which was made by the same company. All he asked for was a refund after the company confirmed that the game was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 14 Feb 2012 15:00:57 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: Sustainability requirements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/knockdown-rebuild-part-3.aspx

While we were looking at display homes before beginning our build, we often heard BASIX mentioned – though we had no idea what it was at the time. We eventually discovered that it related to the NSW government regulations regarding sustainability. We were concerned about the environmental and anticipated increases ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 13 Feb 2012 09:33:04 GMT
The childcare conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/the-childcare-conundrum.aspx

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time, who did we call first to share the news? Family? No. Close friends? No. The first place we called was a childcare centre to try and get on a waiting list.I thought I was ahead of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:29:00 GMT
Airline horror stories http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/february/flight-troubles.aspx

My partner recently had to fly from Newcastle, NSW to the Gold Coast in Queensland. It all began going wrong when a traffic accident delayed our drive to the airport. She was flying with Jetstar, which closes its check in counter 30 minutes before departure (around 2:30pm in this case).With ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Feb 2012 11:36:31 GMT
Optus upsell attempt ends in tears - for Optus http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/optus-upsell-attempt-ends-in-tears.aspx

On a recent stop at my mailbox to collect the few letters that usually turn out to be promotional materials or bills, I found a lone letter from Optus promising ‘NEW PLANS FOR THE FUTURE’. Now, Optus and I have had a rocky relationship over the years. But things seemed ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:22:08 GMT
Is SOPA a threat to internet freedom? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/internet-blackout.aspx

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, has triggered one of the biggest industry-based protests in history to hit the World Wide Web. Most notably, the popular Wikipedia site closed down in protest, and there was action from other heavyweights such as Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. In the US, a petition ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jan 2012 22:10:04 GMT
Video tip #1 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/video-tip-number-1.aspx

Well this is a fine state of affairs. Only my second blog and already I find myself breaking promises. If you read my last post, you'll most likely be expecting to see a video walk-through showing you some of the techniques I used to put the new site promo video ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:13:48 GMT
A fee-fueled world gone mad http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/a-fee-fueled-world-gone-mad.aspx

Fees are frustrating. Those little acknowledged, overly annoying additions to everyday purchases that, over time, add up. What’s even more irritating is the fact that they've become particularly prevalent in Australian society (yes, banks, I am looking directly at you – and while I’m in a staring mood, you too ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:42:11 GMT
Live events going cheap http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/live-events-going-cheap.aspx

It’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy live entertainment, if you can afford the ticket prices. Additional fees and surcharges bump up already considerable costs, and if you have to purchase tickets for an entire family, going to a live show can be downright unaffordable. For ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 16 Jan 2012 11:54:10 GMT
Streaming music services in Australia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/january/streaming-music-services.aspx

Retailer JB Hi-Fi has recently released a streaming facility called JB Hi-Fi NOW. While currently in beta at time of writing, they display pricing at $25/month, $50/6 months and $80/year.What does it get you? For this amount you’ll have access to over 100,000 artists, and millions of songs, that you ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 09 Jan 2012 16:32:26 GMT
Credit cards - Which one should you choose? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/credit-cards-which-one-should-you-choose.aspx

Credit cards can be a useful tool - and when you pick the right one they can even be a cost effective way to access a loan or additional features. However, if you have the wrong credit card for your needs, it could end up costing you big time. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:46:43 GMT
Make your charity donations count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/make-your-charity-donations-count.aspx

Giving is a part of the Christmas tradition for many of us, and this includes making charitable donations where we can. However, how charities handle our donations can sometimes be the cause of confusion and controversyThe amount spent on administration costs is one such area, and for big organisations, these ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 14 Dec 2011 14:43:22 GMT
A penalty by any other name is still a penalty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/penalty-fees.aspx

Throughout CHOICE’s long campaign against unfair bank fees we have always called the odd $45 the banks charged you for being late for a credit card repayment a ‘penalty’ fee.The same applied for other high fees around being overdrawn on a transaction account or presenting a bouncing cheque - we ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Dec 2011 13:18:22 GMT
Pet dental health - don't brush it off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/pet-dental-health.aspx

Pet insurance is one way you can manage the cost of owning a pet. It’s not the only alternative, but it can save you in the long run, especially in the face of hefty vet bills. We looked into the nuances of pet insurance earlier in the year, and one area ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 07 Dec 2011 17:12:36 GMT
It's the season to be cynical about bank profits http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/December/bank-profits.aspx

There is something predictable about Australia's bank reporting season. As surely as our minds turn to office Christmas parties, days at the beach and cricket on the TV, we will witness a parade of record profits and executive remuneration packages.These announcements seem to exist in a parallel universe to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:21:55 GMT
Unit pricing still has room for improvement http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/unit-pricing.aspx

It’s more than 50 years since CHOICE first suggested that displaying unit prices (UP) – the price per unit of measure - in supermarkets could help consumers compare value and save money by changing their buying habits.It was a long campaign with retailers resisting and delaying the introduction of unit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Dec 2011 09:35:16 GMT
The long path to VoIP satisfaction http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/voip.aspx

Recently we changed mobile providers to Amaysim; with that change came a dip in coverage. Neither one of us (one on Optus, one on Telstra) had issues prior to swapping, but since the change we’ve had to walk outside of the house to get any decent coverage, despite Amaysim using ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Nov 2011 11:23:47 GMT
Car recall leaves owner out of pocket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/car-recall.aspx

A couple of months ago I received a recall notice for our car in the mail. Like all CHOICE staff, when I see a recall notice, I tend to think of safety issues. The recall notice explained that there was a possibility that if the steering wheel was locked with force, ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 09 Nov 2011 14:25:24 GMT
Customer service matters if traditional retail is to thrive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/bricks-and-mortar-retail.aspx

I had the unfortunate but necessary experience of having to visit a major department store a couple of time over the past few weeks. The first thing that took me by surprise was the emptiness of the store - plenty of stuff to buy - but no-one there to buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Nov 2011 21:27:59 GMT
Bumpy road to diagnosing milk, soy protein intolerance http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/milk-soy-protein-intolerance.aspx

My two children are milk and soy protein intolerant, MSPI. Most people stare at me blankly when I tell them this. My daughter, Stella, was a relaxed baby for the first week. Then she began to sleep less, feed more and cry, a lot. I was told that she was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:24:07 GMT
Does your contents insurance fully cover theft? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/does-your-contents-insurance-fully-cover-theft.aspx

Home and contents insurance is a mandatory purchase for many home owners, and lately there has been a lot of interest in flood cover in particular following the Queensland disaster at the beginning of the year. However, a recent letter from a CHOICE member George* has highlighted another area of ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 31 Oct 2011 08:28:05 GMT
No refunds for Rewind festival-goers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/rewind-australia-blog.aspx

Picture this – for three days the musical heroes of my youth were to belt out cheesy 80s pop classics under an azure Illawarra sky. A little paunchier and a little balder perhaps, like me, but at least they’ve made the effort to come all the way to Wollongong. Children ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 15:26:08 GMT
Girl racer http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/girl-racer.aspx

In an effort to save money and be a teensy bit nicer to the environment, earlier this year I decided it was time to trade in my much loved car – Doris, a 1959 Morris Minor. I live close to the city and work, and figured a combination of car ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:49:03 GMT
Hanging on the telephone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/hanging-on-the-telephone.aspx

Telstra posts $4.07 billion profit and yet 82 year old Doug Tancred can’t use his pensioner discount. Shame! Members write letters and email CHOICE daily. Some want things fixed, or specific products tested in our Marrickville labs, others just want to get a bad experience off their chest — like Doug Tancred ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:17:12 GMT
Discount grocery shopping online doesn't stack up, yet http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/online-grocery-shopping.aspx

I recently saw that Catch of the Day launched a sister operation called Grocery Run. I’m not new to buying online, however aside from the odd overseas grocery item that I couldn’t get in Australia, I’ve never ordered groceries online locally in Australia. There are options out there from the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Oct 2011 11:25:11 GMT
Piracy common but people still paying for music http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/October/music-piracy.aspx

Music has been a gift of choice for consumers for some time. Throughout the 20th century, new technology continually changed the face of the industry, from the gramophone to the LP record, cassette tape, CD and eventually – digital. The last trend could be the most influential factor to hit ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 06 Oct 2011 20:06:46 GMT
Next generation travelling http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/next-generation-travelling.aspx

Ten years of travel A little under a decade ago I booked my first solo overseas holiday. It was a blustery May day – rainy, cold, miserable. Full-time university and part-time work were eating up my social life. But there was hope on the seemingly all-too-distant horizon - three months ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:58 GMT
Picture perfect http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/just-going-for-a-stroll.aspx

I like travelling. I've done a lot of it, but mostly in my own time and at my own cost – so I appreciate the very rare occasions when CHOICE decides I need to be somewhere other than at my desk in Marrickville. Brussells is a very long way from ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:58:36 GMT
Pet insurance gives paws for thought http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/pet-insurance.aspx

Growing up on a farm gives you a pretty good idea of the ups and downs of pet ownership. From our cigarette-stealing sheep (no more leaving them in the glove compartment after that) to miniature horses and donkeys running alongside the dogs in the backyard, I’ve had pets in all ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:03:07 GMT
Bad customer service? Try none at all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/no-customer-service.aspx

Poor customer service sucks. Dealing with rude, incompetent or unhelpful staff who refuse to abide by the “customer is always right” mantra can leave you feeling angry, dejected and utterly undervalued. But when it happens, you at least have some means of recourse. You can threaten to take your business ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 26 Sep 2011 14:47:58 GMT
More money for retirement on the way http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/more-money-for-retirement-on-the-way.aspx

Earlier this week, the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten announced some important reforms to the way we build our superannuation. CHOICE has made several submissions to Cooper Review and many of our recommendations were considered in the reforms, which will begin to take effect in July 2013. This includes the possibility ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 22 Sep 2011 20:46:55 GMT
My journey from disposable to cloth nappies http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/nappy-journey.aspx

When I was pregnant with my daughter I started thinking about which products I wanted to use and, of course, nappies were on that list. There are so many different options: disposables, biodegradable disposable, partly biodegradable disposables and many, many different types of cloth nappies. We considered using cloth nappies ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 15 Sep 2011 07:46:32 GMT
Struggling families? Better than before, says ABS http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/household-spending.aspx

Recent household spending statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that we have more money and better living standards since the last survey in 2003-04. While prices of goods and services have risen by 19%, the mean household income has increased by 50%. In short, costs are on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 Sep 2011 18:55:34 GMT
Questioning your phone bill can pay off http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/questioning-your-phone-bill-can-pay-off.aspx

The recent experience of a friend is a timely reminder to give your phone bill a once-over before you pay it. After noticing that his monthly mobile bill was higher than normal, my mate Marty took a closer look and saw a section he’d never seen on previous bills. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 05 Sep 2011 10:49:54 GMT
Comparison websites confusion sparks warning http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/September/comparison-websites-confusion-sparks-warning.aspx

Comparison websites have been given a warning to act in a fair and transparent manner after the ACCC launched legal action last Friday against EnergyWatch.com.au. The ACCC is alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and making false representations in its advertising. This marks a line in the sand that comparison sites ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:50:52 GMT
Has cash lost its crown? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/has-cash-lost-its-crown.aspx

There are now many ways to pay for goods and services without cash – EFTPOS, PayPass, payWave, BPAY, PayPal, Paymate, credit card, debit card, POLi, online transfer and mobile payments. As a nation, we’re increasing our use of all of these, perhaps in part because it can be difficult or ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:47:09 GMT
Magic money savers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/magic-money-savers.aspx

You might not be able to pull money out of a hat, but with these unique money saving tips, you can magically boost the content of your piggy bank. We’ve all heard about unplugging our appliances at the wall, shopping around to save and the importance of planning a budget, and if ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:33:33 GMT
Mobile internet changing the marketplace http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/mobile-internet-changing-the-marketplace.aspx

There’s no doubt that internet on the go is becoming much more common. Nearly 12 million Australians now have an internet-capable mobile phone, and over half of those are smartphones, according to Nielsen’s Australian Online Consumer Report. Tablet computer sales are on the rise too and web developers are creating ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 20:24:46 GMT
The colour of money http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-colour-of-money.aspx

Once upon a time having a Gold or Silver credit card in your wallet was a sign of affluence and success for some people — a little plastic status symbol. And in the music world it seems that tradition continues — former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher can be seen on YouTube boasting, tongue ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 18 Aug 2011 17:56:07 GMT
Children's product testing at CHOICE http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/childrens-product-testing-at-choice.aspx

Here at CHOICE we take our work in the Babies and Kids area very seriously. It can be quite difficult to tell whether a product is safe or not and parents and carers need information they can trust. To the untrained eye a product may look safe enough but there may ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 16 Aug 2011 16:27:24 GMT
Ten minutes work saves $126 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/ten-minutes-work-saves-$126.aspx

My comprehensive car insurance is up for renewal this month, so I did the usual thing of shopping around for quotes. AAMI came up with a price of $127 less than my current insurer, NRMA. I called NRMA and said I'd received a much cheaper quote, and asked if there ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Practical steps to slashing your power bills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/slash-your-power-bills.aspx

We’ve all noticed our power bills creeping up over time, in part due to the increased number and types of goods and appliances we all have, but also due to increasing energy costs. To date most of these costs are related to increased commercial and infrastructure costs, as well as ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Shonkys reveal some real lemons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/shonkys-reveal-some-real-lemons.aspx

The excitement was palpable as the stage was being set for this year’s CHOICE Shonky Awards ceremony. The question on everyone’s lips: who will be the ignominious winners of the shiny Shonkys this year? Hobnobbing in the Art Gallery of NSW with a who’s who of consumer media, sipping champagne and ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 14:00:08 GMT
Are fridges cool? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/are-fridges-cool.aspx

I must be very strange: I love fridges. Well I don’t actually love fridges, but I find them really interesting. The messages I pick up from most people is that fridges are just there. A fridge just does its job of keeping stuff cold and that’s it. What’s to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 13:59:58 GMT
Putting ideals into practice http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/putting-ideals-into-practice.aspx

This week CHOICE launched the first ever group mortgage switch, aiming to give every consumer who takes part the negotiating power of more than a thousand people. We’re calling it the CHOICE Big Bank Switch. With this campaign, CHOICE is putting itself at the forefront of a next-generation consumer campaign; ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:03:51 GMT
Super and stocks in the current economic climate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/super-and-financial-markets.aspx

If you’re wondering what to do with your super and investments in the current financial market, you’re not alone. Stockmarkets in Australia have been bouncing up and down as debt fears in the US and Europe fuel global speculation, and investors and fund managers worldwide have been riding a rollercoaster ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 12 Aug 2011 07:40:33 GMT
Consumer action matters http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/why-consumer-action-matters.aspx

Whether it’s planning approvals or palm oil, fair trade or fair bank fees, everywhere you turn consumers and citizens are taking action to achieve change. People organise community action groups and sign email petitions, call talkback radio and write letters to companies demanding change. Action like this is the lifeblood ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:59:53 GMT
Testing PayPal's guarantee http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/testing-paypal-guarantee.aspx

We recently purchased a product for a CHOICE review but never received it. We had paid for the item via PayPal, so we pursued PayPal’s guarantee of coverage through their internal resolution centre. Even though we were disappointed we didn't get the product - we pay for them anonymously with ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 08 Aug 2011 14:25:16 GMT
What the Census means for consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/census-data.aspx

Census night allows the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to gather vital data for planning and infrastructure, but plenty of people don’t mind having a joke when filling out their question sheets. After all, according to the 2001 Census there were around 70,000 Jedi in Australia at the time, but ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 05 Aug 2011 13:26:36 GMT
Energy audit shines light on savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/energy-audit-shines-light-on-savings.aspx

Saving energy is all the rage these days, which is no surprise given rising energy prices. A little while ago my wife and I took part in a voluntary government study which measured the standby power and lighting in 150 Australian households. You will have heard of energy audits before, where some ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Aug 2011 08:22:52 GMT
Big Bank Switch - why group switching is here to stay http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/big-bank-switch.aspx

Try this. You gather a group of people together who want the same thing and negotiate a better price than even the best solo haggler could achieve. You might even get the kind of discounts normally reserved for big spenders like millionaire business people or celebrities. It’s called group buying ...

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CHOICE Blog Sun, 31 Jul 2011 10:09:20 GMT
Telco complaints reach tipping point http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/telco-complaints.aspx

Frustration at our telecommunications providers has been allowed to grow to Hulk-like proportions due to years of customer service incompetence and confusing pricing plans that are impossible to calculate. With the number of consumers frequently facing bill shock, it’s no wonder people are angry. The Australian Communications and Media Authority ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:17:15 GMT
eBooks going to the library http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/ebooks-at-the-library.aspx

A few weeks ago, CHOICE Technology team leader, Steve Duncombe, and I visited the Bowen Library in Maroubra (Randwick City Library Service) in New South Wales to give a talk on eBooks and eBook readers. Steve’s talk was well-received and there was a lot of discussion on eBooks and eBook ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Jul 2011 11:31:22 GMT
It’s time to end excessive credit card surcharging http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/excessive-surcharging.aspx

Whenever you pay for something using your credit card, it costs businesses money. Typically, it costs more for stores to accept credit cards than other payment methods like debit or EFTPOS. In 2003, the RBA decided to allow those costs to be passed on to consumers in the form of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:33:01 GMT
Committing to winter exercise http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/exercise-bike-or-trainer.aspx

I recently decided to put some thought into getting more exercise. The weather was getting colder, and while I love winter, the part I love about it is getting warm. I generally cycle to work, so I thought about how I could get some more exercise without having to spend ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:55:11 GMT
Censorship - too much, not enough or just right? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/control-freaks.aspx

Australia has a long history of censorship. At our foundations, we have no constitutional protection of free speech, and some claim ours are among the most restrictive censorship policies in the Western world. Some notable examples of censorship in Australia include: The banning of Lady Chatterley’s Lover until the mid-20th ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:53:28 GMT
Bullying beyond the schoolyard http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/bullying.aspx

What happens in the playground can stay with us for a long time. That’s not always a bad thing, but when it comes to bullying, it’s hard to see any good in being picked on relentlessly. Combine this sentiment with easy access to online mediums like YouTube, and it’s not ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 16:49:14 GMT
Reduce the stress of moving house http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/moving-house.aspx

Having read a couple of blogs from my colleagues on their experiences with real estate agents and the challenges of buying, I thought that I'd share my experiences of the next step: moving. Without question, the seemingly never-ending inspections and negotiations in purchasing or renting a property can be very stressful, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Jul 2011 12:33:14 GMT
Your privacy is in the fine print http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/your-privacy-is-in-the-fine-print.aspx

The unravelling of the News of the World scandal has put the tenuous right to privacy into the spotlight over the last week. As the extent of the News phone hacking operation has become clearer, people are asking questions about the safety of personal information. But while the revelations of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 11:46:52 GMT
Steep learning curve follows switch to HTC Sensation http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/htc-sensation.aspx

Some time ago, I was made aware that I had given some bad advice. My wife took great enjoyment, given where I work, that my advice on her phone had been rushed. Enjoyment turned to annoyance as she had to deal with a texting system that took nine clicks just ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Jul 2011 08:49:22 GMT
Dental health - the silent epidemic http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/dental-health-the-silent-epidemic.aspx

What’s worse than going to the dentist? Not having the option – like the 650,000 Australians who were on public dental waiting lists at last check in 2009. While many people can afford to seek treatment if they need it, those without the means to pay the high costs of ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Jul 2011 09:08:07 GMT
Ten tips to navigate the banking maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/banking-maze.aspx

Just like changing the oil on your car, your finances also often need maintenance to run smoothly. Here are 10 fast and effective ways to ensure your accounts are in order. Home loans 1 Pay your mortgage fortnightly It’s an old trick, but can save you big bucks. If you ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 05 Jul 2011 08:49:40 GMT
Think big or our progress will be small http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/July/think-big-or-our-progress-will-be-small.aspx

Having worked at the heart of government I have some insight into how the daily morass of stuff can obscure the bigger picture and the ambitions that drive people into politics in the first place. It has made me feel more passionate that, for the sake of human development, ambition ...

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CHOICE Blog Sat, 02 Jul 2011 14:30:27 GMT
United Airlines brings me back to earth http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/united-airlines.aspx

I have just returned from Silicon Valley in the US where I spent a week inside some of the most impressive companies to emerge in recent times: Zappos, a company that sells shoes and clothes, but in reality sells great customer service where goods arrive the next day and they ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:21:11 GMT
Complaints about bad service http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/complaints-about-bad-service.aspx

A few days ago I had an expensive degustation dinner at a restaurant in Sydney’s north shore. I’ve been there several times before, and have recommended it to many friends and family members. But this particular night, while the food was not memorable, the service will forever be imprinted in ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 27 Jun 2011 11:05:35 GMT
Five ways to save on your home loan http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/five-ways-to-save-on-your-home-loan.aspx

With interest rates and the cost of living set to rise over the coming year, it may be time to re-examine your budget and identify a few areas where you can save money. For many people, a mortgage represents a large part of the budget, so it makes sense that ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 09:56:28 GMT
Comfortable travel is a tall order http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/tall-consumers.aspx

What’s not to love about travelling overseas? The journey, the hotels, different cultures, food and modes of transport all combine for an experience you won’t forget. But there is one thing that makes travelling a little less enjoyable than it should be - being tall. I’m just over 6 foot ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 24 Jun 2011 08:58:13 GMT
Mail order madness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mail-order-madness.aspx

My dad was after some in-shoe supports for a pair of shoes that couldn’t accommodate his regular orthotics, and was convinced by an ad in Seniors magazine for some Foot Cradles. They promised pain relief for everything from neck to toes, but that was neither here nor there, he was ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 17:10:54 GMT
Sleeping with Tony Abbott http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/ceo-sleepout.aspx

Sleeping with Tony Abbott and Ralph Norris was not an idea that had ever crossed my mind - which will no doubt come as a relief to them and my wife - but for a good cause it was worth that morning after feeling. Last night Ralph, Tony and I, ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:50:52 GMT
15 things I wish I had known before buying my first home http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/June/advice-for-first-home-buyers.aspx

Buying your first home can be a daunting prospect. The thought of entering into a new realm of finance, solicitors, reports and negotiations is a little overwhelming, to say the least. In order to assist potential buyers with this process I've complied a checklist of 15 things you’ll need to consider ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 03 Jun 2011 11:00:48 GMT
Tablet, eBook reader or plain old paperback? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/ebook-readers.aspx

When CHOICE started testing eBook readers a few years ago, there was nothing like the iPad out there. But since its inception and inclusion in our second test, the question we get asked most regarding eBook readers is: why bother with an eBook reader when I can get a tablet? For ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 25 May 2011 21:26:45 GMT
A tale of two airlines - good service v. cheap fares http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/a-tale-of-two-airlines.aspx

Picture it: Narita Airport, Tokyo, April 2011, 23:00. Two Aussie travellers sprinting behind a petite but very speedy Japan Airlines (JAL) paperwork-laden staff member as she ushers us through airport security, customs and other blurred bureaucrats onto a shuttle cable to take us to another terminal, rushes us past what ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 24 May 2011 10:52:53 GMT
Real estate: mistake or misrepresentation? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/misleading-real-estate-agent.aspx

Real estate agents get a really bad wrap. As a journalist, who in the past has been on the receiving end of some rather offensive professional generalisations, I have always been conscious of avoiding the tarring of an entire profession with the one brush. I’m also somewhat sympathetic to the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 11:33:55 GMT
Roam around to avoid bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/data-roaming-bill-shock.aspx

Disclaimer: I am an idiot. I’ve been working for a fine consumer organisation for almost three years now, during which time I’ve come across several bill shock horror stories from members stung by exorbitant global and data roaming charges for postpaid mobile phones. So what’s the one simple step I didn’t ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 23 May 2011 10:34:36 GMT
What the big four banks can learn from Apple http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/applebanking.aspx

This week’s media has been full of news about the four big banks’ latest record-making profits - $12 billion in profit over the past six months. One article that got my attention however was Business Spectator’s Apple can bank its winnings by Charis Palmer. Given Apple’s significant cash pools, she ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 06 May 2011 11:16:43 GMT
The great Aussie beer glass dilemma http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/varying-beer-sizes.aspx

A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’d like a beer, please.” The bartender replies: “Sure, mate. What size?” “What sizes have you got?” “We’ve got pots, ponies, middies, schooners, pints, butchers, sevens, eights, tens, handles…” Ahh, the dilemma of ordering a beer in an Aussie ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 May 2011 09:56:20 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild: project home pros and cons http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/knockdown-rebuild-part-2.aspx

We’d finally chosen our house. It wasn’t quite our dream house – who can afford that – but we felt we could make changes that would bring it close. Even on project homes, you can make changes to the floor plan within certain constraints and usually at extra cost, so ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 03 May 2011 14:20:23 GMT
Foreign flowers for Valentine's Day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/foreign-blooms-for-valentines-day.aspx

My love is like a red, red rose… but I haven’t a clue where she comes from. This is the conundrum facing those of us buying cut flowers this Valentine's Day. There’s currently no requirement for country of origin labelling (read our article on chocolates and flowers), despite the large ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 02 May 2011 09:08:15 GMT
Mobile phones: one size doesn’t fit all http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/mobile-phone-testing.aspx

Cat people and dog people, people who think Sean Connery is the only James Bond and those who can only consider Roger Moore. Lady Ga Ga fans and people who just don’t get it. The world is full of divided camps and mobile phones are yet another area where people have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 27 Apr 2011 11:56:50 GMT
Breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/breastfeeding-difficulties.aspx

Breastfeeding is perfectly natural and the absolute best thing you can do for your baby. At least that was what I was told during my pregnancy countless times: early parenting classes, pre-natal visits and all the literature I was reading trumpeted the benefits of breastfeeding. But what none of them ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Apr 2011 10:20:49 GMT
Don't settle for a bad haircut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/bad-haircut.aspx

Have you ever had a bad haircut? What about a really bad haircut? One so bad that when you got home and looked in the mirror you had to fight back the tears? Or, one that required you to wear a hat day and night for the next month? I ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:49:12 GMT
Reduce energy consumption and pocket the savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/energy-prices.aspx

1985 was a very different place to 2011. Nelson Mandela was sitting in a South African jail cell, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as US president, and a man wearing a chicken suit trespassed into the Australian Parliament and sat on the government’s front bench. But electricity prices…well, they were ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Apr 2011 09:18:04 GMT
Is your email account at risk from hackers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/email-hack.aspx

I was awoken on Friday with an early morning phone call from a friend. She told me she’d received a strange email from me saying that I was in Spain and that I had been robbed and asking if she could help by sending me some money. This was the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 11 Apr 2011 10:25:35 GMT
When an insurance claim just isn't worth it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/April/small-insurance-claim.aspx

I've owned a laptop for about five years now. I bought it at the top of the range, upgraded it and use it constantly for education, business trips and at home almost every day. It really has served its purpose and I cannot complain about it at all. It's gone ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 06 Apr 2011 09:23:50 GMT
What is social business and why does it matter? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/social-business.aspx

Something profound is happening to the way some of us do business – so fundamental that the old left and right might even seek to claim it as their own but in truth it happened despite them, and certainly doesn’t need them. And in any case it’s a phenomenon that ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:39:29 GMT
Freeview labelling - do we need it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/freeview.aspx

Digital TV is already being broadcast across much of Australia. By 2014, remaining analogue TV broadcasts will be shut down, and you’ll have no choice but to watch digital TV. The federal government is doing a pretty good job of educating Australians about the transition to digital, and what consumers ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Mar 2011 08:41:53 GMT
Consumers are banking on reform http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/consumers-are-banking-on-reform.aspx

Today the government released emails containing advice on banking reform given to the Treasurer Wayne Swan last October. The advice from officials repeats banking industry concerns about proposals to scrap exit fees and introduce portable bank account numbers - two key reforms strongly supported by CHOICE. The concerns state that scrapping exit ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:41:02 GMT
Carbon price: households shouldn't carry the cost for industry http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/carbon-price-details-still-to-come.aspx

The federal government has announced a plan to implement a carbon price in Australia from 1 July 2012. This is a welcome step because a carbon price is the least-costly way of tackling climate change, and studies show the sooner we act, the lower the cost, so this is potentially ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:40:50 GMT
Taking your call for better banking to Canberra http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/better-banking.aspx

Today we’re in Canberra handing a new CHOICE report on banking to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and to members of the Senate Committee that’s carrying out an inquiry into banking. The report, packed full of consumer views on banking gathered by CHOICE over recent months, won’t bring a smile to ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 Mar 2011 16:38:32 GMT
Knockdown and rebuild - how it all began http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/knockdown-and-rebuild.aspx

When I mention to people that we’re building a house, the most common reaction is that we’ve temporarily gone insane and will wake up to regret it. That may yet happen but so far we’re still ok with it. We had a house, but it was too small. Seriously, it ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:05:02 GMT
The most savvy and active consumers in the world! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/the-most-savvy-and-active-consumers-in-the-world.aspx

I’d like to personally welcome you to the new site. All the improvements have been based on your feedback and we will continue to make changes that work for you. Please let me know what you think of the site — the good, the bad and the ugly. From the day ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:38 GMT
Shaky Foundations http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/shaky-foundations.aspx

Makeup and I go way back. From that first lip-gloss I bought from the Avon lady at the grand old age of10, it’s been a love affair that’s seen me through several decades. Now I’m on the wrong side of 35, with a toddler who likes to start the working ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:25 GMT
Radio radio http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/radio-radio.aspx

It's been a long time since I listened to the radio on my regular trips from Sydney to Newcastle. CDs were a godsend and now I follow the trend and carry an iPod with hundreds of hours of music and podcasts. In the car I've a little transmitter that wirelessly ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:13 GMT
Pst ... wanna buy a used option? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/pst-wanna-buy-a-used-option.aspx

Around the same time that I was researching ways to recession-proof your finances, some prominent newspaper adverts caught my eye. They were for investment seminars that promised to reveal how to make money regardless of whether share markets were going up, down or sideways. Better still, the system was supposed to be ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:54:00 GMT
One more for the road? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/one-more-for-the-road.aspx

Heard the one about the man who walked into a pub with a pocketful of breathalyzers? We had tested out these devices in strict laboratory conditions but what happens when you let them loose among some real life boozers? For starters you get another view of how people both use ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:45 GMT
Grand designs http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/grand-designs.aspx

If you’ve checked my bio you’ll know I’m Neill and I work in the laundry lab here. Actually I will be working in it once the renovations it’s currently undergoing come to an end — we’re promised we can move in this Thursday. A fortnight ago it was going to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:53:20 GMT
An extra large medium http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/september/an-extra-large-medium.aspx

As most people who know me will admit (often with an unseemly amount of enthusiasm), it's not often that I'm lost for words. But starting a blog on video production for CHOICE presents me with something of a challenge. You're obviously interested in video, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:53 GMT
The yarn about thread count http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-yarn-about-thread-count.aspx

Bed sheets are on sale again. But before you rush out and grab the first one with the highest thread count, even if it was 50% off its usual price, do yourself a favour and shop around. Last weekend, while I was shopping at House, a home and kitchenware store, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:52:09 GMT
The unexpected should make you stronger http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/the-unexpected-should-make-you-stronger.aspx

Tough times hit people all the time. It’s why this year we didn’t put up our prices because we know people have been feeling the pinch; it’s also why CHOICE investigates solutions to the most challenging aspects of consumer life, so that we can take the hassle out of your ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:56 GMT
Something to put a sparkle in the day http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/something-to-put-a-sparkle-in-the-day.aspx

Well yesterday was a change from the usual work in the laundry lab: evaluating washing machines and dishwashers. Choice usually publishes a story on sparkling wines coming up to the festive season. To score the wines we have a panel of experts do a blind tasting. And as a follow-up we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:29 GMT
Just do it - just doesn't cut it http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/just-do-it--just-doesnt-cut-it.aspx

I’ve often thought of doing exercise as being bit like cleaning one’s teeth. It’s something I know I should do, and sometimes it feels good, while at other times I just do it, knowing I’ll feel better for it afterwards. And the long term benefits of both are absolutely worth ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:51:03 GMT
Into the mouths of babes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/into-the-mouths-of-babes.aspx

Some days it seems that retailers think that my daughter is an alien. While I’ll admit my toddler behaves like she’s from another planet at times, I’m fairly sure she’s a human, albeit a small one. But in the supermarket it seems many product marketers are keen to convince me ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:52 GMT
Foxtel's price increase - less for more http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/foxtels-price-increase---less-for-more.aspx

Five years ago I broached the subject of subscribing to Foxtel Pay TV, primarily so I could watch (even) more sport. While my love of English football isn’t shared by everyone in my household, the “Digital Basic” package included UK TV and the Lifestyle channel. I'm not sure I ever ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:25 GMT
Fighting fines with fire http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fighting-fines-with-fire.aspx

Parking fines are one of the main bugbears of any motorist, especially when they’ve been wrongly issued. However, I'm interested in why consumers aren't more proactive in challenging unfair fines when the success rate is actually quite high. As we were conducting our research for our article on parking fines, we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:13 GMT
Fares fair http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/fares-fair.aspx

A few weeks ago I caught a taxi to the airport for a flight to Canberra. I was on my way to visit the National Information Centre On Retirement Investments (NICRI - a really useful organisation that provides free financial information to consumers), and they'd kindly given me a cabcharge to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:50:01 GMT
Escalator action proves goal is achieveable http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/escalator-action-proves-goal-is-achieveable.aspx

I’m just back from a week on Boomerang beach. What a great place even if the sun didn’t shine! I’m realising that come rain or shine the Aussie outdoor spirit is contagious and I even felt compelled to take off my rain jacket each day for a dip in the ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:48 GMT
Don't touch that dial http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/dont-touch-that-dial.aspx

I think the time is fast approaching when free-to-air TV is going to become almost entirely irrelevant in most peoples lives. Its not that I've any empirical evidence for its demise, nor is it something I would wish to happen, but the major networks in Australia seem to have a ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:35 GMT
CHOICE Insights http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/choice-insights.aspx

I’m just heading off for a week’s holiday to north of Newcastle at Boomerang Beach. I’m sure many of you are used to the beauty of Australia but being new to the country, it’s a great treat for me and my family to spend holidays in a place we also ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:22 GMT
A Wii game of tennis, anyone? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-wii-game-of-tennis-anyone.aspx

If it’s too hot or too wet to go outside, there’s always exergaming. We’re always hearing about kids getting fatter and fatter due to too much junk food and not enough exercise. In the ideal world kids would be outside playing cricket with the other kids on the street, kicking ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:49:09 GMT
A moral duty to act in the interests of consumers http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/a-moral-duty-to-act-in-the-interests-of-consumers.aspx

I’ve spent most of the day on the phone to members which is a great way to understand some of the issues that affect people every day. The issues are wide ranging and some are very heartfelt. One of my callers spoke about a very expensive medicine that he purchased ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:56 GMT
Ask what more we can do http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/ask-what-more-we-can-do.aspx

Organisations like CHOICE have nothing to fear from transparency, it’s what we tell others, it’s what we practice ourselves. The last few weeks have been difficult for CHOICE because of the credit card issue (mentioned in my last two blogs), but we are more focused now than ever before on ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:40 GMT
Tough decisions are tough on everyone http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/tough-decisions-are-tough-on-everyone.aspx

Emotional commitment to a cause and to the people affected by any tough decisions is in my DNA and one that I think has to sit well with a modern CEO. It’s also why this week has been the hardest I’ve had since starting at CHOICE and perhaps the most ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:27 GMT
Never buy the foot spa http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/never-buy-the-foot-spa.aspx

My track record with buying gifts is, at best, mixed. There have been some unqualified successes - ranging from the 30th birthday scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef that I organised, to the book of nursery rhymes and songs I bought in the ABC Shop for my one ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:13 GMT
A goal for the level playing field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/making-the-grocery-market-competitive.aspx

On Wednesday evening the report by the Senate Economics Committee into Grocery CHOICE was published. The Inquiry recommendations are important to CHOICE in vindicating our position and re-affirming the need for change in the grocery sector. CHOICE wants a more competitive grocery market; in truth it would be hard for ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:48:00 GMT
Convenience comes at a cost http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/convenience-comes-at-a-cost.aspx

The old adage that convenience comes at a cost rang true when I paid for my car insurance today. What I usually do when I get my policy renewal notice is get a few quotes from other insurers and then come to the conclusion that once again my existing insurer is still the cheapest. ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:41 GMT
Confessions of a food label addict http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/confessions-of-a-food-label-addict.aspx

Hi, my name is Rachel, and I’m a food label addict. But I haven’t always been quite so obsessed, and I blame my job for that. As a food and health content producer for CHOICE I spend hours scrutinising nutrition information panels, ingredients lists and the claims made on food ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:29 GMT
A disturbing letter from my bank http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/a-disturbing-letter-from-my-bank.aspx

Last week I got a letter from my lender, instead of the expected notice about an interest rate increase, the message was rather more disturbing: my lender is withdrawing from the market. While they will continue to service me and their other customers they won’t provide any new loans. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:17 GMT
Use it or lose it! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/november/trying-the-alternatives.aspx

The challenge was as blunt, immediate as it was unambiguous. Can you go for a week without darkening the doors of Coles or Woolworths?   After all CHOICE will be asking others to consider switching more often to independent grocers, fruitologists, butchers and bakers and even fishmongers for their grocery ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:47:01 GMT
Access to airtime http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/chance-to-get-some-real-airtime.aspx

Being captive to lousy service is everyone’s bugbear, especially when you know you could’ve got a better deal elsewhere. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Two days ago, I tried to change the flight dates with a major airline here and was told I had to pay $62.50 to do so, which was ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:25 GMT
Acoustic foamy goodness http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/december/acoustic-foamy-goodness.aspx

I’ve always found it rather ironic that poor video with goodaudio always comes across as a lot more professional than good video with pooraudio. And frankly, getting a decent audio recording at CHOICE is a real painin the proverbials - particularly since the recent renovation replaced thetatty old sound-absorbing carpet ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:46:08 GMT
Knowing me, knowing you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/knowing-me-knowing-you.aspx

Welcome to 2010 and a red letter year for CHOICE, as we mark our 50th anniversary. It’s a significant milestone and provides a moment to reflect on past achievements. I stress that this is a moment of reflection and not a time for complacency, for the challenges that consumers face ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:20 GMT
'You cannot be serious' http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/you-cannot-be-serious.aspx

The Australian Open has re-fueled my love of tennis (as well as reminding me that Britain is good at coming second!). It also made me think how the quality of tennis today is infinitely better than it was many years ago. Nostalgia and sentiment take you back to the joys ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:45:06 GMT
There's somebody at the door http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/somebody-is-at-the-door.aspx

Last year an official looking man called to my house and said that due to deregulation of the electricity industry in NSW, he needed to check my energy meter and bill. Of course, something about this introductory spiel wasn't quite right. In fact, I was under no obligation to show ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:53 GMT
Naked tales http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/naked-tales.aspx

Recently I moved and decided to do without a very large national communications network. You know who I’m talking about: Telstra. I started the process of Naked DSL activation. I’d briefly been with Internode at my previous address and hadn’t had any issues, so decided to go with them again. It ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:44:24 GMT
Putting the 'super' back into supermarket http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/march/putting-the-super-back-into-supermarket.aspx

I have made no secret of my views on the state of the supermarket sector in Australia over the past year. And talking to consumers, farmers, independent grocers and others about the problem has only strengthened our resolve here at CHOICE to do something about it. They confirm that all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:58 GMT
A language for bad business http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/april/a-language-for-bad-business.aspx

Over the last few weeks I have been openly discussing the need to create a new consumer culture in Australia (see my comment piece in the Sydney Morning Herald): http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/consumers-must-stop-accepting-second-best-20100315-q9id.html I have received a very positive response from people right across the country. Many feel and have felt for years, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:44 GMT
Remember the customer has the last word http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/may/remember-the-customer-has-the-last-word.aspx

Following my last blog on the language of bad business, a colleague in the consumer movement sent me the clip below. It’s a great example of where the new media age allows customers to fight back and hit companies where it hurts - their reputation! The YouTube clip below came ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:31 GMT
Take two tablets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/take-two-tablets.aspx

Samsung is hoping to give Apple a real headache with its new tablet. The Galaxy Tab, unveiled early in September, is a smaller, lighter rival for Apple’s highly successful iPad and one of the first of what is expected to be a flood of tablet-style devices to hit the market ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:43:04 GMT
Now focus on the people who elected you http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/now-focus-on-the-people-who-elected-you.aspx

So, two and a half weeks after the federal election, we have a result.  And now that the politicians have stopped trying to woo each other, perhaps they’ll start trying to woo us again. During this peculiar political hiatus, when Ministers and MPs have been horse trading behind closed doors, ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:50 GMT
Choose your own adventure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/september/choose-your-own-adventure.aspx

Being a geek and gadget lover I read all about Android and the promise it held (though I must admit I was tempted by the iPhone 4). So patiently I awaited a mobile phone that ticked all the boxes for me. Some people can make snap purchasing decisions and buy ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:42:14 GMT
2010 Shonkys - A stark reminder of why we exist http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/october/2010-shonkys---a-stark-reminder-of-why-we-exist.aspx

After a 23-hour flight from the US, I stepped straight off a plane and into CHOICE’s Shonky Awards ceremony today - and instantly my jetlag evaporated. Nothing could have revived me more than being reminded of our vision in action – to make Australians the most active and savvy consumers in ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:57 GMT
GST threshold - join the debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/gst-threshold---join-the-debate.aspx

It’s the hot button issue about tax, technology and competition that has provoked a fiery debate about online shopping versus bricks and mortar retailers. At present, Australians can buy goods online from overseas and not pay GST for products under $1000. CHOICE’s position of arguing to retain the $1000 GST-free threshold has ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:41:07 GMT
Book store woes highlight gift voucher risks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/February/book-store-woes-highlight-gift-voucher-traps.aspx

This current situation with the parent company of the Borders and Angus and Robertson bookstore chains going into voluntary administration highlights one of the risks involved in buying gift vouchers; you’re giving money that could potentially never give a return. When a company goes into administration, people holding gift vouchers ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:37:00 GMT
Baby buying brain http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/pregnancy-and-shopping.aspx

Something happens to a woman when she becomes pregnant. Before you get up in arms about that statement, I’ll clarify. I’m not saying pregnant women get crazy, just cautious - very cautious. I can say that because I was one of them. Suddenly everything matters. Everything is potentially dangerous. You ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:35:44 GMT
Join us in our push for better banks http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/join-us-in-our-push-for-better-banks.aspx

During the worldwide GFC, the public stood by the banks in their time of need and financial markets are now fortunately more stable. The collapse of the financial system would have benefited no one and that’s why the public gave the green light to any action deemed necessary to stabilise ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:15:19 GMT
A Level Playing Field http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/a-level-playing-field.aspx

It’s not every day that Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman fame gets on the blower to challenge my position on globalization and internet buying, but that’s what he did the other day. Gerry has set himself up as the lightning rod of discontent for local traders who are feeling the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:14:08 GMT
CHOICE Blogs http://www.choice.com.au/blog.aspxmetadata description Copyright 2014 www.choice.com.auen-au http://www.choice.com.au/img/logo_choice.gif www.choice.com.au http://www.choice.com.auWed, 01 Oct 2014 03:46:09 GMTIs a Thermomix really worth it? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/Buying-a-thermomix.aspx

With a hefty $1939 price tag, adding a Thermomix to your kitchen collection is no impulse buy. And like plenty of people, my partner and I did a lot of reading and research before deciding to bite the bullet. (Getting a relative to buy one for us in France for ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:28:59 GMT
Call Centre Anguish http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Call-Centre-Anguish.aspx

When moving house recently, I was assigned the duty of coordinating our utility connections. I consider myself a sociable person with a finesse for negotiation skills, so I like to deal with such tasks with that great interpersonal tool known as the internet. However, my internet research soon revealed that ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:11:35 GMT
Consumer needs must take priority in financial advice debate http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/July/Consumer-needs-must-take-priority-in-financial-advice-debate.aspx

Senators will make a decision this week that might just save homes and help to people retire with dignity. Because when people get financial advice that’s not in their best interest, or advice that is driven by sales incentives instead of responsibility, they risk losing everything. This week the Senate will ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:39:59 GMT
Click here for stuff you don't want http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/dark-patterns.aspx

The other day, after getting a ‘reminder’ from LinkedIn that I still hadn’t responded to a friend’s invitation to, well, link in, I sent her an email apologising and said I didn’t have a LinkedIn account. A few minutes later she walked over (yep, I actually emailed someone sitting a ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:49:02 GMT
School of false hopes http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/June/school-of-false-hopes.aspx

The 2014 Federal Budget has drastically changed the education landscape, with universities free to charge whatever they like for courses, while the income at which your HECS repayments kick in has been lowered and interest rates on debt increased. So now, more than ever, consumers need to make sure they ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 04 Jun 2014 15:45:04 GMT
Greater price transparency needed at supermarkets http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/unit-pricing-supermarkets.aspx

The forecasts of a tough Budget, rising unemployment, and higher interest rates, mean that more and more Australians are going to find it harder to make ends meet.But there is one thing we can all do that can make a big difference every week if not every day - try ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 08 May 2014 11:33:33 GMT
Infomercial weight loss - hot or not? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/May/infomercial-mania.aspx

I love TV home shopping shows - for about 30 seconds. After that I vacillate between fleeting credulity, overwhelming incredulity and coma-inducing boredom. However, since I'm always on the lookout for interesting consumer products, I suffer through them.The latest gizmo to catch my eye was Hot Shapers. These tight fitting ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 May 2014 11:28:55 GMT
Cleaning the dishwasher http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/washing-the-dishwasher.aspx

Over the past three years, you may have noticed a new product on the market - detergents for cleaning your dishwasher.  Now, you might be thinking that this idea is a little redundant. A dishwasher is supposed to be the thing that cleans other things, right? Well, right. And if ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:23:54 GMT
Bring your Windows PC back from the dead http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/recovery-media.aspx

The only thing worse than a computer that won’t boot up is realising you’ll have to pay to get it fixed. But before you reach for your wallet, there are a few things you can do that will help your PC recover from almost any system software problem, and the ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:23:31 GMT
Hands on with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/Hands-on-with-the-PlayStation-4-and-Xbox-One.aspx

The next generation of games consoles are almost here. The Xbox One hits the shelves on 22nd November and the PlayStation 4 (PS4) one week later. Should you be stuffing one into your stocking this Christmas? I recently compared each one at the EB Games Expo in Sydney.Playtime was all ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:59:53 GMT
Why is watching Game of Thrones in Australia so hard? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/April/watching-game-of-thrones-in-australia.aspx

Foxtel, you know nothing - nothing about how and when I want to watch TV, and nothing about what would make me renew my Foxtel subscription to watch Season Four of Game of Thrones. And honestly, I am here to be convinced.I was willing to pay you $44.50 a month, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:27:08 GMT
China dreaming http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/March/China-Dreaming.aspx

We recently went to China for a bit of a holiday, to see all the amazing growth that is going on in that country. And to get yet another lesson in the old adage, "you get what you pay for".There are a lot of cheap goods in China, in particular ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:26:15 GMT
The DVD and Blu-Ray region coding conundrum http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2014/February/dvd-players.aspx

I’m a Gen X, so I find myself straddling between the tried and trusted way of doing things, and attempting to orientate towards the "new way". Central to this predicament is technology, or more specifically, how to watch movies and TV shows.My favourite TV shows warrant buying DVD box sets ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Feb 2014 08:48:49 GMT
Extended warranty http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Extended Warranty.aspx

Like many people I know, sometimes I just can’t be bothered reading the terms and conditions that are included with virtually every website, product and service that I sign up for. The thought just bores me silly. Delving into the lawyer speak, weasel words and down-right obfuscating terminology is not ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:49 GMT
Man shopping http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-disciplined-shopper.aspx

The way I take my revenge on the bewildering market for everyday goods is to grab the first thing I see in the lower price range. Companies spend countless hours and billions of dollars on packaging, promos and product placement; I spend three seconds making a decision. Take that, I ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 16 Jan 2014 10:50:15 GMT
Help menu reboot http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/December/Help-menu-reboot.aspx

I’m no software designer or usability expert, but I use computers almost every day for work as well as general life management. It also just so happens that I spend most of my working life writing about computing - which probably explains why I’m writing about help menus.When it comes ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:38:55 GMT
The trouble with ebook pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/The-trouble-with-ebook-pricing.aspx

Amazon has just launched its local ebook store in Australia. This comes shortly after a US trial involving Apple that focused on ebook pricing. Time will tell how will Australian ebook retailers respond as Amazon seeks to cement its position in the market. The court case put the spotlight on ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 17:11:39 GMT
White coat hypertension http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/November/white-coat-hypertension.aspx

Last time I went to the doctor for a check-up, my blood pressure was 140 over something. I was shocked - I’ve always been a 110, 120 kinda gal. She took two more readings and it went down - into the 130s. Reluctant to let me leave with this sort ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:14:53 GMT
Where's our digital revolution? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Wheres-our-digital-revolution.aspx

Australia is a peculiar country. We are wealthy, isolated, large in size but small in population. These features have conspired for some time to deny Australian consumers access to the newest media. Our release windows for film, music and televisions shows have been later, our range sparser and our prices, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 31 Oct 2013 15:17:10 GMT
CHOICE Computer goes to PAX http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/CC-goes-to-PAX.aspx

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) came to Australia this year for the first time, bringing with it a gigantic celebration of all things nerdy, video games in particular. We joined thousands of geeks in Melbourne to get some hands-on time with upcoming games and new technology, as the Melbourne Showgrounds ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:05:54 GMT
Charitable consumption http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/July/Charitable consumption.aspx

I'm a casual gamer. This means that I’ve reached a point in life where there are other things competing for my time on a fairly regular basis, so games are something that I'll do once in a blue moon - mostly when there is something I've been looking forward to ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:07:23 GMT
How to get a refund on SimCity http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/How-to-get-a-refund-on-Sim-City.aspx

When it comes to getting refunds on faulty goods, Australian consumers are quite well protected under Australian Consumer Law. As a consumer advocacy organisation we are often informing consumers of their rights with handy guides and cards. The unmitigated disaster that is Electronic Art’s (EA) SimCity has been so great ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 29 Oct 2013 10:06:17 GMT
You're going to be a dad! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/A-Dads-reaction-to-fatherhood.aspx

When I was growing up there were certain life moments I tried to imagine experiencing. Admittedly, in the early years they didn't go much beyond wanting to be Marco van Basten (Dutch footballer, played for AC Milan in the '90s. Genius. Never mind!), but as I got older I began ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:41:49 GMT
Baby bills - the unexpected purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/October/Unexpected-parental-purchases.aspx

The financial shocks for first-time parents probably won’t be as bad as some of the less tangible parenting challenges that will come in later years, but it’s important to understand that baby goods marketers have gotten better than ever at getting you to buy stuff. It’s almost impossible to avoid making ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:42:20 GMT
The value of in-app purchases http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-value-of-in-app-purchases.aspx

I have mixed feelings about in-app purchases. On the one hand, they can expand the lifecycle of a program with special updates and expansions suited to specific consumer needs. On the other they can capitalise on a desire for instant gratification. It's the latter that are currently making headlines all ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 16:42:40 GMT
Direct debits: good or bad for consumers? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Direct-debits-Good-or-Bad-for-Consumers.aspx

Many consumers use direct debits to pay bills, and most of the time they probably work well. However, it is still worth asking a very fundamental question: are they really of net benefit to all consumers?Direct debits certainly benefit businesses in many ways. For example, direct debit gives a higher ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 13 Sep 2013 10:35:14 GMT
Why the milk debate isn't clear-cut http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/milk-prices.aspx

Hands up if you want cheap milk? Actually, let’s try rephrasing that - hands up if you want to rip off farmers? Many consumers could be forgiven for feeling slightly confused about which side to take in the recent “milk war” between Australia’s major supermarkets. The debate that started with $1-a-litre ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Behind the scenes of the CHOICE Awards http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/March/choice-awards.aspx

Planning the CHOICE Awards is a little like planning a wedding. No bride, sure, but a similar amount of organisation and hard work: book a venue, tee up an MC, invite guests, select a menu, prepare speeches, make seating plans – and then there’s the little thing about choosing awards and ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Where TV is going http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/where-tv-is-going.aspx

There's a lot of hype around at present over 3D TV. I'm not convinced it'll be as big a seller as the manufacturers are claiming — but we'll definitely test some when they're in the market and there's something 3D to watch on them. My thinking is that it'll be ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:15 GMT
Heart Foundation ticked off at Coles logo http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/december/heart-foundation-ticked-off-at-coles-logo.aspxEarlier this week we heard that the Heart Foundation was unhappy with Coles using a red tick in the logo of their generic Smart Buy range, arguing that it could give shoppers the impression that Coles Smart Buy products met some kind of nutrition or health criteria which made them healthier choices. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 12 Sep 2013 10:26:14 GMT
CHOICE heads to the IFA Berlin http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/September/IFA-CES-Berlin.aspx

The Consumer Electronics Show (IFA – or Internationale Funkausstellung) is held once a year inMesse Berlin - in a massive sprawling conference centre five times larger than any conference centre wehave in Australia. There are over 27 halls of various products ranging from fully formed household items from brands we ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 10 Sep 2013 14:40:52 GMT
The price you could pay for a free PC http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/The price you could pay for a free PC.aspx

I was bored with Windows. But after a torrid weekend of tussling with Linux I’m almost looking forward to more boredom. It’s not that moving to Linux is a bad idea – far from it – but I fell into a trap that made for a less than smooth transition. ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:02:36 GMT
Lab dryers lead to energy savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/August/Lab-dryers-lead-to-energy-savings.aspx

CHOICE wants to reduce the amount of energy we use on site - along with implementing monitor turn off policies or timers, replacing every other fluorescent tube pair rather than every one, plus many other smaller changes that whittle away at electricity usage, we've been looking at the laboratories as ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:43:29 GMT
Sham-not-so-Wow http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/february/sham-not-so-wow.aspx

After seeing the infomercial and watching a video posted by our sister organisation ConsumerReports about the ShamWow, I was given the task of having a play around with this "wonder" cloth to see if it wowed me or not. I got a special offer for $59.90 - buy one set, get one ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Aug 2013 09:48:07 GMT
Insurance is seriously entertaining http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2009/october/insurance-is-seriously-entertaining.aspx

We are now in the middle of our home and contents insurance project – it’s been fascinating to see the different questions insurers ask in order to calculate how much they should charge you for insuring your home or contents. For example, it matters how many people you are living with, ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:47:41 GMT
Volkswagen recall http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Volkswagen-recall.aspx

A few years ago my partner and I decided to buy a new car. While our faithful old bomb was okay, with a baby and a toddler we decided to bite the bullet and buy something newer.We settled on a Volkswagen Passat diesel wagon - a great looking car, just ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Jun 2013 10:44:38 GMT
Keep track of online tracking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/June/Keep track of online tracking.aspx

I have an uneasy relationship with Facebook. Like most users, I love peering into the lives of friends for a few minutes a day. This peephole lets me stay in touch with rants, happy events and random thoughts.  As for myself, I like to post updates and links to stories ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Jun 2013 13:50:46 GMT
Arrested Development, Netflix and geo-blocking http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/Arrested-Development-Netflix-and-geo-blocking.aspx

On 26 May, season four of the cult-comedy series Arrested Development was released on the internet-streaming website, Netflix.However, Netflix - which has exclusive broadcast rights to the show after its seven-year hiatus - is not available to Australian consumers. This means that Australians cannot officially access the show at all. In ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 30 May 2013 17:15:30 GMT
Borrowing from Peter - P2P lending http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/May/P2P-lending.aspx

It’s been a while since uni, but I’m pretty sure it was Shakespeare who said neither a lender nor a borrower be. And that was back in the 1500s or so. Well, there’s been a whole lot of lending and borrowing going on since then. In fact, entire industries have ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 08 May 2013 09:36:38 GMT
Six months with an electric car http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/six-months-with-an-electric-car.aspx

Last year, CHOICE took a first look at the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle). I've had the interesting experience of driving the car for the last six months. In the process, I have been stopped at intersections, interrogated in parking lots and questioned at work. Everybody wants to know: ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 May 2013 16:13:38 GMT
Help, my baby won't sleep! http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/april/baby-sleeping-aids.aspx

Whoever came up with the saying “sleeping like a baby” must have had one of those one-in-a-million textbook babies who slept way more than mine do.The perennial problem of babies and toddlers who either won’t fall asleep or won’t stay asleep was recently thrown into the spotlight through Adam Mansbach’s ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 15 Apr 2013 14:25:58 GMT
The Sunday of three returns http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/April/the-sunday-of-three-returns.aspx

One Sunday this summer, I tried to return three items to three different shops. Two of the stores restored my faith in bricks and mortar shopping. The third demonstrated that some retailers have a long way to go if they plan on stemming the online shopping tide.First stop: Myer, where ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 03 Apr 2013 18:18:16 GMT
Buy now, pay forever http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Buy-now-pay-forever.aspx

I think there’s a word missing from the English vocabulary. It would describe a product that lures you in with the promise of fulfilling a need relatively cheaply, but once purchased it applies a siphon to your finances to keep it running. I’m open to suggestions, but for now I’m ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:13:07 GMT
Will consumers win on excessive surcharges? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Will-consumers-win-on-excessive-surcharges.aspx

Today should bring good news for consumers as the Reserve Bank’s reforms to credit card surcharging come into effect. These reforms are designed to end the practice of retailers hitting consumers with excessive surcharges for paying by credit card – such as the $7.70 charged by Qantas and Virgin or ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:25:12 GMT
Consumers reap benefits of the social web http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/May/consumers-and-the-social-web.aspx

The phenomenal growth of social networking combined with continuing technological advances, like mobile internet connectivity, has brought new opportunities across the social spectrum – and consumers are one of the biggest winners. It seems relevant then that this is one of the reoccurring topics of discussion at the Consumers International ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 18 Mar 2013 15:42:08 GMT
Cutting my paper ties http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/Paperless.aspx

After reading a review of David Sparks’ ebook on the whys and wherefores of going paperless on The Mac Observer, I realised going paperless was something that I was interested in doing - and it wouldn’t be too difficult. Mac users may know David Sparks from his Mac Power Users ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:22:15 GMT
Consumer rights across borders http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/March/global-consumer-rights.aspx

In 1985, two pretty significant things happened for consumers around the world. There was the controversial release of ‘new recipe’ Coke. And then, there was also the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.Things didn't fare so well for the ‘New Coke’. After just three months, and a massive public ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 08 Mar 2013 09:06:37 GMT
Making the switch to a solid state drive http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/SSD.aspx

Solid state drives (SSDs), have been around tech circles for a while, but they’ve only entered the consumer vernacular in the last 12 – 18 months. Promising faster boot and data transfer times, improved energy efficiency and greater system stability over hard disk drives (HDD), SSDs are gradually becoming an ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 26 Feb 2013 15:04:54 GMT
Health insurance extras http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/February/health-insurance-in-an-online-age.aspx

Like many Australians over 30, I have private health insurance. Although I’m healthy, the tax man’s arm-twisting makes a compelling argument for me to have it. I’m on a comparatively cheaper “young singles” plan, but even that’s a pretty hefty drain on my wallet.(Yeah, yeah – I know I’m no longer ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:22:20 GMT
Taxi alternatives http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Taxi Alternatives.aspx

Taxi AlternativeGiven our recent Shonky given to Cabcharge for their surcharge that's not a surcharge, I thought it would be interesting to find ways around the monopoly rather than just resigning myself to the fact that Cabcharge has me temporarily over a barrel. Unfortunately, to truly get around the monopoly, ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 25 Jan 2013 15:26:20 GMT
Do sales people influence you? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2013/January/Retail-experience.aspx

One thing I've noticed in the last few years since starting at CHOICE is how salespeople can affect a purchasing decision.When I go into a retail store, I naturally go to a sales person because I want to buy something. What is the effect of asking that sales person for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:02:32 GMT
Why buying a DSLR might not be a good idea http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Buying-a-DSLR.aspx

There’s no shortage of camera reviewers on the internet. Some are competent and detailed in their assessments and some are not, but most make a simple assumption that appears to be incorrect for a significant portion of their audience. They assume the camera will be used in a variety of ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:41:49 GMT
No festive cheer in bill shock http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/no-festive-cheer-in-bill-shock.aspx

The festive season invariably means travel for many of us. I’ve travelled a lot over the years myself, and lugged many a brick-size travel guide in my daypack. I’ve also been writing about travel and technology for many years and, as both a write and traveller, it’s exciting to realise ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:39:39 GMT
Something to write home about http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Something-to-write-home-about.aspx

If I had been born sixty years earlier, a matronly and god fearing teacher would have rapped my knuckles with a ruler for picking up a pen with my left hand. Fortunately, I was born in 1985 and was free to settle into the comforts of being left handed, unchallenged.This ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 20 Dec 2012 09:25:50 GMT
Weight Watchers 360 http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/weight-watchers-360.aspx

Some weeks ago CHOICE Food & Health was invited by Weight Watchers to participate in a ‘live social experiment’ involving lunch and information about the 2013 Weight Watchers program. We were told we’d be picked up from the office and taken to the event, and taken back afterwards. Who said ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 18 Dec 2012 12:17:09 GMT
Still more work to do on unit pricing http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Still-more-work-to-do-on-unit-pricing.aspx

Since late 2009 large supermarkets have had to show the unit price (price per unit of measure) of packaged grocery items on shelf labels so that shoppers can easily compare prices and values.This was a major for victory for consumers that took nearly 50 years to achieve.However the current system ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:23:47 GMT
Piracy and market failure http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/december/Piracy-and-market-failure.aspx

Trying to understand, predict and influence consumer decision making is multi-billion dollar industry and an imperative for businesses and governments alike.A failure to predict not only what goods and service consumers choose to buy, but how they choose to buy them, can have some pretty drastic consequences. Consumers have shown ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:27:37 GMT
Fully charged http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/Fully charged.aspx

My mum recently transferred some frequent flyer points to my Qantas Frequent Flyer account. Great, I thought – I can take my 18-month-old daughter on a trip to Adelaide to visit her auntie. A visit to the Qantas website informed me I had enough points to book the trip via the ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 05 Dec 2012 12:12:09 GMT
Retirement village contracts http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Retirement-village-contracts.aspx

There is something downright misleading with the way retirement village contracts work in Australia. For far too long, contract terms have weighed heavily in favour of the operators, and many residents discover they’re liable for higher costs than they anticipated when it’s too late to do anything about them.It means some ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:25:01 GMT
The new Facebook algorithm http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/november/The-new-Facebook-algorithm.aspx

Since its initial public offering in May this year, revenue has become a key priority for Facebook, and this is having consequences for users, businesses, and non-profits alike. Facebook has implemented a new algorithm to control what people see in their newsfeed, so not all their friends or pages' posts will ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 02 Nov 2012 15:36:02 GMT
Pester Power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Pester Power.aspx

I bought my two little daughters new toothbrushes the other day – not an uncommon occurrence in my house as my kids have a magical ability to make small items disappear into thin air (think a never ending roll call of vanishing hair clips, socks, hair bands, toothbrushes, etc.).So while ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:48:47 GMT
Celebrity endorsements http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/Celebrity endorsements.aspx

Kim Kardashian and ABC Television: it’s not very often you would imagine seeing the two together in the same sentence. Last week, however, Jonathan Holmes and Media Watch decided it was time to acquaint the two.  The topic of discussion: Kardashian’s commitment to the Quick Trim detox that joins the ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 11 Oct 2012 12:35:21 GMT
Choosing a GP for your child http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/choosing-kids-GP.aspx

Someone asked me the other day how to go about choosing a GP for her newborn baby. This immediately brought back memories of the medical merry-go-round we went through in my kids’ early years. With recurrent ear infections and conjunctivitis and the usual scary spots and coughs all kids seem ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:53:43 GMT
The decline and fall of the big screen experience http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/september/Ads-in-theatres.aspx

Since when have cinema owners been given free rein to assault moviegoers with 20 minutes of soul-crushing commercials before the main feature starts? Since a while ago, I know, but lately matters seem to have gotten worse. These ads can take you right out of the movie mood.Last time I ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 14 Sep 2012 16:13:10 GMT
Food nostalgia http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/august/Food nostalgia.aspx

Recently we published an article on brands disappearing, when hundreds of people contacted us to complain that their favourite brands and products had recently disappeared from the shelves of the big two supermarkets. It was surprising how passionate they were about the topic, and it got me thinking. Or should I ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 22 Aug 2012 09:24:37 GMT
Flying no frills http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Flying no frills.aspx

Last year, I went on holiday to Europe. When I was deciding which airline to fly with, I had a tough choice to make. I could fly Air China, which I'd never flown before and knew very little about. Their website was stuck in the dark ages (seriously - it ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 01 Aug 2012 12:53:39 GMT
Don't be ripped off on IT goods http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/july/Dont-be-ripped-off-on-IT-goods.aspx

Would you rather pay $88 or $61 for a video game? I think I could hazard a guess at what your answer might be. Although this seems like somewhat of an absurd question, it is one that we are nevertheless asked on a daily basis. What is really absurd is ...

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CHOICE Blog Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:53:42 GMT
Webcams for Security http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Webcams for Security.aspx

Some time ago I purchased a webcam for Skype reasons. It doesn't get a lot of use, so I entertained the thought of using it as a security camera.CHOICE hasn't tested this, as there are plenty of options out there for dedicated security camera setups. But I went ahead and ...

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CHOICE Blog Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:46:55 GMT
Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/june/Free-range egg standards no clearer thanks to NSW Government.aspx

Free-range eggs are being sold in increasing numbers around Australia and it comes as no great surprise that animal welfare is the main driver for consumers. Cartons carrying images of happy hens roaming on green fields lead many of us to believe it is worth paying extra for free-range. But for ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 29 Jun 2012 11:14:38 GMT
Who pays who for what http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/january/who-pays-who-for-what.aspx

I recently came across an article on the website Money Management, which made me reflect on the ongoing debate about conflict of interest in the financial advice world. Entitled "Fund manager payments breed skepticism", the article said research conducted with financial planners suggests that "64 per cent of respondents (financial ...

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CHOICE Blog Fri, 01 Jun 2012 14:56:27 GMT
An experiment in people power http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/August/choice-big-bank-switch-an-experiment-in-people-power.aspx

“Knowledge must come through action,” observed a very wise man about 2,500 years ago. While Sophocles was not referring to the Australian banking sector, the ancient Greeks did know a thing or two about people power. The CHOICE Big Bank Switch is an experiment in people power. Although not quite ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:35:09 GMT
Environment and the economy – what are your choices? http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2011/November/economy-and-environment.aspx

Our national economic backbone, mining, has found itself at odds with another area of financial importance – The Great Barrier Reef. Put aside your feelings on any environmental debate for the moment, because there is no denying that we are relying on the mining industry to carry our country’s bank ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:21:57 GMT
It's good to talk http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2010/november/its-good-to-talk.aspx

It takes a lot more than a few days to bring about lasting change; in fact a lifetime may not be enough when it comes to taking on the big end of town.But for the very few days the CHOICE Better Banking Campaign has been up and running we are beginning to ...

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CHOICE Blog Mon, 28 May 2012 12:19:43 GMT
CHOICE Baby Safety Week http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Baby Safety Week.aspx

It’s the most wonderful time of your life. But it can also be the most fearful.Caring for a baby is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation. Am I doing the right thing? What if something happens? Where’s the rule book?I remember – like it was yesterday – bringing home my precious ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 16:11:30 GMT
The big four banks are just not that into us http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/The big four banks are just not that into us.aspx

Australians need to take a reality check on our relationship with the big four banks. If we asked our friends, they would say we are showing signs of unhealthy co-dependency.That we are worth so much more than out-of-cycle interest rate increases and record profits, but still we stick around.If our ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:16:35 GMT
Rolling the dice on daily deals http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Rolling the dice.aspx

Daily deals – the cut-price temptations that land in my inbox multiple times each day promising magical experiences and indulgent treats. On paper, the deals are usually fairly fantastic, and I enjoy entertaining new experiences or products I might not otherwise consider.However, there’s a vast difference between a great daily ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:14:38 GMT
Into the interest rate maze http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Into the interest rate maze.aspx

Financial literacy is not great in Australia. Worryingly, the latest research by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows that there are also many obstacles that make it even harder for people to make good financial decisions. However this may all be about to change thanks largely to the work ...

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CHOICE Blog Wed, 23 May 2012 15:13:53 GMT
Adding up the Costco savings http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/may/Costco experience.aspx

It all started with the fact that I wanted a cup of tea and