What annoys Australians?

More than 1000 CHOICE members reveal their top gripes.
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01 .Introduction


We asked CHOICE members to score 32 everyday annoyances on a scale from zero to 10 – zero meaning the experience did not annoy them at all, and 10 meaning it annoyed them tremendously.

We gathered 400 responses on the first day our email was sent out and the top three complaints were, not suprisingly, all consumer- and/or product-related:

  • hidden fees
  • having problems returning a faulty product under warranty
  • being put on hold or not being able to speak with someone on the phone.

The results are comparable to a similar survey conducted by our US sister publication, Consumer Reports, which found Americans are most peeved by hidden fees, being put on hold/not getting a human on the phone and tailgating (which ranks fourth for Australians).

Overall, Aussies loathe being ignored or disregarded by customer service or sales staff . “I hate having to talk to a robot or go through endless phone menus when all I want is to talk to a real person,” says one CHOICE member. “I don’t appreciate being told to go to the website while on hold,” says another. “If the question could be answered from the website, I wouldn’t be calling!”

Other findings

  • Women are more irritated than men by most gripes. Men are more likely to be frustrated by time-related annoyances such as long queues and traffic jams.
  • The older people are, the more annoyed they are with being put on hold and getting no response to their complaints.
  • Those who live in rural and regional areas are annoyed by the same things that bug city-dwellers.

Politicians who don’t answer questions directly came up frequently in the open section of our survey and traffic grievances were often cited, such as drivers who don’t indicate or merge properly. Many members were also annoyed with telemarketers who call their home during dinner, even when they’re on the Do Not Call register.

Several decried barking dogs in their neighbourhood as well as uncollected dog poo. Americanisations such as “cell phone” instead of “mobile phone” also rattled some respondents.


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Here are some of the gripes CHOICE readers shared with us:

No more fees, please

  • Unjustified fees and restraints. For example - bank cheques that do not clear for 3 days, unless you pay a fee, when a bank will not let you withdraw large sums of money in any other way.1. 1. Having to discuss technical/financial problems with call centre staff who don'tunderstand the Australian version of English. Call centres should be based in Australia.
  • Bills that now include a charge for using a credit card (as if it costs them more!!!) People who don't call you back!!! People who park in no stopping zones in school areas!!
  • Unjustified fees and restraints. For example - bank cheques that do not clear for 3 days, unless you pay a fee, when a bank will not let you withdraw large sums of money in any other way.

Cars, driving, on the road

  • My pet annoyances are related to 'speeding' and road hogging. Firstly that of drivers driving below the speed limit on the outside lane side by side with another vehicle on the middle lane - oblivious to the pile of vehicles trying to pass, thus causing many to pass dangerously on the inside lane instead. There needs to be more education on this issue. "Keep left unless overtaking, or if you're going to turn right shortly".
  • People talking on mobile phones whilst driving. People throwing cigarette butts out of car windows. People smoking in public places. People spitting.
  • People driving slowly in the right hand lane.
  • Being ripped off with car repairs.
  • Incompetent/lazy car mechanics and NRMA Roadside service persons.
  • Drivers not stopping at stop signs and not observing road rules.


  • Supermarkets trying to increase their profits by forcing customers to use self-servecheck-outs instead of employing staff for the check outs and pretending it's to lower shelf prices. Also stopping the use of Visa debt cards and also pretending it is to lower shelf prices. I have yet to see either lower shelf prices.
  • The lack of choice in Coles and Woolworths - lots of their own brand 'best buy'products have displaced a wide range of items that only a year or two ago were plentiful. Australian products seem to be the big losers at these BIG two.
  • Lack of choice in supermarkets, ie, removal of brand names in favour of supermarkets own labels. Coles appears to be the worst offender. I refuse to purchase brands I do not want. I will rather go without to prove a point.
  • Misleading labelling: 1) manufactured from "local and imported products" and (2)any label that purports to present an overseas product as Australian.

Customer dis-service

  • During phone enquiries being passed from one customer service officer to another until eventually one cuts you off and you have to start over from scratch.
  • When service/repairmen give a very long period of time for their possible visit eg: between 8am & 5pm and you are expected to sit at home during that whole time.
  • Difficulty in getting a real person to answer call eg 'press one for frustration'; call centre respondents with thick accents and no flexibility to solve problems;Inflexible internet providers; Telstra; the shocking waste due to short life span of electric items particularly computers; taxi drivers who fail to respond to short tripfares; over packaging.
  • Returned message via mobile phone when prefferd highlighted method is via email.


  • The miserable prices paid to Australian farmers and the outrageous prices charged to consumers.
  • Advertising emails that don't allow you to 'un-subscribe'.
  • Monthly telephone line rental cost.
  • Rural people are ALWAYS subjected to: higher prices, poorer internet speed, fewer consumer choices, HAVING to deal with businesses via the phone and not face to face, etc, when compared with our urban counterparts.
  • Commercial Television, Most Television programs that purport to provide news; Morning TV programs; Games shows, talent shows; big brother type shows; Masterchef, newspapers.
  • General lack of courtesy.
  • Smoking in public areas, streets , outside building entrances. Phone canvassers. Bank fees.
  • Parents not containing their children when outside their homes. Telemarketing phone calls. Finding someone has damaged your parked car and not left a note.
  • The seemingly almost total lack of understanding of the need for a truly sustainable way of life on this finite planet.
  • Noise - especially commercial radio stations played in buses and shops.
  • Using American jargon such as "upcoming", "ramping up", "all-time high", "growing a business".
  • Queue jumping either in shops, at bus stop, taxi ranks etc and on merging lanes in traffic.
  • People walking along busy footpaths talking on mobile phones and thus walking slowly.
  • Junk mail: I have tried all the way up from a "no junk mail, posted articles only" local council, local government, and federal government. As a person who is away a lot, and who uses a post office box junk mail littering my driveway advertises to all and sundry that I am away, apart from environmental concerns.
  • Politicians broken promises. Especially when they promise to spend on a specific infrastructure project then delay it for ever. They suck up the media attention then hide when asked where it is. Eg. A train line to a suburban location that never gets built.
  • My number 1 is noisy dogs! guess I've rated that against noisy neighbours.
  • Jetstar with its special offers on the net for a limited time - 2hours - and can't get on - then the next day they offer same ruote for 2.5 times the price as a special. Qantas - rude, haughty, only think of themselves, out of touch.
  • Filling out surveys.
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