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Lemon season

The products and services that left a sour taste in 2020.

Shonkys 2020 judging
Last updated: 10 November 2020

When COVID-19 hit Australia earlier this year, we decided that everyone needed a bit more kindness in their lives. Having seen a few examples of businesses going above and beyond to help people, we invited public nominations for what would become our 'Shiny Awards', to recognise some of the best of those examples.

Our early working title for the Shinys was the 'anti-Shonkys' because we saw them as the antithesis of our annual awards that call out poor business behaviour. When we announced the winners in June, we didn't know what the events of 2020 would mean for the Shonkys. We would have loved nothing more than to have no reason to award them. But here we are again…

While these awards often have a fun edge – evidenced by CHOICE staff dressing up in silly costumes for the media – they ultimately have a serious message. As consumers, we shouldn't have to go to great lengths to work out whether we're being sold a dud or being ripped off. Businesses should just do the right thing in the first place.

With the Reserve Bank's cash rate at 0.25% and many people struggling to repay debts, there's no place in Australia for credit cards with interest rates of almost 23%

This is particularly important when people are doing it tough – and nothing highlights this better than this year's award to Harvey Norman and Latitude Finance for flogging overpriced credit cards. With the Reserve Bank's cash rate at 0.25% and many people struggling to repay debts, there's no place in Australia for credit cards with interest rates of almost 23%. It's an even greater concern that these are being sold on the shop floor.

We give out these awards because we want to change the market, by shaming businesses that deserve it and encouraging regulators to enforce the law. I'm pleased to say that we often see that happen. Just last month, 2017 Shonky Award winner Viagogo – a ticket resale website that has ripped off consumers around the world – was ordered to pay a fine of $7 million for breaching consumer laws, as a result of action by the ACCC. Viagogo followed in the steps of other Shonky winners, such as the Medical Weightloss Institute and Thermomix, to face action by regulators.

While in a way we'd love not to hold the Shonkys, we know we must, because bad publicity is a powerful weapon against bad behaviour, and there is no other organisation in Australia with the ability to call it out in this way. The reason we can do that is because we are independent and member-funded. As a CHOICE member, you help to make that possible, so know that by supporting us, you help to protect other consumers from the shonks you're about to read about.