7 October 2015
Samsung, Kleenex, Coca-Cola, NAB, the payday lending industry and IKEA were among the eight companies and industries named and shamed at CHOICE’s 10th annual Shonky Awards in Sydney today.
“Sadly the CHOICE Shonky Awards is in its 10th year and this latest crop of lemons deserves to be juiced,” says CHOICE Chief Executive, Alan Kirkland.
“From payday lenders that prey on the vulnerable to laundry products that just don’t work, it is clear business still needs to sharpen up its act. With over 400 shonky products and services being nominated, it looks like we’ll be back again next year.”
This year’s Shonky Award winners are:
Samsung’s questionable recall efforts around a line of faulty top loader washing machines saw more than 224 incidents, including 76 fires, and there are still around 58,000 potential fire hazards in homes across Australia. Samsung said they did not need to advertise on TV to alert consumers to the danger – we disagree. We think it is time for Samsung to end the spin cycle and advertise on television before someone dies in the dark.
Kleenex claims its kids flushable cleansing cloths disintegrate “like toilet paper”, which would be great... except they don’t. Wipe-related damage to sewerage systems is estimated at $15 million annually. Clearly, Kleenex flushable wipes aren’t sewer-friendly, and we think the “flushable” claim misleads consumers. We’ve launched a campaign at choice.com.au/flushbusters to wipe these untrue claims off the supermarket shelves.
Coca-Cola gave an “unrestricted gift” to the Global Energy Balance Network, a front organisation dedicated to using “energy balance” to end obesity. We think funding an organisation that suggests we should keep drinking sugary drinks and just exercise more is a load of fizz.
When we looked at the “leather sofas and armchairs” section of IKEA’s Australian website, we were surprised to find polyester and polyurethane couches masquerading as the real thing. We think IKEA has real hide serving up plastic couches in the “leather” section of its website.
With 1 in 5 Australians living off a credit card to get through to payday and many of us carrying a balance forward, consumers need NAB to act responsibly and pass on official interest rate cuts to credit card customers. Not only did NAB fail to pass the full 2.5% cut since 2011, it decided to raise rates for its “low” rate card customers from 12.99% to 13.99%. A very well-deserved Shonky for a low rate cash grab.
The payday lending industry
The fact is payday lenders prey on some of the most vulnerable consumers. The fees, extra charges and cripplingly high interest rates are the stuff of Hollywood horror films. In one recent case, Cash Convertors irresponsibly issued a pensioner 63 loans over six years. We think payday lenders are a school of predators, telling consumers to take out high interest loans so they can devour them in frenzy of debt. It’s time the bite was put on this industry.
Can you imagine a world without washing powder? Nanosmart can, claiming their laundry balls allow you to wash without detergent. The only problem is they don’t work. Forget the “bio-ceramic” balls or “infrared rays” and “negative ions” that apparently reduce the size of the water molecules to better penetrate the fabric, CHOICE tests found water alone did a better job. And at $50 a pop, they’ll clean out your wallet long before they clean your clothes. CHOICE has informed Consumer Protection Western Australia which is taking action in relation to laundry balls.
Arnott’s Tiny Teddies
You have to hand it to Arnott’s, creating its own “school canteen – meets amber guidelines” logo to help consumers make easier and more informed choices. The only problem is they are using the logo to give a “health halo” to Tiny Teddies littered with 100s and 1000s, which are classified as confectionary and not recommended in the national guidelines for canteens. We don’t think Arnott’s should be flogging confectionery to kids claiming it’s healthy.
While not every Shonky Award winner may be breaking laws or breaching regulations, CHOICE believes that consumers deserve better products and services, and the 2015 lemons are ripe for the picking.
“We hope the Shonkys encourage consumers to look critically at the goods and services they use, question poor service, hidden costs and the fine print beneath claims that seem too good to be true,” says Mr Kirkland.
Access the full report on the 2015 Shonky winners at shonkys.com.au