The concept of the savvy consumer is pretty fundamental to the very idea of CHOICE.
From the very beginning, CHOICE has been there to look beyond the advertising and packaging, and tell you what's really in a product and how well it really works. Whether it's letting you know how well an oven bakes meringues, if an insurance policy covers you for bushfire damage, or if the food and recipes in a meal delivery kit are up to scratch, we aim to uncover facts that would be nigh on impossible for you to find yourself.
This often takes a lot of creativity – as any member who's been on a tour of our labs and seen the contraptions we've built for testing running shoes and strollers will know. Sometimes we even need to recruit people to help, as we've done with our supermarket price comparison surveys and our mystery shops of mortgage brokers and financial advisers over the years.
You should be able to venture out into the market trusting that you'll be treated fairly, no matter how savvy you are
As much as we love this work and some of the strange things that we find out, we ultimately wish that it wasn't necessary. You should be able to venture out into the market trusting that you'll be treated fairly, no matter how savvy you are.
That means having confidence that advertising won't be misleading, that insurers don't rely on tricky definitions to exclude you from being covered, and that products come with helpful labels that allow you to compare them. It also means being able to contact a business if something goes wrong, and having confidence that they'll have a fair process for resolving complaints.
While we've managed to win strong laws in many of these areas, we still don't live in a world where you don't need to be savvy. In just the past few years, we've seen some of our largest businesses break very basic laws, with Telstra fined for signing up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to phone plans they couldn't afford, Westpac penalised for charging fees for services that were never provided, and Mazda found guilty of misleading consumers about their rights in relation to lemon cars.
With more than 200,000 memberships, we have the strength and independence to keep reviewing products and services, without fear or favour
While this may seem a gloomy picture, the good news is that CHOICE is here to correct that balance. With more than 200,000 memberships, we have the strength and independence to keep reviewing products and services, without fear or favour.
Our recommendations reward businesses that treat their customers well, while our investigations and annual Shonky Awards shame those that have put profit before people.
There's no other organisation in Australia that can play this role, so please know that by supporting CHOICE, you're making the marketplace fairer for everyone.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.