In July, the ACCC announced that 'therapeutic' bed business Revitalife had entered a court-enforceable undertaking to issue refunds to a number of customers and to improve the way it handles customer complaints.
That came on top of an earlier commitment by Revitalife to cease pushing beds through sales visits to people's homes and to remove unfair contract terms from its terms and conditions.
Like us, the ACCC felt that the 2020 Shonky Award winner was misleading people through a pre-sale 'sleep assessment,' and failing to be honest about the reason representatives wanted to do a home visit.
Like us, the ACCC felt that the 2020 Shonky Award winner was misleading people
Then, just last month, ASIC announced it was suing Latitude Finance Australia and Harvey Norman Holdings, also 2020 Shonky recipients, for misleading advertising.
This action took aim at advertisements claiming 'no deposit' and 'interest-free' payment methods, which failed to properly disclose the fees involved or the fact that consumers had to apply for and use a Latitude Go Mastercard in order to use the 'interest-free' payment method.
Although it was another aspect of their practice we were calling out – signing people up to expensive credit cards instore without properly checking whether they were suitable – the core message was the same. The Latitude-Harvey Norman partnership is a longstanding source of complaints from financial counsellors, who see far too many people ending up with debts they can't afford to repay, usually with outrageously high interest rates.
These recent developments come on top of many stories of past Shonkys success in driving big fines, improvements in consumer protection laws, or changes in business practices
These recent developments come on top of many stories of past Shonkys success in driving big fines, improvements in consumer protection laws, or changes in business practices.
These include a $6 million fine for the business behind Nurofen for claiming some pills provided 'targeted pain relief', limits on excessive credit card surcharges, greater transparency in funeral pricing, and the introduction of a standard definition of flood for home and contents insurance.
I wanted to highlight these examples because although there's an amusing twist to some of our Shonky awards, there's always a serious undertone.
Businesses need to do the right thing by their customers, which means telling the truth, charging fair prices and helping consumers where they have a complaint. If they don't, we know that CHOICE members are always on the lookout, ready to tip us off so that we can put them on the shortlist for next year's Shonkys.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.