Each year, CHOICE names the dodgiest products and services on the market in our Shonky Awards – the award no-one wants to win.
We reserve the Shonky Awards for the worst of the worst, but there are plenty of products and services that come through our testing labs and across our news desk each year that are disappointing at best, and downright dangerous at worst.
We'll be announcing the Shonky Awards in November, so stay tuned to find out which products and services were so terrible they shocked even our seasoned experts.
For now, here are some of the duds that we have uncovered this year that didn't quite make the Shonkys finals, but are still worthy of a dishonourable mention.
It's not quite as bad as the worst fridge we've ever tested, but Smeg has done it again with another pretty but outrageously priced fridge that bombed out in our testing.
For a (not so) cool $3999, the Smeg FAB32RPB5AU is the latest in a line of expensive but disappointing fridges from the Italian manufacturer.
Beauty over brains: the $3999 Smeg FAB32RPB5AU fridge.
To give the company credit, this fridge is an improvement on previous models, but only just: it scored a lukewarm 43% overall, but a truly chilling 0% for temperature stability, which measures how consistent the temperature is over time.
The temperature is also patchy throughout, with the top shelf being significantly warmer than the bottom area, so you'll need to be strategic about where you put your groceries if you don't want a potential dose of salmonella from chicken stored in the warmer section.
It'll certainly turn heads in your kitchen, but it might also turn stomachs when your food goes off
With its retro styling, it'll certainly turn heads in your kitchen, but it might also turn stomachs when your food goes off prematurely because the temperature fluctuates so much.
Smeg just seems to keep releasing fridges that cost a pretty penny but perform poorly. Its fridge scores have increased slightly over time, from 22% to 34% and now 43%, so maybe in a decade the retro range will actually work well.
Until then, we don't think their enormous price tags are justified. We'd love for them to prove us wrong!
Parents of newborns obsess over their baby's sleep – how much, how long, will they ever actually sleep for more than an hour at a time? There's enough to worry about already, but some products take sleep angst to a whole new level: many actually aren't safe.
Four out of the 10 bassinets we tested this year failed key safety requirements set by our experts, posing suffocation risks because of a lack of breathable zones or mattresses that don't fit properly or are too soft. One of them was a designer bassinet that cost more than $1200.
There's no mandatory Australian safety standard for bassinets, so companies keep producing bassinets that aren't safe
What's worse is there's no mandatory Australian safety standard for bassinets, so companies keep producing bassinets that aren't safe.
It's enough to keep you up at night, if your baby isn't already.
Learn more about the baby bassinets that failed safety tests.
Technology is supposed to make life easier, right? Not so for patients of medical centre chain Our Medical, who are forced to sign up to the company's app and rewards program or pay more to see their doctor.
Bulk billing is only available to patients who sign up and patients who don't are charged extra to see their GP. This means people are forced to hand over their personal data if they don't want to be out of pocket.
Should people really have to choose between their privacy and health care?
While Our Medical's policies on what they do with the information are vague, they do say they can share your data with third parties for marketing purposes. And the app can track your location if you enable location settings.
Should people really have to choose between their privacy and health care? We think not, and so do many experts.
CHOICE is petitioning the government to introduce strong privacy reforms to protect consumers, but for now there's no specific law that says companies can't charge people more for refusing to share their personal data.
When you pay for a product, you expect it to do what it says it will – that's how shopping works, right?
Well, it seems like lots of manufacturers didn't get that memo, because every single year we see products that are so bad you might as well not use them at all.
We've already handed out a Shonky to the entire floor cleaner product category after all but three failed to outperform plain water, and while our experts haven't found another cleaning product category that's quite as bad, there are plenty of individual products that don't scrub up.
These are the worst culprits:
$6 for a bottle of vinegar? That smells like a rip-off.
Not only does Rhythm Cleaning Vinegar Kitchen Surface Spray score the same as plain water, it will set you back a huge $6 for a 500mL bottle.
It costs 10 times as much as basic white vinegar but cleans so poorly you might as well not even bother buying it.
Enviro-friendly but ineffective dishwasher detergent
Lucent Globe Ultra Concentrated Dishwashing Detergent Sheets score exactly the same as plain water – just 12%.
They're touted as being biodegradable, plastic-free, gentle on sensitive skin and less allergenic than traditional dishwasher detergents.
But you know what else is? Plain water – and it's pretty much free.
A new way to tip money down the sink
Morning Fresh Ultimate Power Clean Spray Citrus Fresh doesn't clean any better than plain water, but it costs a ridiculous $11 per bottle.
That's a lot of money for a product that doesn't work.
Vacuum sealers kind of suck... and not in a good way.
Every year, there's a new kitchen trend that people swear by. This year, it's vacuum sealers.
They're popular among home cooks who use them to portion out bulk purchases, marinate food and extend the life of meat.
Unfortunately like many trends, vacuum sealers don't really live up to the hype.
Our expert kitchen testers found that they don't actually make your food last longer. In fact, they're often not as good at keeping food fresh as old-school methods like ziplock bags or even just putting an elastic band around an open packet. (They are helpful for preventing freezer burn, but do you really need a whole appliance for just one job?)
They're often not as good at keeping food fresh as old-school methods like ziplock bags or even just putting an elastic band around an open packet
And to make matters worse, most of them don't last long: the machine's seals and heating strips tend to die pretty quickly, rendering the sealer completely useless. Some manufacturers sell them with spare parts included – clearly, even the people who make them don't expect them to last the distance!
Our experts were so unimpressed with the performance of the 10 machines they tested that they didn't recommend a single one. Save your money (and all that plastic waste) and stick with your regular food storage methods.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.