The Boxing Day sales can be a great time to bag a bargain, but how do you pick the diamonds from the duds? After all, for every hot deal on offer, there's a retailer trying to fob off the items they couldn't sell throughout the year.
CHOICE Managing Editor Marg Rafferty warns shoppers to be wary of getting caught up in the hype and do their homework first.
"You can definitely pick up a bargain, but research is everything," she explains. "The good news is we can see Australians doing their research well and checking sources like the detailed and independent CHOICE reviews before hitting the shops."
You can definitely pick up a bargain, but research is everythingMarg Rafferty, CHOICE managing editor
To help you navigate the deals and avoid buyer's remorse later, here's a rundown of our worst rated products in the most popular sales categories. CHOICE members can also assess our best buys sales guide too. Happy shopping!
Buying a new fridge can be stressful – they're big, expensive and essential. Sadly, our experts have seen plenty of current models flunk our lab tests with flying colours, so be wary.
Bottom dweller: This Bosch scored just 45%.
Of the 60+ models we've tested, the three below were the poorest performers, but a whopping six in total (from a variety of well-known brands) didn't even score 50% or more, bombing out with issues with temperature stability, failed energy checks and more.
See our full fridge test reviews.
Lowest rated fridges in our test
For our experts, coffee is life – and they test every aspect of coffee-making. In our reviews of more than 75 popular models, we rate taste (in a blind test), milk frothing, coffee temperature consistency, heat-up time, and ease of use and cleaning.
We've found some strong performers you'd be happy to wake up to, as well as some very ordinary units that couldn't even score over 50%. Also see our full review of manual/semi-automatic coffee machines and automatic coffee machines.
Lowest rated models in our test
- Nescafe Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS 9781 – 41%
- Breville Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus – 47%
- Sunbeam Café Barista EM5000 – 47%
- Espressotoria Capino – 49%
We spend eight hours a day in bed (hopefully), but will often pick a new mattress within minutes in a store. Thankfully, our mattress experts prefer to take their time and a deeper, more scientific approach.
We take our mattress tests very seriously.
Conducted with our lab partners in Europe, our reviews assess key factors such as comfort, stabilisation, sagging, sweat resistance and more. In one test for longevity, a cask-shaped roller runs over each mattress 30,000 times to simulate eight years' use.
When it comes to buying a mattress if you snooze you lose, especially given some of these poor performers cost nearly $3000. See our full mattress test reviews.
Lowest rated mattresses in our test
- Original Mattress Factory Refresh – 62%
- SleepMaker Alaska – 63%
- Sealy Posturepedic Elevate Marbella – 65%
- Dusk & Dawn Essential – 65%
- A.H. Beard King Coil Chiro Response – 65%
If you want fab floors after the Christmas carnage, don't pick these sticks. While they do decently on hard floors, their poor performance on carpet will have you pulling your hair out (which means even more vacuuming).
While the Dyson is designed to be used solely on hard floors, it didn't exactly blow us away with its hard floor performance, scoring just 63% on this test. For the price, there are better performers for hard floors.
The Kmart models below are super cheap, but the others aren't (one is nearly $600), proving it's not just the 'bargain' buys that can botch the job. Likewise, our tests found some impressive lower-priced models, so it pays to shop wisely. See our full test stick vac reviews.
Lowest rated stick vacs in our test
- Dyson Omni-Glide (for hard floors only) – 55%
- Kmart Anko Cordless Stick Cleaner 42923558 – 63%
- Kmart Anko 2 in 1 Cordless Stick Vacuum V8260-12A – 67%
- Electrolux Well Q7 Animal – 67%
A dishwasher should make your life easier but if you're picking food scraps off plates after a wash, you're going to be feeling a bit dirty.
Our lab reviews involve testing every machine with crusty crockery identically stained with foods such as oats, egg, baby cereal and more – left out overnight, then washed and assessed. It's kind of gross, but also great at sorting the leaders from the losers.
These are the models that washed worst in our test. See our dishwasher test reviews for more models.
Lowest rated dishwashers in our test
A bad washer not only cleans clothes poorly, it can use more water and electricity than better performers, which means you're paying more to run a machine that's cleaning less.
Woeful wash: This Westinghouse got a CHOICE Expert Rating of just 59%.
So you don't get caught with dirty laundry this summer, here are the three lowest rated washers in our review.
A new addition to the market, Kmart's budget $419 machine is the cheapest we've tested, but only when talking about the upfront price. With a shocking 199L of water guzzled each wash and a poor energy rating, it had the highest running costs of all the washers of its size.
See our full washing machine test reviews.
Lowest rated washers in our test
- Westinghouse WWT8084J7WA – 59%
- Fisher & Paykel WA7060G2 – 60%
- Samsung WA90T6250BW – 61%
- Kmart Anko ATLW80G – 61%
- Haier HWT60AA1 – 61%
Our robot vac tests are pretty fun. Our lab experts set up an obstacle course with chairs and sprinkle the same amount of sand and then pet hair (sourced from a grooming company) to assess every model's cleaning skills over a set time.
Does not compute: This Ecovacs scored 47%.
Some conquer the course (although most still don't beat a barrel or stick vac for performance on average), while other bots do so badly, we start wondering if they have a screw loose. These models below are not the future of cleaning. See our full robot vacs test reviews for more.
Lowest rated robot vacs in our test
- Ecovacs Deebot U2 – 47%
- Eufy G10 Hybrid RoboVac T2150 – 52%
- Aposen Robot Vacuum, 1800PA Robotic Vacuum Cleaner(Slim) A550 – 57%
- Eufy X8 Hybrid – 58%
Seeking some peace and quiet after the Christmas chaos? Noise-cancelling headphones can be music to your ears. Unfortunately, our experts have uncovered a lot of lousy headphones that don't deliver on audio quality, comfort and er, noise cancelling.
Sennheiser make some of the best performers in our test, but two of their models also feature here in the bottom three. It's an important reminder you should never go by brand alone.
See our full noise-cancelling headphones reviews.
Lowest rated models in our test
- Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC – 37%
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Live – 41%
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 – 42%
- Jabra Elite 7 Pro – 43%
- Jabra Elite 85t – 45%
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.