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Boxing Day duds: The products to avoid in the sales

Think twice before adding these low scorers to your cart. 

worst boxing day sale products
Last updated: 21 December 2020

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 should 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 CHOICE's detailed and independent reviews before hitting the shops."

You can definitely pick up a bargain, but research is everything

Marg 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!

Fridges

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.

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Bottom dweller: This Beko scored just 32%.

Of the 60+ models we've tested, the three below were the poorest performers, but a whopping eight others (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. 

The Ikea Nedkyld model even scored a Shonky award last year. See our full fridge test reviews

Lowest rated models:

Coffee machines

Our experts take coffee very seriously. 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:

Mattresses

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. 

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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.

Steer clear of these ones so you don't snooze and lose, especially given some cost $3000–5000. See our full mattress test reviews.

Lowest rated models:

Dishwashers

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 like 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 models:

Washing machines

A bad washer not only clean clothes poorly, it can use more water and electricity to do it. So you're paying more to run a machine that's cleaning less. 

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Woeful wash: The Speed Queen rated just 54%.

So you don't get caught with dirty laundry this summer, here's the three lowest rated washers we've tested. Interestingly, two are from Samsung, a brand that also has much better-performing models in our test. See our full washing machine test reviews.

Lowest rated models:

Robot vacuum cleaners

Our robot vac tests are pretty fun. Our labs 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. 

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Does not compute: This Hoover scored 45%.

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 models:

Stick vacuum cleaners

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). 

The Kmart model below is super cheap, but the others aren't (they range between $299 and $499), 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 models:

Noise-cancelling headphones 

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. 

Sony 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: