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Overpriced and underperforming: The pricey products that flunked our tests

From toasters to TVs, these premium-priced products delivered bargain-bucket performance. Let the slow handclap begin.

illustrations of expensive products with crosses
Last updated: 13 July 2022

You're probably sick of hearing it from us, but we're going to keep saying it: the most expensive products aren't always the best. 

Our experts aren't swayed by sleek aesthetics and clever marketing: we want to know what products do and how well they do it, so we rigorously test everything in our NATA-accredited labs to give you the answers. Quite often we find that you can't judge a book by its cover – and certainly not by its price tag. 

Our experts aren't swayed by sleek aesthetics and clever marketing: we want to know what products do and how well they do it

As part of our mission to fight for Australian consumers, we think you should get what you pay for (at the very least), so products that cost a fortune but deliver subpar performance particularly grind our gears. 

Here are 10 products that hit the not-so-sweet spot of terrible performance for a huge price tag. Avoid them at all costs.

dyson purifier cool tp07

Dyson's air purifiers didn't blow us away, despite their price tags.

1. Dyson air purifiers

Dyson's bladeless fans are wildly popular and instantly recognisable – and come with a hefty price tag. But when we tested them against standard old-fashioned blade-and-tower fans, most of them didn't blow us away.

It's the same story with Dyson's air purifiers. Our experts were underwhelmed with the products' air-purifying capabilities, rating their performance 'Poor'.

For context, a Kmart Anko air purifier that costs $159 performed better than all three Dyson models in our test, scoring about 20 percentage points higher for performance. (And we're not recommending you buy the Kmart product: it performed poorly too, just for less.)

These aren't the most expensive air purifiers on the market, but if you have $700 to spend, you can do far better than a Dyson for your money. 

alessi plisse electric toaster mdl08 bau

Taking the Plisse: this $260 Alessi toaster is more form than function.

2. Alessi Plisse toaster 

  • Price: $260
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 52%

Despite its designer good looks, this toaster is all form, not much function. It performed so poorly that our expert testers thought it was broken, so sent it back to the retailer. But its replacement didn't perform any better, so clearly that's just how these toasters are made. 

It couldn't even manage to toast bread on its highest setting, and what little toasting it did manage was uneven. If you're a fan of multigrain bread, you're out of luck with this toaster: it couldn't manage to toast Burgen wholegrain bread, even on the highest setting. 

A toaster has just one job: to turn your bread into toast. The Alessi can't even manage that, AND it'll leave a $260-sized hole in your pocket. 

Check our expert toaster reviews to buy better. 

breville the oracle bes980

Oracular not spectacular: you can pick up a good Breville for much less than this $2000 number.

3. Breville The Oracle BES980 espresso machine

  • Price: $2000
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 60%

You don't need a fortune teller to find out what will happen if you buy this espresso machine: you'll be $2000 poorer and stuck drinking ordinary coffee. (And in fact it was listed for $3199 on the Breville website at time of publishing.)

It may come with all the bells and whistles (and you'd hope so for two grand), but all the features in the world aren't much use if a machine can't make a decent espresso. Unfortunately, that's the case for this Breville – our experts rated it a dismal 45% for taste.

Breville makes some great coffee machines, but you don't need to drop this kind of cash for a good coffee

It has all the ingredients for a great coffee machine – built-in conical burr grinder, dual boiler configuration, programmable coffee delivery – and it froths milk well and turns out coffees at a very even temperature. But the espresso will leave a bitter taste in your mouth. 

To be fair, Breville makes some great coffee machines, a number of which are recommended by our experts. But if you're keen to buy Breville, you don't need to drop this kind of cash for a good coffee. 

smeg 50s style cgf01pbau

Smeg's retro-styled coffee grinder is barely better than a budget blade grinder.

4. Smeg 1950s-style CGF01PBAU coffee grinder

  • Price: $369
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 64%

Speaking of products that grind our gears, this Smeg conical burr grinder was one of the more expensive in our test, yet scored only marginally better than a $14 Kmart blade grinder (a result made even worse when you realise that burr grinders are usually better than blade grinders). 

This is another machine that has only one job but fails to do it well. Our expert testers found that it couldn't grind the beans finely enough to make an espresso – a pretty serious problem for a coffee grinder. 

This type of coarse grind may be suitable for a pressurised basket espresso machine – which, conveniently, Smeg also makes (in matching powder blue, no less). But for any other kind of machine, Smeg's retro-styled coffee grinder will leave you with a weak, bitter brew. 

bosch kan92vi30a

$3000 for a fridge that can't keep your food fresh? No thanks.

5. Bosch KAN92VI30A fridge

  • Price: $3099
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 45%

For 3000 bucks, it's quite reasonable to expect your fridge to keep your food cold and your frozen food frozen. But if you buy this Bosch, you can expect everything but that. 

Far from delivering consistent coolness, this fridge's temperature fluctuates wildly and the temperature throughout the fridge is uneven, so you'll end up with spots that are too warm or too cold.

At best, this will leave you with ice cream that's melted then refrozen, or lettuce that's frozen and then gone limp. At worst, you could end up with food poisoning. 

On top of the $3000 purchase price, you'll also have to factor in replacing all the food that's gone bad. 

We've found many European fridges we've tested don't seem designed for Australian conditions

Ashley Iredale, CHOICE whitegoods expert

"We've found many European fridges we've tested don't seem designed for Australian conditions – the hot, wet climate here is very different to that in Europe, so you're better off opting for something made with local conditions in mind, for a fraction of the cost," says CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale.

Three grand will buy you a good-quality French door fridge that'll keep your food safe and your ice cream frozen to perfection, so check our fridge reviews to make sure you're spending your money wisely. 

smeg 50s style variable temperature klf04

This variable temperature kettle is another overpriced but underperforming Smeg appliance.

6. Smeg 1950s-style variable temperature KLF04 kettle

  • Price: $259
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 68%

What's this – another Smeg product? It's almost as if the company has prioritised style over substance. 

This kettle well and truly over-promises and under-delivers. It has seven pre-set boil temperatures from 50 to 95°C, but six of the seven are off by one to eight degrees. 

This is the kettle equivalent of a beautiful but annoying housemate: pleasing to the eye but noisy, sloppy and difficult to live with. 

Smeg makes a slightly cheaper 50s-style kettle with fewer features that actually performs slightly better than this one – so if you're set on the retro styling you're better off opting for the other one and saving yourself $30 in the process. 

Or you could buy something that's even half the price but does a better job. Check out our kettle reviews to make sure you're not paying too much for a dud product. 

original mattress factory refresh

High price, low score: the Original Mattress Factory Refresh mattress.

7. Original Mattress Factory Refresh mattress

  • Price: $2898
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 62%

Sweet dreams aren't made of this. Despite being one of the most expensive mattresses in our test, it received the lowest score overall – lower even than a $300 Clark Rubber foam mattress. 

It's saggy, it's soft, it's sweaty – and can be yours for $2898. Fortunately, our buyers were able to pick it up for half price, but even at $1500 this mattress is well and truly overpriced. 

Given how much time we spend sleeping, a mattress is an important purchase – which is why it's crucial that you don't blow thousands of dollars on a nightmare. We've rounded up the best mattresses for less than $1100 so you can rest easy. 

samsung qa65qn95baw

The Samsung QA65QN95BAW is big on price (and screen), but smaller on performance.

8. Samsung QA65QN95BAW TV

  • Price: $4299
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 69%

Look, no-one expects to pick up a big screen for a tiny price. But when you're dropping $4K on a 4K TV, you expect excellence. 

Unfortunately, what this Samsung delivers is far from perfection. It leaves the 'high' out of high-definition, and even its standard-definition picture isn't especially sharp. Its sound quality is another low note, scoring just 55% on this test. 

Don't be fooled into thinking that you need to spend a fortune on a big-screen TV: there are plenty of TVs recommended by our experts that cost less than this Samsung, so check our TV reviews to get a clearer picture of what to buy. You can sort by display size, display type, features and price to find what you're looking for. 

dyson omni glide for hard floors only

A stick vac designed for hard floors that performs poorly on… hard floors.

9. Dyson Omni-Glide stick vac

  • Price: $599
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 55%

Before we start, a bit of housekeeping: it's important to note that the Omni-Glide is designed for use on hard floors only, so it wouldn't be fair to compare it with other stick vacs that can be used on carpet. 

But even when we take carpet cleaning scores out of the equation, the Omni-Glide still performed abominably, receiving the second lowest score for hard-floor cleaning of all the models in the test. (The worst was a Kmart stick vac, so it wasn't exactly a fair competition there either.)

And despite being designed for hard floors, perhaps Dyson should've pointed out that it's really only good for cleaning small hard floors. It has a tiny bin (just 0.1L) that fills up quickly, and the battery runs for less than 10 minutes on the maximum setting, so it won't cover a great deal of ground before needing to be emptied and/or recharged. 

Of course, Dyson makes plenty of stick vacuums that do perform well – the Omni-Glide just isn't one of them. 

klipsch t5 ii true wireless anc

The Klipsch T5 II noise-cancelling headphones aren't particularly good at cancelling noise.

10. Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC noise-cancelling headphones

  • Price: $429
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 37%

There's really not much to commend these headphones on: they're uncomfortable and deliver poor listening quality. 

But perhaps their worst feature is that these supposed "noise-cancelling headphones" are anything but – their active noise cancelling capabilities are so poor that our experts scored them zero percent on this test. 

Ironically, they actually deliver excellent passive noise reduction, so perhaps they're better used with the noise-cancelling feature turned off – at least then you wouldn't be able to hear the sound of your money going down the toilet. 

Of the 12 noise-cancelling headphones our experts recommend, eight of them cost the same as or less than these Klipsch headphones, so it's entirely possible to pick up a good pair without breaking the bank. Just don't buy these. 

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty unless otherwise stated.