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Products to avoid in the Black Friday sales

No matter how discounted they are, we'd advise you to steer clear of these products in the sales frenzy.

products to avoid buying in the black friday sales
Last updated: 11 November 2021

Some of us can't go past a bargain, and just can't pass up the opportunity to make huge savings on a purchase, even if it's not something we really need – which is how people end up with fondue sets, presumably. 

True, some products are well worth snapping up for a bargain price. But plenty of others are worth dodging, even if they're the best deal you've come across in a long time – they're just not worth your money, no matter how little of it you're parting with to buy them. 

So make sure you check this list before you make an impulsive purchase this Black Friday!

smeg FAB38RCRAU fridge

The Smeg FAB38RCRAU, "worst fridge ever tested".

Smeg FAB38RCRAU fridge

Known within CHOICE as "the worst fridge ever tested", the Smeg FAB38 received an abysmal score of 22% from our fridge experts. 

"This fridge is the worst we've ever seen in decades of testing," says CHOICE fridge expert Ashley Iredale

Not only did it perform terribly, but it also costs a blood-chilling $3990 and is expensive to run. 

And then there's the slightly cheaper (but still expensive) Smeg FAB32 range, priced at $3490, and the FAB28 range, which starts at $2000. Neither of these performed a great deal better than the FAB38 – but all three are certainly dud buys. 

So even if you see these fridges on sale for a song, give them a very wide berth. 

Dyson fans

Space-age bladeless fans from cult brand Dyson will certainly make your home look modern, but they'll also make your pockets much lighter. Costing between $550 and $799, the fans don't perform badly in our tests, but are they worth the cash – even on sale?

We test a range of fans in our state-of-the-art labs, and our experts have found that you can get the same or better results for less than a tenth of the price. 

If you can find a Dyson fan for a steal in the sales and aesthetics are your thing, then go right ahead – but we suggest you save your money and buy something that's cheaper and performs better. 

nescafe dolce gusto piccolo xs 9781

The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS 9781: "absolutely woeful".

Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS 9781

Looking like a cross between Olive Oyl and a sad penguin, this Nescafé capsule machine certainly has a unique design. But it's memorable for entirely different reasons: it's performance is absolutely woeful. 

For the two main components of espresso coffee – the espresso and the steamed milk – it scored terribly. Our experts rated the espresso just 30% for taste and the milk frothing just 40%. So you're unlikely to get a good brew from this machine.  

You can spend thousands on a top-of-the-line machine, but we've found some excellent coffee machine models for under $600. And with Black Friday discounts you're likely to be able to pick up a great machine for not a great deal of cash. Just check our coffee machine review first so you don't condemn yourself to mornings of burnt espresso and scalded milk. 

sleepmaker alaska mattress

The SleepMaker Alaska: the stuff of nightmares.

Ikea Hokkåsen mattress | SleepMaker Alaska mattress

After a hard day hitting the shops, you'll probably be in need of a good night's sleep. But you won't find it with the Ikea Hokkåsen or SleepMaker Alaska mattresses. These were the two lowest scoring mattresses in our tests, with our experts giving them an insomnia-inducing 61% and 63%, respectively. 

Now, you're unlikely to find the Ikea mattress on sale – in fact, Ikea's website references Black Friday and says, "However, you don't have to wait to get great prices at Ikea." But if you're hoping to snag a bargain on a mattress in the Black Friday sales, make sure you don't pick up the SleepMaker Alaska, regardless of how much of a bargain it might seem. 

Even with a huge discount, the SleepMaker Alaska just isn't worth buying

At $1699 it's not a cheap mattress, but even with a huge discount, the SleepMaker Alaska just isn't worth buying. It scored poorly for comfort (just 44%), and not particularly well for stabilisation (which measures how much you'll be disturbed by your partner turning over in their sleep). 

There are plenty of cheaper mattresses out there that are much more comfortable than the Alaska, so check our expert mattress reviews to save yourself some money, even without Black Friday discounts. 

ffalcon 40f1 tv

Poor picture, sound and EPG: the Ffalcon 40F1.

Ffalcon 40F1 TV

It's cheap even at full RRP, but this Ffalcon TV is absolutely not one worth watching. 

With dismal scores for picture quality, sound and EPG (electronic program guide), the only nice thing our experts say about it is that it doesn't use much energy. 

Yes, it's cheap, but we've tested cheaper TVs that perform better. And with plenty of discounts available in the Black Friday sales, you're likely to pick up a better performer in a comparable size for the same money or not much more. 

Here's our advice on buying a TV in the Black Friday sales

kogan smarterhome G60 robot vacuum cleaner with mop

Kogan's SmarterHome G60 Robot Vacuum: not a smart buy.

Kogan SmarterHome G60 Robot Vacuum Cleaner with Mopping Function KAVACRBG60A

Robot vacuums aren't exactly a favourite here at CHOICE – they're expensive, and many of them still have a number of issues and limitations, so you'll need to read through our robot vacuum cleaner reviews carefully so you don't end up with a dud. 

We'll save you some research time, though: don't buy the Kogan SmarterHome G60 robot vac. It scored a crummy 26% overall in our testing, and a truly sucky nine percent for cleaning carpet. 

Sure, at $229, it's much cheaper than almost every other robot vac we've tested, but even heavily discounted it's just not worth the money. 

samsung galaxy buds live

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live: no substance to match their style.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

They certainly look the part, but these ear buds just don't have the substance to match their style. 

Scoring a dismal 41% overall, they perform terribly with the noise-cancelling feature turned off, and only a bit better when it's turned on. 

For the price ($319), there are plenty of better options, and even if you find these heavily discounted in the Black Friday sales, we recommend that you give them a miss. 

Check our noise cancelling headphones review to make sure you're picking up a pair of headphones that'll bring the noise, rather than just disappointment. 

hoover ultra power 2 in 1 cordless stick 5222

Hoover's Ultra Power cordless stick vac barely outperforms Kmart models.

Hoover Ultra Power 2 in 1 Cordless Stick 5222

Look, this Hoover isn't the absolute worst stick vacuum in our tests, but it's certainly pretty ordinary. Three of the bottom performers come from Kmart, which isn't exactly a surprise considering how cheap they are. But it's reasonable to expect good performance from an established brand like Hoover. 

You're also much more likely to find a good discount on a $299 stick vac like the Hoover than on Kmart's already bargain basement prices. 

Regardless, the Hoover is disappointing all round, with our experts rating it as 'Poor' for both quick and thorough carpet cleaning, and cleaning around corners and edges. The one thing it did do well was cleaning sand and pebbles from a car floor. But do you really want to spend $300 on a dedicated car vacuum?

Here's the full list of stick vacuum cleaners to avoid buying. To find out which ones are worth buying, check our stick vacuum cleaner review

kogan smarterhome bladeless DC motor slim smart fan

The Kogan SmarterHome bladeless fan: a 2021 Shonky Award winner.

Kogan SmarterHome Bladeless DC Motor Slim Smart Fan

This bladeless fan performed so poorly in our testing that we gave it a Shonky Award for being a fan with no wind power. 

You can find this dodgy fan under a number of different names from several retailers, but they all have one thing in common: terrible performance. 

"To me, it's the perfect example of a sham product because almost every feature either didn't work or was pointless, and the performance was the worst we've ever seen," says CHOICE tester Adrian Lini. 

Your best bet is to check our tower and pedestal fan reviews and pick yourself up either a cheap pedestal fan that performs well or a pricier model that's discounted in the Black Friday sales. 

breville foodcycler

The Breville FoodCycler, another Shonky winner.

Breville FoodCycler

Another winner (or loser?) in our 2021 Shonky Awards, the Breville FoodCycler was panned by our experts as being expensive, noisy and unnecessary. 

Rather than spending $499 on the FoodCycler (plus running costs that add up to a total cost of about $2000 over five years), we recommend that you get hold of a compost bin, or if you're short on space, a worm farm or Bokashi bucket. Or find a composting neighbour who you can donate your food scraps to. The cost of being environmentally conscious really needn't be so high. 

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