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The biggest product fails of 2019

Find out which appliances and products stood out this year – for all the wrong reasons.

five of the worst porducts in 2019
Last updated: 20 December 2019

Need to know

  • This year, we've rigorously tested more than 2000 products across all brands and budgets 
  • We often see brands with products that perform very well in one appliance category, but terribly in another
  • Our testers always advise you to do your research before you buy and check our reviews so you don’t end up with a dud

Our experts have tested more than 2000 products this year to bring you the detailed results that help you determine what's worth buying and what's a waste of your hard-earned cash.

From food processors to detergents, fridges, prams, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, our testers work hard to put each product through its paces to assess how it's going to perform in your home – and they're not always impressed!

In fact, this year, there were some shockingly bad performers, proving that we can't always trust that products are going to deliver on what they say they will. Here's the line-up of what bombed in a big way in 2019 ...

kmart-anko-hd904-11_1

1. The heater that'll leave you cold

Kmart is usually renowned for cheap products that compete with more expensive big brands, but the retailer's $55 electric heater was one of the worst-performing heaters we've tested in years. With an overall score of just 48%, the Kmart Anko HD904-11 tied for last place in our electric heaters test, taking a whopping 57 minutes to warm a room by five degrees.  

"It's pretty much a warm doorstop and you don't want to buy it," says our director of reviews and testing, Matt Steen. 

2. The water-wasting washing machine

This sinful Samsung washing machine may well wash your clothes, but our test results show it's one of the least water-efficient washing machines we've ever seen. When used on its default setting, the $949 Samsung top-loading washing machine used an appalling 199L of water to do just one load of washing. 

This Samsung is one of the least water-efficient washing machines we've ever seen

"That's the most water we've seen used by a washing machine in quite a long time, so it receives a score of just one percent on that front," says our home appliance expert Ashley Iredale. "In fact, it's only one litre of water away from scoring zero."

Read more about the Samsung 8.5kg DualWash Top Load Washer.

choice tester ashley iredale with aldi nedkyld fridge

3. The fridge that won't give you the chills

Ikea's fridge didn't come flat-packed, but it did leave us feeling flat, failing its energy test in our labs and receiving a dishonourable mention in our Shonky Awards.

"The Ikea Nedkyld is one of the worst fridges we've ever tested," says Ashley. "Not only is it terrible at keeping your food cold, when CHOICE tested the Nedkyld's energy use against its claimed usage on its star rating label, it failed the test. It's hard to understand how this fridge is still on sale in Ikea stores, especially with a misleading energy label.

"It hits your hip pocket in two ways – through higher than expected running costs, and the replacement cost of food that spoils prematurely."

4. The Aldi fabric softener that's worse than water

Of course we all love the feeling of soft, fluffy towels. But what we don't love are fabric softeners that not only fail to deliver on their fluffy promises, but are also wholly unnecessary and bad for the environment. In our test of 31 fabric softeners this year, the budget Aldi Sensitive Fabric Softener ($2.79/2L) came a dramatic second-last, receiving a lower effectiveness score than plain old water – yep, using this product will literally give you worse results than the stuff you can get free out of the tap. 

Using this product will literally give you worse results than the stuff you can get free out of the tap

Even more disappointing was Cuddly Concentrate Soft & Sensitive Fabric Conditioner, which scored a dismal 46%, despite the fact it's one of the most expensive products we tested.

In fact, our experts advise that fabric softeners are generally an unnecessary expense, and are even proven to reduce the moisture absorbency of your washing (kind of a problem for your towels – they may come out soft but they're drying capacity will be reduced). 

And they're also known to reduce the fire retardancy of fabrics, which is terrible news for your children's sleepwear. 

If all that's not enough, fabric softeners also leave your clothes coated in chemicals, as they contain a variety of silicone and petrochemical ingredients that can also end up in our waterways and damage to marine life. It's a no from us.

5. The Kmart vacuums that suck – but not in a good way

While we rejoice in finding cheap products that outperform more expensive ones, our joy at potentially discovering some new brilliant budget buys was short-lived when it came to our vacuum cleaner testing this year. The three Kmart Anko vacuum cleaners (one bagged, one bagless, one upright), ranging in price from $50-$100, received the bottom scores in our tests. 

Our household expert Kim Gilmour says: "We've also reviewed the Kmart 1200W Upright Vacuum ($89), which went viral on social media a couple of years ago for supposedly being better than a Dyson. However, in our own tests, this model scored a dismal 55% for cleaning performance, compared with 75% for the recommended Dyson Small Ball Multi Floor upright ($599)."

Some of the expensive vacuum cleaners from brands such as Dyson weren't always better though, so it pays to check CHOICE vacuum cleaner reviews and do your research before you buy.

Matt Tung testing vacuums in the lab

CHOICE expert Matthew Tung testing vacuum cleaners in our CHOICE labs.