Consumer advocacy group Choice has released the names of this year’s 2018 Shonkys winners, or losers depending on which way you look at it, and it’s bad news for some of Australia’s most recognised brands.
This year, the Commonwealth Bank, a KitchenAid toaster, the Marriot hotel and various portable cots for babies were all named and shamed on the annual list.
The awards highlight products “giving Australians a bad deal” and call our businesses for rorting customers out of their hard-earned money.
The Commonwealth Bank made headlines in recent months after the ABC revealed it was paying Queensland primary schools up to $400,000 to sign kids up to its popular Dollarmite program.
Choice’s chief executive, Alan Kirkland said the financial institution earned its award for the Dollarmite program’s “slick marketing”, which was aimed at turning primary kids into long-term customers.
“Once you factor in recent revelations that Commonwealth Bank staff fraudulently activated Dollarmite accounts for personal gain, awarding them a Shonky was an easy decision,” he said.
Nutri-Grain and KitchenAid are among seven brands and products that won a ‘lemon gong’, for promoting a drink which had almost triple the amount of sugar than protein and selling a $189 toaster that only served up “dry, slightly warm bread”.
Meanwhile, Bioglan was awarded a Shonky — for the second year in a row — for claiming it could cure insomnia with a product that had only trace amounts of a drug. It was found to be little more than a placebo.
Portacots were named and shamed after failing Choice’s key safety tests, while magnetic therapy devises earned its award for promising to relieve pain with no evidence to back up that claim.
“Out of the 12 newer models of cot we recently reviewed only two passed our major safety tests, with the others posing serious safety hazards,” Kirkland said.
Marriott Timeshare was awarded a Shonky for requiring consumers to buy into a 40-year contract that Choice found could cost nearly half-a-million dollars.
“Our seven 2018 winners follow a long tradition of highlighting why we need to hold companies to account for their bad behaviour and why we need stronger laws to protect Australians,” Kirkland said.
“Far too often, we find products that should never have made it into our homes because they are dangerous, simply don’t work, or will leave you badly out of pocket. It’s not hard for businesses to do the right thing by their customers but 13 years into the Shonkys, we are still finding far too many examples of businesses that put their own profits first.”