Ever bought a dodgy product or service? Wish that the brands who brought you such displeasure were taken to task? Welcome to the Shonky Awards, a haven for the dissatisfied and the let down!
Every year, the consumer watchdogs/bloody legends atChoice congregate to warn buyers and users about the worst, least safe and ineffective products and services released over the past 12 months. Check out the top eight ‘winners’ below:
NAB ‘Low Rate’ credit card
As the ancient proverb of pessimism goes, ‘If something’s too good to be true, it probably is’. Unfortunately, this rings more true than ever in the case of NAB’s ‘low rate’ credit card. According to Choice’s coverage of NAB’s sneaky ways, official interest rates have fallen dramatically over the last four years- 4.75% in June to a comfortable 2.00% more recently.
NAB, however, has decided against going with the flow, opting to raise their interest rates instead. Their low rate credit card’s rates have skyrocketed to an outrageous 13.99% from 2012’s 12.99%. While this move is technically legal, its fairness for consumers is another story entirely.
Arnott’s Tiny Teddies
Everyone’s favourite nostalgic lunch box treat has been bestowed with the honour of a Shonky this year for a not-so-tiny reason. In a far-fetched attempt to justify placing the nutritional equivalent of red cordial and party pies in a ‘balanced’ lunch box, the school canteen approval system has been developed. According to the Australian Department of Health’s guidelines, foods classified as green and amber are welcome in the canteens and backpacks of today’s students, Arnott’s have managed to siphon an amber rating on the packets of their Hundreds and Thousands biscuits.
That’s right — the packaged, easy-access answer to fairy bread is deemed fit for sale in school canteens and, apparently, snapped up by parents who think it’s the answer to a well-rounded midday meal. Whether their ingredients reflect this amber rating is up for debate, in fact, the school canteen guidelines suggest that anything with chocolate chips, sugary coating or sprinkles should be rightfully lumped into the same category as confectionery. Sweets, lollies, definite ‘sometimes food’.
So, despite the glittering amber sticker, do they belong in the lunch boxes of Australian kids?
Designed to be a dependable helping hand to those financially vulnerable, payday lenders have bagged their Shonky for doing the very opposite. While the immediate gratification might lure users in, they’re becoming ensnared in a hellish tangle of interest rates, fees and extra charges that probably do a fine job of putting them in the financial position they were in upon approaching their lender in the first place!
While the rates and charges demanded by most current lenders are no longer allowed, local payday lenders have become frighteningly cunning with their rule-breaking. In a shocking example given by Choice, a number of current lenders offer $100 16-day loans, which sounds pleasantly sufficient… until you realise that you’ll owe your lender $124 in order to get it.
Nanosmart laundry balls
It’s new! It’s high-tech! You don’t understand it, but you trust that the shiny newness is a testament to its reliability! Well trust no one, because the Shonkys have weaved their magic and shamed Nanosmart for the release of their revolutionary new ball that does away with cumbersome, outdated products like detergent and fabric softener. The result? Clothes that are as fragrant, rumpled and stained as they were when you put the wash on!
The more science-oriented folks at Choice had a plain water wash and a wash with the laundry ball battle it out for cleanliness supremacy, and what proved more effective? Plain, unadulterated water. Yep, washing your clothes with nothing produces a better result than washing with this ridiculous ball! The successful substance is also kinder to your hip pocket- hands up if you’d rather spend, er, nothing, over spending a whopping, completely unwarranted $50 on the Nanosmart laundry ball? Anybody? No? Well, if that’s not reason enough to give it a big ol’ Shonky, we don’t know what is!
Samsung top loader washing machines
Samsung have recently had to recall some 144,000 of their top loader washing machines. Not for any petty, butt-covering reason. Oh, no. They’ve recalled their product because this particular batch has a pesky tendency to spontaneously combust, some having caused nasty house fires. The scary part is that there’s a significant chunk of them still being used by unsuspecting households. According to Choice, the figure is close to 70,000. After 224 incendiary incidents caused by these machines since August, Samsung has done a concerningly half-hearted job of warning their consumers.
While they’re dispersing limited information through radio, online platforms and print media, there’s been no notable or overly far-reaching information that could potentially save lives. The fact that Samsung customer Emma Jordan’s newly-built house was almost destroyed because she hadn’t heard about the recall is a stark indication that Samsung isn’t taking this nearly as seriously as they should be…
Sweden’s most renowned and beloved retail export has been perpetuating some pretty synthetic advertising lately. Perhaps you should read the fine print before committing to that luscious, bouncy leather couch, because you’ll find that the constituents used to make the fabric you ran your eager hands over aren’t actually leather. Try polyester and polyurethane, neither of which being remotely organic material.
It appears that Ikea’s website has taken their obligatory warning of ‘durable coated fabric that has the same look and feel as leather’ out of the fine print and onto the main page, but the demand for genuine leather will remain the same, so get onto it, Ikea, your leatherless leather won’t be snapped up as eagerly as you think.
The Coca-Cola company has fallen on hard times. How far will they go to reinvigorate themselves and return to their former glory? After receiving a meagre $46bn in revenue this year, a decrease from the previous two years, they’ve decided to try and cash in on the healthy lifestyle craze and join forces with the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), an organisation devoted to maintaining a balanced lifestyle with plenty of exercise and thoughtful food and rink choices… which is where sugar-loaded, carbonated uber-beverage Coke comes in.
The network itself seems to have adapted its message so that the Coca-Cola company won’t seem too out of place. Choice’s naming and shaming of the bumbling duo shows that the network has said that the focus shouldn’t zero in too much on healthy eating habits, instead turning all–er, some, of our attention to ‘energy balance’, which we think means exercise.
So, we can continue our sugary drinking habits (which is one of the proven perpetuators of the obesity epidemic), just as long as we exercise? Sounds pretty shonky to us!
Kleenex flushable wipes
And now, the news that’s horrified mums all over the nation: Kleenex flushable wipes are NOT technically flushable. Well, they are, generally speaking, but if you use them the way the packet assures you you can, you’re doing your plumbing some serious damage.
To test this absurd-but-not-really theory, Choice went to a water treatment facility to see first-hand just how much damage these little traitorous squares can do to your loo. There, they discovered that the damage to toilet systems where these dastardly wipes were the culprit was at an estimated $15million and growing! Apparently, Kleenex would beg to differ, as they’ve claimed that their product disintegrates in sewage systems when they’re disposed of in the toilet.
Well, Choice has flushed this blatant lie into oblivion, and if you’d prefer not to be on a first-name basis with your plumber, give these non-flushable flushable wipes the ditch.
And so concludes this year’s roundup of all things shonky. Were you surprised by any of the products or services shortisted? Let us know in the comments!