Despite the age old adage that ‘the customer is always right’ companies aren’t always looking out for the people that buy their products.
In fact, sometimes they’re just downright trying to deceive them with misleading product names and claims. That’s why we’re so glad we have the Shonky Awards!
Run by Australia’s consumer advocacy group, CHOICE, the Shonky Awards is the time for you to string up the company that’s done you wrong, and hope that they’re judged and found (un)worthy enough for the hall of shame. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Shonky Awards, and once again, companies have proven they can’t be trusted. Let us round them up for you.
But first, let us tell you about how CHOICE judges the shonkiest companies, before hanging them out to dry.
It starts with a nomination, usually from the consumers themselves. A product can be nominated if it fails a standard, performs poorly in a test, has hidden charges or a lack of transparency, makes false claims or breaks promises, leaves consumers confused, frustrated and worse of, or is generally poor value for money.
Now, let’s see who’s failed this year!
1. Arnott’s Tiny Teddies
The Arnott’s Tiny Teddies Hundreds and Thousands variety seems to be on to a recipe for money. After all, what kid isn’t going to request itsy bitsy teddies covered in a rainbow of hundreds and thousands. And what parent isn’t going to feel nice and warm inside buying a product that’s emblazoned with a school canteen logo claiming it ‘meets amber guidelines’.
Too bad that Arnotts themselves were the ones that approved themselves for this made-up guideline. In reality, hundreds and thousands, along with chocolate chips and other coatings are all ‘confectionery’ and therefore not recommended on the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines. Arnotts, you sneaky fiend, we’re disappointed!
2. Nanosmart Laundry Balls
We do love a bit of technology, and the ease that it can bring into our lives. That must be why so many people jumped behind Nanosmart laundry balls. They’re a $50-a-pop product that claims it will revolutionise the way you wash using bio-ceramics that emit infrared rays and negative ions to ensure your washing is done better than ever before.
But they actually don’t work at all. In fact, this ridiculous product was found by CHOICE to be less effective than water. That’s right, not detergent, just water is better.
There’s so much to love about IKEA, but much like they’re impossible construction manuals, it pays to read the fine print. CHOICE found that on the IKEA website, when customers navigate to ‘leather furniture’, they’re actually presented with a large number of items made from well…not leather.
But the truth of the matter isn’t discovered until customers dig into the ‘product information’ tab where they find materials like polyester and polyurethane listed. One product even described it being a ‘durable coated fabric that has the same look and feel as leather’. Sorry IKEA, that doesn’t make it the same.
4. Samsung Top Loader Washing Machines
If your product makes the news for almost burning down someone’s house, it’s almost guaranteed to result in a Shonky Award. This is especially true if even after there’s a clear fault in your product that makes laundry time into fireworks, you take your sweet time in recalling it.
So Samsung wins a Shonky this year for failing to actively recall its top loading washing machines, some 144,000 of which have the fault. In fact, around 70,000 were still in people’s homes at last count. That’s pretty scary. Even scarier is that Samsung pressured customers into questionable repairs (done with plastic and tape) despite those customers being eligible for refunds. Shame on you, Samsung.