Choice Shonky Awards

Choice Shonky Awards

CHOICE held its 6th annual Shonky Awards, for bad goods and services, this morning at Simmer on the Bay for over 50 media representatives.
The Shonky awards highlight the dodgy, dubious, deceitful and sometimes even dangerous goods and services that come to CHOICE’s attention. While winners may not be breaching regulations the people’s watchdog believes they should not be allowed to fly under the radar.
“The aim of our giant lemon trophy is to remind businesses that they can’t take advantage of others by being less than truthful, bending the rules or putting risky products into the market,” said CHOICE director of campaigns & communications, Christopher Zinn.

The 2011 Shonky award winners:

Product: Go4Green EnergySmart

Background: At $299 each the Go4Green EnergySmart device plugs into a power point and claims to save you 10% on your energy bills. When put to the test CHOICE found minimal changes in energy consumption and components valued at $15.

Product: Crystal encrusted baby dummies

Background: Standard baby dummies priced at $25 each decorated with coloured crystals. CHOICE tests found the crystals to come off easily enough to be a choking hazard. The ACCC banned the dummies but they are still available online from overseas suppliers who ship them to Australia using descriptions such as jewelry or hair bows to avoid customs interception.

Product: Chery J1 car

Background: New to the Australian market, the Chery J1 car retails for approximately $11,990 and comes complete with sporty looking roof racks. However, upon closer inspection of the car an inadequate sticker warns: “Roof rails are for cosmetic purposes only. Do not use.” The sticker could peel off or be ignored leaving any load on the road and not on the rack.

Product: Quail Kingdom quail eggs

Background: According to Quail Kingdom’s website these eggs at $2.50 per dozen, treat everything from tuberculosis, Chernobyl-style excessive radiation, excess weight, hair loss, wrinkles, male potency issues, kidney stones…the list goes on. However CHOICE could not find any clinical trials demonstrating these healing powers and they are not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods; surprising given the high-level health claims.

Product: Peachy Pink shapewear

Background: Infused with green tea, peaches and caffeine, these $54.95 pants, when worn 8 hours a day for 21 days claim to be the only ‘clinically proven anti-cellulite shapewear on the market’. When looking for the research results CHOICE discovered they were undertaken by Spincontrol Laboratories whose website proclaims ‘2 doses of accuracy, 1 dose of creativity and a touch of audacity’. If any tests have been done on the peachy pants, none have been published in a peer reviewed journal.

Product: SensaSlim weight loss spray

Background: Weight loss oral spray costing approximately $70.00 per bottle that claims to promote weight loss by decreasing your desire for food. There is no evidence the product works and in an attempt to block complaints lodged with regulators and gag a leading consumer health advocate, the company sued for defamation. It all went pear shaped from there involving the ACCC, receivers, franchisees who had lost big money and a dodgy website.

Product: The insurance industry

Background: The 2011 Queensland, NSW and Victorian floods saw thousands of home owners left high and dry by insurance companies that rejected their claims. In many cases this was because of numerous definitions for the term ‘flood’ and the convoluted abuse of the English language which made policies indecipherable to even lawyers.

Product: Smurfs’ Village App game

Background: A Smurf game for iPhones, iPads and now the Android platform which comes as a free app but has a sting in the tail. Whilst the download is free, to build the village players make in-app purchases of Smurfberries to use as Smurf currency. The Smurfberries cost between $5.49 for a basket and up to $109.99 for a wagon. The game is aimed at young children who have unwittingly clocked up bills of hundreds of dollars because the disclosure and payments warnings are inadequate.

To access the 2011 Shonky Awards report go to www.choice.com.au/shonkys.

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