- Consumer advocacy group Choice has revealed the 2019 winners of its Shonky Awards.
- The awards name and shame companies and industries which have either “ripped off” or “misled” Australians.
- Ikea’s Nekyld fridge made it onto the list, along with AMP Superannuation and electronics seller Kogan.
Consumer advocacy group Choice has unveiled the winners of its 14th annual Shonky Awards and an Ikea fridge made the list.
The awards name and shame the “shonkiest” products and companies in Australia. Choice CEO Alan Kirkland said in a statement the awards highlight the businesses and industries that have “ripped off, misled and treated Australians like cash cows to be exploited.”
Ikea’s Nedkyld fridge made it onto the Shonkys list. According to Choice, the fridge completely failed when it came to the energy test and ranked pretty low on the food freshness score.
Kirkland said in a statement that it is “one of the worst fridges we’ve ever tested.”
“Not only is it terrible at keeping your food cold, when Choice tested Nedkyld’s energy use against against its star rating, 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.”
Choice lab expert Ash Iredale added that labs test the temperature stability, evenness, and response to outside temperature of each fridge.
“Basically we see if your food will last for very long,” Iredale said in a statement. “Don’t expect your leftovers to last in this Ikea fridge.”
Ikea wasn’t the only company Choice put on blast. Kogan was called out for its “dodgy customer care”.
“Kogan is a serial offender when it comes to consumer rights – from January to July this year it has topped the New South Wales complaint register with over 300 complaints,” Kirkland said in a statement. “Kogan needs to improve its customer service and stop beating around the bush when its products are defective.”
Kirkland added that Kogan should simplify the process for refunds, repairs and replacements in order to meet community expectations and the letter of the law.
Health insurance company Medibank made it on the Shonky Awards list for its “expensive ‘basic’ cover.”
“Medibank deserve this Shonky because their Basic policies are ashamedly more expensive than those of their competitors,” Kirkland said in a statement. “They are clearly relying on their brand to get away with tricking people into paying for a policy that offers little in return.
“It’s worth considering whether any Basic policy meets your needs. These policies provide you with very little coverage, which is why Choice calls them junk insurance.”
Following the Banking Royal Commission, Kirkland said Choice is “still waiting for the finance sector to put its customers first”. “For this year’s Shonkys we had no choice but to keep the spotlight on financial firms that treat their customers poorly,” he added.
This year, AMP Superannuation made it on the list for “ruined retirements”. According to Choice, AMP Superannuation has “over 1 million zombie super accounts eating away retirements”.
“AMP received some of the strongest criticism from the Banking Royal Commission – and it was deserved,” Kirkland said in a statement. “If your superannuation is with AMP, chances are you’ve had your retirement leeched off of to fund its executives’ lifestyles.”
Kirkland added that Choice partnered with consumer group, Super Consumers Australia, and found that AMP holds the largest number of zombie accounts of any other super fund.
“Zombie” accounts refer to inactive member accounts which continue to generate additional fees, according to The Australian. The report added that each year AMP made at least $100 million in revenue from idle accounts.
“For AMP, it’s money for doing nothing,” Kirkland said. “Managing people’s retirement funds isn’t your average business – there’s a higher moral standard to meet when it comes to people’s security and comfort in older age, and AMP have failed this standard.”
Freedom Foods’ XO Crunch cereal also made the Shonkys list, with Choice calling it out for its sugar content.
“Freedom Foods proudly displays 4 health stars on this bag of sugar,” Kirkland said in a statement. “Choice says it should be one and a half if health star ratings accurately reflected the amount of added sugar in a product – something that industry groups have lobbied to prevent.”
Finally, pet insurance was slapped with a Shonky Award for “bad insurance riddled with exclusions”.
“Pet insurance is the insurance a business sells when it wants to make money without providing any service at all,” Kirkland said in a statement. “Riddled with exclusions and technicalities, pet insurance is one of this country’s worst value insurance products. It relies on emotionally manipulating your love of your pet to sell you worthless insurance.”
He added that Choice found the pet insurance industry so bad, it refused to recommend any of the 86 policies it reviewed.
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