Named And Shamed: Ikea, Medibank, Pet Insurers Take Out 2019 Shonky Awards
A fridge that doesn't keep food cold, a 'healthy' snack made from a bag of sugar and insurance that won't cover any bills -- this year's Shonky Award 'winners' are serious doozies.
The annual ceremony is held by consumer group Choice to name and shame products and companies.
Among the 'dishonour list' this year is Ikea, Medibank, AMP, Pet Insurance (yes, just generally), Freedom Foods and Kogan.
“Choice’s job is to stand up against companies doing the wrong thing," CEO Alan Kirkland said. "In a time of fake reviews, cash for comment, salespeople and lobbyists everywhere, it’s more important than ever for independent voices to tell the truth."
He said that this year, businesses and industries that have ripped off, misled and treated Aussies like cash cows, have been thrown into the spotlight.
So without further adieu, here are your 'winners':
IKEA Nedkyld Fridge
This particular food cooler hasn't only failed energy tests, it's also been shamed for being bad its sole job -- keeping your food cold
So bad, in fact, that Kirkland labelled it one of the worst fridges ever tested.
It has no chiller, no humidity control on the crisper and poor temperature control, according to the analysis.
Despite that, the fridge is still selling online for $799. The website also claims it has a 4.7-star rating based on three reviews.
If the contrast appears confusing, here is the full and official list of pro's and con's listed by Choice for your perusal.
FREEDOM FOODS XO CRUNCH
While this cereal claims to be a "fun and nutritious way to start your kids' day," in reality it is nothing more than a big bag of sugar.
It's made of 22.2 percent added sugar to be exact and yet the product proudly bears a four-star health rating. Choice said one-and-a-half stars would be more accurate.
"The food industry has gamed the Health Star system to make a big bag of sugar look like a healthy choice for your kids -- and that’s a disgrace,” Kirkland said.
Choice has made an official complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about misleading advertising and is calling on the government to overhaul the rating system.
To put it bluntly, 86 different policies were reviewed and not one is recommended.
Kirkland explained that Pet Insurance is simply what a business sells when it wants to make money without providing a single service.
"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 said.
Loreen from NSW is among thousands who've been stung by insurers.
After forking out $20,000 on various surgeries and vet visits for her two dogs, her pet insurance provider claimed the treatments were related to pre-existing conditions which the policy didn't cover.
“I strongly advise anyone looking to take out pet insurance to read the terms and conditions first and ask what the criteria is when making a claim,” Loreen said.
MEDIBANK 'BASIC' COVER HEALTH INSURANCE
Believe it or not, 2019 is the first year that private health insurance has topped the list of financial worries, according to the consumer group.
It's been awarded a Shonky because the company's Basic cover is more expensive than the cheapest Bronze cover in every state except for Queensland.
"A new system that was meant to make things simpler has turned into a mess thanks to rip-offs like those from Medibank. Medibank’s “Basic” junk cover costs more than many higher cover Bronze policies," Kirkland said.
If you want to know if you're paying for an absolute junk policy that will barely cover a single ailment, head to DoINeedHealthInsurance.com.au.
AMP's inclusion in the list comes off the back of criticism from the Banking Royal Commission.
The financial services company is raking in more than $100 million dollars in fees each year from 1.1 million so-called 'zombie' superannuation accounts -- basically lost or forgotten accounts that are slowly eroded by excessive fees.
"If your superannuation is with AMP, chances are you’ve had your retirement leeched off of to fund its executives’ lifestyles," Kirkland said.
So unless you want to retire with no money in that compulsory account, it might be a good idea to shop around.
We saved the most obvious for last.
In the first half of 2019 alone, more than 300 complaints were made to NSW Fair Trading about online retailer Kogan.
It is what Choice described as a "serial offender" when it comes to consumer rights.
Before it can become a one-stop household shop, Kirkland explained that it needs to simplify the process for refunds, repairs and replacements to meet not only community expectations but the law as well.
So there you have it, according to a number of lab testers, journalists, policymakers, campaigners and researchers, those are the year's dodgiest products.
Did they come as a shock? According to Choice Managing Editor Margaret Rafferty, some did.
"Big names were the most surprising, like Ikea," she told 10 daily.
“But unfortunately every year, it is no trouble at all to find companies that deserve to be called out for their poor products”.