Choice has awarded eight products and services with Shonky Awards in 2015.
Choice has awarded eight products and services with Shonky Awards in 2015.

Choice names top eight shonky products

ARNOTT'S Tiny Teddies, Kleenex flushable wipes and Samsung washing machines are among eight products or companies awarded a gong by consumer watchdog Choice in this year's Shonky Awards.

Other products or services awarded the dubious lemon-scented honour this year were: Ikea 'leather' couches; Nanosmart laundry balls; National Australia Bank's 'low rate' credit card; payday lenders; and Coca-cola Company.

The Shonky Awards name and shame Australia's worst products and services in a bid to get businesses to lift their game.

To sink to the depths of a Shonky Award, a business has to meet one or more of the following criteria: flaws, faults or failed a standard; lack of transparency; false claims or broken promises; consumer detriment or confusion; poor value for money; or has the propensity to outrage or amuse.

Somewhat expectedly, Samsung received its gong "because of its less-than-energetic recall efforts around a line of top loaders - 144,000 machines in all - that have an unfortunate tendency to go up in flames".

NAB was slapped with the 'shonky' title after increasing the interest rate on its "low rate" credit card from 12.99% in 2012, to 13.99% more recently, despite official interest rates having fallen to historically low levels since 2011.

Kleenex caused a stink with its 'flushable wipes' that are sewer pipe-unfriendly, with wipe-related damage to water services around Australia estimated to have already cost $15 million and growing.

Ikea recieved a hiding for using "leather-that's-not-leather" for products listed in the "leather furniture" sections of its Australian websites.

Arnott's was reprimanded for slapping a "school canteen - meets amber guidelines" logo on the packaging of its Tiny Teddies.

This is despite the biscuits including ingredients such as hundreds and thousands, chocolate chips and coatings, all of which are classified as confectionery under the National Healthy School Canteen guidelines and "not recommended on the canteen menu".

Coca-cola was meanwhile told to shape up for funding the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), which Choice said was "dedicated to helping end obesity, but tacitly cautions against focusing too much on bad eating habits".

"In a scientific revelation right up there with the discovery of penicillin, the GEBN website carefully explains that you gain weight when you take in more calories than you burn off, and vice-versa," Choice said.

"The suggestion is that we shouldn't stop gulping down cans of Coke, we should simply exercise more."

On Nanosmart laundry balls - which claim to do away with the need for laundry detergent and fabric softener - Choice said: "We put them up against plain old water in a test to remove a variety of stains in our washing machine lab, and Nanosmart lost.

"That's right, using nothing is better than using Nanosmart laundry balls, and last time we checked 'nothing' was free - unlike laundry balls, which cost about $50 a pop."

Meanwhile, Choice charged payday lenders with getting people who are already in money trouble into worse money trouble through their exorbitant fees, extra charges and interest rates.

Choice said while not every 'winner' may be breaking laws or breaching regulations, they believe consumers deserve better.

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