Ikea's Nedkyld Fridge has received a Shonky award for failing energy tests and being bad at its ‘one job’. Picture: Choice
Ikea's Nedkyld Fridge has received a Shonky award for failing energy tests and being bad at its ‘one job’. Picture: Choice

‘Terrible’ Ikea fridge among worst products of 2019

"Healthy" sugar-laden cereal, "junk" insurance and a fridge that fails at its one essential job are just some of 2019's worst products, according to consumer group Choice.

Bad customer service, pet insurance and "zombie" super funds have also been shamed in its 14th annual Shonkys awards.

The awards highlight the "worst-of-the-worst" to help Aussies identify - and avoid - dud products, Choice CEO Alan Kirkland said in a statement.

"Choice's job is to stand up against companies doing the wrong thing. The Shonkys draw upon our unique testing, reviews and advocacy to help you identify the worst-of-the-worst," Mr 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.

"Following the banking royal commission, it's no surprise that financial services businesses are such a feature of this year's Shonkys."

2019 SHONKYS WINNERS

• Kogan: For poor customer care

The online retailertopped the NSW Fair Trading complaint register, clocking more than 300 complaints from January to July this year.

Mr Kirkland said Kogan needed to improve its customer service and "stop beating around the bush when its products are defective".

"Kogan must simplify the process for refunds, repairs and replacements to meet community expectations and the law," he said, noting the company's refunds and returns policy showed "room for improvement".

Kogan was contacted for comment.

Kogan has been named and shamed. Picture: Kogan
Kogan has been named and shamed. Picture: Kogan

• Medibank "basic" cover health insurance: For failing at the "basics"

Choice found Medibank's "basic" cover was actually more expensive than the cheapest "bronze" cover in NSW, the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

"2019 is the first year that private health insurance has topped the list of financial worries in Choice's regular national surveys, and it's easy to see why," Mr Kirkland said.

"A new system that was meant to make things simpler has turned into a mess.

"Medibank's 'basic' junk cover costs more than many higher-cover bronze policies. Medibank deserves a Shonky for failing at the basics - simple and affordable health insurance."

A Medibank spokeswoman told news.com.au all Medibank products include unlimited emergency ambulance and that customers should get in touch to find the best option for their needs.

"Customers tell us they want greater value and choice from their health insurance to meet their individual needs," the spokeswoman said.

"I encourage customers to call us to make sure they have the right cover for them - we can assess your healthcare needs and help you determine which is the best level of cover for you."

• Ikea's Nedkyld fridge: For failing energy tests and being bad at its one job

The Swedish flatpack giant's Nedkyld fridge - which retails for $799 - took out last place with a Choice score of 39 per cent, scoring just 35 per cent for food freshness and failing an energy test.

"The Ikea Nedkyld is one of the worst fridges we've ever tested," Mr Kirkland said.

"Not only is it terrible at keeping your food cold, when Choice tested the Nedkyld's energy use 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."

Ikea was contacted for comment.

Ikea's Nedkyld Fridge has received a Shonky award for failing energy tests and being bad at its ‘one job’. Picture: Choice
Ikea's Nedkyld Fridge has received a Shonky award for failing energy tests and being bad at its ‘one job’. Picture: Choice

• AMP superannuation: For ruined retirements

According to Choice, there are more than one million "zombie" AMP super accounts eating away at the retirements of Aussies, based on APRA data.

"AMP received some of the strongest criticism from the banking royal commission - and it was deserved. If your superannuation is with AMP, chances are you've had your retirement leeched off of to fund its executives' lifestyles," Mr Kirkland said.

"Choice has partnered with the new consumer group - Super Consumers Australia - and found that AMP holds the largest number of zombie accounts of any other super fund - accounts that sit there being wasted away by fees and insurance.

"For AMP, it's money for doing nothing. 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."

An AMP spokeswoman told news.com.au it "can be difficult to draw accurate comparisons and conclusions in relation to inactive accounts due to the varied characteristics of products within trusts and across superannuation providers."

"For example: a large proportion of the AMP accounts classified in APRA's data as inactive receive a capital guarantee. It is often in members' best interests to maintain these accounts given the future benefit they will provide.

"AMP supports legislative measures that identify and aim to reduce duplicate or inactive accounts."

• Freedom Foods XO Crunch: For telling us a bag of sugar is healthy

The XO Crunch cereal received its Shonky after claiming it was "a fun and nutritious way to start your kids' day" - when it is actually 22.2 per cent sugar, which Mr Kirkland described as "health washing".

"Freedom Foods proudly displays four health stars on this bag of sugar. 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," he said.

"This Shonky shows why the food industry needs to be kicked out of (the) room when it comes to health star ratings. 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."

He said Choice had made a complaint to the ACCC regarding misleading advertising of this and other products with similar health claims.

Freedom Foods was contacted for comment.

• Pet insurance: For bad insurance riddled with exclusions

Out of 86 pet insurance policies reviewed by Choice, none were recommended.

"Pet insurance is the insurance a business sells when it wants to make money without providing any service at all," Mr Kirkland said.

"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.

"This year Choice found this industry so bad we refused to recommend any policy. There was not a single policy that we could in good conscience suggest that pet owners consider buying.

"This also highlights why insurance companies shouldn't be exempt from laws against unfair contract terms - it's vital this special loophole for insurers is closed."

SHONKY WINNER RESPONSES

•Medibank:

"Customers tell us they want greater value and choice from their health insurance to meet their individual needs," a Medibank spokeswoman told news.com.au.

"All Medibank products include unlimited emergency ambulance - and our Accident Boost means that our customers can rest assured that they will receive the benefits of our Gold level of hospital cover in the event of an accident no matter what hospital product they hold.

"I encourage customers to call us to make sure they have the right cover for them - we can assess your healthcare needs and help you determine which is the best level of cover for you. This year as part of our Right Cover program, we will have half a million check-ins with our customers.

"A great starting point is our People Like You tool which can help you understand what are the most common hospital procedures for people like you."

•AMP:

"It can be difficult to draw accurate comparisons and conclusions in relation to inactive accounts due to the varied characteristics of products within trusts and across superannuation providers," an AMP spokeswoman told news.com.au.

"For example: a large proportion of the AMP accounts classified in APRA's data as inactive receive a capital guarantee. It is often in members' best interests to maintain these accounts given the future benefit they will provide.

"AMP supports legislative measures that identify and aim to reduce duplicate or inactive accounts.

"In 2018, we helped more than 85,000 AMP members identify duplicate accounts, with many of these members choosing to consolidate multiple superannuation funds where it was in their best interest to do so. This work to reduce duplicate or unused accounts is continuing.

"AMP is also undertaking a major project to simplify our superannuation business and offers, which is being overseen by the trustee board in accordance with legal and regulatory obligations, and in consideration of members' best interests.

"In 2018, we cut fees by an average of 25 per cent for our MySuper funds to improve their competitiveness and customer outcomes. AMP's default MySuper life cycle funds are meeting all of their stated objectives over five years.

"AMP Life has one of the highest claims acceptance rates in the industry and pays, on average, more than 95 per cent of all claims. In 2018, we paid $1.21bn in Australian insurance claims. AMP continues to invest in improving its claims handling generally, particularly around time to decision for customers."


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