CHOICE hands Shonky Awards to Coles and Woolworths, ‘data gouging’ rental platforms, and a fridge which ‘doesn’t make things cold’

 In Home News Section, Home Slider Section, Uncategorized

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has called out supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths for “cashing in during a cost-of-living crisis”, as part of its 18th annual Shonky Awards.

The awards “recognise the very worst products and services” found by CHOICE in the past year.

The 2023 Shonky Award winners also include rental application platforms which “data gouged” people who were looking for a home, “unreliable” personal emergency alarms, an online retailer’s free shipping offer, and a fridge which “doesn’t make things cold”.

Click or tap through the cards below to read more about this year’s Shonky Award winners.

2023 CHOICE Shonky Award winners

Coles and Woolworths

Both Coles and Woolworths have faced public backlash for their billion-dollar profits, amid a cost-of-living crisis.

CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland says people are questioning the supermarket giants’ huge profits, and are wary of their frequent price changes.

“While Coles and Woolworths have been promoting how they’re supposedly helping with the cost of living, in the background they’ve been banking huge profits,” he says.

“At the same time, frequent changes in prices mean it’s hard to tell if you’re even getting a genuine discount. They are well and truly deserving of a Shonky award.”

Rental application platforms

CHOICE said third-party rental platforms had been pressuring and “data gouging” people who were trying to find homes in a housing crisis, by requiring them to “hand over unjustifiable amounts of personal data, putting them at risk of data breaches and information being used unfairly when screening rental applications”.

“Third-party platforms should not be taking advantage of these circumstances to collect excessive data,” Mr Kirkland says.

“Governments need to regulate these businesses to ensure that tenants are protected from unfair practices.”

Personal emergency alarms

CHOICE said it tested more than 40 personal emergency alarms, which are often used to provide peace of mind that a loved one is safe, and found them to be “unreliable and hard to use”.

“Our tests focus on personal alarms that are intended to call a person’s nominated contacts in an emergency, but the models we have tested frequently failed to deliver on their most important job,” Mr Kirkland says.

“The reception on these devices is sometimes so poor that the emergency call feature simply won’t activate, leaving people without help when they need it most.”

Kogan’s ‘free shipping’

CHOICE accused online retailer Kogan of “tricking customers into a $99 sign-up” by offering free shipping on some products.

“If you were buying something online and the free shipping option was already selected, why would you choose another option?” Mr Kirkland says.

“Unfortunately, if you miss the fine print when buying something through Kogan, you may find you’ve inadvertently signed up to a two-week trial of their ‘Kogan First’ program, and committed to pay $99 when the trial is up.”

The Xbox Mini Fridge

CHOICE said that in its tests, the Xbox Mini Fridge — released by Microsoft, which makes the Xbox video game consoles — couldn’t actually make things cold, and used the same amount of energy as some full-sized fridges.

“This ‘fridge’ took a lengthy 24 hours to bring eight drink cans to 21 degrees Celsius in our 32C test chamber,” Mr Kirkland says. “For context, 21C is warmer than tap water,” Mr Kirkland says.

Some businesses ‘doing the wrong thing’

CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland says the organisation he leads continues to find “terrible examples of businesses doing the wrong thing by their customers”.

“2023 has been yet another hard year for many Australians,” he says.

“When facing a cost-of-living crisis, people want to be confident that their money is well spent, but unfortunately our Shonky winners have only disappointed us during this difficult time.”

Coles, Woolworths, Kogan and Microsoft have been contacted for comment.

The 2022 Shonky Awards were awarded to Qantas, an online florist, fast loans for vet bills, a self-cooking pot and a brand of chicken nuggets, for allegedly failing to give Australian consumers a fair deal.

(Original ABC Article)