The year's nine shonkiest products named and shamed
FROM fire hazard phones to Pringles chipping its customers, Choice has named and shamed the nine shonkiest products for 2016.
The 11th annual Choice Shonky Awards were announced last night and the list of shame is sure to provide at least some meager sense of satisfaction to consumers stung by the dodgy deals that have been highlighted.
The award for being too hot to handle: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Samsung's recall of its new smartphone - which meant 51,600 potentially dangerous Galaxy Note's had to be recalled - followed on from a lemon gong last year when 144,000 dodgy washing machines were recalled.
"Not only does the Galaxy Note7 work as a phone, it doubles as an extreme pocket warmer with a nasty tendency to catch fire," Choice stated when handing out the award.
The people at Choice seemed genuinely irritated by the conduct over at Samsung.
"When Choice sought to amplify the message about the dangerous device and encourage consumers to seek a full refund, the company was less than impressed," Choice reported.
"They fired a legal letter at us for discussing in the media the problems consumers were experiencing with their phone."
The award for sneaky surcharges: American Express
Amex charges some of the highest fees in the credit card market in order to pay its generous rewards programs, so when the same company launched a Surcharge Free campaign it was sure to cop some close scrutiny.
As Choice sees it the campaign actually entailed Amex passing the cost of its fees back on to businesses thus forcing stallholders to pay the fee it normally charges people using its cards.
The award for milking the truth: Camel Milk Victoria
Claims that camel milk could cure anything from autism, to diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer and stomach ulcers didn't stand up to scrutiny when checked with food regulators.
And Choice reports the product comes in at a hefty $21 a litre.
The award for the best wolf in sheep's clothing: Cash Converters
A website titled commoncents.com.au which offered consumers tips on watching their pennies but at the same time diverted them back to high interest payday loans took out the award this year.
"Cash Converters charges a hefty 20% establishment charge and 4% monthly fees for its personal loans, meaning if you borrow $2000 you'll end up paying back $3360 over the 12-month borrowing period," Choice states.
"That's a 68% interest rate, enough to put you in a big hole full of bad debt."
The award for making claims as thin as air: Green and Clean
Bottling up good, clean Aussie air for export to China seemed like a surefire way to improve global health and make a big buck - if indeed breathing in the small amount of air Green and Clean were trying to sell had any impact at all.
"Given that the average person breathes five to eight litres of air per minute while resting (and much more during exercise), it seems highly improbable that air in a canister could have any significant impact in diluting the adverse effects of poor ambient air quality," Professor Guy Marks told Choice when asked if a 12 pack of cans which retailed at $246.24 would have any viable health benefit.
The award for chipping away at your wallet: Pringles
Sometimes less is more and sometimes less is just less.
Pringles grabbed the attention of Choice when they dropped their prices - however - happiness quickly turned to anger when it was revealed Kellogs had not only reduced the size of the product but also increased the fat content.
The Shonky for dodgy diet advice: The Medical Wellness Institute
The Medical Wellness Institute has drawn the ire of Choice over its obesity pills which the consumer advocate says contain ingredients that have been withdrawn from the market by the Therapeutic Goods Association.
"One customer paid $4400 - a half-price discount! - to sign up. In the first month she lost just two kilograms, and for all the money she spent, she was given medication that makes her nauseated, one support phone call a week and a two-page menu suggestion," Choice reports.
For Sugar Coating Health Claims: Milo
Dodgy dietary claims netted this Aussie favourite a spot on the name and shame list this year.
At the heart of the issue were claims by Nestle that most people would be enjoying their chocolate treat with skim milk, however, a survey by Choice found this to be false.
For Fast Action Money Removal: Vanish Preen Powder
It costs $14.70 per bottle and turned out to be less effective than water.
"The makers of Vanish Preen Powerpowder are none other than Reckitt Benckiser, the company that brought us Nurofen's misleading targeted pain-relief products," Choice reports.
"We think it's time this global consumer goods company rebranded to Shonky lemon - and made its dodgy carpet cleaner vanish."