Other well–known names among the nine companies named and shamed by the group in Sydney today were American Express, Reckitt Benckiser, Nestle and Kellogg's.
“The Shonkys are the awards that we’d prefer not to give out — but yet again, we’ve caught out some of the world’s biggest brands with misleading advertising, dangerous products and sneaky tricks to rip off consumers,” CHOICE chief executive Alan Kirkland said while announcing the awards.
“From Samsung releasing 51,060 potentially dangerous smartphones on the market, to Nestle dressing up Milo as health food, to Amex’s elaborate ploy to get the Aussies to pay more for everything, this year’s ‘winners’ are the worst of the worst.”
Samsung – For offloading dangerous products
CHOICE said: "Fresh from offloading 144,000 dodgy top loader washing machines the global tech giant doubled down and put 51,060 potentially dangerous Galaxy Note7s on the market. CHOICE said it was time for the company to put consumer safety ahead of brand protection".
Vanish – For making your money Vanish
Reckitt Benckiser’s fast action money removal strategy is nothing short of genius:
- Create a bright pink bottle
Give it a flash sounding name like Vanish Preen Powerpowder Clean and Fresh Large Area Carpet Cleaner
Make incredible claims like "revolutionary product to clean and refresh your carpet" with five times more dirt removal and a "fast drying action"
Charge a whopping $14.70 a bottle
CHOICE said: "What a shame it fails to out–perform water in CHOICE tests. One thing is certain, it will clean out is your wallet."
American Express – For spruiking a “surcharge free” campaign while maintaining one of the highest cost cards in the market.
CHOICE said: "Amex cards cost a lot for merchants to process because this helps to fund generous rewards schemes. In campaigning for an end to surcharges, Amex basically wants everybody to pay more at the checkout or retailers to absorb the cost so that it can continue to profit from its premium cards."
Nestle’s Milo – For health washing Milo.
CHOICE said: "Nestle claims on pack that Milo earns a four–and–a–half Health Star Rating. But unless you read the tin’s fine print you would never know that they calculated this by mixing Milo with skim milk. When the contents of the tin are assessed on their own, Milo receives a mere one–and–a–half stars. Nestle, your delicious chocolate dirt is 46% sugar – it’s not a core dairy product!"
Cash Converters – For indirectly promoting its payday loans under the guise of handy cost–cutting tips.
CHOICE said: "At first glance the unbranded Common Cents website looks like a collection of helpful ways to save money but a closer look reveals that every tip on the site directs you to Cash Converters where you can be signed up for a crippling pay–day loan."
Medical Weightloss Institute – For targeting vulnerable people with dodgy diet advice.
CHOICE said: "MWI serves up a drug programme that promises you won't have to work out to lose weight, or even eat less. It clipped one consumer a staggering $4400 for the program, which was apparently half price. One thing is certain, your wallet will certainly be thousands of dollars lighter, but you’re unlikely to shed the kilos. Safety warning: one of the drugs – being prescribed has been withdrawn from sale in Australia by our regulator, the TGA. It may cause headaches, nausea and seizures!
Green and Clean’s bottled air – For literally selling thin air.
CHOICE said: "From Bondi to the Blue Mountains, Green and Clean bottles up air and flogs it to cashed–up tourists as a potential antidote to the country’s pollution with 12 cans setting you back $246.26, and offering "upward of 255 breaths."
Kellogg’s Pringles – For chipping away at our wallets.
CHOICE said: "Although they dropped the pack price from $4.10 to $4.00, making you think you’ll get more for your money, Kellogg’s actually increased the unit price of Pringles by then reducing the tub and chip size. The tubes decreased by 8.9%, the average Pringle length dropped a staggering 9.7% and the weight fell 10.7% from 150g to 134g. With the price per 100g jumping from $2.73 to $2.99, that’s an increase of 9.5%. And they also increased the saturated fat content by a staggering 60%."
Camel Milk Victoria – For milking the health benefits of this alternative dairy product.
CHOICE said: "It claims camel milk is "known to help improve the immune system by fighting off bacteria and infections and aid those who have autism, diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer, stomach ulcers and more."
The consumer group has referred Camel Milk Victoria to the food regulator.