Choice awards Shonky to Commonweath Bank's Dollarmite program

Shonkys winner: KitchenAid 2-Slice toaster

Choice finds some creative ways of warming bread more economical than the KitchenAid 2-Slice toaster.

The Commonwealth Bank's Dollarmite program was a big "winner" at Choice's annual Shonky Awards.

Nutri-Grain and KitchenAid are also among seven brands and products that have won the dubious honour of a lemon for the "shonkiest products and companies taking advantage of Australian consumers".

"There’s little doubt that this year’s winners are giving Australians a bad deal," Choice chief executive Alan Kirkland said.

The Commonwealth Bank's Dollarmite program won a Shonky for marketing banking to school children.
The Commonwealth Bank's Dollarmite program won a Shonky for marketing banking to school children. Photo: Supplied

Mr Kirkland said the Commonwealth Bank earned its gong for the Dollarmite program's "slick marketing", which was aimed at turning primary school children into long-term Commonwealth Bank customers.

"Once you factor in recent revelations that Commonwealth Bank staff fraudulently activated Dollarmite accounts for personal gain, awarding them a Shonky was an easy decision," he said.

Financial Counselling Australia chief executive Fiona Guthrie said banks should not be teaching children branded financial literacy.

"Schools need assistance to deliver independent financial literacy programs that help young people to explore and assess the different options in the market," she said.

"If the Commonwealth Bank wanted to make a positive contribution to financial literacy they could sponsor genuinely brand-free education initiatives."

Portacots win for 'unacceptable' risks

Portable cots were awarded a Shonky, after Choice safety tests on 60 cots found the vast majority failed.

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"Out of the 12 newer models of cot we recently reviewed, only two passed our major safety tests, with the others posing serious safety hazards," Mr Kirkland said.

"We’ve found mattresses that aren’t firm enough to provide a safe sleep surface, and gaps around the side that could trap a child’s head.

"It’s unacceptable that there are so many of these products on the market putting children’s lives at risk."

Portable cots won a Shonky after the vast majority of cots checked failed Choice's stringent safety test.
Portable cots won a Shonky after the vast majority of cots checked failed Choice's stringent safety test.  Photo: Supplied

Companies that failed Choice's portable cot safety test included B4baby, Babyco, Babyhood, Baby Bjorn, Baby Solutions, Childcare, Elite Baby, Joie, Love N Care, Phil&Teds, Steelcraft, Target and Vee Bee.

Other winners include the KitchenAid 2-Slice KMT2116 toaster - for being a "pricey paperweight". Choice found the $182 appliance served up "dry, slightly warm bread".

Nutri-Grain was awarded a Shonky for its "To-Go" range of protein squeezer packs. While they're marketed as "perfect for young Aussies on the go", Choice found the pouches contained a massive 14.7 grams of sugar per packet, and just 5.6 grams of protein.

Nutri-Grain.
Nutri-Grain. Photo: Supplied

Questionable medical aids also won Shonkys.

Bioglan won for spruiking a melatonin product the company claimed could "relieve mild temporary insomnia and symptoms of mild nervous tension”, but contained only trace amounts of the drug.

Magnetic therapy devices won a gong for promising to relieve pain with no evidence to back up that claim.

Frowns all round.
Frowns all round. 

Marriott Vacation Club International’s timeshare deal was awarded a Shonky for requiring consumers to buy into a contract that Choice found could cost nearly half a million dollars - roughly 10 times the cost of simply booking a holiday.

"Our seven 2018 winners follow a long tradition of highlighting why we need to hold companies toaccount for their bad behaviour and why we need stronger laws to protect Australians," Mr Kirkland said.

"The attitudes and practices of this year’s winners show exactly why we need the federal government to take action on greater safety standards, clearer food labelling and better banking regulations."

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