|Consumer advocate reveals shonky products and services for 2013, with EA charging customers to complain the main dodgy deal on the tech side.|
When the gaming giant launched SimCity earlier this year, it had the brass neck to charge Aussie gamers $2.48 a minute on a 1900 phoneline to seek help about the game after a number of server connection issues were found.
CHOICE says this is another example of the "Australia tax" that forces us to pay more, considering consumers in the US weren't charged to make a complaint.
"The real issue is paying to complain" Tom Godfrey, Choice spokesperson told Smarthouse.
Consumers should not have to pay to exercise their basic warranty rights. Companies use customers as beta testers and then charge them to point out the bugs, which they know the software or game contains.
Godfrey says he is also aware of other companies who engage in a similar practice. "We're zeroing in on the issue" he said.
Other tech shonks of note included: Qantas Frequent Flyer Toolbar, which is "poor value" says Godfrey, as the toolbar monitors user's internet searches, which the airline then sells on to third party companies.
But Qantas is giving consumers very little in return - in fact it only allows 150 frequent flyer points per month, so it would take almost eight years to earn enough points for a measly one-way flight from Sydney to Melbourne.
Consumer data holds high value to companies, and consumers should be aware of this, he warns.
Lots of companies engage in this parctice of selling data this, Godfrey says, but Qantas should give more value or points to the consumer.
Energy Australia also got a mention for failing to disclose how much bills would increase by before billing consumers. Meanwhile, Credit Repair Australia got a red card for charging a non-refundable upfront fee of $990 to consumers.
This is "ridiculous" considering other companies offer this service for free and charging cash strapped customers almost $1k.
In most cases, default listings and other information about your credit history can't be removed from a report unless proven wrong.
Also on this year's top shonk list included: Dairy Dairy Farmers Oats Express Liquid Breakfast, Banana and Honey lacked on the core ingredient - the honey.
Nuk Starlight Silicone Soother (0-6 months) also won the award for the second time, failed to meet minimum safety standards.
Ecoeggs that were anything but and (not very manly) Kleenex Mansize Tissues also got a mention in this year's list.
What a shower of shonkers.