Meet the biggest lemons going – 2011 ‘shonks’ includes sneaky Smurf app, risky roof racks, stingy insurers, tiny eggs, weight-loss and energy saving cons.
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The Shonky awards for 2011 as chosen by consumer watchdog Choice show a real basket case of con jobs and outlandish claims, announced at an awards cermony yesterday.
The “sneaky and high cost” of a Smurfs ‘free’ Village App game for iPhones, iPads and Android platform was among the top shonks.
Users have to build the village players and make in-app purchases of Smurfberries to use as Smurf currency, cost between $5.49 for a basket and up to $109.99 for a wagon.
“Young children who have unwittingly clocked up bills of hundreds of dollars because the disclosure and payments warnings are inadequate,” say Choice.
Other “winners” include quail eggs with outlandish health claims, a $300 plug-in energy saving device that makes little difference to power bills and SensaSlim a weight loss spray which “makes even snake oil salesmen look good,” says the watchdog.
The shonkiest energy saving device was a Go4Green EnergySmart device costing $299 that plugs into a power point and claims to save you 10% on your energy bills. When put to the test CHOICE found minimal changes in energy consumption and components valued at just $15.
The Chery J1 car, which retails for around $11,990 and comes complete with sporty looking roof racks, however, upon closer look an inadequate sticker warns: “Roof rails are for cosmetic purposes only. Do not use.”
Crystal encrusted baby dummies was also picked out as a shonk , priced at $25 each decorated with coloured crystals but Choice tests found the crystals to come off easily enough to be a choking hazard.
Quail Kingdom quail eggs selling for at $2.50 per dozen, claims treat everything from tuberculosis, Chernobyl-style excessive radiation, excess weight, hair loss, wrinkles, male potency issues, kidney stones, and was found to be completely a dodgy deal.
The insurance industry was also picked out as a total shonk.
“In the wake of the Queensland, NSW and Victorian floods this year saw thousands of home owners left high and dry by insurance companies that rejected their claims. In many cases this was because of numerous definitions for the term ‘flood’ and the convoluted abuse of the English language which made policies indecipherable to even lawyers.”
Peachy Pink shapewear infused with green tea, peaches and caffeine, claim to reduce cellulite when worn. However, the claim was found to consist of ‘2 doses of accuracy, 1 dose of creativity and a touch of audacity’.
SensaSlim weight loss oral spray costing approximately $70 per bottle that claims to promote weight loss by decreasing your desire for food. There is no evidence the product works and it all went pear shaped from there involving the ACCC, receivers, franchisees who had lost big money and a dodgy website.
“The aim of our giant lemon trophy is to remind businesses that they can’t take advantage of others by being less than truthful, bending the rules or putting risky products into the market,” said CHOICE director of campaigns & communications, Christopher Zinn.
“While no business wants to get a Shonky, we believe the awards also make consumers look more critically and ask serious questions about vacuous health and energy claims, poor service other slippery tricks and traps.”