Updated: Every year, consumer advocate CHOICE hands out its Shonky ‘awards’, and it probably comes as no surprise to anyone to see Qantas on the list.
The Shonkys name and shame some of Australia’s worst products and services.
Qantas was named for disappointing customers on almost every front including flight credits, delayed flights, lost luggage and call waiting times.
“If there was ever a company that appeared to deliberately be going out of its way to win a Shonky award, it’s Qantas,” says CHOICE travel expert Jodi Bird.
“People are still paying premium prices to fly Qantas, but it’s clear from the complaints we’ve heard, they’re not getting a premium service.”
Particularly worrying is the fact that CHOICE found Qantas and Jetstar combined were sitting on $1.4 billion in unused flight credits and future bookings.
Qantas is making it tough to redeem flight credits.
“Qantas has made it difficult and confusing for their customers to use flight credits for cancelled travel,” Ms Bird says. “This includes forcing many people to spend extra money, putting limits on available flights, being unable to make bookings using credits online – the list goes on.”
Other products awarded a Shonky are:
Steggles Chicken Nuggets
The nuggets are marketed as “boosted with vegetables”, but CHOICE says the presence of vegetables is “negligible”.
“To get just one serving of vegetables from them, you would have to eat the entire 400 gram pack of Steggles Chicken Nuggets Boosted with Veggies, plus part of a second pack,” says CHOICE editor Pru Engel.
Zega Digital cooking pot
This pot claims to offer hands off, energy-saving, smart technology.
“There’s just one problem with the Zega Digital pot – it doesn’t deliver,” says CHOICE kitchen expert Chantelle Dart.
She found the pot undercooked the food and the Bluetooth technology failed once you were out of range.
The verdict? Buy a quality slow cooker instead.
Zega has hit back against the CHOICE criticism, releasing a press statement. You can read it here.
Vetpay is a loan service for people struggling to pay vet bills, but CHOICE is unimpressed with the interest rates.
“VetPay markets its loans as ‘affordable’, yet it charges interest rates of more than 18 per cent and hits users with fees at every turn,” says CHOICE head of policy Patrick Veyret.
As well as that whopping 18 per cent interest, CHOICE found that signing up for Vetpay included a yearly $49 fee and a $2.50 fee every time a customer makes a repayment.
This flower delivery service claims it is “Australia’s official florist”, despite being owned by a Canadian company, and CHOICE is unimpressed on many fronts – “dodgy deliveries and dead flowers” being just two.
In a CHOICE mystery shop, if an order couldn’t be filled, Bloomex offered a range of other options rather than a refund. In all eight cases, CHOICE had to send multiple emails to get the money back.
“These results confirm what we heard from unhappy Bloomex customers,” said CHOICE editorial director Marg Rafferty. “Time and again, we heard from disappointed people whose orders for flowers to mark a special occasion were delivered in terrible condition, arrived late or didn’t arrive at all.”
Have you used any of these products or services? We’d love to hear your personal account. Who else would you add to the list? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?
(Updated at 1.30pm 3 November.)