The YourLifeChoices Rorties – the galling behaviour that couldn’t be overlooked

YourLifeChoices Rorties

According to the Australian Banking Association, there were 308,253 scams worth $525 million in the 12 months to October 2023 – an average of 25,688 scams a month, worth $43.8 million a month. 

We all know to watch out for dodgy operators online, but we’re so used to internet transactions these days that it can be easy to forget about the ripoffs in ‘real life’. That’s why the YourLifeChoices team has decided to start the YourLifeChoices Rorty awards.

So, who is taking home our less-than-coveted trophies?

The ‘we really don’t want to give you back your money Rorty

Who else could this be other than Qantas, of course? Last year the airline took out Roy Morgan’s most trusted brand for travel and leisure. This year, that’s gone to Virgin Australia (which has got to hurt, don’t you reckon?). Still, you can’t hold onto legitimate refunds for years and expect to avoid a Rorty award.

There are so many rort-worthy actions from Qantas – from allegedly accepting bookings for over 8000 cancelled flights, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), to holding onto $400 million worth of COVID-era travel credits. And to top it off, getting the lawyers to claim that it doesn’t sell tickets to particular flights, only a “bundle of rights”. 

Most heartless Rorty

Services Australia is a shoo-in for this, for the illegal and wholly damaging Robodebt fiasco. The Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme wrapped up in November, with these words: “Robodebt was a crude and cruel mechanism, neither fair nor legal, and it made many people feel like criminals. In essence, people were traumatised on the off-chance they might owe money. It was a costly failure of public administration, in both human and economic terms.” 

We couldn’t have put it better.

Compare Club finance writer Gillian Clive

The supermarket Rorty

Australia’s two leading supermarket chains put in strong bids for the 2023 Supermarket Rorty, but Aldi had a decent shot at taking home the award, too. The German multinational was accused in October of deliberately underpaying more than 20,000 current and former workers more than $150 million.

Not to be outdone, Woolworths faced similar scrutiny with regulator Wage Inspectorate Victoria alleging the supermarket giant underpaid more than $1 million in long-service leave to 1235 former employees.

Not forgetting their main focus, their customers, Woolies skimmed a cool $1.62 billion in profits for the 2022-23 financial year. This was despite its bread-and-butter customers doing it tough at the checkout as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. And it also comes in the face of mounting economic evidence that the chief driver of inflation right now is corporate profits.

Coles wasn’t far behind, declaring a net profit after tax of $1.1 billion, but the Supermarket Rorty had to go to Woolies for targeting customers and employees in equal measure.

YourLifeChoices contributor Andrew Gigacz

The ‘you can bank on it’ Rorty

Bank managers used to be the ‘man (and it was a man) about town’. Now they might need to be behind protective glass.

Banks bust mortgage holders with interest rate rises as soon as they’re declared by the Reserve Bank. But then they’re slow to pass on increases to savers. In fact, they make it hard for loyal savers to reap any benefits at all, such are the onerous conditions.

Then they shut up shop in town after town and suburb after suburb and blame it on the customers – or supposedly the lack of customers. That was until ANZ was exposed by a whistleblower who told of the executives’ strategies to steer customers away from tellers and to ATMs and online banking. He quit when he was rebuked for assisting an elderly, vision-impaired customer.

Oh, and did we mention profits? NAB recorded a strong lift in its cash profit to $7.7 billion; Westpac’s annual net profit of $7.195 billion was up 26 per cent on the previous year; ANZ released an audited cash profit for the September 2023 financial year of $7.4 billion – up 14 per cent on the previous year, and the Commonwealth had a net profit of $10.2 billion after tax in the year ending 30 June – up 5 per cent on the previous financial year.

YourLifeChoices managing editor Janelle Ward

The Reserve Bank of Australia Rorty 

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) gets a rorty for continuing to punish and victim-blame Australian mortgage holders for problems it could have addressed itself earlier.

Thousands of Aussies have been placed under extreme mortgage pressure by the RBA as it tried to curb inflation after doing practically nothing about it for years.

After leaving the official cash rate on hold for three years between 2016 and 2019, it dropped to its lowest ever of 0.10 per cent in 2020 during the pandemic. Dr Philip Lowe, RBA governor at the time, confidently said he couldn’t see rates rising again until 2024.

That turned out to be a big furphy, as the RBA has raised the interest rate a staggering 13 times since then, and it now sits at 4.35 per cent, adding thousands to monthly mortgage repayments and greatly increasing mortgage defaults.

New RBA governor Michele Bullock said in a speech that it had to raise rates quickly to combat rising inflation, and even had the gall to blame inflation on people getting too many haircuts.

She said the inflation challenge is “increasingly homegrown and demand-driven”.

“Hairdressers and dentists, dining out, sporting and other recreational activities – the prices of all these services are rising strongly,” she said.

YourLifeChoices digital editor Brad Lockyer

The private health cover Rorty

You’ve got to love the confidence of the private health industry asking to charge us more money while raking in record profits.

Fortunately for us, the private health industry has to ask the government for approval for any hike in premiums, and also fortunately for us this year it got a knockback.

Health minister Mark Butler was not amused at the industry asking for an average 6 per cent increase in premiums.

“I’ve written to every private health insurer, directing them to have another go and put forward a more reasonable figure that considers their years of record profits and the declining proportion of premiums they return to customers, particularly while household budgets are under pressure,” he said.

For comparison, health insurance premiums increased by 2.9 per cent this year and 2.7 per cent each in 2021 and 2022. 

The figures are not flattering for the industry.

report by the Australian Medical Association revealed that private insurers earned $1.3 billion more than two years ago while returning fewer rebates and less money to customers.

The report claims the proportion of hospital insurance policy premiums returned to patients in the form of insurance benefits for hospital treatment had fallen from 88.02 per cent in 2018-19 to 81.6 per cent in 2022-23.

I mean, it always pays to ask, but 6 per cent is more front than Myers.

YourLifeChoices digital editor Jan Fisher

What do you think was the biggest rort this year? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Grocery price guile gets most of us in

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

6 Comments

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  1. For 90% of people private health insurance is not worth the money. And you left private aged care homes off the rorty’s list. You know the ones where the operator drives a high end sports car while the patients eat poorly cooked fish fingers.

  2. Re the illegal RoboDebt.
    People receiving the government support put in incorrect figures and clam money.
    They received more money than entitled to and have now kept it.

    When an employee, I usually checked that I received what I was owed. I supported the companies ability to exist and supply me with an income. Not a clock watcher. Just a fair days work for a fair days pay. Most complaints seem to come from employees on an hourly rate, not salaried workers who maybe must put in the extra effort.

    Banks suffered through covid like the rest of us and during that time, their dividends paid were risible but just quoting their profits without balancing that against their turnover is just a poor evaluation of the real situation.

    Re the RBA, anyone trying to exist on bank dividends during the covid years would have starved on the 0.10 per cent yield, unless they had a steady job or the pension. Thank God the rates went up when they did. It was an abnormal time, now back on a more realistic course but many who probably should not have, leapt in to borrow at the unreal rates offered though much advice was offered warning that rates would rise again.

    Health cover is too high and the extra you are asked to pay for after any hospital event (like anaesthetists) are out of control but the only Mayback car I have ever seen in Aus was parked in a hospital’s doctor’s carpark.

    • Mark B Rubbish! This is typical of what happened, a person works casually or part time for first part of year and claims job allowance legally. Second part of year they get a full time job and don’t claim job allowance. At end of year they lodge their tax return. The yearly income is matched with job allowance claim and averaged for each fortnight and robo debt letter gets sent out saying you were overpaid for the period you claimed. WRONG methodology. It you earn zero dollars in 1st six months and $20k a month for second six months you can legally claim job allowance for first 6 months. Robo dedt said because you average $4,615 per fortnight you should have claimed nothing at all for the year and are thus have to repay every dollar. Legislatively wrong and why Robodebt was incorrect in many cases. You can’t match with ATO data when income is stop and start during year as Centrelink law looks at each fortnight separately to determine entitlement while tax law looks at annual income alone and not fortnightly income.

      • Peter – Totally correct. I got caught in this mess, luckily only for a short time and small amount. I kept absolutely strict records, of everything, and if anything, this scared them off from pursuing me. I am now on full aged pension, with a 10 hour a week casual job, and again, I keep FULL contact details for everything because I really don’t trust the government in future years.
        On the subject of rorters, I totally agree with supermarkets. A can of fly spray I normally bought for $7.95, is now $19.85. My favorite ice cream has increased from $5 to $6.50 just since April.
        Another to add to list is insurance companies. My car renewal increased 120%, my home insurance by 87%. I spent a few hours and found better cover, but know I’ll have to do the same hunt next renewal.
        The one thing – whilst I hate the amount payable – I will not compromise on, is health insurance. In the past 2 years I’ve had 2 hospital stays, both within 6 weeks of seeing specialist, both luckily squeezed in, in the same year, so just a $500 excess. If I had been in the public hospital system, I would still be waiting. I have a crippled 72yo neighbor without PH, has no super, trying to get a hip replacement, told will be minimum 18-24 months. She has just paid to join a PH fund to reduce the wait time.

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