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.
A 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