Worse than water: Alternative’s 2020 Shonky awards shames cleansing merchandise, air purifiers and Harvey Norman | Cash


An electronics retailer setting their clients up for “crippling debt”, a funeral supplier hiding costs from grieving households, and cleansing merchandise that carry out worse than water are amongst manufacturers Australian customers are being urged to keep away from.

Alternative journal’s newest Shonky awards, which “uncover and name out practices from firms profiting from their clients”, warned in opposition to a “pathetic” air air purifier that “barely” purifies any air, and an organization concentrating on older Australians with a well being survey that makes use of the info generated to promote them beds.

Clients stroll in for a toaster and stroll out with crippling debt

Harvey Norman was referred to as out by Alternative this 12 months for “a poisonous partnership” with Latitude Finance, the place the retailer tries to promote clients a bank card “with an eye-watering rate of interest” of 22.74%, mentioned Alternative chief government Alan Kirkland.

“The banking royal fee uncovered many behaviours that had been hurting individuals. This included companies exploiting an exemption from credit score legal guidelines to promote bank cards in shops, with out checking whether or not the particular person can afford to repay the debt,” he mentioned.

“The money price is at a report low so there’s no justification for playing cards this costly. Clients stroll in for a tv or toaster and stroll out with crippling debt.”

Kirkland mentioned monetary counsellors and group authorized centres had particularly complained that the Harvey Norman Latitude GO Mastercard card was problematic and had led to monetary hardship in clients.

Kirkland mentioned Harvey Norman has been capable of promote the cardboard as a result of as a retailer they’re exempt from the fundamental checks finance firms are required to make to make sure clients received’t be harmed by a product.

He warned that the federal authorities’s transfer to reduce most lenders’ responsible lending obligations may make bank cards just like the one Harvey Norman sells the norm, and will “ship our nation right into a debt catastrophe”.

“On this Harvey Norman Latitude Mastercard GO card, a purchase order of $5,000 at 22.74% would depart somebody making the minimal repayments paying again $17,909 over 29 years. With Latitude, Harvey Norman is promoting one of the vital costly bank cards available on the market and it wants to finish now,” he mentioned.

A Latitude spokesman informed Guardian Australia the corporate “undertakes a rigorous credit score examine and capability evaluation of each credit score applicant, in full compliance with legal guidelines together with accountable lending obligations”.

“Credit score is rarely issued with out first figuring out the creditworthiness of candidates and guaranteeing debtors have the capability to repay. Our delinquency charges are similar to the foremost banks and higher than many smaller lenders, demonstrating that the shoppers Latitude is approving are credit score worthy,” the spokesman mentioned.

Benefiting from conserving grieving households at midnight

Alternative additionally criticised InvoCare, the mum or dad firm of White Woman Funerals and Simplicity Funerals, for adhering to a brand new New South Wales legislation requiring funeral suppliers to reveal clear tariffs to clients, however allegedly hiding this pricing info when promoting companies to all different states.

A mock funeral wreath surrounded by money over the InvoCare logo. InvoCare are one of the ‘winners’ of the 2020 Shonky awards for ‘profiting from keeping grieving families in the dark’.



A mock funeral wreath surrounded by cash over the InvoCare emblem. InvoCare are one of many ‘winners’ of the 2020 Shonky awards. : GeneRoss/Alternative Australia

Alternative campaigner Amy Pereira alleged “InvoCare is making the most of conserving grieving households at midnight”.

“NSW made funeral firms show their costs upfront so households wouldn’t be taken benefit of. Firms like InvoCare have executed the naked minimal, leaving grieving households in the remainder of Australia behind.

“Offering your clients with itemised costs on-line is a bare-minimum expectation that the funeral business fails to fulfill. With out these costs on-line, households who’ve misplaced a cherished one can’t simply evaluate their choices throughout a troublesome and time-sensitive interval,” Pereira mentioned.

In a press release, InvoCare informed Guardian Australia it “strongly helps transparency in pricing and was the primary group to fulfill new business requirements round pricing transparency, which had been developed by NSW Honest Work Buying and selling”.

“As a part of our dedication to business finest observe, these requirements are being rolled out nationally,” the assertion mentioned.

Water outperforming ground cleaners

Alternative has awarded all the retail class of ground cleaners a Shonky award, nonetheless it singled out Coles’ Extremely Ground Cleaner and Bunnings’ Lengthy Life All Function Cleaner as receiving “decrease scores than plain water” in its testing of the merchandise.

A selection of ‘winning’ floor cleaners.



A collection of ‘successful’ ground cleaners that Alternative say are much less efficient than water. : GeneRoss/Alternative Australia

In Alternative’s product testing, different ground cleaners both tied with water or carried out barely higher than water.

“Ground cleaners are little greater than fragrance in your ground,” Alternative testing skilled Ashley Iredale mentioned.

“If you’d like your flooring clear you’ll be able to simply use a plain outdated bucket of scorching water. Save your cash,” Iredale mentioned.

Guardian Australia has contacted Coles and Bunnings for remark.

Air air purifier that ‘doesn’t actually do something’

In its testing of air air purifier merchandise which have been marketed to Australians following the Black Summer time bushfires and amid Covid-19 issues, Alternative discovered one air purifier, the Greentech Pure Air 500​, was so ineffective that “assessments couldn’t detect any distinction in air high quality”.

“The 2 Greentech fashions we examined carried out so poorly that we principally couldn’t detect them doing something in any respect,” Alternative testing skilled Chris Barnes mentioned of the Pure Air 500 (a $179 “paperweight”) and the corporate’s costlier Pure Air 3000 mannequin, which it sells for $889.

“For [bushfire] smoke, an air air purifier may also help, supplied your property is properly sealed. ​Relating to Covid-19 and different germs, an air air purifier may assist, nevertheless it’s not an answer by itself,” Barnes.

“Those that will get probably the most profit out of an air air purifier are individuals with bronchial asthma or allergic reactions or those that stay in areas with a excessive degree of air pollution,” he mentioned.

Guardian Australia has contacted Greentech for remark.

Choice found the Greentech Pure Air 500 was so ineffective that ‘tests couldn’t detect any difference in air quality’.



Alternative discovered the Greentech Pure Air 500 was so ineffective that ‘assessments couldn’t detect any distinction in air high quality’. : GeneRoss/Alternative Australia

Medical trial of six individuals

Mattress firm Revitalife has additionally been awarded a Shonky, after clients and legislation professionals alerted Option to its alleged gross sales tactic.

Alternative shopper legislation skilled Julia Steward alleged Revitalife “makes use of a ‘well being survey’ to focus on individuals with well being worries”.

“This firm guarantees to assist clients with their well being wants however then sells them costly beds with doubtful well being claims. Revitalife makes enormous claims about the advantages of their beds based mostly on a single scientific trial of six individuals.

“This simply isn’t adequate. Revitalife is concentrating on older Australians by way of a shonky gross sales scheme and promoting sleep treatments that aren’t supported by credible proof,” Steward alleged.

Guardian Australia has contacted Revitalife for remark. A legislation agency appearing on behalf of Revitalife told the ABC the corporate may produce “hundreds of optimistic testimonials of glad clients”.

It mentioned: “Revitalife strongly denies any assertion that suggests it leads its clients into uniformed buying selections.”