Thermomix 'TM5 Scandal' Tops 2014 Shonky Awards

The CHOICE "Shonky Awards" have named and shamed the dodgiest consumer products of 2014, with Thermomix "winning" the consumer vote by a landslide. The once-loved kitchen appliance received more nominations than any product in the award's nine-year history. Hell hath no fury like a Thermo fan scorned.

Each year, consumer watchdog CHOICE doles out the dreaded "Shonkys" — an anti-prize for terrible products and services that injure, mislead or rip-off Australian consumers. This year's finalists included Arnott's "Peanut Butter Flavoured" Tim Tams (which use paprika instead of peanuts), Kmart-branded swimwear (which contained a minuscule "see-through when wet" warning) and the Commonwealth Bank for its wide-scale financial planning scandal and subsequent lobbying against financial advice protections.

However, the company that received the most nominations by far was Thermomix manufacturer Vorwerk. The high-end kitchen appliance vendor drew the ire of the Thermomix community for failing to announce that a new, smartphone-enabled model was in the pipeline prior to its appearance on store shelves. This resulted in hundreds of consumers buying the older model at full price -- mere days before it was superseded without warning.

Of course, there's nothing new about products being replaced by newer models -- the issue here was the high level of secrecy and a perception of deliberate misinformation on Vorwerk's part.

According to CHOICE, some Thermomix customers even asked about the rumoured new model prior to purchase and were assured by the company that there was no upgrade on the horizon. To add insult to injury, the new model retailed for just $50 more. Customers effectively lost hundreds of dollars off the value of their "old" Thermomix overnight.

"What has left a bad taste in consumers’ mouths and led to the awarding of this Shonky is the secrecy and choppy communication around the launch of its first new model in seven years," CHOICE explained.

"The TM5 was released on 6 September with no prior warning, and some new owners took delivery of their full-price, soon-to-be superseded TM31 as late as a day or two before."

The company eventually offered purchasers of the old model a free bowl blade and lid set which did little to quell the rage on social media. Here's what CHOICE had to say on its decision:

"For being less than upfront with loyal fans about the release of its new TM5 model, selling the TM31 at full price and delivering it right up to the day before the launch, and receiving the highest number of nominations in Shonkys' history, we were left with no choice but to juice the Vorwerk/Thermomix lemon."


Comments

    If you can afford to waste the money on a Thermo, I'm sure you can spring for the upgrade. Just sell the old one?

    I'm hoping to avoid a similar story with Microsoft and the Surface Pro. I was minutes away from buying one last week when the sales rep told me that I should wait a month. Now I'm scared to buy one with these rumours of a possible hardware refresh before Xmas. All I've received from other reps since then is that they have no new information to give me.

    I don't get "Themi's". I've used one for most of the year. It's not remarkable. It's annoying to use, and a pain in the arse to clean.

    All you hear people talking about in regards to their "Thermi's" is that it makes really good dough and risotto. Cool. 2 grand to make dough and risotto. I always look at recipe's and think "yeah, I could use the Thermomix, but I'd rather do it by hand instead".

    It's nice to make frappe's in, but a $30 blender can do the job just as well. I guess some people see value in them. I certainly don't.

    Last edited 14/10/14 4:39 pm

      We have one of those $300 Bellini knock offs. Does a great job for a significantly smaller dent in your wallet. $2k would be a complete waste of money in my opinion.

    OMG a company release a new product, HOW DARE THEY! Why are we concerned about ISIS when this is the real threat to our society?

    I don't really see much of a problem with this.

    They still got exactly what they paid for, which was also exactly what they wanted. Poor them.

    Last edited 14/10/14 5:39 pm

      Yeah fair enough from a legal standpoint, but you'd have to admit it's pretty annoying.

      I think the actual frustration was that customers had contacted the company about the rumoured new version coming out but they flatly denied providing the customer any information on it. When the customer when then bought the old/current version at full price and realised a few days later that a new one had come out thats what they were pissed off about. Yes annoying and not the end of the world. I personally am playing my pocket violin for those who are crying over this when they can actually afford to spend that much on a single appliance in the first place.

    It's very hard to share the enthusiasm with friends who have Thermomixes if you've seen or read The Stepford Wives.

    I don't see how this beat out Commonwealth Bank's little 'mistake'. Or any of the others really. Thermomix want to sell old stock before releasing newer ones, big deal, so do most corporations. Apple don't discount their old iPhones prior to the new ones coming out (they do afterwards though) and although everybody assumes they'll announce and release a new one come September, they never let out any hints that they might (and sued a guy who picked up/stole and sold a demo model left behind at a bar) and often ship the next day after announcement (at least in USA, we Australians have to wait.
    Though I'm not condoning lying to their customers, I think the other nominations were more deserving. This reminds me of EA winning worst company of the year award for 2013. Though they did some really a-hole level stuff with Sim City and BF4, it doesn't come close to the high level *expletive* stuff Comcast have done to their 'customers' (or rather victims).

    Last edited 14/10/14 10:11 pm

    Maybe Vorwerk should take some lessons from Apple on how to clear old inventory prior to launching a new product. Both are in the same category after all: overpriced gadgets that people still lust after.

    Shonky should also go to the company's consultants (and husbands of consultants) that are making personal attacks on facebook to the customers affected in this.

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