Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018
Image: Supplied

Get ready to put out your lemons for the shonkiest Australian brands of 2018! Included in this year’s awards for bad behaviour are a cot that’s dangerous to babies, the sugariest ‘health food’ and a toaster that can’t toast. Here are all the winners of Choice’s Shonky Awards for 2018.

“From cots that put our kids’ lives at risk, to a bank that buys its way into our schools and the toaster that leaves your bread warm and dry, there’s little doubt that this year’s winners are giving Australians a bad deal,” Choice’s CEO Alan Kirkland said in a statement.

“Our seven 2018 winners follow a long tradition of highlighting why we need to hold companies to account for their bad behavior and why we need stronger laws to protect Australians. The attitudes and practices of this year’s winners show exactly why we need the federal government to take action on greater safety standards, clearer food labelling and better banking regulations.”

As usual, Shonky Awards pool nominations of dodgy products from Choice members and staff, then pick the worst of the lot from that pool. So without further ado, here are the seven Shonky winners for this year. Shame on them.

Portable cots

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018Image: Supplied

Nothing designed to go near a baby should be potentially fatal – and especially not something the baby’s meant to sleep in. This Shonky award went not to a specific brand but to a whole host of manufacturers of portable cots whose design could be dangerous to young babies, including: 4baby, Babyco, Babyhood, Baby Bjorn, Baby Solutions, Childcare, Elite Baby, Joie, Love N Care, Phil&Teds, Steelcraft, and Target and Vee Bee.

“When CHOICE tested portable cots, we found that the vast majority failed our stringent safety tests,” Choice’s statement said. “Alarmingly, most of the products we tested pose a risk of either suffocation or head entrapment (or both) to babies.”

Commonwealth Bank Dollarmites

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018Image: Supplied

Who here is with Commonwealth Bank? Who here is with Commonwealth Bank because they were signed up to Dollarmites as a kid? Choice has called out the dodgy practice of pushing a single big bank onto school-aged kids under the guise of education.

“The Commonwealth Bank’s Dollarmite school marketing program mixes unchecked corporate greed with primary schools,” Choice said. “Who can weasel its way into our schools? CommBank can.”

Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain ‘To Go’ range

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018Image: Supplied

Choice has always had a bit of a bone to pick with Nutri-Grains health claims, but it’s singling out Kellogg’s this year for its new ‘To Go’ range.

It was the tagline “perfect for young Aussies on the go” that caught Choice’s attention, especially when it looked into what the product actually contained: “When we discovered the Nutri-Grain Banana & Honey Smash Protein Squeezer contains a whopping 14.7g of sugar per packet in contrast to the 5.6g of protein it so heavily promotes, Nutri-Grain’s association with elite athletes became a little hard to swallow.”

KitchenAid 2-Slice KMT2116 toaster

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018Image: Supplied

KitchenAid’s toaster costs an eye-watering $189, but it doesn’t actually make toast. Yup, you heard that right. “CHOICE tests showed all it served up was dry, slightly warm bread.”

It may look slick, but the KitchenAid gadget just doesn’t have it where it counts.

Bioglan melatonin homeopathic sleep formula

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018Image: Supplied

If you know anything about homeopathy, you can probably guess what’s gonna happen with this one. As in most homeopathic formulas, there are only tiny trace amounts of the active ingredient in this product.

This would be fine(ish), if Bioglan wasn’t advertising the product as being able to “relieve mild temporary insomnia and symptoms of mild nervous tension” when in reality it’s almost entirely a placebo. Notably, this is Bioglan’s second year in a row as a Shonkys winner, so apparently they still haven’t learned.

Marriott Timeshare

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018Image: Supplied

Choice is taking the shame to Marriott for “passing off a lifetime of debt as a cheap way to take a holiday.” We all know timeshares in general are a little dodgy, but Marriott’s seems particularly bad.

“Marriott Vacation Club International’s timeshare deal requires you to buy into a 40-year contract that could, based on CHOICE calculations, see you spend nearly half a million dollars over the course of the contract – around ten times the amount it would cost to simply book a holiday when you needed to.”

Magnetic therapy devices

Choice Shonky Awards: The Worst Australian Products Of 2018Image: Supplied

News flash: magnets aren’t as magical as they seem. Choice is taking aim at a whole group of products that deal in ‘magnetic therapy’, including those from brands Dick Wicks and BioMagnetic Sport.

These products “promise to relieve pain, but with no evidence to back up these claims, the only thing they’ll relieve you of is money.”


  • How does Bioglan escape prosecution?
    If a product states MELATONIN in big letters on the container, it should have to contain Melatonin.
    And why do chemists sell it?
    I went to the actual Pharmacist counter, and told them my doctor had recommended I try a melatonin spray to help me sleep. The Pharmacist took me out into the chemist shelves and eventually found the Bioglan melatonin spray. She handed it to me, and I said “This is homeopathic, do you have anything that actually contains melatonin?” She did a double take and read the label, and then apologised and said she didn’t realise it wasn’t the real deal.
    If a qualified Pharmacist is being misled by the packaging, surely the product is misleading and should be pulled from sale. You should expect that if a chemist hands you something, that is is actual medicine.

    • I agree if the product is trying to pass off that it has an ingredient (in this case Melatonin) it should actually have a reasonable and active amount of the ingredient, not just a trace amount. To have your labelling so deceptive it misleads the expert (in this case the pharmacist) it should be illegal.

  • The “Tablet contains 6X Melatonin” is also misleading to the general public, this means it contains 1 part in 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10, or 1 in 1,000,000 = 6X.
    So if the tablet weighs half a gram (0.5g) which is a typical weight, then the tablet contains one two-millionth of a gram of Melatonin, this isn’t enough to claim the name on the product label in any sane society.

    • Thank you for explaining what 6X means, for people who don’t know like me could have thought it was 6 times as strong as the normal, not a million times weaker

  • I’m still trying to understand the hatred behind the Dollarmite campaign. It it designed to teach kids to save money and has been around for 60 years.
    Guessing the recent abhorrence towards banking practices means we’re tarring all banking efforts with the same brush

    • Because its not about education?

      It’s about marketing and signing kids up to long-term bank accounts that they can then pile fees on.

      If you think CWB is doing Dollarmite out of the kindness of their heart, I have this magic bean i would like to sell you.

  • When it comes to Pharmacy and health shops the choice is clear, everything this side of the counter will not cure/prevent medical problems except vitamin C . Source – ABC’s Checkout. Blackmores to Bioglan were born out of travelling sales people and gypsys. Nothing has changed.

    One shonky forgotten is the Australian Government – Come on guys think about it. Nothing changed here either since the convict days. Not even freedom of speech.

    • I agree with the “One shonky forgotten is the Australian Government” but my pet hate is any reference, even a hint, to ‘freedom of speech’ in Australia. People ‘freedom of speech’ does not exist in Australia it is an American law that seems to have fallen into our consciousness through the media but is not actually the law in Australia

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