Baby bank accounts, pain-erasing pens and “complete” cat food: Here are 2017’s shonkiest products

cat food

It’s that time of the year again when consumer advocacy group Choice names and shames the most unreliable and dishonest products from the past 12 months as part of its annual Shonky Awards.

Exploding phones, credit card surcharges and camel milk were among the winners of last year’s awards, and this year it’s cat food, bank accounts for babies and ticket resellers that have earned a place on the list.

The Shonky Awards poke fun at Australian products that are “of poor or dubious quality” and are selected based on a number of criteria, including a lack of transparency, poor value for money and customer confusion. The award winners are not ranked, with Choice affording equal ‘shonkiness’ to all those on the list.

Here are the brands and products to receive a Shonky Award.

Coles “Complete Cuisine” Cat Food

The first Shonky off the rank for 2017 is a home brand cat food from Coles, which Choice has taken aim at over its claim that the product’s ingredients could “complete” a cat’s diet.

According to Choice, pet nutritionists say that given the nutritional value of the product, it should actually only amount to between 5-10% of a cat’s overall diet.

Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Mazda and BMW

Five car makers have been singled out this year after a recall of Takata airbags affected 100 million vehicles, with Choice questioning whether these companies adequately communicated with their customers about the airbag issue.

Pain Erazor pen

Promotions for this product claim it, as the name suggests, erases pain without the need for drugs, using the power of “electro-analgesia”.

The product is supposed to work with help from a tiny electric charge that’s passed on to the user, but Choice claims GPs have suggested it would have little affect, aside from distracting you with the possible boredom caused by repeatedly clicking the Erazor, as recommended.

Westpac “Bump Savings”

In the banking world, Choice has taken aim at a Westpac promotion that this year promised to deposit $200 into a bank account in a newborn’s name, with the funds only available at the child’s 16th birthday.

According to Choice, “$200 is a small price to pay for a potential 16-year-long customer relationship”, with the consumer group highlighting the ample opportunities for Westpac to advertise other products to kids through the scheme, while also questioning the maximum 2.3% interest rate.


The Shonky “for dodgy practices that tick off customers” goes to Swiss ticketing platform Viagogo, which the consumer watchdog took to court in August over claims of false and misleading conduct.

Choice says it has heard from “hundreds” of annoyed customers who say the company’s consumer guarantee is “about as reliable as a scalper in a back alley”.

Samsung washer and dryer

Samsung’s WD16J9845KG washer/dryer combo product scored a “zero” went it underwent a Choice test this year, earning the all-in-one product a 2017 Shonky Award.

When the product was tested, it reportedly took more than six hours to complete a cycle, and used up 149 litres of fresh drinking water in the process.

Vita Gummies

Vitamin maker Nature’s Way received a prize for its kids’ product Vita Gummies because of the sugar content of the supplements, which are promoted as boosting health and wellbeing.

“Featured on TV and attracting a celebrity endorsement from Antonia Kidman, Nature’s Way uses colourful cartoon characters to shout the health benefits of sugar-coated gummies to children,” Choice says.

Cuddly Sensitive fabric softener

Using vinegar and espsom salts scored a better result when trying to soften fabric than when Choice tested this Cuddly formula, earning it a place in the Shonkys class of 2017.

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4 years ago

“Using vinegar and espsom salts scored a better result when trying to soften fabric”
Sure, if you don’t mind your clothes smelling like salad dressing.
Better use Citric Acid (no smell).

Most vinegar is actually a diluted industrial chemical called Acetic Acid.