Coles and Woolworths have received a 2023 Shonky Award for leaving customers "frustrated, infuriated and out of pocket" in a cost-of-living crisis.
Choice's annual awards, now in their 18th year, name business, products and services that fail to offer quality and value to Australian consumers.
The "big two" supermarkets won the Shonky Award with 60 per cent of consumers feeling they were "making a lot of money" from price hikes during a cost-of-living crisis, Choice said.
"2023 has been yet another hard year for many Australians, with the cost-of-living crisis showing no signs of slowing down," Choice CEO Alan Kirkland said.
"Rather than doing the right thing by consumers, our Shonky winners have only disappointed during this difficult time."
Xbox mini fridge
A Shonky Award also went to the Xbox mini fridge for "being a 'fridge' that doesn't make things cold".
The fridge, a result of the partnership between Microsoft and Ukonic, was a "worryingly shonky product", Choice said.
It struggled to chill drinks below 21 degrees Celsius in a 32 degree Celsius room and used a "ludicrous" amount of energy.
It had equivalent power usage to a 500 litre fridge but was not an effective appliance, Choice said.
"The Xbox Mini Fridge is essentially e-waste straight out of the box," Choice fridge expert Ashley Iredale said.
Not only are rental prices increasing but many renters are competing for properties and struggling to find appropriate housing, Choice said.
Third-party rental platforms, known as RentTech apps, forced users to hand over a large amount of personal data to apply for properties.
This included bank statements, references from their last five jobs and even photos of children and pets, Choice said.
"Considering the increased proliferation of data breaches, not to mention the myriad ways companies mine our data for profit, these rental apps are more than worthy of a Shonky Award," Choice said.
"There's an increasing need to regulate these apps to ensure that tenants are protected from unfair and exploitative practices."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Choice gave a Shonky Award to the entire category of personal alarms based on their alleged unreliability.
These devices, equipped with an emergency call button, are worn by vulnerable people and were designed to alert carers of a fall or incident.
They are intended to give loved ones "peace of mind" but Choice found they often failed to activate.
"We'd like to see irresponsible suppliers change their behaviour so that these products meet consumer needs and expectations about performance and ease of use," Choice head of reviews and testing Matthew Steen said.
Kogan First subscription
Kogan First won a 2023 Shonky Award for "tricking customers into a $99 sign-up" when buying products online.
Customers to Kogan or Dick Smith's online shopping platforms would easily miss the box that confirms their subscription to Kogan First.
When a consumer clicks through to the checkout a box marked 'free shipping' is selected by default and this option includes a two week free trial of Kogan First.
The $99 subscription fee is deducted after the fortnight.
Choice sent nineteen unaware shoppers to the Kogan site and were shocked when six had signed up for the subscription without noticing.
"A gap in Australia's consumer laws makes it easier for businesses to get away with dodgy tricks like these," Choice campaigns and policy adviser Alex Soderlund said.
"Other jurisdictions like the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom and Singapore all have laws that protect consumers against unfair business practices," she said.
"Australia needs to catch up."