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The Consumer Complete Ass Awards 2006

30 January 2007

The Consumer Complete Ass Awards 2006

Consumers' Institute has announced the winners of the inaugural Consumer Complete Ass Awards. These awards recognize those products, services and companies who seem to go out of their way to screw over the Kiwi consumer.

The Awards
1. The Fine Print Award:

In February 2006, Consumer declared open season on asterisks, fine print and hidden terms and conditions. Many of our members sent us appalling examples of fine-print duplicity.

…And The Ass goes to: Mitre 10 Mega!

They have big stores, a big spokesmodel, and make big, clear promises in their big ads. Promises like “Best range. Lowest prices. End of story” and “In the event that you do find a lower price… we’ll beat it by 10%”. Our asterisk hunter found roof paint on special at Guthrie Bowron ... then he found out about the fine print. When he asked Mitre 10 Mega to beat the price by 10%, they refused, saying that in order to get the discounted price, the item elsewhere must be full purchase price. What happened to "lowest prices, end of story”?


2. The Lazarus Award - For the product, service or scam that refuses to die.

…And The Ass goes to: Txt 8555 competitions!
Ditzy Aussie blonde invites you to enter a ludicrously simple txt competition, to win a great prize. But wait, is that a stain along the bottom of your TV screen? Nope, that’s the small print explaining that you’ll be charged $3 for each text message the organizer, TMG Asia Pacific, sends you! To un-subscribe, txt STOP to 8555. Do it now.

Those are very expensive TV ad slots. It means TMG are raking it in. The only way to combat this insidious scam is not to succumb to it. If you feel the urge to txt 8555, DON’T!


3. The Pet Rock Award - For the product or service that continues to be promoted and sold even though it’s as much use as a pet rock.

…And The Ass goes to: Harvey Norman for extended warranties!
Come on folks! We’ve been bleating about this for years. We’ll say it one more time. Extended warranties aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. They usually offer no more protection than you are already entitled to under the Consumer Guarantees Act. Yet retailers continue to push these warranties on unwary buyers. Why? Because they’re good little money earners. You pay them for the legal rights they have to offer you. Extended warranties – just say no.

… A Half-Ass is awarded to: Noel Leeming for extended warranties!
It was a close-run race this year. We counted up the number of complaints about extended warranties and despite a late charge by Noel Leeming, they were pipped at the post by Harvey Norman – but only just.


4. The Technology Has Not Improved This Product Award

…And The Ass goes to: The Goldfinger GF003 GPS navigation system!
In August 2006 our two resident petrol-heads set off on a mission to navigate urban and rural roads using GPS navigation, online maps and traditional road maps. We described the Goldfinger GPS as “woeful”. It took ages to recalculate its position, changed its mind, gave contradictory instructions, and sent us through a bus-only tunnel. On the other hand, if you use a map – online or paper – you usually have only yourself to blame if you get lost.


5. The It’s Only Natural Award – For the product that’s jumped on the organic bandwagon, but isn’t quite what it seems.

…And The Ass goes to: Herbal remedies!
Our August 2006 report on herbal remedies found a lax attitude amongst patients using herbal remedies. We found self-prescribing and swapping of medicines among friends was common. Just because it’s natural, that doesn’t make it safe. Hemlock is natural. Would you feed it to your child?

We also found that some Asian-sourced herbal medicines contain herbicides, pesticides, arsenic, lead, mercury and bits of insects. Puts a whole new spin on natural medicine doesn’t it?


6. The Consumer Supreme “I really don’t give an ass” Award – The best example of a Complete Ass.

…And The Ass goes to: Telecom’s Xtra Broadband!
In October 2006 Telecom Xtra “unleashed” the beast – giving us unlimited speed for broadband connections. Since then we’ve been inundated with complaints of slower speeds and frustrating cut outs. Our free online broadband speedtest (www.consumer.org.nz/speedtest) has revealed some users are reduced to slow dial-up speeds on their broadband connections during peak hours.

Adding insult to injury, fed-up broadband customers can’t switch on the telly or radio or open the paper without being confronted by the leering geek-band, the XtraOrdinaries, proclaiming unlimited broadband speeds and no data caps! At least the broadband connections are too slow to download the animated, whiz-bang XtraOrdinaries banners…

Telecom Xtra and other broadband providers blame internet traffic, content-heavy websites, distance from the exchange, information superhighway road hogs, and each other. We’re done with the finger pointing. We just want it fixed.

To find out more about The Consumer Complete Ass awards go to www.consumer.org.nz

ENDS


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