September 2021

Independent & Member Funded, CHOICE® is here to Ensure Australian Consumers Get a Fair Go. Avoid A Costly Mistake With Our Rigorous Lab Testing For Your Next Purchase. Unbiased Reviews. Over 5,000 Products. Unbiased Expert Advice.

Australian Consumers' Association Ltd.
$9.99 per month after trial

in this issue

2 min
grounded in reality

When I was a kid, travel largely consisted of road trips. With no competition between airlines, air travel was expensive. I could count on one hand the number of times I caught a plane before I turned 18. The introduction of competition between airlines – especially within Australia – changed that. By the time I finished university, I was flying between Sydney and the north coast of New South Wales for semester breaks on cheap flights, rather than taking overnight coaches. In the years since, most of us have become pretty nonchalant about flying, whether for a business day trip, weekend away or overseas break. I’ve had plenty of days where I’ve spent more time in transit than at my destination, especially when travelling for work. Now that air travel is temporarily out…

2 min
viagogo up to its old tricks

It’s been a long road of shameless consumer abuse for Viagogo. And now, after a dip in consumer complaints when COVID-19 hit, it seems the ticket reseller is returning to its previous poor form. Viagogo first came to our attention for dodgy practices in 2016, leading to a particularly well-deserved Shonky Award for ripping off event-goers with inflated ticket prices and for making it all but impossible to get in touch and get a refund. In 2018, NSW made the kind of ticket scalping that’s Viagogo’s stock in trade illegal, ruling that ticket resellers could charge no more than 10% above the original ticket price. In 2020, Viagogo copped a $7 million fine in the Federal Court in a case brought by the ACCC. “Viagogo misled thousands of consumers into buying tickets at…

1 min
lorna jane feels the burn for bogus ‘anti-virus’ claim

The Federal Court has ordered activewear company Lorna Jane to pay $5 million in penalties after making false and misleading claims to customers that its clothes provide protection from COVID-19. Throughout July 2020, the company told consumers through advertising that its LH Shield Activewear “eliminated” and protected wearers from viruses, “including COVID-19”. ACCC chair Rod Sims says the company put out the ads against a backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases in Australia. “The whole marketing campaign was based upon consumers’ desire for greater protection against the global pandemic,” he says. “The $5 million in penalties imposed by the court highlights the seriousness of Lorna Jane’s conduct, which the judge called ‘exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous’.” The company admitted that it had no scientific basis for making the claim, and that director and chief…

1 min
onepath life pays back customers $40m

More than 40,000 customers who were sold OnePath life insurance policies over the phone between 2010 and 2016 are due a total of $40 million in remediation payments following an Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation into the company’s sales tactics. The tactics included pressure selling, failing to give information about key policy exclusions and leading consumers to believe that the salesperson was calling from ANZ Bank with a special customer offer. (At the time of the sales calls, OnePath was owned by ANZ.) ASIC deputy chair Karen Chester says the investigation uncovered “egregious sales practices, with tens of thousands of consumers paying for products they did not want, did not need, or were not suitable for them”. Chester also points out that thousands of customers who’ve been contacted by OnePath about…

1 min
choice travel recommendations backed by industry player

In July, CHOICE published a report called Consumer Protection for Australian Travellers: A Plan for Clarity, Consistency and Fairness. Based on analysis of more than 4400 consumer experiences of travel cancellations, we recommend seven things the federal and state governments could do to restore consumer confidence in the Australian travel sector. In a welcome but surprising development, regional airline Rex has come out in support of these recommendations. Rex deputy chair, the Hon John Sharp AM, says, “Rex fully supports CHOICE’s calls for the federal and state governments to implement easier travel refunds, minimum voucher/credit rights, a mandatory industry code for all airlines and large travel providers, and a travel and tourism industry ombudsman.” Rex, which is in a long-running dispute with Qantas, offers a ‘COVID Refund Guarantee’, which guarantees a full…

1 min
time to drop your health extras?

With lockdowns becoming a part of life in large swathes of the country, it’s a good idea to consider if your extras insurance is giving you value for money. Perhaps you signed up for health insurance to avoid the government’s Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading? Well, your insurer may have ‘forgotten’ to tell you that government surcharges only apply if you don’t have private hospital insurance. This means you don’t need extras to avoid these surcharges. Although health funds usually promote combined hospital and extras insurance policies, you may only need hospital health insurance, or extras cover – or even no health insurance at all. Unlike hospital insurance, which covers you for treatment in hospital, extras insurance pays benefits for services outside the hospital system, such as…