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PA: Attention shoppers.
Tonight on The Checkout...
Craig fights the power... companies.
The Guilty Mum's unforgettable baby memorabilia.
And Facebook, what's not to like?
# Theme music
Last year we warned you about the problems associated
with electricity door-to-door salespeople.
(Electrical current) (Gasps)
But what if you do all the right things?
You've checked the Government comparison sites,
you've checked all the private comparison sites...
Although a word of warning, if you give iSelect your phone number,
you'll have a pushy salesperson on the phone in...
(Mobile phone ringtone)
Comparing electricity contracts requires a mathematical genius.
This one has higher off-peak rates, but higher discount of 10%,
but only if paid on time.
Even if you weigh up the different discounts and exclusions...
(Screams) ..you can still get stung.
Give us some more money. But I've paid my bills.
Well, now we're gonna charge you more.
But I'm on a contract.
I'll save you!
Look, it's the Australian Consumer Law Man.
You can't raise prices mid-contract -
that's unfair under the Australian Consumer Law.
Um, this is an energy contract.
Doesn't apply to energy contracts. As you were.
So while out electricity company can sign you up
for a fixed contract for up to three years,
even though you're locked in, they can increase the price.
So the only people that seem to be benefiting
from the fixed-term contract are the electricity companies.
Nurse! (Electrical current)
Not only can they raise the prices,
they don't have to tell you they've done so
until they send you your next bill.
So you could be in for a bit of bill shock.
Of all the months to get a Large Hadron Collider.
Kids! Turn it off! Get off it!
And even when they do tell you about it,
it isn't always that clear.
Last year Choice gave a Shonky Award to Energy Australia
for telling their customers about a price rise
by printing it on the back of an ad for solar panels.
(Electrical current) Aaah!
Last year some South Australians signed up to an AGL contract
offering a discount of 3%.
But soon after they put the prices up,
so their discount was eroded to 0.4%.
While Origin Energy in South Australia offered a discount of 16%
which actually turned out to be 4% more expensive
than their standard contract.
The ACCC are taking AGL and Origin Energy to court
for misleading consumers.
Although, as with most court cases, it could take years.
(Sighs) Stupid laws.
But the ACCC has said that this year is one of action,
and they're making sure that electricity companies
don't mislead consumers about discounts
will be one of their top priorities.
I'm not sure I would've stood up for that, mate.
Now, here's the bit where we're fair to electricity companies.
Well, we're faced with a lot of uncertainty
in terms of our costs,
and wholesale prices of electricity go up and down
and that's why we should be able to pass it onto the consumers.
I agree. Really?
Yes. Electricity companies do face a lot of changes in circumstances.
As do all of their customers who sometimes get paid more or less
or have a health bill or a school fee,
but no matter what, they don't get to change their price
in the energy contract.
Or do they?
I just wanted to change my fees.
I was thinking of moving it down to 22 cents.
Just this month's been a bit rough for me,
I haven't made as much money this month,
and my direct and indirect costs have changed.
So my wife's birthday was quite expensive. That's this month.
So if I just pay 20 cents, is that alright?
We can get somebody to come out.
Could you get somebody to deal with the bill? That'd be excellent.
G'day, sir. Come to help with the bill?
I just wanted to make sure...
Sorry, can you please stop filming?
We weren't allowed to keep filming,
so here's a recreation of our conversation with AGL.
I was thinking of only paying 18 cents this month instead of 24.
Just because I haven't made as much money this month,
and it states in the contract at 6.2,
'We can change the price at any time.'
I presume that means that either of us can change the price.
Is that right?
But I don't have your contract in front of me!
But all your contracts state that you change the fee.
But we give you notice of what the fee is!
So how do I give you notice that I'm going to change
how much I'm going to pay? (Grunting)
I think you'll find
that you don't have he right to change the contract!
Well, so I don't have the right to change the contract, but you do?!
Yep, that's exactly what happened.
It seems like there's one set of rules for them and one for us,
which is why the Consumer Law Action Centre wants to change the rules
so that during a fixed-term energy contract,
the energy price also has to be fixed.
Good luck to them. Aah! Not again!
Now, we get that the energy market is complex.
But if energy companies really wanna put up their prices,
you should be able to get out of the contract
without paying a termination fee.
Actually, some companies do that.
If you read clause 5.1.1 of Red Energy's contract.
Who the hell is gonna do that? OK, yeah, sure, sure, sure.
This says if they put their prices up above the standard contract,
you can get out of it if you notice and tell them within 20 days.
Yeah, but that means they could offer you a discount of 10%
and then erode that to 1% and you wouldn't be protected.
Oh. Probably should've read it. Oh well.
Oh. (Chuckles) I forgot to pay my electricity bill.
Seriously? Yeah, it's really expensive.
But while we pray for electricity contracts to become fairer...
No thanks, mate. ..what can you do?
Energy Australia offers the opportunity
to rate-fix for a couple of years.
But if you do this, you don't get any of their discounts,
so you should do the maths.
In my case it was $38 more a month.
Origin and Momentum offer plans that freeze the energy part of your plan,
but they do pass on other costs which can increase.
Or you can with Dodo who have no contract,
and you can get out at any time without a fee.
But no matter which plan you go for,
always check how big the termination fee is,
because in energy contracts things can change a lot.
I don't like your advice.
A Minecraft electricity gun? That's not even a real thing.
I could be wrong about that.
MALE VOICE-OVER: Bananas... CHILD: With Nemo!
That's 33% more expensive.
The active ingredient is...
Fishy marketing. You suck, Coles.
And Woolies you do too.
# Looney Tunes theme
As a Guilty Mum,
I wanna capture all the precious moments of my child's life,
even before it's begun.
Which is why I use a belly casting service.
So even when I'm no longer pregnant,
I can rub my baby belly for years to come.
Thanks to the Pregnant Belly Casting Service,
I don't have to lose my baby body.
And now thanks to 3D Babies,
I don't have to lose my baby's body either.
It's a 3D baby doll that represented
what our baby looked like at that age.
Resembling your baby... ish for just $800.
Or in mini-3D for lasting memories at the lowest possible price.
And don't forget the grandparents.
It's a gift they'll never forget.
And when it's finally time to give birth,
I've hired a professional photographer.
So it's lights, camera, contractions all the way.
And it's only costing me $1,900.
I need a hug. Just breathe.
Thanks to an industry leading first,
I've also ordered a photo of the sunrise that broke, well,
somewhere on this special day.
Oh. Get that sunrise too.
..former parking inspector...
Oh, I just wish I had a collage to remember this birth by.
But it's just so hard.
Luckily, someone can make one for...
Oh, that's going straight on the lounge room wall.
Wait. I'll just put this on too.
But I can't take the wall with me everywhere
which is why I've ordered this fingerprint pendant
so my precious is always close to my heart.
And when she's older, I can use it to hack into her iPhone.
Talk to me.
Because I know Daddy's gonna miss our precious girl when he's at work,
I've got him the perfect gift.
Oh, my God. What have they done to my child?
Is there a ransom note?
It's a keepsake that can be proudly displayed on his desk.
Oh, it's a pen-holder.
Ah, so many memories.
And as a Guilty Mum, I'm gonna feel terrible
when my second little angel only has a few Instagram photos to look at.
Look, here's your sister. And another one of her.
VOICE-OVER: Nu Balance Oil-Free Foaming Acne Wash.
WOMAN: Finally! An oil-free face wash.
That's exactly what I...
(Alarm blares) With Tea Tree Oil!
Oil-Free Acne Wash.
Now with oil because:
You trust your friends...
Even if they can be jerks. (Laughs)
With so many advertisers trying to lead you astray...
But according to our tip-off, if you read the fine print,
you'll find that it actually costs 2c more per 100g.
I'm outraged by ALL the companies!
It's no wonder that your friends' opinions
carry the most weight.
84% of people trust recommendations from friends and family.
That's more than any other source.
And the company that turned friendship into a commodity
is making millions selling that trust.
You might have noticed personalised ads appearing in your news feed,
ones your friends appear to have endorsed.
Those ads make up a fair slice
of the $2.3 billion Facebook earned in advertising
in the first three months of this year alone.
Companies love them because attaching a friend's name to an ad
makes you significantly more likely to recognise the brand,
remember the ad and even want to purchase their product.
In other words, Facebook's using you to advertise to your friends
without telling you when it's happening
or paying you for it.
Why would they do this? 'Cause you said that could.
You know how you're always reading
Facebook's entire terms and conditions?
Oh, my God. I can't put them down.
Well, then, you'd remember this classic clause:
Even better on the second read.
That clause opens the door to ads based around the use of this button.
But this is Facebook land
and 'like' doesn't just mean 'like' in Facebookanese.
Yes, I've seen your feet at the beach,
your fancy food,
your stupid baby.
None of us actually like these pictures.
It's just a bloody reflex.
Sometimes, we click the like button because we want to win competitions:
Or to get updates from service providers:
And sometimes, we even click like
because we wanna know what someone we don't like is saying.
Argh! I hate these guys!
I'd better like them so I can hate them harder.
And it's not just if you hit the like button.
If you follow a company's page, say you attend their event
or engage with one of their aps,
Facebook can use your name in their advertising.
Imagine if that's how it worked in the real works.
Did you like everything?
Hey, it's Kirsten and Zoe! They've got great taste.
Let's eat here. Yeah, and take photos of the food.
Then we can put them on Facebook. I so wish I had my baby here.
But Facebook doesn't care WHY you likes something...
And Facebook doesn't care WHEN you liked something.
Let's say broke uni student you clicked like
to win a cheeseburger five years ago...
Free burger! Yes!
Your like could show up on a really famous cheeseburger shop ad
in your friends' news feeds today.
Hey, this burger's still good!
What's even creepier - this could keep happening even after you die.
There have been a number of reports of dead people
continuing to show up as liking companies in ads in the news feed.
Facebook says this can happen if an account doesn't get memorialised.
Which you can do by visiting:
*** it, just google it.
And make sure your next of kin knows
whether to memorialise or delete your Facebook account when you die.
Quick! He's got a medical bracelet!
It says he wants his Facebook page memorialised.
Wait, what's the address? Just google it!
Now, a lot of people have written in to us
claiming that Facebook is running ads endorsed by them
for companies they've never liked.
Facebook said I liked American Express.
It said I liked ING.
Facebook says my sister likes Disney ***.
But every time we've looked into one of these complaints,
it's turned out they HAD actually clicked like.
You can see a list of everything you've ever liked,
and when you did it.
It's in the Facebook Activity Log.
And with just two clicks, you can take a terrifying trip
down memory lane.
I swear I never liked that.
What?! No way!
Facebook says this sometimes happens by accident,
often with a slip of the thumb on the Facebook app
or any app that's connected to Facebook.
That's the excuse I'm going for.
And while you may not remember everything about your past,
the internet never forgets.
Can we get out of here, please?
Although, ads aren't the worst things
your friends can subject you to.
# If you wanna be my lover
# You gotta get with my friends
# Make it last forever
# Friendship never ends... #
Yes, it does.
And you can end your work as an unpaid salesperson on Facebook.
For now, you can do this by visiting Facebook's adverts page.
Click 'settings' and then click 'adverts'.
And change your adverts and friends settings
from 'only my friends' to 'no-one'.
Here's the current link:
Go change your settings.
Seriously - do it now. We'll wait.
Well, I'm kind of over it. They can pause this, can't they?
Yeah. Pause now.
If you can hear this, you didn't press pause.
Kirsten, what if they pressed pause and then play again later?
(Beep) Siri? Unfriend Zoe.
To see this link again, please visit thecheckout.net.au
Or visit our Facebook page.
I'm Dee Madigan
and I've worked in the advertising industry for 18 years.
If I could say one thing,
it's talk to your children about how advertising works.
Until about five years of age,
kids can't distinguish advertising from program content,
so if they see a character they like,
they think it's part of the show they're watching.
That's why advertising to kids is so powerful.
We're exposed to around 5,000 advertising images a day
from TV to billboards to magazines to computer banner ads,
and you can't shield your kids from them all.
But what you can do is explain to your kids
that ads are made to sell things,
that products look more exciting than they really are,
and that the kids in ads are paid to look happy.
And once your kids get more used to ads,
you can ask them to identify the tricks
they think the advertisers are using
to make the product look attractive.
Talking about advertising can actually be a way
to teach kids to become critical thinkers.
Advertisers are already talking to our kids
about their products, so we should be too.
# EASY-GOING MUZAK
JAMES DYSON: A fan. Nothing much wrong there.
Well, actually, there is.
The design's hardly changed since 1890.
Spinning blades chop the air, causing annoying buffeting.
# OMINOUS MUSIC
Turn it off...
..and you realise how unsettling it's been.
From the looks of the scene, the deceased must have been buffeted,
then annoyed, then unsettled by the fan, leading to his untimely death.
His last moments must have been agony.
Get that thing out of there,
and for God's sake, don't switch it on!
Welcome to FU Tube, the segment where...
It's all in our terms and conditions.
We start this week with Stephen.
For his wedding, he got a vacuum flask,
which came with a lifetime warranty.
To have and to hold as long as you both shall live.
While the marriage has lasted, the flask hasn't.
And Stephen asks, 'What does lifetime warranty actually mean?'
That's a good question. Is it the lifetime of the purchaser?
Does this have a lifetime warranty?
For you? Sure.
Or the lifetime of the product? Or something else entirely?
Like this IceTV lifetime subscription,
which is for the life of your TV recorder
or up to a maximum of five years.
How long have I got, doc?
Let's just say you should buy an IceTV lifetime subscription.
First of all, Stephen, no matter what the lifetime warranty says,
no contract can overrule Australian Consumer Law guarantees.
One of them is that products will be of acceptable quality,
and that includes being reasonably durable.
But if buying a product is a marriage,
a warranty is a bit like a prenup -
an extra set of commitments that parties can enter into
in case something goes wrong.
But you promised you'd always keep things hot and steamy.
He says he tired of your constant drinking.
So what does 'lifetime warranty' mean?
Well, the answer, and there are absolutely no exceptions to this is
Different businesses define lifetime warranty in different ways.
Some say lifetime means the life of the purchaser,
which of course isn't much use if your life depends on the product.
That safety catch is guaranteed for the rest of...
How can I help you?
Many of these warranties don't cover wear and tear,
so you can't replace a product for scratches or dents,
but if the product stops working before you die,
the lifetime warranty should apply,
even if it wears out from normal use.
Some businesses say 'lifetime warranty'
means 'the lifetime of the product' -
in other words, until the product dies,
which seems like a self-serving concept.
A product is under warranty until it wears out.
You see, the warranty lasts the lifetime of the product,
so by breaking, it voided its own warranty.
I think you'll find this explains everything.
The ACCC has taken legal action over some lifetime warranties
that it said were misleading and deceptive.
Like the Holden dealer whose...
VOICE-OVER: ..free extended lifetime mechanical warranty...
..only lasted for...
VOICE-OVER: 175,000km or $3,000 worth of claims.
A jeweller whose...
VOICE-OVER: ..unconditional lifetime guarantee...
..had a fairly significant condition.
VOICE-OVER: Products below 18% of RRP will void all warranty.
Sales people can't exaggerate warranties either.
In 2013, a bed manufacturer was fined
in part because the salesperson overstated the value
of a lifetime warranty.
So, Stephen, is your ten-year-old flask under its lifetime warranty?
It depends, but we reckon it is.
I think I just explained the meaning of life.
Well, that was disappointing.
Still on the topic of faulty goods, Cass got in touch because...
Some Duracell batteries had leaked inside my bathroom scales
and caused them to break.
Sorry to hear your batteries weren't double-A standard.
(Ironic drum roll)
But they clearly weren't acceptable quality,
and under the Consumer Law, you can seek compensation
for any consequential loss or associated damage you suffer,
as long as the loss was reasonably foreseeable.
The batteries leaked, so my scales broke.
And that's how the monkey stole my tractor.
But Duracell disagreed.
Duracell refused to take any responsibility...
Because these particular batteries were grey, or parallel, imports.
Parallel imports are genuine products,
They're just not part of the official distribution channel for Australia.
Duracell actually admitted that Woolies and Coles
had been known to sell their parallel-imported products.
Woolworths reportedly has a parallel importing division
that sources products like deodorant overseas.
So at Woolies, Lynx Africa could really be from Africa.
Parallel importing is legal,
but the products are sometimes poorer quality
than stuff made for the Australian market.
As another FU Tuber, James, found out from Oral B.
We can't show you his face on television,
but the Oral B toothbrush heads James bought in Australia
were parallel imports,
and they broke off in his mouth.
James wrote to Procter and Gamble,
which owns Oral B.
By the way, they own Duracell too.
They admitted to James that parallel imports...
VOICE-OVER: May not meet local regulations
or consumer expectations.
It is the responsibility of the seller to manage any complaints.
So if you buy a parallel import...
..especially without realising...
BOTH: ..who's responsible for issues with the product?
Well, for starters, an Australian shop that sells parallel imports
is definitely the supplier under the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC says retailers should disclose to consumers
anything that's different about parallel imports
from what they'd normally expect of those brands.
But should Duracell or Oral B
be able to wipe their hands of parallel imports.
Cass says no.
I just think this is so unfair.
I think that companies should take responsibility for their products
no matter where in the world they're sold.
You're not alone in thinking that, Cass.
But Procter and Gamble Australia didn't actually make these products.
But for a company that says the only way to do business
is by doing what's right,
we think, putting aside all the legalities,
Procter and Gamble could probably afford to replace Cass's scales
and James' toothbrush,
given it was their products that caused the problem.
Isn't that right, James?
Finally tonight, remember Abbey who was...
..really not happy...
..about the monthly fee for the...
..Telstra, Telstra, Telstra...
A few people connected to Telstra were...
..really not happy...
..about the piece, firstly 'cause Jules said 'prepaid'
when Abbey's complaint was actually about a monthly contract.
He also said...
And, if you don't send Telstra your old phone,
which probably doesn't happen that much with lost or stolen phones,
there's a device non-return fee.
Telstra tell us that this is wrong,
and it's great they've clarified that,
because the StayConnected terms and conditions
don't give that impression.
So, for the record, Telstra says,
Telstra StayConnected customers who lose their phone or have it stolen
are not required to pay a device non-return fee.
Thanks. And don't worry, Telstra. Jules has been dealt with.
(Telstra advert music plays) Make it stop, please!
Please make it stop!
Thanks for watching another episode of The Checkout,
and remember, everything we say on FU Tube has a lifetime warranty
that's valid till the end of the segment.
Captions by CSI Australia