On 3 May 2018, Choice® updated its review of personal alarms. Six months ago, we made Choice® aware that Australia’s newest personal alarm (the iHelp) was one to consider in a future review. Since then, the iHelp has been nominated Best Product of 2018 as awarded by Assistive Technology Suppliers Australasia.
Nevertheless Choice® chose to ignore the iHelp Personal Mobile alarm.
It’s surprising to read in their opening paragraph: “We lab test and review the latest models” when, most of the ten products tested were the same ones they tested in their original February 2017 review and all of them have been around since before that time. With the variety of mobile-style personal alarms in the Australian market, it’s extraordinary that six of the ten Choice® tested were all the identical product coming out of the same factory, but from different sellers. And yet the same product scored between 50% to 91%.
The real intrigue starts with their “lab testing. . . of criteria chosen by [their] experts.” When comparing their tests of the same model (what we call the FD), there are curious anomalies. A couple examples include:
Water resistance – Three sellers show a rating of IP67, two are listed as IPX5 (IP65), and one shows IP66. The manufacturer’s website shows the actual waterproof rating to be IP65. Is it coincidence that the Choice rating is identical with that listed on the sellers’ websites?
Telco we tested on – While Telstra was the network tested, Optus and Vodafone are also shown. Three sellers show “No” for Vodafone, but the other three all show “Yes”. One seller shows “No” for Optus, but the other five all show “Yes”. However the FD comes in either 850/1900 MHz or 900/2100 MHz. Telstra uses the 850 frequency band and Optus uses the 900 MHz band. Since Choice® tested only on the Telstra network, how could they know to put yes or no for the other networks? Particularly when some sellers only offer units for the Telstra network.
One “lab tested criteria” Choice® recently deleted had shown that one seller’s FD worked on the 4G network while the other five used only the 3G network. Since we were the ones who first introduced the FD into the Australian market four years ago, we know it is a 3G unit. We can only guess that Choice® removed that criteria point after we brought to their attention the lengthy list of misinformation in their article.
It’s readily apparent that Choice® did not lab test all the points they claimed but rather took information directly from the seller or their website. Even specification errors as basic as the dimensions of the FD range from 13mm in thickness to 17mm.
We are astounded that a publication with the stature of Choice® should add to the confusion of Australian consumers by contributing to the damaging spread of misinformation that already exists on many personal alarm seller’s websites.