Oh, Kogan, you have done it again, and again, and again

Kogan
SBA

Online merchant Kogan (ASX:KGN) received 25 NSW Fair Trading complaints in December 2019 and more than 273 in 2019 – and that is just NSW complaints. Oh, if you count 2018, it is 753 complaints.

How can Kogan continue to get away with it?

Well Belarusian immigrant Ruslan Kogan, born November 1982 (Kogan website here) is well known to the tech media and not necessarily as a ‘hail fellow well met’. More than a few of us have unfortunate memories from various Kickstart Forums (IT media) – let’s leave it at that.

Kogan

So why is Kogan on the nose and who is Dick Smith?

The NSW Department of Fair Trading publishes figures for complaints over the past 24 months. Kogan has the most complaints – 382 about quality of Electrical, Electronic, Whitegoods and Gas Appliances, 151 smartphone complaints, 32 laptops, 18 electrical, 15 homewares and 15 cameras. action camera and drones.

Over 250 of these were about merchantable quality (not meeting stated quality), 39 for late supply, 16 for refund hassles, and 11 for misrepresentation of uses/features.

Kogan got #1 spot on the complaints chart

But Kogan also owns the trading name of Dick Smith (poor Dick regrets that). It shares the same administration, warehouse, staff etc. – it is just another online outlet. It had 22 complaints (over two months) and 13 were for mobile phones (quality of the goods) and late supply.


Are its products any good?

You must remember that Kogan house brand products are cheap. Just over half of the products are ‘private-label’ goods. So, the term ‘good’ is subjective. Are they fit for purpose? Do they have failure rates higher than the norm? We don’t know because we have been refused review units.

When we have seen Kogan Atlas laptops, the results have been less than impressive. In one case it lasted precisely seven days and getting service took nearly six months before the unit died at 13 months – just out of warranty.

Late last year my brother bought a Kogan 58” 4K Series 9 TV. He was under the impression it was a Samsung Series 9 panel. I do not know how or why, but there are frequent web references to Samsung panels on Kogan TVs. In fact, Samsung won a court battle pointing out that Kogan TVs are not the same as Samsung TVs.

Kogan
Note Series 9 – Same terminology as used by Samsung

When I saw it over Xmas the colour was poor, brightness was low, and it was slow, ever so slow. It froze when changing channels.

A quick call to support elicited the trite response. “Your room is too bright – draw the curtains!”


The website specs stated edge-lit, 300 nits, 5000:1 brightness, HDR10. Further investigation revealed it has a Panda CC575PU1L screen – a very low-cost Chinese panel that barely measures an uneven 300nits (from 300 at the bottom edge to 258 at the top) and contrast was barely 1000:1 due to poor black levels). Its claimed 71% NTSC gamma was barely half the DCI-P3 movie gamut so in no way could it do HDR10.

A reboot and reset of Android TV got it going again. In my professional opinion as a TV reviewer, I have never seen such a poor 4K image for what cost $799 plus delivery (now $599 plus delivery). But hey, it is cheap!

What has Kogan got to hide?

Kogan refuses to allow GadgetGuy, Choice or other reputable ‘deep-dive’ review sites to review its products. It allows the tame ones and most of these reviews are well out of date! We can only surmise that its products would not stand up to thorough scrutiny, yet its PR company pours out copious good news stories (we simply relegate them to junk).

Grey/Parallel imports and refurbished

In the smartphone arena, most of the phones are not Australian certified (C-Tick). Rather they are imported from international resellers allowing Kogan to undercut the genuine certified Australian product. The dead giveaways are that the phone has an international pin charger (not AU), is often shrink-wrapped, often lacks the essential LTE Band 28 for Telstra, and does not come with Australian warranty.


As proof of parallel importing Kogan is neither an Authorised Apple or Samsung reseller and both companies refuse to honour the warranty on phones sold via Kogan. We can’t politely repeat what some of the other brands that it grey markets say!

If you buy from this source be wary of so-called ‘international’ models and refurbished models mean that it is second hand.

Refunds and service

Respected consumer group Choice says Kogan is making refunds harder than they should be. Its test case was refused money back, in contravention of consumer law. A Kogan whistle-blower says such conduct is standard procedure. A fascinating read.

The ACCC lists 89 results for Kogan infringements including an ongoing Federal Court case alleging that Kogan made false or misleading representations about a 10% discount promotion, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. “We allege that Kogan’s advertisements were likely to have caused consumers to think they were getting products below their usual prices. In fact, Kogan had inflated product prices which we say created a false impression of the effective discount,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

Kogan reviews – fact or fantasy

Independent TrustPilot has 2,750 reviews averaging 2.5 stars out of 5. But the story is more than 43% gave it one star (less if they could) and 40% gave it five stars. Fakespot cannot analyse TrustPilot reviews, but we looked very closely at the repetition of words. For every complaint about service and quality, a corresponding one appears praising Kogan to the high heavens.


Kohan

Product review has 8,795 listings, and 2,710 of those are one star. Surprising is the almost absence of any 2, 3- or 4-star ratings and very few verified customers.

SiteJabber only has 53 reviews, but 42 are one star.

Even Kogan’s own First Members could only leave 51 reviews over the past year – most one-liners were overwhelmingly positive.

It seems Kogan wants to control reviews on its site.

Kogan claims four million unit sales in the past 12 months

Sure, Kogan could argue that 382 complaints (in NSW alone) are a drop in the bucket.

And it has diversified into internet, mobile, energy, credit cards, super, travel, insurance (pet, life and health), and cars.

Despite that the stock is taking a beating down from $8.08 to $5.03 – what do shareholders know?

Kogan share

You can read more at its Wikipedia entry

GadgetGuy’s take – Kogan – more smoke equals more fire equals more unhappy clients

It is called Caveat Emptor – buyer beware. We can’t stress enough that all online shopping carries a far more substantial risk that bricks and mortar stores. We can’t stress enough that the aggravation of dealing with many online merchants – slow delivery, inferior quality product, misrepresentation and scams – make this venture one for the brave or foolish.


Kogan or Bogam
  1. Early days of Kogan about 2007 I purchased a small TV for my bedroom, rarely used it lasted 13 months, figured it was bad luck, 2009 purchased a GPS it started showing signs of problems 2 weeks short of a year, a week after warranty it died, I was repeatedly told it’s out of warranty, we can’t help you, anything badged Kogan is complete trash to this day, have been following them since and the amount of poor quality goods badged Kogan that last just out of warranty is abysmal, it almost seems deliberate, yet it would cost the same to sell something that lasted, if you want cheaper but decent there’s other brands out there, both TV’s from a cheaper Aus company (Soniq) have lasted, one to the point where it was so out of date I gave it away.

    1. I am gobsmacked about the volume of readers complaints about this company. Point is case in early December 2019 my brother bought a Kogan 4K TV that was allegedly a re-badged Samsung – it even had the same model number and series. It was a crap TV anyway using a cheap Chinese ‘Panda’ panel and not one ounce of Samsung about it. He tried to return it but Kogan’s helpful people told him to f’off (yes they said that). In December 2021 it stopped working – 12 days out of warranty. Another cal to Kogan receive a similar response. Consumer Affairs sympathised but said that there was nothing they could do.

  2. Ordered for two packs of undergarments and a jacket. Undergarment packs were delivered 4 days apart, contacted customer care after first delivery. They delivered a third pack of under garments and no jacket in sight, am frustrated that they do not have a phone number to contact even, so that i can at least explain over the phone. Its over 25 days and not received any response, have contacted them again hope they respond

  3. The Help desk that could not help
    5 day delivery turned into more than 3 weeks, when the 55″ TV did arrive it had a severely cracked screen, Kogan were notified regards the crack on delivery, the delivery issue took 10 emails to the no help desk where we received absolutely no help. now going on 4 weeks we are again dealing with the no help desk once more having the same result, none, I notice on this mornings news Ruslan Kogan has now $535,000,000 of which $539 is mine, which was paid under false pretences as I still have no TV and the NO HELP desk is living up to it’s name. 1 star is about 4 too many from my personal experience.

  4. Another update – the Dyson box has the genuine Dyson charger, so maybe the Kogan one was sent as an extra or by accident?? Anyway, everything seems to be in order thankfully.
    I still will be buying my next appliances from a shop.

    1. Aaaaand I’m back again with another update… the serial number is a US one, so I could only register it in the US. I rang Dyson Australia – they said they get calls like mine from people who buy Dyson products from Kogan all the time. They are not (as you said) a preferred Australian reseller, so they get around this by importing from other countries. It’s still a genuine Dyson and Dyson Australia will still grant all warranties, however, as opposed to Australian serial-numbered Dyson pieces, they will not just send out a new part/product – I will have to instead take it to their main service – luckily for me, that’s only a 15 min drive me. He also said to use my genuine Dyson charger, but get a US connector for it. Don’t use the Kogan one. Catastrophe averted; very big lesson learned.

      1. I am gobsmacked at how Kogan gets away with it. A complete disregard for the truth and absolutely no morals in ripping customers off. Fortunately its not as bad as grey market phones that barely work here.

  5. So, I ordered a cordless Dyson Vacuum cleaner from Kogan. Was surprised I received 2 separate shipping notifications – one for the product and a separate one for the charger. The charger just arrived – it’s kogan-branded. The vacuum itself is still in transit. I went to the Dyson web-site and low and behold, “Only by using genuine Dyson parts are you ensuring that your machine continues to work as intended, and that your guarantee remains intact. In addition, each part or tool is guaranteed for 12 months.”. Great so what I’ve paid $700 for won’t be covered by Dyson, and after reading this article, the charger may make my product faulty AND I don’t even know if the vacuum cleaner is going to be genuine either AND it sounds like I’m going to have a lot of trouble returning/reviewing this. I checked the information really carefully before I ordered to make sure I was buying NEW and not re-serviced or whatever. Really frustrating.

    1. Sorry to hear this. Kogan/Dick Smith et al work on the principle there is no such thing as a free lunch. To sell cheap means to buy cheap and that is mainly via grey/parallel market, repairs/refurbs, auctions, end-of-line dregs, or fallen of the back of the production line. Approved retailers that offer genuine Dyson warranty are Harvey Norman, Bing Lee, The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi, David Jones and Myer. Some products go via Big W and Betta. List/map here https://support.dyson.com.au/shop/find-a-retailer.aspx Kogan is not an approved Dyson reseller and I suggest you cancel the order and get your money back.

    2. Update on this – the Dyson product arrived – it’s genuine with all the warranty information, etc. I’m just going to have to order a genuine Dyson charger to be safe! Next time, I will just go to a shop if I need an appliance 🙂

  6. Kogan and/or sub-sellers are supplying illegal and unsafe power adapters with international devices. Importer must supply safe and certified electrical equipment.
    These ones are not certifies, don’t have insulation on the pins and they allow an earth connection on the device but don’t provide on on the pin, and the spark when used.
    Throw the adapter away and buy one in Aus.

    1. You are totally correct. Apart from the pin insulation issue the adapters are not generally RCM approved either. We have had two near catastrophes with unapproved chargers. Because the merchants are not Australian companies they jsut thumb their noses at our laws and safety.

  7. I am not a Koganite. I have purchased some items over the years, and not had any problems.(NO TV’s). With regards the smartphones, because they are grey/gray imports, they are made by legit manufacturers. They are not fake, I believe. It seems the only reason that the manufacturers will not warrant the products is due to resellers here in OZ. Missing out on phone sales. I can’t believe that the large phone manufacturers would let inferior products on the market. BAD for publicity.
    I had purchased a CPAP device from RESMED, a very reputable co. If I purchased their device from the USA, they would not warrant the device. The device works with all voltages. The device is made in OZ, and the same device is $1k cheaper in USA. WHY? because local resellers would not be able to make their large markups. Same for any device made overseas. If an electronic device is “shit” it will fail.
    My car guru, John Cadogan (AutoExpert) said don’t buy a Range Rover $100k, because it broke down after 200 kms. I try my best to research a product before buying. With all the phoney reviews it can get quite hard. My best advice is don’t rush to buy an item. AND remember if it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. Or whatever the saying is. p.s. During early Covid-19, Kogan was selling hand sanitiser for $90 per litre. Did the ACCC do anything about that? Regards

    1. We have a duty to Australian readers to provide consumer advice. Kogan is one supplier that is a recidivist on the NSW Dept of Fair Trading Naughty list.As far as TVs go the issue mentioned was the claim that they were Samsung even using similar model names.Later that claim was changed to Samsung panels when they used very much inferior no-name Chinese panels. The issue on phones is that every country uses different 4G LTE bands and too many grey imports are from China or Hong Kong and don’t support Band 28. https://www.gadgetguy.com.au/4g-band-28-dont-buy-a-smartphone-or-modem-without-it/
      As for price differences – we can’t comment. Let’s just say that if Australian retailers did not make a reasonable margin we would not have any Australian retailers.

  8. Completely agree. As a family we’ve bought a number of mobile phones (among other stuff) and their electronics (incl the brand names listed) are always not quite right. I reccon they get electronics that haven’t passed every quality check but is close enough & too hard to diagnose. So what you end up with is a phone that reboots more than normal, battery isn’t quite right, charging port questionable, etc etc. I’d never buy another Kogan phone in particular. Good luck to them for doing so well but I’d recommend paying a bit more for items not coming from Unknownistan.

    1. Libel laws preclude me from saying more. That a grey marketer can thrive, make enough money to float on the stock exchange is beyond my comprehension.

    1. Best of luck to you. Shares in all on-line merchants have skyrocketed due to COVID. The question is whether they will remain so if we ever get back to normal shopping. In Kogan’s case, we are more concerned about poor service and quality than the share price. Call it ethical investing.

    2. How how much more would they be worth if the company sold quality goods and looked after their customers? you lost out on that extra value! … you know, like Apple, who sell quality goods, have repeat loyal customers who talk positively about the company, instead Kogan has people like me, who contently warn others about the companies goods and practices.

      1. You are so right – do the right thing and money follows. Obviously Kogan’s marketing gurus believe its better to make a fast buck than keep customers.

  9. Kogan knows that even if he gets “done” by the ACCC he’ll only get fined about $30000, small fry for what he makes with his “scams”. In fact I believe that’s happened a few times. Make a million, get fined $30000, good deal.

  10. Just got scammed by Kogan, whish I had read this article before… but we really only spend time to research once the shit is done

  11. I have been quite happy with my Kogan purchases but my purchases have not been electronic devices. I bought a pair of sneakers, a rug, some bedding and most recently, a lawnmower. I bought a large garden umbrella late last year that broke on first use and they refunded me without delay. So far so good.

    The thing that gave me pause is that after buying the lawnmower – which I am very happy with – I decided to leave a review. After all, reading the reviews played a big part in deciding to purchase that particular lawnmower and I wanted to relay my positive experience. But, here’s the catch – I can’t leave a review. There’s no link or button to click on that says ‘Leave a review’ or ‘review this product’. Even though I’m a verified buyer it’s just not possible. I was trying to find independent info on “How to leave a review on the Kogan website’ that led me to this article. Now I wonder who wrote the other reviews and whether they’re genuine or not.

    I looked up the Help section on the Kogan website but of course there’s no useful info so I submitted a question to the Help Team asking for info on how to leave a review. I’ve not yet had a response and am beginning to doubt I never will.

    1. If you go to “Order History” and rate the product, you will be provided with the option to write a review.

  12. I bought a Kogan SIM, which was very cheap for 5gb of free data, but I could never register the SIM. None of the help numbers answered and there was no responsive online support. A few bucks thrown down the drain, this is no doubt the Kogan business model.

    1. While Kogan relies on people never activating SIMs spare a thought for the entire gift card industry where around 30% never use the gift card and there are millions of dollars in ‘upfront’ money for the gift card operators. A sham or a scam – either way.

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