Category Archives: Scams

Personalised Plates Queensland (PPQ) – Idiocracy in upgrading personalised plates to European plates

Changing over a standard personalised plate to a Euro plate sounds pretty straightforward, five minutes on the PPQ website and it’s all done right? Nope.

What is the difference between these two plates as far as readability goes? Nothing so why can’t you directly upgrade from one to the other?

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

For some reason the Department of Transport has declared that you cannot upgrade your standard personalised plate directly to a Euro plate as it’s a different class and you have to remove your personalised plates from your vehicle and fit temporary ones whilst waiting for the new plates to arrive. All other plate upgrades with the same combination of letters and numbers can take place whilst your plates are on the vehicle so why not the Euro plate upgrade?

The best part is that they won’t tell you this until you’ve wasted half a day chasing it up! You get an obscure error on the website, online chat tells you it’s a security measure and you need to call to make payment at which time they will try and sell you a new personalised European plate!

The Story

This is where this story starts, I hope this helps someone else out as PPQ are too inept to place this information on their website and the Department of Transport are too stupid to realise that their requirements make no sense but who will actually stand up and fix the problem? No-one but we’ll stuff around people and waste a heap of their time for no reason other than we can.

My wife’s personalised plates had deteriorated thanks to poor manufacturing but were outside the warranty period of seven years so upgrading them to Euro plates was on the cards.

So the journey starts on the PPQ website, even if you’re logged in and all your information is in your account you have to re-enter it all again as you go through the process but OK it’s a government site* and it’s to be expected. Get to the end, press the payment button to take you to the payment screen and it flashes up success but quickly it goes to an error.

 

 

 

 

*PPQ is actually a pretend government site and is run by a third party.
Registered trade mark of Publicis Red Lion Pty Ltd trading as Publicis Personalised Plates and Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, the operators of Personalised Plates Queensland.

The error is generic and so I go back and check everything and I do this seven times trying different combinations of details (I was ordering these for my wife’s vehicle) and checking all the details were correct.

Online chat is available so I jump onto there and I’m the only person in the queue but I have to wait seven minutes?!?! And wait seven minutes I did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a copy of the chat  (spelling errors corrected and names removed)

PPQ Wed, 03/14/18 11:25:05 am Australia/Queensland
Hello and welcome to PPQ.COM.AU. How may I assist you?

Me 11:26:25 am
Hi, trying to order plate upgrade and keep getting error at the payment step of Specified plate detail must be valid
1-Request

PPQ 11:31:14 am
i can see your upgrade in our system, to continue the order you will need to call us on 136 356

Me 11:31:28 am
Why?

PPQ 11:31:57 am
once an order has come through our system due to an error with the order on your side, the only way to complete the payment is by calling us

Me 11:33:10 am
Couldn’t you spend some of the $215 for a plate upgrade on a decent system that works? Can you delete the order and I’ll replace the order when I get time.

PPQ 11:33:58 am
whilst i appreciate the feedback, i am unable to delete the order without over the phone confirmation of identity. if you wish to continue an upgrade you will need to call us, the process is quick and shouldnt take longer than 5 minutes

Me 11:36:17 am
Forget it, that makes no sense and is totally illogical. On another note why don’t you offer other payment options? The only option is payment by credit card and you charge a surcharge on that payment option.

PPQ 11:38:17 am
we are only trying to protect your security of your plates, this is why we have these protective measures in place. otherwise it would be very easy for someone to fake your identity, order the plates and then complete illegal actions with your number plate.

all of our payments are sent directly to the department of transport and this is the payment method they provide us with

Me 11:40:17 am
I’ve put all my details in including my home address for delivery. Why would anyone order a different design of plates to be sent to their address using a credit card when you could just remove them from a car in 60 seconds? Makes no sense at all.

PPQ 11:41:21 am
We provide these security measures for you safety, to protect any possible way that people could enact fraudulent activity. We are only doing this for your safety, not to provide you with inconvenience

Me 11:43:50 am
So why don’t you say that with the error message instead of making me go back into my order and going through it all again and trying again to be told there is an error in what I’ve done? This makes no sense at all and is just crap. So much for being able to order plate upgrades as a gift if your system doesn’t allow it with all the correct details entered.
Department of Transport offers BPAY with no surcharge, you offer no options without a surcharge. Why do you think that consumer laws don’t apply to you? The price you advertise is not the price you pay so I’ll be putting a complaint into the ACCC.
11:45:11 am
Anyway thanks for wasting my morning.

Chat Terminated.

A complaint is filed with the ACCC at 12:09 over the issues with the surcharge and the advertised price being unobtainable (Reference: accc-enquiry:154474) but I have no doubts that the ACCC will do nothing.

At 12:33 I send an enquiry via the PPQ website.

I’d like to know how many times REDESIGN plates have been ordered via your website which have subsequently been used for criminal activities (ie by someone who is not the plate holder).

A reply is received at 13:21

Hi Matthew McDonald

Thank you for your email enquiry

Unfortunately I am unable to provide this information as I would need more clarification into your inquiry.

Please be aware when purchasing via our website the path to purchase does require the customer to provide details that match the current registered owners details. This includes their drivers license number (CRN) as well as full name, address and current combination on the plates.

If you wish to discuss this further please do not hesitate to send me an email at yyyyy.xxxxxxxx@gmail.com

Thank you and I look forward to speaking with you

To reply to this email, please click here. Please do not reply to this email directly from your email client as it is sent from an un-monitored email address.

Thank you
The PPQ Team

My wife calls PPQ at 16:25 to pay for the plates, she explains the situation and that the order is there but needs to be paid for, they go off and talk to someone else and come back to her with a $775 figure (this is for new Euro plates), that she has to go to the Department of Transport, get temporary plates fitted and the existing plates removed, wait two weeks, return to the Department of Transport and have the temporary plates removed, drive home with no plates on and fit the plates. My wife who only wanted to pay gave up at this stage (16:35).

16:39 and I call PPQ to try and make sense of this, I explain to her what has happened and she said that you cannot order an upgrade plate to Euro plates as the Department of Transport does not permit this as the plates are different classes (WTF?) so you have to visit the Department of Transport and remove your personalised plates, get temporary plates, order the plates (which you may or may not be able to do online), wait for the plates to arrive, go back to the Department of Transport, hand in the plates, drive home without plates and fit your personalised plates at home. On top of all the expense in time you also have to pay $27.50 for regular plates. I asked why? This makes no sense? Both plates have the same combination of letters and numbers on there so what difference does it make? The only response is that the Department of Transport has a different class allocated to the plate but you can remake your plate with the same combination to other designs without a problem. (And this is the problem with the system – this is beyond stupid but no-one will say anything or do anything to correct this).

The issue of the advice that I had been given on chat is raised but no apology is forthcoming and why is there no mention of this ANYWHERE on their website and apparently it’s because not enough people have this issue so they don’t mention it on the website! Maybe they all give up after the errors? However because of all the time that I’ve wasted she will forward this upwards to management for consideration of changes to the website. I asked why aren’t the Euro plates discounted to cover the additional costs and no answer is forthcoming.

At 16:48 I’d had enough so thanked them* and terminated the call.

*What else can you do? I didn’t feel like thanking them.

The Department of Transport and PPQ are inept organisations that only exist to extort money and time through the provision of terrible service and miles of red tape. There is no justification for not allowing an upgrade to a Euro plate without having to remove the existing plates and there is no defence for the failure of PPQ to communicate this. PPQ would not exist in the real world, it’s only through their extortionate prices for products that cost them tens of dollars that they are able to sustain themselves. There is no reason why PPQ has to exist as a private company outside of the Department of Transport, how much does it cost to run PPQ compared to running it internally? How much does this cost the purchasers of personalised plates? And why do we have to pay so much to replace a personalised plate when it’s failed outside the short 5 to 7 year warranty because of manufacturing defects, is it reasonable that the government profits to the tune of hundreds of dollars?

In Germany getting a European plate made costs you 20 euros which you can do at any of the many private businesses that create them generally located near the Kfz-Zulassungsstelle (Vehicle Registration) office and picking personalised combination of letters and numbers costs you 10 euros. Whereas in Queensland it’s $775. Just one example of how expensive it is to live in Australia.

If you are a business thinking of setting up in Queensland forget it, not only is the cost of running a business high but your staff will be constantly sidetracked trying to keep up with all the bureaucracy that goes about doing anything in this state. Ordering this number plate upgrade should have been a 20 minute process, it will now take (excluding the time to write this) a full business day in total to complete by the time I add in two trips to the Department of Transport with my wife’s car and reordering.

If this was my car at this point I would get plates made that meet all the technical requirements either in Australia or overseas and fit those to my car for a fraction of the price. There is no reason why we have to have plates made by the government apart from the government wanting to profit from the sale of new and replacement plates, the system works in Europe and the UK where you get the plates made yourself and they don’t have the problems we have with number plate theft.

Various countries in Europe are trialling new technology to replace number plates. One uses stickers that cannot be removed without tearing, can contain RFID and if you need to remove them from your car for some reason you can have a replacement set printed and another uses plates that shatter when they are removed along with RFID and you can read more about it here. Number plate theft is an issue in Australia so why haven’t our governments considered solving the problem by moving to a non removable plate?

Gift Voucher Scam

And watch out for their Gift Voucher Scam, they are only valid for 12 months. What a rort! Fair trading departments around Australia are always going on about voucher and gift card scams with limited 12 month life, no refunds and no replacement of stolen or lost vouchers yet here is the Department of Transport committing the same scam! Something is really wrong with this but will anything change? Nope.

  • What percentage of Gift Vouchers are not redeemed?
  • What is the value of the Gift Vouchers that are not redeemed each year?
  • What is the total value of Gift Vouchers sold each year?

Queensland Governments Buying Gift Card Guide

Queensland’s Attorney?General considers that the United
States of America and Canada have moved “in the right
direction” regarding gift card regulation, particularly by
banning, or significantly limiting, expiry dates and certain fees,
and by requiring strict disclosures of various terms and
conditions.

Source: Queensland Parliamentary Library Research Brief

10. Gift Vouchers are valid for twelve (12) months from the date of purchase. Gift Vouchers that are not used within this period will be forfeited and any funds left on the Gift Voucher will not be refunded or credited to the person that purchased the Gift Voucher (or the Gift Voucher recipient).

13. In the event that a person wishes to purchase a personalised plate that does not use up the entire value of the Gift Voucher, the remainder of the Gift Voucher will be forfeited and will not be redeemable for cash (by the person who purchased the Gift Voucher or the Gift Voucher recipient).

Link: Terms and Conditions

ALDI Bauhn FAKE 4K WiFi Action Camera SCAM from ALDI Australia with paid FAKE media articles, reviews and news

Various articles in ads have caught my eye saying that ALDI have developed their own action camera that rivals the GoPro and similar cameras for a fraction of the price. Knowing that ALDI generally slap their logo on anything from China they can make money on I was intrigued especially knowing the number of fake 4K cameras that exist but surely a reputable German business like ALDI is not going to rip off it’s loyal customers? Read on and as usual the ACCC will do nothing despite the blatant false advertising, the paid articles in the media and no doubt a team of social media shills pushing this product online.

An ACCC report was made on the 22/01/2018 (accc-report:145871) and to date no response has been received.

Fake 4K cameras stretch the image from a smaller size to one that appears to be a real 4K images, they do this via interpolation which guesses what goes in between the real pixels which are now spread further apart. The image will appear to be a 4K image but will be poor quality. These cameras can sometimes offer a good HD image but why not get a decent camera from a manufacturer that doesn’t have to deceive you?

A real 4K camera will record video in 3840 x 2160 REAL pixels which is 8,294,400 pixels. A fake 4K camera will* record in 1920 x 1080 pixels which is 2,073,600 pixels (25% of 4K resolution) and will create the missing six million pixels using interpolation (essentially guessing what pixel would exist in between using various algorithms). You can always lower the resolution of photos and video after you have taken them so always use the highest quality setting possible but you cannot increase the resolution after the fact as the pixels don’t exist and that is exactly what these fake 4K cameras do.

*It can record in other higher resolutions but most of the time it is 1920 x 1080 also known as HD or 1080P.

The first article that caught my eye was this one.

Aldi launching waterproof GoPro rival camera for just $69.99
Daily Telegraph Link

Posted on January 18, 2018 by The Daily Telegraphy

SYDNEY’S loyal legion of Aldi fans love a bargain – and their latest post Australia Day offering is sure to fly out the door.

They’ve queued for super cheap rocking chairs, Dyson vacuum cleaners, ski gear and toy cars amid scenes of near hysteria.

But be warned. The latest Aldi special could prompt their biggest rush yet.

On Saturday January 27, as part of their daily special buys offering, ALDI will be launching a waterproof action camera to rival GoPro for a fraction of the price of most devices.

Their Bauhn high quality action camera retails for $69.99 and boasts an amazing array of features associated with more expensive models which normally sell for around $400.

The camera features 4K Ultra HD recording plus:
……

Image of actual webpage 22/01/2018

I quickly found four more articles from other “journalists” that were nothing but paid advertorials that intend to do nothing but mislead people. They all quote 4K Ultra HD Resolution with no asterisk and they all quote the exact same specifications line by line like it was copied from the ALDI script sheet. The only “journalist” to mention that this was interpolated but with no detail as to what this means was Gizmodo but a search of their website shows they promote ALDI products all the time.

Aldi launches crazy affordable GoPro rival with amazing features
Smooth Link

Posted on January 18, 2018 by Christina Calaleri

Definitely going to need to line up for this one

When Aldi just continues to make your dreams more attainable.

Cheaper veggies, cheaper chocolate, cheaper wine and now CHEAPER ACTION CAMERAS!

Yes, you read that correctly.

If you’re one of those people who like adventure but you know, not over the top in love with it and need something like a GoPro, you can settle for the $69.99 action camera for your own adventures.

On Saturday January 27 as part of their daily special buys offering, ALDI will be launching a Bauhn high quality action camera.

But before you think it’s going to be nothing like the GoPro, think again!

It has STACKS of features.

· 4K Ultra HD recording
……

Image of actual webpage 22/01/2018

ALDI IS LAUNCHING A WATERPROOF GOPRO RIVAL FOR $69.99
Gold104.3 Link

Posted on January 18, 2018 by Olivia Mackinnon

IF YOU’VE BEEN THINKING OF INVESTING IN AN ACTION CAMERA TO CAPTURE YOUR ADVENTURES, BUT AREN’T PREPARED TO FORK OUT HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS, YOUR PALS AT ALDI HAVE COME THROUGH FOR YOU, WELL AND TRULY.
On Saturday January 27 as part of their daily special buys offering, ALDI will be launching a Bauhn high quality action camera – for $69.99.

Here are just a few of the features:

· 4K Ultra HD recording
……

Image of actual webpage 22/01/2018

Heads up, bargain hunters: Aldi is about to launch a waterproof GoPro rival for $70
Techly Link 
(Techly claims to be Australia’s best youth and tech news! make of that whatever you want given this article)

Posted on January 18, 2018 by Andrew Miller

Cautious optimism best describes how we feel after hearing about the latest product Aldi is planning to launch.

The supermarket giant is taking on the action camera market with a $69.99 variant from Bauhn.

We’ll be honest: we’ve never heard of Bauhn, the price is suspiciously low and their slogan of “Effortless Technology” doesn’t fill us with confidence.

Nevertheless, it won’t set you back too much more than a slab of premium beer and could be just as fun. The product will launch on Saturday, January 27 as part of Aldi’s daily special buys.

Check out the features Bauhn’s bargain-bin beauty is boasting:

4K Ultra HD recording
……

Image of actual webpage 22/01/2018

ALDI Are Selling A $69 Action Camera. Nice.
Gizmodo Link

Posted on January 18, 2018 by James Swinbanks

With arguably the biggest player in the Action Camera market apparently struggling to keep itself afloat, we’re likely going to see a few more action cameras on the cheaper side around the traps, like this Bauhn Action Camera that’ll be going at ALDI for just $69.

Nice.

As you might expect for something so cost-effective, it’s not going to light up the spec sheets. It is capable of interpolated 4K Ultra HD recording and includes a 2-inch TFT-LCD Display, an underwater housing that’s good for a depth of up to 30 metres and it’s battery life should give you around 90 minutes of recording time without Wi-Fi.
……

Image of actual webpage 22/01/2018

Fake 4K Advertisment

This is the ad on the ALDI website. All it says is 4K WiFi action camera with no other details aside from the $69.99 price tag.

4K WiFi Action Camera by itself sounds pretty good but there is no mention of other features like image stabilisation, frames per second, pixels etc. Googling finds a page with the details on the BAUHN website. BAUHN is a brand that ALDI use to rebadge many products from China to deceive people into thinking they are getting some quality German made product.

Image of actual webpage 22/01/2018

This BAUHN website lists all the details and has some photos of the camera that ALDI “developed”.

This page has a asterisk next to the 4K Ultra HD Recording* and this has the following further down the page “* 4K recording is interpolated, not native.”. This doesn’t change anything, this is not a 4K camera and Wednesday is not Saturday ALDI! Saturday the 27th of January is when you sell these!

Further down the page it mentions the image sensor in the specifications.

Image sensor: SONY 179, 8M pixel COMS (sic)


Picture resolution
16M (4608 x 3456 – FALSE
12M (4000 x 3000 – FALSE

Video resolution
4K (3840 x 2160 30fps) (Interpolated) – FALSE
4K (3840 x 2160 30fps) (Interpolated) – FALSE

It has the photo resolutions of 16MP and 12MP but the sensor is only a 8MP sensor with an effective number of pixels of 3280 × 2464! It’s not only the video resolutions that ALDI lied about but the photo resolutions as well!

Image of actual webpage 22/01/2018

Link to the manual is also on the BAUHN website.

Sony Specifications
The sensor is a IMX219 for mobile devices (smartphone or tablets) according to the manufacturer Sony (this is assuming that the sensor is actually a Sony) on their product page here and specification sheet here.

The IMX179 is a diagonal 5.7 mm (Type 1/3.2) CMOS active pixel type image sensor with a square pixel array and 8.08M effective pixels. This chip operates with three power supplies, analogue 2.7 V, digital 1.2 V, and IF 1.8 V, and has low power consumption. High sensitivity, low dark current, and no smear are achieved through the adoption of R,G, and B primary color pigment mosaic filters. This chip features an electronic shutter with variable charge-storage time.
In addition, this product is designed for use in cellular phone and tablet PC. When using this for another application,
Sony does not guarantee the quality and reliability of product. Therefore, don’t use this for applications other than cellular phone and tablet PC. Consult your Sony sales representative if you have any questions.

 

This photo shows the difference in size for various resolutions. Some Fake 4K cameras will have a sensor that can record at 1440P or 2.7K and whilst the quality of the interpolated image will be better it will still be poor when compared to a real 4K photo or video.

This camera isn’t worth purchasing, ALDI have lied about it’s basic functions and if you have purchased it return it to ALDI for a full refund and lodge a complaint with fair trading and the ACCC. You cannot buy a 4K camera for under $100 so steer clear of other cheap cameras. There are plenty of decent action cameras around for not much more but they will all be HD.

This camera is a rebadged fake version of the SJCAM and possibly the SJ5000X 4K model.

More information on fake 4K cameras can be found at Dashcamtalk here.

ALDI talk up their Corporate Responsibilities amongst other things but it seems this does not apply to the supply of their products. “Providing clear product information” – link.

 

Power Saving device scams – they don’t save electricity nor do they reduce your power bill

The local free magazine had the local PoolMart pushing a GO4GREEN EnergySmart device with promises that it will save you up to 10% on your power bills. I had hoped that after the Earthwise PowerSavers device promoted by A Current Affair (ACA) and Today Tonight in January 2011 was exposed as being unable to meet any of it’s claims that the sale of these devices would drop off but it seems there are plenty of people willing to hand over good money for snake oil.

A Current Affair removed their promotion of the device from their website soon afterwards they were presented with evidence it was a scam however by that time plenty of people had purchased the $895 box that promised power savings of up to 25% whereas Today Tonight has left it’s information on their website.

To understand why these devices don’t work you need to understand there are two ways that power is billed, Real power and Apparent power.

Real power

This is how households and small businesses (under ~$30K power spend per year) are billed and it’s based on the amount of  watts (W) consumed (true power).

Apparent power

This is how businesses (above ~$30K power spend per year) and factories are generally billed and it’s based on volt-amperes (VA) drawn.

Power Factor

Power factor is defined as Real Power divided by Apparent Power.

A circuit that consists of resistive loads such as incandescent/halogen bulbs, ovens and bar heaters will have a power factor of 1.0 whereas circuits containing inductive or capacitive elements such as electric motors and florescent ballasts which have a power factor of less then 1.0.

When these devices are being demonstrated they will usually use a wireless power meters that work by placing a clamp around the active conductor and measure Apparent Power not Real Power hence why when they demonstrate with an inductive load like an electric motor power “savings” are seen as the Power Factor is around .8 to .9. If the same test were performed by using an incandescent or halogen bulbs no saving will be seen as it’s Power Factor will be 1.0.

Essentially Power Factor is something that only matters if you are being billed for Apparent Power, these power saving devices are targeted at households where they make no difference to the size of the power bill and they are promoted through misleading methods including the use of wireless power meters that measure Apparent power.

This is a photo of the inside of a typical plug in power saver, they all work on the same principle which is a AC capacitor, a few components and a LED or two for looks (and to consume power so not only did you pay for something that doesn’t work it actually costs you money to have it plugged in). Cost to manufacture these devices would vary between $5 to $20 and they retail for $149 to over $1000, hence why so many people are willing to sell these as they are so profitable.

Devices

EnergySmart

The EnergySmart is being sold for between $149 and $299 by the following retailers; Poolmart Kenmore, iintegrate technology

Earthwise

Sells for $895 (installed up to $1500)

Promoted by A Current Affair (ACA) and Today Tonight (ACA took down their article soon after broadcast – Today Tonight left theirs online and added another segment covering it the next day)

Claims to also protect you from cancer (electromagnetic radiation) and has a reference from Panacea University (not recognised as a university).

Mark Maxwell said a number of times it’s capacitor based and works like a battery to save you power. All the excess electricity coming through is stored until required and it’s released, most of the devices use far too much power when they don’t need it and this capacitor based power saver stores a bit of that and this is where the power savings come from – video HIA Home Show Sydney 2011.

Other videos

Earthwise Power Savers featured on Today Tonight

Earthwise Power Savers Save Electricity Dirty Electricity = Harmful EMF and Facts (ok not real facts)

Earthwise Power Savers Saving Watt’s

Reegen Microplug

No longer for sale – Choice awarded this with their Shonky Award of 2009.

Claims to save up to 30% on your power bills – see presentation and video.

Enersonic Power Saver

Sold by Auscha Corporation – ACCC took them to court and they were ordered to stop selling – sell ACCC action below.

ACCC Action

The ACCC has taken action against a number of sellers of these devices, the most recent was action taken against Auscha Corporation Pty Ltd in July 2010 for it’s activities in 2008 and 2009 selling a power saving product. As you can see the ACCC is slow to act so don’t think that lack of action against any current sellers in any way legitimises their products.

  • the Power Saver was not capable of reducing the amount of electrical power consumed by domestic consumers as measured by retail electricity suppliers, and therefore domestic consumers could not save up to 24% on their electrical power consumption by using the Power Saver
  • use of the Power Saver could not lead to domestic consumers saving on their electrical power consumption as measured by retail electricity suppliers, and therefore domestic consumers could not save money by using the Power Saver, and
  • the Power Saver was not designed and engineered in Australia.

Read the full release at the ACCC website – Federal Court declares consumers misled over Power Saver device

Further Information

Power Factor Correction Scam Review

Do Energy Savers Really Work?

Energy Saving Gadgets – Do They Work?

Hurrah! Another power-saving doodad!

Power Saver scam brought to you by Today Tonight and ACA

Earthwise power saver – scam or what?

Energysmart Go4Green power saver – is this a scam?

Whirlpool Snake Oil Post

World Health Organisation – Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a number of reports that debunk these devices are saving any money.

NIST Team Demystifies Utility of Power Factor Correction Devices

NIST Technical Note 1654 – Regarding Electric Energy Savings, Power Factors, and Carbon Footprints: A Primer