Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Price Tags and Tills - Discrepencies in Pricing: Your Real Purchasing Rights in Israel

One of the hardest things I found when I came through on my first trip to Israel (and an issue that still never seems to disappear,) was the area of price tags on items in an Israeli store. From my experience, I've noticed that most items lack a price tag on them. It's a most frustrating experience - especially when one actually wants to purchase something, compare prices and make sure one obtains the item one is seeking at the lowest possible price.

When the "system" creates an environment - which is apparently accepted here - that store owners can choose to leave prices off the items until the last moment when one is actually standing at the till making the purchase, it causes a host of problems. As a start, one suddenly realises one is about to pay a few more Shekels or even more - on an item one knows one could have purchased somewhere else cheaper. Personally, I don't see the honesty of such a system system as it allows the seller to determine his price at the very last minute - practically forcing the purchaser to buy the item. 

You probably know the feeling, standing in a queue (the kind that goes out in every direction - Israeli style - and doesn't really exist) and seeing people lined up behind you with huge trolleys filled with every item in the store - and here you are (taking time away from those still waiting,) now arguing with the cashier, that you've decided you're not going to take the item after all. The manager must be called to swipe the machine and allow for the item to be removed from your list. You continue on and find another item with a similar problem - and then find yourself going through the same headache - and actual embarrassment yet again! It's frustrating to say the least!

That's only one area that's a huge problem here - and until people start actively voicing their views about this manner of business - we're going to be stuck with it for a long time. If you are a seller - do take note of what you are doing to people. Consider what honesty should be and be fair to people who have the rights to know what an item costs before they get to the till, and before having to frustrate them into asking the price of every item in your store!

There's another area of great concern. It could even be worse! Considering the theme of honesty - there's another great trick you'll find here. The store owner will stick on a price label of a certain amount - only to have already programmed a more expensive amount into the computer system. When the item is scanned, the new higher amount (even if just a few Shekels!) is registered and the customer must fork out! Should the customer complain, he will clearly be told that the price is what the register says and he should pay - or leave it behind (which of course he is entitled to do - see above.) Once again, the customer faces further embarrassment and extreme frustration. He wonders if there is a concept of honesty in the world at all.

But here's the good news! What is being done is considered illegal. It's time to know your rights! There's no question that on a moral level - people who behave in this way are using a system of dishonest business for their own profits - even with a smile on their faces - showing just how honest they really are. The register does indicate the honest price - doesn't it? Surely the owner of the store would not cheat you?! "Geveret!" or "Adoni!" might be a suitable response to you as the cashier or owner express their disappointment in your desire to complain regarding price!

Having personally suffered in this situation, approached the manager and been told clearly to my face in front of others (causing further embarrassment) that the register is always right - I can well imagine others experiencing this same challenge and disappointment in the business world in Israel - which I personally believe should be of the highest moral character. Having seen comments on various social networks supporting the store owner and once again insulting the customer for having voiced his opinion - it makes me wonder further just what it is that people define as moral.

The Israel Consumer Council is Israel's biggest organisation involved in making sure things are being managed in an honest way. They are your best group of friends who will help you navigate and understand what you are truly entitled to. In our current case, they are clear - inconsistent prices is prohibited by the law. Should this occur to you, you are perfectly entitled to ask the owner of the store to give you the goods at the price marked on the item itself. That's right! Stop feeling you need to give in to dishonesty. It's time to voice your rights and your needs. It's time that the Israeli business situation make a change for the good - where instead of smiles and Shalom Aleichem's wherever you go - there is an actual change in the behaviour that says "I  care that we work together in our business with honesty and morality."

Here is a great video illustrating the situation. Unfortunately for some reason the sound does not play - but you can still read the dialogue. To clarify your rights on pricing, here is everything you will need to know. The articles are in Hebrew - so it will not be easy for those who do not know Hebrew. However, if you are serious about understanding your rights - find someone who can help you go through the short articles - and you will be able to "hold your own" when it comes to understanding your rights as a consumer - and your rights to making payments for items - as indicated on the price tag - not by the register! 

For more see: Displaying Prices - The Law.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Meet Prospective Clients and Customers Through Our Blog

Our blog has been steadily growing over a number of years. We have hundreds of blog posts filled with useful, practical and beneficial information for old Olim, new Olim and those considering making Aliyah. 

Our articles focus on life in Israel, how to obtain assistance, current news and much more. Our readership is increasing in an exponential manner. Many of our articles have been viewed thousands and thousands of times by people all over the world. Important articles are often viewed hundreds of times within a day or two of being posted. 

We know that you are committed to being successful in Israel and are looking for an outstanding platform to share your services and products and to reach the type of readers who visit us. Our visitors are clearly focused on good products, services and utilities in Israel. Everything which you are!

We have now opened up opportunities for you to advertise on our blog, through banner adverts, advertorial postings and adverts within previous posts / new posts.

We would like to see you succeed and wish to promote your product / service in the best possible way. Please contact us for more information.

Even better news!!!

We are offering a new webconference, networking facility for professionals wanting to share their product / service and discussing more on how we can market your product even better on our blog. Get to interact with professionals just like yourself. The networking is available for those living in Israel already, and for those outside of Israel wanting to get a clearer idea of the best ways of succeeding in their businesses when they make Aliyah. For more info, please contact us immediately. 

Support Israel!

Do you love Israel? Do you want to take part in supporting those who are building the Land in so many ways? Even if you do not have a business in Israel, we offer you the opportunity to take part in some way in this blog through your own writing and in sharing your positive messages to support Israel and those living here. To find out more about this offer, please contact us directly.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Phone and Internet Contracts in Israel: Revise Yours Regularly and Save Bigtime!

In Israel, there is a fierce war in the world of communication. Everyone is fighting for your business. When it comes to your phone and Internet contracts, there are a number of very large companies that will do whatever it takes to get your business. One of the phenomena in Israel is the situation of regularly receiving calls from some of the bigger companies Cell C, Orange etc. enticing you to use their service - after all, almost everyone has a cellphone and an Internet connection today. They're assured some success! 

When the call comes, you can be sure that the salesman on the other side will do everything he can to get your business. So much so, if you're of the softer kind of person with good manners, you may find yourself simply not being able to say goodbye. Rest assured, you probably will not be able to - unless you take the deal offered! Otherwise, you'll probably have to hang up at some point in time! One can only wonder why these people are not employed by the banks, giving as much enthusiasm at getting you to buy your own home in Israel - and assisting you with this too! 

So what does this all mean - and translate to, in practical terms? It means that you should never feel the obligation to be stuck with a cell phone or Internet contract for any particular length of time or just because that's how things are! Rather, keep a vigilant look around you all the time and enquire of special deals regularly. Calling the main companies once every 6 months at least - if not more often - may end up saving you a lot of money in the long run! In addition, even if you don't save - you may find yourself with a better phone, a faster Internet connection or a variety of other fancy advantages for the same price you are now paying for your current service!

On the cell phone market there are currently a variety of excellent offers. From the Kosher phone contracts giving you a simple phone that is able to make outgoing calls and accept incoming calls only - at very cheap rates with a fixed amount of free talk time to other Kosher phones and landlines (usually 600 minutes), to contracts which offer the best of smartphones and free unlimited talk time as well as free calls to many countries overseas - there's a great variety of options out there. If you're serious about choosing something which you know is going to last you some time - and be worth it - take off an hour or so and give each of the providers a call asking them what they have to offer. The point you should never forget - is to always sound disillusioned with the available choice and costs (since there is someone you just heard about with a cheaper deal) and put that forward to them! Once you do that, you'll stand in line to be able to get the contract choice you really do want - and at a cost far cheaper than you would have received initially had you simply gone with the option they offered you!

On that note - use this same technique in bringing down the amounts for a current deal you have. There's no need to have to switch providers all the time. On the contrary - if you are happy with who you have already, do everything you can to stay with them, but still get the discount you want! Do some homework every few months (at least once every 6 months) and find a better deal. Then call your current provider and tell them how upset you are, but you simply must leave them. 

Don't worry, they're very sympathetic (because they want your business) and will  now do everything they can to keep you! That's when they'll tell you that you really should have called them earlier because they have had some super duper new deal going on and it's only because they've been so busy with it - that they hadn't called you yet! Now that they have you on the line, they'll share it all with you and get you to "sign" on the dotted line right away. In fact, before the hour is over, you'll suddenly find your current deal bettered by some 20% or more off your current price, or you'll have a faster line, a newer phone or something - anything!

These techniques may also work with regards to banks and arranging better deals with various costs for credit cards etc. but that's for another post to be discussed in more detail!

Remember, with your Internet connection, there are two parties involved, the Sapak - ספק - or Service Provider (ISP - such as Triple C, Netvision, Smile etc.) and the Tashtit - תשתית - the supplier of the actual line to operate the traffic - such as Bezeq. The trick is to make sure you get a deal which links the two in the best possible way. This can often be achieved best by speaking directly with the Tashtit who may well get the Sapak on the line with you to discuss a better deal together - and end up linking them with only one payment made (instead of two separate payments to each provider.)

Bottom line: Everything costs. You won't get away from costs. However, always keep a check of what's going on regularly to ensure you can have the best technology you'd like to at the best possible prices. If you do this, you will at the very least be budgeting in the best way to have the best. If you don't do this, you'll find others talking about deals you can only dream about - as you continue with you 1 Mega line and brick cell phone, at the price you paid for them when you started using them 10 years ago!

Have you had good experiences with companies / services etc. you'd like others to know about? Do you have tips for our readers? Please be in touch with us so that we can post them. Do you offer a particular service that's just out of this world and want to drive the traffic in your direction? Do be in touch with us. We would love to put up an article written by you, or alternatively we will write one up ourselves with the details you provide us. Let's get the word out there about providers who are assisting those making Aliyah to be able to better integrate successfully in Israel, with great service, honest and good prices and quality goods.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Employment Warnings in Israel

Israel is an amazing place and the land that Jews belong in. There is so much here that is wonderful, but there are areas that require major improvement. 

One of the largest areas of difficulty is that of honest work. As an experienced occupational therapist, I naively thought that a good degree would guarantee that I would have work in Israel and therefore some difficulties one might anticipate in moving countries would be eliminated. It seemed logical, by attending continuing education courses, getting to know staff in the university and place of work or becoming a member of the Israel Occupational Therapy Association, I was sure I would meet those I needed to and have at least one area of my life that should be easy to transition into.

Rule number 1 when moving to Israel: Do NOT ever presume anything. Nothing in Israel works in a logical manner. Expect the unexpected and plan for the problems, as sadly, they will arise.

I am currently relieving a therapist on Maternity Leave and here have come across a few rules when working in any Israeli facility. It really does not matter if it is a government facility or religious school or other facility. The rule of thumb is the place of work will do everything they can to avoid paying you, to delay paying on time and to make life a nightmare as far as technicalities, pay etc. Many therapists have experienced having to wait the full 3 months of covering a therapist on maternity leave and had a fight at the end to get their pay.

The difficulties you will come up against are many and each time something new. So here are a few pointers to help you through this.

1) When starting to work in any facility, get all the details in writing.

2) If you go into a facility for hand-over and are paid for the time, write it down in your diary and have the secretary or head OT sign the times you go in and when you leave.

3) Have all your documents organised and have them sign to say all paperwork is complete.

4) Make sure to get a work contract. Do not accept any work opportunity without a work contract and make sure you agree with what you are signing on.

5) More and more schools are instituting a clock in system that is finger activated and you have a code or number as a worker. This is supposed to be a reliable system. However, somehow on the other end details can and do get doctored and you need written proof to back you up. There are also times the electricity will be down and you can not clock in as the clock is not functioning. Do NOT rely on it EVER! Keep a written record of the dates and times you clock in and when you leave and have someone sign this. Either the secretary or the head OT. Keep everything in writing.

6) Make sure your treatment notes are correctly dated and up to date. These can prove you actually worked on a given day. After all, if you were present and completed treatment notes, it can not be you were not at work.

7) Know that by the law of the land, salary must be paid by the 9th of the following month and no later. Many try to make it the 10th, most stretch that to the 15th and then suddenly later and later. By law every day you are not paid the facility can be fined for late pay. Some schools are starting to split the month with e.g. 1-24 April paid on May 10 and 25 - 30 April added to May 1-24 and paid on 10th June. This system is illegal. The full month of April should be paid at end of April. Israeli law gives a window period until 9th May to pay, but this is a window period it does not mean they can regularly pay on or after 10th May.

8) Make sure you have savings to keep you going while you battle to get paid.

9) Most Israelis will not tell you how they manage while awaiting payment. I have managed to ascertain that they will receive help from relatives, Gemachim or savings. This is not the norm and no therapist should ever have to turn to ways to cover their expenses while waiting to be paid. The normal way of the world is that you go to work, put in an honest day's work, complete time sheets and get paid on time. If you wanted to live on loans, gifts, savings etc, you would not be seeking salaried employment. This is not normal and something needs to change. How? The only way I can think of is to get the word out and hope that enough people will begin to think as educated people and stand up for their workers rights.

10) If your salary is not paid on time, have a lawyer write a letter or take action to ensure the facility is fined for each day of late pay. The more O.T.s stand up for their rights to be treated and paid as the professionals they are, the sooner the system can begin to change.

If you do not have savings or friends or family to help you or the people to sign as guarantors for Gemach loans which would be interest free, taking a loan at the bank is not so simple. The bank manager wants to know details before you take a loan and refuses to give a loan while you wait to be paid.

So if you have no back up plan and you are an occupational therapist, if you still wish to work in OT in Israel, join our Private Practitioners group and learn how to develop a private practice. Working privately is sometimes the only way to go.

There is another area that requires tips in working in facilities in Israel and that is keeping your therapy records confidential. We'll cover this in another post.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Info About Israeli Driving License: Failed Your Exam Twice?

Image from www.freevector.com

Great news! Yesterday MK Dov Lipman succeeded in passing a law through the Knesset that many Olim have been waiting for, for a very long time!

Here's the scenario as things stood until yesterday:

When arriving in Israel, you could (can) drive legally for a period of one year even if you do not yet have an Israeli driver's license. After a year, you must have obtained your Israeli license. You could / can do this by hiring an qualified teacher who will assist you to get to grips with Israeli traffic law as well as get a feel for traffic here. Thereafter once you've done a few lessons to show your competency, the teacher will book a test for you. You go through to the testing grounds, have an inspector drive around with you through various places and thereafter get your license... or not! Sometimes your driving might not meet the standards for Israeli law. This does not mean you can't drive. It means you did not meet the standards. After all - let's not forget, you've already been allowed to drive in Israel for at least a year without any supervision of your competency!

Israeli law is still "good" to one in allowing one to undergo another test! Great! Now you go for the test and finally get your license... or not! Once you fail twice, you must go through the full gamut of licensing. This includes learning the theory, passing that test - and then starting all over again. This might mean further lessons (on average some ₪100 a lesson currently), booking the test and going through it all over again. Let's just hope for the best because nobody wants to go through another two fails to see where things go from there!

The entire law has been set up haphazardly - after all, as Mr Dov Lipman pointed out - how can it be that the law would allow one to drive for a year here without any testing, yet fail an experienced driver - forcing them to have to go through the entire process from beginning to end again?! As a result, the law was passed! What does this mean?

New law: If you fail your test twice, you will no longer have to go through the theory and start from the beginning again. By all means, do another lesson or two to get a better feel. Then try again! Don't forget - you're not incompetent! You've probably been driving for many many years already! It's just that as with everything, there's a system here. Fortunately a lot has been cut out with this new law and there's some room to breathe again!

Now, let's just hope and pray - for those who have not yet made Aliyah - that one day soon, the law will allow for one to simply transfer the license - or if not that - at most to require just a couple of lessons to gain some familiarity with Israeli roads, and thereafter receive one's license based solely on the credit of having done the one / two short lessons!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

How to Hang Pictures on Israeli Walls (Concrete, Cement & Cinder)

If you've made Aliyah - and own your own home (or if renting, fortunate to live in an apartment owned by a landlord who allows you to put pictures on his walls) you'll want to add some colour to your home some time soon! The walls in Israel are not necessarily like the walls from the place you've come from, so it's important to know the steps required to hang your pictures up. Using the wrong equipment or even the right equipment in the wrong way can cause devastation to your walls - requiring further fixing and costs!

If you're unsure what to do, we've posted a terrific video by Rafi Esptein showing just how easy it is to do. He's also captioned his video as he goes along - so you can know the correct terms to use when buying the equipment you'll need. Remember - if you haven't tried it before or are not sure what to do - rather get an expert - at least for the first time. You don't want to do it wrong and find a large expensive framed picture smashed on the floor!

Here's a summary for you to keep handy if the captions move to fast:
  • Plastic Picture Hook: וו תלייה (Vav Teliyah). Did you know the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is a Vav? "Vav" means hook - but what's so beautiful about it - is that the letter when written in print form actually looks like a hook! It is also the Hebrew word for "and" because the word "and" joins two parts of a sentence!
  • Masonry Anchor: דיבל (Dibel)
  • Screw: בורג (Boreg)
  • Hammer: פטיש (Patish)
  • Power / Hammer Drill: פטישון (Patishon) - Notice how it is related to the word for hammer. The letters "Vav" and "Nun" at the end turning the word "hammer" (the original word i.e. Patish) into the modern more powerful hammer, the "hammer drill." You'll notice this in other words too - how the Vav and Nun turn a word into a noun - or even a more powerful noun.
  • Concrete Drill Bit: מקדח בטון (Mekadeach Biton)
  • Screwdriver: מברג (Mavreg) - Notice how it is related to the word "screw". The Mem in front turns the word "screw" into the name of the thing used to do the action, the "screwdriver"
  • Screw-Gun: מברגה (Mavregah). Notice the similarity in this word to the word "screw" and "screwdriver." Only that this word has the letter "Heh" added to the end changing the style of device used to do the action of screwing. The word "screwdriver" was already taken with the letter "Mem" in front - so when the grammar experts came to add a new word to the modern dictionary - they simply added the letter "Heh" to the end of the word!
  • Millimeter: מילימטר (Pronounced - would you believe it - Millimeter.)

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Help your child maintain their English skills

I am currently covering for an Occupational Therapist who is on materntiy leave and usually works in a Special Education School. It's nice to be managing to work in a Hebrew speaking environment as an immigrant who did not know much if any Hebrew on arrival to Israel. But there are some students who pick up immediately that I am a native English speaker. 

Each day there is at least one child I come across who says, "Do you speak English?' 

"Yes," I respond, "Do YOU?"

So I discover they were born in the US and came to Israel with their family as new immigrants. Learning a new language and the stresses of integration for these students has necessitate their attending a Special Education School. They are excited to find a therapist who speaks English, but try as they might to speak their own home language and they really struggle.

Do you find your child is struggling to cope with the multiple adjustments to life in a new country? Do you find that attending school in a second language is affecting their ability to maintain their English skills?

If so, I invite you to send your child to occupational therapy sessions with me. As an experienced occupational therapist, I offer sessions both individually and in small groups. The sessions provide age appropriate activities, that are creative, fun and carefully structured to assist your child to make these adjustments more effectively and to maintain their English skills in the process.

Visit my website and contact me to schedule an appointment. Do visit frequently as the website is currently being upgraded and I do hope you will enjoy the changes and improvements.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Fines for using a Cellphone while Driving in Israel

Someone on a social network forum asked about the law and fines if using a cell phone when driving.

I often see such questions and find answering them of little benefit. Mostly the questioner is more interested in finding a loophole in the law than in considering potential consequences to life if / when not following that law.

It's more than the law, it's common sense. Don't use a cell phone while driving! Not if you value your life and the lives of others. If you think I'm being difficult, my introduction to the dangers of cell phones and driving was 20 years ago as an occupational therapist in a hospital. I was on a ward round and sad to hear the cause of a new high level spinal cord injured patient was a selfish driver in the vehicle behind the one that he was a passenger in. The driver had decided that talking on a cell phone was more important than paying attention to the vehicle  in front of him, loaded with labourers on their way to work.

A more recent example was just a week ago of a young woman who lost her life due to texting and taking selfies while driving. In this case it was only the driver, (responsible for her own life), who lost her life. We surely know that the news reports of similar incidents where many others lose their lives or functional ability, ending up in wheelchairs, bedridden, in lengthy coma's etc.

Isn't it amazing what a perverted society we have become where instead of being concerned about the risk to life and quality of life for ourselves and others we are more afraid of breaking the law and getting a ticket.  


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