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.

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