Sunday, 7 December 2014

How Well Do You Know Your Cellphone Contract and Its Costs (in Israel)?

You may be aware that the cellphone industry in Israel is currently experiencing its most competitive times ever. There is at least one new provider entering the market - adding to the huge competition between Orange, Cellcom, Rami Levy, Golan and Pelephone. There are various deals - each claiming to be better than the next. But do you really know what is going on and what you'll end up paying for your monthly contract?!

A few months ago we were highly encouraged to join Golan. Golan offer a fantastic deal where for one price - you are able to call to 55 international countries and get yourself up to 6GB of Internet roaming data. What's more, if you sign up for two lines at once, you end up getting your second contract at less than half the price of the first - all for a one year period. Sounds too good to be true? It probably is! Not because of what it looks like - but because of what it could actually cost - as time goes by!

When we approached the Golan stand in Malcha Mall a few months ago, we ourselves were conned with their fancy sales-pitch talk. Indeed, the laptop of the salesman is open displaying how many hundreds of thousands of clients are currently joining Golan, with the counter increasing on at least a one minute basis! The deal was also clearly visible - as you'll see it on their site For ₪59 you'll get a line that gives you free calls to landlines and mobile lines within Israel as well as 55 international countries (mostly landlines only) as well as free SMS's - and everything else the line has including 6GB Internet roaming. In the small print - you'll see you can get another line for just ₪26 with the same package apparently all for a year - at least that's what we saw and what we were told by the physical salesman standing in front of us. But that's probably why it's in the small print!

After signing up for the contract, it was clear on the salesman's laptop that the second line would only last for 5 months - not an entire year - after which we would need to pay ₪99 a month for that second line - an amount we were never prepared to pay (and had clearly told him.) The competition is steep and it was not necessary to have to pay this amount for what we needed. We were however quite happy with the year offer as presented to us.

When we mentioned this to the salesman he explained to us that only those who are not prepared to work at their contact regularly pay more(!) When asked for an explanation, he told us that all we needed to do was to call them at the 5 month period and set up a new contract and we would be back on track with the cheaper contract - no additional or hidden costs. As long as you keep track and watch that you don't fall into a new contract with a new amount - but instead phone to update and let the company know you are not prepared for the ₪99 deal - they will restructure the contract to reflect the smaller amount again.

5 months later, we did indeed make the call, only to be told that we were lied to. In fact, we could indeed change the contract to a cheaper one (and not lose out on having to pay for the ₪99 line) but that it would also cost us an extra ₪49 because we had reneged on the original contract! When I told the saleslady on the phone that this is not what the original salesman had said, she apologised, but kept to her word. At the end of the day, it was clear, the contract that had been accepted was by far not what had been told or sold to us.

While I have enjoyed using the Golan contract overall, the recent behaviour and the show of fibs and secrecy of the real contract has sadly made me question them as an honest company I wish to continue with. The competition is steep - and there's no reason to have to be stuck with a company not prepared to be honest - at least at the outset.

While this behaviour was unexpected from Golan - we had experienced similar behaviour from Cellcom after being told that the phones we received together with the contract (many years ago when such things were possible when signing up for a three year contract) - would be free! It was again salesman talk - and it was only when we received our first bill that we realised that not only was there a charge for the cellphones - but the charge far exceeded anything we had expected for a phone of the quality we had received!

Is there corruption within the cellphone market in Israel in general? Why is there a need for the dishonesty presented?

Do you know what your contract is actually costing you? Are you aware of the additional, hidden costs that crop up every now and again when you least expect it?

Have you had good service from your cellphone company and happy with your contract? Please write to us and let us know. Good service should well be rewarded, and we'd be delighted to share the good work of good and honest companies in Israel. We definitely need to promote and support those who are upfront and honest - from the start!

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