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Is honesty truly the "name of the (business) game"? / Adv Ehud Peleg

Legendary Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi included within the seven social sins - the sin of commerce without morality.


Israel Consumer Council regretfully states that commercial life in Israel is infected with this serious social sin of dishonesty.


It is clear that not all business people in Israel are sinners; it is also evident that not all consumers are saints;


But 40,000 complaints received by the Consumer Council each year, with a rate of about 80% justified ones clarify that we come across a widespread phenomenon and not across isolated cases .


The worst thing might be that dishonest conduct has become the norm in the eyes of many business people so they do not find any reason to be ashamed.

About two years ago, the CEO of a huge company participated in a large conference of companies' executives, and, without stuttering or apologizing, he told the participants: we cannot instruct our employees any longer to tell half-truths to consumers, because the next day, they check everything in the social networks. In other words, the manager of the company admits that employees were instructed from above to hide information from consumers, and that this practice did not come to an end because of regrets or remorse, but because it is no longer effective, since the consumers have become smarter and compare information in social networks .


Such outrageous examples indicate that the business sector is generally proud of this kind of behavior, as part of its worshiping the term "maximizing profits", which it sanctifies more than any other value.


Business people who act this way take the well-known Israeli concern to appear as a "Frayer" ("sucker") much too far. According to this distorted perception, if I cannot exploit anyone I can, as much as I can, whenever I can, I will not be entitled to the respect of my professional business fellows since I could have made more money, while, according to this approach, profit is the only thing that matters.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai and saw the adoration to the Golden Calf, he broke the stone tablets.


In contemporary Israel, he would not have to do this: many business people he would have met today worship the Golden Calf and break their own stone tablets of trade life ethics.


Unfairness in the business sector has literally turned to sub-culture and is no glory to the State of Israel.


Therefore, taking care of specific issues is not sufficient and there is a need for a perceptual change.


Janusz Korczak said that to repair the world is to repair education.


In an agreement between the Israel Consumer Council - the representative consumer organization in Israel - and the Ministry of Education, it was decided that the main issue on the 2014 International Consumer Day would be education to fairness.


International Consumer Day is celebrated each year all over the world around March 15, because on this day, President Kennedy gave his famous speech before the Congress in which he laid the foundation of the well-known consumer rights.


However, there is one right that underlies all others - the right to fairness: the right for the consumer to be treated by businesses with transparence and integrity, without trying to mislead him and without taking advantage of his weaknesses and distress. The right of a business owner to make profits is subject to the right of the consumer to fairness.


There should not be any contradiction between these two rights, since fairness in business is also in the interest of businesspersons to increase their credibility among their clients and ensure real competition in a free market.
The Council's Education Department, in collaboration with professional teams from the Ministry of Education, has developed educational outlines in the issue of fairness in business and they are conveyed during the present Consumer Day in adapted levels in elementary schools, middle schools and secondary schools, where they are studied in the framework of financial education.
Businesspeople who will cause damage to consumers tomorrow are currently students in the school system. We now have the opportunity, through appropriate educational activities, to prevent this phenomenon and to improve the image of future commercial life in Israel.


High school students in the "Alliance" high school who won the first prize in the framework of the national clips competition in schools have well formulated this message to businesspeople:


" Honesty is the name of the (trading) game".

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The Israel Consumer Council is the largest consumer organization in Israel. It is a statutory, non-profit corporation which works to defend consumers and protect their rights, by handling complaints, seeking solutions..