The regulations that require the posting of unit prices alongside a product’s actual price, which came into force about two years ago, were designed to provide consumers with a clear, simple and uniform way of comparing the prices of products sold in packages containing different amounts. The wide availability of products and brands, with a variety of prices and package sizes, requires that there be a uniform standard for price comparisons.
However, the Consumer Council has received a large number of complaints indicating certain products don’t show unit prices. There are numerous products that are not sold by weight or volume. These are packaged in a variety of sizes, that differ in terms of the number of individual items they contain, and consequently have different prices. But in many instances, there is not simple way for consumers to make a comparison of the prices in relation to the number of items being offered in the different packages.
For example, the various packages of diapers have different numbers of diapers in them, and so the consumer is forced, for each package size, to make a calculation of the price for a single diaper. With toilet paper, too, the different companies mark their packages in a number of ways: the number of rolls, the total length of paper, or the number of layers and sheets in each roll. Different marking methods prevent consumers from knowing whether a single roll of toilet paper in one package costs more than a single roll in a package from a competing company. Size AA batteries are sold in packages of different sizes (with 2 batteries, 4, 8, 10, 12 or even more); again, consumers need to calculate the price per battery in order to determine which package is more economical.
To give consumers the ability to compare the unit prices of this type of product, the Consumer Council proposes that the existing regulations be updated, by adding a requirement for display of the price for a single unit, as well as the price for the whole package; this would apply whether the products are packed by the manufacturer, the distributor or at the point of retail sale.
The Council intends to submit a proposal along these lines to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, with a request that the regulations be amended.
Adv. Ehud Peleg, CEO of the Israel Consumer Council, says that transparency is a basic building block of intelligent consumerism, and everything possible should be done to make this essential information available to the consumer. Particularly at a time when the public has become aware of making intelligent purchasing choices savings by choosing products that are less expensive, it is important to reinforce this trend and give consumers better tools to compare the varied offerings.
The Council CEO stated that the welcome intent behind the Consumer Protection Regulations (Price per Measurement Unit) should be extended to products that are not measured by volume or weight. “When shopping, the decision to buy should not depend on passing what is effectively a mathematics test. Everyone has an interest in making it easier for consumers to carry out the basic operations of intelligent consumerism – such as making price comparisons.