Consumer Council CEO: “The harm to consumers taking part in the program needs to be minimized.”
In 2011, the government decided to improve energy efficiency in the home. Among other things, it resolved that energy-inefficient, domestic electrical appliances should be replaced with more efficient appliances; as a result, the Ministry of Energy began a program to replace old, electricity-wasteful refrigerators. Under this program, the general public was invited to replace old refrigerators with new, energy-saving models, with the government providing a 30% subsidy on the cost of the new refrigerator. The reduced price included purchase of the refrigerator, delivery to the customer’s home, removal of the old refrigerator for scrapping, and a full warranty for a period of 3 years.
The Ministry of Energy and Water Resources issued a tender, under which importers were asked to meet certain standards. Among them was an undertaking to supply the refrigerators to consumers within 20 days.
In recent weeks, the Consumer Council has received dozens of complaints from consumers who had ordered refrigerators as part of the program, but are still waiting, many weeks later, to receive them (in contrast to what had been promised and in contravention of the tender conditions, thus breaching the contract with the consumers and infringing their consumer rights).
Additionally, consumers have complained about problems in obtaining the official form to be submitted for scrapping the appliances – thus preventing them from receiving their new refrigerators, even when they are delivered. Requests from the sellers to provide the requisite form are met with delaying tactics, or by sellers who shirk their responsibility, referring the customers to the suppliers, who in turn refer them to the delivery companies.
In the Council’s view, the quoted delivery date for the refrigerator is a fundamental condition of the transaction; deceit in regard to the delivery date may constitute an offense against the law.
The campaign to replace refrigerators is a welcome initiative. However, given the fact that this campaign was conducted, publicized and promoted by the Government of Israel, the harm done to consumer rights may affect consumers’ trust, and may deter them from cooperating with other initiatives by the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, and with government departments in general.
Council CEO, Adv. Ehud Peleg, calls on the Minister of Energy to intervene, and to find a way of requiring all suppliers participating in the project to adhere to their undertakings to consumers and to the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, and to immediately supply the refrigerators to those consumers who have not yet received them.