on August 21, new consumer protection regulations came into force, requiring businesses selling products subject to price controls to place signs alongside the display stands for such products, identifying the products under price control and their (maximum) prices. Israel’s Commodities and Services (Control) Law was intended, among other things, to ensure the provision of basic commodities to the general public at reasonable prices. Hence it is important that consumers be aware of the existence of price-controlled products and of the fact that their prices are cheaper, as well as knowing that they are available in stores. This is particularly true when food prices are rising.
Some time ago, in response to consumer complaints, the Consumer Council conducted a survey which showed that dozens of small businesses and food stands across the country were charging exorbitant prices for products subject to price control. Another survey, carried out for the Consumer Council by the Geocartography company, showed that 62% of those questioned were unable to identify those products that are subject to price control. The survey results were not surprising, since the one-time publication of the list in the newspapers (when a product is made subject to control, or when the pricesare updated) does not ensure that a customer coming to a store will remember which products are on the price control list, or the maximum allowed price for such products. Therefore, it was important to require that owners of such businesses indicate, in a prominent place on their premises, which products are subject to price control, and the prices being charged for them in the store.
The Consumer Council submitted a proposal along those lines to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, about three years ago. About a year ago, the same proposal was presented to the Committee on Food Prices, headed by Sharon Kedmi, director-general of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. This Committee adopted the Council’s proposal, and the new regulations were consequently enacted. This display of signs indicating prices will also assist in the fight against price gouging. Consumers will now be able to determine whether the price marked on the product is higher than the maximum allowed price, and will be able file a complaint with the Israel Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority, which has the power to enforce the regulations.
CEO of the Consumer Council, Adv. Ehud Peleg, says that the ability to identify, and prefer, products subject to price control, will give consumers another, convenient method for coping with the cost of living – specifically, the signs posted near the product display. It should also be remembered that the Consumer Council has also proposed that the list of products subject to price control be expanded to include one item from each basic food category, which would serve as a “anchor” that would pull the prices for other products in that category downwards.