The District Court has approved a settlement arrangement in a class action lawsuit filed by the Israel Consumer Council against the Israel Electric Corporation. In the framework of the suit filed by the lawyer Michael Bach from Bach, Lederman & Co. Law Firm, it is alleged that the Electric Corporation has violated provisions of Section 18B of the Consumer Protection Law by not allowing free calls to consumers calling from mobile phones in order to report defects and malfunctions in services and goods. According to the law, the Electric Corporation is supposed to provide a free line for each call coming from a mobile phone - the most common and widespread means of communication. The purpose of the law is to optimize the service provided to consumers who have to wait for a long time in order to receive service, while charging the Electric Corporation for the cost of the calls is intended to motivate it to approve efficiency of the service and to shorten standby time.
Prior to reaching the settlement arrangement, the Court has approved the request to recognized the suit as a class action, while determining that the obligation set forth in section 18b of the Consumer Protection Law requires to provide free communication from mobile phones as well and not only from landline telephones.
As part of the settlement arrangement reached by the parties following mediation proceeding that was conducted before the Honorable retired Judge Dr. Amiram Binyamini, the Electric Corporation undertook as follows:
1. The Electricity Corporation undertakes to amend its conduct to enable calling the 103 call center for free for any request, including from mobile phones, while it will publish this measure to its customers in accordance with the provisions of the law.
In light of the amendment entered in the Consumer Protection Law of 2015, which states that a free line should be provided for every request (not only for complaints regarding malfunctions and defects), it was agreed that the Electric Corporation will allow the option of free calls from mobile phones for any request, and not only for complaints regarding malfunctions and defects.
2. In addition to the future arrangement, the Electric Corporation will pay as compensation for the past the amount of NIS 1,423,787, which, due to the difficulty in locating the members of the group, will be granted to Electric Corporation customers defined as Holocaust survivors who are entitled to a discount; taking into consideration that this group includes about 15,000 Holocaust survivor, each one of them will be entitled to receive an additional discount in the electricity account at the rate of NIS 91.8.
Consumer Council CEO, Josh Goldschmidt, said: "The Israel Consumer Council has raised the banner of consumers' protection in Israel, handling their complaints and raising awareness to their rights. The Consumer Council has filed the class action as part of its activities and this settlement fully fulfills the objectives of the class action:
a. The arrangement will ensure that all Electric Corporation customers will be able to call the Electric Corporation in the future at any time and on any subject, including from mobile phones. b. The compromise arrangement is significant and relevant to every company and business in Israel, large or small, because they must comply with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Law and treat all consumers fairly and with maximum transparency. c. The compromise arrangement will provide some compensation for the benefit of the consumers, in this case - an important group of Holocaust survivors, for the damages caused as a result of the failure to allow free communication to every consumer as required".