Do you know how to stand up for your rights against businesses? How well versed are you in consumer protection laws? Are you aware of your consumer rights or are you an easy target in the consumer market who buys everything that’s for sale? Click here to test and score yourself.
a. You decide to fly to the Far East. You arrive at Ben Gurion airport to find out that your flight has been overbooked and you cannot board the plane. You are offered a replacement ticket on a flight departing the following morning at 10:00. The airline offers you dinner and a voucher for NIS 300 worth of duty-free goods if you agree to give up your seat and fly the next day.
1. It is a well-known fact that airlines frequently overbook charter flights and there’s nothing I can do about it. The compensation is a gesture of goodwill and there is no way I would get more than that in court.
2. Overbooking is intolerable, and it is worth suing the airline just in order to change this reality. It’s difficult to prove damages, but the law allows me to sue for compensation of up to NIS 10,000 without proof of damage.
3. Legislators have dealt with the problem of overbooking, and I am entitled to the following compensation: a meal, accommodation, transportation to the hotel, communication services and monetary compensation of NIS 3,000 without proof of damage.
b. Your washing machine breaks down three months after its year’s warranty has expired. The company claims that it can’t fix the machine because it doesn’t have an inventory of spare parts in Israel. It suggests you buy a new machine at a significantly lower price or buy a similar refurbished machine in excellent condition at an even lower price.
1. My washing machine is useless without the spare parts, so I agree to purchase a new machine but I will negotiate the lowest price for it.
2. This offer is unacceptable, but without much choice, I agree to purchase a new machine and sue the company for punitive damages of up to NIS 10,000 without proof of damage.
3. By law, the company is obligated to keep an inventory of spare parts for seven years from the date of purchase, so I don’t accept the offer. I buy a different washing machine and sue the company for reimbursement of the amount I paid for the machine that broke down and can’t be fixed.
c. You purchase a cell phone package and the agreement clearly states that the charge is NIS 60 a month. After six months you are astounded to notice that the cell phone company is now charging you NIS 129 a month without any mention of this in the agreement. The company claims that it can do this because the discount period has terminated.
1. Only the agreement itself is binding, so if the agreement does not mention a different rate after the promotional period, each party can do as it pleases: the customer may terminate the agreement and the supplier may charge a different rate.
2. The law prohibits the automatic renewal of fixed-term transactions, and a six month promotional offer constitutes a fixed-term transaction. The cellular company is obligated to contact me ahead of time, prior to the termination of the promotional period, and obtain my consent to the new rate since it was not specified in the agreement. If it fails to do this, I can sue for the amount I was overcharged.
3. A cellular company is not obligated to obtain the customer’s consent in advance of increasing the monthly rate because cellular services are an essential commodity and the customer may not be disconnected from the service. It is the customer’s responsibility to contact the cell phone company at the end of the promotional period to draw up a new agreement.
d. You order an electrician to fix the electric panel in your house. It is agreed he will arrive between 08:00 to 10:00, but he doesn’t turn up until 13:00. When you demand compensation, the electrician refused.
1. The Technician’s Law applies to the repair of any electrical or electronic product. In this case, the technician is obligated to arrive within the prescribed time limit, and if the delay exceeds two hours beyond the prescribed time (i.e. after 12:00), I am entitled to compensation in the amount of NIS 300.
2. The Technician’s Law does not apply to the repair of products with an expired warranty (a year’s warranty), so I can only sue if I am caused damage, the damage is a direct result of the delay, and I can prove the extent of the damage.
3. According to the Technician’s Law, I am entitled to compensation in the amount of NIS 600 because the electrician’s delay extended into the third hour.
e. During a vacation, you eat at a well-known restaurant with your family. When you get the bill, you notice that in addition to the food, you have been charged for a jug of water, a security guard fee, and a waiter’s tip.
1. By law, a restaurant is obligated to offer free cold water, and it is therefore illegal to charge for a jug of water. Regarding the other charges, it is acceptable to charge a security guard fee and a tip.
2. By law, a bill must include the service charge. This law also applies to restaurants, and therefore a customer may not be charged for additional services that he has no option to refuse. I ask my waiter/waitress to issue me a new bill without a security guard fee and a tip; I will leave a tip in the amount I see fit.
3. Restaurants are not obligated to provide free services. It is acceptable to add extras to the bill such as a security guard fee, a tip to the waiter and a nominal fee for a jug of water. No point in being stingy!
f. You accompany a (first degree) relative to dialysis treatments at the hospital. Since this involves repeated visits to the hospital, you are spending a considerable sum of money on parking. When you query this issue, you are told that parking is free only for those entering and leaving the parking lot within 20 minutes.
1. Hospitals allow those accompanying patients to use the parking lot for a short period of up to 20 minutes free of charge.
2. According to a circular of the Ministry of Health, state hospitals that operate parking lots directly or through franchise holders, exempt ambulatory patients in dialysis and oncology wards, as well as those accompanying them, from parking fees. The hospital should publicize this at the entrance to the parking lot.
3. There are parking discounts only to patients in the oncology ward, so I have to cover the cost of parking myself.
g. Your latest gas bill is unusually high. You contact the gas company and demand they check your bill and immediately reimburse you the difference. You’ve been chasing after them for two months now. Not only hasn’t the company reimbursed you, it hasn’t even checked out your claim. To this day, you haven’t managed to speak to a representative in charge who can give you an authoritative answer.
1. It isn’t easy to check a gas bill, so I’ll wait another month. If I don’t get an answer from the gas company by then, I'll file a claim in the small claims court.
2. I follow my bills very carefully and have no intention of waiting for an answer. I will sue for reimbursement plus interest and linkage.
3. The law requires the gas company to deal with complaints of overcharging within 10 business days, and to reimburse the amount that was overcharged within an additional four business days, including interest and linkage and compensation of NIS 16. It seems that the gas company has not found my complaint to be justified. However, in this case, they should have responded to me in writing with a detailed explanation within 21 business days. I can prove my claim, so all that’s left for me to do is sue the company.
h. You decide to cut back and buy products with regulated prices. When you go to the refrigerator at the supermarket you can’t identify the regulated products among the dozens of products.
1. I will check on the website of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry for a list of regulated products and their prices.
2. I will ask at the check-out counter. They must have a list of regulated products and their prices. (No, they are actually obligated to display this list next to the regulated products.)
3. It can’t get any easier! I’ll simply look for products marked with the words: "Government regulated price".
i. You purchase a Smartphone from your cell phone provider and they suggest you also purchase insurance that covers repair services, loss and theft. You’re having doubts because the insurance is expensive.
1. The law requires cell phone companies to provide free repair services during the first year when the fault is not caused by improper use (e.g. a crack resulting from a fall). I may consider it it’s worthwhile to purchase theft and loss insurance only, depending on the monthly premium and the deductible.
2. I would invest in the insurance that covers everything (repair services, theft and loss) because the device is so expensive to begin with.
3. I would find out if I can purchase only the loss and theft insurance because the company is required to repair any damage during the first year.
j. You purchase a living room sofa online, and choose the model shown in the display. You are asked to choose your upholstery from the existing store catalog and are told that the delivery will arrive within three months from the purchase date. The following day, your wife gets sacked from her job and you can no longer afford the expense of the sofa. You write to the store to cancel the order and they reply claiming that since this was a special order customized to your requirements, you will have to pay a cancellation fine of 25% of the value of the order, as stated on the order form you signed.
1. Ordering from a catalog constitutes a special order, and therefore consumer cancellation policies do not apply in this case. The company has the right to charge the fine specified in the order agreement.
2. The specified fine is excessive in relation to the damage caused because I canceled the order within less than 24 hours. I will sue the company and ask the court to reduce the fine.
3. Transaction cancellation policies apply in this case because I ordered furniture from an existing model in a catalog and therefore my order was not customized to specific measurements or special requirements. The company is therefore only permitted to charge up to 5% of the cost of the transaction, or NIS 100 (the lower of the two), and clearing fees, which the furniture company must prove it has paid.
A summary score
So what type of consumer are you?
25-30 points: Well done! You are a wise and intelligent consumer, impressively well-versed in consumer protection laws and policies.
20-24 points: You are definitely a smart consumer, but you need to refresh your knowledge of consumer protection laws to know exactly what you are entitled to.
15-19 points: You are indeed on the right track, but there is still room for improvement.
10-14 points: You are an easy target and can easily be fooled. It's time to change and learn to stand up for your rights.