The Israeli Consumer Law
Despite the fact that many provisions have been added to, or deleted from the original law, it seems that the time is ripe for some more renovations in order to make the law up to date with today's consumer practices.
The main purpose of the consumer law is to protect customers from misleading sales methods. It is therefore that the law obliges, for example, to attach the prices of each product to the product itself, to inform the consumer of the features of the product and to disclose the identity of the producer and importer of the product.
However, some of these rules and regulations are too strict, putting an unnecessary burden on the enterprises. They can easily be changed without undermining the undoubtedly legitimate aim to prevent misleading sales practices.
One example is the obligation that each product for sale has to mention its price in Israeli currency "only". This rule originated twenty years ago, when salesmen, as a result of the strong inflation, stated all prices in dollars, confusing customers who had only shekels to pay with.
Today, many Israeli companies with international activities, especially in the fashion industry, tend to attach a price tag to the item stating its price not only in shekels but also in other currencies. The main reason behind this practice is the fact that the products are sent to Israel as well as to other countries all over the world via logistic centers operating outside Israel. This unified system is first of all efficient and accepted worldwide, but secondly, it brings the Israeli customer some pride, informing him that the Israeli dress is also sold abroad! Unfortunately, this practice is against the specific text of the consumer law today.
A second example does also apply mostly to the fashion trade. Sellers have to make sure that the price of each object for sale is attached to the product itself, except for some exceptions such as products sold in bulk. This obligation forbids to design a shop window in such a way that the prices of all items shown are displayed on a card next to the doll wearing the items for sale. Such a display, next to the doll, in a clear and neat manner, will certainly not mislead the public and is preferable, certainly from an esthetic point of view, to a doll full of price tags.
The idea behind the obligation to put a price on each item is to provide the customer with clear information so that when he comes to the counter to pay he will be able to make sure that he is charged as expected. However, items that are displayed in a shop window are not physically taken by the customer, making a visible display of the price in an alternative yet clear manner, sufficient.
These are just two examples explaining the need to "polish up" the consumer law, making it ready for use in the 21st century. I believe that such steps will improve the trade climate for both consumers as well as businesses.
The author is a legal advisor at the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.