Consumer Council launches campaign against cell companies

The Council launched a campaign in the press and radio under the slogan “At home and in the office, calls are not made from a mobile phone.”

December 9, 2010 00:44
2 minute read.
A  cell phone user [illustrative]

Cellphone user 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Israel Consumer Council is calling on the public to take an active part in the campaign it has launched against the cellular companies.

“The amount of complaints we receive shows that the public is angry and frustrated with the behavior of cellular companies, and there is a sentiment that we don’t have any bargaining power opposite those companies,” Consumer Council director Ehud Peleg said Wednesday at a press conference in Tel Aviv. “They like to count our money but not take us into account.”

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“The regulator is acting to bring down connectivity fees but unfortunately is not intervening in the high level of prices,” he said. “Therefore, we are announcing a public campaign against cellular companies by encouraging consumers to use fixed-phone lines instead of their mobile phones in an effort to reduce the companies’ revenues and for users to save hundreds of shekels on their mobile phone bills.”

The Consumer Council on Wednesday opened a campaign in the press and radio under the slogan “At home and in the office, calls are not made from a mobile phone,” while asking cellular phone users to drop at least three minutes in calls a day that they usually make from mobile phones and use fixed-phone lines instead.

According to the council, the coordinated effort of 2.3 million cellphone users who are paying full tariffs would reduce the revenues of cellular companies by NIS 1 billion a year.

Other steps suggested by the council to reduce the companies’ revenues include canceling one’s cellular voice mail or leaving a message on it to send a text message and leave a voice message only in an emergency.

In addition, the Consumer Council is encouraging people to buy cellphones at places not connected to cellular companies, which can mean saving up to 45 percent on the price of the handset.

“When we talk, they are making a profit. We will make them listen when consumers talk,” reads the campaign flyer of the Israel Consumer Council. “Cellular companies make a profit of about NIS 3 billion a year at our expense and continue to raise prices all the time.”

Revenues of the three large cellular companies – Cellcom, Pelephone and Partner – increased from a cumulative NIS 16.9b. in 2007 to NIS 18b. in 2009 and are projected to reach NIS 18.9b. in 2010. Net profit rose from NIS 2.4b. in 2007 to NIS 3.2b. last year and is projected to be NIS 3.6b. in 2010.

Peleg said a survey conducted by the council during November found that 41% of consumers ranked the behavior of cellular companies as the worst in terms of fairness and disclosure.

Furthermore, consumers complained about long and complicated contracts that were hard to understand, and that cellular companies were forcing consumers into commitments of 36 months for a mobile phone contract, thereby bypassing the new regulation that forbids commitment of over 18 months.

“The cellular market is dominated by three large companies allowing no competition, which makes it hard for consumers to have bargaining power,” Peleg said. “There is a failure in the market and the cellular companies are abusing this situation.”

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