Industry, Trade and Labor Minister and Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday signed into effect a battery of regulations ensuring consumer rights after a purchase is made.
"The regulations were needed following many complaints by consumers regarding various and varied phenomena of evasions of responsibility, and they bring order to the matter in a thorough manner and in line with the norms applied by honest dealers in the market," said Michael Atlan, the Ministry's deputy legal advisor.
According to the new rules, manufacturers and importers must affix a certificate guaranteeing at least the first year following the purchase of electronic and gas-fueled products (such as heating systems) sold for more than NIS 150.
Any defect or malfunction discovered in the product within the warranty period must be repaired by the manufacturer or importer free of charge, except damage done intentionally by the consumer himself. Any defective part must be replaced by a new, original part.
Any defective product must be repaired within 10 days after the consumer has brought the product to a collection point for the manufacturer to repair in his lab, excluding products that the manufacturer must fix in the consumer's home (such as refrigerators, laundry machines, and air conditioners) within one to three days, depending on the product. If the product cannot be repaired, the manufacturer must provide a new one or a full refund.
If the manufacturer proves that the damage was caused by force or the consumer's recklessness, the manufacturer is sill required to repair the product, but may request that the consumer pay for the repair or replacement.
Replacement parts worth more than NIS 300 must also be provided during the year following the expiration of the warranty period. For 11 basic household products (refrigerators, televisions, dishwashers, laundry machines, central air conditioners, stovetops, freezers, microwave ovens, laundry dryers, ovens, and some home heating systems), replacement parts must be supplied for six years following the warranty's expiry.
Furthermore, the regulations stipulate that the time consumers wait for a technician not exceed two hours; that vital products be repaired quickly; and that manufacturers' collection stations be spread throughout the country.
If the manufacturer or importer cannot be located, the obligations would apply to the retailer who sold the product.
Approved by the Knesset in December, the rules will take effect in six months.
Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Director-General Raanan Dinor expressed his hope that consumers make use of the new regulations to insist on their rights as consumers, whether on their own or with the assistance of a consumer organization. More grievous cases will be handled by the ministry's consumer protection department, through administrative orders and, if necessary, criminal prosecution.
Separately, the Histadrut labor union said Sunday it would publish a guide to consumer rights in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian, available through its Internet site (www.histadtrut.org.il) ahead of International Consumer Day, this Wednesday. Consumers may also contact the union's consumer authority representatives throughout the country, the group said.