pessah wine matza 88.
(photo credit: )
The old adage says, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” but as
Pessah approaches, many employees are grumbling about the holiday
shopping vouchers they receive from their employers.
Israel Consumer Council (ICC) has reported scores of complaints
received from consumers over the vouchers and their various hidden
“Most of the complaints were about improper
disclosure on the part of the issuers of the voucher, but some were
against the behavior of the businesses,” said ICC spokeswoman Rakefet
Weintraub on Monday.
According to a recent study compiled by the
ICC, roughly half of all adult employees in Israel receive vouchers as
gifts from their employers for the High Holy Days. The vouchers
themselves cost less than their equivalent in cash, which is why
employers buy them. Vouchers redeemable for NIS 1,000 are sold for NIS
The study also showed that 63 percent of employees would
rather receive cash of the same value instead of vouchers. The reason
is that the limitations placed on the purchasing power of the cards, a
limitation that doesn’t exist when dealing with cash, sometimes makes
them worth less than what was paid for them.
vouchers may be nice, but it turns out the vouchers have restrictions
that make them less attractive to many consumers,” said Weintraub. “To
begin with, unlike in cash, NIS 100 in vouchers is not always worth NIS
100. Some chains honor the voucher at less than its advertised worth.
This is particularly true in cases where there are discount chains that
may honor a NIS 100 voucher as only 85% or 90% of its worth.”
problems reported were that the vouchers were only valid up to a
certain date and could not be redeemed afterward; that many stores did
not provide change in cash for the vouchers and would only offer store
credit; and that they often could not be put toward products that were
on sale or discounted. In some cases, stores even refused to honor
vouchers because the establishments’ names had changed since the
vouchers had been issued.
According to the ICC, Israeli law
requires any provisos or limitations to appear clearly on the voucher
itself, and failure to do so is an offense. The ICC recommended that
people who buy the vouchers look closely at the fine print that appears
on it and request to see any accompanying regulations that may contain
It also urged consumers to call the customer service number on the voucher with any questions or concerns.
Levin, CEO of consumer advocacy organization Yachad, Zeh Koach (unity
is power), said he needed a magnifying glass to read the fine print on
“Unless the issuers provide a poster-size sheet
with all the regulations with every voucher, there is no way the
consumers will be aware of all the restrictions,” Levin said, adding
that the way the voucher companies treated consumers was “absurd.”
vouchers are, in effect, a way for billion-dollar businesses to gain
credit at their shoppers’ expense,” he said. “Since the vouchers are
already paid for, it’s like you’re giving them a loan – but unlike any
other loan, in this case, the lender is in a bind.”
major voucher companies are operated by two of the country’s major
retail outlet chains, Shufersal and Blue Square Israel.
Levin estimated that the voucher market in Israel was worth hundreds of
millions of shekels and that despite a reported reduction in the scope
of their use, companies were still earning handsomely off the ignorance
of consumers. Like the ICC, he urged the public to examine the vouchers
carefully before going shopping.
“It will save you time, money and disappointment,” he said.
added that he was in the process of advancing a Knesset bill to help
regulate the gift voucher market and make sure they were honored in