The average Israeli household feels it "loses" about NIS 150 each month, or NIS 1,800 yearly, bringing the total annual loss to about NIS 3 billion for Israeli consumers as a whole, recently formed consumer watchdog Public Trust said Tuesday.
Based on a survey of 506 respondents and external data, Public Trust said 30 percent of consumers feel unsure about the fairness of the price and/or reliability of the product or services they're purchasing, against only 20% who feel absolute certainty, "indicating that a significant part of Israeli consumers feel unprotected to various extents," Public Trust said.
A central problem faced by consumers is apathy on the part of businesses and lack of respect displayed when contacted, the organization noted, adding that "these are often contacts initiated in order to complain about a service or product, and the data indicate a wide range of problems."
Public Trust estimated, on the basis, of the survey that, overall, consumers feel slighted about 20 million times each year, yet most often do not bother complaining.
"To this day, the claim is commonly made that the Israeli consumer is not ready to take significant action against a business that has infringed on his consumer rights," said the organization, which is Israel's counterpart to the Better Business Bureau.
Public Trust noted, however, that 63.5% of respondents said they would leave service providers such as cellular, Internet, cable, or satellite companies in favor of competitors supervised by an effective public consumer advocate.
Separately, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry released data based on a survey of 6,132 households indicating that the average Israeli household spent NIS 10,441 on goods and services each month in 2004, up from NIS 10,139 monthly in 2003. The numbers reflect a real rise of 3.4%.
Spending began rising again in 2004 after dropping for several years due to real drops in Israeli households' average income, increased unemployment, toughened criteria for receiving welfare allowances and unemployment insurance, and eroded wages caused by weakened macroeconomic conditions, the ministry said.
Growth of consumer spending in 2004 was the result of a real rise in wages and improved employment figures.
Roughly 77% of households' total income originated in income from work, 2.4% was from income on capital, 6.6% from pensions and provident funds and 13% from welfare allowances and other supports, the ministry noted.