(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Popular clothing chains Castro and Fox and other stores and Web sites were hit with heavy fines by the Tel Aviv District and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry on Tuesday for employing deceptive advertising methods.
"The clothing line Fox was fined for displaying currencies other than the shekel on its price tags, which is against the Israeli Consumer Law," said Tamar Pincus, the ministry's chief prosecutor.
"Some of the products they sold said 'Hot Sale,'" she said, "so people were convinced that they were getting a great deal, when there was no previous price; the sale was a lie."
Castro was fined NIS 130,000 for deceiving customers, Pincus said. In addition to displaying currencies other than the shekel, the chain misled its customers through its advertising.
"They said they were having a 50-percent-off shoe sale, but they didn't say which prices were being cut in half," she said. "They didn't mention that the price in question wasn't the previous price; it was the price from a long time ago."
Home Center also committed several infringements, Pincus said.
"In a newspaper promotion, a kettle was listed as being on sale, but when people went to buy it, they were asked to pay more. And this also happened with several other items," she said. "In addition, several items were sold listing a 'previous price,' but there was no such thing.
"Also, according to Israeli Consumer Law, an item's price tag must include its full price, including shipping, if it is required. Several people bought items at Home Center and were asked to pay an additional shipping fee when the items arrived at their houses," Pincus said. Home Center received a NIS 200,000 fine for these violations.
Over the past year, the Tel Aviv District and the Industry Trade and Labor Ministry have recorded 468 crime reports; 503 treatment complaints have been filed and concluded; 261 cases have been opened relating to consumer complaints on sales transacted through shopping channels and online; and 289 of these cases have been completed, the ministry said Tuesday.
So far this year, approximately 20,000 reviews have been conducted by inspectors sent by the court and the ministry. Of these, 12,000 reports have been filed against consumer businesses for issues regarding consumer protection, such as price display, price expropriation, checking products for damage and product price differences.
The ministry has opened 214 consumer cases this year, and some have already been submitted to the court, the ministry's Yaakov Malul said Tuesday. So far, 179 cases have resulted in the dispensation of warnings, while 28 had court rulings, he said.
Malul said the administrator of the Web site Best Por Yo had been sentenced to five months in prison and fined NIS 60,000 for serious offenses and customer deception. The My Shofar network was fined NIS 450,000 for reducing its operations while deceiving consumers.