Back-to-school prices under watch

Among the most common complaints the consumer is lured to cheap sale campaigns.

Investigators at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry has launched an examination into the proper enforcement of promotional sales pricing regarding back-to-school sales items and High Holidays promotions offered at shops and chains across the country after being flooded with complaints from consumers on misleading and deceiving sales promotions offered by retailers. Among the most common complaints, according to the ministry, the consumer was lured to cheap sale campaigns but upon examination it was found that the price of the item before the promotion was not higher than the sale price. Other widespread complaints regarding deception of prices included "buy two, get one free" sale campaigns. Zvia Dori, the ministry's Director-General for Finance, who is responsible for domestic commerce, said the examination regarding proper enforcement of pricing of back-to-school items on sale focused on exercise books, school bags and pencil cases. The ministry is also testing whether the school items sold, such as pencils, adhere to the official standards including color. This week, investigators inspected 220 businesses, of which 45 were stationery or book shops in the areas of Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi and Beit Shemesh. The investigators conducted 310 inspections and wrote 14 reports, which will be transferred to the ministry's legal division for examination and further actions. Next week, the ministry's investigation will continue in Jerusalem for inspections at shopping centers.