New laws passed to protect consumers

Finance Committee approves rules requiring warranties.

consumer biz 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
consumer biz 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset Finance Committee on Wednesday finally approved new regulations to protection of one of Israel's long suffering groups - the consumer. The new rules would force manufacturers and suppliers of new electronics, electric and gas appliances and products to provide a one-year warranty certificate for each product priced at a minimum of NIS 150. "It has taken seven years for the regulations to be passed. We welcome the action although the regulations represent a compromise in terms of the products they cover," attorney Yaron Levinson of the Consumer Protection Authority at the Histadrut told The Jerusalem Post. Levinson also noted that the new consumer protection rules did not cover furniture products, a product range that receives many consumer complaints. Consumer rights have long been marginal on the agendas of generations of industry and trade ministers mainly due to ongoing discussions and disagreements between the Ministry of Trade and Israel's commerce industry. The two bodies in charge of consumer protection in Israel are the Consumer Council, subordinate to the Trade Ministry, and the Consumer Protection Authority of the Histadrut. "Until now only five products in Israel had to legally carry a warranty certificate, for example, televisions. If other products were sold with a warranty certificate, it was only a gesture of goodwill in some cases and, in others, the small print on the warranty would deprive the consumer from comprehensive protection," Levinson said. The new warranty certificate rules would require manufacturers and suppliers to repair or replace tools for damaged products within 10 days. If the product can not be repaired the consumer would be entitled to replacement or reimbursement. Further, manufacturers and suppliers would have to provide a home repair service for certain appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners within three days of notice of damage. If the manufacturer can prove that the damage was caused by the consumer's negligence, he may charge a repair or replacement fee. In addition, the regulations dictate norms for service standards following the purchase of products. For example, the waiting time for technicians should not exceed two hours. Levinson hopes the victory, however, will not be in vain. "The new regulations will only come into effect in a few months time and we hope that political changes will not influence the enforcement of the regulations. The success of the regulations for the consumer will depend on how rigidly they will be followed and persecuted," he said.