A Mega struggle

Arnona residents are protesting against a local supermarket that has changed its discount branch to a more expensive one.

Shopper 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shopper 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Daniela Salomon, a resident of Arnona, bought a box of chocolates at the neighborhood Mega supermarket on the corner of Yanovsky and Betar streets. When she realized that the box was damaged and therefore not appropriate as a gift, she decided to exchange it.
At the checkout less than a week later, however, she was surprised to find that the box she had bought for NIS 40 had become a NIS 53 one, and she was asked to add the difference.
“The supermarket is no longer a Mega Bul branch, but has become a Mega Ba’ir one,” the cashier explained to Salomon, “and the prices are higher now.”
The change took place less than a month ago, with the Mega Ba’ir increasing prices by about 12%-15% over Mega Bul, which had frequent discounts.
“When I heard that story, I thought, that’s it, this has gone too far,” recalls Gaby Shine, also an Arnona resident and a customer of the supermarket. Refusing to let the matter go without a fight, Shine organized an immediate Facebook campaign calling for a protest in front of the supermarket, and contacted the Mega company’s owners.
The answer she received, however, only angered her more.
“They told us that we didn’t qualify for a supermarket of the Mega Bul line anyway, that it didn’t fit their policy, which rules that Mega Buls are to be opened only in industrial zones,” she says. “That kind of contempt for us, the customers, was simply unacceptable [and] made us step up our protest.”
Within a few days, neighbors and people who had been following her Facebook status updates contacted Shine and began participating in the demonstrations she led on Friday mornings in front of the supermarket. The first time, the store manager called the police, who allowed the protest to go on.
“Since then, [last Friday was] our third time. We come every Friday morning between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m and protest,” says Shine.
She was also contacted by fellow Arnona resident Ido Naveh, the co-creator of a consumer protest group called “Israel Yekara Sheli” (a Hebrew pun meaning both “my dear Israel” and “my expensive Israel”). The 32-year-old father of three, who made his debut at the famous cottage-cheese protests last summer, runs campaigns against the high cost of food products. He is now organizing a campaign against the plan to raise electricity prices as of next week.
“It’s all connected,” he says, “and the only way we have [of effecting change] is to protest against it.”
As for Shine, she is not planning to give up until Mega changes its policy .
“We just can’t surrender,” she says. “It’s really a chutzpah to treat us that way!” According to the Mega management, “The Allenby branch has a neighborhood character and is located in the center of the city, and it is therefore fitting that it be a Mega Ba’ir store. The prices at the store are reasonable and competitive, and there are daily specials and deals that suit the residents of the area.”