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The Schmooze

Israeli Attorney Launches Campaign Against Overcharging

Shopping in Israel can be an intensely irritating experience. There’s the line-jumping, the willingness of checkout staff to keep customers waiting while they chat with each other or on cell phones, and the hard-sell for things you don’t need just before you pay. Then there’s the overcharging – not the while-you’re-not-looking kind, but the we’re-waving-it-in-your-face-but-you-can’t-protest kind.

In the States, you pay the price displayed in the store. If something is $9.99 you get your penny coin as change. But in Israel, while things are commonly marked 9.99 shekels, 99.95 shekels, etc., the coins needed for change don’t exist. The smallest denomination of coin is 0.10 shekel, so you often end up paying more than you should.

Sure, the odd agora – hundredth of a shekel – won’t make you rich or poor, but there’s something wrong in the fact that people across the country are being overcharged so that stores can play that silly old marketing trick of making prices seem lower than they are.

At last a penny-pincher – and that’s meant as a compliment in this case – has come along. Attorney Ofer Shahal has launched a one-man crusade against this overcharging. He has written to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer demanding he outlaws the practice – and threatening to take the issue to the High Court if he doesn’t. According to this report he won over the Ministry, which is proposing a legal change.

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