The Big Felafel

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Consumer Rights category.

Defend Yourself.

me in motion. that cinder block never had a chance.

me in motion. that cinder block never had a chance.

As a kid who grew up in Los Angeles, I learned at a young age that anyone on the street could rob you. I lived in Hollywood, and unlike what most foreigners think, in the 90’s it wasn’t about the stars, but more about homeless people and prostitutes. By the age of seven I knew how to hold my purse over my shoulder (why did I even have a purse?), look out for weirdoes, and never talk to strangers. As you can guess my childhood was anything but normal.

When I moved to Israel, I became more worried about terrorism and less about criminal activities. I started checking buses like I was a Mossad agent, even though I had no idea what I was actually looking for. Jerusalem, despite what you see in the news, gave me a sense of security, unlike that of LA. I forgot about my purse–shoulder attire, realized that all the weirdoes had Messiah syndrome or were loud Americans on the bus, and strangers were Israelis that just wanted to know how much you make.

I let my guard down.

And I was robbed and attacked.

It happened this past March when I was walking home with my son. I saw the guy, and even though my intuition kicked in, I ignored it. He seemed young, wasn’t looking in my direction and kept to himself. He came at me from behind and covered my mouth. My instincts kicked in. My fear kicked in. My mommy powers kicked in. Oh, and did I mention I was seven months pregnant at the time? For some reason I tried to fight him, seeing that he wasn’t pulling out a weapon. My son grabbed at my legs, as the attacked grabbed at my jacket. He eventually got my cell phone (good bye smartphone….24 payments, and I had just paid the last one), and threw us both down the stairs as he ran off. I had screamed for help the whole time, but no one was around, even though it was 4:30pm in the afternoon. I had looked him in the eyes, trying to remember his face. But it took the police a week for the sketch artist to meet with me, so it didn’t do much good.

I still walk around trying to find him. Who cares about the phone—I want him off the streets.

That day my son and I took our first ambulance ride. I thought my water broke in the fight and the fall, but it turns out I just peed myself. It was a hot day and I had a smoothie, and pregnant women aren’t good with bladders anyway. Thanks to Israeli bureaucracy, I am still fighting the ambulance bill, which claims I called them—of course that’s ridiculous since I didn’t have a phone.

Once at the hospital, in the trauma unit, I decided I would never end up there again. I decided I needed to learn how to properly defend myself. I hadn’t listen to my instincts, and I fought like a little girl, lots of bitch-slapping to the face, but no real harm. I knew I would have to wait until after I gave birth, and so I began counting down the days until I could sign up for a class. I also walked around with pepper spray, which helped, but made me feel like I would spray myself.

Finally the day arrived. We organized a self-defense class through El Halev, to be held in our neighborhood, in order to encourage other women to take the course. The class taught me how to listen to my surroundings, and to my intuitions. It gave me the basic tools to fight off an attacker if I need to. We all had the opportunity to hear and bond with each other over similar fears for safety and know we are not alone. We learned that we are strong and we have the power to defend ourselves.

Every woman should take a self-defense course. What happened to me could of course happen to anyone else. I say this from a place of strength and not fear.

Think of self-defense like a supportive bra. Eventually every woman needs it.

In the final class, each one of us had the opportunity to break a cinder block with our bare hands. The first time round it took me three tries to break that bugger in half, but I did. The feeling of strength was so powerful, I begged to break the block again. This time before I broke it, the instructor told me “this one is for the attacker, go get him.” As we were taught in the class, I belted out a loud, “NO!,” and slammed down hard on that block, cutting right through it. Right to my core.

On to Krav Maga…who’s with me?





GroopBuy, Get Your Deal On.

Like any good Jew, especially one living in Israel, I love deals. Deals complete me. A dress that was on sale seems more valuable somehow. Going to the shuk and bargaining over fruit leaves it tasting better than ever. And discovering a new website that brings the promise of amazing deals day after day, well friends, that is priceless.

May I introduce you to GroopBuy where deals are daily and that makes mamma happy. The concept is simple: everyday there is a new deal and if you like it you sign up and then you make sure your friends do too. If enough people sign up for the deal then we all get to enjoy the benefits. And again mamma is happy.

The deals can be for restaurants to dance classes and today it was for a dentist (not a bad idea since my teeth have been feeling sore lately, and I was just ignoring it but now I don’t have to). The deals come to your inbox so I imagine that this is what it feels like when the Christians say, “Everyday feels like Christmas.”

The website is super user-friendly and in English, in fact they even had Anglos in mind when creating the site according to the ‘about us’ section: GroopBuy is a response to the frustrations Anglos may experience when integrating into a new country. This cuts the Israeli learning curve right in half—now we just have to figure out a website that makes the banks and bureaucracies open for more than two hours a day and we might just see a spike in Aliyah.

Who is excited to get her deal on? It’s me and I hope it’s you because it only works if we all join in. And remember mamma wants to be happy.

Check out the deals at
Join the Facebook GroopBuy Group

Consumer Rights Revolution? Return goods for cash in Israel starts December 2010

Israel is slowly but surely starting to come ’round and realize the importance of the (gasp) consumer! The Knesset finally thinks it’s about time to get rid of receipts that say “2 weeks to return for store-credit only”. If you’ve ever bought anything in Israel, you’ll know that you better be 100% sure that you like it or that you can rush back to the store and hopefully find something else instead. New regulation has been passed that you now have those same 2 weeks, but this time you can get your money back.

Still lightyears behind the US’s return policy, it’s a step in the right direction.

Some notes:

  • To qualify for a cash-back return, the item must be over 50 shekels
  • Consumers will receive funds via the same method they paid
  • Shoppers who purchase products from retail chains will be able to receive a refund at any of the chain’s stores.
  • Full refunds will be given for all items returned within 14 days, with several exceptions and provisos for specific items. Shoes and clothing, for example may only be returned within 3 days of the purchase and on condition that they weren’t worn.
  • All canceled deals will cost the buyer a 5% cancellation fee.
  • Returning an electronic product will entail a 10% or NIS 100  cancellation fee – the lower of the two – if the original packaging was opened.
  • Retailers are not required to provide refunds for purchases of lingerie, custom built furniture, food, medicine or foreign vacation package cancellations.
  • The regulations also cover service plans, such as mobile phone contracts, hotel reservations and gym memberships.
  • Companies will be forced to return the worth of the unused portion of the plan, but will be allowed to retain up to NIS 100 of the amount for services rendered or cancellation fees.
  • Keep your receipt, but you can also show the label or tag on the item.
  • The law goes into effect December 14, 2010,  delayed from the intended October 2010.

Sources: Jpost, Ynet

Don’t Get Angry – Get Empowered about Consumer Rights in Israel!

As new immigrants, part of our induction into Israeli society is new rights, discounts, a bit of money and lots of customer service fights – whether it be at the bank, over the phone or just waiting in line. Most of us know about the money and rights part, but the fighting for basic consumer rights is something that even after you do it, even after several times of doing it, even after learning your lesson and never doing it again- you still feel surprised, annoyed and stressed out from each experience.

Most immigrants will tell you that after a while you just get used to the new way of customer service and accept it. You try not to let things get under your skin because you’ll go nuts. And besides, the bureaucratic system is the way it is and no one is going to change that.

Friends and fellow immigrants, change is not only for Obama, the time for consumer rights to exist in Israel has come. Or at least for me it has, and I’m on your team, so whether you like it or not, we are about to fight the battle of consumer rights culture in Israel.

Two weeks ago, I went to Pelephone headquarters in Jerusalem to fight a NIS 17 monthly internet charge that they added to my phone bill. After waiting almost a half hour for a customer service representative, I was told that I had to pay the fee according to their new rule which they state is: Any phone that can access internet will pay an access charge for internet. So what does this mean? Well, even though I feel that having internet at work and at home is enough for me and I would rather spend the NIS 17 a month on chocolate bars, that’s just too bad because I am forced to pay the fee.

This ridiculous charge is added on to another outrageous charge that I only found out about while fighting the internet issue; which is, that I am still paying for a phone that broke months ago. Yes, it turns out that if your phone breaks and you get a new phone, you still have to pay for the old, broken phone as well as your new phone. And, even if I went to another cell phone company, since clearly I hate Pelefone at this point, it wouldn’t matter because I would have to continue to pay for the two phones, so they still get my money.

After arguing and even using tears as a weapon (didn’t work), I left angrier then I have ever been, and that is hard to do. I wanted to leave Israel and never come back. Yes, I am used to fighting with customer service. And yes, I am aware that there is no customer service in Israel. But that does not explain or justify charges for a product I don’t want.

Once the anger subsided and I thought about the situation it occurred to me that this was actually happening for a great reason. I am not going to get pooped on any longer. I am going to fight for consumer rights because they can and do exist…somewhere. If I allow the internet fee to continue today, then tomorrow it’s a TV fee on my phone for NIS 100 (and that obviously includes the TV tax, another point of anger). And that trend does exist, how else could you explain the internet tax in the first place?

I have already informed Pelephone that I plan to sue them or start a class action suit. While they believe that I am angry, I’m not sure how much they believe in my fight. I am writing this post to ensure that I plan to fight this until the end. And I don’t know exactly what the end is. It could be reversing the forced internet fee for all Pelephone customers or all cell phone holders in general (since this fee exists with several companies). The end may be a fight for consumer rights against big companies, monopolies and the general bureaucratic system. But no matter what I am fighting it.

And I already have support. Through my research, Janglo posts and joining consumer rights groups that I never knew existed; I have found helpful people that unfortunately have also gone through this awful process. They have given me their contact info and advice and for that I thank them.

I have created a list below (please feel free to add), of ways to fight your own battles. And keep in mind, don’t get angry, get empowered. We can only create change if we believe change will come.

Consumer Rights Organizations, Councils, Groups and more:

The Israel Consumer Council:76 Mzah St., Tel Aviv 65789; Tel: 03-560-4671/72

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor – Department of Consumer Affairs: Yitzchak Kimchi, Esq. is in charge. His number is: 02- 6662590 His assistant: 02- 6662593 and 02-6662596

The Israeli Council for Consumerism: Fax number: 03- 6241035

Jerusalem Consumers Rights:  02-666-2034

Websites and online resources: