products - Eyal Toueg - January 26 2011
An Israeli woman at a grocery store. Photo by Eyal Toueg
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Three out of four Israelis were misled at least once last year when buying something, the Israel Consumer Council says.

A survey by the council, carried out in advance of World Consumer Rights Day on Thursday, found that 76% of households reported being misled when purchasing goods or services.

Of those who said they had been misled, 80% of Jewish households reported that they complained, while 19% said they didn't. Among Arab respondents, 66% submitted complaints.

The following figures refer exclusively to the 76% of those surveyed who reported being misled.

Half said they had been misled by ads announcing discounts that turned out to apply only to certain products or were conditioned on a minimum total purchase.

Another common complaint was being charged more than the price marked on an item. Some 42% of Jewish households reported that this happened to them last year, while only 18.4% of Arab households did.

Around 24% of Jewish households reported that they had been misled by an attractive offer with crucial fine print they had not initially noticed. Of this group, 46% saw the fine print details only after making the purchase.

Arab respondents were more likely to complain that their communications providers, including cell phone companies, multichannel television and ISPs, charged them more than a representative had promised by phone. Forty-two percent of all Arab households reported this, compared with 33% among Jewish respondents.

Most respondents said they took their complaints straight to the offending business - the seller, the service desk or the manager, depending on the business.

A small percentage took their complaints elsewhere - 1.2% to the Industry and Trade Ministry, 1.1% to the Israel Consumer Council and 1% online on a social network.

The telephone survey was conducted last month by Roni Bar-Zuri, an Industry and Trade Ministry researcher, among 1,000 respondents considered a representative sample of Israel's adult population.