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Cellular advertising done through calling, hanging up and having the customer call back to hear a pre-recorded message is a blatant and grave violation of the law, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen ruled yesterday.

The judge endorsed a class-action suit filed against Telran Communications and Clinic Teva, who both used this advertising method. Agmon-Gonen found that cell phone owners who had received such calls or invitations to take part in a quiz between January and mid-June 2009 - in which they had to provide personal details - were eligible for compensation. The sum will be determined at a later hearing.

In her ruling, Agmon-Gonen distinguished those customers who got a missed call of this kind - usually from numbers starting with 072 or 073 - and did not return the call, and those who did chose to return the call at their own expense.

The communications law prohibits advertisers from advertising via fax, auto-dialer systems, electronic messages or text messages without a written agreement from the addressee. The companies claimed that since the ads were only played after the targeted customers called back, the law had not been violated.

"There is a degree of impertinence in the respondents' claim," Agmon-Gonen wrote. "Anyone calling them back after seeing a missed call did so to find out who called him, whether for professional or personal reasons, or simply to realize his basic and natural right to find out who called their private and personal number. Such a person would have no interest in or desire for the services and products the respondents seek to sell him through the advertisement, and he certainly did not agree to have the advertisement played to him - and most certainly not to pay for the call required to listen to the advertisement."

The court demanded that the companies deliver their data regarding such calls within 30 days, and allowed the parties to inform her whether her confirmation of the suit as a class action would make them interested a compromise.