Bezeq, the Israeli phone company, has been raking in millions of shekels a year for “repair insurance” on phones that are some 40 years old, business daily Globes said in an investigative piece. According to the report, the company has made “hundreds of millions of shekels a year off the backs of customers who have not paid attention to the charge on their monthly phone bill.”
In response, Bezeq said that any customer who is being charged the NIS 3.69 monthly repair fee is free to cancel it. “The repair insurance fee is listed very clearly in customers’ phone bills, and it can be canceled upon request. The issue is not new, and has been covered in the media in the past. The subject is clearly addressed on Bezeq’s web site,” the company said in a statement. The fee is paid monthly and allows customers to bring their phones in for repair for no charge, but Globes said that the company’s own numbers show that it is still collecting millions of shekels a year in repair subscription fees on phones that are no longer in use, or even in existence.
Apparently, however, few customers – most of them business customers – realize this. The fee is for old-fashioned business phone models Zamir and Efroni, used with Bezeq’s land phone lines and switchboards. Bezeq sold the phones in the 1970s and 1980s. It is not known how many are still in use, as the phones do not support any of the digital services available today.
“If Bezeq wanted to be fair, it would stop collecting this fee and refund the money it collected in recent years,” Globes said. “And if Israel had a functioning communications ministry, it would take into consideration the needs of customers and stand by them, instead of acting like a subsidiary of Bezeq.”
Bezeq has refused to release data on the number of phones that are repaired, Globes said, and quoted sources in the company as saying that very few of the phones come in for repairs nowadays. In its statement, Bezeq said that customers were sending in their phones for repair “on a regular basis.”