A new law intended to save Israelis time on the phone has gone into effect. Under the law, callers to service centers must be able to speak to a human being within six minutes of calling. If they are unable to do so, the service centers must offer customers a callback, which must take place within three hours. Failure to do so will result in a fine.
The law is an expansion of consumer protection regulations, designed to make it easier for Israelis to conduct business with service centers of banks, government offices, phone companies and so on. Many of these services use phone menu systems that shunt callers into long waiting lines to speak to service personnel, with callers often waiting for a half hour or more.
The reason for that, many companies claim, is that they cannot predict the frequency of calls, and thus are caught short-staffed. For them, the law offers the possibility of calling customers back – but it must inform them that they can choose a callback within two minutes of the call being answered. Customers are free to stay on the phone if they wish, and the callback must take place within three hours.
The new law is an update of a law that was passed in 2014 that required a human response within three minutes of a call being answered, but the law was not kept – or well-enforced. In addition, it was unclear on the fines or other penalties that could be imposed on violators. Under the new law, fines will be imposed in all cases of violations. The maximum recommended penalty is NIS 22,000.