Haggling and bargaining in markets and in stores is something tourists know and like (well, some of them, at least!). But in Israel, the bargaining habit moved from the markets into the corporate world. Prices you see for services, especially with telecommunication companies, are usually nothing more than “suggestions”, and are open for negotiation.
This is an important factor to be aware of, because if you don’t, you’ll just pay the higher price without even knowing you could have paid less. And that’s exactly what these companies hope for – in Hebrew, it’s called “Shitat Matzliach” – the ‘successful method’ – that is, they try to succeed taking extra money from you, and they either do or they don’t with no harm done to them.
Let’s take the internet service providers market, for example. Most of the ISPs don’t even bother to publish their “official” prices on their websites. They want to be able to “control” the price on the phone, according to your tone of voice, your knowledge, etc’. So at first, they’ll offer you a “special” price – that is, the highest price they think they can get away with.
It might even be 50-60 shekels for a relatively slow internet connection. Once you say NO, or you tell them you have better offers, they’ll start going down with the price. At first they’ll suggest a “special discount” – 10 shekels, for example. Hopefully for them, you’ll agree and they’ll still have the upper hand.
If you refuse, they’ll continue with their tricks. They’ll go and get a “special permission” from their manager, for example, for an extra-special-only-today discount.
The REAL prices (or at least close to those) will usually appear when you threaten to leave them. But even then, you might encounter different levels of “please don’t leave us” prices.
So how can you fight this annoying habit of the Israeli companies? The most important thing is TO KNOW IN ADVANCE how much you’re supposed to pay. Use this website, ask friends, ask co-workers – as long as you know how much you’re really supposed to pay, you’ll know how low you can go with the customer rep on the phone. If you KNOW your friends pay less, you’ll be able to haggle your way towards the price that you want to pay.