Friday, May 24, 2013

Best and Cheapest Cellphone Plans in Israel - Updated for May 2013

Cell Phone Plan Comparison
Updated May 2013

Much has happened since my last update on cellphone packages.  The cellphone scene in Israel has heated up.  Number portability, new cellphone players and competition in the cell phones device market has made using the cellphone more affordable.

It has been a while since my last update so I thought I would summarize the various players plans.  There are fine print conditions and unique specials and promos all the time so I would suggest that if there is a plan that catches your eye on my summary, you should spend some time investigating the unique aspects of the plan.  Remember there are no contracts that tie you in for a specific period, so if you make a mistake and find something better after signing up, don't worry and make a change.

You should also be aware that there is a SIM charge by each carrier.  I have not included this charge in the price comparison.

Although the newer phones will work on most of the networks, you should check with the carrier if your existing phone will work on their network.  If not, you will need to purchase a new phone.

If you have found my summary helpful, I ask that you +1 my blog.  Happy talking.

My cellphone plan comparison chart can be found here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Proven method for reducing your Internet bill (in Israel)

Here are the steps:

1.  Call up your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and ask them to give you the best price for staying.
2.  Call up a competing ISP and ask them for the best price to switch.
3.  Call up your ISP and ask them if they will match or better the competing ISP's price.
4.  If the answer is no, to step 3, then switch.  Today it is very easy to switch and it will happen within 24 hours.
5.  Within 24-48 hours you will receive a phone call from your original ISP with a better price and possibly even a present :)

The down side is that you may have to switch your settings in your router (twice).  The upside is you get a big (at least 50%) discount on your current rate and you get that great feeling that you have out-smarted the crazy marketing tactics of the telecom companies in Israel.

Remember, never go for the package deal of ISP plus line (Tashtit).  As ISP prices drop and they do, you will be in the best position to negotiate and ensure the best rates.


Monday, February 11, 2013

The Electricity Bill Unplugged

Demystifying your Israeli Bill (Cheshbonit) Series, 

Part 1 - The Israel Electric Bill from the IEC

This is the first in my series on demystifying the Israeli bills we receive on a periodic basis. One of the first challenges a new Oleh has to overcome in his new country is paying a bill. As in most countries there are so many different bills and so many different formats. Add to this the language barrier and you have a recipe for confusion, frustration and sometimes contempt. So that you don't give up too easily and to assist you in overcoming this challenge I am putting together a series on demystifying your Israeli bills.  The first bill that we will tackle is the bill from the Israel Electric Company (IEC).

The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the organization of the bill, translate the technical terms found in the bill and provide a brief description of the major areas of the bill to further familiarize you with the document. Finally I have included some proven (by me and my family) steps in saving money on your electricity bill. I invite you to share your insights and tips with the rest of the readers of this blog. I will continuously update the blog with your saving tips as I receive them.

The Israel Electric Bill/Invoice

Semi Monthly Invoice from the IEC
IEC  =  Israel Electric Company
KWH = Kilowatt Hour קט"ש = קילווט לשעה

Every electricity bill comes in at least a one page format with two sides.  The front page can be divided into two sections; the invoice which summarizes the customer information, the usage billed amounts and a monthly trend of electricity usage, and the payment stub which can be used to pay at any bank, the post office, online or at the IEC.  The second side of the invoice contains calculations and detail information on the usage in the last period.


Page 1 - Side 1

Header of Bill
On the right hand side of the header you will typically find your name and the current address to where the bill is being sent. I have whited out my name and address to protect my identity. The title of this bill is "חשבון דו חודשי" which translates into semi-monthly bill.
Israel Electric Company Invoice Header

EnglishHebrew Comments
1. Invoice/Receipt Number
חשבונית מס קבלה - מקור
A unique numeric identifier for this invoice.
2. Contract Number
מספר חוזה
The number of your contract which identifies you/your house/your meter with the electric company
3. Period of Invoice
חשבון לתקופה
Number of days and the date range of the invoice
4. Date of Invoice
תעריך עריכת חשבון
Date invoice was printed

Contacting the IEC & your Payment Deadline
Contact the Israeli Electric Company
Contacting the IEC
There are many ways to get in touch with the Electric Company (EC).  In most cities you can call EC on your landline, Cellcom, Orange & Pelephone using the short number 103.  You can call this number 24/7, especially if you run into problems with your electricity or you have an emergency. You can also use the IEC website to pay bills and to get more information.

Payment Deadline
Under the contact information you will find the final date on which you can pay your bill.  You can pay your bill at your bank (there are bank charges associated with this payment), online at the IEC website using your credit card (no charges), at the Post Office (no charge) or at the IEC office (no charge).

Electricity Usage Trend
Electricity Usage Trend from Israel Electric Company
The graph found on page 1 gives you a 12 month trend of your electricity usage.  On some bills you may receive a breakdown for each month of peak, normal and low usage. In Israel, during the summer months you should see an increase in electricity usage due to the use of the Air Conditioner which is a large consumer of electricity.

The trend starts 13 months ago on the left hand side and goes to the current billing month on the far right side.
Payment Stub
Payment stub of Israel Electric Company Invoice
The bottom portion of the invoice contains the payment stub which you can use when paying your bill via your bank or the post office.  If you go to the bank or post office to make the payment, make sure to take the entire invoice.  The bank or post office will print and stamp the upper portion of the invoice with the payment information and they will keep the payment stub portion above. Keep the upper portion of the invoice for your records. 

Bank Debit
You also have the option to have the bill paid directly via your bank. To do so you will need to get a form from the IEC and take it to your bank to have them fill it out. Upon submission of this form from the bank, the funds will be taken out of your account to pay for your bill.

Side 2
Side 2 of the Israel Electric Company Invoice

1. Charge for usage from the Israel Electric Company (not including VAT)
חיוב בגין צריכה מחח”י (לא כולל מע”מ)

2. Reading from meter whose serial number is oooo
קריאות מונה מספר סססס

Table Header

3. Tariff Type
Residential (usually)
4. Type of Reading
סוג קריאה נוכחית
Normal (usually)
5. Dates of Reading
Current Read (dd/mm)
Previous Read (dd/mm)
תאריכי קריאה
נוכחית חדש/יום
קודמת חודש/יום
6. Days in Charge Period
ימים לחיוב
7. Current Read
קריאה נוכחית
8. Previous Read
קריאה קודמת
9. Total Usage in KWH
צריכה בקוט”ש
10. Cost per KWH in Agorot
מחיר לקוט”ש באגורות
11. Total in Shekalim (NIS)
סה”כ בש”ח

12. Monthly Fee (Calculated on a per day basis) based on days in period
תשלום קבוע (לא כולל מע"מ)

13. General Announcements
הודעות כלליות

This section is where the IEC will announce a rate change.  They will also inform you of  your last payment.

Tips on how to reduce electricity consumption
  1. Turn off lights when not needed.  Use timers to automatically turn lights off.
  2. Use fluorescent or LED light bulbs and light fixtures
  3. When buying appliances, purchase one’s with high energy efficiency ratings
  4. Hang laundry instead of drying in the dryer
  5. Turn off any low-voltage (tv’s, phones, computer screens) which are not in use.
  6. In cool summer evening,  open windows in evening to cool off house
  7. Set Air Conditioning to 25
  8. Set Heating to 20
  9. Time showers to use hot water from sun so as not to heat the water via electricity.