Like the MamaLand Empire!

Have you Liked the AliyahLand adventure?
      ...and sign up for weekly aliyah tips by email (it's free).

Guest Post: Ordering online in Israel vs ordering online in America


Image result for eytan buchmanAre online stores here in Israel up to snuff?  Most people will tell you things are getting better… which may be true, but today’s guest post, courtesy of hummus-loving marketing guru Eytan Buchman, begs to differ – slightly.  Things may be better than they were, but as he explains, sometimes you still feel like you’re crossing over into the Twilight Zone...

Ordering online in America:

Go to Amazon.
Click Buy
Get it to your door that day.

Ordering online in Israel:

imageFind a website

They don’t sell things online. Weird.

You find a comparison website. It feels like a scam.

It sends you to another website. The site was designed in 1992.

Find what you want.
It costs triple what it costs in the US. Whatever.
Select shipping options.
Pay $7 dollars for delivery in 21 days, $12 for delivery in three days, or pickup from the store.

The store doesn’t even have parking. And that's exactly why you are shopping online in the first place. Goddamnit.

Pay $10. Because internet.

Try to checkout.

US card doesn’t work. Because why not.
Use Israeli card that charges you $5/month even though you get no benefits.

Wait a day.

Wait another day.

Get an email from store saying it was dispatched by messenger.

Wait three days.

Get angry call from delivery guy at 2:30pm. He’s outside your house. How could you not be home?

Ask that they come back another day.

He's upset. You're a terrible person.

He comes back again at 2:30pm the next day. Again, no warning.

He has a quick chat with the gas guy who also is waiting outside. You're never going to get your cooking gas. Or your package.

You get a text message. Your package is at a post office.

You go to the post office. It’s closed.

Actually, wait - your package is at a local grocery store for some reason. It's not local for you - it's a mile away, which is a 45 minute drive in Jerusalem.

They make you buy three loose cigarettes before you can get the package.

You get the package.

The store owner guy smacks you in the face. You don’t even bat an eye. You're expecting it at this point.

The delivery guy is there too. He also smacks you in the face.

Oh, wait, he brought a friend. They want you to pay customs. It’s another 180%. You pay because you already pay your whole salary to the government so why not.

The website owner, the post office lady, the bank teller who always ignores you, the cooking gas guy, and the store owner beat you up with an umbrella, repeatedly jumping on you while singing a ditty about how you will never win, and then ask for a tip.


© 2018 Eytan Buchman – shared with permission of the author.  Support an oleh -- Visit his site!

Me again.  Just in case you think any of this is an exaggeration (okay, maybe the slapping), literally just as I was putting together this post, I got a phone call out of the blue.  I was NOT expecting a parcel today at all:

Me: "Hello?"
Crackly man's voice: "Who am I talking to?"
Me: "Who's this?"
Crackly: (indiscernible)
Me: "Who?"
Crackly:  "Fedex, Fedex, are you home?"
Me: "Yes, we're home..."

At least we were home.  Another time I managed to organize a delivery window and the driver called to abuse me because he’d shown up two hours early and I wasn’t home.

If you have any horror stories about Israeli online shopping – or, conversely, great stories! – or, conversely, nightmare stories about U.S.-based online shopping – I’d love to hear them all in the Comments below.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. Last time I visited Israel, when I was waiting for a bus stop an Israeli teenager (I think) asked to borrow my smartphone to look up a price. It was shoes he looked up if I recall correctly. I was kind of intrigued that they'd look online for price-ranging but not buy online too.

    Are ArtScroll translations available at a price similar to America in Israel, or is it inflated beyond that? Is it more cost-effective to purchase such books pre-aliyah than post-aliyah? Thank you

  2. I have friends and neighbors here in Israel who buy online all the time without any complaints. Some do their grocery shopping online, too. There are sites that work well in Israel, and others probably don't.
    Personally, I like real stores with people. I like to see and touch what I'm buying.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I buy online from other countries all the time - things that would cost at least twice as much here, that I don't need immediately, and that aren't of a size or weight that would make shipping costs prohibitive. I pay the exact same prices anyone else would pay. The cost of shipping can be high, sometimes ridiculously so - in which case I can chose not to make the purchase - and I can usually find the same or a similar item elsewhere with more reasonable price + shipping. I know the shipping will take time, it's just reality. And yes sometimes things are left at our local grocery store - and I greatly appreciate that the grocer is willing to provide such a service, and he does it with a smile. Also true for ordering things within Israel - I work full time and don't live in a city so this saves me a lot of time. I almost never have a problem. And yes, the delivery people do show up without coordinating, but with one exception they've never been anything but pleasant and polite - If I'm not home, I ask them to wait a few minutes and call them back with the name and number of a neighbor who is around and can accept the package. Problem solved. Noting SLAPPING? BEATING? - if those didn't happen then this is going far beyond exaggeration, depicting people providing you with a service as nasty or monsters - inappropriate even if their service was not to your complete satisfaction.
    If this is how it makes you feel, why not avoid buying online?

  5. I just ordered stuff from Next.
    Ordered on Monday in shekels.
    Arrived today.
    I order books all the time
    Ordering online seems like an Israeli hobby

  6. A month ago, I renewed my American passport at the US Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv. When going in person, the passport is always delivered by the Israeli Courier Service affiliated with the Israel Post. I was given a stub at the Embassy printed by the Israeli Courier Service which stated when the passport is ready to be delivered, the recipient of the passport will be notified by SMS, pay 49 NIS by credit card and then the passport will be delivered. After two weeks & a couple of days, I checked the status of the passport on the website of the courier service. The passport was already forwarded to the courier service by the embassy. I waited several more days and did not hear anything from the courier service. I decided to call them, waiting a half-hour while listening to a recording every two minutes how my call is "important" to them. Someone eventually answered, I said "Hello" and they hung up. I called another number and the same thing happened. Eventually, I was able to speak to someone who very angrily said that they do not send an SMS and only notify the person by phone saying that nobody could be reached at my home. They also had a cell phone number which I filled out on the courier service form, but for some reason she asked for it again. After I paid the 49 NIS, I was told that I would be notified within three days and set up a time to deliver it. The courier service delivered the passport the next day without calling. I was just about to leave the apartment and nobody would have been home which would have been much more problematic. This is the Israeli bureaucracy. They give instructions such as them sending the client an SMS which I waited for and wasn't even true and then blaming the client and not even notifying the client when they will deliver the item. In Israel, you must always verify yourself or nothing will ever come to fruition.


I'd love to hear what you have to say.