A few months before we moved to Israel, my parents-in-law were shopping in Eilat and saw some inexpensive furniture which they purchased for us. A couch, love seat, a bed frame and a mattress. They paid half on credit with the other half to be paid in cash upon delivery of the furniture. It was agreed that the furniture dealer would hold the items for a few months, as we didn’t know exactly when we would be able to move in to our apartment.
So time passed and the appointed move-in day drew near. My father-in-law called to arrange for the furniture to be delivered. Except the dealer now said he was expecting a few hundred more shekels for the trouble of delivering the furniture. After arguing back and forth my father-in-law told him to just bring the furniture. That afternoon, as we waited for the truck, the dealer called and said something about his truck not being available or some similar excuse. He would not be delivering the furniture that day. But, he said, he would deliver it another day next week…That day came and went.
For several days, and then a few weeks, the excuses mounted – something wrong with the truck, something about his hired help, something about not having the items in stock. Several times my father-in-law spoke back and forth with the furniture dealer on the phone. Maybe he will deliver today, oh, no, sorry, actually tomorrow. It would cost this much more, now this much more. Eventually, one Friday morning, the call came that the furniture had been confiscated at the check point coming out of Eilat because my parents-in-law had not paid the appropriate taxes.
A side note: Eilat is a tax free zone, so items purchased in Eilat are 17% cheaper than the rest of the country. However, if you take those items out of Eilat, you are supposed pay the tax and the sales people will provide documentation of this payment. It is important to note, though, that in the rest of the country the tax is added into the price of the items and that is the price displayed on the price tag. If the price tag on a shirt says it costs 100 shekels you only pay 100 shekels, where as in The States the tax is mostly added at the register and the price you pay is higher than what you see on the price tag. So a price tag that says $100 would pay $117 at the register after taxes. )
HOWEVER the sales man – who agreed at the time of purchase to drive out of Eilat to deliver the furniture – never asked my parents-in-law to pay the taxes.
After that, you can imagine, there were many phone discussions about the furniture- he has to get more made, but its Ramadan so the Muslim workers are on their holiday; he might have at least a bed in stock but he never called back to confirm; how about a couch and a chair (on which we would take a hit, because those items are worth less than a couch and a love seat); oh now I have the items, I’ll deliver sometime this afternoon; oh sorry I didn’t deliver yesterday, maybe I can come tomorrow…
In the mean time, for these weeks my husband and I were sleeping on an air mattress, and we had one folding beach chair in our living room, to compliment our already meager furniture for the rest of the house. It was especially hard when my husband left for his first stint in the US. I mostly just went to bed rather than sit in my echo-y living room in a beach chair alone.
One time the furniture dealer actually drove into the kibbutz to deliver the stuff, but demanded even more money when he got here. When my father-in-law wouldn’t give him more he got ready to leave. But then, he claims, he saw me and the children, and he wanted to be nice (!) – unlike my father-in-law, who was mean, he said – and he set up the bed.
But still no couch and love seat.
At this point, I kind of stopped paying attention to the details.
And Then: At last one day, more than a month into this ordeal, my father-in-law showed up late to dinner smiling. He said the last of the furniture had finally been delivered (and I found out later, all of the extra demands for money had been met), and I could arrange it any way I want.
BUT there was one pillow missing.
And its true, there was one large cushion missing from the love seat. But don’t worry, it would be delivered soon.
The following week, my sister-in-law, who was visiting from Tel Aviv, was in Eilat to do some shopping. She stopped by the furniture shop to get the pillow. As she descried it, she called the dealer from her phone because he wouldn’t answer the door, and he told he her would be out in 5 minutes with the pillow. After a half an hour waiting outside (remember this is Eilat in August, temperatures top 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day) she called again from her phone, but the man didn’t answer. Finally she called from my father-in-law’s phone, which she had in the car with her. The man not only answered but came out with a pillow. It was dirty and dusty, but since its pleather (plastic that looks like leather), it didn’t matter.
At long last my furniture set would be complete!
When I got that pillow home and washed, it was the wrong size, and the wrong color. Fortunately its not too much wrong that it really matters.
A few days later my mother-in-law came over to see the furniture set up. And she asked if I like it, and I said yes, and thank you very much, it makes our apartment feel like a home now.
And she said, you know, this is not the color I ordered.