Question:

 

For years we have been living very well without air conditioning. I guess my apartment has particularly good ventilation, and we managed, even on the hottest days of the year, with only a couple of fans. Now, though, things have changed. Global warming or growing children – I don’t know the reason, but whatever it, is we decided that no more. An air conditioner was no longer a luxury item for us. I did some research and found that every single store advertised A/C units with two prices – one for cash payments and another for installments (cash being the obviously cheaper option). Since I don’t have the money in cash, I wanted to pay in installments. Can I pay this way and say that the price is for installments, and the owner gives a discount to people who pay in cash?

Answer:

If a store displays two different prices and does not have a heter iska one may not pay in installments. If you don’t have the money you can choose one of the following options (descending in order of preference):

  • Pay with a credit card that has credit from your bank (that has a heter iska)
  • Agree with the owner of the store that the deal will be according to heter iska and sign a heter iska form with him
  • Reach an agreement with the owner that the price for the unit will be the higher price regardless of the payment method. Then you are free to choose the installment method for paying.

Sources:

See Yore Deah 173:1 for the prohibition of displaying merchandise with two prices. See Chavos Daas there 102: If the two prices are not discussed at the time of the sale it is permitted. See sefer Brit Yehuda Ikkarei Dinim chapter 14:17.

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