What is a Bait and Switch?
The bait and switch is a fraudulent sales tactic that is punishable by US law as false advertising. Though the law forbids this practice, it is commonly used, and people can find examples of it in virtually any advertising circular for major department stores, electronics and computer stores, and automobile retailers. The purpose of the tactic is to get customers to visit a store or business by advertising very low prices. Once the customer is in the store, the salespeople attempt to offer the customer different items at higher prices.
This sales technique begins with the bait, an advertisement for a product at what seems like an extremely low price. Sometimes these products, such as a mattress, are of very low quality, while at other times, the price may apply to one specific style or model of an item. In general, the bait is stocked in very low numbers. In some cases, only one or two are available at the low price.
Once the customer has walked into the retail establishment, the tactic moves to the switch. The salesperson will inform the customer that the store has sold out of the advertised item and offer a similar item at a higher price. Alternately, the salesperson may push hard to be certain the customer understands that the lower-priced product is of inferior quality, and try to sell a better quality product at a higher price. A store may also use bait and switch to bring in customers to buy one lower priced item, but raise prices of unrelated items that customers are also likely pick up at the time.
To avoid prosecution for these tactics, advertisements frequently place in small print that the store does not allow rain checks or that the item is limited to the quantity in the store. Reading the fine print of an advertisement can often alert customers that the advertisement is clearly employing a bait and switch tactic. In auto sales, a customer will often see a new car priced below high blue book. The customer should be aware the price refers not to all cars of this type in the auto retailer’s inventory, but usually to one car, which is quickly sold.
With resolve, a customer may ignore salespeople and purchase the low-priced item, but the quality of the item should be carefully evaluated before deciding on a purchase. Shoppers may also want to avoid purchasing other items from a retail store where the prices seem higher than usual. It may be less expensive to purchase needed items from a store that does not practice bait and switch techniques.
When a true bait and switch scam exists, the store can be sued for fraud, but such lawsuits are rarely successfully resolved without a great deal of time and documentation. What customers can do to reduce such sales is to report this activity to the Better Business Bureau in the US. Reports can be made over the Internet, and can usually be completed within a few minutes. The Better Business Bureau keeps records on companies with significant customer complaints, so evaluating a report on a retailer can help a shopper decide whether he or she wants to plow through the questionable tactics of a store, or give his or her business to more deserving retailers.
anon324361 - this is not bait ans switch. I would call up the company and ask them if they would give you the discount. Very often this works. But they are really not obligated.
What about with credit collectors who advertise a "tax discount" off your balance via a letter in the mail and then when you call say that they can not offer any discount and that mailing was sent in error. That is wrong, deceitful and fraudulent. Is this also punishable under law and/or considered to be bait and switch?
If someone could provide me an answer I would really appreciate it.
Less than a month ago, I purchased some gear for work that cost about $13,000, all said and done. This was personal money that I had to take out a loan for.
Just about a week and a half ago (only having owned my equipment a couple weeks), I got an email from their company newsletter stating how their business is doing so well that they've decided to lower their prices by $1000.
I feel as though I was duped into a full-priced sale, meanwhile they knew very well that they would be reducing their prices. Is this an example of a bait and switch? This is really bothering me and I'm wondering what, if anything, can be done. Thanks!
I think everyone needs to take a deep breath with these issues. I've worked in retail for six years and I've come to learn a couple of things. Yes, there are shady people and companies out there, and yes people do get taken advantage of. That being said, I definitely think we need to lose the idea that every company is out to get us and our precious dollars. Companies need us! Without the customer, they have no business. What incentive do any of the companies have to take advantage of us one time when getting our repeat business is so much more profitable?
So to address a couple things. A lot of retail chains share inventory in warehouses, especially for larger items like appliances, between stores. This creates a lot of issues for fulfilling orders across an entire city, state, or region especially when quantities are low. Also, many retailers are at the mercy of suppliers which can lead to ads that are created one date, but months later when that sale becomes live the supplier didn't come through with inventory. Also, we need to understand that people and companies aren't perfect. Sometimes employees are not on the same page which can lead to mixed info and disappoints. Bait and switch? Probably not. Inferior training and communication? Most likely.
Again, I know bad things do happen to people, but I know first hand that the lifetime value of a customer is much higher than a single transaction. Also, companies know how people talk to people they know when they have a bad experience so most companies try to avoid this at all costs.
All I ask if that you really think about the situation before thinking you were taken advantage of. Ask for a manager and be nice and they will get the situation resolved pretty much every time. If they don't, most companies have customer relations departments that will definitely take care of you. Don't be so quick to jump the gun and start making allegations before you try some other options. The world isn't perfect, scarcity exists and sometimes places run out of things we want.
Window World does this all the time, advertising a $189 installed window. If you look at their price sheet they don't have a window that cheap. The first thing they ask you is, "what is your house made of?" No matter what you say they tell you that costs more. Definitely fraud.
I purchased home windows with installation from a well known national store. After the purchase I received a phone call from a manger stating that the local codes did not allow such windows to be installed and tried to upgrade the sale by almost $5,000.
Is there a case for a switch after sale? The salesman who visited my house said nothing about local codes that mandated the upgraded windows.
Safeway in San Francisco started employing deceptive advertising practices. They have $5 Fridays, where they advertise a few food items at a discounted price to be sold that Friday only. So far, so good. But the item as advertised is never, never, ever in the store. Oh yes they have it, but at a different weight, which is not on sale, but you can have it for a higher price. They do give rain checks.
I've been to the store four times for salmon filets advertised a few weeks ago, but no luck. Last Friday they advertised Tony Roma's BBQ ribs, 16 ounces for $5, but no way. They only have 24 ounce packages at $15.99! On our third trip, my neighbor gave in and spent the $15.99. I drove to two other Safeway stores, they did not have them either.
Those poor, frustrated meat dept. employees having to explain and apologize. One of them finally just said, "They advertise but we never get the delivery." Bait and switch? You bet your sweet bippy. Any attorneys out there? Feels like a class action suit to us!
@anon249594: No, it's not really bait and switch. There are a lot of factors that affect the price of a car. For instance, the car you looked at originally might be new, but it still might have had more miles than the one you bought. Cars can rack up a few miles in test drives.
Also, you may be paying a fee for the dealer to get it from another dealership. I don't know what the legal angles are on that, but it's a possibility.
Every dealership sets its own prices, so the dealership your dealer got it from may have charged more, so they had to pay more for the car, thus charging you more for it. What you see on the website isn't gospel. It's what they call the manufacturer's suggested retail price. Dealers can charge more or less than this price. In fact, your dealer may have deeply discounted that green vehicle because no one else liked it and he was trying to get it off the lot! That does happen.
Not trying to dump on you, but you really should have looked the car over before signing anything. If you had, once you saw it didn't have as many features, you could have possibly negotiated a lower price. But do look at your contract. You may be paying the same amount in payments, but you may be making fewer payments. If not, then the dealer probably had that green car reduced in price to get rid of it. Some colors don't do well in the marketplace and my bet is that green is one of them.
My girlfriend and I went to look at a new Kia because they were advertising they could get anyone into a new car. We looked and looked and the only car that they had on the lot that was automatic was this alien green car. We liked the car and the features but didn't like the color. We asked if they could find us anything else in another color and were told that they couldn't do any swapping cars with other dealerships and that this was all they had.
They did all the finance work and told us what our payments were going to be and let us take the car home on Saturday to try to get to like the green so we did. We checked out all the car's functions and extras and really liked the car but just couldn't live with the color, so we went back and talked to the salesman and told him we were ready to make a deal but not with the green one. He told us to give him a day and he would find us one.
The next day the salesman called and said he had us a white one and all we had to do was come in and sign the papers. We got there the car was parked out in the back of the building so we just went in and signed all the paperwork. After signing the paperwork, we went out to the car to leave and noticed there were things missing on this car that were on the other car, not big things, but little things, like no cargo cover no rear spoiler, no door light package and a few other things.
I went to the manufacturer's web site and found out that the car we bought sells for less than the car we initially were sold, but our payments are the same as what we were initially told. Would this not be considered bait and switch?
Here's an interesting switch that I bet is more common than I previously thought. I took a job with good benefits "Full Medical and Dental". After I quit my previous job (that did have medical and dental) and got the paperwork done for the new job I found all I had was "Emergency Medical" where they don't pay a dime unless you rack up more than $2500 in bills and no Dental at all - just AFLAC. Of course, by that time I was screwed.
Unfortunately, I haven't found any way to be legally represented in this situation.
Sears is horrible. They nickel and dime you to death, coming up with new charges at the last minute after you have made your decision. I walked out. They will never get my money.
I worked for Sears for a couple of years selling Electronics. they are a bunch of scam artists that know very little in the fields they are selling. I give them 5- 10 years and they will be out of business.
Just like every other company Sears does not know how many people will be purchasing the sale items and are only able to take a guesstimate. When sales have exceeded the guesstimate then the item becomes out of stock. To say that Sears is liable for that is outrageous! Come on people if it was your company then you would be more reasonable to understand how the retail business works.
You all sound like you need to get a life and find something better to do instead of stomping around fussing about your out of stock item! Please Sears has been around for a hundred years and they are not going anywhere! Try this, act reasonably and they may try to help you more! Hmm there is a thought! Until then, go Sears!
Black Friday 2010 second in line at the Radio Shack store in Centerton Square Mt Laurel NJ store for the Acer laptop they had advertised in newspaper circulars, online and extensively on TV. Problem is the bait and switch scum of a company shipped one per store.
Two words: Bait and Switch.
Rented a computer from Rent a Center. Brought it home and could not get online with it because the ethernet card was bad. I had it for three days before they came and got it and brought me a loaner. Continued to pay for it. Payments down to one payment left and they bring the original one back, and it is 1/3 of the loaner they brought out and mine sat in the store for a month.
I called and the manager said well we had that computer since 2005 and it has nothing in it and I can bring the loaner back out for another 300 or so in payments!
Bait and switch! This guy knows me and I have paid off a computer before at the same store. He knew I would not be happy with the original one. I am so pissed! It does not even have 256 ram in it which is the least a computer should have too run half way decent. I called corporate and am going to talk to a lawyer. Bait and switch for sure!
To anon91441: Take the van back and get your truck back. If you absolutely must write them a check, do it over a stated objection.
As soon as you come home, cancel the check. (Don't forget to make copies of all the paperwork and make copious notes on everything that took place and was said. Be ridiculously meticulous with all the details.) Write the BBB.
If they put up any fuss over the canceled check, tell them you will sue them and press charges. Of course, you could just sue them now, but that's probably more of a drain on your time and energy than you want. At any rate, if everything you allege is correct, then they did commit fraud and, what's more, sale, since the trade of your truck for the van was also done fraudulently.
If they bother you, contact your local prosecutor's office.
We went Saturday to trade our 2004 truck in for a van. We had already seen it online and talked to the car dealer by e-mail for the past three days. We drive 2 1/2 hours to see this 2004 van. We had done all the research and knew it was a great deal.
When we got there, they had the van but they wouldn't let us see it. They automatically started trying to sell us a 2000 Honda Odyssey. We liked the 2000 van but we wanted a newer model, so we said well we want to drive the 2004, and they said, oh it doesn't have air and it needs new brakes and you won't be able to drive it today. (they knew we drove 2 1/2 hours. We were there for six hours). They were making deals after deals. They said they could do an even trade on our truck for the van. They gave us the prices for each (truck-$8500 Van-$8000) and said they would write a check for the difference, which they said was $500.
So anyway, we make the trade, come home and look at our papers they stuffed in an envelope and looked online. Our truck was valued at $2000 more than the van. They charged $699 for a customer service charge (which they didn't tell us anything about it). We kept telling them we wanted to think about it and come back the next day. They said well, if you don't like it you have two days to bring it back, or we will pay your taxes etc. on the van. We were fixing to leave and they just kept on and kept on. So we said OK and we knew the next day we had made a mistake and we did research and found out our truck was worth about 2k more than the van, they had lied to us and only gave us 7k for our truck and charged us 6k for the van and 599 in charges and we are supposed to get a 500 check.
So anyway I asked them this morning what the charges were for and one guy couldn't even tell us, and the other guy said for paper and ink! (that is some expensive ink and paper!) We called and talked to three different people and they all say they will talk to the manager, but the manager will not return our phone calls or even get on the phone when we call. they say he is busy!
They said that if we wanted our truck back to give them the van, the check they wrote and $500 extra. They want us to pay them to give us our truck back! We got screwed, and as far as I know there is nothing we can do about it. We think they pulled the Bait and Switch, because the van we went to look at, they wouldn't even let us look inside!
Chase pretends to offer a small safety deposit box at no fee, for premium account holders. But, the offer is phony as there are none available. They conveniently have some larger ones available for a fee. What a scam. Bait and switch offer if I've ever heard of one.
I purchased a vehicle in March and as of last Friday, the dealership was still promoting it online, including a photo. They even lowered the price of the vehicle for an "alleged" sale.
I emailed the dealership three weeks ago and the owner thanked me in an email for bringing it to his attention. Nearly three weeks later, it was still listed online, so I went there and asked to see it.
Wouldn't you know, "It was just sold yesterday" and when questioned, the salesman went in "to check the computer" and came out with a story that "it was sold two weeks ago". I let him know he was mistaken as I and my wife bought it nearly three months ago and why were they still selling it?
At one point earlier in the conversation he even told me he had shown it earlier in the week and it was "very clean". As of yesterday, guess what? The ad was off the internet. Would you buy a car from this dealership? I surely won't again. Funny thing, I get an email from the dealership this morning thanking me for my interest in the vehicle. Is it illegal to promote online a vehicle that was sold three months earlier? Just curious.
My complaint concerns the local grocery store. Brookshires is infamous for advertising terrific deals. One that burned me this week is if you buy two cans of Lucky Leaf pie filling, you get a free cake mix. The ad said selected varieties available.
As a consumer, I saw many different varieties on the shelf. I bought two and was charged for the cake mix because I didn't choose the right variety. Shouldn't the ad be required to say only specfici varieties allowed? Brookshire's Grocery is also well known for raising their prices to accommodate their "terrific" sales. Our town has only one grocery and that's because Brookshires makes sure no other chain will fight long enough to be able to get the rights to bring other stores into our town.
In going through my mail, I came across an ad for a stainless steel BBQ at OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware). Today is Wednesday, and the ad was in Monday's junk mail. The ad was for a "Char-Broil" BBQ offered at $199.99 (normally $299.99).
I quickly made a 20 mile trip to my nearest OSH, only to be informed that the store had none. "How could this be?" I asked the salesperson. "We don't have any, and the warehouse is out too", she said. "Would you like a raincheck?" "Sure", I said.
Then I drove to another OSH, (another twenty miles or so) only to hear they didn't have any either. "Would you like a rain check?" I thought to myself, "No thanks I already have one." I suppose the rain check just covers their butts from a law suit, but I wonder if I will see a BBQ before the end of summer. I won't be shopping at OSH anymore. Been scammed before.
anon78893: Next time they try that BS with the BOGO, ring your items as two separate purchases. This way you would have gotten one expensive buckle free and one cheap buckle free.
Spencer Gifts was having a buy one, get one free sale on belt buckles so I got four belt buckles. The sales person rang them up, but rang them up so that the two most expensive ones were the ones I was paying for and the two cheaper ones were the free ones.
The sign clearly said that the free items had to be "equal or lesser value" but instead I was forced to take the lesser value ones as the free ones. That is definitely a bait and switch.
They always have Buy One, Get One sales there, now I know they will make you take cheaper items even though their signs say you can pick out equal items.
cox communications sold me a package that contained certain free zone programs. recently they removed these although their rates have increased. this looks like a bait and switch to me. i informed the f.c.c.
An online travel site posted and advertised the vacation package that I had been watching for the past several months "on sale". The price was significantly lower than usual.
I immediately called the specialist agent to purchase and was told it could not be viewed, but there were several other packages they could view (at a significantly higher price).
After several attempts to communicate with the agent, to book me with the current advertised price on my vacation, I gave up.
Contacting their customer service has done nothing. Their response was "the sale" must have expired. After popping up on my screen for five seconds? This site shows the world that bait and switch is in full swing. Disgusting business practices.
Sears is using the phrase BOGO in their shoe department. Beware! Payless coined this phrase and it means what it says. Buy one get one free (equal or lesser value).
Sears signs only read BOGO- Buy one get one. When you go to pay for the items, then they tell you "No it is buy one get one 1/2." I asked, "Where does it say that" and they said, "it doesn't but that is what it means." Can I read their minds?
I bought a hybrid from a Honda dealership and was told that in order to get gap insurance i needed to buy the maintenance plan because it only is offered as a package which includes oil changes. Stupidly i believed them. When I went for my first oil change i found out that hybrids only need an oil change every 10,000 miles!
Now I am upside down for no reason! On top of that they told me i should go with honda financing since it the best and that i should get a six year finance. They said it would be better because in a year I can refinance and get a lower interest rate.
After a year I found out that Honda doesn't refinance. I am such a sucker. I fell for every one of their lies. But don't you think what they did is criminal? Please advise.
You act and talk like you know the law, but you don't. Why would someone at the check in counter of a car rental office -- of all places -- actually care what kind of car you got? They work on an hourly wage, and I promise you, don't care how big of a "sale" they make.
Also, you people need to read the fine print more often. If it's not in stock, it means people got there before you did, and you're just out of luck because you took too long to get that perfect deal. It's the way things are. Get over it, get used to it and shut up.
I called Hertz car rental to reserve a car for two days. I was told that it would cost me $90.56 for the two days and I can have either a Ford Crown Vic or Mercury Grand Marquis when I get to the aulsa Airport. I then asked the reservation clerk whether the charge included full coverage insurance, and she said “Yes, it does”. When I arrived at Tulsa Airport, the female clerk (at the enclosure on the ground floor of the parking garage) at first would not help me when she found out that I was not one of their “Gold” members. She was going to send me back to the desk inside the terminal. I said that I had already walked (with great difficulty due to knee surgery) from the terminal and asked her not to send me back upstairs. She reluctantly agreed. Then she proceeded to tell me that my reservation was for a Toyota Camry, not a Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis, and that if I wanted full insurance coverage, it would cost me $29 per day extra, and if my wife would be driving the car, it would cost us another $19 per day. A $90 rental suddenly became $186, plus tax and fees. What she told us was entirely different from what I was told on the phone when I made the reservation. She probably figured that we just got off the plane and had to have transportation, so she had us over a barrel, so to speak. Is this not a “Bait and Switch” tactic which is an illegal sales practice? If it is, to whom should I report it?
Some 4 or 5 years ago JPMC (JP Morgan Chase) and some other lending institutions (Citi Group and WAMU---who went belly up but was gobbled up by Chase-- as well as others I am not aware of) offered a deal to many card holders a low interest rate for balance transfers.
The rate ranged from 1.9 percent to 3.9 percent on the customers' available balances on their bank issued Chase and Master Cards.
The offer was straight forward, pay on time and you get the low interest rate until the balance was paid off.
Well, Citi and WAMU dropped the program after they realized that lending for the "life of the loan" really wasn't such a hot deal because (duh) interest rates would ultimately go up and the banks would be stuck with, in effect, sub-prime loans. I am disabled and on a fixed income, so I took advantage of these offers for a down payment on a condo. It seemed like too good a deal not to take advantage of!
Citi stopped the program when they saw that it was a big loser for them. They are now using their bailout money to make baseball fields. WAMU tanked and was taken over by -- ta da --JP Morgan Chase. Personally, I never missed a payment to any of these people.
The egg-heads out at Chase continued with the low interest for the rest of your life stuff. Where we stand now is that Chase "revamped" on the offers and raised the monthly minimum payment amount from two to five percent.
Personally, I now have to sell my condo for about half of what I paid for it. This could literally drive me out to the street.Thanks you, JP Morgan Chase for pulling out of your "no strings attached offer".
They are disgraceful. This "great offer" has just about ruined me.
It surprises me that this story does not get more coverage by the mainstream press/TV. It has been covered by MSNBC.
I read an e-book title Merchant of Deception. This is about Multi-Level Marketing, especially with a specific company.
I would like to find a good argument to help my son to cut the business with a certain company. My son lives in Perth, Australia.
I need help for my son to be aware of the deception act from this company.
Do you mind to provide me with whatever tools for avoiding the cults of Multi-Level Marketing?
with my deep thanks
I recently was contacted by a mortgage company that offered me a fixed rate mortgage with a 5% interest rate. Which is much better than what I was paying. Here it is 4 months later after we've put out money for appraisals and other fees and closing is today and now the rate went up and my payment went up. Is is right?
I had a similar issue with Sears. I purchased a Samsung Washer and Dryer on Black Friday. I Arrived at the store at 4am for the 5am opening. When the store opened I was the fourth person in line at the appliance center. The first three people ordered another advertised set of washer and dryer, but I wanted the better set. I was told they would be available in 2-3 weeks. My order was placed and my money taken. A couple of weeks later they called me and tried to offer me the lesser size and quality LG's for the same price, telling me it will be 3-4 months before these units are available. Since then they have called me with two other offers, both times for smaller lower quality items, one GE and one Frigidaire. This is classic Bait and Switch. I have filed a complaint with the FTC and I encourage anyone else with similar issues to do the same. Sears has already been fined by the FTC for these tactics in the past.
I went to the Toy"R"Us on 1960 in Houston, Texas on 12/7/08 to purchase a bike I saw in a flier. I saw the bike advertised, but there were 4 or 5 bikes on a rack too high for me to reach so I was told to go to the check out counter and someone would assist me. I paid $79.99 for the 20" Schwinn Spitfire and waited for someone to get the bike. AFTER I paid for the bike, I was told there were no boxed bikes and would have to pay and additional $10.00 plus tax for a display bike. I was given 2 options, pay the additional fee or get a refund & go home empty-handed. At this time, I had already waited almost an hour for this process, so I went ahead and paid the extra fee. I have never had to pay extra for a display item; usually it is less because I don't know if it had been used before. This is a classic bait & switch scam. It is fraudulent and against the law.
Sears recently ( in the Denver area) advertised a buy one get one free washer and dryer pair for $899.99. It was a nice Samsung pair, which was advertised for what they call a Friends and Family night (11/16/08) The very first customer to try and buy that unit at this particular store was told that the units were already sold out. This was at 6:00pm, the earliest it could be purchased. They offered to replace those units with a lesser model LG pair, which was magically already loaded into the computer for the same price( as if they knew, which they did, that none of the advertised units were available. A call to a Samsung rep relayed that Sears did not buy what would have been enough units for a sale.) It seems they lured people in with the high demand Samsung units, never intended to have them, or if they did, knew they would have to substitute the lesser LG's and had already at 6:00 loaded the lesser quality units in the system at the same price. Is this not illegal "bait and switch" ?
I want to know what it is called if you log on to a website to buy supplies see an item for one price place your order for it and then get the invoice and the price was changed from $27.99 x 40 to $33.61 x 40? The President of my company did that to one of my customers and I just don't see how that is legal. Please tell me what you know about this?
I live in Houston, Texas.
I have been searching for a used car for my oldest daughter. Found one on the internet at a local Ford Dealer. Took printout from internet ad with me and went to take a test drive. Car was perfect, very low miles and very low price (been shopping for 2 weeks so know it is a very good price). Go into the salesman's office, fill out the paperwork and check the carfax all is OK. Salesman goes to enter my information into the computer and finally comes back somewhat grim-faced and says we have a problem, a big problem. The dealer paid the seller of the car more $ than they offered to sell it on the internet and they can't sell it to me. I was shown what appeared to be a photocopy of the check made out to the seller of the car, which indicates they paid the seller $15,100 for the Ford Escape that I have the printout from the web for sale at $14,995. Saleman says they probably have another $800 in cost for checking out and detailing the car so it they would lose $105 plus $800 or so!
I got the name of the dealership owner. Before I call to talk to the owner of the dealership, I want to know what my rights are regarding whether I should be able to force the sale at the advertized price.
This morning it has been changed to an asking price of $18,995 on the internet. The advertizement carries the "Stock#" of the automobile so I can prove that the car we test drove is the one in the internet advertizement.
The car fax indicated it was purchased by the dealership on June 8th, so I guess it has been for sale since the 10th -12th, yet no serious buyer before me!
Can you give me any specifics. I'm in a hurry.
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