Avoiding Bait & Switch Scams

With the holiday’s quickly approaching, we will all be out there trying to find a gift for our friends and family. However, it’s important to stay focused and don’t make any rash decisions.

Companies have gotten very good at convincing you to buy their products. While most of these appeals are perfectly within their rights, there are a few deceptive practices that can actually be illegal. Bait and switch is one of these.

What is it?

Bait and switch is the practice of advertising a product or service at a low price to entice you into the store, only to claim that the original sale item is no longer available. You are then pressured to buy a higher-priced product instead of the one you originally came in for.

What’s an example?

While browsing ads for a new vehicle to replace your current vehicle, you see a listing for a dealership selling your dream car in new condition at an extremely attractive price. Excited about the possibility of getting a great deal, you manage to drive the 25 miles to the dealership. Once there, you are told that the ad was actually a mistake, but the salesperson does have an even nicer car for only $5,000 more.

How do I counteract it?

In short, have a plan and stick to it! For larger purchases, it helps to have a price ceiling. If, for instance, you want to buy a new TV, there are dozens of choices with varying price tags. If you try to make your decision “in the heat of the moment” you’re much more likely to make a choice that is counterproductive to your budget. 

Don’t be afraid to walk away. There are very few things you need to buy IMMEDIATELY. If what you wanted isn’t available – whether because of a company’s deception or for genuine reasons – head back home and reorganize yourself.

How do I report it?

If you feel a company is engaging in deceptive advertising practices, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. Additionally, it’s a good idea to contact the Better Business Bureau to warn others of this potential scam.

This type of scam is not for just cars, but can be used for just about any product. When you’re in a store or even if you’re buying online, take the time to slow down and analyze your options. This way, you decrease the chances of making a bad decision and help you save money in the long term.

Related Posts